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  • Developing Speed Limit: 0-60 In Two Years

    [04.01.21]
    - Igor Kolar
  • Hi, I'm Igor Kolar. I'm the game director for Speed Limit. I'm an industrial designer by trade, visual communications designer often by necessity, and sometimes like to pretend I'm a pixel artist.

    I did the initial design and art for Speed Limit before we were able to get more competent people on board to do those things, like our lead artist Jurica Cvetko and level designer Jan Juracic.

    Nostalgia Bait

    I try to make the distinction between vintage and retro. Vintage is something genuinely old, for example, the games we've been inspired by are vintage, while Speed Limit a retro game, because it should remind you of those old games. Would that alone make it an homage though? It does in our press releases because it's what people recognize and if it comes down to one word, that's the best way to describe it.

    Like everything else we do at Gamechuck though, Speed Limit was always going to be something that's learned from what we've perceived as the best practices, but without pretending progress didn't happen. We took Speed Limit as far as we knew how with pixel art alone, but when we didn't feel like it was quite enough, we used modern shaders and lighting effects to take it beyond that.

    You could say I'm a fan of ‘retro' games, there is compelling simplicity in their style, defined by either resolution or palette constraints. It's the old story of constraints driving creativity. In general? Absolutely. I'm a big fan of things like air conditioning and anti-lock brakes, and would never go through the hassle of owning a vintage, say 1960s car with what I think is beautiful bodywork. I would however absolutely like to drive something that emulates that less aggressive styling of the period, the kind that reminds you that you're allowed to like things that are fun.

    I find there is refinement in retro stuff that you don't find elsewhere. When there isn't much an object can do, more thought is put into whatever it can do.

    Like, if you don't have the resources to make a complex 3D game, you can put your effort into making a compelling pixel art game with hand drawn animation where someone's hair flies to the side when a bullet goes by their head.

    Retro by (Good) Design

    When it comes to the ‘retro' of games, there are several aspects that have become scarce through shear industrialization of game creation. One of them is respecting player's time.

    I'm a big believer in making shorter, but stronger, memorable experiences, over those which disrespect your time.

    I like to think of Portal for this, a game which has roughly a three and a half hour play-through is the only one I remember playing that year. Whereas, the current industry-standard genre, the open world adventure game, has more than sixty hours, some of which is achieved through hunting useless trinkets, whether or not that makes sense story wise or not.

    But on a smaller scale, the more epic a game is, the less it seems to want you to play it. Back in the Tomb Raider 2 era, I used to enjoy pre-rendered cut scenes, because I'm now as I was back then a big fan of well crafted 3D animation, but they were often, if not always skippable.

    Walk into a games show, after this virus calamity has passed, and find a game which doesn't take 5-10 minutes to get going, outside of the indie booths. Our Gamechuck Arcade cabinet usually draws attention to itself when we're presenting the game, but even without it, I think one of Speed Limit's strengths is that you can just sit down and play.

    To that, I'd like to add the size of the game. Media files naturally take up the bulk of modern video games. Even our game, artificially constrained at a 640*360 resolution, bulked up significantly when our resident sound wizard Matija Malatestinic, added his awesome analogue synth soundtrack to it.

    From the music's perspective, I'm glad we were able to give him as much time to craft something he, and then obviously everybody else was happy with. Even the rejected tracks are so good they should make their way into some kind of compilation if not a game more suited for their style. With the addition of music and sound effects, the game could still fit on a CD, and you're not gonna spend a lot of time downloading it.

    One thing that is coming back into fashion, at least judging by big companies trying to earn back some favour after countless workforce mismanagement blunders, are demos.

    Arguably, they never went out of fashion with smaller developers, earnest in their game design, and nurturing an actual craft, by trying to explore the medium beyond what we see in big budget games. We've learned a lot from people playing our demo, and with what's available to us now in terms of downloadable content, our demo has evolved along with the game. Specifically, if you play the demo now, it will feature all the improvements we've added to the final game over the last year.

    I still own a couple of big box releases, back from the stone age when CDs were a thing. Back then games didn't just stack neatly between DVDs and Blu-rays, taking up instead a sizeable portion on a shelf, and sometimes infuriating store owners with their, at the time, non standardized but certainly creative shapes. Cradled inside, apart from the game was usually a number of other materials, like manuals and posters. It's sad that this feeling of care that went into making all that, feels retro now. That's why I'm happy that Speed Limit will have a physical release, even if it isn't a big box one.

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