Onslaught! -- a history of violence (in images)

by Matt Hackett, 2011 Oct 10

Onslaught! is a medieval fantasy arcade shoot ‘em up. It was one of the very first commercial HTML5 games available to the world, launching on December 7, 2010 with the Chrome Webstore and has since launched on iPad and Android tablets.

HTML5 is taking off, the web is evolving, the Chrome Web Store is available in more countries than ever and one of these days we’ll be announcing our next game, so I thought this would be as good a time as any to walk through Onslaught! and its near-successes. Here’s a history of Onslaught!, in images:

1. First whiteboard

Onslaught!'s first whiteboard

Geoff and I spend a ton of time talking, scribbling, debating and planning before we write even a single line of code. This is the first of many whiteboards we scratched out while developing Onslaught!.

2. Early environment test

Early environment test

We needed graphics but we didn’t have any dedicated artist friends or extra money to spend. So I rolled up my sleeves, bought a Cintiq tablet and drew out some tests to see if I could bang out the graphics myself.

3. Whiteboard: game flow

Whiteboard flow

This was another early whiteboard, showing the flow of the menus and interface of the game.

4. Objects test

Objects test

Here’s another graphics test, this time for basic game objects. I think the mantra was “good enough.”

5. Couch development

Couch development

This is a very typical setup for how we worked on Onslaught!. Some days we’d leave work and head to Geoff’s for some game design, other days (like in this photo) we’d head to my place for gameplay tweaking on the big screen.

6. Whiteboard: enemy statistics

Enemy statistics whiteboard

We spent ridiculous amounts of time tweaking the damage, health, behavior and interaction of the enemies in Onslaught!, hoping to provide retro gamers with an experience that would feel polished, and familiar yet new.

7. Dragon tests

Dragon tests

I think at some point I found my stride with graphics, and to me the dragon turned out really well (unlike the minotaur). Dragons of all colors are interesting and nostalgic to us, but in the end you can’t beat the classic “green dragon.”

8. Google internal contest poster

Google contest poster

I’m not sure that we ever publicly talked about this! As part of Google’s internal promotion for the Chrome Webstore, they held a contest to see who could get the highest score in Onslaught!. The winner received an Amazon gift card. We later met with the best players to discuss issues with the game and how we could improve it for our players. Google intended to print these posters I made and put them around their campus. That never happened, but the experience was still invaluble.

9. Chrome Web Store launch

Chrome Web Store launch

As early adopters of the platform, we were invited to Google’s big media event where they announced the Chrome Web Store and talked about Chrome OS. It was really exciting, as screenshots of Onslaught! could be found around the extravagant event, including this one (Onslaught! can be seen below the word “Chrome”).

10. New environments test

New environments test

We were planning on bringing Onslaught! to iPad, and to help make the jump to a new platform successful, we wanted to add more content for gamers to enjoy. This was an early sketch of some ideas we had.

11. Sunken City

Sunken City

And this is the final version of the beach scene that shipped with the updated game.

12. Demo party

Demo part

As part of working with Game Closure’s SDK, they graciously threw a release party for Onslaught!. Many players showed up from StartX for catered food and a brand new gaming challenge. Much useful feedback was had, as well as some shouts of victory that was a real pleasure for us to experience firsthand.

13. New and Noteworthy

New and Noteworthy

We were stoked to see Onslaught! in the “New and Noteworthy” section in the iPad App Store. We only saw a slight boost in sales, but it was still exciting.

14. Game Developer Magazine screenshot

Game Developer Magazine screenshot

One of the biggest thrills of my life was reading through Game Developer Magazine and seeing a screenshot of our game. Sure it’s just a little mention, but you gotta start somewhere. I’m so proud I framed it and put it on my wall.

15. Onslaught! on iPad

Onslaught! on iPad

And here’s the latest version of Onslaught!, at the Stage Select screen. It’s been a long journey, and we’re very proud of our little game.

So what’s next?

We’re not totally sure just yet, but we’ll be announcing something soon. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

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