Mos speedrun design grilling

Tony retaliated after I forced some interview questions on him. Here I talk a bit about the art and design stuff in Mos Speedrun.

Q: What do you use to create the artwork for Mos?
All of the artwork was created in adobe photoshop.  It’s a great application, but not really designed for such basic pixel art, I wish the zoom went in a bit farther! Aside from that we made heavy use of dropbox which proved to be extremely useful for our small 2 man team. 10 years ago when Tony and I were working on pc shareware games, we were passing art and code around on 3.5 inch floppies, dropbox beats that hands down 🙂
We used google docs for a lot of stuff too, from design documents, to spreadsheets of level target times. All these online tools make it really easy to collaborate remotely, freeing us up to just concentrate on making the games we want to play. 

Q: How do you set about designing a new level?
I don’t really have a set process, but it usually starts with a rough idea of some set pieces and a notion of the kind of shape I want the level to be – a long linear level or a twisty maze like one for instance. I’ll then start blocking in the main shape of the level in the editor much in the same way as you would start a sketch. I’ll place most of the pickups and enemy locations as well, all the while I’ll be testing each part (the level editor is built into the game so I can instantly test any change). At this point I’m not really worried about getting all of the corner and edge blocks added, for instance in the first level, I would have build the whole thing just using one block graphic, and after the level is playing ok I’ll do a few passes where I add detail and add all the correct edge and corner graphics. Then we spend a while fine tuning the levels and looking for glitches and problems. Finally we play the level a lot trying to figure out the bench Mark time for the speed run badge. Oh and then I’ll realise I’ve forgotten to place a hidden skull in the level so I’ll go back and rework an area to add a secret tunnel or something like that 🙂

Q: Is there anything you wanted to go into the game that didn’t make it?
I always want to add more levels and graphical styles, but these are time consuming and we had to stop somewhere. We are continuing to add more levels in the form of our web levels, and these will be release with some new ones as real in game levels so they will have scoreboards and badges. One feature we talked about was being able to save replays that would be uploaded to our server so that you could compete against your friends or the fastest players in the world, this could happen but it’s looking a little doubtful at the moment. Another feature we would have liked to implement was a level editor, but this would have taken as long to make as the game itself. We do have ideas for another Mos game that is based around the level editor though, we have a lot of ideas at the moment 🙂
There is yet more stuff that we cut out due to our small team size and time constraints, like more of a backstory, collectable items, switches, doors etc. All would have been nice to have but unfortunately were cut – maybe in Mos 2. 

Q: What was the hardest part of creating Mos – the graphics or the levels?
Both were different but related challenges! The levels were definitely the most draining part for me, as it takes a lot to come up with different ideas and keep the levels interesting but balanced, the difficulty had to be right for the position the levels were in the game. They took a lot of play testing, re adjustment of baddy placements, pickup locations etc.
The graphics were interesting to work on, it’s quite hard to get character into the sprites, and I’m not an amazing artist, but I think the pixelated look really worked in this game. We did cheat a bit though as the graphics are not 8bit, I guess 32 bit doesn’t sound very retro though 🙂

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