[Development Blog #6] Steam Game #3 – Super Helpful Man

With the release of The Mind of Marlo and How to Cope with Boredom & Loneliness out of the way we can now move on to our next mini adventure – Super Helpful Man: The Roy Hardcastle Story.

If you’ve been playing our games on Steam, itch.io or follow us in any capacity you might know we’ve been recreating four of our key Ludum Dare games. We’ve finished 2 games with Super Helpful Man and Murder 38 currently in development. They are all fairly short narrative and character focused games that build up to our future title, Vic Raider & The Vibrant Fire, a full length adventure game which we aim to release in 2019-2020. We hope you stick around and join us on this journey!

So, about Super Helpful Man…

SHM

The Fight Against Overwhelming Jobs

Super Helpful Man tells the story of an unusual Superhero.

Mild-mannered handyman Roy Hardcastle had been Wallow Dale’s local odd-jobber for years. Hardworking and reliable, Roy was never short for work. Then one day Roy begun turning up to work dressed in a homemade superhero costume. He would no longer respond to the name Roy but would refer to himself only as Super Helpful Man. He pledged that he would protect the town of Wallow Dale from the evils of wear and tear, provide light repairs for those in need and face down any quibble, no matter how small. Roy carried this on for 45 long years. Nobody asked why Roy became Super Helpful Man. He was still hardworking and reliable so it didn’t matter to them. He “protected” Wallow Dale for as long as he could before finally succumbing to the evils of wear and tear on his aging body and mind. Unable to serve the town as he once could, Roy hung up the cape and Super Helpful Man was never seen again. Yet, superheroes never really retire do they?

At 82 years old, Roy’s hard pushed to remember much about his Super Helpful Man days. Truth is, he can’t remember much of anything nowadays. He spends most days either doing odd jobs around the house for his nagging wife Meryl or sat alone in his shed. One day, whist sitting in his shed Roy is suddenly reminded of his Super Helpful Man alter-ego. He once made a pledge to serve Wallow Dale and while blood still pumped (slowly) through his body he should continue to uphold that pledge, if the costume still fits. Superheroes never retire…

Play as frail old hero-for-hire Super Helpful Man as he performs his heroic duties for the good people of Wallow Dale for what could be the last time and learn the dark secrets of Super Helpful Man’s origin along the way, if you can jog Roy’s memory.

SHM 2
LD version

Here’s Some Developmental Rambling

SHM is another small adventure game but is by far our biggest yet with deeper puzzles, more characters, several locations, dialogue trees and a story so touching it’s bordering on handsy. The game is much larger but fortunately a lot of the groundwork had already been completed before we started How to Cope so we aren’t starting entirely from scratch. We’ll have this bad boy out to you in no time! Well, the end of summer hopefully if you can stomach another summer superhero blockbuster by then.

The best things about making a game about a superhero is that we need to write a great theme tune! It will be a daunting but fun challenge to get right, I’m hoping we can nail it early but I predict it will be the thing that holds up development the most. Stupid theme tune. Everyone appears to really like the soundtrack in How to Cope, which is awesome. SHM won’t have as many ridiculous songs but we should have a couple for you to discover.

One of the things Rodo and I often discuss is game difficulty. If you’ve played our other games you’ll know they are quite simple. A lot of that is borne from their Ludum Dare originals which were simple due to time constraints. With SHM, everything from the Ludum Dare original has been scrapped so we can create new elaborate puzzles. Finding the right balance is difficult though since Rodo is a long time point and click player who loves backtracking and being stuck for hours while he examines every pixel. Whereas I hate when the story I was enjoying stops due to me not being able to read the developer’s mind. Rodo doesn’t really love backtracking and being stuck but he likes a challenge and that rewarding feeling you get when you finally get unstuck. We want to keep that feeling but lose some of the tedium that puts some people off the genre. We only want you randomly combining items because you want to see if there is a joke rather than as a last resort to solving a puzzle.

A big puzzle for me isn’t a mechanical one but one within the storytelling. I finally got around to finishing Spec Ops: The Line recently and the single best moment I had with that game was when I turned it off and sat there thinking about the story, working out the twists and pondering earlier story beats with the information I gained at the end. That made a fairly mediocre game very enjoyable and provided extra hours of enjoyment later watching YouTube analysis of the game. I love storytelling that stays in your mind long after and makes you want to talk to your friends about it. We hope we can do that with our games despite the minimalist presentation and silly plots.

SHM4
LD version

Our motto is “it should always be enjoyable”. Whether you’re solving a puzzle or stuck in a five minute cutscene you should always be enjoying yourself. With SHM we hope you’ll enjoy yourself solving some fun puzzles and being stuck in five minute cutscenes. I think it will be our best yet and if you liked our previous games then you will love Super Helpful Man! By the way, we don’t really have a motto, we don’t even have a company crest.


 

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