Every gamer, casual or hardcore, has that one game, the game that keeps itself ingrained in the mind and draws the player back for another round.
Whether it’s gameplay, a distinct art style, engaging story, relatable characters, or some combination, that particular game stays with you long after the controller goes down. The desire to go back and play one more level, complete one more quest, unlock that next power-up, or reach that area in the game keeps the player in the game. Super Puck Jam aims high to be the next great time sink mobile game.
With a distinct art style that plays up Philadelphia’s decades long love affair with hockey and pop culture’s fascination with killing an endless horde of the undead, Super Puck Jam’s creator Josh Kraft wants to continue to deliver and improve upon the ground work and addictive gameplay found within Super Puck Jam.
Josh took some time out from figuring out new and hilarious ways and places to kill zombies with hockey pucks to talk a bit about art and gameplay styles, ridiculous power-ups, and what’s next for Super Puck Jam.
When did you first come up with the idea to combine zombies, hockey, and a brawler all in one insane game?
Courtland and I met during a game jam at the Philly Game Forge. I didn’t originally intend on doing the jam as I had just completed one, but once I heard the theme and saw how talented Courtland was I knew we had to give it a shot.
It was mostly Courtland’s idea to design a game around the type of art he wanted to create. Once we had the old-school hockey theme it was sort of natural that the guy would be shooting pucks and the rest sort of fell into place. I guess we could argue on whether or not they were supposed to be zombies but it certainly works well for it now.
One of the standout features of Super Puck Jam is the powerups. Which powerup has been your favorite to create and are there any more in the pipeline that may show up in a patch or DLC?
My favorite powerups are the two newest ones to be added to the game, the Sucka Shield and the Magic Stick. The shield seems simple but looks cool and adds some depth to the powerup arsenal.
The Magic Stick is a beefed up version of a rare wave attack that pets could give to your stick swing. Besides looking awesome it is just that much fun to use. Of course nothing will be quite as cool as going on a whiskey rampage and smashing through stacks of tires and panes of glass.
As for new powerups anything is possible but now that you asked I guess it wouldn’t be out of the question to have your pet say… shoot lasers from their eyes and zap bottles and crates out of the air?
The art style for SPJ has a distinct tone and vibe that helps set it apart from similarly styled games.
How and why did you settle on the 70’s style hockey and did establishing that tone and setting affect gameplay or the development cycle at all?
As I was saying before the art style really made the whole game. Courtland is actually a graphic artist and illustrator in the marketing department of the Philadelphia Flyers and he wanted to do some art with an old-school hockey theme (there are of course nods to Philly all over the place, but mainly in the hoagies and soft pretzels you eat for health).
Once we had the direction the game idea wasn’t too far behind and I think we knew that the art style and subject matter was something no one had really done before in a game like this. At the very least we knew the theme would resonate with people and seeing their reaction to the game for the first time certainly confirms that.
I think it’s also really important to be able to work on something you are excited and passionate about doing as it keeps the motivation high during tight deadlines. I don’t know if Courtland would be able to get as much work done if I had told him I wanted to make a game about cute polar bears, or maybe he really loves them and we would have an awesome game about polar bears right now.
Similar games, ones that rely on having a set of objectives for players to achieve during their runs have an uphill battle to climb. It’s all about providing a diverse list of challenges for the players to complete and bring them back for more.
How do you aim to bring these challenges to the player and keep them coming back?
Super Puck Jam certainly has all the requisite features to keep people coming back. There are ongoing goals, special weekly goals, special events, leaderboards, and achievements. There are cool upgrades and visible equipment you can purchase in the game store to help you get even farther.
Don’t forget the exciting loot finding mechanic in the form of cases that you find in game that contain ever more powerful equippable rings and pets. Finally, there is always the challenge of defeating the current last boss, who shall not be named here, but is a more powerful version of an earlier giant blimp boss that was just added to the game.
We hope in the future to add even more to keep people coming back in the way of additional themed levels and enemy types once the player progresses far enough. From the beginning we always planned on having the player bust through the walls of the rink to just to end up skating around a mall, or a gym, or the moon, wherever comedy and skull bashing can occur.
Any ideas for additional gameplay modes to diversify SPJ in the future? A competitive curling mode perhaps?
I did just add a casual mode for people who find the classic game a bit too challenging. I’ve also thought of having an unlockable challenge mode where you just get to fight the bosses all in a row without any health items in-between.
You would be surprised how often curling is mentioned to me now after having made this game, but part of me thinks it would be more on point to have a Street Fighter 2 style bonus level where you smash a car to bits for no reason. It could almost be the same car, that car hasn’t aged very well.
I wanted to touch on the impact the Philly Game Forge and the Dev Night had on the creation of Super Puck Jam. Can you quantify the importance that The Game Forge and Dev Night have for indie games and indie developers?
The Philly Game Forge was instrumental in the creation and success of Super Puck Jam.
Without it we wouldn’t have had the motivation to create the game in the first place let alone continue to make it great. For me personally I was in-between jobs and the forge was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for to kick me back into making games after a long hiatus in the corporate world.
I’m thankfully employed again but I continue to work on Super Puck Jam and other games due to the inspiration of the people at the forge and I think any developer / artist / musician / writer that has had the opportunity to drop by dev night would say the same.
Anyone looking to dip their toes into the world of game development or just to have some fun hanging with a great group of people, the Philly Game Forge Dev Nights are the place and also time to be at in space-time.
What’s next for you Josh? Any new games coming down the pipeline or is it squarely focused on making SPJ sustainable in the long term?
Super Puck Jam is certainly the focus at the moment but there are some pretty exciting ideas floating around that I would love to get to. Nothing I can really talk about specifically but I can guarantee they will either follow a crazy ridiculous theme, or be a super fun party game, also with a ridiculous theme. Either way we will continue to improve Super Puck Jam as long as there are people that want to play it.
If you want to download Super Puck Jam and experience the madness for yourself, check out Josh’s website where you can find where to download the game.