August 11, 2015 ryanjuckett No comments

INVERSUS Newsletter – August 11, 2015

The latest edition of the INVERSUS Newsletter has hit the shelves. Click here to read the full print, or read below for the highlights.

Steam Greenlight

On Sunday afternoon, INVERSUS officially entered the fray of Steam Greenlight. For those unaware, Greenlight is community driven method for making a game available on the Steam marketplace. Once passing the Greenlight process, I will gain access to the Steam SDK and be able to start integrating with their ecosystem (achievements, etc).

If you have a Steam account, you can go to this page to vote! So far it’s going really well. All the comments have been positive any we are (as of right now) 99% of the way to being in the top 100 games!

Bit Bash Chicago

INVERSUS is back on the road and the first stop is Chicago on August 22nd. The folks who run the Bit Bash indie game festival were fans of what they saw online and will be setting up a station for the game.

I’m also going to fly out and spend the day. I’ve never been to the windy city before and I think this will be a real fun excuse to visit! The event is at 1260 W Madison from 2-11PM.

Here’s a rad trailer showing a bunch of the stuff you can play if you come by.

PAX Prime

I’m thrilled to say that INVERSUS will be part of the Indie MEGABOOTH at PAX Prime this year! This is one of if not the best places to get to show an indie game to the masses and is a really big deal for getting the game out there. This year PAX is from August 28th – 31st at the Seattle convention center. Tickets have been sold out for a long while now so you likely know whether or not you’ll be there.

Specifically, I’ll be demoing as part of the MINIBOOTH section of the larger MEGABOOTH. Just look out for the area with a bunch of kiosks instead of booths and you can find me. I’ll be there all four days. If you want to talk to me when I’m dead tired and have lost my voice, stop by on the final day.

The game even got a spot in the official trailer!

August 8, 2015 ryanjuckett One comment

Subtle Squish

Adding an assortment of subtle polish items to your game is a great way to create that je ne sais quoi that leads to comments about fluidity, feel, and tight controls. Each little bit might not have a huge impact, but the summed result separates you from the crowd.

Inversus has a very minimalist aesthetic and at first blush a build of the game from a year ago might be hard to distinguish from what I have now. However, what I have now looks and feels an order of magnitude better. One of the comments I often get is how smooth the game looks, but its a bit hard to pinpoint why unless you know about all the things to look for. Today I’m going to talk about the most recent one of those things.

I made a new trailer last week which you can see below. The video opens up with the player bashing into a wall. This impact hadn’t received much love prior to recording so I used it as an impetus to spruce things up. When first prototyping the game, player ships would just slide around the screen as static images. Honestly, to most people that is still what it looks like they are doing, but at the same time it “feels” better. One part of that feel is the subtle application of squash and stretch.

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I want the ships to maintain their original rigidity. It helps sell the neo-arcade vibe and gives them strength. On the other hand, I want the screen to be very reactive to player input and movement. I want fluidity. To get this balance, I apply a hint squash and stretch. This bit of flavor has been part of player motion for around a year, but it was not part of smacking into walls until last week.

Below you can see the three stages of iteration. In game, this all animates at a smooth 60fps so this isn’t a perfect 1-to-1 representation, but it gets the point across. You might want to block out two of the animations with your hands to help focus on each individually.

Top: Perfect rigid motion (this is how the game started)

Middle: Squash and stretch while moving (this is how the game was for the past year)

Bottom: Squash and stretch while moving and on impact (this is how the game is now)

Let’s take a look at stills from the three most important states.

  • On the left you can see all three iterations have the same square stationary state.
  • Once the player starts moving, the later two iterations stretch ever so slightly in the direction of motion and squish perpendicular to the direction of motion. The difference is on the order of a few pixels, but it really makes a difference to how your brain processes the screen.
  • Finally, at the right bottom you can see the player ship briefly squish up against the wall. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stretch past its stationary width during the squish. Adding a couple more pixels of counter stretch here will likely make this interaction feel even a more natural and I’ll slip that in sometime this week.

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If you are passionate about feel and creating satisfying interactions, I suggest looking at each action of your game, no matter how small, and gracing it with with a hint of life.

 

July 31, 2015 ryanjuckett No comments

New Power-Ups

For a long time, Inversus only featured a single pickup type, the red fast bullet. Let’s talk about some new additions to the team!

Smash

smashPicking up the smash item turns your ship red. You have a few seconds of speed boost and the ability to smash through cells on contact without spending any ammo.

Feedback wise, I’ve added some subtle controller rumble on each block break. The acquisition sound is still the same as for the fast shots and might need to change. The biggest issue, however is that you don’t get any audiovisual feedback regarding how much longer the power lasts. At minimum, it needs some sort of accelerated blink over the last couple seconds.

Shield

shieldThe shield pickup puts a red border around your ship. It lets you take an extra hit before losing the match.

Currently the shield lasts until the rounds ends or until it breaks from being shot. This is proving to drag matches out and it also makes it less exciting for the pickup to respawn while you are still shielded. The next step is likely going to be turning it into a timed mechanic (similar to the smash pickup but longer). Hopefully, this will force some aggressive risk taking during this period of safety.