Retroware Sit-Downs: Superfly

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By Tan Montana on May 12th, 2021

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Superfly is a virtual reality action game where you play as the superhero in a procedural city with a plethora of familiar powers to play with and combine. The development team has long consisted of one person and now a small team trying to publish their passion. Superfly is now out on Steam in early access for 14.99 and has seen constant updates.

I reached out to the developer to talk some more about the experiences of being such a small independent team publishing a virtual reality sandbox game, as well as balancing work-life time in college.

A Sitdown with Superfly Developer Rory

Tan- So Superfly is quite an undertaking, and with you being in college and building this game independently, you must be busy. What made you want to work on this? 

Rory- Game development has been my hobby since forever. I’ve made a ton of small games, but nothing good enough to publish. Back in early 2019, I needed a new project to work on. I had just watched “Into the Spider-Verse”, and I was really inspired to make a VR game where you could play as Spiderman. I had previously made a VR game prototype where you could fly around with fiery thrusters like Iron Man, so I thought that I might as well combine the two ideas. Thus Superfly was born: a VR game about flying around a city as a superhero, where you could pick any of a variety of movement modes. 

It was a challenge working on Superfly while still in school. For a year or so, I just worked on it in my free time by myself. By the end of the year, I had a very fun prototype, and I was getting great feedback at showcases. I knew Superfly had the potential to be a publishable game. I’ve never published anything before, so I really wanted this game to be the one. I recruited some of my college friends as a team, and we got to work!

Tan- You and your team describe Superfly as a virtual reality action game where you play as the superhero of your dreams. What sort of features or powers do you have available to players right now?

Rory- Superfly currently has seven different movement modes. Each is a completely different way of moving around the map: flying with fiery thrusters, swinging from webs, sliding along a trail of ice, flying with bird wings, grabbing buildings with a giant claw, dashing with lightning punches, and pulling yourself through the air with black holes. Each movement mode has its own unique physics: you can accelerate to high speed with the thrusters, the webs are great for swinging around tight corners, and the claw lets you punch enemies across the city. 

Besides the movement modes, there’s a ton of stuff to do in the game world. Superfly is set in a huge procedurally generated open world, a city downtown inspired by Manhattan. In meters, the world of Superfly is as wide as the entire map of Skyrim. The city is full of skyscrapers, parks, cars, blimps, boats, and more. The game is also full of robot enemies to fight; there are currently 4 types, plus a giant robot worm boss. You can fly anywhere in Superfly,.

Tan- And since your game has had many updates, what changes and additions do you have planned next? 

Rory- We’ve got a major update coming in the next 2-3 weeks. We’re adding an eighth movement mode – super speed, inspired by characters like The Flash and Quicksilver. We’re also adding power customization, with a bunch of “sidegrades” players can toggle on and off to customize their powers. Each sidegrade changes the physics of the movement mode, making it feel like a completely new power. For example, one sidegrade changes the web slinger into a grappling hook, so it’s no longer stretchy and it automatically reels you in. 

I hope players experiment with all the different combinations of side-grades to figure out new combinations and powersets. This update will also include generally improved physics and combat, updates to the city generation, and new destruction effects that cause cars, enemies, and even trees to shatter into pieces as you hit them. I think it’s a ton of fun to fly down a street, smashing all the enemies in my way into pieces. These pieces are all part of the game’s physics engine, so you can pick them up and interact with them like you can with everything else in the game.

Tan- As for the future of Superfly, what expectations do you have for the project and where it goes?

 Rory- We’re planning to keep working on Superfly for a while. We’re adding a story mode, telling the story of the evil supervillain who created all of the enemy robots. Progressing through the story mode and defeating the boss robots will let you unlock new movement modes and side-grades. There are other long-term features we’re exploring. Multiplayer would be amazing, but it’s a big technical challenge, so it might not pan out. We’d also like to port to the Oculus Quest if we can get Superfly to run on their hardware. And of course, we’ll keep adding movement modes and improving the world generation. Once we have all the above features, we’re going to move Superfly out of Early Access to a full release. I’m not sure on an exact timeline for that; I’d expect at least several more months.

Superfly is available on Steam for 14.99 and is seeing constant updates despite being such a small and busy team. The VR superhero experience is already packed with tons of sandbox toys to play with and with the dedicated support of its fanbase has much more ahead of it to come.

Tan is a Tabletop RPG writer with a deep love for give-'em-a-chance indie games and music made on a ten-year-old laptop in Audacity. They drink their seltzer warm.

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