Spectrum Break is now available on Itch.io as well!
Recent community posts
Spectrum Break is coming to steam on March 29th!
Thank you all for pushing me to release a full game. I've been working on Spectrum Break for a year and a half now and you have no idea how much releasing this game means to me. :)
You can add Spectrum Break to your steam wishlist now at: http://store.steampowered.com/app/765490/Spectrum_Break/
Please message me! I want to hear from you. https://twitter.com/JasonDavidHein
With the art for the steam page done we're now almost ready to reveal the release date. Neither of us had made a trailer before so it's taken some time.
The finishing touches have been added, with steam cloud sync and achievements.
We're so close now. Get hyped.
Finished steam box art.
Added steam api, achievements, and cloud sync.
Added the api of a console we were accepted to.
Added a new type of block.
Added a texture to static blocks (the platform you start on).
Added a setting to disable the background falling stars (for lower end machines).
Increased tutorial image size.
Increased physics accuracy.
This week we've been working on stuff for the steam page and polishing the game.
After going through a few more playtesters the 50 levels we have now are well playtested. I've started working with the steam api so if you have ideas for cool achievements, now is the time to share.
Edited levels (50 are now well playtested).
Fixed not being able to select the rotation sensitivity slider in scenes other than the one you changed the manual rotation toggle in.
Updated some of the smaller letters.
Reduced launcher volume.
Increased minimum zoom. Reduced zooming out.
Reduced final block influence on the camera.
Added attached jump particles.
Added a select sound for joysticks and keyboard input.
You can now go slightly off screen without resetting the level.
Changed arrow look and shade.
Increased block collision particles.
Blocks that are far off screen now play a particle effect on the edge of the screen.
Started working with the steam api.
Ease of Controls
When I first started the game, the idea was there, but the average player had difficulty with the rotation controls I initially had on by default. Those are still an option in game for people who want that challenge, but after several months of testing new control schemes for player rotation I managed to automate the player rotation enough that the rotation controls are defaulted to being off.
Some games are literally built by having unintuitive control schemes, but if that isn't the core of your game, we generally want as few buttons/keys involved as possible so the average player can pick up the game, but to have those few buttons enable deep/precise techniques. The best way to explain it is to just watch Mark Brown's explanation of versatile verbs. I removed rotation controls, but a lot of what you could do before is still possible just out of the jump button. You can wall jump, and push stuff around still, and jumping still pushes the block you jumped off away from you.
As a general rule, you either want to commit to the difficulty of the controls being the core of the game, or to commit to the other half and get the difficulty of the game to not come from the controls at all.
My level difficulty has gone up and down, hitting both extremes along the way. After playing my own game for a year and a half almost every day, I've gotten incredibly good at it. I can basically speedrun the entire 2.5 hour game in 20 minutes, which makes testing with friends and family the only true way to know how challenging a level is or how long the game actually takes to beat.
When I started the difficulty sort of came half from the controls, and I had to add a bunch of simple levels early on to give the player time to get used to them, but as I automated the rotation controls, the player's learning speed improved dramatically and many of those early levels weren't necessary. Luckily nothing in level design is ever wasted, as I took some of the better parts of those levels and used them to strengthen the others.
There are lots of guides out there to teaching a new player through gameplay, which is what I do throughout the game, but there isn't a lot of guides for turning average players into veterans. Now that I'm nearing the end of the game I get to make truly challenging levels, but as someone who's played a lot of my game, I can tell you it can be hard to not have that itchy trigger finger to accidentally make super hardcore stuff instead of continuing a difficulty curve until the player is ready. This is why testing the game with friends and local developers is the core of my game development practice.
Generally I make levels with a purpose, many of which start out with less options to win than people expect of my game. Then I sand off the edges as I watch people come up with interesting ways to beat the level I hadn't thought of. So often levels start out smaller with a few extremely challenging areas, but as the level takes mold from player testing it tends to grow and the difficulty is more spread out.
Difficulty vs Punishment
Difficulty is not the same as punishment. As a general note, if you want to induce tension you must have punishment for failure, which thrills some players. If you wish to have no tension you must have no punishment for failure for a pure funhouse style game. Most games are somewhere in between. Both punishing games and non punishing games can be engaging. My game has a 0.25s respawn time and the music doesn't reset. I want you to get right back into the game with little punishment. However in a similar vein, the later levels are larger, and when you lose a larger level you lose more progress. I've seen some of the later levels induce a lot of tension. This is intentional, as the later levels are meant to be a challenge you should feel good for mastering.
Great news! I now work on Spectrum Break full time. There are no distractions now.
For the past 3 weeks I have been testing and making levels. Level 36+ are massive compared to some of the earlier ones (including the prototype levels) so they take quite some time to make. You can see some of them above as I needed screenshots for the store page when it is ready. We've begun working on the trailer now. When that's done we'll be ready to announce release dates.
A few days ago I had a friend playtest the game while I watched and it took him over 2 and a half hours to beat the game. Considering he's played the game before things are looking good in terms of content.
My winter break was relaxing. I spent some time with family and friends, played the games I didn't have time for this year, and finally have enough saved up to work on the game full time. As stressful as things can be trying to get everything ready, I can't ignore how well everything seems to be going. It's awesome.
7 levels added. Level count is now 50 (45 are well playtested).
Added slants to shaped blocks.
Added new arrow block sounds.
Removed the static from the credits music.
Increased menu font size.
Removed odd lines that were visible on the A and R blocks.
Slightly reduced the respawn time and initial look time.
You can now jump on the attachment lines of attached blocks.
The camera now checks if any blocks are on screen once every 2s, and attempts to change the view to keep at least one unlit block on screen.
Removed right thumbstick and D-pad input due to windows 7 input bug (unity bug).
Secrets are now always revealed. They are still a challenge to collect.
If speedrun mode is enabled the credits will show session time, and the number of secrets collected this session. These counts are reset when you enter the main menu, and become active when you enter any level from the main menu.
Reduced the player move sound.
When a secret is hit, the pie chart at the top right gains a red tint.
Increased the stand up rate of the player.
Hey, It's been 3 weeks and I have not been idle. With the first 35 levels done I have switched to making levels for another block type and adding polish features. It feels pretty good to have most of the game release ready.
With this update my to-do list has started to shorten, and a lot of the polishing is done. The main menu looks awesome. It's just about levels, APIs, testing, and releasing now, with the exception of the odd new feature I come up with. I have a few I may add.
The steam page is in progress. Now that the visuals have gotten a final tune up I can finally make the final screenshots and videos for the store pages. A lot of people have been asking about the release date. I do not have one yet, but I believe 4-5 months is a good bet. I want to be patient and release a complete game.
It's getting pretty crazy on my end. I've been developing while working out the logistics of what my next step is. I would really like to be able to develop full time. I might try raising the funds to do that.
I've applied for a government grant and I think the presentation went well. Wish me luck because if we get selected we'll be getting another developer. Which means more content.
I have a gaming booth at the Montreal Indie Games Festival next week. There will be all 40 levels there if you want to try it and meet me in person.
Merged the better parts of 2 old levels into one level.
Removed an old level that didn't have enough purpose.
Added 2 more levels to replace the 2 above.
Added level complete text.
Added reset button image to the menu.
Added teleport to the credits.
The music now fades when it changes.
Blocks no longer play particles again on win, if the block already has particles.
Added screen shot key 'P'.
Fixed the wall jump tutorial instantly fading away.
You can now skip the initial camera look with any input.
Temporarily removed the already activated block collide sound.
So I went to CGX Montreal and had a good time. The feedback I got there had changed the tutorials of the game. I realized that no one reads on screen tutorial text.
On Saturday I had a full day where all I did was clean the codebase and optimize. It felt pretty great. I'm going to another event in Montreal soon. I'll have a booth at the Montreal Indie Games Festival in November.
As a side note I discovered this week that I could make meme levels in 15 minutes or less. I'll have to think of something.
Removed text tutorials. Removed old level 1 and moved those tutorials to the old levels 2 & 4, which are now levels 1 and 3.
Added a new level 4 and edited several old levels.
Improved camera shake.
Added the following sounds. Menu select, block collision, secret activating.
The main menu now includes the main character jumping across the letters.
Increased particle color. Reduced the falling stars size to compensate.
Cleaned codebase and optimized code.
Increase player horizontal control.
Fixed a bug which would enable double jumping.
The game now checks if all the blocks left are off screen and adjusts the view to compensate (checked when a block is hit).
Changed player collision particles to be a darker red.
Increased block glow size slightly.
Two massive changes this week.
1. You can now download the Spectrum Break demo on Android.
2. Sound effects have been added.
I'll be at the Capital Gaming Expo in Montreal this weekend. If you're a game developer and want to meet up, you can find me there.
Created an android demo (including mobile menu, HUD, tutorial, and optimization).
Added sound effects.
Added credits level.
Set a maximum particle effect limit for massive platforms.
The level select menu now selects to current level immediately.
Removed the level name text in the menu.
Edited read me.
Made menu text much larger.
Changed player particles to bright red.
Added rotation control images to the settings menu.
In addition to the improved glow effects, I've added some community suggestions this week like a speed run mode.
I have enough automatic rotation now to turn off the rotation controls that most players had difficulty with, but I'm a big fan of hard games so a manual rotation mode has been added that brings the control scheme to its roots.
With 40 levels done it's about time I started finishing up some of the features I've planned. The coming weeks will involve a lot more coding, animation and sound effects.
Improved glow effects.
Added new music for levels 21-40.
The lighting of the scene no longer changes as the platforms are hit.
Added 3 levels and replaced an old level with a better one.
Edited several levels.
Darkened a few bright colors.
Removed some unneeded serialized data.
Replaced auto skip with speedrun mode. Toggling this on skip the level view times and shows the following timers while playing. Level time, Best Time, Session Time.
Added manual rotation mode.
Rotation controls are now turned off by default.
Added manual rotation mode. Toggling this on turns off most automatic rotation and enables the rotation controls.
This week was one of planning. I've done three blind playtests this week and with it comes several edits to old levels and a better idea of the features that will be included when the game is done.
If you are wondering why the rotation tutorial is removed, it is because I think I will be turning it off by default, and adding a "Manual" rotation setting as an option.
Edited several levels and added 3 more (now at 37 total).
Jumping off a steep incline will now rotate the player to a standing position.
Removed the rotation controls from the level one tutorial.
Darkened the orange color.
Added a short respawn time.
This week I've been organizing friends to playtest the first 32 levels of the game. It's about an hour of gameplay so far. To smooth out the learning curve I've ended up adding a lot more levels before the arrow platform is introduced than I expected. So it looks like each new platform type will be used for 20 levels. Either way, the results have been good. :)
Theprototype now includes 10 levels, and has gained numerous small improvements to the controls, camera, respawning, and effects.
Level 39 and all it's glory. There is a lot you can do with some simple force physics, and it's an interesting twist to what people expect of moving platforms. When you touch an arrow platform it pushes itself in that direction.
This is where the secret platform is in level 2. Each level has an invisible red box that is revealed when something comes close. When you activate a secret box and finish the levels, that level shows up as red in the level select menu.
Here is what is currently level 13 of the game. The later levels have gotten much larger than the earlier levels.
If you'd like more specific details on the changes you can check out the full changelog here https://spectrumbreak.com/blog/
The prototype for Spectrum Break is done, and thus for the past 2 weeks I've been working on the rest of the levels. 16 are done already!
I've also been working on minor adjustments to improve the feel of the game, which get uploaded to the demo weekly.
Break Things. Make Rainbows.
Use your platforming skills to light up every block. There are no defined routes. Even when seemingly defeated, there is almost always another way to win.
I just made my unity2D camera tools free for you to use.
As a quick summary, included are scripts to help you track 2D environments. When setup, the camera will follow objects in your scene, or zoom to fit them all, or use input from the player to track the scene, etc...
If you want to see them in action. I'm currently using them to build my game Spectrum Break
Spectrum Break is a single player platformer on non solid ground. Nearly every platform floats and can be pushed or kicked around. When moved, the platform lights up. Light up every platform to win.
I've been working on the game for about 6 months, and a sound guy joined the team recently. The game is still in development but I've been updating the demo weekly. I hope you enjoy it!