Cars & Tech

This Pinoy Made This Arcade Game By Himself

BlamBox is a Pinoy-made arcade game that costs less than a Starbucks latté.
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For casual games, the best ones seem to always nail it when it comes to graphics, gameplay, and replayability. Released just this week on Steam, BlamBox ticks all three boxes. On the surface, the game’s layout looks like a classic side-scrolling space shooter. Instinctively, you may think that the directional arrows are the default controls, but the control scheme is much more simpler and intuitive.

Moving the mouse controls your character, an adorably cute robot that’s rendered in 3D pixel art style. The robot is infinitely moving through space while strapped to a jet pack. As you zip across the starfield, different colored boxes randomly appear in front. The game’s objective is simple. Clicking the left mouse button punts the floating box upward, and a right click zaps the box toward the goal. There are yellow, red, and blue goals arranged vertically and only the same colored boxes will go through the goal. To target the box, you have to aim the floating reticle over it.

When the boxes appear one at a time, it’s quite easy to shoot it to the corresponding goal. After several boxes, the game ramps up by throwing several boxes at the same time. If you don’t punt the boxes upward or shoot them immediately to a goal, the boxes drop from the play area. If you drop several boxes, it’s sadly game over.

To make matters more interesting and to break the game’s slowly accelerating pace, there are also power-ups that randomly appear. Shooting them activates their powers. One power-up puts a force field under the game area so you don’t lose the boxes for a few seconds, while another slows down the action a bit so players can properly sort the boxes to their goals.

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Apart from constantly aiming for the high score that’s posted on Steam’s global score ladder, BlamBox keeps players coming back because they can earn points which can be used to purchase new bot player characters.

As prices for a lot of real world goods have recently shot up, it’s quite comforting to know that BlamBox retails for less than a Starbucks latte.

We’ve gotten in touch A.J. Hecali, a Filipino developer behind Heavenward Games which publishes BlamBox. As a one-man game developer, he has some pretty interesting things to say:

How did you come up with the idea for BlamBox?

The plan was to release a game on Steam in a short amount of time just to test the waters, so I decided to make a simple skill-based arcade game that's high on polish.

I played around with the idea of shooting gallery games, so I did some research on it and thought about the games that I enjoyed playing when I was younger. BlamBox was ultimately inspired by games such as Rocket League and Devil May Cry, and retro games like Hogan's Alley and Pooyan. For an arcade game, its core mechanic should be as simple as possible, but every action made by the player must feel good and impactful. I think BlamBox was able to incorporate those elements pretty well when it was finished.

Q: How long was the development period for the game?

A: The game took about six weeks to develop full-time, but still, the random bugs that appeared now and then also took additional time to fix.

Q: What's the most challenging part in creating the game?

A: Making the art for the game is the most challenging part for me. I have worked as a game programmer and game designer before, but never as a game artist.

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Although I have an idea of what a game with good visuals look like, my skills on actually producing them is lacking. I resorted to using voxel art in the end, and added lots of visual feedback and particle effects to make the game look more action-packed.

Q: Any future plans for the game?

A: Yes! I'll release a pretty big update for the game in November. I'll add a few requested features, increase the character roster, and optimizations to make the game run better.



Q: What are the best reactions of people who've played the game?

A: I put a lot of effort in making the game feel great to play, and it just means a lot to me when they react positively to the visual feedback and the little details that I added in the game.

Also, their panicked reactions when they become overwhelmed by the amount of boxes on the higher rounds is pretty funny, too.

Q: Being a Pinoy indie game developer, are there any significant problems that you had to overcome?

A: Our indie game developer community here is quite small compared to the ones abroad, so we don't have the same marketing reach as them when we promote our games to the players.

But still, what we lack in numbers, we make up for with how supportive we are to each other's work.

Q: Tell us a short story of how Heavenward Games came about.

A: It was always my plan to create games that I would actually enjoy playing, hoping that other players would experience my own take on what a fun game is. I decided to take a leap of faith last July and pursue my dream of starting up my own game studio. Right now, I'm very happy that I made that decision, and I'm very thankful for all the support that I got from my friends in the local game industry, as well as the players who supported BlamBox.

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BlamBox is currently available for P46.86 for Windows PCs at store.steampowered.com



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Ed Geronia Jr.
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