The Origins of Gunkatana
Published 5 years ago
How I began making a Lighting-fast Cyberpunk action game!
Since last year I've been having a lot of conversations that start with someone asking me a specific question:
"So what's your game about?"
"Cyberpunk, lasers, katanas, turbo grind rails & lots of juice."
That's how I introduce Gunkatana, the game I'm now developing as a full time indie developer.  Gunkatana was born from a confluence of two events.
The London Game Space hosted an event to showcase locally sourced local multiplayer games.  I had never shown a game to anyone and have them play it and critique it before. I was just starting to get my feet wet developing prototypes in Unity.  I tinkered with a very early top down action game I was working on and tacked a second player on it. Challenged myself to go ahead and show that game at the event.
I developed that first draft of Gunkatana as an attempt to decipher what made Hotline Miami tick.  Watching Hotline Miami's sequel trailer was the second pivotal event. It has inspired me in those initial game dev hours and ever since.
The feedback I got from that initial demo was great. It was already somewhat fun, if incredibly basic and unpolished. Players gave me tons of ideas of where to take it next.  The core gameplay was already there: lasers and turbo speed grind rails.
The speed rails started off as quick way to implement the Matrix's wall running. I wanted to create a game with that sense of speed and action, letting you speed along the walls, Mirror's Edge like.
Eventually I started laying the speed tracks anywhere in the level, and they became speed rails on the floor. The Gunkatana fighters attach their boots to them and zoom along the rails at high speeds, running over whoever's on the way, corpses thrown about and blood flying everywhere.
Sujan, one of the great friends I’ve made at the London Indies scene, told me to actually implement the Katana from the title. I did so. It's really fun writing C# classes called KatanaDashSlash.
I needed someone to bring the world of Gunkatana to life, and put out a call for artists on Twitter. A friend, Florian, recommended me one of his friends and thus I met CrazyArcadia.  CrazyArcadia knocked out a beautiful mockup, and I was in love with those pixels. It's always fascinating for me to suddenly see imagination becoming reality.  The core of Gunkatana is a competitive mix of dark futuristic themes and very mechanically tight gameplay, infused with combat from The Matrix and Equilibrium.  Seeing it come to life from my initial programmer art & OpenGameArt assets into something palpable, phosphorous & vibrant, it's an incredible experience.
Both me and CrazyArcadia are responsible for the game design and its a joy to discuss gameplay mechanics and level designs with him.  The result is what you see in this preliminary trailer, featuring original music by Electric Cafe of Aqua Kitty soundtrack fame.
Our stand at GameCity 2015, a volunteer driven games event at Nottingham, UK
Gunkatana was born from participating in the London indie dev community. The feedback I get when showing it and playing it at events has been invaluable and has helped shape where it's now, and will help shape where it's headed. It's also already received very positive press coverage at The Guardian and Impact Nottingham.
I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved so far.
Tying together the efforts of CrazyArcadia, lead artist and game designer on the project, Sarah Schemske, writer for Gunkatana, João Nascimento, website designer, David Anstey, who designed one of our main characters, Nell F., who designed the wonderful poster art, Electric Cafe's music, while simultaneously adding new features, level building techniques, quality of life software engineering practices and just fun stuff like running over your enemies when grinding the rails, makes me incredibly happy.
Gunkatana is due for release in the first half of 2016.