Thrunt! is a super-tricky against the clock racing game with Thrust-like controls.
It’s currently available for Windows PC as an Early Access release from itch.io
In orbit around the asteroid named Thrunt. Geophysical analysis discovers a massive underground complex just below the surface. Thermal data suggests that someone, or something, is living within, but imaging has failed to find any way to access the structure. Whoever’s inside, they’re almost certainly hostile. We’d better kill them off somehow.
What we need is a vaguely named and highly secretive research program. Therefore the Deep Insertion Landing Device is invented, a craft designed to operate in enclosed low-gravity environments. Crucially, it’s capable of one clever trick: short range one-way teleportation through solid rock from its orbital base station.
Your task is to put the D.I.L.D. prototype through its paces in a series of increasingly challenging test environments. To save weight, this “Zero” craft is unarmed and unarmoured, but is fast and nimble enough to avoid trouble, in the hands of the right pilot. You’ll teleport in, complete the test, and then…
Well, I expect we’ll get you out somehow.
What’s Your Definition Of “Early Access?”
You pay for the game as it exists right now. The price is, I think, a reasonable reflection of what you’re getting. You will also then get every future version for free.
I don’t over-price the game based on some guess about what it might become or at what price it might eventually retail. I’m not a huge believer in “early access” as a means of funding future development. If I was staffing a studio full-time and needed cashflow to survive I might feel differently, but right now, I think you should get the game you pay for. If you get a better game later, for free, then you’re even happier. You’re not buying a promise, because promises can be broken.
Having said that, all the initial proceeds from sales will go back into improving the game through investment in software tools and services. I have a day job that feeds the kids, but Thrunt! is just between me and you.
What is the roadmap for Thrunt?
I plan three versions. The first version available for you to play is P100. “P” is for Prototype, but don’t be put off, it’s still a fully playable game. This branch will contain gameplay and feature experiments, level design tests and suchlike. You will always be able to play and enjoy this version, even if it looks a bit of a mess.
The next branch I’ll be working on will be the “G” branch, which is intended to be sparkly enough to get the game through Steam Greenlight. It will probably contain only one or two levels, based on the best of those in the “P” branch, but it will have production-quality graphics and audio. You’ll be able to play this version for free.
Following that will be the “R” branch, R for Release. This will be a case of taking the breadth of the “P” branch with the quality of the “G” branch, with the likely addition of features and services (to be determined) like online leaderboards, downloadable player ghosts, etc. Updates on this branch will probably be much less frequent than on the “P” branch, and the scope is yet to be determined.
This is not a short-term project for me. That day-job I mentioned, and those kids, mean progress will be slow at times. The P100 release version was created over three months or so, purely in my spare evenings.
Why Use Unity?
I’ve made small games and tech demos in the past using C++ and DirectX and rolling my own engines and tools. In doing so I’ve learned enough to know that, without Unity, Thrunt would already have taken longer to make and wouldn’t be as good. In fact it probably wouldn’t exist at all, because I’m well aware of those facts and wouldn’t have even started.
But why Unity instead of another comparable engine? Unreal? Or give Lumberyard a try? That essentially boils down to experience. I’ve worked with Unity enough to know how to achieve 90% of what I’m trying to do. I’ve worked with Unreal less so, and other alternatives not at all. Any commercial engine would be easily capable of creating and running Thrunt as it exists today, but using Unity makes this less of a learning exercise and more of a work of production.
But why use Unity Personal Edition?
At this stage of development it’s not necessary to upgrade. The only difference it would make to the version of Thrunt available right now is removing the splash screen. I don’t mind the splash screen. I don’t mind you knowing that Thrunt was made with Unity. I would prefer it if the wording on the splash screen were changed to say “Indie Edition” instead of “Personal Edition.” I think quite a few small-scale and startup indie developers have said the same thing: that “Personal Edition” has implications on public perception that aren’t hugely positive. Indie developers may be very serious about their craft and serious about growing their business, but they may not yet be in a financial position to drop the splash screen stigma. The worry is that the wording of the splash screen may itself prove to be a barrier to success, preventing them from ever dropping the splash screen. Considering that Unity as an organisation claims that one of its goals is the “democratization of game development,” I can understand such concerns, but I think the negative impact is overstated. I plan to take a Pro license when the time is right, but not before. Until then, the splash screen stays, and I’ll leave it to others to decide on its implications.
What about them graphics and sounds though, eh? Wow!
The version of Thrunt available right now concentrates on gameplay only. I believe that without the prospect of a fun gameplay experience there’s no point investing effort/time/money into art and audio. I’ve tried to at least make Thrunt not be completely ugly for the current “P” version, but none of the content will survive into the planned “G” version.
Who or what, or indeed why, are Mugs Games?
Mugs Games is a one-man-games-studio-slash-vanity-project from Barry Skellern. (i.e. me.) and Thrunt! is the first proper game for you to buy cheaply, play badly and judge unfairly. I’ve been hovering around game development as a hobby for a few years, but had neglected to actually make anything worth playing, until now. My modest goal for Mugs Games is to create games that you enjoy playing and that I enjoy making, and to grow the business to the point where it at least pays its own expenses. In doing so, I also intend to be as transparent and honest about the process as possible. All indie game developers are different, like snowflakes, or my signatures on cheques. That’s part of the fun, and I think some players like to know a little about who we are and what goes into making our games.