Slow Down, Bull


What is Slow Down, Bull?

It’s an action collecting game where you try to collect as many decorations as you can and complete each level before time expires.

But, that’s not easy – is it?

No, not really. You play a bull and the more you steer him – the higher his stress becomes.  If his stress gets too high, he’ll rage out and destroy the decorations he’s collected. And, of course, as you go through the game there will be more and more obstacles that are trying to stress you out, as well.

Cool. What are the controls.

Hold left click to steer one way. Hold right click to steer the other way. That’s it! Easy to pick-up and play – tough to master!


What platform is it coming to?

It can be purchased through Steam, but is playable on Windows, Mac, and Linux/SteamOS.

How much will it cost?

$5.99 US.  But, also know that 50% of the net proceeds will go towards the Starlight Children’s Foundation!

What is the Starlight Children’s Foundation?

It’s an organization that we’ve had the pleasure of working with for quite some time now. They focus on improving the life and health of kids and families around the world. And that’s something that’s really important to us. If you’d like more information, please feel free to visit their website.


When does it come out?

April 20th, 2015 – so very soon! Or a long time ago in case you are reading this on October 3rd, 2037. But, you can pre-order it here!

Does it have Steam Achievements?

That it does!

What about Steam Trading Cards?

That is also a thing it has. With pretty art from the game!


Can I see footage of it?

Yup! We actually live-streamed a lot of the game’s development on Twitch. Please know that all of this is old and the game is sufficiently complete now. However, it’s fun to watch and you could even learn something! We’ll have a full trailer soon.

Can I use a Gamepad?

Yes, you can play with an Xbox controller or mouse/keyboard.

How did this game come about?

For that, I direct you to this link.  It details the history and purpose behind the project.


Will it come to other platforms?

We have no plans for that, at the moment. However, who knows what could happen in the future.

Why a purple bull?

A purple dragon was taken.


On behalf of everyone at Insomniac Games, I’m proud to announce that we are about to release our first PC game via Steam.  It’s called Slow Down, Bull, and it will arrive to Steam on Monday, April 20.

Slow Down, Bull is all about heart. Its hero, Esteban, is an overachieving bull who just wants to make beautiful art. The more you steer Esteban, the higher his stress elevates. Collect as many decorations as you can and complete each level before time expires, but be careful not to trigger an Esteban rampage, lest he destroy the decorations he’s trying to gather. Slow Down, Bull features beautiful hand-drawn art, stylized characters, unique gameplay, and of course, humor.  At its core, Slow Down, Bull is an action-collecting game with a beautiful school craft art-style. We think you’ll enjoy exploring the five worlds while meeting new critter friends and avoiding Annette the Bullcatcher.


Slow Down, Bull also marks the continuation and deepening of our partnership with Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization that partners with experts to improve the life and health of kids and families around the world. Insomniac has partnered significantly with Starlight over the years on initiatives like placing Starlight Fun Center Mobile Entertainment units at children’s hospitals throughout the country.

sl_logoStarlight Children’s Foundation will receive 50% of the net proceeds received by Insomniac Games from Slow Down, Bull — no less than 30% of the purchase price. The game will be available for $5.99 US (and various equivalent prices on Steam storefronts in other countries).

So WHY Slow Down, Bull? The game truly began as an experiment. Designer Lisa Brown had a passion to try new things – things that were outside the boundaries of what we normally create at Insomniac.  She proved that she was able to create unique and unexpected gameplay mechanics with her own scripting.  Sometimes these things didn’t end up fitting the console game we were working on, but they were still cool and exciting.  So we thought, “Hey, what if Lisa was able to just go crazy and make a game all on her own?  Is that even possible?”  It sounded like a great experiment and it was a chance for us to rethink what kind of games we make and how we make them.  It was also a means of examining ways that we can keep getting more efficient as a company.

I asked Lisa for a list of five ideas for games she might like to make herself.  She made a list, and from that list we zeroed in on one in particular that she was most excited about.  It was a different kind of gameplay mechanic, one that asked the question: “What if pressing a button made the action *stop* rather than making it go?”  She drew a bull as a character and allowed you to stop it from running by pressing a button.  But if you held the button too long the bull would get enraged and trample everyone in sight.  It was simple, unique and fun.  That first prototype had taken a single day.  The full game ended up being a much longer adventure and the team grew to be five people at its peak.

Lisa and the team added many characters, new gameplay mechanics, a story, music, and an addictive set of levels.  The original question was, “Can one person make a game by themselves”?  In the end it seemed the answer was that it takes a team of people in order to create the kind of experience we wanted to deliver.  But the experiment did help us to try new approaches to rapid prototyping and to devise new tactics for creating novel game mechanics.  We’re very proud of the game and very happy that it is benefitting a great cause: Starlight Children’s Foundation.   We’re always going to keep experimenting and looking for new ways to create different experiences for the player and to find ways to keep rejuvenating ourselves creatively.


We documented much of the development process on, with many fans contributing to the game’s development (you can see the archived streams here).

We’ll be talking more about the game in the next couple of weeks leading to its release. You can follow Slow Down, Bull on Twitter here, and like it on Facebook here.  You can also Add the game to your Steam Wishlist now here.

If you run a website, a YouTube channel, or live-stream, and are interested in covering Slow Down, Bull, please shoot us an e-mail at

Thanks for growing along with us the last 21 years. We’ll look forward to hearing what you think of Slow Down, Bull, and are especially excited to be supporting Starlight Children’s Foundation once again.

— Brian Hastings, Chief Creative Officer

Greetings, all!


As we wrap up bug fixing on Slow Down, Bull, we think it’s time to look over the past summer and think about how this experiment has gone.

In tomorrow’s devstream, we’re going to be talking about how our live streaming has been going, and we want feedback from YOU, dear viewers. If you’ve been following along the team’s adventures, please come to the devstream tomorrow (2pm PDT) so you can tell us about what you’ve liked about the project and what you’d like to see in the future. From there – more plots and plans!


Hey everyone!

If you missed last week’s live stream with special guest Ted Price, you can check it out here. We talk about bug fixing, company culture, leadership, and other such matters. As a reminder, there will be no stream this Friday, BUT if you tune in on Saturday, Oct 25, you can watch Insomniacs stream games to raise money for Extra Life. We should be playing all sorts of fun things (and I will reach that Nuclear Throne this weekend, if it’s the last thing I do!)

Also if you missed the stream, I’m happy to announce that we finally cleared the name you guys suggested for our possum friend. Meet Spike! He is super happy to have a name now!


On the production end of things, there’s a lot going on, but I’m afraid it’s not too glamorous to report on. Basically, bugs bugs bugs.

Our dedicated QA tester, Mindy, has been rocking it as far as finding bugs for me to fix, which is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because finding all those bugs is an important part of making the finished game a solid player experience. A curse because I HAVE TO FIX ALL THE BUGS! x_x

Here’s Esteban stuck in a corner, about to escape the level and run off into the sky:

Stuck Loop


Ahoy ahoy, humans! If you missed last Friday’s stream and have any interested in systems design, I’d highly recommend checking it out. Systems designer Liz England (@lizardengland) goes over her method for balancing and tuning the score requirements in Slow Down, Bull. There’s a lot of complexity for a seemingly simple game, and if you don’t let the spreadsheets scare you away, I think there’s a lot to learn.


Bug fixing continues to be the name of the game, but it’s always important to remember that even late in the project you still need to be playtesting your game with fresh new faces. I just had a new player playtest and spotted some important things that need to be adjusted that all of us playing at Insomniac probably have internalized by now. The playtesting cycle is neverending!

To give you an idea of the sorts of bug fixes and adjustments I’m making at the moment, here’s a list of fixes that just went in this week:

  • Made starting zoom further out and pushed out camera lead slightly
  • Slightly increased the amount of boost you get from bouncing off a wall
  • Directional arrows on warp holes
  • Cooldown visual on warp holes (drop opacity)
  • Moved level name text up slightly on map page
  • Removed the positional lerping of the bull after deposit but kept the rotational lerping
  • Removed level overview cam from very first level to reduce excess information thrown at the player
  • When you get caught by a bullcatcher, all other bullcatchers have their collision turned off for the cooldown to prevent stacking
  • Fixed several bad spawn grid bugs

Meanwhile, a new QA member has joined the team to help root out those tricky bugs that I could never find on my own. This is a wonderful help, but it does mean more work for me!

Current status:



~ Lisa

Hey all! Just a super quick update to remind you about this Friday’s stream, wherein Liz will be giving a systems design overview. Spreadsheets galore!

As for the project itself, I’m in maddening bug-fixing mode, trying to get all the annoying little bugs sorted out. It isn’t particularly glamorous, but it is certainly time-consuming! I feel kind of like Annette does here:


And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the name of our possum friend, we’re just still waiting to hear back on the all-clear. This weekend is also IndieCade, one of my favorite independent games festivals, and I’ll be reporting back on my adventures there next week! Stay wonderful!

~ Lisa

Ahoy ahoy, humans! Thanks for stopping by! In last week’s stream, we started doing a color pass process on all of our game elements to help them stand apart in the order of what is most important for the player to notice to least important.

You can check out the before and after versions of the grassland area below



As I mentioned in the stream, this is one of those polishy things that you can do with your game towards the end when all the art assets are mostly finished.

October’s going to be a wild month for streaming, as a lot of stuff is going on that might disrupt our schedule. Here’s the plan for the next couple of weeks:

That said, the schedule this month is full of adventures, so let me give you a preview

  • Oct 3 (that’s this Friday) – the community team is out and about the whole day, so there will be NO STREAM this Friday. A thousand tears!
  • Oct 10 – Liz, who I introduced in last week’s devlog, has graciously offered to do a systems design tutorial during this week’s stream. If you are curious about game balancing, you should come check it out. Though, fair warning, there will be spreadsheets involved.
  • Oct 11-12 – this weekend is Indiecade, and though we won’t be streaming, Lisa’s going to record her adventures at her favorite independent games festival, and promises to share it with you in subsequent weeks.

Meanwhile, the team is plugging along fixing bugs and polishing up! We’re trying not to stress out if everything’s not perfect, but, you know.

Greetings all! If you missed last week’s stream and have been a fan of Alex’s music so far, you should definitely check it out as it’s another in-depth music composition stream. We’re still waiting on that possum name, so you’ll have to be patient a little longer! During the stream, Alex mentioned he’d write up a little more in-depth about how to do clean looping in a song, so here it is:

Okay! When I normally render out looping music, I use Logic Pro’s realtime bounce and select “Bounce 2nd Cycle Pass”. This usually works really well for me but sometimes, it does not. In that case, this is how I usually make perfectly looping music. When you bounce the audio for the song, make sure it loops three times in a row. Take the audio file and make sure whatever program you’re in is working in the same tempo. Then chop the audio files so you have the three loops separate. Make crossfades between loop 1 and 2, and loop 2 and 3.


These can be two or four beats long, and should usually be an equal gain crossfade. Make sure the crossfades cross the edits in between loops equally, and that both crossfades start and end at identical points in the song.


Then select loop 2 (the one one in the middle) and bounce it out! You should have a loop that has no clicks or pops.


Tomorrow’s stream is going to be about art and color, as we’ll be showing a process for color correcting all the game elements in such a way that the most important entities on screen read first. It’s a late-project sort of process that should be interesting to the artistically curious among you.

In general, things have been flying along as art and music and sound start wrapping up. I am neck-deep in bug fixing and making sure all incoming assets get hooked up properly, and it’s been a very busy time. We’re now putting in things like cleaned up tutorial speaker icons:


Or cleaning up the “break” animations on the various trees in all the areas.


And adding extra decorative elements to the areas that aren’t interactable but provide some background visuals to spice things up.


Since things are very busy on the bug-fixing end, I’m getting some much-appreciated extra help from fellow Insomniac designer, Liz England, who will be assisting with balancing the game. Perhaps in the future we’ll do a stream all about designer balance spreadsheets! 😀


Hey everyone!

I want to catch up on a couple things we went over in last week’s dev stream. We spent the stream gathering name suggestions on the possum and going over story scene setup. Here were the team’s favorite Possum names, and we’ll hopefully have one picked and cleared in the next couple of weeks!

  1. Spike
  2. Shiloh
  3. Shakes
  4. Otis
  5. Eggland

This Friday’s stream is going to be another music one with Alex, by the way, so if you’re musically inclined then prepare yourselves!

So on the stream we were talking about how the story scenes had a camera that panned over each panel. We made some revisions this week based on some feedback, and now the panning is much snappier, with each panel dropping in on the player’s action. It lets the player control the pace of how they look through the story, and the drop-ins felt more fitting with the paper post-it style.

In other news, here’s some of Denae’s animation work on Esteban

To finish off, our last Pixelated Rorshach Test had a bunch of fun interpretations!


@Deity_Falkor   A warrior lifting a dead snake with its sword.

@GDNerd   sausage grinder

@JayHooft  some sort of robot helping his friend robot from a table that’s fell on them

@AverageFranklin  A man kneeling down, holding a weird blunt weapon behind him.

@Mr_Moobs  a man lifting weights

@AntStiller  Part of the dungeon map from B2 Keep on the Borderlands

@DanielLake3  A mole wearing a yarmulke

@lcareccia  Long-eared dog sitting at a desk with lots of Ikea furniture in the background.

@zuca_piiau  A Charmander getting out of a mirror and a guy getting of a bed pulling is tong

@ScoJoHarr  a computer desk.

@IlagaEduardo  A man on his bed trying to force a monster back into his TV

‏@superbus  A battle – to the death – between a construction worker and an 80s-era school projector

@gunpeiyokoifan  Guy lifting weights, or construction guy with shovel.

@Teddypimm  A top down view of some circuitry.

@crowsmack  This is exactly what I see! Can’t un-see:)

@CalamityJive A floorplan with an inaccessible room toward the northwest.

@kralitabow   birdo with a sleeping cap on, sitting in bed.

@MKuhlberg   mother and child eating

@Phastin  I got Admiral Akbar slurping spaghetti and winking at the camera.

@Seamus_Donohue  A tree that uprooted and fell over.

@MYNAMEISNOTJJ   a mailbox driving a steamroller

Fun fact: That Rorshach test is the level mask from the level I built on stream a couple of months ago. Wow, has it really been that long?? Time flies! Follow @SlowDownBull on Twitter for more!

Greetings all!

For those of you who need to catch up on our developer streams, here are the archives of the most recent two:

  • Design Stream where I tune the bullcatcher failure state and playtest with various Insomniacs.
  • Art Stream where Denae animates the matador.

We also took name suggestions for the cat last week. Here are the team’s favorites which are currently being checked out:

  1. Mango
  2. Lily
  3. Kazzi
  4. Fifi
  5. Terri
  6. Priya

Right now things are very busy on the project as new art, animations, music and sound is coming in from Dave, Denae, and Alex. I’m scrambling to get all the new assets in, hooked up and tested while at the same time fixing bugs and balancing the game.


Bug-fixing can sometimes be frustrating, especially when it comes to UI. Putting in UI is an often underestimated workload, and since it relies on you having the whole flow of your game fleshed out it often becomes an end-of-project task. Last week we were fighting with a bug where elements on the end of level screen and map screen would spontaneously change depths. UI elements (like buttons, menu panels, etc) have a depth value that tells it whether to draw in front of or behind other elements, and even though everything looked correct in the editor, when you returned to the map screen after completing a level, this would sometimes happen:

When I tried to mess with the depths at runtime, it would just swap out which piece was broken. Debugging UI can be really difficult, but in fixing a lot of depth arrangements, updating NGUI, then fixing all the things that broke from updating NGUI, I think we finally nailed this bug!

I doubt we’ve seen the last of UI bugs, though… See you on Friday in the stream where we’ll need YOU to help us suggest names for the Possum, as well as more design or maybe some music with Alex!