We recently covered the pre-order release of the new arcade exclusive shoot ’em up Skycurser, developed by Indiana-based developer Griffin Aerotech. When that date hit, I reached out to them with a few questions and instead of adding them to that original post, let’s tackle them here.
The Airframe Platform
First, a quick refresher on the hardware and idea behind Skycurser – the Airframe platform. This stood out early on as they designed it as a JAMMA-based kit that could go into a wide range of cabinets from the late 80s and throughout the 90s. We also have seen very few kits in recent times as all of the major manufacturers prefer to sell full-blown dedicated cabinets.
The Beta kit of Airframe (pictured above) that I received was a PC based, ITX-form factor board with an I/O addition to connect to the wiring hardness. I asked if there were any changes to that kit and here was the response from Phil Golobish of Griffin Aerotech
For the public release, the AIRFRAME hardware got an extra USB port and a cosmetic upgrade to its enclosure. The internals remain as off-the-shelf PC components paired with a JAMMA edge, audio amp, and some components to help out with power regulation. It’s also still JAMMA-only and doesn’t account for HDMI output. The OS remains as 64-bit Debian for x86 chips.
Here is the kit in it’s final manufactured form with a black plastic casing:
Regarding the future of the hardware, Phil continued:
As soon as we’re done programming SKYCURSER, we’re planning on transferring our energy into supporting other dev teams. A few teams have started on AIRFRAME projects but need mentoring to push them to the next level. We’ve also got some game ideas of our own on deck.As for the future of the AIRFRAME platform, we’re committed to it. We’re going to keep improving it. We’ve smashed a lot of technical barriers with AIRFRAME and have made the technical side of arcade game development relatively straightforward and very similar to programming for Playstation, Xbox and the web. It’s essentially, pick your language or engine and start coding. Related to that, just like a Playstation 4 or Xbox One, AIRFRAMEs will always play AIRFRAME games regardless of what hardware version is inside.
Among those additional titles, one is a beat ’em up with a very American patriot flare to it called Founding Force by Clever Machines LLC. They did make an appearance at Midwest Gaming Classic this past weekend to show some of the progress on the game and I reached out to them for additional comment but I did not hear back so for now, here is their website and here is their Facebook page which shows some updates. They are currently seeking funding to help with the development process which you can assist with. Below is an embed of a quick animation from the game through Facebook, hopefully it works in your browser.
On a quick side note, I’m rather excited for the possibility of a new beat ’em up in the arcade again. The genre saw next to no action this decade, with a few efforts like Demolish First, Dynamite Deka EX/Asian Dynamite and Oriental Legend 2 keeping it on life support during the 00’s.
Beyond that I know about a Windjammers-like title in development for the platform by the name of Beach Dogs but Phil mentioned that it is still very early in development so there isn’t much to say about it at the moment.
More About Skycurser
We also discussed a little bit more about Skycurser for those interested.
April 3rd marked the day we opened up orders to the general public via our website. Before then, we only sold to public arcades and a few select individuals and clubs. June 6th is another big day since it’s the one we’re using as the marker for gameplay being feature complete; i.e., scoring, weapons, second player, etc. However, we’re planning to release two additional missions in 2017 that may also come with small gameplay tweaks. The purpose of the future missions is to tie up the story of Guy and Sammy fighting off the NECROSTAR. The updates will be free downloads to anyone that’s purchased the game. To recap, yes. We’ve got content updates planned. These will happen regardless of sales.
That means that the game is still on track to feature a total of six levels, as they originally promised. I then asked about their expectations regarding the project and how it ended up versus what they expected when they got started:
We didn’t have a lot of expectations when we started the SKYCURSER project. So, I can’t say we met anything specific. In general, our vibe around the workshop and in dev meetings is ultra positive. We’re having the time of our lives despite being exhausted most of the time. Ha! However, the biggest surprise has probably been the overwhelmingly positive response from all types of gamers. We were just at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee and it didn’t matter if the player was young or old, a pinball junky, or console player, they loved blastin’ mutants. It’s a wild feeling seeing people light up with joy as they’re playing something you made.
Sales for the game are open through the Skycurser website but what about interested distributors?
For now, we’re focused on selling directly to fans of the game. However, we also understand what a distributor could bring to the table and would love to chat with any interested party. Distro’s can reach us via the contact form on our homepage.
That’s all for now! We’ll keep an eye on additional possibilities for this platform as developments continue