Schildmaid MX is the exciting new shmup from indie devs HitPStudio. Adrian and Anthony invited along Michiel and Johannes from HitPStudio to tell us more. Have a drool over the trailer and pictures below and enjoy what the gentlemen have to say about this ambitious project.
Michiel and Johannes, great to have you here! Please give us a brief description of your latest title Schildmaid MX.
Johannes: Schildmaid MX is a side scrolling shmup set in a sci-fi universe where you’re defending your home planet against an invading armada. It’s inspired by the likes of Gradius and U.N. Squadron amongst others, but has a twist on the formula in its core mechanics. The game is a score chaser at heart and is all about collecting bullets while chain killing enemies as long as you can and then surviving through the danger phase while your shield is recharging, leading to a juicy and challenging core game loop.
You have access to multiple modes and ships and play through numerous hand crafted levels while gunning for highscores, survival, and achievements. We’re trying to walk the fine line between making a challenging and deep game for the hardcore fans of the genre while still being accommodating to newcomers, by for example offering a checkpoint system in a more beginner friendly mode on one end or greatly upping the challenge in another mode that is endless and only gives the player a single life while starting out in the later stages immediately. There is also dynamic difficulty adapting to how well you are doing and secret bosses you will only encounter if scoring high enough.
Visually we went with a retro inspired but modern look, with pre rendered sprites enriched with all the modern bells and whistles like 2D lighting, GPU particles, modern shaders and post effects. The OST is done by Ed Tremblay of Studio Mud Prints/Bullet Heaven at twitter.com/studiomudprints. When we first heard the fantastic tunes he came up with for us it actually pushed us to take the visuals much further than we had originally planned.
How does Schildmaid MX stand out from other indie shmups?
Michiel: Maybe one of our beta testers, a fantastic shoot ’em up player that goes by the handle ‘Chinopolis’ has the best answer to this question, as he told us: “You guys have made the anti-shmup; a game in which you want to fly into bullets and want to avoid killing enemies.”
That’s definitely apt, although he slightly exaggerates and there is much more to it: you definitely don’t always want to fly into bullets and there are definitely reasons to kill enemies. Furthermore, I also think the art style of the game has turned out to be very distinctive, with the pre rendered, edited 2D sprites and the hard edged sci-fi look to it all.
How much of Schildmaid MX is complete?
Johannes: The game is almost complete for what we envision a 1.0 release to contain. That being said, we plan on adding some new features and possibly content after release as well (adding new localization languages, accessibility features, integration on new platforms, and then of course there’s the possibility of adding new modes etc., even though there is nothing concrete planned as of yet).
One challenge we recently focused on was teaching the player the basic mechanics of the game. Since it is so different in its core mechanic from most other shmups it proved tremendously challenging to get that across. We bit the bullet (ha) and made a “combat training” tutorial mode that teaches players the ropes and needs to be completed before they can proceed to the main game.
What platforms will Schildmaid MX be released on and where is the best place to keep up to date with the games progress?
Johannes: It will be Windows, Mac, and Linux via itch.io first. Once that release is done and we’re happy with its state (emergency bug fixes and all that) we’re going to move on to Steam and then Switch. Further platforms after that have not yet been planned, but we’re totally open to anything. Unfortunately there will be no retro console releases for this game (at least not with the current code base, it would have to be specifically implemented for those) since it is very much made for modern hardware.
Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/hitpstudio or on itch at https://hitp-studio.itch.io/schildmaid-mx to stay in touch. We also have a pretty active Discord server for our alpha and beta testers which we will open up to the public closer to the 1.0 release.
After Schildmaid MX. What do you have planned next?
Johannes: We have some unreleased previous projects, some of which we might want to take a look at again. We’ve learned so much during the development of this game, looking back at those older things with a new perspective could be really interesting. We also have some other concepts, all for different genres, that we want to expand.
There are also a lot of concepts and ideas that ended up on the cutting room floor during the development of Schildmaid MX which might go into a sequel or a Schildmaid “DX”, a bigger version of the game. Whichever of those we decide to tackle next, one thing is for sure: we want to keep going and contribute our small part to the gaming community.
As a new indie developer entering the industry, what do you recommend to those wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Michiel: If you are not just making games as a hobby and are serious about this, I would really advise you to find collaborators. Video games are so multifaceted and beyond designing and programming they demand 2D and 3D artistry, promotional art, music, sound design, writing, localisation and a whole host of other disciplines. Work together with people that inspire you to step up your own game and that complete the gaps in your own range of skills and talents. Seeing all the little parts come together is an amazing thing and a stream of inspiration and motivation from collaborators will keep you going, even when you hit hurdles on the road.
Thank you both for being here today. A final question before you leave us: if you could share a few drinks with a video game character, who would you choose and why?
Michiel: That’s a tough one! I’d probably hang out with Bayonetta as she’s the least boring video character I can think of at the moment. But it would be at the risk of getting caught up in a sudden brawl with a flock of murderous angels.
Johannes: Bayonetta would be awesome for sure. Let’s get Solid Snake in there as well to balance things out with some anecdotes of his adventures and deep philosophical waxing in his gravelly voice.
Adrian & Anthony