Development Blog by Anders Ekermo and Juha Kangas

Category: Development (page 2 of 4)

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


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


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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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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Scripting with Lua

Today I will show you something from the game-play scripting for Backworlds. In other words, what we do (partly) to make stuff happen in the game. We use a scripting language called Lua which we write in external text files that are loaded into the game. The advantage of this is that we can write functionality without having to recompile the game, reloading the level is enough.

I will begin by saying that Anders has moved a lot of the things we used to do with this into the engine and tied it to objects in the editor, making life a little easier for us when creating levels. But it is great for testing new ideas and we still have to use Lua in a lot of special cases and custom events. But enough explaining, let me demonstrate in this two part video!

Note: I make a mistake in the video by sampling the statue position every frame rather than only once in the OnCreate function, causing the object to move down very fast.

Part 1

Part 2

Herp derp ork bork!

Season’s greetings

Winter is upon us, but before we check out for the year we’d like to give you a little more hard information about the game. This is subject to change as development goes on, but we feel reasonably comfortable with the scope at this point.

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