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Friday
Feb052016

Weekly Update: PAX South Feedback

One of the best things about showing our game at conventions is that they're basically intensive, 3 day playtest sessions! Last weekend we saw some new areas that were tripping people up (and some bugs) so we spent this week making adjustments. This post is basically like a sneak peek inside my head when I'm designing things!

1) Confusing wall art. This wall art has been green for a long time - the idea is to give people a hint that they can interact with the plant, but it wasn't really serving its purpose. People already understood that they should approach the plant, which makes it unnecessary to start with - but the real issue is that when they need more green for the 2nd door, they think they need to do some complicated balancing to get the color off of the wall, as opposed to taking the green back off of the first door. This is intended to be a tutorial moment as opposed to a puzzle, so we removed the green from the wall art to eliminate some of the confusion. (Now your attention is focused even more on the plant, since it's the only color, which is good!)

Before:

After:

Here's another example of some wall art that caused confusion. There is actually no reason for these spirals to be red, and a few people spent a lot of time last weekend trying to figure them out... so we just took the color away. ;)

Before:

After:

2) Door collision. We recently made a change which causes all of the doors to stay open - this generally helps the players navigate the space by quickly showing them where they've come from. There are a few cases where you need to take color from an already opened-door, and this first door was surprisingly hard to take color from when I showed the game at the Smithsonian. We ended up sticking some fake collision on there to make it a little easier to grab the color. We'll probably end up doing this to all of the doors (but this was the most important one, since it's the door that teaches you that you can get color back).

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After:

3) The Great Ivy Quest. Ok, this one was really bad this weekend and I felt guilty about it! There's a room right before you enter the temple which is supposed to teach you that you can put any color on the ivy. I tried to make it as obvious as possible by putting blue everywhere, and giving players a ton of opportunities to play with plants before reaching this point - but even though players have usually seen that any color works on plants by this point, they still assume that green is the 'correct' color for ivy. A lot of them view this section as a puzzle and run back to the first part of the level to try to figure out how they can get green across the first two sentinels. A few players spent A LOT of time on this before we stepped in, so to save everyone this pain (since again, this is tutorial and not puzzle material), I added some new wall art which will hopefully make things more clear!

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4) The Siren Song. I put some ivy in this room to make it pretty, but then everyone tried to climb it and a few of them succeeded and fell off of the world.... Solution: ivy removed!

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5) Crushed Chameleon. There was a bug with the sentinels that EVERYONE found last weekend! It was crazy! If you stand on the edge of the sentinel and put the color on the ground, you can force the sentinel to stay open - which breaks multiple puzzles! Issam fixed it so that it pushes you out. 

Before:

After:

6) The Disappearing Wall. This one was just an oversight that I hadn't noticed until this weekend: the sentinels in one of the last puzzles are actually taller than the surrounding walls, so they pop in and out of space ;) I shifted the whole room down to give them space to exist. 

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7) The Mysterious Empty Room. This last one is a two-parter! The purple door in room 12 (the room above) leads to this little side room. I had made this lattice-work window so you could see how the temple fit together (it actually looks down on room 6), but when people are in room 6 they think it's part of the puzzle and get confused. I removed the window from both rooms.

Before:

After:

The 2nd part is that the little side room that sticks off of 12 was always supposed to have art, but it didn't. It also had an invisible wall for some reason?! I added some art this week (foreshadowing!), and removed the wall. :)

Before:

After:

That's pretty much it! Today I'm fixing a few small collision issues we noticed, but next week I'm moving on to some new parts (!!!! I'm so excited!!!)

Oh also did you see that Issam added small streaming videos to our fancy new website?!: http://colorthiefgame.com/

I think Miles is happy we're back. Here he is recovering from the emotional stress of showing our game:

Tuesday
Feb022016

PAX South in Pictures!

We did it!! We showed our game at PAX South! It was exhausting and amazing! I'll do a blog post on Friday about the feedback we got, but I thought I should post the photos we took!

But before that, I did an interview on XSplit's Twitch stream about the game! It starts at 1 hour 28min:

Getting ready to go!

The expo hall during setup:

Line to go into the Expo hall:

Our booth!:

Cleanup:

Overall it was a really amazing experience. It's really easy to get tunnel vision working on something for so long (we've officially been working on the game for 3 years, this month!) so taking it to events and seeing real reactions is a huuuge morale boost. It's so valuable to remember that we're working on a thing that people are going to play - and it's really really cool to see so many people enjoying it although it's not done yet! It's an overwhelmingly positive experience. 

Anyway, we feel charged up and ready to work on the rest of the game! A huge thank you to everyone that played and gave us feedback!! <3

Thursday
Jan282016

Weekly Update: PAX South

No post this week since we're busy Fri-Sun with PAX South!

Friday
Jan222016

Weekly Update: Back from DC, Prepping for PAX South

I'm back from DC and I have a bunch of updates!!

First off, here are some photos from showing the game last weekend at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of the Indie Arcade "Coast to Coast" event! 

Photo (c) Bruce Guthrie 

 

  

It was really fun!! I grew up around DC, so a friend from the area came to help me out for the day. Also my dad came and hung out for awhile, which was awesome! :)

I got a lot of great feedback from watching everyone play. One of the main issues that kept popping up was a bug related to the new physics system which got a few players stuck a few times. We also had the opportunity to test the doors remaining open - which seemed to work really well. Overall I think players had a much easier time navigating the level, and not getting lost. Other than that there were just a few small things.

In general the event was mostly kids, so I felt bad having to tell them that the game isn't going to be out for at least another year! A handful of kids came back and played the demo 2 - or even 3 (!!) times! Also it was great to see so many families working to solve the puzzles together. :)

Also we got this cool event booklet!

 

This week Issam and I designed a new website for our game! Go check it out at http://colorthiefgame.com! We also now have a mailing list you can sign up for to get important updates about the game (you can also sign up for weekly or monthly updates if you want to)!  

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Issam has also been working on a presskit for us, so we can share information about the game and studio easily. 

We're going to be showing the game at PAX South the weekend after next (1/29-31). A few minutes ago Issam and I were working on a booth layout:

We're also doing a cross-promotional flier with some other Austin indies. We had initially wanted to be booth neighbors, but we made the request a little too late! This way we can at least send people in the direction of some other games that they might like!

The other studios are Finji, Newmark Software and Super Duper Game Company.

Closing out the week, I'm working on a new teaser trailer for the game which I'm really excited about. :) I've also started contacting a few press outlets that will be at PAX South to see if they want to check out the game! If you see this post and you're interested in writing about the game and want a copy of the demo to play, let me know! The comment section on this site still doesn't work >:( but you can email me at [email protected]

Here's a glamorous headshot of Miles for our presskit.

Friday
Jan152016

WEEKLY UPDATE: GETTING READY FOR THE SMITHSONIAN - Part 2

This week we've mostly been preparing for showing the game at the Indie Arcade: Coast to Coast exhibit at the Smithsonian American History Museum on the 16th!

Wait is that the same line as last week?... yes, yes it is :) Cat is staying at a friend's place close to Washington, DC today so I am in charge of the blog post. We have spent a lot of time this week fixing bugs and polishing the build that we will show at the event. Also because we are game developers we added new features this week, perfectly safe to do! While we do joke about it, the reason we try to pack as many features in as possible is that we want people to play with them so that we can get feedback. These events are rare, so we want to take advantage of them, also it makes the game feel more polished. 

One of the features we added is the option to have secondary color palettes for some objects, like flowers for example. The idea is that if you put green on the plant, its flowers would be a different color to make it better looking.

For the doors, like we said last week we added an animation when opening them and we also decided to leave them open (but still able to take color from them). One of the thing we noticed is that sometimes players get lost, so maybe this will help them know where they already went? We are not sure about this solution yet, but it's worth trying. 

We fixed a lot of small bugs, not exciting but they make the progression better. We also added an auto climb out of the water because jumping out of it sometimes is not easy. This will be the first time people play the version with our new movement physics system, hopefully it holds up :) (I am trying to add a last second debug feature to "rewind" the player position in case he gets stuck in geometry...)  

Miles is really tired from this week crunch but it was worth it!

 

 

Friday
Jan082016

Weekly Update: Getting Ready for the Smithsonian

Our vacation is over and we're back! This week we've mostly been preparing for showing the game at the Indie Arcade: Coast to Coast exhibit at the Smithsonian American History Museum on the 16th!

I'm really looking forward to it! I grew up in Northern VA and went to the Smithsonian a lot growing up. Also my parents are still nearby, so I'm going to spend the week with them beforehand. :) I'll take tons of pictures for the blog.

Unfortunately for the blog, I don't have a lot of exciting screenshots of changes this week, since I've mostly been making small changes to make our demo look better! :)

Um.. these little hallways look nicer:

We've noticed a few players have a hard time distinguishing doors from sentinels, so we've been brainstorming ways to make the difference more clear. One option is to go back to the old sentinel design (the statues were wayyy bigger) - but something small we thought might be worth trying is adding an animation where the chameleon actually opens the door. It's subtle, but I think it will help reinforce the difference between the two. 

I made the animation in Max, but it's not hooked up yet:

Another current issue is players not really experimenting a lot with putting different colors on different things - we have a puzzle specifically to teach the player that you can put any color on natural objects, but we'd like for the first outdoor section to encourage that experimentation a lot more, so we're going to add more things that react to color, like flowers. We had made the models awhile back, but I need to make a few changes before we can get them in game:

We're also going to make the grass grow when you add color to it:

Issam has still been working on the water visuals. We're trying to make a new game trailer before showing the game at PAX South, so we'd like the water to look good for it. Here's what we have right now:

 

He's also been working on a lot of small bugs to prepare for the demo - and some more physics issues we are having with the new system.

Miles has been helping me work:

Friday
Jan012016

Weekly Update: Happy New Year!!

We're still on holiday break so no official update this week, but we've been working a little bit anyway. Issam has been working on a water shader, and this is what he's made so far:

Friday
Dec182015

Weekly Update: Postcards, Business Cards & Frogs

This week I've been working on the Frog Temple, and I got far enough to make an image that we can use for our postcards and business cards at PAX!
This is the postcard image:
There will be 4 different postcards:
With our game info on the back :)
We also ordered new business cards!!
Here are some screenshots of the Frog Temple right now. We're still figuring some stuff out - mostly we need to balance how much the light color is influenced by the color of the fire (you can change it), so that the colors in the level itself don't get completely lost.
This is Frog Tower ;) It actually has a light on it now (you can see it in the above image)
I think the water looks really pretty where the fire lights it:
Here's what Issam has been working on this week!
  • Integrated new movement system into the main branch
  • Updated to unity 5.3
  • Added a bigger point light for fire (in addition to the one that casts shadow - needed code to change color with the fire color)
  • Got rid of the water ripple effect that was happening when you turned water solid
  • Made a new debug menu to move the chameleon around while our physics system is running (currently the movment system does not let anything else move the chameleon)
  • Tested the broken ladder in room 12 - it works, but sprint broke the puzzle
  • Made a new blog post in the Tech section about the importer for secondary mesh colliders
  • Played around with using fog and depth of field for underwater effect (working on this now)
Here are a couple of the water experiments:
Miles has been getting ready for the holidays!
We have next week "off" (we'll still probably be working a little), so I'm not sure if there will be a blog post next week! :D 
Friday
Dec112015

Weekly Update: Octopus & Frog Temple Art

This week I worked a bit more on the Octopus Temple art. This will be the image we use for one of the postcards we hand out for the game at events (2 of them will have Chameleon Temple images, and then I'll make one more for the Frog Temple). It's weirdly blue because I saved it as a .jpg(??)

Here's a broader view of the starting area:

And this is what's on the other side of the pagoda. The water will actually be gray from the start of the level, and to enter the temple, you'll need to find some blue for the water:

I want to spend a little more time on this area, but the next real milestone for this section is just to get some art for the next trailer we make in January. :) For right now I'm switching over to the Frog Temple for a little while! This is what the first area currently looks like in Max (there's no color in Max, but in this case, the water and lily pads would have color): 

Our scenes are all set up for sunshine, so I got some weird looking screenshots and gifs while I was trying to change the settings back to something more dark (it will be night time in the Frog Temple!)

I also designed some new lanterns, which gave me a little bit of trouble :) 

(it's trying to escape!!)

Issam is still working on the character collision system. He's started writing a technical blog post about what he's learned which should be up on Monday. A lot of his work has been reimplementing things that sort of worked before (except he's making them work better now). This week he had a big issue with collision going inside of other collision, and sorted that out. He also re-made the chameleon auto-climbing out of water and onto small things. 

He also added a sprint button (although at first he forgot to change the camera speed, which is why this gif shows the chameleon getting farther and farther away from the camera!) 

Miles is doing his duty as HR and enthusiastically trying to get us into the holiday spirit:

Friday
Dec042015

Weekly Update: Octopus Temple Art & More Character Collision Work

This week I've been continuing work on the art style for the Octopus Temple. I think it's headed in a good direction, but I'm still working on it!

Temple Entrance:

We still need some sort of underwater filter so it doesn't look like the chameleon is flying ;) 

Issam is still working on the new character collision system. Some updates from this week:  

  • Chameleon can now go up stairs/incline (although it's bumpy, so we need to replace stair collision with a slope)
  • Implemented a new way to detect if the chameleon is next to objects (like the door). It uses the 3 spheres we set up for the movement system.
  • Currently working on the chameleon reacting to objects moving - either the chameleon needs to move (like water collision rising) or the object has to stop moving (like uncolored fire falling)
  • He has also been using the physics change to clean up code that he sees along the way 

Here's HR inspecting our office Christmas tree: