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The Randomized Fun of Nuclear Throne on PS4, PS3, PS Vita

Rami Ismail's Avatar + Posted by Rami Ismail on May 14, 2014 // Vlambeer

We’ve been working on Nuclear Throne for a long time. In the past few months, we’ve been working on the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita versions. It’s still a few months out before we’re ready to launch, but we’re really excited about how things are coming along.

We noticed something interesting about the development process though, something we hadn’t quite expected…

Nuclear Throne is still a fun game to make.

That sounds like a bit of a ridiculous statement, but that’s actually quite a rare occurrence. Game development is a passion occupation, something you do because you love it — but it isn’t always fun. We’re almost a year into development, and we’re in what is commonly accepted as the rough part of a development cycle: the production phase. It’s the period of time in which the fun of coming up with new ideas has withered in favor of making things day in, day out, and the excitement of being almost done is still far-off in the distance.

Nuclear Throne is a top-down action game with procedurally generated levels. It’s Hotline Miami meets Binding of Isaac. It’s fast, difficult, and different every single time. It’s pulp sci-fi made into a video game. The world as we know it is gone — destroyed by some long-forgotten disaster — and mutants roam the planet. Players pick from a variety of mutants, ranging from a fish with a guitar to a scientist turned muscular hulk, and head out into the wastelands to conquer the elusive Nuclear Throne.

Nuclear ThroneNuclear Throne

Every single one of the (now) eleven mutants comes with it’s own active and passive ability. During the game, players can carry two out of more than 60 available weapons at once, mutate their character with more than 25 different mutations to gain new powers or buffs, collect rare crowns to modify the rules of the random generation, and try and take shortcuts through secret areas. That means that in a single run, there so many possible variations that it’d require at least a line on this blog to write out just how many options there are. There are so many combinations, that we have no way of knowing how each of them works out.

Normally, when you make a game, you place the enemies somewhere interesting, make sure there are pickups in the right places and that the ammo is plentiful and the weapons nicely hidden. You design to make things interesting, giving the player a melee weapon in a stealth section and more ammo than reasonable before a firefight.

As a game developer, you tend to know everything about your game, and that makes the game less fun to play. As a gamer, you can get attuned to that sort of thing when you game a lot. You know that feeling when you run into a room, and it’s stocked with weapons and ammo, and you know it’s time for a boss battle? We don’t have that, and we think Nuclear Throne is a better game that way. What we do have is the feeling of beating a boss with just three bullets and one health left, against all odds, because the random generation dealt you a bad hand, and you dealt with it.

Sometimes, the game surprises even us. We were watching a Let’s Play of Nuclear Throne’s Early Access build one day, and someone figured out that grenades can be hit with melee weapons. We knew that. This player was playing Steroids, a dual-wielding hulk that can fire both weapons at once — and in this case, they had a grenade launcher and a sledgehammer.

Nuclear Throne

The player was stuck in a corner, down to just one health, and their grenades didn’t quite reach the snipers that were keeping them locked down in a small alcove. The two of us at Vlambeer agreed the run was over. There was no good way out. The player didn’t want to have any of that, though. They ran out in the open, aiming lasers from all directions immediately locking onto them. There was less than a second before the snipers would fire.

The player hit the fire button for both the grenade launcher and the sledgehammer at once. The grenade shot out, got hit by the hammer on its first frame, and turned into a deadly projectile that moved way further than it normally would. The grenade caused a chain reaction, and most of the snipers were taken care of in a single flash of brilliance. They cleaned up the rest of the resistance with some spectacular sledgehammer action, but we were so in awe of the sledgehammer-grenade trick that we barely noticed.

We never designed that to be possible, we just made grenades that you can hit with melee weapons and a mutant that can fire two weapons at once. There are thousands of interesting combinations like that, things we never considered, locked away in Nuclear Throne. It’s amazing that, almost half a year in, our players continue to show us new things about our own game on a regular basis.

Maybe, one day, we’ll discover something absolutely unexpected ourselves.

//Add Your Own

34 Comments

1

+ DrApollo on May 14th, 2014 at 11:04 am said:

Looks awesome!


2

+ LTWOOD12 on May 14th, 2014 at 11:13 am said:

As a huge fan of Luftrausers & Ridiculous Fishing, this looks like my jam. So glad this is coming to Playstation. You guys really nail it when it comes to satisfying gameplay and as Tim Rogers would say, ‘sticky friction.’

Best of luck to the team at Vlambeer!


3

+ MapleStory on May 14th, 2014 at 11:14 am said:

Hotline Miami meets Binding of Isaac?

So, should I give you my wallet now or…?


4

+ Hefestus91 on May 14th, 2014 at 11:15 am said:

Will it have ad hoc for the vita? Looks fun.


5

+ xClayMeow on May 14th, 2014 at 11:30 am said:

I was just eyeing this on Steam the other day. Had no idea it was coming to Vita. AWESOME!


6

+ HeavyToka on May 14th, 2014 at 12:07 pm said:

This looks fantastic! Can’t wait to get my hands on it.


7

+ MarcCheewowah on May 14th, 2014 at 12:17 pm said:

Wow! This game looks like crazy fun! I absolutely love how it is all randomly generated and never the same every time you play. I can already see myself spending hours trying to create the perfect mutant, ready for any situation. Looks awesome! Day 1 definitely. And I’ll probably get it on Vita (Gotta love that portableness!). Also, I definitely agree with MapleStory’s comment. ME WANT NOOOOW!!!


8

+ tingli on May 14th, 2014 at 12:21 pm said:

I love this game!!! I have it on steam and I will buy it on the vita/ps4 when ever it comes out.


9

+ Trendy_Kid on May 14th, 2014 at 12:24 pm said:

Ooo baby. This looks like what I was expecting Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know” to be.


10

+ cowmamba on May 14th, 2014 at 12:37 pm said:

Holy smokes! I was watching the trailer and my Vita started DROOLING!!! I am just as excited! It looks so awesome!


11

+ califoreigner on May 14th, 2014 at 12:43 pm said:

can’t wait to play this one on the go


12

+ PainOfSarrow on May 14th, 2014 at 12:59 pm said:

Looks Brutal, i like.


13

+ Ricen-Beans on May 14th, 2014 at 1:27 pm said:

Count me in for the Vita version!

Loved Luftrausers and also Super Crate Box


14

+ Khoury on May 14th, 2014 at 3:12 pm said:

This game looks fantastic! This will feel right at home on my new Vita. Day 1 purchase for me


15

+ paulogy on May 14th, 2014 at 3:28 pm said:

This is the exact same reason why I made a procedurally generated website. I wanted to be entertained by what it created on its own :-)


16

+ xStillborn on May 14th, 2014 at 5:09 pm said:

I’m waiting to beta this for you on the Vita. . . ‘cuz you need someone right? Bueller?

:D

As others have said:
Day 1 purchase. My Vita will play the s#@t outta this.


17

+ Gamer_USA- on May 14th, 2014 at 5:41 pm said:

Twin stick shooter? Yawn.


18

+ Stollrofl on May 14th, 2014 at 6:26 pm said:

Such a great game to have on the Vita, I can’t wait.


19

+ waldowalso on May 14th, 2014 at 6:29 pm said:

Twin stick shooter? Awesome.

Looks great, I’ll be downloading this for my PS3 day one.


20

+ tusunami on May 14th, 2014 at 7:09 pm said:

Awe yeah I like this it will be another game on my list to get. Indie games are so much fun!!!!!!!!!


21

+ wilfareus on May 14th, 2014 at 7:31 pm said:

can’t wait to play this on my Vita :D


22

+ juggalorider on May 14th, 2014 at 8:27 pm said:

all these games could have been on ps3, so why do so many indie companies wasting the ps4 power by making crapy looking games, look at war frame or black light, they are both indie companies but they have really good graphics


23

+ jibjab79 on May 14th, 2014 at 10:46 pm said:

Trying to get an understanding on why these 1980′s style keep showing up as big news for Playstation. I’ll support an indie developer if they came out with something more appealing. But I keep reading the comments on here like they have been waiting for these types of game their whole lives and are hyped up about it… why? Are you guys working for or being paid by Sony or the indie developers to post overhyped up comments?


24

+ waldowalso on May 14th, 2014 at 11:22 pm said:

Ok jibjab let me try and help you understand why everybody is different than you and why people will like things and get excited about things that you won’t. To be blunt, that’s life. But to be more user friendly…

I’m 43 and have been playing some kind of pinball/video/arcade/pc game since the late 70s . Even today I still enjoy retro looking/playing games because I can really relate to them.

So…. I like randomization, I like retro graphics, I like twin stick shooters, I like post nuclear settings/mutants, I like variety and options, I like lower prices for my videogame entertainment…. Hence I like the look of this game. And I’m also very happy to see the PS3 is getting the as well since that is what like playing games on at this time. Simple.

And to be honest, I didn’t see any “waiting their whole lives” level of comments here but hey, interpretation is a personal thing. If you look hard enough you will see whatever it is you want to. Be negative if you wish. Now, excuse me while I continue looking forward to playing Nuclear Throne.


25

+ WolfyHopeless on May 15th, 2014 at 1:45 am said:

http:// hopeless-savage.tumblr. com/post/85803974851/ my-drunken-rant-to-the-majority-that-comments-on

Pretty much sums it up for me. Whiners, shut up – grow up.


26

+ WolfyHopeless on May 15th, 2014 at 1:48 am said:

Also Jibjab, it speaks in leaps and bound to me that you’d accuse someone of being paid off by indie developers. like LOL holy shiz, do you even understand how things work?


27

+ iREVOLTER on May 15th, 2014 at 3:51 am said:

Cross-Buy I guess ? I may check it.


28

+ Harerazer on May 15th, 2014 at 4:15 am said:

Thank you for making the game I’ve always wanted to play. Randomness is NECESSARY for any game to be good. While most game players would rather have the scripted patterns so that they can memorize and take advantage of program glitches and blind spots, I would much rather have something thrown at me and say “figure out how to beat me any way you can”. This will be a Day One purchase (pre-order?) for my PS4 and hopefully you can work out a PS+ Cross-buy. Cross-Play would also be nice since this looks like one of those games you just don’t want to put down (“just one more level!) so switching over to a Vita would be sublime.


29

+ zhouxingtianxia on May 15th, 2014 at 6:05 am said:

I hope the big game can login the psvita. I recognition psvita remote play ps4 game and psnow is a good idea. but I more hope the traditional big game can login the psvita


30

+ LongshotCubed on May 15th, 2014 at 7:39 am said:

This looks fantastic; I’m loving the randomization aspects. Definitely a buy for me here.


31

+ LUCIFERSGLEAM on May 15th, 2014 at 2:49 pm said:

*Goes back to play superior games on my 3DS*


32

+ Ctair_Pilru on May 15th, 2014 at 6:08 pm said:

Hi, I know this isn’t the place, but is there a plan to bring Kindle, a pdf reader or some ebook reader to Vita?


33

+ spacemonkeyham on May 15th, 2014 at 9:22 pm said:

Trailer made me giddy. Mutant is my new favorite language.


34

+ Ultimate_Atheist on May 16th, 2014 at 2:09 pm said:

If it’s Cross-Buy, I’ll give it a go! =)


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