Format • Windows PC
Release • Summer 2016, Currently in Beta
Price • Around 5 USD
Developer • Ben Bradley, Southampton, UK
Substream is a single-player on-rails shooter in development for Windows PC. The player has
third-person control over an alien aircraft. The game features environments which morph and animate with the melodies, rhythms and moods of the soundtrack. Substream also has looped space, which means enemies and the player's aircraft exist in multiple positions in space simulataneously. Gameplay has an arcade feel - levels are time limited and high score driven. The game is abstract with no story.
A preview build of Substream is available on itch.io.
I also post Substream clips on Vine.
Substream Screenshots, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Animated GIFs, 256 x 163 pixels
Substream is hand-crafted to respond not just to the rhythm and intensity of music, but its moods, melodies and themes. The game environment morphs and animates constantly to compliment these. Enemy attacks are often synchronized with individual instruments in the soundtrack. The music comes first in the design process. Each level is the developer's interpretation of a piece of music by a different artist in a different genre.
• Chiptune from Magnus Palsson aka SoulEye (creator of the VVVVVV soundtrack).
• Monster Ceilidh Band, one of Britain's biggest electro-folk bands.
• Nexus Plate, heavy tribal electronica.
• SP Productions, hip-hop.
• Thotbott, melodic breakbeat.
In Substream space is wrapped into a narrow loop. As you fly through the environment a single enemy will appear in multiple positions ahead of you and can attack you from either side. The player effectively controls an infinite squadron of aircraft fighting infinite rows of enemies. There is often a tactical choice about which instance of an enemy is better to attack.
Flight is on-rails and progress is in a general forward direction. Players can turn to the side, but as space is looped no meaningful progress can be made in that direction.
The full game will be relatively short, with three to five levels. The primary goal is to survive until the end of each music track. Enemies appear in waves and may drop powerups including homing missiles, railguns and plasma bombs.
About The Developer
Ben Bradley has worked in game development since 2006. Initially a programmer on several Wii, PSP and Xbox 360 titles at Sumo Digital, he's also worked as a graphics programmer on industrial simulators and as a lecturer in games programming at Southampton Solent University.
Substream has been developed over several years. This began in 2010, a time when off-the-shelf game engines were either priced for large game studios or did not give the level of control needed to create the fully dynamic environments for Substream. The game has been developed in a custom DirectX engine.
The original inspiration for Substream came from a desire to take game music animation further; to reflect more than just the beat and insensity by creating a hand-made interpretation with a more tangible solid visual style.
Previews and Interviews
• PC Gamer Preview, "the first level's backing track kicked up a notch, and the environment and enemies came to life" - Phil Savage.
• Gamasutra Interview, "with so many years in development for a single game, I question whether it was tough to keep the passion alive" - Mike Rose.
• Alpha Beta Gamer Preview, "looking ridiculously cool" - Calum Fraser.
• Two Dash Stash Preview, "players might have trouble keeping up with all the enemies on-screen, attacks flying by, bright colors, and shifting lights" - Gabriel Mejia.
• RGCD Article, "I'm really excited about this one. Substream looks like someone dropped something a bit naughty in Star Fox's morning cuppa" - James Monkman.
Events where Substream was playable by the public
• PlayMargate, Margate UK, August 2015.
• Southampton Game Fest, Southampton UK, August 2015.
• London Anime and Gaming Con, London UK, July 2015.
• PlayBlackpool, Blackpool UK, May 2014.
• GameCity, Nottingham UK, October 2010.
Links and Social Media