Bouncer Story - action RPG

After 2,5 years of developing we have released Bouncer Story yesterday for iOS and Android :tada: :cool:
Get it on App Store
Get it on Google Play

We released a beta a year ago and got 300 beta testers in a week. For the last year we have been implementing new features based on the beta-feedback and last months have been full of debugging and balancing the game.

Bouncer Story trailer video:

Bouncer Story is a retro style Real Game:

  • No ads
  • No in-app purchases
  • No registration
  • No early access
  • No loot boxes


Developing with defold
In the beginning of the project we had a short comparision between Unity and Defold on which framework to use on Bouncer Story. We are two coders and both had experience with Unity before but felt like it might be a bit of an overkill in our 90s style retro game with 2D graphics.

I had been developing with Corona SDK before and after a bit of googling decided to give a quick go with Defold. I loved that the setup process for the editor was extremely smooth and as tutorials seemed to cover pretty much all the necessary topics needed for our game, I was confident that I had found the correct engine for our game. Our another developer had not coded with lua before, but having a javascript-bacground we both got on the development extremely fast.

We have been very pleased with Defold performance as we have been testing with a 10 year old Android device and got our game to run on it smoothly :sunglasses:

One of the biggest challenges during the development was to make sure that the game is rendered and played as expected on all different screen sizes. We are using three different layers on top of each other: static background graphics, game objects and GUI-elements. We tried to solve the situation with some generic solutions, but always ended up in having unwanted distortions on one of the layers.

Finally we decided to use a bit different scaling methods for each layer and the outcome was splendid :slight_smile:

Game description:
Bouncer Story is played in a city with a strong mafia presence. As a bouncer you are seeing, hearing and experiencing all kinds of events in the your daily work controlling the entrance to a bar. It is your choice to balance your relationship with mafia members, police and other characters in the city to make a living.

• Choose your own style of playing
• Reveal new bars to work in
• Improve your skills
• Explore different story-paths
• Complete side quests
• Meet and get familiar with people in the city
• Find out various game endings for your Bouncer Story

In Bouncer Story you have a gambling debt to pay to mafia and you need to earn your living by working shifts as a bouncer at bar.

It does not get any easier as serious crimes start happening around you tensing the atmosphere between mafia members and the detectives.

It is your choice to decide who to help and how.

Play by controlling the queue on the entrance of the bar. As a bouncer you will decide who gets in and who does not. Making smart choices boosts the mood inside the bar, which triggers bigger gratuity on top of your normal salary.

Balance your cash between skill upgrades, rent and repaying your loan to mafia or gamble your incomes in blackjack table if you’re feeling lucky.

Meet and get familiar with people in the city as you play Bouncer Story.

Get it on App Store
Get it on Google Play

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Holy moly! Wow! Thank you for sharing this with us! This definitely goes into the next newsletter! Do you have a Twitter account or site as well as the two app store pages that we can link to?


Nice to hear that you like it and being featured in the newsletter is an honour.

Follow Helmi Games:


Amazing work! :slight_smile: I’m gonna test it out today for sure

Awesome! Somehow reminds me Best Cop and it’s a positive, great work! :smiley:


Meet Godfather, one of the main characters in Bouncer Story.

Name: Tony Vito
Role: Mafia boss

Godfather, Tony Vito, is one of the main characters in Bouncer Story. You meet him in the tutorial and end up having a 10k debt to him. As the head of the mafia, godfather expects the money to be paid back in 5 months. Fail to make payments in a row and you might end up sleeping with the fishes.

The story around godfather tightens as murders starts to happen in the city and you need to balance your relationship between mafia and detectives. Decisions you make with godfather affects greatly in the outcome of the story with 13 different game endings to discover.


It was nice to wake up to notice that Bouncer Story got included in Pocket Gamer’s Games of the Week -list:


Legendary name :smiley:

I finally found some time to check your game and I must admit it’s of the high quality and similarity to Beat Cop is really even in the gameplay - I mean, the time pursuit :smiley: But it also reminds me Papers, please. At the beginning I was judging by the sprites, but I quickly get what is this about and that the girl could be at age 44 or 18 actually :smiley: When there are a lot of people it’s getting very hard to take into account every aspect of a guest before the decision, but at the end of the day you have more money, so it’s rewarding. And with the progress, people are getting more ideas to come into the facility, so under-aged would cheat with fake IDs. There is also a popular quotation from a well known title that isn’t correct in English, but it doesn’t mean that this person is drunk, rather nerd :stuck_out_tongue:

As you can see on the map - some lights are a little bit pixelated - so, you could use a sphere image of higher resolution maybe :wink:
Initially I thought there will be more interaction, e.g. movement, fighting, like in the retro beat’em up, but it’s not that kind of game and fights seems to be automatic.

The story is pretty simple, but also really immersive - there are a lot of choices you can make - and all of them, regardless if it’s just a decision to let in a guy or not, but also during conversation with those guarding and those violating the law. I’m interested in a case of a murderer, so I’ll keep going :wink:

To sum up, great, simple game with emphasis on story and decisions :wink:


Hi Pawel and thanks for your positive feedback :relaxed:

We have got quite much influence from Papers, Please but also from a mobile title called Reigns, in which you make similar bi-directional choices by swiping.

Our game world is situated in 90s world (can be recognised especially from some of the news items in the game) and graphical theme have got influence from games like Street of Rage etc. Also the quotation you mention about is a praise to the games of that age :grin:

About those pixelated graphics you mentioned, it has been the idea of our graphics artist to make them look like that. But there seems to be a bit of other distortion in the map view (lights at the bottom right), I’ll take a look on that.

In general, I must thank you once again for a very complete game review. We at Helmi Games work on a really small team as we are only 2 developers and using freelancers for graphics, so it really warms our hearts to hear that players are enjoying playing our game :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Meet Detective, one of the main characters in Bouncer Story.

Name: Samuel Gittes
Role: Detective

Samuel Gittes is a detective in the city and one of the main characters in Bouncer Story. As the first blackjack murder happens, Samuel starts to solve the crime. Murder seems to have connections to mafia and Samuel pops up asking questions from you about your relationship to mafia.

It is your choice in the game to decide if you want to help Samuel or stay loyal to the mafia. Your decision will shape the story and opens up 13 different game endings to be discovered.


I’ve been playing it a bunch. It’s not going to replace Look Your Loot on my commutes (as it needs way too much focus) but it’s quite addictive.

  • Swiping left on the customers often triggers the pause. Maybe move the pause button up?
  • Add an option to skip the intro/tutorial.
  • It would be nice if the game remembered the name I last entered when starting a new game.
  • It’s easy to forget how long it’s been since the last payment to the mafia between sessions. A counter somewhere would be nice.
  • The newspapers start off giving gameplay tips that I already knew, as I read the how to play, and it quickly trained me to stop reading altogether. Then a week later I found out there’s actually important info there, but I had to backtrack. I feel like the first few stories should be some funny/interesting fluff to get the player hooked up on the idea. And the highlight of the icon when news is available could be more eye-catching.
  • The inspector pop-up is a bit jarring, especially if he doesn’t find anything. Just seeing him leave without saying anything in that case would be better I think.
  • The “is in the bar” icon of the girl with green hair looks like a ninja turtle when I see it at the edge of my view. Just wanted to share that, nothing problematic.

Some language stuff (with the caveat that I’m not a native speaker):

  • I don’t think it’s right to call a bar fight a “battle”. “You lost in the fight.” sounds better to me. Or maybe even something more colourful, like “You’ve been beaten to a pulp”.
  • “Daily salary” implies a sum that you get every day, when in reality it’s mostly tips that fluctuate. “Today’s earnings” would be better.
  • In the intro: “Cards in the blackjack table looks promising.” -> at, look. Though I would probably rephrase it as a whole.
  • In news #14 (not sure if it’s always the same story): “Especially the nightlife in the city is controlled by the underword.” has a weird word order. “The nightlife in the city in particular is controlled by the underworld” or something like that would be better. I don’t think it’s good form to stick “especially” at the front of the sentence like that.

I’ll keep making notes as I play. 13 endings? Wow, I haven’t even reached my first yet!


Hi Klear and thank you for well presented feedback on the game. I must admit you have a good eye for these as I just kept nodding my head for all the comments you had made. Excellent points!

  • Swiping triggering pause: We might do some bigger adjustments on the hud so we’ll take a look on this as well
  • Option to skip the tutorial: already on our backlog, will be available on later updates
  • Remembering name: Good idea!
  • Counter on mafia payments: Interesting idea. We need to think about this a bit as there are multiple factors affecting when Luca arrives to collect debt.
  • Changing the first news: Good idea, I’ll take a look on that. I have noticed from analytics that you are one of the rare players who reads the how to play before getting to see the first news :slight_smile:
  • Inspector pop-up: I started thinking if we could remove the whole pop-up and display this information in some other way.
  • We have implemented ninja turtles! Cowabunga! :smiley:

Thanks for the comments on language stuff as well, one gets quite blind on typos in the long run. You’ll be seeing many of your comments fixed in the next game updates.


Pleased to hear that!

Counter on mafia payments: Interesting idea. We need to think about this a bit as there are multiple factors affecting when Luca arrives to collect debt.

Oh, I only meant a counter showing how long it’s been since you last paid, something the player can (and should) keep track of, but which is easy to forget as soon as you put the game away for a bit. I like the uncertainty of not knowing if I can put off the next payment for another day.

I have noticed from analytics that you are one of the rare players who reads the how to play before getting to see the first news :slight_smile:

Figured I might not be the typical user, though I think the info should be spread a bit more. There’s an argument to be made about letting players figure out some stuff by themselves, but on the other hand you don’t want players to get frustrated by lack of understanding, even if it’s their fault. Just offering my perspective.

One gets quite blind on typos in the long run.

Don’t I know it. I work as a proofreader occasionally, so I tend to notice typos everywhere, but unfortunately it does not work on texts I wrote myself. At all.

Oh, and one more thing I forgot about: I’m not a fan of the “bouncer xp”. The meachnic doesn’t seem to affect the player at all and it’s kinda superfluous given that character development is driven by buying stats for money. Bar xp is fine. It makes sense to me - the bouncer is better known, so the job gets easier. The bouncer xp is more nebulous, and IMO the bouncer getting more experienced at the job is already represented by the player getting more experienced at playing the game.

Hmm… I wanted to wait a bit before giving you more feedback, but I’ve just finished the game and I’ll probably take a break from it, so here goes:


  • Random events on the map which increase stats will lower them instead if they are maxed out. This happened to me twice, with strength and intelligence. I think I also had an intelligence increasing event not do nothing when I was not maxed out, but I’m not 100% sure about that.
  • Blackjack payouts are sometimes wrong too. I only noticed this on days when I had ties. One day I started with ~$200, which was the wager - I tied once, then won and then tied again. I was left with the same ~$200 after that, even though I should have been at $400.
  • Once I had a woman walk away from a lost fight while still playing the fighting animation, flailing her arms around like crazy. It was hilarious. Now that I think of it, maybe don’t fix that.
  • Under some circumstances you can have the swipable customer head icon remain as the bar is closing while the customer is long gone.
  • The beer icon that shows up when someone wants to enter the bar is displayed over the papers.
  • Sound controls etc should be in the pause menu, but I imagine that’s already planned for when you possibly adjust the HUD as you mentioned.
  • Maybe make it so the gradually appearing text (in the intro and the ending) gets shown immediately after tapping the screen.
  • Sometimes you want to keep the peeps waiting, say when waiting for an empty spot in the bar, or you just want to run the clock down without risking a fight. After a while a reminder that you’re supposed to swipe shows up, and is kinda getting in the way. Maybe only have that show when idling during the first night?
  • Sober peeps talk about the weather being nice, even if there’s a storm.
  • The first bar claims to be 24/7, yet you need to close it at night. Then again, I’d lie if I said I was never thrown out of a non-stop bar because they wanted to close =P


  • In the dialog where you can end the game: “Find out for different endings.”
  • Achievements:
    • “Win a blackjack” -> “Win with a blackjack” (unless that phrase exists, I’m more into mariáš)
    • “Strong strenght” - there has to be a better way to name that.
    • “Payback the loan” -> “Loan paid back”, or something like that. I kinda like “Payback time!”, but that sort of title wouldn’t fit with the rest of the achievements.
    • “Complete hard” -> “Completed hard” fits the past tense of the others

I’m gonna be honest - the ending was a bit of a letdown. Given the 90’s vibe, I was expecting some shitty animation on top of the short text I got.
Then again, I’m pretty sure I got the most boring ending possible, as I was trying to keep my head down and just pay off my debt without getting involved in anything.

Speaking of which - I love it that this is an option. A lot of games that pride themselves on freedom of choice and all that tend to drag the player through one sophia’s choice situation to another, and being neutral is often discouraged, if it’s even possible.
I’m certainly looking forward to trying out other approaches in the future.

I like the timeline of important events. Puts the game into perspective.

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Thanks for the comments once again.

  • Random events have been tested many times, but we’ll double check them
  • I just played blackjack tie, tie, won and everything seemed to be correct. Are you sure you did not lose the last one having 21 with multiple cards while dealer had a blackjack (dealer wins)?
  • Character still having a fighting animation after a fight have happened to me twice as well. Very hard bug to reproduce but we have let it slip as there are no effect on gameplay. that is hilarious when it happens :smiley:
  • Head icon visible on closing time. This is a known bug which appeared after we fixed a nastier bug. This is related to defold’s messaging system and the timer we are having in the game for displaying the swipable icon. We still haven’t found an elegant way to fix both the bugs at the same time. Flooding the messaging system with game-state-messages would fix both bugs but we don’t want to do that.
  • Beer icon: Have to check that as well, nicely spotted.
  • Sound controls: yes, we’ll take a look on this while we update the HUD
  • Showing all text on tap: We have currently implemented that if you touch and hold the text appears quicker, but as we have heard this same request from a few players I think we’ll change the logic.
  • Swipe-reminder: I recall we are showing the swipe-reminder during first two weeks, but no later. Perhaps we could show it only during the first dates.
  • 24/7: Seems like the bar is doing some questionable marketing :joy:

I agree on you that having some 90s style animations at the endings would be cool, but they were cut down by budget reasons. We had to be quite effective on many things during the development to keep the costs in line and cutting down animations from beginning, endings, story events and from the game was necessary to make sure we got all the essentials completed. Perhaps a bit more budget for a PC release to include those animations as well :wink:


I can’t tell how sure I am right now, but I remember being 100% sure yesterday. I definitely saw two “tie” messages. I was looking out for it, because I had a feeling the game cheated me a couple of times before that. It certainly doesn’t happen every time a tie happens and it might not be related after all. I’ll keep watching out for it.

Showing all text on tap: We have currently implemented that if you touch and hold the text appears quicker

Huh. It does indeed work. I could have sworn I tried it, but I guess I was just tapping impatiently. I would say that this is sufficient, but then again if I was dumb enough not to figure it out and I’m not the only one, showing all of the text at once might be the better option.

…and since me saying I’m gonna put the game away for a while was a bloody lie, and I’m posting this anyway, here’s a few more notes I took:

  • When you “lose” a stat point through random events even though you’re at minimum, it would be nice to have a slightly different text. Same with improvements to the maxed-out attributes.
  • Luca told me it was “long time from previous loan payment” even though I didn’t pay anything before that.
  • If you let the timer run out and the bar gets closed automatically, you don’t get the option to speed up time as the patrons leave.
  • I’ve finally figured out that leveling both the bouncer and the bars comes with a money bonus. Until now I just noticed I had more money than I should at times and couldn’t figure out where it came from. It should be more clearly marked as coming from getting xp. Then again, it feels wrong to me. I don’t see a good in-game justification for getting that money.

I’ll keep an eye on blackjack as well, let’s find out if there is a bug lurking somewhere.

I think I could code that random event makes a check if stats-change is valid or not and draws another random event until gets a valid one. Would fix all these inconvenient situations.

Luca’s comments on collecting debt are random from a short list of comments. We should perhaps replace that one…

Hah, that is a nice bug as well that the speed-up-button does not appear in that case. It happened to me once earlier and I could not figure out why it happened :slight_smile:

Money bonuses on level up are only mentioned in How to play. We included them as a balancing mechanism for the game. There are situations where you know for example that you need to collect quickly 200-300 to be able to pay both rent and to mafia, and one good way to maximise your incomes in short run is to check if there are any bars close on levelling up. Bar exp is also used for unlocking achievements for bars, so it makes it easier for you to track how close on maximum level you are on a bar.

For bouncer experience we have had a few bigger plans in mind, but we had to cut those features from the current version as they were not yet working fluently. If we get those features working the whole bouncer experience would make more sense as well.

The money bonuses are displayed only in the report screen in the same line as all other bonus money you got from your work. This would need some refactoring as well…

Yeah, I’ve started to use this in my current run. Feels a bit dirty, but then again, I’m not the typical player =P

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Meet Beggar, one of the characters in Bouncer Story.

Name: Liam Roach
Role: Beggar

Beggar is the first side character you will encounter in the game. Always asking for favours, the beggar seems to be mostly refreshing his memories of the city just for nostalgia reasons.

During my years I have seen generations born and generations die. Hope for a better tomorrow lasts forever.” -Liam


Meet Diego, one of the characters in Bouncer Story.

Name: Diego Franco
Role: Football fan

Vamos, vamos, Argentina!” Football World Cup is starting and sports bars are filled with fans on all the match dates. Diego is ready to bet on Argentina to win the World Cup, are you in?

Diego is the guy you want to see in the queue because he seems to be always in good mood. His appearance boosts the mood in the bar, even though he might be a bit tipsy.