Gravimaze

Gravity Puzzle-Solving!

In mid-2011, David Hart approached me with a prototype he had been working on in his spare time. It was fairly simple: you had a Spongebob-like square character in a simple brick maze you could rotate with your finger. Upon each rotation, the character fell to the new “down” direction until it reached the exit.

The prototype had a level editor looked something like this:

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One of my first tasks was to design new mechanics to expand upon David’s original idea, sort them by feasability and test them once a rough version of it was implemented. As usual, the amount of stuff that didn’t make it in the game far exceeds the amount of stuff that did, but luckily we managed to iterate quickly and reach a stable number of different mechanics in under a month.

At that point, I got serious on the level design. Our goal was to do a first release of the game containing a hundred levels, which we decided to split into five packs. These packs later became temples once we settled on the theme.

By now the game looked even uglier than when we started, so we decided it was time to get serious about visuals. After some searching, David hired Andreas Inghe, who is awesome. Expanding upon the idea of long forgotten temples, he started doing the assets for the different elements and backgrounds, bringing a new dimension to the gameplay.

By now, it had started looking like this:

If you have played the game, you’ll recognize some elements that later became World 2 a.k.a. The Earth Temple, and some early versions of Gravi (the player’s cube) and the exit portal.

When we started thinking about what the game would sound like, Andreas showed us some ideas he had been working on and we were quite frankly blown away! Here are some samples of the game’s music:

With new assets being added almost daily, it became clear that David’s initial choice of tech was becoming too constraining. Previously based on UIKit, David ported the game to cocos2D which gave us a lot more of elbow room to expand and polish the game to what it looks now.

Alabaster TempleEarth TempleTurquoise Temple

 

To say that I’m proud of how it turned out would be an understatement.

Please visit the game’s official site for more information: www.gravimaze.com, or get the game by clicking on the button below.

Critical reception

I’m pleased to report that the game was pretty warmly received by most (if not all) those who reviewed it.

The game currently holds a solid 4.5 star rating on the app store with around 100 reviews. It was also picked up by some specialized sites, garnering generally favorable reviews:

App Store Arcade – “As puzzle games go, GraviMaze achieves almost puzzle perfection as well as being one of the best puzzle experiences that we’ve seen yet from the Apple AppStore.”

iFanzine – “Like any logic puzzler worth its weight in megabytes, GraviMaze stirs in plenty of nuance as the player dives further in.”

Mac Trast – “GraviMaze does a fine job of being simple, yet at the same time, produces a lot of brain challenging levels.”

Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time… credits!

Unlike movies, game credits are often hard to find, or overlooked. Since most players don’t finish their games, developers try to place them in menus or make them interactive to have the players at least glance at them for a second.

In Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time, they’re hidden in a subscreen of one of the game’s “bonus images” menus. You’d have to know they’re there to find them!

Since I happen to have programmed the rolling credits, I saved the source text file for this occasion.

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Whoops!

Likeliness for a media backlash and general racial and religious controversy around this game: 100%

Likeliness that many people won’t get past the first level of interpretation when playing: 100%

Actually, this looks only like cheap provocation, whereas September 12th was a little more nuanced in its delivery of the same message. Its just too easy to interpret this game the wrong way…

Update: The story ended up pulled from IndieGames.com, after generating a storm of negative comments and racist flames. I think it managed to stay up for, what… two, three hours? I guess my 100%s weren’t that off.

Anyways, you can still follow the controversy over at the Something Awful forums.

DESIGNER NOTES – Sid’s Revolution

A recent article by Soren Johnson states:

However, a more important (and actually true) first is less often mentioned – CivRev is the first Civ since the original to be designed and programmed directly by Sid. Every line of game and AI code (and probably quite a bit more) inside the game was written by Sid himself, for all three versions: 360, PS3, and DS.

I believe it’s great that just one man (even if it’s “just” Sid Meier) is able to program the game for three platforms at once. It is almost as if he acted like a modder of his own game.

Also, if you take in consideration the date CivRev was announced, now that we know only one person programmed the gameplay for two radically different platforms (more like two actually, seeing how the PS3 and Xbox are pretty much oversized computers), man, was that fast development or what!

Really, I would love seeing more of this: spend less time creating assets and more time creating gameplay! Please?

via: DESIGNER NOTES » Blog Archive » Sid’s Revolution

Sid Meier’s Colonization Returns!

Over at Gamasutra:

Take-Two subsidiary 2K Games announced today that developer Firaxis is currently working on Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization for PC, set to be released this fall. A “complete reimagining” of the original Colonization, it again puts the player in the role of one of four European powers seeking to establish colonial dominance over the New World. Continue reading

Insult Swordfighting: Books that should be made into games

Insult Swordfighting: Books that should be made into games

I stumbled upon this through Kotaku‘s Maggie Greene. The author, Mitch Krpata kicks things off:

So many games are based on movies and TV shows. Why not games based on books? There are centuries of fantastic literature to draw from, and in most cases the source material is in the public domain — no need for onerous licensing fees.

Brilliant!

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How Rare Recruits Graduates

This Gamasutra piece is a very “rare” (heh, get it?) proof that good sense still can be found amongst developers.

In a nutshell, this Rare developer talks about how his company finally realised that good elements can be found everywhere, and that it is better to talk and show respect to students (a.k.a. potential employees) than trying to impress them with how cool you are.

Really, you should read the article, if you haven’t already… The only thing that still ticks me off is that they only talk about programmers or artists, but say nothing about designers… Why do you think is that? Double standards?