Huzzah! Happy New Year!
We wanted to catch everyone up with the current state of Turbolance development, how we got here, and what’s next.
Below are most but definitely not all of our adventures with Turbolance. We hope you enjoy!
Turbolance initially began development as the Senior Capstone class project at George Mason University. Over the course of two semesters, Turbolance grew from a silly idea to a 4 player party game ready for professional exhibition. Ryan Kennedy handled the programming and worked on 3D character and environment assets. Noah Bowden created animations, 2D and 3D art assets, visual effects, GUI, audio, concept art, social media content, and exhibition materials.
Madeline Bowden designed and produced promotional art and logos for Turbolance to be used for exhibitions. Michel Faulkner provided marketing advice that helped prepare and guide the team for events. Madeline and Michel also lended their magical voices for the Queen and King announcers. Selene Croy assisted with character concept art, which especially helped to shape the Jester and Doctor jousters. C. Fox provided design feedback for the entire development process, and helped manage the social media outlets.
At the beginning, we started with the idea of jousting on motorcycles. After joking about this absurdly hazardous sport, we realized it sounded like it had fun potential for a video game. We discussed the game being 2D, 3D, or possibly even VR. We realized this idea had great potential for a local couch party game, which was perfect, as Ryan and Noah met in college by playing party games in their dorm. We looked for inspiration to other games, such as Joust, Nidhogg, Starwhal, Kirby Air Ride, and more. We settled on a 3D top down perspective, as we both wanted to further our 3D art and game development experience, and it just felt right.
During our first semester of development, we focused on establishing a foundation of fun. We wanted to make sure the core experience was simple, intuitive, comical, and a mix of casual and competitive. Anyone should be able to pick up a controller and start playing. We wanted the controls to be tight, but the tone to be light hearted. We realized jousting and motorcycles provided us an opportunity to blend two completely different themes together in a marvelously ludicrous way. Medieval knights and post apocalyptic scavengers. We called it, “If Mad Max raided a medieval museum.”
For our characters, we blended historic professions with modern roles. A policewoman becomes a knight. A mechanic becomes a blacksmith. A circus performer becomes a jester. And a doctor becomes, well, a plague doctor. We designed a whole cast of other characters as well that we hope to bring to life one day, such as Kestrel, the motocross stunt driver who becomes a falconer.
During our second semester of development, we polished up the visuals with improved character models and animation, lively arenas with reactive audiences, booming announcer voices, overhauled UI and menus, and more. We were prepping the game primarily for our portfolios, but we also had a show coming up: The Senior Game Expo. At this event, all of the Senior Capstone teams were invited to showcase their games at a public event. We wanted Turbolance to be the best we could make it, while we also took other classes and internships. The Expo was a blast, with dozens of people stopping by our station to watch or play Turbolance. It was also great to see how our colleagues had grown and improved their own games.
Near the end of the semester, we happened to notice a posting for the E3 College Game Competition, and saw that it was free to apply. We shrugged and figured, why not? After doing some research, we found that hundreds of universities were allowed to each submit one game to the competition. After some judging at George Mason, Turbolance was selected to represent the university. We were stoked.
On the day of our graduation, literally as we were putting on our robes, we received a life changing email. Turbolance had won a place at the E3 College Game Competition. We were stunned. Within a month, we found ourselves in LA setting up our booth among the other teams and their games that were selected. We were surrounded by companies that created games we had grown up playing and admiring, such as Nintendo, Naughty Dog, Overkill, Sony, and many more.
E3 was incredible. (It was also the first time some of us flew!) We shared Turbolance with hundreds of developers, industry representatives, and other enthusiastic attendees. We met so many inspiring people, and we were awestruck at the scale and quality of the displays. We would love to return to E3 someday, as exhibitors or attendees. This event convinced some of us to pursue this industry professionally.
After E3, our friends at a favorite game store, Gamer Oasis, allowed us to share Turbolance with the locals in Harrisonburg, VA. We appreciated their generosity, as well as their games!
Later, we got in contact with Greg Miller (@GameOverGreggy) and Kinda Funny (@KindaFunnyVids) who kindly included Turbolance in the 2019 Kinda Funny Games Showcase. It was exciting to see all of the game announcements included in the event, and it was a special treat to be involved. Greg Miller and the crew organized a massive collaboration, and performed a great show.
As the year was coming to an end, we submitted Turbolance to the MAGFest Indie Videogame Showcase (MIVS) and we were delighted to be accepted. We designed the booth display, printed some more marketing materials, and traveled to one of our personal favorite conventions, MAGFest. We had attended this event for several years prior, as we were already big fans of the MIVS. It was a blast and an honor to actually table at such a familiar location. There, we met a whole slew of wonderful indie game developers and players alike. At least 500 individuals stopped by our booth, and we made efforts to visit all of the other booths that we could.
For the next few months, we continued working on content for Turbolance to prepare for the full release. We developed two new arenas, a character and her feathered friend, UI, audio, game modes, lances, and more. However, we were also applying for job positions at established companies, and eventually found ourselves juggling a lot with part time gigs, contracts, and other projects.
Once we had found ourselves working full time, we knew it would become a great challenge to properly finish Turbolance the way we wanted to. So, we decided to put the project on hiatus. One day we would love to continue working on Turbolance. We dreamed of releasing it on the Nintendo Switch, and we hope that can still happen someday.
We dearly thank our families and friends for supporting our journey and ambitions. We thank our professors who mentored us. We thank the enthusiastic developers we met along the way who shared their wisdom. We thank all of our playtesters who helped improve the quality of the game by sharing their excitement, thoughts, and constructive criticism. All of you helped push us to work harder and be better.
In the meantime, the demo is still free to play, and everyone is welcome to reach out to us for questions or feedback.