I don’t know why the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage frightened me so much as a kid. In it a crew of scientists and physicians are shrunk down to microscopic size and enter the human body to treat a dying patient. Their mission is complicated by a series of obstacles and they almost don’t make it back out. As an adult I realize that my fears were irrational as I will never enter a human body in a tiny ship to fight viruses, but the game Immuno let’s me imagine I am.
Read below what inspired Richard and Quinn to develop a game where you combat germs.
Maybe I can find out how I can get a mini Myto inside of me to block histamines during allergy season.
Tell us about Immuno.
Immuno is a color matching, puzzle shoot ‘em up game from Wulfpup Studios. We’ve taken the classic color matching concept and smashed it together with the skill shooting mechanic of space invaders to make this nail biting, virus filled, mutant baby we call immuno. Its like popping bubble wrap but the bubbles bite back!
Immuno transports the player inside the human immune system. Battle your way through each organ in the human body to destroy wave after wave of pesky viruses. Join forces with MYTO, general of the body’s defense system to take down the villainous SUPER BUG and rid the body of the invading virus army!
Immuno is packed with hours of addictive game play. It features 360 levels, 120 challenges, 6 unique boss fights, and a procedurally generated endless mode so the game is never the same twice.
What inspired you to make a game about viruses?
We were really inspired by games like Agar.io and Slither.io. It’s an exhilarating feeling to play as a tiny creature fighting to survive inside a microscopic organism. When we played those games, we started thinking it would be cool to see a game that was based on real viruses inside of the human body’s immune system. For our twist we thought it could be awesome to defend the body instead of running away from other enemies. Our first concepts and drawings were based on real science and realistic looking graphics. But what we discovered was that this look and concept wasn’t appealing to a mass market. So we started thinking; what if all of the viruses had personalities and had animated faces and expressions? We took a lot of inspiration from the art of angry birds and cut the rope to come up with our own mix of adorable yet mischievous looking viruses. Once we implemented the new art style we started to get a lot of positive feedback from both kids and adults and we knew we had found our look.
Are the bosses based on real infectious agents?
The bosses in immuno are not based on real viruses. At first we loved the idea of building each bosses special attack off of a real world virus but this approach didn’t yield any fun or interesting mechanics. We ended up spending way to much time researching viruses and the ideas felt very forced and boring. We felt trapped by reality so we just decided to design gameplay that was fun and then came up with fictional bosses based on their abilities.
How much scientific research went into preparing this game?
Initially a lot! But like I said earlier, the game we started designing based off of real world viruses was unappealing and downright gross to look at! This lead us to take a more whimsical fun approach to the graphics and gameplay.
How long have you been working on this project?
The better part of 6 years. We originally created the project in unity but we wanted to make 2d games and keep our concepts simple so we decided to switch to the Construct2 engine. We had to completely rebuild the game in Construct2 which allowed us to develop much faster and eliminated the complexities of using a 3d engine. Making a game on the side, after work, can be grueling and we just slowly chipped away at it over many years. Recently, the game really started to take shape and we have been gaining momentum ever since. Our launch is so close we can taste it! (I hope it doesn’t taste like viruses)
What would you say is the most interesting aspect of your game?
I would say our procedurally generated levels coupled with our progression and upgrade system. As the game gets harder the ability upgrades get stronger and the player is able to progress further and further as they go along.
Tell us about the team of people at Wulfpup.Studios.
Wulfpup Studios was founded by myself, Richard Pince and my cousin Quinn McDonald.
IMMUNO is our first commercial title as a studio but I have been working in the game industry for over 20 years and have created art and animation for a plethora of AAA game projects including: Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, Sly Cooper (Thieves In Time), Infamous 2, Killzone 3, The puppeteer and many more.
Quinn, our Coder/Designer started off in game development by making his own Doom 2 levels when he was just 11 years old. His math and logic abilities have landed him jobs at companies like Northrop Grumman and Molina Healthcare.
We have also had some help from the extremely talented composer Bobby Rose who created our awesome soundtrack.
Cool Studio Name, where did it come from?
My cousin and I like to indulge in a delicious beer from time to time and the name came from a weekend where we were drinking Wolf Pup Session IPA from Golden Road while we worked. We made a minor tweak on the spelling and WULFPUP was born! (Say the U like stewie says cool whhhip)(Whulf-pup)
What has inspired the colorful characters in Immuno?
I have always had a desire to create stylized cartoon art ever since I was a kid. I was always impressed with the art style of Angry birds and cut the rope. I loved the way that Rovio and Zeptolab used those adorable characters to pull people into the game and make a puzzle game have a sense of story and personality. Since our game is a “casual” type game I thought characters with the same charm and humor could go a long way with our target audience. The viruses in the game have derived some of their shapes from real viruses and other biological entities.
What is a game that made you say “Wow! That’s what I want to do”?
The game I remember playing that inspired me to start creating art for video games was “Toejam and Earl” on the original SEGA Genesis. The crazy characters and hilarious story just sucked me in and I can recall going through the instruction booklet and creating fan art pieces of every character I found in those pages. (Yes I’m old enough to remember when games came with instruction booklets) Check out some of my crazy art at my art station page! https://www.artstation.com/richardpince
Did you go to school for what you’re doing and/or how did you learn to do what you do?
Yes I went to four years of art school at Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna beach California. I graduated with a bachelors of fine art with emphasis in animation. So college was a big part of my training, but I also have been creating art in some form since I was old enough to hold a pencil.
Quinn attended UC Berkeley where he majored in Mathematics. He has always been a math wiz and I can clearly remember his goal to count to googleplex when he was just 5 or 6. He taught himself game development in middle school by programming RPGs on his graphing calculator.
What has been the biggest challenge in developing your game so far? How have you dealt with it?
The biggest challenge has been finding the time to develop. Quinn and I have met this challenge in several ways. We instituted a game jam weekend. We make it a point to get together in the same room and jam on the game for a whole weekend. We found that working in the same room together, charging towards the same goal, supercharges our productivity. Working 2 days together in the same room is equivalent to about 2 months of solo development after or before work. Outside of our game jams I do most of my development really early in the morning before I go to work. Quinn does his development late at night. Finding uninterrupted time to yourself is paramount to making progress on your game.
What methods are you using to evaluate progress during the development phases of your game?
We have been relying heavily on google keep to schedule tasks. We have a huge list of features we want to complete and every time we complete one we just check the item off the list. Keep has a really nice #username system that allows us to call out who the task is for.
What kind of feedback have you received and how have you applied it?
We received some major feedback about how we were presenting our game levels. We used to have 1 level for each body part that had a massive amount of waves with a boss battle at the end. This resulted in later levels taking over 30 mins to complete with no way to pick up your progress if you died. This was very frustrating to our group of play testers. Our solution was to break up the game play into several smaller levels in each world so a player would only lose a bit of progress when they die. Implementing this change was a big challenge because it meant creating a whole new UI for the level selection and a ton of code to make it all work. We are glad we spent the extra time and effort though because we feel it really strengthened the game.
What was the most absurd response you’ve gotten when telling people about your game?
The reactions that people have blurted out during our intro cinematic have been downright hilarious. One guy just stuttered, Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh BIZARRE! And we had Tim Ruswick from Game Dev Underground play our game recently and he got this expression on his face that just said “What sort of madness is being shoved into my eyeballs right now???”
How do you deal with negative comments?
We really haven’t had many. We’ve been excited to hear quite a bit of positivity about the game. I’m sure we will get some trolls in the future but attending art school made me develop a really thick skin toward critiques and negative comments. I tend to take any criticism we get and turn it into positive changes to make the game better.
When and on which platforms will your game be released?
With a little bit of luck we will be releasing on android some time in the next 2 weeks! Then shortly after we are planning on Steam, Kartridge, i0S, and eventually Xbox if we are doing well.
What Dev to Dev advice do you have for other indie game developers?
Learn to take critique. Don’t get stuck on your ideas. Be awesome to work with. Be patient, games take forever to make. Get something done every day and those little tasks will eventually pile up into a finished game!
Is there any Behind the Scenes information we missed that you’d like to add?
None that I can think of! We are looking for publishers and investors to partner with on upcoming projects so spread the word!
If you wouldnt mind spreading the word about our game on social media and sharing our social media channels with your community that would be awesome! We will be launching to android next weekend so we can shoot you a link to our game in the google play store!
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wulfpupstudios/?ref=bookmarks
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wulfpup_Studios
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wulfpupstudios/
- Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/wulfpupstudios
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC11cCs2E4BpV8FKMb1iniSA