Band of Bugs Preview: Final Thoughts

June 19, 2007 at 10:22 am (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Band of Bugs LogoI thoroughly enjoyed my time with Band of Bugs, and maybe I am too much of a tactics fanboy for my opinion to matter. But I truly think that if a tactics type game could entice and hook casual players, this is it. NinjaBee set out to create a game with a casual point of entry and a hidden depth and I think they have succeeded. NinjaBee’s visual style and humor are here in spades as well.

When I stated at the beginning of this epic hands-on experience that they had hooked me I was not exaggerating. I literally came home, booted up my 360, and thought to myself, “I’ll just play some Band of Bugs…oh…wait…” So, I have been suffering alongside all of you who have been looking forward to this game too. The only difference? I have known exactly what I am missing.

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Band of Bugs Preview: Debriefing Qs and As [Update]

June 18, 2007 at 12:33 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Band Of Bugs SpiderWell, thanks to everyone that sent in questions.  Here are all the answers I could scrounge up.  If there is still something on your mind, feel free to comment and I’ll try to answer as new ones come up.  All answers are from me unless noted as being directly from Steve Taylor (President, Wahoo Studios/NinjaBee).

On with the show:

Q from AC91: Release date and price please…

A: As if my NDA allowed me talk about such things… [Update]: Well, the cat’s out of the bag now so get it on 6/20/2007 for 800 MS Points!

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Band of Bugs Preview: Level Editor Pt. 2

June 14, 2007 at 12:34 am (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Here is part 2 of my Level Editor breakdown with two new exclusive screens.  Part 1 can be found here.

Level Editor Rogue Options

Creating maps hooked me right away because the maps did not require a crazy amount of detail to be fun.  I could easily test an interesting idea and if it sucked I had not wasted hours working on a bad idea.  I just scrapped it and started a new one.  However, with some advanced editing techniques you can often turn a bad design into a great one.

Much more after the break.
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Band of Bugs Preview: Level Editor Pt. 1

June 9, 2007 at 9:49 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

The long wait is finally over.  Here is the first part of my breakdown of the Level Editor (complete with exclusive screens – 1 now, 2 later) which is, in my mind, the best part of a great game.

Level Editor with Dust

(Click for the full 1280×720 version)

NinjaBee has said that they used their editor to layout all the levels in the single player campaign and I absolutely believe them.  It takes a little while to get used to using the editor, but the slight learning curve is only a result of the editor’s robustness.  Every availableLevel Editor D-Pad button is used in the editor.  The d-pad allows you to switch between the following: (see right, clockwise from top) tiles, doo-dads, units, and items.  The left thumbstick handles moving around the map itself, and the right thumbstick handles choosing the specific piece you want to place in or on the map (in the top picture, all the different tile choices are shown at the top).

(More after the break)
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Band of Bugs Preview: Debriefing

May 31, 2007 at 2:37 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Band Of Bugs SpiderNow that I am drawing toward the final bits of my Band of Bugs Preview (more exclusive screens upcoming!) I would like to invite you, the XBLA community, to ask any Band of Bugs questions that might be pressing in your minds. 

Of course, I have yet to cover a couple key topics (I know, I know, get to the Level Editor already) but I want to collect your questions in order to post a bunch of answers at once.  So, anything that I did not cover that you are dying to know about (besides release date and price, of course)?

Post your questions here or at XBLArcade.com and I will do my best to answer them (NDA willing) or get them answered!

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Band of Bugs Preview: Live Integration Pt. 2

May 25, 2007 at 12:37 am (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Live Vision DLC

Two topics on the docket for today: Camera and DLC.

First, the Xbox Live Vision camera support.  If you play other camera-enabled games this will all feel familiar to you.  In multiplayer matches, when you arrive in the pre-game/post-game lobbies, you will see either a person’s gamerpic or his/her camera stream.  Once you are in the game, the streams and pics are relegated to a small section on the right side of the screen.  Within the lobbies the video feeds add something fun (when is it not fun to witness the look of defeat on your enemy’s face?), but in-game the windows are so small that they are barely interesting.

Click below for info on DLC.
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Wahoo/NinjaBee Culture: Part 2

May 23, 2007 at 8:34 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Wahoo Studios Top Floor 1

Here is part 2 of my reflections on my experiences at Wahoo Studios in Utah.  You can find Part 1 here.  Please read, enjoy, comment, complain, whatever moves you.

As of now, the NinjaBee game-making Hydra has three announced projects: Band of Bugs (for Xbox Live Arcade), Saga (for the PC), and Space Station Tycoon (for the Wii).  In addition to that they are always looking for their next Wahoo project and simultaneously trying to decide which of their own crazy ideas they would like to use for the next NinjaBee game.  They are extraordinarily busy right now, but they are not invincible.  Like all game developers they have their share of cancellations and setbacks.

Let me expand the Hydra metaphor even further (don’t you hate it when I do that?).  If you know anything about Hercules and his twelve labors, you might remember that he faced the many-headed Learnaean Hydra.  Upon drawing the Hydra from its lair, Hercules lopped off one of the Hydra’s many heads but was dismayed to discover two growing back in its place.  And it is this irrepressible spirit that can be found in the mythical NinjaBee Hydra as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Band of Bugs Preview: Live Integration Pt. 1

May 18, 2007 at 1:01 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

nblogo.jpgBand of Bugs, in typical NinjaBee fashion, pushes the boundaries of Xbox Live Arcade.  Even being on the cutting edge, NinjaBee still instills confidence in their ability to pull it off.  After all, they had Outpost Kaloki X out for the Xbox 360 launch and helped pioneer full campaign DLC when they shipped expansions for it (some are even free!).  But I digress. 

Chief among their challenges and innovations in Band of Bugs was allowing user created maps into online multiplayer matches.  BoB will be the first XBLA title to allow this.  But the best part of this feature is how easily and quickly this happens in-game.  
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Wahoo/NinjaBee Culture: Part 1

May 17, 2007 at 12:18 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

The NinjaBee stalks its prey outside Wahoo Studios in Orem, UT.Besides getting an in depth look at Band of Bugs, I also got to know more about Wahoo Studios and NinjaBee from an insider’s perspective.  My thoughts and reflections on that perspective will be found here over the coming weeks in this multi-part series.  Read on and return for more.  (And I promise I haven’t forgotten about the rest of the Band of Bugs Preview!)

A few weekends ago (seems like ages already) I got to hang out with many of the people responsible for creating some of my favorite Xbox Live Arcade titles.  The curtains were peeled back and I got to know the men and women behind said curtain there at Wahoo Studios in Orem, Utah. 

You might not recognize the Wahoo name at first because they use the name NinjaBee for all of their independently funded projects (e.g. Outpost Kaloki X, Cloning Clyde, and soon Band of Bugs).  Naming conventions aside, these are the men and women responsible for sucking up way too many hours of my life over the past year and a half.  And there I was, sitting in their offices, watching the unglamorous but somehow magical process of games being created.  And I couldn’t have been happier.
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Band of Bugs Preview: Multiplayer [Update]

May 2, 2007 at 10:23 pm (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Band of Bugs Attack 1

Tacked on?  Not a chance.  Multiplayer was clearly important to the design of this game from day one.  When paired with the level editor (I haven’t forgotten…I will cover the Level Editor in detail in my next section.), the multiplayer experience of Band of Bugs can extend into infinity.  BoB‘s strong replay value results partly from said user created content and partly because the basic gameplay is simple but has enough variance and depth to make it interesting and new each time you play.
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