I'm Steve, creator of Beat Hazard and my new game Martial Arts Brutality. I'm a solo indie developer based in the UK. I published my first game at the age of 14 for the Atari 800. I've worked for a number of big games studios. I went full time indie 7 years ago and haven't looked back since. My new game Martial Arts Brutality if a F2P turn based tactical card fighter, down load & details here: http://www.coldbeamgames.com/martial-arts-brutality.html

I've wanted to make a martial arts games for years. I've tried to do something a little different with this one.

Anyway, enough talk .... AMA

Proof: https://twitter.com/ColdBeamGames/status/902442506268356608

Comments: 57 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

imFailjitsu9 karma

I've actually emailed you years ago to tell you how much I enjoyed Beat Hazard back when you first launched on Xbox 360 and you replied.

Now from a development standpoint were you in any way afraid to create what some might call as just Asteroids with music? Or was that not even a thought?

Also would you mind explaining your game for the Atari 800?

ColdBeamGames9 karma

Hello again! Some reviews did describe the game as asteroids to music, but it was always in a very positive way. In fact most players/reviewers really loved the concept. At the time, as with most indie devs, my main worry was just being able to make a living from making games on my own.

Here's a link to my Atari game : http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-400-800-xl-xe-river-rally_4389.html It was inspired when watching the awesome boat chase in James Bond: Live and Let die. I think it sold 200 copies on tape.

imFailjitsu3 karma

Well I'm very glad you were not dissuaded.

Was there any other projects you had considered for consoles? Or any console in particular you wanted to work with in the past?

ColdBeamGames4 karma

In my studio days we did a lot of PC work. When the PS2 came out I had stars in my eyes and wanted to work on it. We did make a game called Twin Caliber for PS2 & Xbox, which I loved doing, but it didn't sell well.

These days though, consoles seems to be very difficult to work with. I hope things improve, but other platforms are way easier to deal with.

bokochaos7 karma

Hey Steve! Love Beat Hazard. Friend introduced me to it in High School, and it easily helped me reimagine what a music game could be about. (Well, Audiosurf too, but that is another story.)

Just some quick ones I can put down on mobile before bed:

What was your biggest hurdle with Beat Hazard at any point of its development?

What's your go-to snack?

What is your favorite song to get work done to? (Like your crunch time motivator)

Do you still keep in touch with some of your co-workers from before you went indie?

Who is the most famous person we might know of that is a fan of your work, and which piece of work specifically?

Any cool Easter eggs we should really look out for in the new game?

Thanks for your hard work! I'll definitely have to find time to try it out!

ColdBeamGames6 karma

What was your biggest hurdle with Beat Hazard at any point of its development? In general it was the analysis of the music. The game needs to do an FFT on the audio waveform in real time. I never knew if I'd be able to do this on all the different platforms.

The other big hurdle was PS3 dev. It was really really hard...

What's your go-to snack? Prawn cocktail crisps. (Curry if it's the end of the day)

What is your favorite song to get work done to? (Like your crunch time motivator) Sometimes it's complete silence if the task takes a lot of brain power, otherwise I like BBC Radio 2, light chat and casual music.

Do you still keep in touch with some of your co-workers from before you went indie? Yes I do. Some of the has set up new businesses. For my new game I contracted d3t do to the backend server work and I used Alien Apple to do the Character and UI art. Both of these companies were setup by ex-THQ colleges. I also keep in touch with the guys at Nomad Games, they're ex-THQ too.

Who is the most famous person we might know of that is a fan of your work, and which piece of work specifically? Unfortunately, none that I know of. I always thought I might get an email from a famous musician who liked to play their music in Beat Hazard, but it never happened.... sob.

Any cool Easter eggs we should really look out for in the new game? Hummmm, not at the moment. I should put some in shouldn't I? I've just not had the time. I'll do that when things have settled.

sporkamus5 karma

I had 100% achievements and then you had to go and update Beat Hazard Ultra, didn't you? You bastard.

Kidding. I spent hundreds of hours enjoying your work so far. One year at Quakecon EVERYONE walking by my seat wanted to know what I was playing.

Beyond your current projects, what is a huge goal for your future?

ColdBeamGames5 karma

Hi, So did you get 100% achievements on Ultra? Re Quakecon, that's really cool. Thanks.

In the near future I want to work on improving MAB and work on a version for Steam.

Then it'll be on to Beat Hazard 2. I'm really looking forward to starting on that.

Beyond that, I just want to be financially secure so I can continue making my own games. I've got a few more ideas that I think have potential.

thetruthhuntsme3 karma

How do you feel that I set world records in your game for slick and star runner? :P

No, but really, as a start up game Dev, I want to know; how did you get your start up? Where did you start beat hazard as a game project, and how did it turn into a hot seller on Steam?

ColdBeamGames3 karma

Hey, that's great! Congratulations. I love it when I see players are better than me at my own game.

I started at home with a PC and a copy of XNA. I had the idea for Beat Hazard and made a prototype.

I had a feeling it would do well and made the first version of the game for Xbox360 and released it on the XNA indie channel.

There was no Greenlight at the time and I stumbled across and email for the head guy at Steam (Not Gabe). I sent him the game and they loved it. The Steam release was just amazing! The best experience ever!

My overall strategy though was to do everything myself and keep costs as low as possible, but still create an original and high quality game.

muso_5043 karma

Have you always been working in the gamdev industry? Did you ever work for other standard software-eng companies?

ColdBeamGames5 karma

I've always worked in the games industry. I did a very brief work experience for a DIY company (where I got so bored I wrote space invaders in FoxPro) But no, I've never worked at a standard software-eng company. Do you? I imagine there's some very big differences between the two. I'm always amazed that software for safety critical systems doesn't fail more often.

muso_5042 karma

I do not work in any company as of now, though I have interned at a couple of giants and would be joining another one soon. I'm really interested in getting into gamedev. I'm just unsure because I've heard a lot about how tough it is to get a stable source of income, and how the perks/work-life balance of a job in the gamedev differs from one in the soft-eng industry.

I want to explore the areas that are common to both gamedev and standard software companies so I could have an easier transition from either ways if I wanted to. Any ideas anyone?

ColdBeamGames2 karma

Yeah, game dev for a big studio can really effect your private life. There tends to be a lot of 'crunching' where you need to work weekends and long days. If you're lucky this only happens for a few months and the end of a project, but some places expect it all the time. You need to do your homework on that one.

Having said that, I loved my time working at a game studio, made a lot of close friends too.

Going Indie is the other angle, it's something you can try on and off in your spare time. I'm a jack of all trades to I've got the skills to make a game and all that's needed from start to finish. That's the best place to be, but it takes time to acquire all the knowledge. It is very rewarding though.

HelplessKid2 karma

Hi Steve, thanks for making beat hazard, cant wait to get my hands on the second one :)

Do you already have plans in regards to progression for BH2 ? Like will there only be ships with different abilities like in the shadow ops dlc or are there going to be semi-rpg like elements to upgrade certain stats or something along those lines ?

Will there be a way to get the hands on the alpha or beta for BH2 once u start developing it ?

ColdBeamGames2 karma

Yeah, I'd like to have BH2 have ship upgrades and maybe some semi-rpg element to it. I've not sat down and figured that out yet.

Once BH2 is in a fit state I'd deffo think about adding it to Steam Early Access. But it seems that can be a double edged sword, so I'm not 100% sure.

Captindickhook2 karma

Any plans for making a VR game?

ColdBeamGames1 karma

I bought an Oculus 1 ages ago. I wanted to do a VR mod for Beat Hazard. I didn't realise at the time that my 2D engine wouldn't cope with VR.

However, I'd love to do a VR mod for BH2. I think it would be awesome/dangerous!

spenat2 karma

Hello, Steve! First of all, thank you for the Beat Hazard, it's one of the few games I actually don't regret paying for.

My question is: How is your day? :)

ColdBeamGames1 karma

Hi, thanks for buying the game! My day would be very different if it wasn't for the support of people like you, so thanks.

My day is good thanks!

Today, I've got some bugs to fix on my new game. I'm also creating more content, a new quest and fight style. I'm standing at my stand up desk typing a message to a nice person on reddit. (It's 10:20 in the morning here)

Now I'm going to grab a coffee.

HOS20022 karma

Will ever Beat Hazard become backwards compatible on Xbox One? I loved it on PC and I want to see if it will work better on my Xbox One S :) Also any news about Beat Hazard 2?

ColdBeamGames2 karma

I doubt it, I've not really got the time to do it and I'm not 100% sure if the new Xbox SDK has the audio analysis function the game needs. I'd rather crack on with BH2. So yeah, I want to start on BH2 once I'm got Martial Arts Brutality sorted. I'll be working on the two in parallel probably.

be_polite2 karma

I'm looking into going solo too but I don't know if it would be enough for me financially. How much money do you make per month (estimate)?

ColdBeamGames1 karma

Well that's part of the problem going solo. You won't earn anything until you release a game, then it can be a hit and you're good, or it could flop and you're stuck. My income is all over the place, it's not fixed from one year to the next.

I know a lot of indies that have contract jobs part time while they work on their games. If they get a hit, they can go full time, if not, make a new game and keep contacting.

Hope that helps.

Python_l2 karma

Beat Hazard is one of my favourite games and I was actually a beta tester for the Shadow OPs DLC (I think I still have you on my friendslist because of it).

Anyway, any idea what you want to change or improve for Beat Hazard 2? Something like Spotify integration seems to be a Must-Have feature these days in my mind.

How did you come up Martial Arts Brutality. Do you personally like it more than Beat Hazard?

ColdBeamGames1 karma

Cool, thanks for helping out with the beta. Seems a long time ago now!

Re BH2, yes on the technical side it's integrating as many music steaming services as I can. At the moment I'm not even sure you can do it with some, but here's hoping. Game play wise there's a ton of stuff I've got written down. I need to properly sit down and think about the design. I need to keep the charm of the original but add new stuff that gives players something to get their teeth into.

Re MAB: I've wanted to do a tactical martial arts games for ages. I love beat 'em ups like Street Fighter, but I'm rubbish at playing them. I wanted to make something that was less about combos and button skills and more tactical and strategic.

I have much love for Beat Hazard and MAB, they're very different games so I don't favor one over the other from a game play point of view.

foddervent2 karma

Just wanted to say, you made one of the greatest, if not the greatest arcade game of all time. I could never get enough of your game when I had it, but i scrapped my xbox 5 years ago. I've always had a question about how the game interprets the music, because it seemed to me the more active the music gets, the more response from the engine, while more calm music receives less of a response. Is that true?

ColdBeamGames5 karma

Hey thanks! I'm really glad you liked the game. Most music games do beat detection which can't really be done in real time and is mathematically very complex. At first I thought I'd need to do this, but I went a different route.

If you watch disco lights they respond to the music in real time and have no idea what's coming.

Beat Hazard is similar to this. As the music is playing it converts the wave form using an FFT algorithm. This breaks the music down into its component frequencies, so the game can see say the Bass, mid & treble intensities.

I use this data to analyze the music and respond. I also track these frequencies over time, so I can track and respond to trends.

Hope that make sense. It's a system that took quite some time to fine tune.

Klimpen2 karma

As an indie developer of games that I've heard of and several that I havn't, could you speak a little as to your thoughts regarding being an indie developer trying to connect with consumers?

I've personally been finding the signal-noise ratio to be a bit off lately in terms of being able to connect with developers with interesting projects, have you found it difficult to connect with consumers?

ColdBeamGames2 karma

I try to be as open and approachable to anyone as possible. I find it very rewarding to chat to people who play my games.

As a developer I feel it's the decent thing to do anyway.

The nice thing it that I'm not crazy famous, so I do have the time to personally respond. I can see that this gets more difficult for big teams and the more popular games.

I do feel that a lot of players do start with the assumption you won't talk to them, so initial comments can be a little 'terse' but once you engage people we all relax and have a good conversation.

stezor2 karma

Hey Steve! Love Martial Arts Brutality! Already got some of my friends to challenge me in it. Crazy fun. It's also crazy demanding on my phone though. My LG g4 starts heating up like a barbecue grill after just a few seconds into it. Do you think future updates will address that issue?

ColdBeamGames1 karma

Hi, Hey thanks, I'm glad you like it! Can I ask a favor? Can you leave a rating/review please?

Re heating: The game uses shaders to shade, light and colour the guys, I think this is what causes the heat. I'll deffo have a look at reducing this.

stezor2 karma

Consider it done

ColdBeamGames2 karma

Thank you!

coryrenton2 karma

what is the worst game in your opinion from a technical polish and developer standpoint, yet is still fun to play?

ColdBeamGames1 karma

Oooo that's a cool question. But I can't think of any? I've played plenty of bad/buggy games, but I can't think of a one that's bad but good. Sorry, crap answer.

DoctorNsara2 karma

Thank you thank you so much for making Beat Hazard Steve! Most of my steam friends have it after seeing me play it, and I have put over 50 hours into it over two steam accounts (it was so nice I bought it twice). I am super glad to hear you are still active with indie game dev! It isn't always the easiest thing.

I am super hype for beat hazard 2, whenever it comes out, and have a couple questions.

  1. Do you have a mailing list so we can keep in the know about it?

  2. Any plan for new game modes? If you set things to spawn from one side and mess with physics a bit, a side scroller mode would be neat.

  3. How did you come up woth the idea for beat hazard? It is very "asteroids with music" but it is done so well.

I like how despite the glaring lights, beat hazard is still easy to "read" even at max intensity. It doesn't feel too busy unlike some other games.

ColdBeamGames2 karma

Hey, thanks for getting your friends into Beat Hazard!

1: Not really, but I'll post updates to the BH2 Steam forum once it's up and running. I find it easier that way, and it gives players the chance to discuss too.

2: Yes, there will be game new game modes, not sure what at the moment. Side scroller: interesting idea. At one point I did try to make a Beat Hazard Invaders where ships just come from the top, but it didn't really work that well.

3: I'd been playing Geometry Wars (which I loved!) and I was trying to think of a different spin on it, and that's when the idea popped into my head.

Yes, BH does have it's own visual language. Indeed it is interesting how you can filter out all the extreme input and focus on the threats. When I first started the game I never thought it was possible to do this.

DefiniteGoose2 karma

What keeps you motivated with no other devs working on your projects?

ColdBeamGames1 karma

I guess I'm pretty self motivated. I do miss some aspects of working in a big team, but on balance I feel more fulfilled being my own boss and making my own decisions.

I do have the odd day when I have no motivation though. At those times I just plod though my to do list just to make sure I get something done.

On the whole I love what I do and find it very rewarding.

RichB932 karma

Will the iOS version get a 64-bit update? Otherwise it won't run on iOS 11 :(

ColdBeamGames2 karma

I hope so. I'm going to look at that soon, but I've not complied BH on iOS for about 3 years, god only knows what bit rot has set in and what problems it might cause. I'm annoyed that Apple have taken this step, seems unnecessary to me.

RichB932 karma

Thanks for the update! It does suck as I have many discontinued apps (one was bought out by Apple ironically, and they integrated it into another app in a far more watered down iteration).

Apparently the reason for dropping 32 bit is due to iOS being purely 64 bit and having to run a 32 bit layer to support older apps. This affects performance and battery life, or so they say.

ColdBeamGames1 karma

Hummm, I call shenanigans. I wonder if there'll be a backlash when thousands of users update and find most of their apps don't work.