Archive for Invertical

#SKSP and Dare to be Digital 2015

I recently attended the Dare to be Digital Protoplay festival in Dundee, Scotland and wanted to take a few minutes to write down my thoughts on the event.

Before I get into what I’ve learnt, I would like to mention why I was there. It was actually two fold – partly to help promote Invertical Touch but mainly to get involved with promoting a 24 hour gaming marathon called Sick Kids Save Point (or SKSP). In October I’ll be going through a relatively grueling experience of playing a variety of games as a fundraising activity for a sick kids hospital in Scotland.

1024x1024LogoFor Invertical Touch the event was very successful. I’m not sure if I’ll get many extra downloads of the paid for or free versions of the game but money and sales isn’t my only (or main) measure of success. Knowing people have played and enjoyed the game is what I really care about and over the last weekend I’ve seen at least a hundred, possibly more (I wasn’t keeping tabs), people play Invertical Touch and really enjoy it. Some people returned for a second go, even a third or fourth. Some kids had to be practically dragged away by their folks to visit another stand.

Commercially the event is of course a loss (at best paying back for the bottled water I took along…) but I’d take getting to see one person really enjoying playing my game over 50 faceless sales earning me 30p each.

dareoa

It surprised me how many younger kids really enjoyed playing the game. The controls can be a little hard, especially for small hands having to make quick movements between jumping and inverting, but even then they failed the same bit several times the kids kept trying. We hear about dumbing down of games in terms of difficulty for the younger gamer but I saw plenty determination to beat a level!

Perhaps the argument that games are dumbing down is more that they no longer severely punish the player for failing. Playing many classic games, if I screw up I might end up restarting the WHOLE sodding game. In modern games you are if anything encouraged to try new things. Don’t worry about failing, just keep trying. Personally I much prefer this!

Hopefully my presence at the event was beneficial to the SKSP team. Obviously as a participant and someone who really believes in the cause it was easy for me to talk about the event (well as easy as it gets when you are a shy and socially inept individual) but also having the game present meant that I could introduce the kid to the game and then talk to the parents about the charity.

I’ll be posting details about my plans for SKSP 2016 in a future post, although to read more (and donate!) visit my JustGiving page.

Touching on an article I wrote on my gaming blog, it was interesting to play other people’s games but I preferred just watching. There were some very novel and fun games to play such as Johann Sebastian Joust, a great physical game, Advance and a bee game that I forget the name of (one player was a bear legging it from bees) but I’ve found that playing games at events can be a sub par experience.

With several people about you can feel a touch rushed plus you are doing the first impressions and learning the ropes with someone watching. Every time I mess up, especially if I found it tricky or didn’t fully understand the game, it felt a little embarrassing plus I feel like I’m making the game that someone has worked hard on look rubbish when its probably just me.

When playing games at home I am happy to try, die, repeat but less so with someone watching. The pressure I add on myself makes it a less enjoyable experience, therefore I would rather stick to just watching. I can understand the gameplay concept and identify what makes the game fun. Then I can go home and check out the game some more!

One thing I learnt from the event was to be more focused. As with 2013, I took along several games and if someone struggled with Invertical Touch or my tablets were in use then I’d try showing other games. Lesser quality games at that. Not only does this not show my best work, but stopping and starting things isn’t ideal.

Additionally as well as being focused with my selections of games, the posters and resources need to be focused on providing the best introduction to the game. Players are interested in the game, not the “studio” (i.e. me) therefore I shouldn’t be taking Oxygen Addict cards and resources to events – it should be “Invertical Touch”. Additionally instead of plastering the name everywhere or using different art to show off the game, posters should tell people:

  • The name of the game.
  • Very basic premise.
  • Controls.

The latter is so obvious but nearly no one does it. Telling someone about what key to press before they’ve started doesn’t help. Instead knowing they have to perform an action, looking up and seeing “Press B to do action” is desirable. (minor finding – most people hate being reminded how to play!).

I also found a very quick demonstration was very useful. For Invertical Touch I could take 5-10 seconds to visibly show the controls and the mechanism.  This was usually

  • “To start with I can jump on to the white blocks”
  • *jumps onto white blocks*
  • “but when I press this button I change colour and now walk on the black buttons”
  • *press invert*
  • “I can’t change when I’m in front of blocks”
  • *press invert* nothing happens
  • “But if I jump then I can change”
  • *jump and invert”
  • Player goes “ahhhh I get it” and away they go.
  • I bugger off and leave them to it

Before I started doing that, I blurted out the premise (you change colour and that changes what you can walk on) and watched them have a go, get a bit confused then help them out. This gave them an introduction and let them get into the game without the awkwardness of being watched.

(FYI – tips were turned off as they got annoying, particularly if they repeat what I had just said verbally)

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The final thing about Dare that I’d like to discuss is the one negative that I have. The audience was one very distinct market. 99% of people at the stands were young kids with their parents. Don’t get me wrong, they were all lovely with very polite and friendly kids and it was an absolute pleasure to share my game with them. However it would be nice to see more older teenagers, students and young professionals there. Given Dundee has a large student population for a small city and a thriving development community, it is a bit of a shame that so few of the 18-30 year old gamers made it out. Many of the games there would probably appeal more to folk from this age range and we wouldn’t want the games that go to Dare to be too focused on young kids.

Sentimental about Invertical

During my time as a hobby game developer I have put together many quick projects but there’s one that I keep returning to.

PrototypeIt was 3 years ago today when I put together a very small prototype of Invertical. Strangely despite knowing that I wanted to do with the game with path finding puzzle gameplay, the prototype was heavily focused on jumping, despite being pretty awful to control (to be fair, this was an afternoon’s work!).

Those who played it liked the concept enough to encourage me to develop the game further.

Unlock bonus levels

Objective based levels

A few months later I released the game but I’ve never been happy, making several updates and trying out new ideas such as the Invert World section and bonus levels. Much of the newer levels being added were in mind for a mobile version and more objective based gameplay.

Whilst the bonus levels don’t have much story, there is a bit of thought behind each of the characters. For a period I had been playing about with a mobile version, building it up from the beginning and focusing on small levels and a series of stories. I have a few character ideas in mind and liked the idea of having small levels similar to the Invertical bonus levels but they’d be linked together. Many of my designs were about unique gameplay as well, including runner levels and very different puzzle styles.

The Vine-al Chapter

I released a “proper game”!

However when meeting the chaps from Hunted Cow they were keen to get involved and helped bring the original Invertical to mobile with a port the more desirable option than a long term project. Working on Invertical Touch has been an interesting project as the standard has been much higher. The artwork provided by Hunted Cow gave the game a whole new look and whilst it was sad to see Simon depart and his backstory fade, Qube is cute and the game had a lot more polish. It was a proper game! The first time that I’ve really felt that.

So far Invertical Touch hasn’t had the success we’d hoped, which was absolutely crushing, but the market is a lottery and there’s some cool changes coming. I’m still determined to make a success out of Invertical! This is partly because of the money invested but mainly to share my idea and passion for the project. Maybe once my current projects are done then I can make the Invertical game that I’ve really wanted!

If you’re interested in knowing more about the development, read more articles on Invertical and if you manage to 100% the PC version of the game there’s a hidden extra.

Update for Invertical available

The unique and charming puzzle platform game Invertical has been updated with a number of improvements.

Art Pass
The graphics have been tweaked slightly to give a slightly lower contrast, a bit more detail here and there. You’ll also see that now instead of the black borders at the side of the screen there is a grey pattern.

Level Design
The true enjoyment of Invertical is trying to figure out your route. Whilst the game needs some platforming challenge, aspects of it were maybe a little too hard. Now the more complex platforming elements have been simplified. Make no mistake though, this is still a tough game to complete! Especially if you try to collect all the books and scrolls! If you’ve had difficulty getting past a certain level, get the update and see if you can complete it now.

  • Controls: New controller support and improved control system.
  • Movement: You’ll no longer come to a stop when you land. Keep on running!
  • Front End: New GUI, most notably the Chapter Select screen.
  • Bug Fixes: As always, there’s been a host of bug fixes.

It is currently available on IndieCityItch.io and Desura.

Desura Digital Distribution

Invertical v1.3

Invertical v1.3

New ways to buy Invertical

There are some great new ways to buy the puzzle platform game Invertical.

As well as Indievania and IndieCity you can now buy it from two of the most well known sites around! Amazon have introduced digital downloads and Invertical is now available on Amazon.com for just $2.49. USA only though!

Many gamers will be familiar with the site and store “Desura”, probably the second biggest gaming market out there. Invertical is now available for purchase on Desura for £1.99 with options in a range of currencies. Buying on Desura will ensure that you’ll get all patches providing fixes and new content.

Finally if you don’t want to go through a third party client, why not get the direct download? This will give you the installer that can be straight installed.

All the links are on the Invertical page or to the right here. Regardless of where you get it from, Invertical provides hours of great entertainment for next to nothing!

 

Desura Digital Distribution

Buy on Amazon.com

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Invertical gets a major new update

The latest update to Invertical is now available with loads of new content as well as a host of improvements!

Better Control
Invertical now supports controller input. It has been designed to work with the Xbox controller but ought to be compatible with most game controllers, however the button layout may not be quite so logical. For many people using a controller is a more natural experience so if you’re uncomfortable with using the keyboard controls, this is for you. So long as you have a controller plugged in before launching the game you can freely switch between using the keyboard or controller. On the note of keyboard controls, you can now use the Up key to jump and down key to invert. This way if you’ve a large keyboard or for the younger gamer, smaller hands, this means less stretching!

New Start
The very first level has been completely changed. It will now introduce the player to the gameplay concepts of how and when to invert, rather than training the player on jumping. I’ve also changed the artwork so it is a little less of an assault on the eyes.

Unlock bonus levels

Unlock bonus levels

Bonus Levels
There are 150 collectible items within the many levels of Invertical, but why do you need to collect them? Well now you have an answer. Collecting all the books and scrolls in the chapter will unlock a unique bonus level. These levels have an extra objective to complete along the way, such as arming up to scare away a monster or retrieving Mrs Gragglepot’s cats.

Exploration
The old Great Big World has been replaced by a new area called The Invert World. Here you will find 15 rooms to explore and lots of books and scrolls to collect. Unlocked when you complete the main story, it is an extra area to potter around in and release your inner urge to collect.

Invert World

Alternate Ending
In the previous version of Invertical there was a right and wrong answer once you caught the final portal. This meant that you might not unlock the Invert World (or Great Big World as it used to be). Now this has been changed to an alternate ending that explores Simon’s character.

Getting to Know Simon
Simon has always longed for adventure, much like many of us (partly why I play games!) but what would you do if thrust into this situation? Would you suddenly become a hero or cower in a corner? The introduction to each level has been expanded to explore this and give you a greater insight into Simon’s state of mind.

And Much More!
If I keep going this post will be far too long but there’s been many more improvements. From fine tuning levels to an improved front end, you’ll find Invertical is a much better experience than before… and it was already a fun game to begin with!

Buy it now!
You can buy the latest version of Invertical from IndieCity for just £1.49. If you’ve previously bought the game on there just use the IndieCity client to update it!

Invertical Delays

Unfortunately the re-release of Invertical may be a little behind schedule.

I had hoped to release the massive new update to Invertical very soon and whilst I’m 99.9% happy with it, there’s a crash bug in the software that I use for developing Invertical that is preventing me from creating new builds & testing. Once its fixed I’ll be able to verify everything is fixed, create a new build and release it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable releasing knowing there’s a couple of bugs that I’d want fixing.I am also travelling for a short while and this will no doubt delay release a bit further. Not much I can do about these hold ups I’m afraid!

Regarding X-Orbtek II, that is in the final stages with the XBLIG version hopefully available in the next few weeks and the PC one around the same time.

Indie games press… I will be in touch soon 😉

New Invertical Demo Released!

Invertical is a unique and very enjoyable puzzle platform game where you will have to invert your colour between black and white to open up new routes.

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Invert your colour

The monochrome art style gives the game a simpl yet charming feel whilst giving a clear indication of the platforms. As with the full game, you will encounter several different themed areas with books and scrolls to collect. If you manage to find them all then you will unlock a special bonus level!

Bonus levels are new to Invertical and provide a nice new gameplay variation.

At just under 9Mb it is quick download and no installation is required.

You can also play the Invertical Demo in a browser, although please be aware that performance may not great.

Play In Browser

Invertical: Should players be able to skip levels?

Whilst work on X-Orbtek II is going at a pretty solid rate, the remake of Invertical has slowed down a little bit… after all there’s only so many hours in the day (curse you day job and sleep!). However there has been progress and I’m hoping on looking at a June re-release of Invertical with the Linux version out just after (or at the same time!).

With the new levels all built, just needing plenty playtesting & bug fixing, my coding focus now switches to the user interface. One of the key things that I’ll be introducing is a pause menu. This will include a few options that you can toggle and the option to skip the level.

The original intention here was to be for players who have already completely the chapter and are replaying for collectibles, or just the fun of it. However I’m rather tempted to just have it as an option all the time. On many games I have came across that one level, jump, puzzle or bad guy that I can’t beat. As a result I may have stopped playing and that isn’t a particularly great situation. The game developer has all this great content in the game yet I’m blocked from accessing it over one bit of gameplay. I’d hate for that to occur in Invertical.

On the other side of things, if I’m allowing players to just skip through the game then surely that devalues that whole achievement of playing through a game? The skill requirement and challenge is what makes players better at the game as well as providing satisfaction when they win.

Could this be a bad move or will it allow players to experience more of the unique and interesting levels in Invertical that they otherwise might not get to play?

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Invertical and the new types of levels

In my previous “Blog A Week” I reflected on the Great Big World. Previously as a reward for completing the story you unlocked one HUGE level but that had its flaws. To tackle this I’ve looked to create a series of smaller rooms.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Each room has a portal to save your progress (I may replace this with your classic disk sprite) and collectible items. The design is very much about puzzle solving your way to the books and scrolls then moving onto the next room. Each room is styled based on the main chapters in the game so you could climb up from the underground areas and enter a city level or go along to a castle.

I’m rather liking it and this could well be something that I look to use in future versions. I’ve actually had a play about with Invertical as a mobile game. A lot of the levels involve inverting whilst jumping diagonally. Unfortunately this is a bit too fiddly on a mobile device. In order to make the game work on Android/WP8/iOS the levels will all need redoing. However I feel that the design and structure of the new bonus and Great Big World levels are the foundations for a great mobile game.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. This PC version (definitely Windows, likely Linux too) has to get finished first and X-Orbtek II is shaping up rather nicely!

Invertical and the Great Big World

After completing the main game in Invertical you unlock “The Great Big World”, which is a huge level encompassing aspects from all of the different chapters. This allows for more in the way of exploration, however I’m not sure whether I like it any more.

Does this need replacing?

Does this need replacing?

On one hand being able to take your time and explore the worlds is an interesting and enjoyable experience but it can be hard to navigate your way around and there are performance impacts. I like the way that saving works so rather than being stop / start you have to find the portals. If you die, you lose everything. That said, you don’t really die. In fact I’d be tempted to remove all stuff that kills you! In fact I’m tempted to remove the whole damn level.

Obviously I don’t want to re-release Invertical with less content than there was originally but if I’m making major changes then coupled with my current improvements, I could just you know, redo everything and make it a sequel. However I’ve other projects on the go and I’d like to get this done. Decisions, decisions. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter (@OxygenAddictUK).