Aztez – A Game of Conquest and Brutality

Progress Report: October 12th 2015

This is normally where I'd apologize for not posting anything for so long. However, I'm not sorry anymore (and I haven't been in a long time) because we're killing ourselves for you. But we wouldn't have it any other way! You're going to LOVE. THIS. GAME. But it still sucks to not know what's going on! As a way of keeping you guys in the know, I'm gonna start dropping progress reports on your desk every 2 to 4 weeks until release.


We don't know yet! We're still just two ambitious idiots trying to release a super technical, highly replayable product. And it's going well! But whenever anyone asks what the release date is and we still don't know, it erodes our living souls a little bit more. So consider these reports a very heartfelt concession. If you wanted to stop asking in return it would help us grow some soul back. Haha!

First official progress report drops right now!


Where Is Aztez?!

As you can tell, Aztez did not release in 2014, like our promotional material from the last year and a half has been suggesting. We're very sorry! But with just a few moments left in 2014 I wanted to give those of you who have been patiently waiting an explanation on why exactly Aztez has yet to be released.


1. We're Just Two Humans!

We have two amazing humans writing jams for us, and we had another amazing human model and texture a -huge- amount of the enemy equipment for us, which saved me an enormous amount of time. But everything else is Matthew and I! That's not a complaint and it's not for sympathy; we like it that way. We're compulsive control freaks. Games like this should have larger teams, but despite this, we're pushing this massive, Indiana Jones-style boulder as fast as we can ourselves. It's getting there! But it's slow.


On Bayonetta 2 And “The Secret Game”

Y'all KNOW how I feel about Bayonetta 1; I believe it is the carrier of the greatest combat engine ever built. Imagine my surprise when Bayonetta 2 finally comes out here in North America and it is somehow an improvement in almost every single way. I'm not going to give its own combat analysis, as everything I said about Bayonetta 1 still applies, except now with less cons! But in that first analysis I referenced the "...secret game buried inside of Bayonetta...playing it for a respectable rank". I've since been asked many times about that secret game and instead of writing about I want to show it to you. Now that I have the technology to do this and since I'm already knee deep in Bayonetta 2, I made a video (with tactical commentary) of me playing through the first chapter and obtaining a Pure Platinum rank (the highest you can get) in every fight.


Frame By Frame: The Sword’s Basics

In the interest of both exposing the nitty gritty details of our really powerful combat technology and also sharing some design insight, I'm going to open up some of the sword's basic standing mechanics for viewing at the frame by frame level. Information at the frame level is typically only of interest to the designers or to the master class player types who are operating at competitive levels, but I'm going to try and make this fun and accessible by using (hopefully) easy-to-look-at-and-understand animated timelines. But first, let's take at the game's very first standing sword A attack. It's probably the first attack the player ever sees.

Sword Standing A1



Common Aztez Art Questions Answered!

We get these questions a LOT:

  1. Is Aztez 2d or 3d?
  2. How do you outline your assets in black?
  3. What shader are you using to create your look?
  4. Why make a game in this style?

1. Is Aztez 2d or 3d?

Aztez is indeed fully 3d! That's why it works with the Oculus. Our characters are skinned skeletal meshes with 3d animations. The only 2d assets we use are in effects.


2. How Do You Outline Your Assets In Black?


Polishing From The Start!

My man Hamish Todd was recently asking me about something I told him some time back; I told him that in game development, I polish as I go. I wanted to elaborate on that since it's a useful, but complex production style. Readers of this blog and followers of my game combat philosophies have heard me say that I developed one attack at the very beginning of Aztez, and didn't move on to another attack until that one looked and felt great. But other game developers could argue that polish is of secondary importance, and that the rules systems and mechanics are the most important thing to nail down first. And this is where I disagree!

(This is an image from a mech strategy game currently being developed by Zach Fowler. When he made this image the prototype was a mere 3 weeks in development! How jazzed did you get just looking at this?!)

Click On The Image To Visit Zack Fowler's Dev Blog!



We've struck a deal with the super cool folks over at Eighty Sixed Clothing, purveyors of elite gear! You've perhaps seen their robust line of Skullgirls merch. It is robust! And now, they've gone and produced the first few items of what will (hopefully) eventually be another robust line of awesome products. I am proud to present the first three official pieces of Aztez merch!

As die hard fans of hardcore indie titles, they approached me at the LVL Up Expo in Las Vegas and told me what they do. They get inspired, produce and ship merch, stream the game to their rabid community, and even bring it to trade shows with them for people to play. It wasn't a hard sell! Mind you, this is a licensing deal; Eighty Sixed is doing ALL the work here, so show them love! When you get some of these amazing shirts, send a photo to the Aztez Facebook page so we can put it in our fan album! And of course, be sure to check out the happenins' at the Eighty Sixed Facebook page as well.

Filed under: Just For Fun 3 Comments

On Legitimacy, Love And Exploitation

Hello everyone! Ben here. I'm sorry updates have been so sparse! We've been grinding and grinding and everyday Aztez becomes a better and better experience. I'll write up a more concise update write-up real soon, but I had to talk about something really important first. We recently received some coverage at PAX East, and I saw this comment on YouTube:

This Again

It's an unfortunate reaction, but I get it. At a glance, Aztez appears to be an exploitative brawler about the Aztecs. Having a yet-revealed strategy game that simulates the military and political machinery of the actual Aztec empire doesn't help. But I wish deeply to set the record straight, and can utilize (with gracious permission) an email conversation I had with someone at PAX Prime in September of 2013.

Filed under: Personal Continue reading

Aztez Officially Coming to (All!) Consoles

Ben and I are at the Game Developer's Conference this week (and PAX East is right around the corner).  When we show the game in public, we're frequently asked where we're releasing.  Up until now our answer has always been "PC, and hopefully as many consoles as we can".

We're happy to announce that Aztez is officially coming to PS4, Vita, Xbox One, and Wii U!

Our first release will still be on Steam (PC/Mac/Linux), with consoles releases as soon as possible afterwards.  If we could, we'd love to launch on everything at once, but really there are just the two of us and launching on a console is a ton of work.   We'll have more timeframe details as we get closer to release! In the meantime, enjoy this sweet new combat teaser:

The PlayStation Blog just posted about the new Aztez trailer, and our new combat demo build will be playable on Xbox One hardware at the Unity GDC expo booth. Swing by and say hi if you're in San Francisco!


Anatomy Of A Successful Attack (2.0)

On this 13th of October in the year of our wargod 2015 (may we all bleed for Huitzil), I have updated this piece of educational content to reflect the insights gained since I created the original demo in 2012. Unfortunately, webplayer content is pretty busted on all browsers but Firefox, and it won't work there for long. In lieu of sweet webplayer content, I've got these download links for PC, Mac, and Linux.

Download Windows  /  Download OSX  /  Download Linux

For those of you unfamiliar with this piece of content, it is an interactive demo I built to showcase the proper elements of a successful looking/sounding/feeling attack. I so frequently reference these elements when speaking to other developers or providing feedback to clients, so I use this to better communicates the important ideas. The key concept is that an attack's feel derives completely from:

  • The character animations.
  • The visual effects.
  • The sound effects.

All of these elements are just children of those 3 things.  From a development point of view, I highly advise advancing these items together to perceive the improvement of the attack in a motivating way.


Combat Analysis: Ryse Son Of Rome


I felt like that was really important to say up front. And I'm being sincere. Ryse has been a HUGE question mark (at best) since its unfortunate showing at E3 2013. Many (fairly) assumed based on the footage that the game was a sensational watch 'em up that favored quick time events over real combat gameplay. While I can't say for sure whether or not the game was originally designed that way or whether it just appeared that way as a result of a unrepresentative showing, it's been 6 months since E3 and I'm happy to report that Ryse is not only NOT a watch 'em up, but it's a pretty solid combat experience all around! Let's jump on in.

Ryse: Son Of Roe


Enemy Study: Castlevania Dawn Of Sorrow

The next major step in Aztez is taking our enemies to the next level. We've had enemies for a long time now, and while they currently have distinct mechanical identities, they're missing a couple crucial features. Some of them I'm going to save for a future post, but the major feature they're missing now is the ability to control YOU, the player. A good friend and design mentor says it best. "Good action games set the pace for the player." What he's referring to the is a game's abilities to raise meaningful hurdles for the player that they must get themselves over in a fun and challenging way. So before I got in there and shook up my enemies in a major way, I wanted to do some studies. The first one has been of Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow for the Nintendo DS.

Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow


Behind the Scenes: Aztez Development Environment

Who The?!

Hey everyone!  I'm Matthew, the technical half of Team Colorblind.  Most of my posts on the blog will be technical things--behind the scenes work on the game, including implementation details on how we're accomplishing Aztez's beat-em-up gameplay in Unity.  To start things off, I thought I'd do an overview of our entire setup:

The Office

Ben and I worked together when I ran Flashbang Studios (most of our output is still online at, if you're curious).  There are a lot of virtual indie teams out there--and more power to them for making it work!--but Ben and I work best in person.  We've tried the coffee shop thing, the work-from-home thing, and co-working spaces.  For us, paying to have our own private space is absolutely worth it.  Rent is pretty cheap in Phoenix; we pay under $400 for a private office with power/Internet included, a shared conference room, and a shared break room with fridge.  Our office neighbors are mostly 1-to-2 person shops like accountants, lawyers, etc.

We're pretty well tucked away from the world in here!  Security is a nice side benefit, too:  The outer doors are passcoded, and we hold the keys to our inner door.

We're actually in the same building that Flashbang used to be in, which is awesome (shout outs to Solo Cafe)!



Combat Analysis: Aces Wild

We need to talk about Aces Wild. It's an indie beat 'em up made by this dude Tyler Doak. He lives in Wyoming and is a programmer, artist, and designer all rolled up into one magnificent man. He very recently released Aces Wild on his personal website (for an unbeatable $10 USD) and I snatched it right up. After thorough scrutiny I have determined it is a game of tremendous importance.  In order to understand why, check out this timeline I made of the 4 ages of beat 'em ups. It describes the age's distinctions and also contains most of the notable entries of each age. It'll help you understand what I'm getting at when I say that Aces Wild's purity, elegance, and carbon integrity make it the very champion of second age beat 'em up sensibilities, and I would go so far as to say it marks the age's glorious end. Please read on.


Big News Time; August 2013 Edition!

First of all, the big bad news of the moment is that they have just announced the lineup for the PAX Prime 2013 Indie Megabooth. For those of you not familiar with the Indie Megabooth, it's a MASSIVE collaborative booth space used by indies to get together, share costs, and show off their collective games to the PAX event crowd, i.e. the single biggest gamer convention in the world. It takes place in Seattle at the Washington Convention Center, and anyone that has anything to do with games will be there, along with 70,000 fans.