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Space Disorder update

28/06/2012

MichaelWow! That was a long time! We are so into the development of Space Disorder that it looks like time flew away just like that! Well, now we are on schedule to release the game on time!

Yeah, the big news is that we are going to sign a deal with a publisher. And a pretty big iOS publisher with that. It will be revealed once the deal is signed with our blood.
It was a difficult decision to go hand in hand with a publisher. Because from the beginning of the project, I wanted to handle everything by myself, including what a publisher is supposed to do.
But the AppStore is now just too crowded to have a chance when you come from nowhere. A good publisher offers visibility and has a network that can sell your game everywhere, even in the parts of the world you would never think about.
Also, maybe the most important thing, it’s that I will keep the ownership of the Space Disorder brand.
Anyway, we agreed with the publisher to release the game around october which means that we must finish the game before the end of July.

Which brings me to the progress status of Space Disorder : the game is nearly complete actually.

Fabien, our sound designer, produced some very cool sound FXs that brings a lot in terms of gameplay feedback. Also, voices! Voices bring so much life into the game, it’s incredible!

I decided to hire Marc, a young indie game designer that worked on 2 games for Ludum Dare. He will help me with level design, which is a very long process, so I will have time to implement the last features I really want in for release. Unlike other contributors, Marc will work with me at my home. So I think it will be interesting to exchange ideas on the fly.

Vincent, our graphic designer is busy designing all the aliens. You can see one of the latest he sent me. I love it! We will have a lot of celebrities in the game, trust me.

Check out the last graphic and sound improvements :

We are going to conduct a huge beta test this summer. So if you don’t like beach, click this link to register : http://tflig.ht/eVGmf0

Making Super Bit Boy in 24 hours

26/03/2012

Super Bit Boy

Hey, I was at the 2nd Game Dev Party, a game jam in Lyon. It was a first for me. And it was totally worth it!

The challenge

Make a game in 24 hours playable in a web browser.

The team

Level design with Tiled, the game designer's best friend

Level design with Tiled, the game designer's best friend

There was a lot of interesting projects and I decided to join a team of 4 developers for three reasons :
- They had a home made web-based game engine prototype to build the game on
- I wanted to make the graphics and the animations rather than code
- They were planning to make a Super Meat Boy clone !

The team was composed of :
Paul (@padenot) : co-writer of the game engine / sound
Nical (@nicalsilva) : co-writer of the game engine
Adrian (@adrigau) : code
Louis-Rémi (@Louis_Remi) : code
And me on the graphics.

The project

First main character concepts

The first concept sketches for the main character. I have a thing with peaked nose!

I was OK with the Super Meat Boy part. However, they explained me that the hero would be a network admin who must repair his servers.
At this moment, I understood that I had to be in charge of the creative side ;-)
But as it was their project, I did wanted to keep the theme of their idea. So we agreed on a little character I drawn. he was supposed to be a anti-virus program controlled by a sys admin to kill the virus in the computer. The name “Super Bit Boy” came up just like that!
We also agreed that he would have a lot of bits coming out from his head. This is when Louis-Rémi has been assigned to code a particle module for the game.

Also, I wanted to add something new to the Super Meat Boy formula to spice up the challenge and not having to make a complete clone. We decided to make the platforms in different colors. And the main character would have the ability to change his color. If his color was different that the platform he was touching, he would simply dies.

The graphics

Super Bit Boy

Concept sketch for Super Bit Boy

I tried to come up with a graphic style that would be cool and quick to execute. I took inspiration from Tron for the platforms and the background. For Bit Boy, my inspiration came from some lamp you can find in designer shops.

While it was obvious that the game should be in pixel art, I prefered no to. I’m done with pixel art. Please stop making pixel art games, please!

The approach I had when developing graphics for Space Disorder was to make it look retro with HD graphics. And I wanted the same for Super Bit Boy.

The animations are crazy simple, just two frames for each movement (walk, jump, standing). The character was so simple that it would have been stupid to waste time on complex animations. Also, it fits the lo-fi mood beautifully.

Also, I really like the bits coming out from his head!

For the background, I wanted to represent the computer’s CPU as a mystical monument floating in the air. I took inspirations from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis… I guess!

The gameplay

Super Bit Boy

First rendering of the final graphics

We quickly found out that changing the color of the character while jumping, wall-jumping and grinding would be very difficult to handle for a not supernatural person. There was just too much things to do. We tried several key bindings but nothing was convincing.

So we had to re-think the gameplay. We had this idea where the player would bounce all the time and the player would just have to tap the right color before hitting the platforms. An other proposal was to make the player find color orbs to change color.

We finally decided to scrap all of that and go back to the basic gameplay of SMB. But! If the player is landing on a platform with a different color, he must jump again immediately or he dies. This has two consequences :
- It forces the player to reflex jump , making the gameplay pretty nervous
- Also, the character takes the color of the platform and puts the player in funny and crazy situations.

We wanted to had more features but we didn’t have time.

The experience

It has been refreshing teaming up as I’m working by myself for a year now. I’ve been lucky to find some coding beasts to build up the game so quickly!
During the marathon, we made checklist, briefs so we could handle the project correctly.
Everybody was extremely motivated (and talented). And everybody was working at an extremely quick rate. Nobody has been left behind.
Yeah, I can say it was a fucking great experience!

The game


You can play the game in your browser here.
It is best played on Firefox and It’s not optimized for Mac.
Chances are we might update the game in the future with new levels, new features and some better performances.

Designing the levels of Space Disorder

19/03/2012

As you might now, Space Disorder has randomly-generated levels. It took me a lot of time to figure out how to properly balance the level design. But, again, I learned a lot of stuff the hard way.

The rules

Space Disorder is divided in 6 sectors (levels). Each sector is divided in X rooms, depending of the sector. Later levels have more rooms. Each sector has its own rooms, corresponding to the sector’s difficulty. Each time a level is started, the game choose randomly X rooms in the difficulty pool and fill the sector with.
As you might notice, it’s not the rooms themselves that are randomly-generated. This is because I believe nothing replace hand-crafted levels. And also, I want the player to memorize the rooms to get better at the game.

Items

To make the game even more random, I designed an item spawn table. Every items in the sector are randomly chosen from this table during the level generation. But they are always placed at the same spot in a given room. Meaning that if you memorize the rooms, you’ll know where to find the items, but the items will be different.

The spawn table needs a bit more work to be balanced, but I’m very happy with it. Item chase really gives a tempo to the game and forces the player to make decisions as, often, you need an other item to access an other one.
I would ike to add an inspector that fix the spawn if, for exemple, the game generates only grenades all across the level. It already happened!

Persistence

Even if the game is Divided in rooms, what you do in a room is persistent and apply to the others. If you invert the gravity, the gravity is still inverted if you go in an other room. As well as changing the lasers from red to blue. This was a bit tricky to handle when designing the rooms because each room is playable in 4 different ways (gravity inverted/not inverted and red laser/blue laser).

But I’m cool with this, because it’s an opportunity to add more unexpected situation to the game. Each time I design a new room, I decide if it will be more difficult if the gravity is inverted. Or if all the items will be inaccessible if the lasers are blue, for exemple.

Enemies

Those were late to join the game design marmalade. At first, I wanted to add enemies just to give more life to the empty levels. Which worked! But when I started to test the game with those little bastards and inverted the gravity, I was like “Wow! You should die if you fall in this laser, robot!” And I understood that they could bring some very interesting mechanics that would fit the game perfectly. They were tricky to implement in the level design because of the persistence explained before.

The walkers are not very dangerous. They are more like walking chests as they loot an item when destroyed. Sometimes it might be hard to pick up the item, especially if you make the walker fall on a laser.

There is an other enemy type I will introduce in an upcoming article.

Balancing

Balancing has been one of the most interesting part of the process. The best way for this is just to have people try your game. Having very different demographic is very important. So I just gave the iPhone to the tester and watched him/her playing. I was paying attention about how and where the player was dying. An unexpected death is due to bad level design. For exemple if a laser appears from nowhere while navigating the room. The player should be aware that a danger is ahead of him. If he can’t prepare himself to avoid a danger, just change your design. Otherwise it results in frustrated deaths and the player won’t be willing to restart, thinking that the game is unfair. And he’s right!

When designing new rooms for advanced levels, I was just making them the hardest possible. They I was making them tested. Then I was reworking them accordingly to the difficulty they were meant for.

I tried to add a new mechanic in each sector. Exemple : Sector 2 brings enemies, sector 3 brings jumpers. So the player can familiarize with the different mechanics, and it gives me a theme to design the rooms. Also, combining different mechanics together always gives interesting results. Sometimes it doesn’t work but it gives you new ideas.

Camera

The camera of my game is very close to the main character, restraining the view field. Most of the platformer have very far camera from the character. While I understand it’s for the design, I hate it. You don’t see shit, especially on an iPhone. Balancing the walking and flying speed accordingly to this contraint fixed the issue. So I can enjoy the nice graphics of my game and play it well!

Risk for reward

So the levels are designed with 3 objectives in mind :

  1. Ask the player to use his skills to navigate through the level without dying
  2. Force the player to make decisions on where to take risk or not
  3. Offer to the player a new and exciting challenge each session

Of course I didn’t came up with those objectives from the beginning. They started to appear while I was iterating the different versions and how the game was played by the testers. It’s a mix of hard work and luck. Which is a creative approach I love.

Share you experience and opinions!

Space Disorder – Official website

19/03/2012

Space Disorder - Official websiteWe are glad to announce that the official Space Disorder website in now online at this URL : http://www.spacedisorder.com.

We will add more contents very soon, so stay tuned!

Rescue them all : Martha

02/03/2012

“Rescue them all” features will introduce you to some of the aliens you might meet in Space Disorder, our upcoming iOS game.

Martha

Martha

Name : Martha
Race : Android
Likes : the people, radiation shower
Dislikes :  her maker, injustice

Martha is a fine diplomat that was handling the conflicts between workers and executives on the massive chewing-gum factory spaceship METRO-9927.

 

Guess which famous character inspired us to make Martha?
Metropolis

At last, the first informations about our game : Space Disorder

27/02/2012
Space Disorder

Noah rescuing an alien

We are pleased to give you the first official informations about our game : Space Disorder!

SYNOPSIS
Help Noah the astronaut to rescue all the aliens abducted by evil robots across the universe in this survival platformer.

FEATURES :
- Bite-sized oldschool platforming gameplay with cute HD graphics
- Control Noah’s jetpack and fly with one finger
- Rescue more than 30 funny aliens and take care of them in your Space Ark
- Survive through randomly generated levels for infinite replayability
- Invert gravity and launch grenades to get access to secret areas and destroy your ennemies
- Switch and avoid red and blue lasers to discover new paths and power-ups
- Collect coins to upgrade power-ups and buy equipment
- New planets and aliens will be added through regular updates

PROGRESS :
- Right now, all the gameplay mechanics are implemented. The game is largely playable.
- We are now in the process of producing the contents (level design, graphics) which is what we do most of the time.
- There is also some work for balancing item spawning and level difficulty.
- We still have all the menu screens to produce and this is a lot of stuff to do.
- We asked a freelancer to produce the music as we don’t have the skills in-house.
- But we still need to find a solution for the sound FX. If you can help on this, please contact me.
- Of course we have all the marketing material to do, especially the trailer which is a priority.

Starting now, I will post a lot of content and informations about the game. So follow us on Twitter to get updates.

The Walker

20/02/2012

The Walker

The Walker, not walking yet

Here comes the Walker. You can usually find him walking in the space station ready to shock your sorry astronaut’s ass.

ORIGINS
From the toy box of my childhood.

BEHAVIOUR
He walks. If he bumps a wall, he turns around and walks back. Yeah baby!

WEAPONS
A gentle but efficient electric ark crackles from his antenna. Turning your spacesuit into a sleepsuit.

HOW TO KILL HIM ?

  1. Throw him a grenade. But watch out because he can bring it back to you.
  2. Invert gravity when a laser is above him and watch him die in an beautiful explosion of vintage machinery.
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