We recently spoke to developer, Garrick Campsey about his unique, 2D platformer, Lazr, which allows players to move around using a simulated, netted cloth which, when shot at, catches on fire and produces a magnificent effect. It also poses quite the challenge to anyone trying to climb, swing, or catapult their way through a level in the game.
Mr. Campsey was kind enough to answer a few questions about his upcoming title.
Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us about yourself and how you got started as a video game developer.
I got started in 2012, with XNA, after watching “Indie Game,” the movie. Previously, I had worked as a graphic designer, web designer, and visual FX artist, and had experience designing code.
Tell us about your upcoming title, Lazr.
Lazr is an action platformer with cloth (clothformer) that could be described as an “ultrahard” or difficult game.
Movement is very precise, and the player can interact with the world in many different ways, so there is much to explore and figure out. The city in which the full game takes place is very large.
Where did the idea of a “cloth” platformer come from?
It started when a fellow programmer suggested I do a cloth sim.
After doing that, I merged a platformer into the cloth sim to see what it would be like, and it was kinda fun to just climb around on the cloth.
After building a few levels and playing it with some friends, it felt like there might be a game here.
So, I started writing the story.
The animation of the cloth being destroyed is spectacular. How did you create this special effect?
In game, lasers that collide with cloth cause the cloth points to detach from each other and burn. As the cloth points burn, they emit fire particles which, over time, become smoke particles.
The cloth simulation is based around verlet integration.
Who is Lazr?
Lazr is an AI that can transfer herself into a robotic body, powered by a portable nuclear fusion reactor, allowing her to fire lasers out of her eyes.
Her robotic shell is reprinted each time it’s destroyed, allowing the player to customize, or modify Lazr to the level and challenges they’re facing.
Lazr lives in Alpha City One, in the year 2666.
What are some of the ways we can customize Lazr?
Customization is divided into 3 categories:
- weapon mods
- shell mods
- movement mods
Weapon mods allow the player to experiment with different offensive strategies, like rapid fire at the cost of lower overall health.
Shell mods affect the mass of the hero. Lighter mass values allow Lazr to float in the air longer, and reach higher places. Heavier mass mods make Lazr invincible to enemy laser fire or explosions.
Movement mods affect Lazr’s dash and slide, making them longer or making them cause damage, at the cost of reduced health.
How many levels are in the game? How do they vary?
The total number of levels in the game is planned to be in the hundreds.
Each district of Alpha City One contains around 20 levels, with each district visually themed based on the mega-corporation that controls or owns that district.
Lower in the city, near the underground, you’ll find abandoned districts, and districts controlled by gangs.
Above the city, you’ll find Voth’s orbital foundries and war room.
It appears you put a lot of thought into designing the levels so they’re appealing to speedrunners. Why was this something you wanted to do?
I really enjoy watching speedruns and studying the speedrunning community.
I enjoy watching people completely master a game, and really push it to its limits, bending and breaking the systems to reveal interesting consequences.
I also enjoy designing those systems.
I think the competitive aspect to speedrunning exists in a useful harmony with difficulty. Lazr was designed to be very difficult and to reward skillful play.
The skill ceiling is very high for competitive play and the systems were designed to be consistent and difficult to break, so records based on skill have more longevity.
The game has multiple endings. What types of choices will players make in the game that will help determine which ending they get?
In the full game, there are corporations that provide contracts for the player to choose from. These contracts are often destructive in nature, the consequences of which, cause relations with other corporations to change.
Being hired to destroy a Humacorp psychic research facility will affect how the CEO of Humacorp feels about the player.
You can never keep everyone happy, by design. You’ll be hunted by corporations you have poor relations with.
The music in the game really does a great job of setting the tone and pace for players. How did you and William Kingston Davies conceive of and create this amazing sound?
I originally started by posting music that I thought was fitting, then Will wrote a track and sent it to me.
It fit so well, we agreed to work on more.
He’s a talented and creative composer.
You’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Lazr, which has some truly incredible rewards and stretch goals. Can you tell us about the Lazr competition you have planned if donations hit $50k?
At $50k I want to hold an international speedrunning competition where players can enter video entries for specific categories, with the winners getting cash prizes. Videos will be submitted via a YouTube link and must be posted within a specific time window to be considered.
Will Lazr release this year? Any chance of a physical release?
I’m planning on a November 2020 early access release, with a full release soon after. With the full release, I’m planning on having physicals ready as well, such as CD’s.
I’m working with Top Hat Studios (my publisher) to provide physicals for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PS Vita.
What’s your best piece of advice to fellow indie developers who are creating their first platformer?
Write as much of the code yourself as you can. You’ll learn more and become a better developer as you face and overcome challenges.
Making a game is a journey. It’s like moving a mountain. You can’t rush it. You just work on it everyday until it’s done.
It’s an extraordinary level of control and expression that no other medium can provide.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you the best with your Kickstarter campaign and look forward to the release of Lazr later this year.
You can help bring this gorgeous & unique 2D platformer to PC and consoles by supporting it right now on Kickstarter. The campaign runs through February 24th.
Want to give the game a try? Play the free demo on itch.io which includes 1 Humacorp district with 15 levels and 2 bosses.
LAZR is now available to wishlist on Steam.