A themed shmup

Campaign Trail began in earnest in the late summer of 2016, when some friends and I were chatting about and thinking up ideas. The mock game in this video's style and pace was something I wanted to emulate, and we all thought it'd be great if that energy could be put into a real game. Games are to be experienced, after all.

Screen capture from development. Ivanka (hidden under the bomb) approaches a bernie bot.

It was my first time making a game, actually. At least one that I intended to publish, and one that I actually cared for in terms of playability and art direction.

Campaign Trail was a satirical shoot-'em-up platformer, with Trump as the leading man, fighting his way into the Whiskey Hotel. I'd come across an artist on tumblr who was making art we could use, and asked him about joining our venture. At this point it was me, the game designer, and two audio guys.

the original image that got us our style
This is the one that started it all.

And with a contract signed and an artist on board, we were off! Having a great artist is now what I know as the most crucial component to any game.

Design progrssed quiqkly enough, and I managed to get tax stuff sorted out with Steam, and early builds out for friends to playtest. You ran around and launched projectiles at the baddies, and reached the campaign truck at the end of each level.

Character design was extremely fun. And seeing our artist (who was all the way in Arizona) bring ideas to life was amazing.

I was beginning to wonder if I'd be able to release on time, as we were nearing the election and the game was only now coming together with level generation. I'd spread myself thin by then, taking on web client work, doing final projects in university and then releasing this.

As I wrote on my old blog, it came as a total surprise to actually get greenlit. I'd watched my numbers get pretty popular, but simultaneously bear the brunt of a very hostile audience on Steam. What I hadn't realised was that in the interim time where I was game designing away, from when we started this project and fist checked steam for competitors to then, nearing the scheduled release date, a great number of very poor quality election themed games had come out.

In their eyes, we had just joined their numbers, and they were sick seeing more related to the election.

Original promotional material

Some criticized the promotional video for inclusion of temporary assets, others for it's simple political nature, and I guess the rest were just angry. The comments were split roughly down the middle between support and derision. At least it seemed they recognized this one as the best of the election bunch.

After running a facebook campaign, building a dedicated website, making the trailer, submitting for release, a mountain of promotional material and social media accounts, and effectively having the game ready at the cost of my studies and work, Trump won the election.

404 not found trump image surrounded by illegal aliens

So the humor of the game was wrong, and I was loosing my mind with release schedules and everything else. As detailed on my last post on my photography blog, I never did release this game.

It still sits there, among my files with all the art, the contracts and legal garbage, the cool icons and massive library of sound effects, ready for release.

I think I might, too.