Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends

Created by Team Nemo

An indie game based on Winsor McCay's groundbreaking comic strip.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

October/November update!
20 days ago – Thu, Nov 16, 2023 at 12:39:25 PM

Hello dear dreamers!

It's been a while since we posted an update, but we have some cool stuff to share from our last month of work! 

Technical update

The BIG update is Peony, who got some new animations, abilities, and was fully ported to the new animation system. This was a big lift as she is currently the character with the most animations during gameplay, but we are very happy with the results. Here's a short video of her in use in some of the current environments (please note - some environment art is not final and may still show seams) 

In addition to cleaning up more technical aspects of her gameplay, we've added a new bomb drop and bomb throwing abilities. She throws the bombs farther the longer you hold down the attack button, and this can be used for a lot of technical gameplay. She also clings to objects like floating wall objects (in this video are the forest dandelion sprites, but we will also have versions themed to each world.) 

One of our new packed sprite sheets, built for the new animation system.

As we said, we are also deep in the process of converting all of the sprites to a new animation system. As the character with the most frames of in-game animation at this moment, Peony was a great first choice for testing the method and seeing how the most extreme version of this process will go. Now we are moving forward with other characters. All of this will help us perform some necessary engine updates to allow easier porting of the game. We are ALSO in the process of installing all new user interface elements and building menus, so we should have updates on that soon. 

Level design and content

We have also mostly finished work on the layout and artwork of the Ice Palace level, which is easily one of our largest environments in the game, and are in-process for building Slumberland itself. 

Ice Map
We've already shared this view, but it's a really nice one, so please enjoy it again
How high do these towers go?

That's all the (visual) updates we have for you now, but look forward to more soon (we won't take a month and a half for the next one! We did also find out that the game was once again accepted to MAGFest (Jan 18-24 2024 in National Harbor, MD), so please look forward to that if you will be in the area. 

As always, thanks for being such an awesome community! 



August/September update and Unity shenanigans!
3 months ago – Thu, Sep 21, 2023 at 09:53:29 AM

Hello dear Dreamers,

We apologize for the long gap in updates. We've been both cranking away on back-end elements of the game and hard at work on polishing both the Mushroom Forest area and building out the Ice Palace. We WERE going to have an update sooner, but that plan fell through as a big piece of industry news hit that required us to discuss plans for the game.

Unity's decision and game engine news

So first to the elephant in the room. If you haven't heard, Unity - the company who makes the engine that we are developing Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends in - is overhauling their pricing model to include a fee of 20 cents for every installation of a game once the game has passed a threshold in revenue. What this means is that developers would be charged not after a sale, as in a typical royalty structure, but per installation, including if one person installs a game on multiple devices. Interested readers should refer to the most recent episode of the Play, Watch, Listen podcast, where game industry luminaries Alanah Pearce, Mike Bithell, Austin Wintory, Troy Baker, and Rami Ismail break down the impact Unity's moves will have on different types of studios. 

After a ton of developer backlash, they have made heavy modifications to this plan, however, a lot of specifics are still up in the air.

As you can imagine, this GREATLY affects Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends, which is currently being built in Unity. After several meetings on the ramifications of the move, we've decided to stay the course with the game, as our development pipeline heavily depends on Unity-dependent plug-ins and tools. Pricing things out, this will make an impact on us, but not one that would damage us as severely as other studios would potentially be impacted (the benefits of being small, as much as that extends development time.) This, however, absolutely impacts Team Nemo's engine choices in the future, and we are currently investigating alternatives for future projects. 

One thing we did also want to address is the question of "why can't you just move it to Unreal or another engine?", which gamers have been asking of devs since the news dropped. As convenient as it would be if we could just open Unity files in Unreal and call it a day, porting between engines and indeed, even different versions of the same engine ( a big reason we've been so quiet - we're doing exactly that right now), is a massive undertaking. In the podcast linked above, developer Rami Ismail illustrates the idea very well: if you build a house in Lego bricks, you have a conception of that house's design and what it should be, as well as a method for making it from Lego bricks. Many gamers think of engines as different types of Legos, but in reality, it's more like saying "now build this house you built in Lego, but use K*Nex instead."

We know folks are eagerly awaiting the game, so what we've tried to do is make choices that will help us continue on our current momentum (which again, we realize doesn't always externally feel very fast, but is proceeding at a constant clip) while also making sure we can make the best decisions for the health of the studio and the game's artistic vision. 

So that game development stuff...

Yes! The fun stuff! Please! 

The un-fun part of what we've been working on is porting the game to a more updated version of the engine to take advantage of some newer features. Like we said before, this can be a long and arduous process, especially as certain plug-ins or elements of the engine change or become outdated. Progress is moving along with this though, and we hope that once we're won't notice any difference. This is honestly one of those things that if it works correctly, won't have any noticeable impact on the user side, but it will let us take advantage of other newer tools. 

On the more interesting side, we've spent some time working on the background systems that we will use to script our boss fights and have the Pie Eaters up and running. These killer clowns live in the forests surrounding Slumberland and eat both Slumberlandians and dreamers who cross their path. In the game, 2 Pie Eaters - Yim and Yam - attack Nemo and friends as they try to find their way out of the Forest on their road to Slumberland. 

The Pie Eaters are featured in this early comic as antagonists to Nemo and his friend Bon Bon

As we often do, we've been working on them in our Sandbox development scene (which is a copy of the first area of the Sky level), so this video preview of their moves looks a bit chaotic with a lot of characters around, but we will be moving them into their home in the Mushroom Forest level soon. 

So they just hop around? Well...not entirely. While other boss characters will be friendly Slumberlandians that are affected by the nightmares, these guys can't wait to be nightmare-i-fied. As a result...they show their true monstrous colors later in the fight...

Lastly, we're experimenting in the Ice Palace level with how to get even deeper perspective effects with our 3D parallax camera. The art in this image needs some refinement to look its best, but here's an example using existing assets. This will let us really create the sense of deep linear perspective that Winsor McCay created in his drawings. 

Now that we see how the effect will work functionally, we can modify the assets themselves to get an even better result.

That's it for right now. Look for more info coming soon about another demo and on other updates! 

Many thanks,

Chris and Team Nemo

July update - festival season wrap-up, technical shenanigans, and chill vibes in the ice palace
4 months ago – Mon, Jul 24, 2023 at 07:09:02 AM

Hello dearest Dreamers,

Happy end of July! We have a big update for you today after our big festival period at the end of last month, so let's get into it! 

Steam Next Fest, Too Many Games, and GDEX takeaways

First of all, thanks to everyone who played and shared the game during Steam Next Fest. The positive reaction from players and from the press was overwhelming. We were even featured in the Next Fest livestream during the Exploration block, with the hosts all praising the game and putting it among their most looked forward to titles. In case you missed that, here it is: 

We also got a TON of great info on our feedback form, in the press, as well as on Steam itself during our appearance at the event that we've already been moving on, including cleaning up some of the platformer behavior and balancing levels. Thanks to the event, we also got several thousand new Wishlists! 

Here are some of the press highlights:

For the in-person events, we likewise got some great reactions at the two events we showed at, Too Many Games in Philadelphia, and GDEX/Origins in Columbus. Here are some pictures of our booth at GDEX, complete with our Nemo's bedroom setup!

The Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends booth at GDEX. We had to take this before the floor opened, otherwise the booth was always busy with folks playing

Also of note was that Nemo and the Princess were featured on GDEX's official shirt AND we won Best of Show for Art and Design - a huge honor among some of the excellent games also showing at the event. 

Nemo and the Princess were on the official GDEX shirt
The game won Best of Show for Art and Design - here's the trophy next to our previous one for Best Digital Game at the Meaningful Play festival in 2022.

Overall, these events were super-successful for the game and gave us some great next steps to accomplish. We are hoping to continue our momentum on Wishlists, though, so if you have not already, please head to the Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends Steam Page to add it to your Wishlist today and share the link with your friends! 

Development Updates

Speaking of next steps on development, we're happy to share some of the latest:

The first thing we did post-festivals was postmortem some of the feedback we got on the game, squashing bugs and balancing aspects of the levels so everything flows better. We're hoping to get another backer demo out in the near future, but we think folks will like how the game feels. 

Another big development effort is that we will be migrating the game to a new version of the Unity engine. This is not necessarily something you all will notice, but it will allow us to utilize some newer tools that we've wanted to integrate for a while. This is a big process which will include modifying some of our pipeline, so please pardon our dust while we undertake that effort. Honestly, there's not that much visually to show of this, but here's a cool screenshot of some of Nemo's animation frames packed together (we're having to change over to a new sprite import system too) 

Nemo's sprite sheet in one of our new art pipeline tools

Lastly, we're also deep in the design phases for the Ice Palace and Slumberland. For the Ice Palace, we thought we'd share a small preview of one of the major sights in the level, along with composer Wayne Strange's  most excellent track, Jack Frost's Ice Palace. We hope you enjoy the chill (bah dum chh) vibes, especially if you're one of the folks experiencing a heat wave right now:

Last but not least, we are also working on implementing the cameos for backers at the $300, $500, and up reward tiers right now. We will be reaching out to those folks in the coming weeks with versions of your sprite so you can see how your characters are coming along! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out at [email protected]

Cheers and many thanks,

Team Nemo

Steam Next Fest starts today!
6 months ago – Mon, Jun 19, 2023 at 05:50:23 AM

Good morning Dreamers! 

We're excited to share that Steam Next Fest begins today, which will feature our game Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends! This will include a free demo of the game (again, thank you everyone for helping us playtest!) and NEW LEVEL CONTENT from the Mushroom Forest! Nemo and the Princess will be playable in the demo, so we hope you join us at 10 am PDT for this awesome milestone! 

You can find more info at the Steam Next Fest page. The demo and info about the game can be found on the Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends Steam Page

Nemo arrives in the Mushroom Forest
Nemo visits a Mushroom Town to search for info on where to go next.
New dangers await Nemo and the Princess!
Uh oh...I think I took a wrong turn maybe?

In addition to the demo, we'll be doing developer livestreams of the game on Wed, June 21 at 7:00 PM EDT and on Thurs, June 22 at 9 PM EDT. Join us to hear about how the demo came together and some cool things on the horizon! 

Cheers and many thanks for your support!

Team Nemo

Steam Next Fest event trailer announcement and project update
6 months ago – Thu, Jun 08, 2023 at 08:24:08 AM

Happy June, dear dreamers! 

Steam Next Fest News

Things have been busy on our end, but we wanted to start this update with some news regarding Steam Next Fest! First of all, if you hadn't seen, Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends is going to be in Steam Next Fest, Valve's showcase of specially-chosen upcoming games on the platform. This means that everyone will be able to enjoy a public demo of the game during the week of June 19 (thank you to everyone who's been helping us test the latest builds and hunt down bugs, by the way!) 

The big news, though, is that we were informed by Steam that our game is going to be featured in the promotional materials for the event. This means that we'll be in trailers and other aspects of the promotion, starting with the trailer for this summer's Next Fest to be released today at, which will premiere a few hours after this update goes out. 

Save system, mosquitoes, and a bit of history

In terms of game development, a lot of our attention has been ironing out features and building content for the Next Fest demo, which will be the build we take to 2 conventions that week: GDEX/Origins in Columbus, OH, and Too Many Games in Philadelphia, PA. This has included getting parts of the Mushroom Forest into the same state as the Night Sky area we've previously shown, as well as getting other systems show ready. Here's a taste: 

Choosing the level you'll play in the demo will be done through our save system. This is what that menu will look like.

Here's a taste of a new biome: the mosquito caves! 

The caves have been something that we've been researching and concepting out for a while. As you know, we're reaching back into animation history with our game - not only the history of Winsor McCay and Little Nemo in Slumberland, but also works that came from or were inspired by McCay. One of the studios in this category is the Fleischer Brothers studio, creators of Betty Boop and the animators behind the original Popeye cartoons. The Fleischers were known fans of McCay's works and cited his influence in their own animation. In the late 1920's, the Fleischer's even hosted a dinner of New York's animation professionals in McCay's honor, during which McCay famously chastised those present for turning animation into "not an art, as I had envisioned it, but a trade. Bad luck!" 

In the 1936 short, Popeye the Sailor meets Sindbad the Sailor, the Fleischer's used a process called the "setback process" where models were filmed to be the backgrounds of various scenes, including a mysterious cave. We wanted to recreate imagery from the Popeye cave in a style that would befit Nemo's world as a way to acknowledge the connection between McCay and Fleischer's works. 

Speaking of mosquitoes, you'll also visit a mosquito farm, where the farmer has some creepy stuff afoot...

Who doesn't love a good creepy liquid-filled tank?

Again, that's just a small taste of what's been going on. We've also brought on some new hands to assist with work over the summer, so look out for that work to be featured soon! 

Cheers and many thanks,

Chris and Team Nemo