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Gaming On-The-Go: 'Devil’s Doom' Will Take Your Soul Back To The Age Of Pixel Art Arcade Games

29 July 2015, 9:00 am EDT By Lauren Keating Tech Times
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Gaming On-The-Go is a weekly series that explores the mobile gaming industry, as well as uncovering current trends, with hands-on guides for the latest smartphone and tablet games.

Forgive me, gaming gods, for I have played Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and could not be more ashamed. Luckily, I have found the perfect mobile game to play while my life is in purgatory (commuting), one which has taken me through the gates of hell.

Devil's Doom is a casual "endless platformer" game, where the player controls a little devil who must catch falling feathers (which represent souls) on his quest for redemption.

"It's the story of the little devil who may have done some bad things, and here he is now in purgatory, and if he can catch those souls, he could perhaps redeem himself," game creator Tom Aldahn says in an interview with Tech Times. "But the irony of it is it's an endless platformer, so he's never going to do that. He's forever in purgatory."

(Photo : Rungo Games)

And we aren't kidding when we say the devil is never getting out. This high-score-chasing arcade game gives the player only one life. The player must tap on the screen to jump and collect his souls. The higher the devil catches the feathers, the more they are worth. Each feather the player catches adds to the bar located at the top. Once the bar is filled, the player levels up, and the score is multiplied by the level you are on. When you've done that five times, the player then enters a boss fight. Once the boss is defeated, the player is then taken into a different and new environment.

There are four environments: a graveyard, castle, cave, and the bonus level up in the clouds with the "pearly gates." There are also "heavenly" power-ups like a cross or a harp, for example, where a cherub will come to help you. Why decide to help this devil and include this story of redemption?

(Photo : Rungo Games)

"It's one thing to have a game, but if you could put a little bit of meaning in there as well then that adds another level that maybe people might not get initially, but I think if there's something a bit deeper in there, that helps," Aldahn says. "Perhaps we all have a little devil in us. We all try to be good, but we all do little things. He's trying for redemption."

Aldahn wouldn't give away many details about the boss—saying that gamers needs to see them for themselves—but he did reveal that the player is trying "to defeat the armies of darkness," so the bosses are definitely "devil" related.

While it may take a few tries to get in the flow of things, Devil's Doom is easy to play with its single-finger controls and becomes an enchanting experience as you battle demons and ghouls. Plus, it's easy to pick up and play in your free time without having to invest enormous amounts of time to complete missions or levels.

"I got into this because I enjoy entertaining and it's really fun seeing people playing something and getting some joy from it," Aldahn says. "Obviously I am a platformer fan, but when you're mobile, or waiting in line for the bank or the bus, those platformers require an investment in time for that experience and it's not really appropriate for those experiences, so I wanted to create something that gave you a glimpse of platform. You can have a quick play, but you don't have to invest a whole lot of time."

Originally a graphic designer with no coding experience, Aldahn started to make his own mobile game using the pixel art that he loved, to give it a retro feel. After teaching himself to code, Aldahn created what would become Devil's Doom; however, it started as a square that would jump around the screen that "would do some things."

He then decided to put the project on hold to further develop his coding ability. Because of his previous work as a graphic designer, he was able to learn a bit of JavaScript and HTML5 before doing free tutorials from Codecademy online, which he says helped a lot. It was then time to finish the game.

"I originally felt there was something fun there, and now I felt confident enough in my skills to revisit that and to do it properly," he says.

So he begun looking for a game engine, coming across ImpactJS, a $99 license. "It has a really good API ... and the reason why I picked that engine is because the developer of that also has an open source that allows you to bind JavaScript to Objective-C, which means that anything that you write, you can essentially get onto an iOS device."

Because the base code is JavaScript and HTML5, it allows for cross-platform development. That means although Devil's Doom is only available for iOS, Aldahn is in the process of developing the Android version.

This week Aldahn says he pushed out an update for iOS which adds virtual buttons, something gamers requested. "I think it's really important to listen to your users. People were saying they like the swipe controls, but people were also saying that they also wanted to have some virtual buttons," he says. This new feature will roll out by the end of the week.

The music in the game is composed by Brian Gair from Capricorn Music, who also did all the audio production. "I wanted something that was slightly cinematic, yet something that still had the chiptune vibe, so there is some chiptune in there, but I really wanted to capture something that would give it a bigger feel," Aldahn says.

The two were able to come up with a melody that remains the same, yet the composition of it changes to fit with the environment, such as a more ghoulish sound in the graveyard.

(Photo : Rungo Games)

He chose pixel art because he came from that era, he says, thinking back on early games like Mario, and says he "put many coins into Gauntlet." The decision to use pixel art was also a smart move for extending the game's shelf life. "If you pick it up in five years, it's still going to look fresh because pixel art is always pixel art."

Aldahn also revealed some gameplay tips, such as how to get a high score in the cave level (the initial level) and how to prevent dying from the fireballs that shoot up from the lava below. "The trick with those is that they don't actually get you on the way up, they only get you on the way down," he says. "I coded it so they only get you on the way down because it was actually really hard."

Players can bop monsters on the head to defeat them, all besides the zombie hands in the graveyard level. Interestingly enough, Aldahn voiced the zombies, as well as the boss, tracks which were simply recorded on his iPhone.

The game is free to download for iOS, but Aldahn says he is toying with in-app purchases, such as having the chance to revive and keep your high score after you watch a video ad.

"I didn't want to plaster the thing in banner ads. Number one, I don't think they work. I think people are blind to them now, and also I didn't want to dirty up the graphics with banner ads," he says.

Overall, it's a game any pixel art fan would enjoy.

"If you're a young person out there and want to make games, go for it," he says. "Grab a laptop and learn some pixel art."

Photo: Rungo Games

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