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Posted 3:00pm

The story of Velocity 2X – new screens, new details

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Make no mistake, there were some fantastic announcements at Gamescom earlier this month, and I had a great time checking out Murasaki Baby, Helldivers, Resogun et al. However, I’ll admit that my absolute highlight of the week was getting an early look at Velocity 2X, the follow-up to phenomenal PS Vita top-down shoot ‘em up Velocity Ultra.

Visual effects - Environment lighting

The engine powering Velocity 2X has been engineered from the ground up to target next-gen hardware, and makes use of post processing effects normally reserved for AAA titles.

FuturLab‘s James Marsden swore me to secrecy, so I can’t reveal too much about how the game’s new platforming sections play. That said, I can confirm that it’s a fantastic, smartly-implemented addition that promises to take the series in a really interesting, expansive direction.

You’ll learn more before too long, but in the meantime, I sat down with James to learn a little bit more about how the sequel has taken shape, from the original release of Velocity on the minis service in May last year, through the release of Velocity Ultra earlier this year, and up to the unveiling of Velocity 2X at Gamescom last week.

In the beginning, there was Velocity…

“A few years back I saw on LinkedIn that Shahid Ahmad from SCEE was looking for games for PlayStation Mobile. He was actually our account manager on Coconut Dodge, so I got in touch and said: “We’ve just released Velocity this weekend – here’s a code, have a go.” He sent me a message later that day – a Sunday – saying ‘I’m a man in my 40s and I’ve just spent four hours of my Sunday afternoon playing a shoot ‘em up! This is not normal!’

“He asked us to come in and pitch something ‘slick and futurlabby’ for PS Mobile, so we went to see him with some ideas, which resulted in Surge, Fuel Tiracas and Beats Slider. That was all pretty exciting for us, but he also said he wanted to see Velocity on PS Vita.”

And then came Velocity 2UP…

“He asked us if we had any ideas for how we might bring it to Vita. I just blurted out, ‘Jump out of the ship and run around! And then get back in your ship and fly on!’ His face lit up! He said something about how he always wondered in Aliens what Bishop got up to in his drop ship whilst Ripley is taking the aliens out.

“So we came up with the idea of Velocity 2UP, which would have had two players. But when we started scoping it up and realised how much it would cost to do multiplayer we figured out we couldn’t quite afford it at that stage. So instead we decided to do a one-player game where you get to control Kai Tana on foot as well as controlling the Quarp Jet.”

“Two weeks later Shahid said that he would like us to bring the original Velocity to PS Vita as well as the sequel, but up-rezzed. We got very excited, because a lot of the fans had asked for a Vita version, so we could tell them that was coming, but keep quiet about the sequel.”

“Even though it was just supposed to be an HD version we put in a lot more effort than was perhaps sensible! We could have just taken the original pixel art and redrawn it all in HD, but we didn’t want to just create an HD version of the original and then come out with a sequel that looked completely different. As a consumer that would annoy me. This shows my age, but it would be like Back to the Future Part 2 coming out with different actors!”

Finally, Velocity 2X is born…

“So, Velocity Ultra has been out a month or so in the US, and now here we are talking about a sequel. There were three of us with Velocity and we’ve scaled up to 10 to do the sequel. We are also working with a few contractors, including Joris de Man who’s doing music and audio again. I have to say that some of the music we have so far has put a lump in my throat, just because I care so much about the music being right. It’s just as important as the visuals.”

And platforming sections are introduced…

“The real strength of Velocity that perhaps isn’t recognised is that you have these different play-styles. You’ll have a level that’s fairly slow-paced – you’re just flying around exploring and finding survivors, which puts you in a certain mindset, and if you stayed in that mindset for an hour, you’d get bored.

Puzzle platforming action

Velocity 2X features platforming action alongside the top down shoot ‘em-up gameplay

“But then it changes up and gives you a speed run. It’s very challenging and addictive, and gives you that twitch performance anxiety feeling. And that’s very tiring. If you had a game full of that, your hair would fall out, so then we go back to more casual blasting of aliens. I think that’s the real strength of the game.

“The way we pitched the platforming element to Sony was: ‘If the strength of Velocity is its variety, adding platform sections that re-imagine some of the mechanics will effectively double the amount of variety in the game.’

“It just feels very natural, going from moving a spaceship around in a top down format to moving a character around in a platformer. They’re very similar in lots of ways, but with slight differences and strengths that we can make the most of with level design.”

Adventure

Velocity 2X is a significantly larger game with various alien locations to visit.

But what about Velocity’s infamous difficulty level?

“I think we’ve got the overall difficulty curve right, in terms of starting out simple and then building and building until players realise they have the skills to do amazing things quickly. But we have had some complaints about some people not being able to get the final few rewards.

“We’ll probably tone it down just a tiny bit. It’s still going to be intense, but we might not string those intense challenges together so fiercely. On level 50 in the first game you’ve really got to be on top of your game for a minute and half. The time between challenges is so condensed that you basically have to be super-human or have played the game for a year before you can do it.

“You have different types of gamers. Some people enjoy playing through a game, seeing the story unfold and experiencing the mechanics. They’ll finish it and say ‘I’ve had an enjoyable experience.’ Then there are gamers who are very competitive and they want to challenge themselves.

“What Velocity allows you to do is set your own goals. If you want to go for all perfect gold medals, you can do that, and if you just want a casual experience, you can have that too. We want as many different types of player to enjoy Velocity as possible.”

Visual effects - Bloom

Visual upgrades from Velocity Ultra include environment lighting, bloom, light refraction and anamorphic lens flare as well as particle effects.

Visual effects - Anamorphic lens flare

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Comments

19 Comments 13 Author replies
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DoYouLikeMyID 2 September, 2013 @ 3:26 pm   1

“On level 50 in the first game you’ve really got to be on top of your game for a minute and half. The time between challenges is so condensed that you basically have to be super-human or have played the game for a year before you can do it.”

Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. I got Velocity Ultra free with PS Plus, and got the platinum trophy in a couple of days. But then again, maybe that was because of being able to throw bombs with the right analog stick? I’m certain it helped.

Anyway, I loved Velocity Ultra, hence the reason I wanted to 100 % it. So I’ll definately get Velocity 2X when it comes out. I can’t wait!

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 4:24 pm    

    Hi all, I’m Dave from FuturLab.

    If you have any questions about Velocity 2X please fire away, I’ll do my best to answer them :)

MaxDiehard 2 September, 2013 @ 3:48 pm   2

The only thing I want to know is, can we use to DS4′s touch pad to teleport like the Vita does with the touchscreen?

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 4:20 pm    

    Hey MaxDiehard,
    We’ll give it a go and see how it feels. I’m not sure that a super quick, pin-point teleport can be achieved on the touch pad without looking away from the TV. We’ll see! :)

HomessaHomem 2 September, 2013 @ 3:48 pm   3

I can`t wait!

Despite still struggling with Perfecting the game, I must say that my fingers are more than ready for the sequel! Wonder when was the last time I was this excited for a game.

I think that difficulty is fine as it is. To just complete the game you actually need to have minimal skills, so those just wanting casual experience were already satisfied, I think. As since the sequel, with added platforming and bigger focus on the story, will be even more accessible, I think there is no need to change the learning curve that much. Sure, getting a perfect might required repeating the zone countless times, but precisely because of that, seeing “PERFECT” is so compelling every time. Because this game is excellent at making you feel awesome when you are getting better at it.

To sum up, this game is named Velocity for a reason, so be sure to keep this neck-breaking speed of yours intact!

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 4:33 pm    

    No problem YashaFox!

    We’ll have a smooth 60fps and super tight controls delivering the same speedy, twitch based game play that made Velocity so much fun to play. We love the ‘did I just do that?!’ feeling as much as you ;)

@1
Maybe you’re a super-human then? ;)

I enjoyed Velocity Ultra though I will never platinum it (I’m just not skilled enough and no time to practise). Definitely deserves sequel, I had a blast with it (pun intended). :)

To get a “Perfect” on level 50 was very difficult, those levels in which you have to finish the level as soon as possible kind of felt uneven in terms of difficulty compared to other levels but still the hardest part was beating the minesweeper minigame, I seriously can’t believe that I actually had to learn how to play minesweeper in order to get that final trophy.

Anyway I’ll be waiting for 2X, I really want to play it and I hope the side-scrolling segments don’t disappoint.

Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 4:42 pm   7

Hey YNA_p4u7,

You can be sure that the side-scrolling segments won’t let you down! We wouldn’t have included them if they didn’t reach the high bar set by the top-down sections. We’ll be sharing more very soon!

im just happy that we got this, the first game AND Coconut Dodge hd on the vita.
as an “second tier” european, i dont have playstation mobile (Damn you sony ;) ). so im hoping that your ps moblie games, gets the “HD on vita, with trophys” option one day

Sharingan_itachi 2 September, 2013 @ 4:58 pm   9

Love the art, how many worth of content hours are you guys aiming for?

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 5:25 pm    

    I think in Velocity Ultra there were 4-5 hours if you knew what you were doing. But the real challenge was getting those Perfect medals and that would at least double the length of the game.

    We are aiming for at least that much content in Velocity 2X; though with with the top-down, platforming sections, and bosses, I can see it being even longer!

bennyrafal 2 September, 2013 @ 5:06 pm   10

Damn Dave, GFX are outstanding, see you on your Futurlab twitter.

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 5:13 pm    

    Thanks, Chris (our lead artist – @GoffSpeed) will be very happy you said so! These are pre-alpha screen shots, so there’s much more to come. Can’t wait to show it all off :)

MadMan_Matt_ 2 September, 2013 @ 5:20 pm   11

I thought the difficulty was absolutely fine. Getting a ‘perfect’ on level 50 should be difficult. It took me a 2 hour long car trip to do it compared to it taking me only a few tries max. to get a ‘perfect’ on all the other levels, so in that sense I would say the other levels should have a difficulty increase.

Btw if you’re reading this Dave, I just want to make a point of just how good this game is, easily in my top 3 vita games ever. :D

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 7:31 pm    

    Thank you! Very kind of you to say so. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to Velocity Ultra, it’s so much more than we dared hoped for. There is still a fair way to go on Velocity 2X but at the Lab there is the feeling that 2X could eclipse Ultra’s achievements. None of it would have been possible without our amazing friends and fans, so thanks again to you guys and girls! <3

LordBlackKnight5 2 September, 2013 @ 5:52 pm   12

The game looks great, can’t wait to play it. Will 2x feature cross-save and cross buy for vita?

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 7:11 pm    

    We’ll see how feasible it is to make it happen closer to release. We are nailing down core gameplay and content at the moment so those particular decisions (and challenges) will come a little later in development. Honestly for now all I can say is ‘I don’t know’ which I understand is a frustrating answer but at this time it’s all have, sorry!

Evil_Dr_Z 2 September, 2013 @ 6:11 pm   13

Will the story pick up from the very end of Ultra? Will the storyline from the Velocity website get a graphic interpretation?

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 6:58 pm    

    The story picks up where Velocity left it. We follow Kai through the black hole and into a whole world of trouble… I think the story at http://velocitygame.co.uk/apex-predator is written brilliantly and would love to see a full graphic interpretation. However, time and man power mean it is way down on the priority list at the moment. But who knows, never say never!

Evil_Dr_Z 2 September, 2013 @ 8:59 pm   14

Cool, the ending left me gobsmacked (which for a top down shooter is impressive!) & can’t wait to see what apex-predator describes!

Hey Dave i loved Velocity Ultra.
My only complaint is playing minesweeper is required to get a platinum. :( (and the other trophies are really hard)Anyway I’m sure you guys are going to make a great follow up game. Keep up the great work guys :)

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 10:41 pm    

    Thanks croze343.

    We’ve had quite a bit of feedback regarding the mini games – people seem to like that they are included, but perhaps don’t want them as part of the trophies.

    We’re listening! :)

Awesome to have Joris doing the music again!

(ever heard his chiptune Front 242 remix ? ;) )

    Dave Gabriel 2 September, 2013 @ 10:56 pm    

    Having Joris on board for Velocity 2X is fantastic! His tunes make zooming through space that much more thrilling :)

    I haven’t heard his chiptune Front 242 remix, I’ll see if I can track it down.

Project2insanity 2 September, 2013 @ 11:34 pm   17

I completely disagree with mini games being a bad idea for trophies. I wouldn’t say they necessarily should have individual trophies but they definitely should form part of the requirement for platinum.

Whole point of platinum is to say you’ve mastered a game 100%. It’s the point where you know you’ve done all you can do (excluding climbing leaderboards). A platinum simply would have no purpose if there was still unfinished content.

I think the addition of platform levels is an excellent idea! I wonder if you guys will add a plane shifting or teleport element to them kind of like they did in Guacamelee! It would make sense and fit nicely with Velocity’s theme.
Also Metroid style progression with the platforming sections would be amazing, like use the ship levels to acquire upgrades then go back to certain platforming levels to find secrets!

I never platinumed Velocity Vita but did get a few of the harder trophies and loved the game. I hate minesweeper though even when you know how to play it it has a certain amount of luck involved!

Anyway thanks for the news and for bringing us great games, this is a day 1 buy for me!

Also just wanted to mention I noticed how similar Coconut Dodge is to Velocity! Same engine different skins?

lol @ the back to the future joke in the post.(hope it was a joke anyway)

hardly anyone noticed that it was not crispin glover in the sequel and Elisabeth Shue was a better jennifer.

love the decision to add platforming to this title

    James Marsden 7 September, 2013 @ 2:55 pm    

    Sorry for late reply, it wasn’t a joke actually.

    Whilst I knew that Jennifer and Martin McFly Snr. were replaced, I meant that if Doc and Marty had been replaced, that would have been catastrophic.

    A bit like Predator 2, Kickboxer 2 etc.

    It was probably the fact that Jennifer and Martin McFly Snr. were replaced in Back to the Future Part 2 that made it stick in my mind about being a narrowly avoided let down :)