Vague Pixels is a video game studio formed by Mridul Pancholi and Mridul Bansal, both 15 years old teenagers who have been working on fast-paced action platformer called Alter Army. The project started partly as a time killing hobby and also a test of skill to start practising in game development, as the young developers set themselves a deadline for Alter Army: to finish the game in one month. Sadly, the final result was not what they had expected, but that also gave them room and inspiration to improve what they already had. After sharing footage on social media and spreading the word, they went all into Steam Greenlight; back when the program was still live.
Greenlight had not been pretty for them, but on the very last minute they received the needed votes to be approved. “I remember sleeping at 12 am thinking of working on something else when suddenly at midnight the phone rang up. It was Mridul Bansal and he told me that the game got greenlit at the very last moment. I remember how I was not able to sleep till like 5 am, I was so overwhelmed by our first achievement that I wasn’t able to think anything else”, said Pancholi.
“After that, game dev friends of ours announced a game jam that was probably the first one in the northern India, located in another city. We were never part of something like this, so somehow we reached there and that was one amazing experience of our lives, we met a lot of amazing people, other game developers, designers, artists and much more”. Funding was at stake for those who won the competition, and whilst Alter Army did not meet the requirement, one of the organizers reached out to Vague Pixels to offer a hand. Some talks later, and the team had signed a contract in exchange for funding for their first game.
Since then, Pancholi has been in charge of Art, Programming and Game Design, while Bansal works in Game Design and Marketing for Alter Army. The game has been in development for over a year and a half and, according to the official Steam page, players will command four different characters that are trying to recover crystals from a long gone world, attempting to survive for a few more decades.
But what I found to be the most interesting aspect of Alter Army is the focus on aggressive combat. There are two elements that help to support this: the Aggression and the Grading system. The first is related directly to the players behaviour: the more aggressive you are, the faster you’ll heal and move, alongside a major damage increase. The other system is something that could be found in a beat ’em up or a pure classic action game, as it rewards the player with different grades after each biome (the game’s unique worlds) and once you finish the story depending on your creativity in battle. This, stated by the devs, will unlock secrets in Alter Army.
As for the story, the characters are interesting enough to present a solid background. The main kid who seems to get the most attention uses a guitar in battle, and there is also a round character who seems to be farting in the trailer. “The game is not story focused although there is a story but it is more of a gameplay focused game so it doesn’t revolve too much around characters”
Alter Army’s soundtrack and SFX is being handled by Vishwas HJ, and the game was praised during NGDC 2016 as a “Nominee for upcoming game of the year”. The game is expected for release this December for PC, and you can already say hi to the devs on Twitter and wishlist Alter Army on Steam. Lastly, keep an eye on their YouTube channel for some exclusive gameplay footage showcasing the different biomes and game systems.