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Shapes of Gray is the best arcade game you've never heard of—and it's coming to Wii U!
March 11, 2015, 20:52:50
I would know, because I'm the one who's making it!

Hey everyone! I'm Trent Steen (otherwise known as Secret_Tunnel), and for the past eight months or so I've been working on bringing my game Shapes of Gray to the Wii U.

Shapes of Gray is a top-down action-arcade game about progressing through a series of ten-second levels as quickly as possible—it kind of plays like Hotline Miami meets WarioWare. In each level, you'll encounter a series of enemy shapes that you have to defeat by using their attacks against each other to clear the level cleanly and efficiently. The various interactions between the shapes give the player quite a bit of freedom in how they want to tackle each challenge, despite the entire game taking place in a tiny circular arena.

I released a prototype of Shapes of Gray for PC about a year ago to modest praise. People who played the game really enjoyed what was there, but there wasn't enough to it! After releasing that version of the game, I sent an application in to Nintendo to become a Wii U eShop developer, and when they accepted me into the program, I knew that a revamped version of Shapes of Gray would have to be my first big project on Wii U.

Since then, a lot has changed within the game. The core design is still there, but the interactions between the various enemies are more complex and dynamic. After getting some great feedback from other developers who have worked on similar games (like Alex Neuse, the lead director of the BIT.TRIP series, and Rami Ismail, the producer behind Luftrausers and Nuclear Throne), I also added in more eye candy and visual polish, along with a ton of new sound effects, all of which add up to make the game world feel much more alive.

Probably the biggest criticism of the original PC version of Shapes of Gray was that there was no score-tracking; imagine, an arcade game with no way to see your high score! Having people tell me that my game is fun and that they'd like to play it over and over again, but that they have no incentive to, was pretty disappointing—so one of the biggest additions that I’ve made to the Wii U version of Shapes of Gray is the Arcade Mode. Designing Arcade Mode has been a ton of fun, and there are a few differences in how it plays that make it really interesting to "figure out"—you’ll get more info on that in just a few weeks.

On top of all that, there's still so much more to the Wii U version of Shapes of Gray that I can't wait for you all to see. The core game is now doubled in length, with twice as many enemies and bosses, there are new powerups scattered throughout the levels, there are challenges for the best players to take on, and there are even some awesome new surprises that you'll have to see for yourself. Of course, the fantastic soundtrack (composed by Negative World's very own Chicago-based indie-punktronic Andrew Nee) is still intact, and sounds better than ever being blared into your ears from the Wii U Gamepad speakers.

Speaking of which, there will be Gamepad-only play too—because what's a Wii U game without it?

Shapes of Gray will be hitting the eShop sometime this Spring, and I'm super-excited for you all to get your hands on it. Until then, I'll keep you updated with a new writeup each week about the game and its development. In addition to getting the word about Shapes of Gray out there, I'm hoping to shed a little bit of light on what my game development process has been like so that more aspiring game developers can get the knowledge they need to make awesome stuff.

If you have any questions about Shapes of Gray, game development, or anything else, you can hit me up on Twitter @Secret_Tunnel. See you next week!

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Posted: 03/11/15, 20:52:50  - Edited by 
 on: 03/11/15, 20:52:14    
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Twitter schmitter! I'll ask in here! Is this gonna be released in Europe?

Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 20:59:58

Maybe. Won't be on Day 1, but I would love to get it out to Europe eventually!

Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 21:09:43
Cool, cool.

Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 21:12:19
I was the first human customer to finish the PC version. The line for my autograph starts behind the velvet rope.

Still working in Game Maker? I should really get back into that.

Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 21:33:58

Yup. The Wii U supports HTML5, and Game Maker has an HTML5 export module.

Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 21:46:26
Congrats! Looking forward to getting this for my Wii U!

Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 22:26:04
Awesome, congrats on getting your game on a Nintendo system! That's awesome man! One question:


Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 23:18:33

3DS is much harder to develop for (like Europe!) than Wii U. Plus, up until the New 3DS was announced, there wasn't really a good way to port the game's controls to 3DS since it's a twin-stick game. Kid Icarus controls maybe could have worked, but it wouldn't have been the same. Now that the New 3DS is out... hey, we'll see! Buuut I probably wouldn't count on it.

Posted by 
 on: 03/11/15, 23:24:52

If there was a 3DS version, I'd pay ya cash money for it.

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 00:05:18
Hey, @Secret_Tunnel, have you ever had anyone tell you that the name reminds them of "50 Shades of Grey"? What do you think of that title getting well-known lately? Does it bug you or make you worry about potential issues with people buying/not buying your game because of confusion?

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 02:25:26
I've been waiting for this one since last year! I hope it's smooth sailing from now to release.

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 02:56:06

Haha, I'd say at least two-thirds of the people who comment or tweet about it point that out. The game's title started off as a pun playing off of the commonly-used phrase "shades of gray," but then once I actually started to think about it months after the fact I realized that that isn't a commonly used phrase and the only time that's ever been said is in the context of that book.

So at the very least it's a memorable title. Hadn't really dawned on me that people might not buy the game because they want to avoid that connotation--if it were a parody of 50 Shades of Gray then it would at least make sense, but the game doesn't have anything to do with that at all, so it's kind of just a weird pun that makes for a funny title. Most people's reaction is, "Woah, I thought this game would be about something else entirely!" and then they judge it for what it is. I think as long as it doesn't turn off a parent who would otherwise buy the game for their kid, I should be good.

...Unless Nintendo doesn't want to prominently feature a game called Shapes of Gray on the front page of the eShop. That could be bad. Though there is a Wii U game called Bombing Bastards. Has anyone here ever encountered that in the eShop without searching for it?


Thank you! Everything from here on out should be relatively painless. Hopefully. Can't wait for you to play it!

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 05:29:58
But I have heard of it...

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 05:33:23
I never finished the PC version although I did stream it and enjoyed it a bunch for what it was.

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 15:35:52
So are there 50 levels? Then it could be 50 Shapes of Gray...

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 16:59:49
Excellent! I'll be grabbing this in the Spring.

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 18:36:17
Secret_Tunnel said:
it's a twin-stick game

How was it played on PC?

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 19:17:42

WASD for movement and mouse to aim.

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 21:50:03

I saw Bombing Bastards without searching for it, but it took at least 3 or 4 clicks to get to from the front page.

Posted by 
 on: 03/12/15, 21:52:36
Oh man. I know the guy who created this game. Don't tell him, but I think I owe him money.

Can't wait to actually have the platform where I can buy and play this game, Trent! Day one support, brah!

Posted by 
 on: 03/13/15, 02:02:00
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