Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Auld lang syne.

Man that song / poem has a kind of depressing tone to it, doesn't it?

Let's ring in the new year by framing out existence as a brief, unreal phrase in a broader, likely-meaningless fairy tale.

Classic cold-weather cynicism.


In the spirit of a swiftly-forgotten New Year's resolution, I'm going to write a little more. Be it these blogs, or other things. Not Twitter. Although that should probably be on there too.

So let's talk a little about this or that.

It's almost hypnotic. I wonder if speeding things up by 175%
is a weird psychological hack.
A way to trigger that "did I miss anything?" response in the viewer.
It's cold, California. It's cold.

And I'm on Day 3 of a "Cube & Star" development burst.

And the build, as it stands, looks a little something like this big old sped-up GIF you see to our respective lefts.

I'm pretty sold on spindle-vision as a final, releasable view for the game.

It was and remains a difficult choice.

The most outstanding "pro" is that it makes interesting screenshots / videos.
Originally, Cube & Star was a tricky sell because it's limited appeal wasn't immediately apparent. It needed a little time investment. A little love. And that.... makes it difficult to draw a player in.

My biggest concern - and we'll call it the "con" - is that it will detract from the "I'm painting a larger canvas" sensation.
It miiiiight also make the world feel a little smaller (because psychologically, the player will believe that the world is twice the size of the visible area, as it appears to be a sphere).

Time will tell. Time, and rash tobacco-driven balcony-decisions.

And then we come to flood fill. The most controversial function.

In this instance, we've made a very soothing salmon-color.
You see, those symbols represent the notes we've played.
And the final one, based on colors, speed and rhythm.
the ultimate color
You see....

It allows the player to mix together any color they like, and flood an area with it.

Which means that... pending a player's grasp of the mechanic, the world can get ugly quickly.

And an ugly world is a quit-able world.

Again, I took to the balcony to meditate....

And made a string of rash design decisions - ranging from "don't worry about it, ship it" to "cut it" and finally to a more moderate "reframe it and reward ugliness".

Where "reward" is meant in the abstract sense.

And so here we sit. World stretched taut over a sphere. Whiteboard "To do" list growing at a rate of 3:1 new/completed.

But I think we're getting to a nice, comfortable place. We're nearing some sort of cohesion.

And then there's this....

"This tweet, written in a Vorticon-inspired, made-up alphabet, for probable use in mid-game Cube & Star."
Which is a whole different thing.

For a whole different time.

Coming to you from 2014.

-Joshua McGrath


  1. The world does look very tiny that way. I just found Cube & Star on Steam over the holidays, and I'm hooked. But what percentage of the world are you actually showing on such a spindle? Because if that's a quarter of the world, I think the demo is bigger -- and I find that hard to believe!

  2. Oh thanks so much! I'm always amazed when people stumble across the demo.

    Oh man... I think... the total world in the demo (and in this version) is around 300x300, and the spindle shows around 30x30). It behaves exaaactly like in the demo, just constantly streaming across and across.

    Oh oh - it's actually showing the same amount you see in the demo, it's just... wrapping it all around in a sphere.

    Thanks so much for playing, and for commenting! It's so so rare that I get an email to say "You've got a comment!" and it's actually a legitimate comment.

  3. That means the spindled picture only shows 1% of the world. You could always add a line "area represented is approximately 1% of total world area." That would help a bit.

    I've spent about 9 hours on the demo and am looking forward to the complete game. Do you have a release date yet, or just sometime soon?

  4. Whoa, 9 hours! Man, that... fills me with joy. I'm so happy that something I made is interesting enough for people to immerse themselves in. Thankyou!

    I can't remember if it's in the demo, but there's a world map in the current build - which should give a nice idea of scale. _And_ if you were patient enough, I guess you could draw pictures with it.

    But man, I was thinking last night about some sort of indicator onscreen to hint at the breadth of the world. I'll have to meditate on it.

    We're releasing the full version at the end of this month - maaaybe around the 20th or so.
    Releasing things is _tricky_ - you never quite feel like it's ready for the world, but... you have to let your babies grow up some time, I guess!