Bit by bit: The Frag Castle Blog

Rock Kickass Post Mortem

Posted By Jared Barboza, 18, December, 2012, in games

Origins of Rock Kickass

Rock Kickass. The name still cracks me up. Rock. Kickass. Once we named the game, everything else slid into place. Before the name though, we simply had the “pitch sketch” that I made:

Initial "pitch sketch"

The inspiration for the sketch was a game concept we had for a platformer with an android as the main character. To cater to the GameOff themes, he would have the ability to scavenge source code from the commits of destroyed enemy robots. As you scavenged enough commits, you would be able to acquire enemy abilities such as better weapons, agility, health, etc. It was then that we realized the similarities between our concept and one of those most beloved NES games…

We loved MegaMan and the overall concept of that game: a character who merges the powers of the enemies that he kills and makes them his own. We took the similarities as an opportunity to make RK our homage to Megaman and early 90’s nintendo games.

Yeah, I pretty much fell in love with this game as soon as I heard the pitch from John.

The concept also gave us a lot of interesting challenges:

What would the merge animation look like? How would we progam it? How many different types of enemies would we need? What would they look like?

Part of Rock's image sprite

Things that worked

1. Our Process. Seriously. Frag Castle doesn’t have an office. John and I both work out of our homes/coffee shops most of the time. Early on there was some confusion as to what we were building but after our initial concept was pitched and we had a character sprite done, things really started to pick up.

We also realized pretty early on that we weren’t going to be able to deliver 100% of what we imagined for RK and we made certain to commit to a core set of gameplay that we could absolutely deliver by the submission deadline.

2. Concept. I think our concept for Rock Kickass is pretty sound. Our overall idea may not be the most original (seriously capcom, please don’t sue us!) but I really like the world we were able to bring to life in RK. Hopefully we will be able to expand on v1 and add all the features and content we didn’t have time for.

3. The product. We’re both insanely proud of Rock Kickass. It’s not perfect but it’s ours and we love it.

Things that did not work

1. Life. Both John and I have day jobs and families. Most of the work we did on Rock Kickass was done off hours, 3pm to 11pm was our average work-day. There were more than a few times where I fell asleep at the keyboard while play-testing or doing artwork for RK. John’s Thanksgiving break was mostly sacrificed for the greater good.

2. Creative Commons Assets. Early on we spent a lot of time trolling through CC art sites (because we were terrified of attempting to do the art ourselves.) looking for tilesets, characters, anything. We realized that we were spinning too much on picking tilesets that looked good and fit the tone of the game we wanted to make.

There is a lot of great artwork freely available, but finding assets to fit your specific needs may be difficult. If we ever attempt to develop a JRPG, we may entertain some of the great CC licensed art.

Zombie and skeleton image sprite

Terrain tiles

Some of the great artwork available under various Creative Commons licenses at

3. Poor Planning. This may seem like a bit of a contradiction, hell we listed “Process” as the #1 thing that went right! Early on both John and I had a hard time communicating where we wanted to go with RK.

We eventually got over this and started sharing ideas openly and without hesitation or worry of critique. In fact, I think we both craved the critique. We wanted someone else to vet our idea and show us it wouldn’t work or take it and improve it.

Boss Cat]

The result

John summed up the experience perfectly:

Everything just came together and I’m really happy with the game that we submitted. I have a deeper understanding of how impact works, I learned how to work with impact nuances (mainly weltmeister), and learned some things about level design (albeit, not much :P).

We both had a hell of a time building RK v1 and we can’t wait to get back to it!

Is this the end of Rock Kickass?

Absolutely not! We can’t commit to anything right now, but we’re investigating wrappers for both mobile and desktop platforms. If all goes well, you may be able to play RK on any device! Stay tuned for more updates…

Thank you!

And last but not least…

A big thank you to our families, friends, co-workers, and twitter followers who supported us throughout this process. We couldn’t have done it without you! And of course, thank you to GitHub and the GameOff judges for hosting and judging this competition, and inspiring us to put ourselves out there.

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