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Blood will be Spilled
A spaghetti-western-themed 2D action platformer taking place in a world inhabited by insects. A story of revenge, gunsmoke and chitin.
Blood will be Spilled is a spaghetti-western-themed 2D action platformer taking place in a world inhabited by insects. You follow the story of Jack, a mosquito gunslinger, on his quest for revenge. The game will be available on PC, Mac & Linux and we're also planning to bring it to consoles one day.
Revenge is like a chilli - to make it good, Jack needs the right ingredients. A bit of money - from all the collected bounties; few friends, that could help him in the time of need; his own skills and abilities; and most of all shallow graves for all those who would stand in his way. The only question is: Are you going to be the Good, the Bad, or the Ugly?
The game is our tribute to the spaghetti western genre. We took inspiration from games we love and also from movies by Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. As the characters are insects, we tried to draw the inspiration from cliches from the both of the worlds.
With the story setting being a spaghetti western, we are trying to utilize mechanics like gun tricks, shootouts, standoffs and bounties and wanted to make every bullet of your sixshooter count. The art design consists of comic book-like hand drawn illustrations and motion comic cutscenes to drive the whole experience.
Jack is a mosquito, a bounty hunter… or at least what’s left of him. He used to ride in a gang, but the men he trusted betrayed him, broke him, beat him and left him to perish out in the wastelands. But he somehow managed to survive. And that’s quite bad news for some. Because Jack will have his revenge and he’ll hunt down the ones that did him wrong. And you can be sure that once he’ll get them, blood will be spilled...
The story takes place around the town of Driftwood, five years after Jack was left for dead by his own compatriots. After his arrival in the town, Jack soon finds out that things will be a little more complicated than he originally thought.
The main protagonist of the game. Silent stranger, always with the sharp look and lightning-fast gun-handling skills. He’s a drifter coming from the dusty wasteland and then disappearing again into the sunset. Seeking revenge and hunting down men from his shady past as well as everyone standing in his way.
Owner of the Hearts Saloon and the big bug around these parts. Always taking care of her girls and she’s as beautiful as one gets. But everyone knows, that while she is all heart, she does have a sharp sting and a double-barrelled shotgun right under the bar just in case.
A soldier with all his heart, body and his trusty gatling machine gun. You don't become a war hero commanding a platoon full of pissed off hornets by being a sissy. You are on the good side as long as it's Ace's side. And trust me, when he’s shooting, you don't want to be anywhere else.
The shaman, hermit and one of the last living native indi-ants. He talks with the ancient spirits and knows powerful magic. Or at least he thinks he does. What’s true though is that he found a nearly dead mosquito in the desert once and that's when it all started to be interesting.
Apart from being the only undertaker in the town of Driftwood, he’s also the narrator of the whole story. He seems to like Jack as the gunslinger keeps him busy, because gravedigging business is booming ever since Jack arrived in town.
Blood will be Spilled, being a 2D action platformer, combines intense western-movie-style shooting action with a dash of platforming, a handful of puzzles and a spoonful of simple RPG elements. At its core, it’s a story driven spaghetti western comic book. Think of Shank and Mark of the Ninja meets Rayman Legends and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.
Jack will be able to choose from three different skill trees - the good, the bad and the ugly, each with its own special abilities. For good guys, acting faster than anybody is the way to go, bad guys like to keep things simple and deadly and ugly ones… well, they just want to laugh at the world burning. Player will be able to choose a skill tree (we call them “Paths”) before each level, so that you try out which one suits you best for every particular level. New abilities will unlock after completing a level.
You can try a few of those in the current demo.
For a bounty hunter, chasing down gangsters is a livelihood. And to be good at your work, you need the best tools available. With the money Jack will acquire, he’ll be able to buy new guns with different properties, like accuracy, number of bullets or range.
During shootouts, Jack can hide behind a cover to reload bullets or just to take a little break from all the shooting.
Every bullet counts. If you take an empty gun to a gunfight or will shoot without thinking and aiming properly, it’s quite possible that you’ll trade your pistol for a coffin. Because reloading takes time and that’s a precious commodity once there are bullets flying all around you.
If there’s one thing, that’s really iconic for the spaghetti western genre, it’s the wind tower making a really ugly squeaky noise when it turns. And right there in the second place, we have duels, or standoffs. Some of the boss battles will be done in this way, rewarding speed and precision. But duels are a tricky business - pull out your gun too soon and you’ll be forever remembered as a dishonorable bastard, draw too late and you might not get a chance to draw your gun ever again.
Sucking blood is what mosquitoes are best known for and it’s no different with Jack (in the world of BWBS, also mosquito males can suck blood). The blood is then used to fuel his powerful abilities.
You can try out most of these things in our current demo. It is available for download for PC and Mac here. The demo showcases what we want the game to look like, both visually and also gameplay-wise. We have been able to show it on a couple of events and e were astonished by the amount of positive feedback we received. That being said, we are aware of some of its shortcomings and also received quite a lot of suggestions and new ideas that we plan to implement.
The demo offers around 15 minutes of gameplay, is fully voiced and has an original music created by local award-winning post-jazz band Dajme Tomu. You can try out one of the three showcase special abilities and most of the core gameplay mechanics. It is playable with either controller or keyboard and mouse.
Our studio formed around May 2014 when we decided to try out making our first game together. The project was in pre-production phase for a couple of months, while we were looking for the right tools and learning how to use them. We have publicly shown our vision for the first time with a trailer in November 2014 at GDS2014 in Prague and then presented our first playable prototype in January at CEGC2015 in Vienna.
From that point on, we worked mostly on our first version of the playable demo that we submitted to IndieCade Festival in June 2015 and also demonstrated at Radius Festival 2015 in Vienna. We polished the demo even more and added some new features so that we could send it to IGF2015 in October and also released it publicly available for download to get valuable feedback. We also showcased the latest demo on a bigger convention called Reboot Infogamer 2015 in Zagreb, Croatia in November. And you can find us on CEGC2016 in Vienna in February 2016.
So, currently we have a playable demo, that represents around 70% of a little unpolished vertical slice and also serves as our proof of concept. From now on, we’d like to finish up with the story, finish our game design document and polish and fine-tune all the core mechanics. Then, it will be mostly about creating a huge amount of assets and content , like levels, art, cutscenes, music, voiceovers, etc. We estimate that this could take around 1.5 to 2 years, depending on how successful we are at acquiring the necessary resources and support.
Why crowdfunding? We’ve been working on Blood will be Spilled for about one and a half year now, in all the spare time we could find, and financed it all from our own savings. Because of our previous work experience, we were able to do some other little jobs on the side to keep us going, but now we came to a point where we’d truly like to dedicate our time to work on the game full-time. A successful crowdfunding campaign would allow us to do that and would also cover for all the necessary costs like software licenses, additional voiceovers and help with some expenses of showcasing the game on events abroad. We absolutely believe in the project and all the encouraging feedback we received on various events made our determination even stronger.
To wrap up, we are eagerly looking forward to hearing what you guys at Square Enix Collective think about our game, so let us know in the comments. If you like it and would like to help us, cast your vote here. You can also visit our website and enter our mailing list, if you want to be updated on our progress. Lastly, you can definitely follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or IndieDB if you’d like to follow our development a bit more closely.
And you can also help us to get on Steam by voting for us on Greenlight.
And if you think some of your friends might also like filling some insect gangsters with lead, let them know!
From the very beginning, our plan was to build the game heavily on stereotypes and cliches and to find some interesting and funny similarities between the world of old spaghetti (Italian) western movies and the (stylised) world of insects. And you can do that only if the audience is familiar with both, otherwise it’s just plain weird. Many things we use in the game are metaphors, equivoques (double meanings or puns) and references and the same goes naturally for the main character. Let’s take a closer look at some ideas behind the creation of a mosquito gunslinger Jack.
Warning! This post contains movie spoilers. Even though the movies mentioned are mostly more than 40 years old, some people may need a warning. So, consider yourself warned.
The silent (anti)hero
Do you remember the stranger who arrives into a small dusty town in “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964) or in its derivative“A Stranger in Town” (1967)? Or the man in the long union overcoat knee-deep in mud towing a coffin in “Django”(1966) or the mysterious nameless harmonica player who arrives with a train in “Once Upon a Time in the West”(1968)? Then you get the idea. And if you spent last 50 years in jail and never heard about those movies, be sure to take a look at them. Most of the movies mentioned in this article are among the best this genre can offer.
In this tradition Jack is a rather silent type of an anti-hero, always with the sharp look and lightning-fast gun handling skills. He’s a drifter coming from a dusty wasteland and then disappearing again into the sunset.
Even the name of the main character – Jack – should in fact evoke the spaghetti western tradition. Protagonists often have pretty odd names like Ringo, Sartana, Django, Mannaja, Johnny Yuma, Navajo Joe, Indio Black or even Cemetery or Trinity. Clint Eastwood’s character in The Dollars trilogy is once called “Joe” by the undertaker, another time Monco (or Manco, which means single-handed in Spanish) and then referred to as Blondie (for his hair and skin color), clearly neither of these being his real name. In “The Great Silence” (1968) the gunslinger is only referred to as Silence (yes, he is mute but that’s not why he’s called Silence – they call him that “because wherever he goes, the silence of death follows.”). Now there is Jack, the lowest face card in the deck but at the same time “Jack of all trades” with many useful skills and unpredictable but quick as “Jack in the box”. But you still don’t know Jack…
A bounty hunter
A bounty hunter is someone who captures outlaws for a reward. Despite the fact that he basically captures or kills bad guys, it’s not an act of altruism. Many characters in the spaghetti western cinematography were bounty hunters or at least gunmen for hire. Almost every Clint Eastwood’s (“For a Few Dollars More” (1965)) and a lot of Lee Van Cleef’s (“The Big Gundown” (1966)) characters are some kind of bounty hunters, Gianni Garko is the bounty killer Sartana in the Sartana “series” and Silence in “The Great Silence” (1968) is a bounty hunter who only kills other bounty hunters “who under the guise of legality made violent murder a profitable way of life”. It is a nice way of creating a protagonist of questionable morality – make him look like a good person in some way yet still let him kill more people than the plague during the Middle Ages.
That’s why we chose Jack to be a bounty hunter by profession – not only in a tradition of spaghetti westerns but it also lets the player to choose a path or a play style in a wider context. Furthermore it helps us justify the core gameplay elements, as killing bad guys is Jack’s actual work. It also works for us, because now you can actually get monetary reward for killing enemies instead of just some score points. Later we also want to implement a couple of game mechanics (which we mockingly call “the killer life”) where you can earn money according to the finesse and effectivity of sending your enemies to kingdom come. From the storytelling point of view, this way we can create interesting conflicts, in which the protagonist’s rather simple agenda of capturing criminals can interfere with some greater scheme and drag him deeper into trouble.
Beaten to a pulp
Fairly regularly in spaghetti westerns, protagonists are severely beaten up almost to death, tortured, shot or mutilated, only so they could rise and defeat the whole gang of bad guys in the end. There is one nice explanation for this: “It takes the whole gang to beat him up, as he is more than a match for them individually.”We can see examples of this in “A Fistful of Dollars” (after Joe’s double play has been revealed) or in “A Stranger in Town” (when Stranger is double-crossed by the bandit leader). Sergio Corbucci is even known for not letting his characters to recover before the final fight – Django’s hands are crushed (“Django”) and in “The Great Silence” the hero’s shooting hand is badly burnt and shot. Jack was also betrayed, brutally beaten, his proboscis (that’s the pointy thing mosquitoes use for sucking blood) was broken, his wings were torn off and he was left for dead in the middle of the wasteland. This is not only a tribute, but also a practical choice for us, but more about that a moment later.
Revenge is a quite a popular theme in westerns (not just Italian), so much that there is a whole sub-genre of revenge western stories. In “Hills Run Red” (1966) ex-convict seeks revenge upon his former partner who betrayed him 5 years ago, in “Death Rides a Horse” (1967) a boy whose father was killed and mother and sister were raped and murdered in front of him by a gang, sets out 15 years later to exact his revenge. “Once Upon a Time in the West” features the harmonica player seeking revenge for the death of his older brother. We can argue why, but the truth is, it grants not only a motivation and some kind of personal commitment to the hero towards the story itself, but also as Quentin Tarantino once said it creates an emotion which the audience (in our case the player) is familiar with and is quite easily understandable. This is not something new. Revenge as a plot device was highly used not only by the master of revenge drama William Shakespeare but long before that in ancient greek tragedies. Therefore western movies can be easily perceived as a reimagination of this topic.
Jack was betrayed and left for dead. You don’t need to know how and why but you still have the reason for a vengeance. That’s why we choose to use our paraphrased tagline “Revenge is a kind of justice”.
From the world of insects the mosquito was a pretty obvious choice for a main character – his lust for blood is a metaphor for his path of revenge. Of course we still had to take some creative liberties and do some stylisation. Maybe now it is the right time for a little biology lesson. Many species of the mosquitoes are ectoparasites – they are adapted for sucking animal and human blood. But this applies only to female mosquitoes. As we wanted to stick with the archetype of a male gunslinger desperado, yes, Jack is a male mosquito and he can suck blood. He can also shoot a sixgun so what? Another tweaked fact is that the insect circulatory system uses hemolymph – fluid analogous to blood, but instead of red hemoglobin it contains hemocyanin, a copper-based protein, thus it is green. As the green color has a different meaning and green blood is more associated with sci-fi alien creatures than western movies, in the world of Blood will be Spilled all blood is red (as a color of anger and hatred and… well, blood). You could say that bugs walking on two legs is also some creative liberty, but hey, we are not the first with this one, nor was Pixar, for that matter.
The most noteworthy part of the Jack’s character design is certainly his poncho, which recalls the man with no name (from the Dollars trilogy) or Stranger, but instead of earthy green or grayish tones we choose bright red as a color of blood. Ornaments on the cloth also resembles that of Clint Eastwood’s. Jack’s poncho is the symbol of his revenge rampage and bloodlust but it should also “highlight” the character on the screen. Since the poncho is basically just a piece of cloth, we wanted to use it to emphasize the movement of the main character. When Jack walks, his poncho waves behind him in the wind and when he jumps the poncho traces his movement in the same way as a superhero cape would. It’s pretty badass if you ask me. The poncho covers Jack’s face – firstly because Jack doesn’t want his enemies to find out that he is actually still alive, until it’s too late for them. And secondly it hides his broken proboscis until he is ready to suck blood. It covers his broken wings too, because he can’t use them for flying anyway. Here we must honestly admit the inspiration by the vampire Raziel from the Legacy of Kain series.
Destroying Jack’s wings was a game design decision at first. We didn’t want to have a platformer where you can fly over every horizontal hazard and you don’t even need to jump. It would affect the level design and the overall game experience in an unwanted way. It’s also incorporated into the story as his wings were torn off so he could not escape from the desert, but also in the world of our game, non-flying insects are considered scum and a lower class citizens compared to flyers. So it is Jack’s fall from grace and also facade in the same way.
Last thing to mention is the Jack’s hat. A nice hat is a pretty important accessory for every gunslinger. This one is inspired by that of Eastwood’s character from “High Plains Drifter” (1973) (which is not a spaghetti western actually), mainly because I really like that pretty nice bond, where Jack carries one bullet prepared just for the main villain – but let’s just stop right here.
If you want to see what awaits Jack in the future, be sure to check our facebook , twitter , instagram from time to time for the latest info. Also, if you like our game, please take a look at our Greenlight and throw us a vote. We would really appreciate it!
-- Written by Martin Kozmon, Art Director of Blood will be Spilled
 ; Hughes, Howard. Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns. I. B. Tauris, 2004. ISBN 185043896X
Ivan KozmonAnimator, Game designer, Manager is the true scavenger of our team. He finds all the half-dead tasks, which nobody else wants and beats them to death. Or to completion. He is probably closest to being a manager (de facto as well as de jure - he finished his studies in strategic management at Faculty of Management CU in Bratislava) of our team, as well as spokesperson, minister of propaganda and level designer. And then, after everybody else is at home, he takes Martin’s character drawings and gives them animation-y life using Spine.
Martin KozmonArt director, Manager is the hand (sometimes two) behind all the drawings and creator of the unique artstyle of our game. Even though he studied Software engineering at Slovak University of Technology, text editor and keyboard just didn’t allow him to satisfy his deepest creative deviations and needs (this whole mosquito-thing started originally as a product of his twisted mind) so he decided to exchange that for pen, paper, ink and a graphics tablet. And as you can see, he decided good.
Juraj DurajkaProgrammer, Manager is the half of the programming team of Doublequote studio, the half that wants his tasks finished as soon and as polished as possible. He’s also an avid everything-theoretician, his interests spans from games, through physics and science at large to Corvidae and other kinds of birds, animals or beasts. Studied Telecommunications at Slovak University of Technology. He’s never satisfied with anything, even with himself.
Pavol TanuskaProgrammer, Manager is the lazier part of the programming team, his attention span counts in mere minutes and have good luck with having him finish a task. Although, he successfully finished a 3 year bachelor studies at Faculty of Information Technology at CTU in Prague (and it took him only 4 years!). His interest in (all the) things ends after figuring out the first three possible theoretical solutions. But he likes to discuss almost anything, even (more) the things he has no idea about. And that’s what the other guys in the team value. Really.