Post-mortem of Six Sides of the World

Six sides of the World released some time ago. Not too many days back we added a whole new layer of content for the game. I think it’s time to take a look to the past and do a Post-Mortem of the game as we keep working in some prototypes of what occasionally will become Cybernetik Design’s next title, but we will talk about this topic in the future, now let’s focus on the past.

The game was developed in the spare time of Emilio, the one-man-army behind the development. It lasted approximately one year while he was working for another game company.

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Good sides of the cube

The concept

The idea was crystal clear from the very beginning of the development cycle and it holded up with every new mechanic and level idea. Things like the cubic shape gave the game that affordable layer of complexity but with a good playability even when some special shapes came up.

The gameplay itself is rock solid and its usability is very good. Players were able to play without problems and they understood the mechanics easily and progressively. This was due to the level design, that was meant to teach by playing, serving the mechanics one by one as the player progresses through the game. We did an indirect tutorial, teaching at the same time the player goes on and being part of the main story.

No bottlenecks

We are not newbies in the industry even when Six Sides of the World is our first published game. Emilio worked for several Spanish game companies before working on Six Sides and that was a key to the success of the development.

As we said before, Six Sides of the World was developed in Emilio’s spare time and its expertise let him design the code, classes and the communication between the layers fast and with barely no need to redesign the schema.

That is very important in software development, because a bad design will need to be adjusted, or even redone, and this will need more time than you may think, because you’ve created some mechanisms in the code that will not feed the redesign, and trying to keep it working will lead the code to a worse performance and a higher error rate.

Level design workflow

Last but not less, the method behind the level creation was simple, but was versatile enough to let us design the special cubes like these with holes or inverted faces.

Its characteristics appeared organically as we developed the game and they worked flawlessly even with the special scenarios mentioned before.

Once more, this potentially saved us a lot of development time. When you design a workflow you will assume some tradeoffs and a bad decision may lead you to redo this methodology or even worst, you may have created some tools, and if they don’t fit well, you may need to redo the tools, and the assets!


The dark sides of the cube

Pathfinding

When you rely in a third party engine the main reason is because it will save you time by offering solutions to the typical tasks you do in a game. Things like loading models, applying materials and managing scenes and an so on.

Pathfinding is a group of algorithms that let a gameobject find a way through the level to go from A to B. Unity3D comes with a pathfinding solution and it works well… meanwhile your game does not play in cubic planets.

We needed to write our own pathfinding code to be able to work on the six sides of the world, and it was time consuming in something engine related and not game related.

The initial diffusion

Six sides of the World was developed by Emilio and he originally published by himself. The lesson learned the hard way was contundent. Making the game is only one part of the equation, selling it, creating and maintaining a community and the bureaucracy behind the business side was too much for a one man army.

When the game is “ready” (in the technical way), you need the urge to publish it, it’s done, right? But that was a very bad idea. The game needs to be discovered, and you have two options. You can spend money to buy ads, reviews and other marketing stuff, or you can grow a community waiting for your game.

As an little indie studio we can’t afford the first option, and we underestimated the effort you need to do to generate a community. It’s a daily basis work, paying attention to the people one by one, and this requires time. We did not invested enough.

The lack of a narrative

Well, the title does not fit the reality. The game had lore from the very beginning. In fact, Emilio is a writer too, and Six Sides of the World storyline was in his head.

But having ideas and creating a narrative it’s not the same. It needs time and effort and finally it was stripped off the game until now we updated the game to add this new content.

If you played the game before this last update you may remember that there were some clues about existing “something more”. For example the green cubes were present, and the idea was to add the narrative tied to them.


Conclusions

Developing a game in your spare time has risks like we explained in this post-mortem, but the pressure of timing or sell expectations are lighter.

However this is a first step to enter the industry, and it’s a model that we will not be able to repeat. Towards the next project we will apply the experience earned this this project and reach better results. Obviously, we will reach you to tell about the development news.

If you want to be aware of Cybernetik Design news, you can follow us in Twitter and Facebook.

Working slow but safe on Six Sides

Hi!

We are on June, but the development has suffered a little delay. Since the last post until now I’ve been a little busy (remember, this is a one-man team working on his spare time), first preparing some surprises for my only sister’s wedding. It was a mid-ages wedding and I was the only one in the family with the necessary background about the theme, so I was in charge to make cool things, and engage all family and friends to be part of the surprises. It took more time than expected, so a there was a month lost from the development, but I don’t regret it, it was done for my sister, it was a very fun party and I was dressed as a knight, even with my own sword, so it was very cool.

After the wedding, some friends asked me to give a speech about how is to work on the videogame industry, so I did it. You can find the video here, but it’s in spanish (and I am a very fast speaker).

Finally, I attended the PAD congress, and indie event in Barcelona in which I could showcase Six Sides of the World and obtain great feedback. It was a success for the game, and lots of people chose the game as one of the three best ones, which is hard for a puzzle game.  The game also demonstrated to be very polished and the Game and Level designers from other studios were impressed about the level design, so be prepared for a great puzzle game.

Nominations on the PAD congress
Nominations on the PAD congress

But not all the time has been lost, I also made some new levels, fixed some bugs, modified the difficulty from others and make a new video in which all the levels shown are from the real game, not only level concepts.

By the way, all the music themes are finished and they sound great, so be preapared for an awesome soundtrack.

There is still some work to be done, but mostly on the level part, so I hope, at the end of summer to have the game finished and ready for launch on Steam!

From this very moment you’ll see more frequent updates about the game status.

See you soon!

April 2015 update

Since January a lot of work has been done. We created new levels, upgraded some graphics and gameplay. And then, a beta test begun. We got very possitive feedback and some interesting details and ideas that have been implemented into the game:

  • Upgrade the camera code to make it move smoother
  • Redesign the World selection maps, and reflect the changes inside the affected levels. Now we have planets, asteroid fields and more
  • Decrease the difficulty of some levels
  • The floating texts weren’t being noticed, so we added floating banners to give them visibility
  • Camera shake when something explodes
  • Set a color code for the wormholes. Now you can guess where they will lead you
  • Added Intro – outro animations to each level.

This work has given to the game a new appeal and it looks more finished and polished. We still have to change the sound effects by others with more quality, and also some new music soundtracks are needed, but apart of this tasks, the next step is to add the remaining levels. We hope to have them finished by august. The game is nearly finished!!!! There are some of the new screenshots of the game with all the changes made during this time.

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We have also recorded a new gameplay video, showing a little bit of the level design. Some levels contains more than one puzzle, and they’re mixed together creating a puzzle with solutions of different difficulty, each one leading you to a new level. In this way, all players can enjoy and finish the game: if you can not solve the difficult part, you can always follow the easy path to the end of the game.

Six Sides of the World Greenlighted!

Two days ago, Six Sides of The World was finally greenlighted. That’s like an amazing Christmas gift for us!

Since the last update we have been working adding more levels, and improving the overall game with some changes and features, like the complete redesign of the gameplay of the black and white levels or the improvement of the level reload times.

Now it’s time to finish the game! The rest of the levels are awaiting for us!

Thanks to all for your support!

And here is a image from one of the new black and white levels.

Ready for the contest

Three months has passed since we started the GreenLight campaign of Six Sides of the World. We still have not been approved, but the game is receiving votes day by day.

Since then we’ve been working on the creation of the game levels, fixing bugs and preparing the game for some contests. One of these contests is IndieCade, one of the most important ones about indie games. The other one is, of course, The Independent Games Festival, but IndieCade subscription opens first, so we’ve been working hard to have the game ready for it.

At this time the game is not completed, lots of levels have to be created and,  also, the game still needs polishing, some little details, and bug fixing, but is on a really good playable state, with twenty levels and two hours of complete gameplay from the beginning.

We’ve been testing the game progression with some players, and  that helped us to fix some bugs, polish some important details, and rethink some puzzles, just because, they could break them or discovered some errors on them. But, the most important thing is that they had a lot of fun with the game, even when they’ve not listened to the incredible music that Carlos Viola is composing. We’ve added  the music a couple of days ago.

So, we’ve now enter the IndieCade contest. We know the competition will be extremely hard, but we’re happy about how the game is going. Maybe we cannot even reach a finalist nomination, but we’ll be honored if we can get one.

During the development of  the game some of the previous concept levels have been changed or even discarded because they didn’t fit on the real game progression, so we’ve reflect these changes on the current game captures. Also, we’ve added a new video showing the gameplay from one of the levels from world 2.

This video contains a little surprise. As you can see, this level has two exits, why? Because we’ve created a non linear gameplay experience. Some levels have more than one exit. Some exits are harder to reach than others. So, the easy ones carry the player to the standard game progression line, with easiest levels to play, which allow him to reach the end of the game without problems. But, for advanced and experienced players, and those who want a deeper and harder experience, the hard exits leads them to harder, more complex, even spacial levels, rewarding them for their effort.

This progression makes the game suitable and enjoyable by most players, giving them what they really want from the game: Just complete going straightforward to the end, or have the chance to explore every corner of the levels, study the complex puzzles that allow them to find a exit to the optional levels and complete all the challenges of the game.

Now is time to keep working on Six Sides. We hope to post news soon!

Remeber: Six Sides of the World is still on Steam Grenlight waiting for your votes.

Introducing Carlos Viola as music composer

Hi again!

I said I wouldn’t update the website until I had a new game trailer, but always it’s a good time to change your mind.

Today I won’t show nothing about the Six Sides Of The World, but I want to announce you the collaboration of Carlos Viola as the game soundtrack composer.

He’s a friend of mine, an indie musician with whom I’ve also worked on other projects, like Rotoro’scope: The Secret of the Endless Energy and The Pilgrim’s Codex. He is also the composer of the pixelated adventure The Last Door. I hope you like the new soundtrack he will compose (because the music you’ve heard until now comes from stock music sites).

If you want to know more about his work, you can visit his pesonal site.

See you soon!

New planet sets, elements and improved graphics.

Hi again. These past two months have been very, very productives. I was on holidays for three weeks, so I took the time to improve the game.

First of all, the garden planet set graphis have been improved, but also, I’ve made two new ones: A pure color set and a mechanical one, and, about the volcanic planets, I’ve removed them.

The pathfinding code have also been improved, and now, it works better than ever before. But that’s not all in the code part, because some new gameplay elements have been added, like some cool new asteroids.

And I’m nearly to finish all the gameplay elements, I think I only have to make the satellites and one more. Some of the initial elements have been discarded.

So I won’t update the website in two or three months, but after that a new teaser trailer will be released, with some surprises, and also the posting of the project to the Steam Greenlight vote zone.

And of course, I don’t forget the screenshots:

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See you soon!

Playing with lasers

Hi!

Just to begin, I want to say that while I was testing some levels created with all the gameplay elements of the game I enjoyed them very muchI am sure you will love the game when you play it.

This two months have been very productive. On this time I’ve added five new gameplay elements:

  • Light Barriers, with three function modes: Avoid all, Avoid lasers and Avoid solid objects to pass.
  • Antennas, to connect elements from different planets
  • Refractors, to split laser beams
  • Mirrors, to reflect laser beams
  • Laser activators, in two flavors: Activator to switch the objects on and activator to modify the behavior of the elements (like switch buttons)

Now it’s time to fix some bugs I’ve found while I was crafting some of the new test levels, and also, update the pathfinding code (or remove it all), because it does not work properly when there is lots of elements that can change the way they allow to pass the player. And of course, I’ll add some new elements like mechanisms, and other secret ones (I want to surprise you when you play the game).

And here is one of the levels I told you about at the begining of the post:

That’s all for now.

See you soon!

Lots of code and new elements

Hi!

This time, there has been more work done on the code part than the visual, so, after a month and a half, the updates on the project may seem very few, but it’s not the case.

  • The camera code has been improved and now works better when moving between planets
  • New code on the laser turrets allow them to destroy Maigo after a hit
  • Maigo can be destroyed by lasers (and future hazards)
  • The Laser turrets and teleports code has been improved to support a new element: Switch buttons, that can change an element behavior in several ways.
  • Updated the multi-teleports for asymmetrical travel, changed the visual style and code improved to support switch buttons
  • Wires to connect buttons with other elements have been rebuilt from scratch

Next time I will try to add one or two gameplay elements and maybe some new backgrounds.

And here is the screenshot with the new Multi-teleports and the switch buttons.

Making the games we like in the way we like