Backworlds

Development Blog by Anders Ekermo and Juha Kangas

Category: Development (page 2 of 4)

Motivational poster

motivI want to write about my own fluctuating motivation for Backworlds this month, this will be mostly personal so I won’t go into Anders feelings on the same subjects.

Our progress has been slow the last half year, with some stints of hard work with building level progression, adding some new mechanics and preparing gameplay tests. Just like Anders I have a full-time job within computer software and I find it exhausting to sit at the computer 8 hours a day and then go home and work for several hours more on our game. Which I have done in certain periods, but I personally can not keep it up for too long. Besides the mental drain it is plain bad physically to be static that much of the day and it is not very social so it takes a toll in several ways.

I do constantly think about the game however as me and Anders discuss it every week. At the moment we are talking a lot about how to present the story and we are experimenting with different implementations. It certainly helps to have another person to keep you on your toes and not procrastinate too much. The fact that we have people that have contributed money to our development and that there are people who seem to like the game is also very important and helps me keep coming back to it.

Perhaps it sounds like I have to force myself to work on it, but I really do love it. It gives me artistic satisfaction in a way nothing has done before. I’m proud of what we are making together and I want to make clear I’m not looking for sympathy about my “exhaustion” mentioned above. I only want to explain and perhaps you can relate to this if you are within software/game development yourself as many of us tend to have hobby projects.

Thanks for reading!

Old Sins

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A few months ago Juha talked about our “no paint” levels and why we decided most of them had to be scrapped – today I will briefly go over some of the ideas we toyed around with in the original “Backworld” prototype and why they had to go.

The game was made in a very limited time – we were not really sure what kind of game we wanted to make and we opted to make many levels rather than a small amount of polished ones, so cutting these ideas were not as tough of a decision. Nonetheless, it explains some things about the nature of the game as it is now.

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Some players will not like our game and that’s ok

polarchr

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.

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No Paint Design

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

Demo Design

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!

Puzzling platformers

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

Regarding Style

Today I will talk about some of the steps we took to reach the current art style of Backworlds. While we still have a long way to go with the art and may decide to make further changes to the style, I will go over some of the reasoning behind what the game looks like right now. Continue reading

Under Pressure

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I started running Backworlds on a Surface Pro recently in order to determine how much work it would be to port the game to tablets – rather than the porting itself, the big challenges are how we change the controls to feel good on a tablet. The Surface Pro is practically a laptop running Windows 8 which meant I could immediately run the game, which was nice.

Since both of the Surface models come with a pressure-sensitive stylus this also gave me an excuse to connect this to the drawing – so if you are playing the game with a digital drawing tablet or display it would be more responsive. Implementing pressure-sensitivity with SDL in Windows wasn’t a straightforward affair though, so I thought I’d collect some of the things I learned in this post.

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Micro Design

pickup_cloneIn previous posts we have talked about certain design issues on a higher level. Such as the general world design or rules that our level design should apply. However I thought I would bring up a few examples of design issues that have come up during the development that are more specific and also explain the solution for them.

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Timelapse

I have recorded myself working with the editor to show you all how a level comes from simply being lines and boxes of physics into the water-color world of Backworlds. It is a time-lapse running at a brisk pace and should give you a good idea of the process. Note that I did not prepare in any way making this, I just came up with something as I went along, however I did work with this particular theme for the demo. By the end of the video the level is in a “first-pass” state and is missing smaller details, particle effects and so on.

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