News

Greetings everyone! Thanks to all who stopped by the chat last week for Rename-the-Bull-athon 2014!! We had a lot of fun discussion suggestions with all of you, and the team has narrowed it down to a short list of favorites:

  • Franklin
  • Esteban
  • Buster
  • Phillis
  • Rufus
  • Terry (oh the puns!)
  • Reginald/Reggie
  • Quinton/Quincy
  • Benson
  • Sir Benjamin Bullsworth
  • Bill
  • Bobert
  • Baltazar/Baltie
  • Constance
  • Felicity
  • Hyde
  • Blue

If you have an opinion on any of these, or have a last minute suggestion, tweet it to @SlowDownBull or post it in our forum thread. This Friday we will tell you which name we picked! This week on stream will mostly likely be me building a level, so you’ll get to see a lot of nitty-gritty editor process in Unity. Be sure to follow the Insomniac Twitch Channel to get notified about when we go live.

Pickup Art

Speaking of art, Dave has been doing passes on pickups for each area in the game. Our bull is collecting objects to use to beautify his art projects so they can be perfect. We’re trying out different objects in each area that would use to really spruce up a craft project (shells, buttons, bells, beads..), and changing up the sprites based on your multiplier, so it’s more easy to visualize the value of what you’re carrying around. Here’s a shot of some shells on the beach…

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One interesting design challenge came up with the pickups. We originally wanted to try out actual craft objects for them with the more photoreal textures (the macaroni shells, some gemstones) but ran into some issues with them reading awkwardly. They didn’t stand out as things you could pick up, and looked like oddly placed environment objects. We decided to stick with the visual design that any interactable game element (the bull, the NPCs, the cat, the pickups) should be in the crayon style with the paper backing, and reserve the crafted materials for the environment. It helps push the two apart on the playfield to keep things clear.

So walls, ground, trees and hedges will all be crafted textures, such as our cottonball cloud wall:

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But the characters and game elements will be crayon drawings on paper

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Articles and Podcasts

Slow Down, Bull has shown up in a few places around the web, so check these out in case you missed them.

Indie Game Magazine interview about the project.

Spawn On Me Podcast where I talk about the project in addition to other general gaming going-ons.

Hope to see you in the stream this Friday!

-Lisa

We’ve seen a few reports from some of you who happened to catch a very special episode of Sunset TV that is currently playing in theatres across the United States. That’s right, Sunset TV has gone to the silver screen.

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For the next few weeks at theatres in the United States in front of PG-13 and R-rated films, those of you heading to the cineplex may get to see a special episode of Sunset TV featuring host Brandon Winfrey, with special guest appearances from Creative Director Marcus Smith and Game Director Drew Murray.

The video rotates between theatres in the next couple weeks, so if it’s not in your theatre this week, it may be in a week or two. The episode plays in the very last section of pre-movie behind-the-scenes videos that play before the previews begin, so make sure to show up a little bit early with your popcorn (and Buncha Crunch, because Buncha Crunch and popcorn were made for each other).

If you caught it, let us know where and what you thought of the special episode! We’ll get to post it online for you all to view after its finished its run in theatres!

We had an awesome time last week seeing many of you at San Diego Comic-Con. Whether we played Chaos Squad with you on the showfloor or in the Xbox Lounge, revealed brand-new content to you at our SDCC Panel, or caught you in line to buy Mondo’s Sunset Overdrive poster (their first-ever videogame print), it was fantastic to hear about how excited you are for the game.

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If you missed our panel, and the coverage of it on Polygon, we focused a lot on Character Customization at San Diego Comic-Con. Polygon announced a contest where you can design an outfit for the game that we will make after we ship to be in post-launch DLC! The prize is a trip to Insomniac for a one-day apprenticeship with us. Check it out and submit your entry here.

If you need some inspiration, Polygon also interviewed Lead Character Artist Gavin Goulden (who we interviewed on this blog last week!) about the customization in the game. You can read that piece here.

And finally we released a BRAND NEW video showing off tons of new customization. Check out some of our favorite customization pieces from the game and see LOTS of new gameplay footage.

That’s all for now, it was great to see you at Comic-Con this week. And be sure to stay tuned to Sunset TV for some footage!

As we continue towards this Fall, we wanted to spotlight various members of the Sunset Overdrive team with some questions you hopefully haven’t seen answered elsewhere. Get to know the Sunset Overdrive team. This week we talk to Lead Character Artist Gavin Goulden.

gavingHow has your past work experience influenced your work on Sunset Overdrive?

I’ve been given a lot of great opportunities in my career and try to apply lessons that I have learned from those past experiences to my current situation.  In the past, I was the Lead Character Artist on Bioshock Infinite, this role prepared me for better team management, finishing a giant project as a lead, creating modular character systems, really learning about smarter design choices, and let me play a bigger role in the art direction of enemy characters, fashion sense, and overall consistency throughout the game.  Before that, I played a big part in the character customization system for Dead Rising 2, which obviously I am still carrying with me today.  I am a huge character customization nerd, it’s a thing I’ve always been interested in from a professional standpoint and as a gamer, I like dressing up my in game character as much as I like building the system for how to do it.  I think that job really taught me a lot in how to build a working clothing system, and  the expectations of variety in such an open world game.  Plus, in general, my personal artistic “flavor” matches pretty closely to what the creative and art directors like, and wanted to push for in Sunset Overdrive, which makes it a dream project in many ways for me.

How would you describe the character’s style in Sunset Overdrive?

It’s the end of the world, and you can do whatever you want.  The laws don’t apply to you anymore, the rules you had to follow are gone, and you can be who you want to be.  You really have a new lease on life and have gone from a nobody in a dead end job to the protagonist of a video game.  This gives us a lot of room to play with, and justify, fashion sense.  We’ve grabbed a bunch of different references (anime, Tank Girl, Gorillaz, Iggy Pop, etc.) and have tried to tailor outfits that would loosely fit these archetypes that were once popular, and allow the players to mix and match.  We also have many different costume elements that are just plain fun to have, wouldn’t make sense to be wearing walking down the streets of LA (well…it depends where you go, I guess) that mix well with the palette of normal fashion options.  So, you can easily have a track jacket, fur vest, pair of jeans, cowboy boots, and a WW2 pilots helmet – they all mix and play well together.

How many different customization combination option do you gather are in Sunset Overdrive?

Well, I could look at my Excel sheet, do some quick math, and give you an exact answer – but – I’m just going to say the amount of possible combinations is easily in the thousands or more.  We wanted to take the element of choice in a  different direction with Sunset Overdrive.  Rather than just slapping color changes onto an asset, we wanted to feel like you were opening your closet and picking out your favorite shirt.  Each option is hand crafter and given purpose, and are specific.  Though, that being said, there are many, MANY different pieces to pick and choose from to take you anywhere on the scale from boring business man to a super hero from space.

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About how long does it take you to make a character from scratch?

Starting from scratch, most character artists are looking at about 2 – 3 weeks of work, give or take some time depending on how difficult the character is.  This breaks down to about a few days of creating a base mesh, a week of sculpting, a few days of creating a low poly model and unwrapping, then creating textures.  Once the model is finished, we hand it over to our rigging team and get the character moving in game.  If there are any obvious issues we missed during it’s creation, the model gets kicked back and we do any necessary fixes.  Generally, we are in constant communication with the department before and after us, though, to minimize bouncing models back and forth.  Luckily, after a while you have a system in place where you can grab different elements of a model and reuse it in your new character.  So, for example, there’s no point in recreating cargo shorts if you already have cargo pants.  Not only does this save a ton of time during production, but it also helps keep our look and style consistent throughout the game, since many things will come from the same root.

What is your philosophy before creating a new vanity item?

Obviously, the first question we need to ask is “Will It Work”?  New pieces need to fit in the system that we have set up before we can really dive into it.  But that doesn’t sound fun.  We need to always be player facing and questioning if this new piece of vanity will add to the experience of players, and that the new article of clothing will add to the enjoyment of the game.  Rather than trying to create every possible type of shirt, we want to hit with heavier punches, and leave each item feeling totally different than the last.  Looking at the vanity items we have as a whole, we need to ask “Would this be fun to wear?”

Can it be difficult to generate new ideas? How do you get over that?

Thankfully, I have a whole team of people that have great ideas.  Jacinda (Chew, Art Director) is the driving force for our high level style, we have a team of concept artists that bring a lot of different outfit styles to the modelers, and my direct team are all very creative and can generate ideas for items that we need.  Mostly, that takes care of a lot of the pressure, and it’s not hard to ask those around you “How can I make this better?”  Left alone, though, I would always go back to our references – the main pieces that inspired our game.  There are so many possible things to gather influence from, comic books, movies, runway fashion, music videos, etc.  I am also becoming a bit a fashion nerd, not that I’m fashionable by any means, but I find myself looking at people on the street and seeing what they decided to wear that morning, how different materials give a desired effect, what works and what doesn’t, what is common and what isn’t, etc.  When it comes to thinking of a new idea for clothing, we are literally surrounded by inspiration.

What is your favorite vanity item in the game? Would you ever wear it in public?

There are so many to choose from and, as the team lead, I see everything come through and get to play with different combinations on a daily basis.  I want to break the rules and give you a top 3.  The first one, of course, is the Luchador assets we have.  Given the right combination you can become a high flying, suplex machine, running through Sunset City.  Second is our Fizzie loadout (available to players in the Day One Edition of Sunset Overdrive) where you get to dress as Fizzie stage performer from Horror Night, you get an awesome garage jacket, Fizzie themed pants and a glorious Fizzie helmet.  Finally, we have a “Wasteland” themed jacket that has you fully decked out for anything that comes your way – this piece is a big technical achievement for us as it involves so many parts giving secondary motion to the character – chains, straps, sleeping bags, backpacks, it’s basically the kitchen sink asset.

You can reskin any game with Sunset Overdrive art. What game is it?

My knee jerk reaction to any question like this is to just say Doom or Xcom because they’re my favorite games of all time.  But, I can’t imagine Doom in a brightly colored world, where you slay demons while wearing a kangaroo head cod piece.  I really like all types of games, but it’s tough because Sunset Overdrive is a very unique creature – not many things look like it, and the tone that we set, the attitude that we have, hasn’t really been done before.  Thinking about it, I would say Fable.  I’ve always really liked the game, and I think it would work well in a world like our own. Rather than chasing chickens through Albion, you would be chasing them through Sunset City.

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Other interviews with Game Director Drew Murray, Creative Director Marcus Smith and Art Director Jacinda Chew.

We’re bringing Sunset Overdrive to International Comic-Con in San Diego with Xbox this week. We’re really excited to see those of you there, and give you one of the first-ever public opportunities to play Sunset Overdrive! We also have a panel, autograph signings, giveaways and much much more.

And for all the details on the Xbox Presence at Comic-Con, check out their event site here.

Play the Game
Sunset Overdrive is PLAYABLE on the showfloor in the Xbox booth (booth #100). Swing by while you’re on the floor to check out the game. Or if you want to see and play Sunset Overdrive as well as all of the great games coming to Xbox One, head over with your SDCC badge to the Xbox Lounge at the Manchester Grand Hyatt (1 Market Place, Seasport Ballroom, 2nd Floor) where over two dozen games will be there to check out!

Panel
We’re throwing a panel at Comic-Con on Thursday evening. Swing by to hear directly from members of the team about the game all about player customization. We’re going to show brand new footage and customizations here, as well as never-before-seen concept art. The official description is below, but you won’t want to miss it.

The Fusion of Art and Style in Sunset Overdrive
Thursday, July 24, 5:00PM – 6:00PM, Room 5AB

Join Xbox Live’s Major Nelson to get an inside look into the inspiration behind the vibrant and off-the-wall style of Sunset Overdrive, a new open-world action game coming exclusively to the Xbox One this fall. Audience members will be the first to see new Sunset Overdrive content illustrating the creative freedom the game offers players. Hear directly from Insomniac Games’s Drew Murray and Marcus Smith (Game and Creative Director, respectively) along with art directorJacinda Chew and lead character artist Gavin Goulden.

Mondo x Sunset Overdrive
Last week, we announced our collaboration with Mondo, the Austin-based gallery and art collective, to create their first-ever poster for a video game.  The screen-printed poster was created by UK-based artist Matt Taylor, and is a limited edition run being sold exclusively at SDCC. Mondo will be putting the poster on sale at some point during the convention (Booth #835). To find out when it goes on sale, follow them on Twitter at @Mondonews (helpful hint, turn on mobile notifications for Mondo during SDCC so you get texts when they tweet about something being on sale!).

We also have some copies of the print to give away as well!  If you think you’re good at Sunset Overdrive, you should be the first to play Chaos Squad in the Xbox Lounge every morning when it opens. The top scorer in each of the first few games of each day will be rewarded with a beautiful copy of the poster (but you can only win once!). Also follow @SunsetOverdrive on twitter, as well for more details on giveaways and maybe even a chance to win from home!

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Autograph Signing – Friday July 25th, 1pm-2pm, Xbox Lounge Main Stage
On Friday, we’ll also be having an autograph signing in the Xbox Lounge with Creative Director Marcus Smith, Community Lead James Stevenson, and Sunset TV Host and Community Manager Brandon Winfrey (among other Insomniacs!). Bring your Insomniac swag to get signed. We may even have some swag for folks in line to get signed if you didn’t have any! So be sure to come by the Xbox Lounge in the Manchester Grand Hyatt (1 Market Place, Seasport Ballroom, 2nd Floor).

Giveaways
We have new Sunset Overdrive t-shirts, some lithograph posters of the box art and some other goodies to give away as well. Generally speaking we’ll give those away at the Xbox Lounge (Manchester Grand Hyatt) at random times throughout the event to people who play the game. Want to know when? Stay tuned to @SunsetOverdrive‘s twitter for announcements about t-shirts being available at the lounge.

Oh yeah, Xbox has an awesome custom Sunset Overdrive Xbox One that will be given away as well. For details on how to play, check out the Xbox Comic Con page.

 

Whew. That is probably all. There’s a lot going on, and it’s our biggest presence at Comic-Con ever. We’re looking forward to seeing you there, playing the game with you at the booth and Xbox Lounge, and seeing you at our panel and screening. Be sure to follow @SunsetOverdrive on twitter for all the latest from the show as it happens!

We’ve got a lot of great stuff happening at San Diego Comic-Con this year, but one of the items we’re really excited about was collaborating with our friends at Mondo to release their first ever screenprint based on a videogame.  Entertainment Weekly has the exclusive reveal of the poster which will be on sale at some point during Comic-Con at booth 835 (for more details on on-sale, keep your eyes peeled to Mondo’s twitter). We’ll also have some giveaways around the show as well, you’ll want to keep up with our blog and the Sunset Overdrive twitter on that front.

We collaborated with Mondo for their first ever video-game print. Celebrating Sunset Overdrive, the print was created by UK-Based Matt Taylor, and will be sold at San Diego Comic Con.

Sunset Overdrive by Matt Taylor, on sale at Mondo’s booth during SDCC

The poster was created by UK-Based artist Matt Taylor. We’re big fans of Matt’s work,and it was really cool to see his take on the world of Sunset Overdrive. For your first look at the poster and thoughts from Matt himself, Mondo’s Justin Ishmael, and our own Drew Murray and James Stevenson, check out the exclusive reveal at EW.com

If you want to see detail photos for the print check out the below:

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If you aren’t familiar with Mondo, it’s an Austin, TX-based gallery that releases limited edition screenprinted posters based on classic and contemporary film (and TV), as well as other cool stuff like apparel, vinyl movie soundtracks, and VHS-rereleases. They’ve had a ton of amazing posters over the years, which you can check out in their archive.

We hope you like the artwork, and there’s much more happening at San Diego Comic-Con this year, with playable Sunset Overdrive on the showfloor and at the Xbox Lounge, as well as a panel with brand-new content from the game on Thursday evening, giveaways and much more. Stay tuned to the blog for the full breakdown of activities and events soon!

As we continue towards this Fall, we wanted to spotlight various members of the Sunset Overdrive team with some questions you hopefully haven’t seen answered elsewhere. Get to know the Sunset Overdrive team. This week we talk to Art Director Jacinda Chew.

jacindacHow did you come to be an Art Director at Insomniac Games?

I started here as an environment modeler back in 2003 and worked my way to art director.

What were the major influences for the art style of Sunset Overdrive?

I looked at a ton of reference when we were researching the game. I looked at Havana and Shinjuku when we were building the environment. I looked at Phil Hale, Jamie Hewlett, and Jean Paul Gaultier when we were designing the characters and fashion. The Scott Pilgrim movie is a huge influence for our FX. There is an irreverence or attitude that I liked about each of these artists and architectural styles.

How long did it take to find the “style?”

I think it took almost two years to get some solid target renders. If you’re wondering why it took so long, it’s because it was a game that started as a huge pile of disparate ideas that I spent two years distilling into an art style. One of our biggest challenges was figuring out the building style. Since the buildings are closely tied to the game traversal, we had to work hand-in-hand with Design to make buildings that were traversal-friendly so it was an organic process. We probably rebuilt the original prototype city eleven times as we re-adjusted our metrics and building designs to meet the needs of gameplay. The character style went through some iteration as well. I wanted to design characters who were believable as underdogs, but also aspirational and capable of performing our parkour moves. There is remarkably little concept art for this game because so many things were dependent on the modelers working collaboratively with design and creative.

Why all the color?

Sunset Overdrive is all about fun in the end times and I wanted to reflect that in the art style. I was inspired by some colorful buildings in Havana and I loved how the peeling paint and plaster would often reveal other colors underneath. This eventually made it into our game as brushstrokes that are splashed onto the asphalt, buildings, and even clothes. Not only did I want the world to be a happy place full of vibrant color, but a place where you didn’t have to follow any rules. This is why we didn’t bother to paint within the lines. It’s controlled chaos.

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If an animation studio made a movie out of Sunset Overdrive – who would you want it to be and why?

Actually, I’d want Edgar Wright to direct the Sunset movie because the irreverence and humor in his movies would fit really well with our game.

Do you have a guide when it comes to what vanity to put in the game for character customization?

I find a lot of vanity systems to be rather limiting because there are a lot of options, but most games don’t really spend a lot of time considering the design of each individual piece. I want you to be able to be who you want to be, but I also want you to look cool.  I’m really interested in fashion and wanted to design clothes that people would actually want to wear in real life.  I tried to pick a wide range of garments that would appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The Insomniacs were the ultimate guinea pigs because we would drop new vanity items on a weekly basis and see what people would gravitate towards. It was really gratifying to see even the most conservative players creating outlandish costumes. Sure, you have the option to wear blue jeans and a t-shirt, but why would you want to?

You can be one of the character we showed off in the E3 Chas Squad demo. Who do you choose?

I’d be Bunny Girl all the way.

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Other interviews with Game Director Drew Murray and Creative Director Marcus Smith.

Hey everyone,

This past weekend we were in Austin, Texas showing off some of Sunset Overdrive to all of the amazing Rooster Teeth fans at the Rooster Teeth Expo (RTX).

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Some of you may have caught presentations from our own Community Lead James Stevenson and Sunset TV host and Community Manager Brandon Winfrey from the RTX Center Stage live on Twitch.

While on stage we presented some of our inspiration for the game, and set up the story while showing some work-in-progress versions of some of the opening story cinematics from the game. As always, the character you see in these will be YOUR character!

Friday Presentation w/ Rooster Teeth’s Ashley Jenkins:
http://www.twitch.tv/rtxlive/b/544450667?t=34m13s

Saturday’s presentation (if you want to see us mess up the presentation and demo in completely different ways!)
http://www.twitch.tv/rtxlive/b/544450667?t=21h27m26s

If you have questions or comments, you can post them here! Thanks to everyone who came out to see us at RTX or watched live online. It was great to meet and talk to you. Special thanks to the Rooster Teeth crew for making us feel so welcome!

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We’ll be presenting Sunset Overdrive on the center stage at 12:00pm CDT on July 4th, and 9:00am CDT on July 5th. Hear all about the game directly from Insomniac’s James Stevenson and Brandon Winfrey. See a live gameplay demo from the single-player campaign and the never-publicly seen footage from the game.

Be sure to follow @SunsetOverdrive, @JamesStevenson and @BWinfrey on Twitter for a chance to find them during the Expo and score a limited edition Sunset Overdrive T-shirt.

lisa_sdbAhoy ahoy, humans! My name is Lisa, I’m a designer here at Insomniac, and today I’m going to tell you about…

…an experiment.

Insomniac has a lot of exciting things going on with Sunset Overdrive, Outernauts, and the Ratchet & Clank Movie and game, but we are always on the lookout for ways to throw even more excitement into our lives. We love AAA games, and mobile has been delightful, but we also love watching all the fun, amazing things coming out of the indie games space. We’ve been super inspired by our friends at DoubleFine and their adventures with Amnesia Fortnight, and we love Vlambeer’s performative development initiative with Nuclear Throne. Seeing all the cool, small games and development streams popping up is incredibly inspiring!

That led us to consider what a true indie project of our own would look like. While we’ve been a 100 percent independent game developer for 20 years now, few people would classify us as “indie” even though we pride ourselves on that very spirit. For example, many folks don’t know that Insomniac founder and CEO Ted Price burned through his life savings creating our first game demo, literally down to his last dollars when he signed a three-game deal with Universal. Chief Technology Officer Alex Hastings was sleeping on Ted’s couch when he wasn’t madly programming Insomniac’s first engine. Several weeks later Brian Hastings, Insomniac’s Chief Creative Officer joined to bring more programming power and ideas to the party. The three dove headfirst into production, all wearing lots of hats. When I think of the term garage developer it’s an apt moniker for how Ted, Al and Brian describe their early days.

Fast forward to today and despite the fact that we’re bigger, the independent, “everyone contributes” spirit has never waned. So when this question came up: “What’s the smallest number of Insomniacs it would take to make a great game?” it was very familiar territory for Ted, Al, Brian and Chief Operating Officer John Fiorito. They enthusiastically fired up the laboratory! Now, all that was needed was a guinea pig…

And that, dear reader, is where I came in. Captured from the wilds of the Insomniac design department, I was whisked away to the lab, microchipped, supplied with ample stock of food pellets, and then put to prototyping under the watchful observation of our top Insomniac scientists. A game was spawned, a team was formed, and here we are today. This is such an experiment that they even let me write this announcement post!

Let me tell you about our game…

WAAAAAIT! STOP EVERYTHING!

Wait a minute, what? Who is that? What are you doing in my blog post?

This is Ryan, and what are YOU doing??? We can’t announce this game! It’s not ready yet! We don’t even have a game logo!!! And where’s the trailer??

But, Ryan this game isn’t even half finished yet, that’s the whole point, we’re going to show…

WHAT ABOUT KEY ART??? We don’t even have key art!! We can’t announce a game without ASSETS!!

Ryan.

Wait, who’s that?

This is Ted. Ryan, chill out, man. It’s an experiment!!!

…but…but…

Hey, Ryan, what if we show some draft versions of key art soon as a work in progress, then we can show its evolution over the summer as the game goes on and we update and change the key art until it is final! The goal is to show off the development process after all. We can even get people’s feedback along the way!

So, we get to post key art?

Well how about we just start with some concepts.

Okay…okay I think we can do that. Carry on!

OKAY THEN!

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About the Game

Slow Down Bull is a small action game about a stressed out, overachiever bull named Axel. He loves collecting beautiful things, but has to overcome his innate bull nature to accomplish his goals. Axel tries very hard to be graceful and cautious while he collects, but it’s very stressful! What if he bumps into someone? What if his bull-like nature erupts and ruins everything he’s trying to collect? What if he messes up???

The trouble is, if our bull *does* get too stressed out, he *will* succumb to his bull instincts, and tantrum and trample all over that which he loves. Can you help him achieve his goals and keep his cool at the same time?

Slow Down Bull is being made by a team of 4-5 people in Unity for the PC, and we’ll be streaming our work on the game on Friday afternoons (PST). Our first stream will be on Friday, June 27 at 2:00pm PST on the Insomniac Twitch Stream. We’d love for you to stop by and hang out with us in the stream! We’ll also be posting development progress here on the blog, so stay tuned for updates about the game and stories about the team making it.

We hope you’ll join us in observing the results of this Insomniac experiment! See you in the stream :) -Lisa