A glimpse back at Beat Hazard, for those that never played it
Combining the joy of gaming with the wonderful world of music, Beat Hazard was a warm welcome to on my PlayStation 3 back in 2011. Enjoying my tunes while playing and getting my mind melted by some dangerously cool visual effects, the hours just drifted away.
PlayStation 4 came and my older console retired, and I didn’t have anywhere to play it, until I realized that it was available on Steam! Why I didn’t think of that sooner, I don’t know. Probably because a twin-stick game like this requires… twin sticks?
Anyhow, I am digressing. That made me wonder if there shouldn’t be a sequel to this fantastic game anytime soon, and indeed there was some mention of Beat Hazard 2 being in development! I decided to contact the developer and ask him how far he had come.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
“Hi, I’m Steve Hunt from Cold Beam Games. I’m a one man indie team and I made the original Beat Hazard back in 2010. Now I’m working on a sequel.”
What is a normal working day for you as a game developer?
“I work from home, so I don’t have the grind of a daily commute! First thing in the morning I normally respond to any emails that I’ve had. Have a quick look at the gaming news etc.
The for the rest of the day I’m in full on development mode. And since I’m a 1 man team, that can be pretty much anything, but most of the time it’s coding.”
Beat Hazard was released back in 2010, and technology has made quite a jump since then. Do you feel this helps in developing Beat Hazard 2?
“Yes, definitely. From a performance point of view it’ll be a lot easier. Beat Hazard throws a lot of sprites around to create its effects and in a few instances I had to scale some of them back (No really!). Now I’ll not have to worry too much about that, although the game will still need to work on lower end PCs.
The biggest difference for me is that I’ve taken the time to build a proper engine based on SDL2. Beat Hazard 1 got very messy near the end once it had been ported to five5 different platforms.
Also, this time around I’ve also got my own server system, so I can add my own cloud saves and per song leaderboardsleader boards.”
What will be the main new feature in Beat Hazard 2, compared to the first game?
“For me the most interesting addition will be procedurally generated boss ships. So your music will not only drive the game play, it will also build your enemies. I think it’s going to be great to play a track and wonder what sort of boss you will face at the end.
Another main feature will be ‘Open Mic’ mode where the game can listen in to music being played on your PC. This means you’ll finally be able to play to music from premium streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music etc.
In place on online multiplayer, I’m going to add an asynchronous challenge system. I’m not sure on the final design yet, but it’ll allow players for challenge each other as to who can get the highest score on a particular track. I’m thinking there will be some sort of global challenge board too, where people can post a challenge to anyone, maybe with a small wager or in game cash too.
There will of course be new ships, weapons, and perks etc.
It’s important to point out that during this phase of development I’m just recreating Beat Hazard 1 from the ground up. So currently it looks very similar to the original. Once that part is done, I’ll take another pass to bring the style up to date and give the game some new looks and start adding some cool new features.”
Have you decided on the music that will come with Beat Hazard 2 yet? What can we expect?
“Yes, this time around I’ve commissioned Johnny Frizz to compose a brand new and exclusive album for BH2. Johnny is the guy who composed some of the tracks in BH1: Begining Trancemission, Overture For The Dead and Stadium Wave. They were all high intensity electronic tracks that worked really well with the game. He’s created some amazing music for the new game, I can’t wait for players to try it out!”
Will the features added to Beat Hazard Ultra be ported over to Beat Hazard 2? Like Shadow Missions, perks and so on?
“Most features will come over. So BH2 will be very similar to BH1 with all the DLC included.
Perks and weapons are already done.
The ship hangar with workshop support will be in there too.
Per ship shadow missions are probably going to change into something else. I’ve got a few ideas, but I need to think more on this.
The main thing I’m not bringing over is online play. Supporting online play is such a massive undertaking and the for the number of people using it (pretty much zero) I’d rather use that time to add other features.
However, as stated above, I plan on having an asynchronous challenge system. So there will be a way to play against your friends and other members of the BH community.”
Can we expect to see Beat Hazard 2 on other platforms than PC?
“At the start no. Although BH1 did really well on other platforms, these were eclipsed by it’s performance on PC. My current thinking is it would be better to develop the game on one platform, add DLC etc than to spread myself too thinly. It becomes a real nightmare to keep all the versions up to date. And there are now features in the game that won’t translate well to other platforms like mobile.”
It’s probably hard to say at the moment, but do you have a goal as to when it will be ready?
“I’m really hoping the development will go pretty smoothly. I’ve already taken on and solved some of the trickiest technical issues, so from here on in it’s all about making a great game. I’m aiming for Beta in the summer and a release later in the year. But as with all projects, there maybe an unexpected bump in the road.”
I would like to thank Steve Hunt for the opportunity to interview him and I hope the development of Beat Hazard 2 will be smooth as silk, because I can’t wait to get my brain melted properly again!
This is an interview conducted in a very early stage of development of the game, and the information provided by the developer may be different than the finished product.