Creating Contract Work

Hey everyone, if we haven’t met, I’m Kee-Won Hong and I’m a one man Indie game team. I’ve developed a few commercial mobile titles and I’m running a Kickstarter for my first original game, ‘Contract Work‘. I heard some of you might be interested in how I ended up with this concept, so here’s a little insight.

First, thank you to all my collaborators and my Kickstarter backers! This project would never have made it here without your support, input and help. You all have my deepest gratitude.

From the beginning I knew there were a few key mechanics I wanted to include: unique customization, emergent gameplay and open narrative. I knew I wanted to build a HTML5 web game, so I chose the Impact engine for my prototype. Finally I decided that I wanted to do a side scrolling shooter, a genre that is easy to play and one I’ve always loved:


Ok, not technically a side-scroller, but I wasted ALL my quarters at summer camp on this.

I started with really simple artwork (the first prototype had a smiley emoticon as the hero and red-eyed angry emoticons as enemies) and added really basic functionality (move, shoot). Then I started adding extra toys, mostly to mess around with. A terminal you could hack. A generator that enemies would attack. Now I had a group of actors that I could start putting a game around.


This was our hero. One cool dude. The games title was ‘SpaceTower’

The next ‘phase’ was lots of iterating, and involved throwing out a lot of ideas. Like the elevators that connected each ‘floor’ on a level, which were replaced by jump pads and escape vents. I played/watched lots of shooters (Megaman, Contra, Intrusion) to learn from them. Once I added the final basic ‘game’ requirements – win/lose conditions and a barely functional interface, I started beta testing and thinking about the games theme.


Robots are badass villains

Since the early prototype, I had always pictured the enemies as robots, so they ended up that way. I thought about what would drive our hero to fight them. As I was going through a somewhat exhausting job search at the time, the idea of our hero as a freelance gun-for-hire appealed to me. They answer only to themselves. They have a unique, valuable skill – destroying robots. They could work as highly sought after contractors for rival corporations. Money from those contracts would give the freelancers freedom to customize their gear and leverage to create their own narratives. All of which supported my original goals (awesome!). So now – powerful corporations with robot armies? Smells like cyberpunk to me…


Optic Camo…all the cyberpunk hipsters are wearing it

Creating the universe details ended up involving a lot of immersion into cyberpunk source material, like the TV Tropes cyberpunk database, Deus Ex and Ghost in the Shell. Taking a lot of notes on how things operated, how they were visually displayed, what kind of colors existed…this all became part of the universe of the game, a consistent set of rules by which everything operates. Art and design become much easier once you have this framework to utilize, and everything begins to fall into place.


Freeing the statue from the stone

So now you know the origins of the cyberpunk rpg shooter Contract Work. Is it going to be a success? I can’t know, but I do have a hunch about when things are working. I get the feeling that I don’t have to do all the creation; rather I’m just revealing the game, ‘freeing the statue from the stone’. The players will tell me if I’m right, but I’ve been having more of these ‘aha’ moments recently, so I think Contract Work is on the right track.


Thanks for taking the time to read, and please back the Contract Work Kickstarter!