Bro Force (prototype)

edited in Projects
So Free Lives is working on a game called Bro Force. It's about smashing terrorists and performing other feats of epic machismo. It's about the cosmic bond between kindred killers and most importantly, about being a 90s action movie hero.

Here is the latest prototype:

We're trying to show our prototypes through the webplayer now:


We're in the process of revamping a lot of things, changing the art style completely, adding a lot of depth and trickery to make the experience more rewarding and fun. There are about 10 Bros to play with for now. In this build only 1 of them has a custom special attack, but eventually each of them will have a unique special attack (and there will be more bros).

The game started last Ludum Dare, Free Lives had been working on another game, but we started working more and more on Bro Force and eventually realized: "ACTUALLY THIS IS THE GAME WE WANT TO MAKE". So that's what we're doing now.


If you're curious, please have a play of the prototype. It's a fair bit more polished than what we had at the end of Ludum Dare. It is nonetheless a good indication of the feel of the gameplay we want (though lacking in a lot of features and content and polish).

Right now it is best played 2 player local multiplayer. If played single player it will be a significantly easier experience than you may want (though it is still by no means an easy game). It has been balanced for the kind of chaos that only two or ore bros can produce. Admittedly though the two player camera work needs some more refinement, however even as it stands the camera feels preferable to the Spelunky coop camera (I think).

There are exactly 10 levels. You will know you've beaten it when it loops back to level 1 (and you feel kind of disappointed that it's over... I hope :P )

If it is confusing please let me know... I'm trying to work out how intuitive it is (of course a purchasable product will do a far better job introducing and explaining itself... and it would have customizable keys and that kind of thing... I particularly want to know if the game doesn't feel right, if it feels unfair or broken or unexpectedly disappointing in some way).

Thanked by 1Blanky


  • edited
    THIS WAS SO AWESOME. Kind of like Metal Slug meets Terraria. I'm super keen to play this co-op with someone.

    Some things I remember being frustrating were:
    • sometimes I found I'd destroyed so much of the world that it just didn't seem possible to continue...
    • some of the Bros seemed... useless, and I groaned every time it gave me one of them. (Particularly the sword dude and the demoman. I'd sometimes just suicide to get another Bro.)
    • there was something unexpected about the way the jump works. I'll have to play some more tonight to figure out what it was exactly, but sometimes I didn't jump when I expected to. I suspect this may have been because I was playing with a keyboard instead of a controller.
    [edit] Hmph. Spoiler tags... don't seem to hide the spoilers. So I removed the stuff I liked about the game. :P
  • edited
    Awesome, fun game :)

    I love the idea and the art style.
    The music is cool :)

    Some suggestions:
    1) Allow the player to walk across the top of a ladder. At the moment he falls through.
    2) Show the number of grenades remaining on the hud.
    3) When you fall out the bottom of the screen, slightly decrease the time it takes to register that you are dead.

    If you walk all the way to the left at the start of the level then you fall off the edge and die.
  • edited
    Thanks for playing!!

    @Elyaradine I'll have to test the jumping... I think what @Dipso pointed out as a fix will help some instances of dodgy jumping (that there be walkable pads at the top of ladders). I'm keen to try some walkable/jumppassable pads in places (like underneath check points). Like the way branches on trees in Spelunky work.

    @Dipso I keep meaning to fix the left side of the screen problem... and then keep forgetting :( I also keep meaning to show the grenade/specials value. It'll be there in the new UI definitely.

    I'm going to test falling out the screen. Maybe I could add some better feedback there.

    @Elyaradine The sword dude and the demoman (McBrover) are my two favourites! There's so many interesting things they get to do, like the sword dude can jump higher, and the demoman can stick dynamite on ceilings underneath mooks, and can also drop bombs on mooks on lower levels and is also a prime candidate for dynamite jumping in speed runs (once I tweak the dynamite jumping).

    Though I concede the bros are not balanced. Once we get more in, and get special abilities working, we're going to go through a process of balancing (and possibly drastic alteration of some of them). (I'm not planning on balancing it too far though, the feeling I'm trying to go for is that of Super Crate Box, so the bros need to be just balanced enough that they're all fun).
  • I just played it co-op. It is great fun.

    I picked up on the same things that Dipso did about the ladder and the grenades. Just one more suggestion I would like to make. Maybe make it possible to switch out bros between players. There were times where we would have liked to switch but couldn't.

    And McBrover is the bomb :D Stick dynamite EVERYWHERE :P
  • edited
    @Rigormortis Thanks for trying it!

    Switch out bros between players? Like switch which bro you're controlling (between the two players)? Or maybe switch the choices of bros you're controlling? That sounds interesting, it could allow for some strategic options, like getting somewhere only accessible by one bro and then using the firepower of another (if that's what you mean). Although it'll be tricky to work into the game conceptually. Perhaps it could be a pickup on the levels (eg. The secret ninjutsu Bro replacement technique).
  • edited
    @BlackShipsFilltheSky, Actually both of those. When I played last night(forever alone) I was always hesitant to pick up another bro for the life when I was liking the bro I had. So I wanted some way to at least cycle through the bros I had already played that level.

    And then when a buddy and me played this morning, I wanted to play with Blade and Mac, but there was no way to switch. So just switching which player controls which bro of the current bros on screen is what I mean.

    I'm not sure how hard this will be to implement, but that would make it SO much better for me :)
  • Yay! More of this game :)

    Typo in the first image "somhow" will play this when I get home again.
  • edited

    It's definitely been the prime request to be able to control which bro you get. It's something I'm giving a lot of thought to.

    Basically the problems are:

    1) If you can control which bro you get then a large part of the compulsion for playing the game ends when a player receives their perceived best bro. Or at least the granularity of rewards for unlocking bros becomes lower... because only a couple bros are going to perceived to be useful and the rest will be invisible.

    2) This can be somewhat solved by rigorously balancing the bros. In that they are all perceived to be useful. But that is a mammoth task, and perceived value is really tricky to get right.

    3) Even if the bros are balanced it means that the player has an answer for every problem, which means that none of the bros can be particularly devastating. They have to be balanced within a narrow range of parameters so they cannot be abusable.

    4) Mostly the problem is that the game loses some of it's playfulness. Not know what you're going to get next is always more fun than getting exactly what you want every time, even if it isn't as effective.

    At the moment the options I'm considering are:

    1) Provide people who have completed the game with the ability to play (as an option) with any character they like. This is effectively a game ender (like unlocking god mode, I suspect the interest in playing would dry up pretty quickly, and once the player has experienced that effectiveness I suspect they'll never want to play at a lower effectiveness level).

    2) Instead of unlocking total bro control, perhaps unlock partial bro control. Having the ability to choose a team of bros that still switch between them is a sort of compromise.

    3) Provide some limited way of controlling your bro. Like you get to choose your starting bro (so players don't feel the need to scum).

    4) Maybe provide some other limited way to control your bro. Like a pickup that lets you switch bro once.

    5) Make switching bros more appealing. If each bro has more depth (like with unique specials and maybe unique weapon powerups) then not having the most effective bro still allows players to complete secondary goals. Other secondary goals could be achievements per bro, like rankings or something. Perhaps players get rewarded with more points when they score well with a bro with whom they've done badly in the past. And also providing more rewards tied to the number of times the player switches in the level.

    6) Make switching more common. Instead of gaining lives and switching, there could be other switches on the level that are tied to other bonuses. More switching means less attachment to the current bro and therefore less disappointment at the switch.

    7) I suspect also that the single player is too easy. Therefore saving the bros, to gain more lives, is sometimes more of a hindrance than it is a bonus. If saving each of those bros was more desirable the negative/random effect would be less noticeable.

    8) Also maybe, once there is story, certain levels can be themed to use certain bros. And maybe some levels allow for bro selection (like as part of an elite task force sent to the moon to defeat the alien hivemind, or whatever). Although I am somewhat weary of this because of players not enjoying returning to lower levels of effectiveness... however it may unlock some strongly thematic story telling options (like using a team of bros that appeared in a specific movie and recreating action sequences, or setting players up with only melee characters or whatever).


    The bro selection problem isn't one I'm going to solve anytime soon. I'm first going to try edge the game towards being more appealing with the randomness included... and if that doesn't work then find a way to give players what they want in a way that doesn't spoil the experience.
  • edited
    @dislekcia Dammit Bevis and your poor spelling and my stupid careless eyes! I'll get him to fix it :P

    It hasn't changed that much since last time you played. Hopefully there'll be a significantly different version by the end of this month. I'm grateful for all the feedback, it's going to help us refine the experience.
  • So played some single player. BroForce™ feels like a combo of Super Crate Box and Terraria.

    The controls I used were WASD to move, 1 to shoot and 2 to grenade which were awful.

    The Bros really don't feel balanced. If you run out of grenades and you have to get across a bridge McBrover and BroBlade are really really bad.

    The biggest thing for me though is that the game lacks a hook. I played BroForce™ for about 20 minutes and then played Super Crate Box for an hour and a half. I didn't notice it was an hour and a half since it was all just visceral action, which is something I would expect given that the cast of the expendables is in BroForce™

    There are a couple of things I wish I had/could do.
    • Shoot in four directions
    • Shoot the wall I am climbing
    • Instantly grab a ladder instead of press W to grab
    • See my grenades
    • Have a jetpack
    I'm also rather ashamed that it took me a while to work out the bald guy was Bruce Willis and not Jason Stentmen, and I have to ask when Liam Neeson will be a bro :P
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky,

    I'll play some more later and report anything else I can find. I'll leave the bro switching alone after this post(till you get back to it anyways :)) I figured the bros you rescued were random. And that is no problem. What I am suggesting is to keep the way you get the bros random(start and "crates") but have the option of switching to another bro you have rescued that stage. So instead of "number of lives" you gain a line up of bros. And once one gets killed he gets taken out of the line up. I hope that makes more sense.

    And don't listen to anyone saying McBrover and BroBlade are bad...they are my 2 favorites as well. Jumping higher and being able to stick dynamite to stuff are awesome perks :)
  • edited
    @Karuji Like I said, the prototype is a prototype of the feel of the gameplay. Hooks are meta-features and we're simply not there yet.

    Or are you suggesting it's not violent enough? (that seems to be the basis of your comparison with Super Crate Box).

    Or maybe it is too easy? I guess that could be the case for lack of compulsion (not that I really expect much compulsion in this stripped down prototype).

    Or as a result of the greater thematic ties theme, than those of Super Crate Box, are you expectations of story telling being underwhelmed? Again, it's a gameplay prototype without much focus on even singleplayer balancing and close to zero work on emotionsal engagement. 20 minutes is actually a pretty good gameplay length I feel.

    The ladders do need tweaking. At the moment the not instantly grabbing a ladder is based on Spelunky's style of platforming. I think that not autograbbing is convention, whether you like it or not. Falling down over a ladder and not standing on the top is wrong though.

    Shooting in four directions would degrade a lot of the emergent strategies. I'd then have to make the enemies also provide threats in four directions, and the destructible terrain would be hugely exploitable, and the game would become mostly about running and bullet dodging. I mean... it WOULD be fun for a little while though. Maybe like a secret mode. Then again, Metal Slug already covers this gameplay well.

    Jetpacks are hopefully in BroForce's future!

    As Is Liam Neeson! As either Hannibro, Rob Broy, Broyan Millis (from Taken), or... maybe even Zeus (though I don't know how to brovert that). Liam Neeson is actually a tough one, probably a later addition in truth. Suggestions?

    @Rigormortis There will be other builds in the coming weeks. You don't have to play this one over and over until you're bored with it. I'd appreciate your opinion on how it progresses.

    When there are more bros, and they are better differentiated, we'll be able to see how they all match up, and who is possibly too powerful or not useful enough. There definitely will be changes. I am actually thinking of adding some bullet deflecting skills onto BroBlade (well at the moment he can deflect 1 bullet and I don't think that is enough... but also he could get very overpowered very quickly).

    The bros could be better introduced somehow. Some bros are going to have very circumstantial advantages (like McBrover and BroBlade's bullet deflection). I don't know how much I want players to discover the advantages and how much I should be hinting at what these advantages are. The thing I am quite happy to happen is for players to end up discussing which bros they prefer... I'm going to have to find a way to facilitate that.

    @Rigormortis A revert to a previous bro (from that level) could be an interesting compromise. I guess you can tell a lot of my thinking has been: "How do I get players to like switching randomly?". Eventually I may have to confront "How I give them more control (without breaking the game)?". Thanks for the idea!
  • You have to make this have a constantly rotating roster of bros. Then you could use IAP to unlock the bros you want to have for a specific level (which also rotate, kinda like movies). Pick a bro from your lineup when you die, try to get far enough per bro to finish the level eventually.
  • That was really cool, apart from the things already mentioned above, on the Mac version the game stops at level 1 when you escape on the chopper, which i'm guessing just loads the next level. It had a nice "feel", and as you said the single player was very easy but I can totally see how it would be difficult if there were two bros causing the rampage.
    Look forward to seeing some more at the meetup!
  • I never actually thought about violence with regards to the comparison to SCB. To me it's about the pacing. If I die in SCB there isn't a penalty in play time, and I'm almost immediately back to getting crates.

    The main reason I want 4D shooting, and attacking while climbing is for BroBlade, since he kind of lacks a sneaky kill method. With the ranged bros I can stand just below the enemies so they can't shoot me, shoot the terrain until they fall, and either have a fall death of die in a hail of bullet.

    And BroBlade is totally my favourite cause you just feel so badass with him!

    As for Neeson I was totally thinking Bro-Gon Jin. But no reason you can't have multiple ones, you already have Brombo and BroDread. Also BroNorris lacks a round house kick!
  • @Dislekcia That's an interesting idea... We kind of have a story planned... So I'm not sure if that route would work on top of a story or be an alternative to the story... I love the idea that starting up the game in a week's time means you might play with a different roster (If that's what you were saying).

    @Karuji I like the idea of Bro Blade being given some extra infiltration options.

    I have trouble remembering the Phantom Menace (for reasons other than poor memory or Liam Neeson's brilliant performance). I do love Bro-Gon Jin ... and being able to team up with Obi Wan Bronobi or perhaps Bro Vader would be super cool.

    @Karuji Re pacing. Bro Force will always be a slower game than Super Crate Box. Somewhere between Spelunky and Super Crate box is where we're aiming, and trying to get as much of the best of both. I'm not convinced that speeding up the game, or speeding up the respawn time (though I'll look into tightening that up), is actually the solution to the problem you're posing. I don't think it's one of pacing at all actually... Or at least not all about pacing... but I think I can solve it. Though that'll have to wait for a later build.

    @Karuji Btw. Did you play much Spelunky? Did you play both versions? How did you find that? (for my reference, I really do want to sort this out)
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky I haven't played spelunky in years, and my bawks is currently not too happy with me so I haven't played the new one :< But I loved it, it beat me to death many times but it was great fun. So I'll go play some more, which will hopefully motivate me to fix that thing so I can play Fez as well.

    I suppose this is the time I should mention that I was 8 when I saw the phantom menace and really have nothing against the movie :P


    With regards to pacing, it's not that the game itself is too slow. But more that there feels to be a hiccup in the play loop. I'm not worried about it since all of your games are well paced and have great moment to moment play (I played Bass Cannon for two hours without realising it.) So it's more of I know what you're capable of, and Bro Force isn't there yet; I know it will be. So when it becomes digital crack expect not to see me for a while :P
  • edited
    @Karuji You stated that the pacing thing was the thing holding you back from playing Bro Force for 1.5hrs or so. That's what I'm finding confusing. Seems to me that there are a lot of other bigger lackings in Bro Force right now.

    Though as that's relatively easy to fix that's good news I guess!

    And in which case what did you mean by a "hook"? Was that a separate logical statement?

    I don't hold anything against anyone who enjoyed the Phantom Menace. It feels to me like a part of my life that is missing (a place where I dearly wish an episode of Star Wars was, a really good one that is).
  • ok so I figured out what the phantom menace was after figuring out which actor you were talking about, I don't generally learn actors names. pity he was zeus and not poseidon as the later bro-ifies so nicely.

    all in all I had a fair amount of fun and laughed enough at some of the deaths, so for
    now gg I look forward to the next release.
  • That was fracking AWESOME!!! Just played for a few mins but kickass :D

    I agree with @Dipso about the ladders. Often found myself falling off while trying to blow a guy to smithereens. Same with grenades comment for HUD.

    I would have liked to pick up the explosive barrels, causing them to ignite with short fuse, to chuck at opponents? and quickly otherwise you blow urself up. Ran out of grenades pretty quickly (loved blowing everything up).

    Also grabbing an enemy as a human shield would have been cool :P

    just my thoughts ;)

  • edited
    Very, very cool....and I've only been playing it single player. I guess I should finally get round to buying myself an xbox controller l