I apologize for missing our monthly blog post at the beginning of the December, I was just quite busy so didn’t have time to think of something good. The latest news on the game is that we have been running a new round of gameplay tests and have prepared for another one in January.
We want to thank everyone who have given us feedback through the year and to all of our supporters! Here’s a holiday greeting from us both!
– Final Fantasy 8 – Fishermans Horizon (Christmas Version) OC Remix by Goomin Nam
– Donkey Kong Country – Christmas Cave OC Remix by Deimos
The kind of work we do can be very sporadic in that we wear many different hats as developers and without any strong deadlines we are free to experiment with things we may want to add further down the line. While being detrimental to progress (and, to be honest, maybe the biggest reason why we’ve spent so long on this), it does mean we are free to work on what we like. Enthusiasm is important too.
One of the things that we have been experimenting with is player customization – I personally have been torn on what to do with that, as we did not want to give the impression that your loadout somehow affected your ability to solve puzzles, and I did not want to make vanity items that could be confused with free-to-play moneysinks. In the end though, personal expression is meaningful and with the simplicity of our art customization is a pretty quick thing to do. One of the things we’ve created for customization is the ability for the player to change the avatar color with this hue wheel.
We have talked briefly about the story and narrative for Backworlds on previous occasions but I thought I would try to further extend our thoughts in this post. The most impactful decision we have made regarding this topic is that the story and narrative structure completely takes a backseat to our gameplay.
We have mentioned and shown a couple of times that our basic level art is mainly made out of small chunks corresponding to pieces of geometry – flats and corners with different sizes and decorations. With colored outlines and world-mapped patterns this makes it relatively quick to add basic art to a level, but depending on the complexity of the geometry it can still take the better part of an hour.
Since we are only two people with limited time, a while back we added functionality to automate the placement of these pieces – removing the mundane tasks of giving the level shape and readability to allow us to focus on the creative side of making each level look distinct.
Something that I’ve always agreed with is the sentiment that if you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody. Perhaps this applies to many things but specifically within games it something I often hear and read, mostly voiced by developers and enthusiasts.
Those are mostly opinions but I would like to share how I came to find it applies to Backworlds.
The brush is one of the central pieces of input in Backworlds – we have gone over a few iterations on how it works and we will probably go over some more, but these are some of the steps we have taken to get us where we are. Continue reading
Another design talk video entry for the blog, following up Demo Design from a couple of months ago. This one is about one of our scrapped mechanics, called “no paint”.
Music: Donkey Kong Country 3 – Aquatic Transformations OC Remix by halc and Level 99
Most of our data in Backworlds is stored in either XML or plain text. There are a lot of benefits to using human-readable data, it is usually trivial to add or remove information to the format without destroying backwards-compatibility and it is easy to make changes even before any tools have been written. That said, it is a lot less efficient than storing things in ready-made binary chunks and to reduce the performance loss we use a lot of hashing. Continue reading
I thought I’d try something new for the blog so I recorded a video where I talk about Backworlds design while playing it rather than just write about it. The test case for this is our demo levels, I hope the format works!
Note: I have some issues with framerate while recording, sorry about that. Also the coloring for the levels are off, sorry again!
A “puzzle” in a game can mean different things – in games focused on them, a puzzle is traditional – a discrete set of game objects and figuring out how they fit together creates the challenge in the game. In action-oriented games they usually consist of more immediately apparent solutions and serve as a change of pace rather than a challenge in itself. In the former, the goal is to make the player feel smart, in the latter it is to give her respite. In my humble opinion, this causes some genre confusion as a lot of games are being dubbed “Puzzle platformers” without actually being about the puzzles. Also, a lot of people express – professionally and privately – their resentment over the genre citing its ubiquity when I think it’s more about lumping different games together based on superficial similarities. Continue reading