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Weekly Blog Update: HavenCon Feedback

We got a ton of great feedback from watching people try the game at HavenCon last weekend! I posted a photo album on our company Facebook Page if you want to check them out!

Most of this week was spent making those changes. Here are some of them!:

Before: The way trees work, when you color the trunks, the leaves grow and change color depending on what color you put on the trunk. Unfortunately, one of the colors you can 'make' is purple (which is the color you need to put on a door in this particular section). Since one of the trees is close to this overhang, players naturally assumed that they could take this color to solve the puzzle -- but you can't take color from leaves (and that's also not what I want the player to learn in this section).

After: I simply moved the tree farther away so that players will hopefully now see that there is no way to reach the leaves. In the future, we may consider allowing you to take the leaf color as well (just not in this particular section).

Before: To pass through a sentinel, you need to be the same color as it. At the very first sentinel, a few players were 'accidentally' solving this, by trying to take the purple with them to the purple door on the other side of the sentinel (a long time ago, I thought that having players accidentally solve it would help them learn how they worked -- but this is definitely not the case).

After: To solve this issue, I changed the color of that door, and also added a repeat of the sentinel hint (you originally see it to the left of the purple sentinel). This way, just in case they proceed to the blue sentinel and still don't know how to use them, they get another chance to absorb the hint (since if you don't understand sentinels, you cannot go back to see the hint again). I think the current placement is a little odd, so it might move in the future. 

Before: I thought this was a super blatant hint... but I was wrong! In this area I want players to learn that you can put any color on plants to bring them to life (this is just in case they didn't play around in the first outdoor section). I thought a 'blue ivy' hint would make them try it, but a lot of players still go all of the way back to the first section and try to bring green past the sentinels.

After: I'm going to see if this works a little better. It's like "look - they're all different colors!!"

Before: This one is super weird, since it's been like this for a long time and wasn't an issue until last weekend! You need yellow for this door, but the adjacent puzzles contain tan - a TON of players thought these were the same color (which is totally understandable - I just don't know why it didn't come up before now). 

After: I changed the tan to orange (and blue in the other puzzle). I actually think this might help make this fountain puzzle a little easier, since the spiral sticks out more? We'll see!

This is really subtle so I'm curious to see if it makes a difference. I just extended the wall a little bit (top picture is the before, bottom is after) so maybe now when players place the color on the wall, they're more likely to see that is extends to the other side of the sentinel.

Before: It's really easy to fall off of stairs throughout the temple - particularly when you're struggling with the camera and controls.

After: Initially I planned to add railings everywhere in response to this - but it takes a long time, and since we need to work on the camera anyway, I'd like to see how much that helps first. I added them in the very first section though, which I think is ok, since players would be getting used to the controls in this section anyway. 

You're not supposed to be able to make the jump from here to the ladder, but a couple of players managed it... so I moved it a litter farther away. :)

I replaced the ivy that was here with a broken ladder, to help with the later broken ladder puzzle. (This way, players have seen it before.)

No one ever notices the flowers, so I hid one that already has some color on it. :)

There was a weird collision thing here where you had to jump to get off of the stairs. It's very satisfying to see this working correcly now. 

Most of the other polish items were things for Issam to work on. The highest priority issue at the moment is doing another pass on the automatic camera. Right now if you don't use the manual camera, the game is really hard to play. It's always particularly hard for little kids, which is a problem, since kids want to play the game!

Issam is still stuck working on the push pots!

I made this cake today to celebrate our company's 4 year anniversary!! (Technically on April 15th!)

It's coffee cake with caramel frosting - and coffee & caramel macarons on top (the recipe is here!) It might be the richest cake I've ever made, and I'm planning on taking a nap when I finish this update... 

Miles is finally feeling better, although I did manage to capture a sneeze face on camera, which is pretty adorable: 

Moving forward, I'm hoping to FINALLY finish up the last room of the Chameleon Temple this week so we can start polishing it and digging into the Frog Temple. We also have someone working on a test for music, and another person working on a test for sound effects!! I'm really excited!!! :D


Weekly Blog Update: HavenCon

Short update this week since we're showing our game at HavenCon in Austin today through Sunday! 

We'll be at the arcade! Technically it's open until 2am Fri & Sat... but I don't think we're going to stay that late. Our plan is 6pm, but it depends on how busy it is!

Friday: 12pm - 6pm

Saturday: 10am - 6pm

Sunday: 12pm - 5pm

I've still been working on the end of the temple. I went down a few paths that didn't quite work out (like this one:)

It's cool looking, but it didn't quite fit, so I simplified a little!  

Also I've got the first section mostly sorted out,  but I need to do another pass on the textures since everything sort of blends together visually. 

Issam has still been working on the push pots. He also spent some time looking into travel to figure out if we could attend MomoCon in Atlanta this year (we're Indie Award Showcase Finalists!) but in the end, we decided that it was a little too much time out of our schedule. We want to try to go next year though after the game is released! 

Miles is sick this week!! :( The vet thinks it's allergies. Here he is in the vet's office. 


Weekly Blog Update: Rough Map Room

I wish I had more to post this week!

Issam worked on adding some fountain functionality so I could start the level with the fountain "on" but the water missing color: 

See! It keeps the sentinel open!

I put a little more detail into this room, but it's still not done:

Mostly I've been concentrating on trying to figure out the end of the temple. 

This is the area past the doors behind these statues:

At the top of the stairs you find this world map. The symbols match the symbols for each of the temples, and the gates mark spaces where there are stairs leading to doors. Somehow when you go through the doors it will lead you to the other temples. I'll add more detail to make it a little more obvious which temple you're going to. :) I want it to be a little surreal looking, but not toooo crazy. 

Also this made me laugh:

Miles took some time out of his schedule to remind us to get up and get active every once in awhile. 


Weekly Blog Update: Push Puzzles' Art


This week Issam has been working on how the sentinels interact with water, so I can start testing it. The idea is that water turns solid without color - so you can 'freeze' a sentinel open or closed.

Also, if the wrong color water crosses the sentinel threshold, it will close:

I'm working on the last 3 Chameleon Temple puzzle rooms! 2 of them are *mostly* done. I particularly like this one:

Also this bug made me laugh:

Here's the other room, which still isn't totally done:

Here's Miles doing an office inspection:


Weekly Update: Chameleon Temple Art Fixes

This week Issam spent some more time on the sandbox/coloring book mode. He added this menu for switching between rooms: 

I spent a little time looking at the Frog Temple to see what mechanics are missing or not working yet, so Issam could work on them for me!

These are some cool picture of glowing water (which unfortunately breaks a bunch of puzzles even though it looks cool, so we have to change it)

I've also been working on art polish for the 2nd part of the Chameleon Temple, which isn't super exciting to look at... but I took some pictures to keep track of small things I needed to change:

And here are some screenshots of recent changes:

Here's Miles uh... melting...?



Weekly Update: Coloring Book Mode Prototype

Sorry for the last post today - Issam and I were working on something important:

!!!!!This week we've been working on something cool! 

We'd talked about adding some sort of sandbox/coloring book mode, so Issam prototyped it out this week! It's really fun! There are some small things that need to be figured out (for example, I think you should be able to color everything in the room - which means creating some way to reach places that were previously inaccessible like the ceiling). So far it's really fun to play with!! :) The idea is that players will be able to take small videos of their rooms and share them!

Also here's some of the art I was working on at SXSW last weekend:

Right now I'm working on the final room in the Chameleon Temple, which isn't ready to show yet!!

Here's Miles flipping through my sketchbook to help me find old ideas:


Weekly Update: SXSW Gaming Expo 2016

Short update today since we're headed back to the SXSW Gaming Expo today to show the game & do game development demoes at the IGDA Austin Booth! The Austin IGDA graciously shares its space with local devs every year - if you're a local dev, keep a lookout for this next year! (I also usually try to post about it on @ATXGameDevCal - which is also on FB

We showed yesterday from 4-8 - here's our schedule for today and tomorrow!

Fri: 11:30-2pm: Color Thief Demo, 2-4: Development Demo

Sat: 2-6pm: Development Demo

The event is free and open to the public!!



Also check this out!! My sister Jenna got a 3D printer, and she made a print of our chameleon!!!

Since we're away from the office, Miles is mostly just relaxing:


Weekly Update: Fish and Breaking Things

This week I've mostly been working on the art for the second half of the Chameleon Temple! 

I still have a lot of work to do in terms of breaking up the geometry and making it a little more interesting looking, but the basics are there.  

Issam spent the first part of the week trying to come up with a good solution for selective ambient lighting in the frog temple. We have a few puzzles that are based on the idea of not being able to see anything until you light fires or move fire - because of this there can't be ambient lighting across the whole level, since it would light the areas that need to stay dark (for a quick explanation - the chameleon temple is actually all ambient lighting + one directional light that casts shadows (so most of the lighting is coming from the ambient)).

After a few days of really digging into it, he wasn't happy with the result - and since it was proving so difficult it made us consider a few of the issues with this puzzle type that we still haven't actually solved yet. Mostly, if a player puts a color down in an area, and then loses all light, will he or she forget that the color is there and think they're completely stuck? We had wanted to do some testing to see how big of an issue it was, but because it wasn't really going well anyway, we decided that we're probably better off just cutting this puzzle type.  

At the end of the week, he switched over to working on adding fish to the game! Right now they're magenta because I accidentally made them inside-out... so once I fix that they'll look cool. :) Also they currently disappear when you take color from them, but they're going to fall downwards and then fade away... at least for now. 

Next week we'll be showing our game at a couple of the time slots at the IGDA booth at the SXSW Gaming expo. If you're interested in stopping by, this is when we'll be there!:

Thurs: 4-6pm: Development Demo (I'll just be working there on a big screen), 6-8: Color Thief Demo

Fri: 11:30-2pm: Color Thief Demo, 2-4: Development Demo

Sat: 2-6pm: Development Demo

Here's a picture of Miles helping me work:


Weekly Update: Game Intro

In the beginning of the week, we finished polishing the intro and submitted our game to both the Momocon Indie Game Award Showcase, and IndieBits.

That's pretty low resolution, so here's a still also: 


There's also a short teaser that plays when you compete the trailer now! It gives you some glimpses at later gameplay and temples: 

Since finishing our submission, I've been working on the 2nd half of the chameleon temple:

Today we also had another interview with Steve, who is making a documentary following us and a few other Austin indie studios as we develop our games. 


Miles is just happy that our Momocon submission is done!


Weekly Update: Intro

This week we're still working on the intro for an upcoming competition! Most of it is put together, but Issam is working on the transition when you press a button to start. Here are a couple of pretty cool tests from this morning:

Now he's working on using pixel depth to use different ink effects, to see if it makes it look more 3d.

We've also been planning on adding a short video when you reach the end of the demo to tease some of the other environments and puzzle ideas. I've started making temple-speicific versions of things like doors, fountains and sentinels. Every temple has it's own symbol for color. 


Work in progress sentinel (green geometry is placeholder):

Issam also made an awesome tool for me to use in Unity! Usually when I want images from the game I take screenshots directly from the game. If I'm ever interested in getting different camera angles, it's a littel cumbersome to create a new scene camera and position it where I need it - so I asked for a renderable camera that matches the Scene view in-editor. It makes it really quick and easy to position a camera. :)


Here's a picture of Miles, making sure I stay on track: