Theme America

Totem Topple’s distinctive art style is one of the things that makes the game really stand out from the crowd, but how did the Native American theme come about?

It was in fact one of the earliest decisions we made when creating the game. After having settled on the initial design of a tower defence game, but in a single tower, there was a strong desire not to default back to the “usual” video game themes. No spaceships and lasers, no pseudo-medieval Europe fantasy worlds. Not because those things aren’t cool, but because they’re overdone and cliche’d.

concept art _1

The idea of a totem pole made a great fit conceptually with the game mechanics, which naturally lead to the native American theme.

Of course, we often talk about native American culture as a single thing, but there are significant differences between different tribes and regions. Totem poles have their origins in North West USA and Western Canada, and are not universal to all tribes.

Unfortunately the desert setting used in the game’s backgrounds doesn’t really match that, the mesas and mountains in the game being more akin to those found in the South West USA. Whilst we may add alternative background environments in the future, the more important thing to get right is to not accidentally cause offense with inappropriate use of what for many people is important and meaningful stuff.

In particular, we’ve avoided directly copying real world totem heads, wings or other artifacts and pieces of art. Often, they can represent specific spirits, Gods or ancestors, something that applies not just to Native Americans, but also other cultures who have totem poles or similar wooden sculptures. Of course, we’re always looking for feedback. Our hope is that even if the game is more “inspired by” native American culture more than being a true reflection, it’s at least inoffensive and maybe enough to inspire a few people to find out more about the real culture.

Getting Help!

Teaching new players a game is a dark art. It’s something that can vary hugely from game to game, and have a massive impact on players’ enjoyment, yet is discussed nowhere near as much as it ought to be.

Ideally there should be many different, complimentary systems in a game to allow player learning, catering for how different people learn in different ways. For Totem Topple, it’s an area where we’re constantly looking to improve, but for now, we have a few ways to help new players:

frantic tutorial

Tutorial

There’s an argument that well designed games shouldn’t need any sort of formal tutorial. That intuitive controls and smart level design will teach players through action and interactivity (or rather, trial and error). Whilst that’s the ideal solution for many games, it’s not appropriate for every game. Especially those, such as Totem Topple, which have a layer of conceptual abstraction: The player doesn’t actually have an avatar physically building the totem pole for them.

For Totem Topple, we have a “jump through hoops” style tutorial, where players are required to perform specific tasks, accompanied by contextual information explaining why they need to do them. Fortunately, most of the subtle complexity of Totem Topple comes from the decisions the player makes, rather than mastering the mechanics.

The tutorial teaches the player how to press the buttons, without telling them which buttons might be good or bad to press in any particular scenario.

Pause Help

However, it’s difficult to work out what each totem piece does simply from observing what they do in game. The heads in particular, there are no obvious clues from the way they look as to what exactly they do, (aside from delay inevitable death by making your totem pole that little bit taller). That’s largely a consequence of the art style used in the game, which for various reasons we can’t really change.

Instead, Totem Topple has an in game Help system. Players can call up the help system at any time, pausing the game and allowing them to get both descriptions and the underlying numbers / stats on different heads. Importantly, when played in Off-TV mode, players can also call up information on enemies and heads in play. This way, they can see the actual effect of placing this wing on that head, or how much damage this enemy took from that beak.

classic help

Feedback

Feedback is one of the more subtle systems to help bind action with consequence. It’s all the little visual and audio cues and clues that most of the time are only picked up subconsciously by the player. It could be as simple as having a sound play when a player presses a button, or having a big red minus flash when an enemy does damage to a wing or head. This is one area in particular we’re going to be adding to in the run up between now and launch.

 

A Classic Strategy

A lot of people playing Totem Topple have commented that they’d like a slower paced game. One where they can sit and think tactics, and where reaction times aren’t so critical to success.

Rather than change the game completely, we decided to add in a new mode. We dubbed it “Strategic” mode, owing to the slower, more cerebral type of gameplay we were looking to create. Initially, strategic mode consisted of slower enemies and longer times between waves, to give the player more time to plan what they would do next. We also set the head-selection to not randomise after each placement of a new head/wing/beak to the totem pole. Instead players would be presented with four heads/wings/beaks and then choose which order they could place them down in.

totem topple strategic 1

However, the changes didn’t quite achieve the results we were looking for. Instead of giving the player time to think, the slower enemies at the start of the game, gave players the chance to slap down a load of heads unchallenged. Sometimes they’d built a super strong totem pole that shot every enemy before it could reach the base. Other times they’d continue straight on past the red line and be devoured by a bunch of super-hard enemies. In both cases, the link between enemies knocking down the tower and the need to then build back up the tower was broken, leaving players confused as to what they should be doing.

Another problem was that the enemies would still spawn at the same rate. Once the first enemies did eventually reach the totem base, the game became just as frantic as before. Longer intervals between spawns conversely gave players too much time to recover and rebuild their totem pole.

The extra choice given to the player of which order to place the heads etc similarly fell flat. With just four options, there was a very limited number of combinations. Neither was it particularly clear how different combinations made an actual difference to the game. And since the four options were randomly picked for the player, there was no sense of player agency.

We tried a system whereby players could see the next four heads coming up after the current four, so be able to plan a bit further in advance. And we added the ability to “skip” to the next set of four, in return for a time penalty before players could pick another head. Unfortunately, this still didn’t have the desired results. Players were still restricted to what felt like arbitrary choices.

So we decided to give players the option to choose any head, wing or beak they liked, at any time. To balance this, we introduced a currency system, with a cost to placing each different totem piece. Players then earned currency by destroying enemies.

Totem Topple Frantic Dual 5 Screenshot 2015-08-18 15-34-53

We were a little reluctant to do this, as to an extent, it doesn’t really fit with the original intention and vision for the game. It turns it into something much closer to a traditional tower defence game (hence calling this mode “Classic”).

However, from a gameplay perspective, we feel it works well, and definitely gives the player both a greater sense of agency, and the ability (along with the pause-help system) to really take their time and plan their next move.

Two Headed Disaster

Full of optimism, I took Totem Topple down to Brighton last month, and duly presented it at the PocketGamer Big Indie Pitch. The game did not win any prizes and was quite heavily criticised by the judges. Whilst maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, it was still disheartening and led to some considerable introspection.

To give a little background, the Big Indie Pitch involves indie game developers doing a sort of “speed dating”, spending 3 minutes face-to-face pitching, presenting and letting play to one or two judges at a time. Then when the timer is up, swapping tables and pitching to another judge. At the end, the judges confer and pick a winner.

big indie pitch brighton 2015Scene of the crime

Things quickly unravelled once I got down to pitching, with a number of the judges wholly unimpressed. The problem was two fold:

Firstly, going into the event, the game was set up in production mode, so that once the tutorial had been completed, it remembered that fact and didn’t show up on next play through. After the first pitch, it was left down to me, in lieu of the tutorial, to try and explain the game as fast and succinctly as I could. All whilst the judges sat there, determinedly trying to play it.

A good tutorial accounts for the fact different people learn different ways, and some will always want to just jump in and start mashing buttons to see what they do. Unfortunately, this rapidly caused an issue with one of the game’s key features: It’s dynamic AI system.

The game is designed so that when the player is struggling, the difficulty of the enemies drops right off, with just a few especially weak enemies spawning. Provided a player can ride out the last of the difficult waves of enemies from before, they’re given a breather. A chance to recover before the difficulty begins to ramp up again.

At the time, the game did this by just counting the number of heads the player had left alive. The tutorial started players off with 3 extra heads, already putting them above this limit. However, the next play through, which is what the judges played, would only give one starter head.

Cue judges placing a single head and waiting to see what it did. Then when the starter head finally got destroyed, placing another head to replace it. And so on, at painfully slow pace, with the enemies never getting harder and the judges never getting beyond two heads at any one point. In some cases, leading them to write off the game completely as lacking player agency.

We’d had it pointed out before that this “trick” essentially nullified a large part of the game, letting players build risk free to infinity. But somewhat foolishly, we’d dismissed the idea on the basis that people would get bored with that tactic and default to just building quickly to match the “frantic” pace of the game.

Now, at the worst possible time, the same issue, but from a new player’s perspective of trying to learn the difference between each head, was painfully exposed.

We’ve since added in not only a new tutorial system, but also a sophisticated help system for those that like to skip tutorials. I’ll detail those changes in a later blog. And the AI system now has different checks for when the player is struggling, which should encourage players to naturally build up. (Though I’m not going to detail how as that would give the game away!)

And as for the pitch? Suffice to say, spending half my very limited time apologising for the lack of tutorial, and the other half telling the judges they were doing it wrong, didn’t go down well. It wasn’t a great experience, but we’ve learned from it, and the game is now all the better for it.

Destination Future

Back when I founded Crystalline Green and continuing to this day, I’ve had a strong sense of the style and aesthetic I wanted to project in my games and through the company. One of a sleek, futuristic world, but also aspirational and positive. It’s reflected in the company logo, website. Even the song Crystalline Green, after which the company is named, I feel reflects those values.

I’m also a fan of minimalist design within architecture and interior design. It may leave some people cold, or others thinking of airport lounges, or the fake corporate dystopias of many a sci-fi film. But to me, it evokes a sense of light and freshness, modernity and forward thinking.

Capel_Manor_House,_Kent_lowres

One thing I love about the Wii U is how it’s interface manages to capture a similar set of qualities. It welcomes you to the future with pleasant, relaxing chimes and shades of white. Wara wara plaza is a wide open space, uncluttered, but which places people at it’s centre. It feels alive not with overblown carnival, but the comforting background hum of humanity.

On social media, the term “gamer” is finding increasing use, and the more I see attached to it, the more I feel it just doesn’t match the above.. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of grungy, gritty shooters, full of teenage angst. However, like Linkin Park lyrics, they seem almost comically cliche’d to look back on. Entertaining escapism has its moments, but comes off at others as stylistically beige and intellectually empty.

Philosophically, I find myself increasingly identifying with Nintendo and their games. They seem to be willing to cut their own path creatively, to do things differently, in a positive way. I may complain about their business practices (at times, they seem to be successful despite themselves). Their and their fans’ tendency to default back to retro gaming and past glories similarly doesn’t sit well with me either. We’ll see where they go with their new NX device, but for now it feels like of the big platform holders, their direction of travel is the closest match to my own.

warawaraplaza_23975.nphd_1

So Many Amiibos!

Going a bit off topic with this post to talk about Amiibos. For those that don’t know, they are plastic figurines of various characters from Nintendo games. Each has an NFC tag in its base, which can be read by the player tapping it on their Wii U gamepad.

On tapping one, whatever game the player has open will do something depending on which amiibo is tapped. This kind of technology really excites me, and there are a world of possibilities for games to use the interaction with a physical object to make the game more exciting.

Sadly, it seems amiibos don’t actually do much, at least as far as I can tell. Admittedly, I only own one amiibo, a Splatoon squid figure,which unlocks some bonus missions. Those missions in turn give some nice extra items, but having already played a lot of online battles, I’ve pretty much got my gear set up the way I want. Furthermore, the missions consist of doing the same single player levels I’ve already done, only against the clock this time.

It’s still cool as an extra thing, and in my case, the amiibo came bundled with the game at launch for a very reasonable price, so I’m happy with what I got. The problem is not every game comes with an amiibo, so any content seen as core or critical to the game can’t be tied to owning one. Otherwise people would complain that they were being sold short – there’s nothing more disappointing than getting half way through a game only to find you need to pay to play the rest of it when you thought you’d bought the whole thing.

What makes amiibo different from other similar games is that they work across a range of Nintendo games, rather than just the title they were bought for. At least in theory. In practice, not every amiibo works with every Nintendo game, and at this point, not with any 3rd party games on the Wii U (those made by companies other than Nintendo).

In fact, of the games I own on Wii U by Nintendo, two don’t support amiibo at all (Bayonetta 1 and Wonderful 101), and Mario Kart 8, which does support amiibo, my squid amiibo isn’t amongst the 19 amiibos it caters for.

Herein lies the second part of my issue with amiibos. There are too damn many! Maybe 30 or 40? I’ve totally lost count at this point, and they’ve been out not even for one year. Some such as Mario sport several different varieties and special editions.

That’s great for people who love collecting stuff, and also for lifelong Nintendo fans who have always wanted a figurine of their favourite character. I’m not one of those people. Wii U is my first Nintendo console and I consequently have no idea who the heck Marth or Lucas or Little Mac are. They certainly aren’t characters from games that I can buy for the Wii U and they’re not especially cheap either.

One of my big gripes with Nintendo fandom is how it’s stuck in the past. Splatoon was like a breath of fresh air, but now Nintendo and their fans seem to have reverted to type and there’s nothing on the horizon that isn’t a sequel or decade plus old franchise that I can really get into and feel that I have a stake in. Amiibos very much play into that feeling and it’s a real turn-off.

Amiibos had the potential to be precisely the opposite. Bind me into the Nintendo ecosystem and make me  invested in the games and figurines: Suppose that each figurine worked with every Nintendo game, and offered something unique in those games. Mario Kart 8 offers only alternative outfits for my racer, themed to match the amiibos it supports. Suppose that my squid amiibo let me change the colour of the ink-splat powerup in that game. Or let me unlock a new power-up that was squid or Splatoon related in some way. Or let me add squid decals to the side of my kart.

Then I’d be inclined to see what cool stuff other amiibos unlocked in the game. And once I have 2 or 3 amiibos, then buying a new Nintendo game means I’ll anticipate being able to unlock extra stuff in that. I’d be getting even more value for money as I’d have already sunk the cost of the amiibos. And so it becomes a virtuous cycle.

Instead, there are now so many amiibos that Nintendo will never be able to create content for all of them. New Nintendo games coming out won’t guarantee support for the particular amiibos I already have, meaning I either miss out, or have to buy an amiibo just for a specific game.

I’ve been told Super-Smash Brothers is the game that makes amiibos really worthwhile, as it supports the majority of them and in more than just a superficial manner. Maybe when I buy it, my amiibo experience will pick up. Till then, or till Nintendo add more amiibo functionality to my existing games, amiibos will remain something that just isn’t made for me.

Me on the Wii U

After watching Nintendo’s Digital Event online at this year’s E3, it feels like they are wrapping up their existing Wii U projects and focusing efforts on mobile and their upcoming “NX” console.

Since Nintendo have said nothing about the NX aside from the fact they’re making it, I’m mostly going on assumptions and gut feeling. However, as a developer making games for the Wii U, I need to consider the consoles likely lifespan and health of the market for games on it.

State of the Wii U

As it stands, the arguments for sticking with the Wii U are still strong. In an industry where digital distribution and free tools like Unity have meant anyone can make a game, the competition is fierce. Visibility is king, and in the relatively sparsely populated world of Wii U eShop games, pretty much every game will get reviewed by various Nintendo websites, guaranteeing at minimum, a decent level of exposure.

How that translates into sales is a different matter. At present, I’ve yet to release a game on Wii U. In addition to those few cases where figures are publicly available, I have spoken privately to a number of those with games on the store. Totem Topple will also help by giving some solid numbers of my own (when it finally launches).

Meantime, estimates suggest something in the order of between 1k to 10k unit sales. The wide range is because there are so many factors that can affect a game’s sales (quite aside from the subjective “is it fun?”). Level of marketing spend, how well it’s received by reviewers and the community in general, how good a fit it is for the Wii U audience. The 10k is not necessarily an upper limit either. A game that hits all the right notes, such as Shovel Knight, can definitely become a breakout hit, selling many times that.

For the purposes of planning, I need to assume a slightly more pessimistic outlook. Unit sales of 10k multiplied by a decent price like $10 ($7 after Nintendo take their 30% cut) can make a very healthy return for a one or two person operation working on such a game for 6 months or a year.

But equally, my games could come out at the bottom end of that range, and that’s what I need to prepare for. Totem Topple has taken 6 months, but it was originally made as a team, even though I took it on and ran with it afterwards. The others in the team will be taking their cut of the revenue it makes, so that will eat into any money I might see from it.

Conversely, Totem Topple will be launching on more than just Wii U. It will be interesting to see how that aforementioned added visibility just being on the Wii U translates into sales on other platforms. Quantifying that though – where a customer hears about a game (or decides to purchase it) – will be difficult. Whilst sophisticated analytics packages help link specific ad/marketing campaigns with specific installs on mobile, there are too many missing links in the data trail when it comes to Wii U or some of the other platforms like PSVita to work that out.

That’s definitely a negative when dealing with Wii U. There was a long delay with Totem Topple trying to find out exactly how to go about implementing and then subsequently getting approval for our analytics package (GameAnalytics) on the Wii U. Whereas other platforms didn’t bat an eyelid at its inclusion.

The advantage is that having gone through that process once with Totem Topple, I now have the knowledge of how to make things like Miiverse, Leaderboards, Analytics Packages and so forth happen on the Wii U.

That should translate into making life much smoother for Flight of Light. It is a game I feel much more confident about for the Wii U, because it’s a more substantial game than Totem Topple, with a bigger scope. My impressions from following Nintendo fandom are that for the Wii U at least, people want to sit down and play longer sessions, whereas the 3DS format is much more suited to shorter on-the-go sessions (or equally marathon JRPG sessions, but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether).

Nintendo have announced Unity for (New Nintendo) 3DS, so Totem Topple may get there one day. It is a platform for which there are far fewer concerns around sales potential. Though it would mean having to learn the whole submissions process for 3DS as well, which will take time.

Ticking Away

Time is the other factor in all this. The Wii U may be viable right now, but at some point, Nintendo will announce the NX. At that point, the market for the Wii U might bottom out, or get a surprise upswing or it could be the NX isn’t due till the end of 2017 and things settle down for Wii U until closer to the time. However, the further we get into 2016 before the details of NX come, the more uncertainty there will be.

That leaves a window of at least 6 months where Wii U is business as usual. The question for me is how to take advantage of the position I’m in during that. I have the equipment (devkit already paid for), over a year’s worth of experience making Unity games on the Wii U, Totem Topple effectively finished and just awaiting final approval, and Flight of Light now making really good progress towards completion, perhaps by the end of the summer.

In addition, I’ve taken on a contract to help port a Unity game to Wii U for a fellow indie developer here in London. I’m convinced there is a demand that I can satisfy to do more such ports in the future. They have a much faster turn around time and the risk is far lower than making my own games, since I can tell if the finished games I’m porting are any good and/or doing well in other places. There are risks elsewhere, and going by the pessimistic sales estimates, I won’t be reeling in big wads of money. But it is a realistic, repeatable business model.

What’s holding me back at the moment is time. It’s difficult to work on two games at once in the best of circumstances, but being effectively a one-man operation, it’s even harder to juggle – release deadlines inevitably get pushed back far beyond what I’d like, and suddenly that idea of Flight of Light perhaps by the end of the summer evaporates.

Equally, I could get investment and hire people to help, but that takes time in itself. Moreover, if it transpires that the Wii U only has another year or so of useful life left in it, the business model has a limited shelf life as well. Come NX announcement day, which could easily be E3 2016, it’s potentially all over.

Next?

The ideal scenario would be to build a relationship with Nintendo on Wii U in that time and then get in relatively early on the NX. Unfortunately, neither myself nor Nintendo make life easy in this regard. Nintendo is a sprawling company. Outside of the indie program, there is no go-to person, and it’s difficult to build relationships when I’m emailing someone once every 6 months because I happen to have a specific issue that’s dealt with by their department. By a quirk of fate, I ended up in the non-indie program (aka warioworld), and whilst that technically allows me to publish other developers, it also means I’m in the group Nintendo expects to just go and get on with things, no hand-holding needed.

Furthermore – and I’ve observed this with Sony and Microsoft’s indie programs – I’m indie number 2817 that on any one day, the limited handful of indie reps they employ, have clamoring for their attention. When I’ve yet to even officially release a game on the store, nevermind one that actually sells well, I’m essentially anonymous. Or worse, causing a fuss talking on websites and twitter or in blog posts like this one about stuff that skirts pretty close to breaking NDA’s. Or at least raises awkward issues that definitely don’t sit well, maybe even run counter, to the work they’re doing: Trying to attract quality indie titles to the platform or increase sales of games on the eShop for example.

It could well be that Nintendo decide to make NX far more open than it is at the moment for developers. Or more closed and selective. Or go in a completely different direction from the “wars of perception” and battles for hearts and minds of the “hardcore gamer” crowd that E3 is all about.

Regardless, I’ll keep plugging away at Wii U for the time being. I’ve not had a great deal of success in my four years of making games as an indie. Between my inability to actually finish my games, I’ve made a series of bets that have all simply failed to pay off. The OUYA in particular I really felt was something I could get behind and make a difference with yet for a variety of reasons, it just didn’t work out. My fear is that my Wii U adventure will likewise slip away from me.

Hopefully though, my jadedness will pass and I’ll be able to give my games their best shot at success. I’ll have a major hand in bringing at least 3 titles to the Wii U by the year’s end, all of which I believe to be quality offerings and have genuine claim to be at least somewhat “innovative” or different from other games out there. With any luck, others will agree!

 

Four Years

Four years ago today I started out as a one-man-band indie game developer. Here are some of the things I’ve learned in that time which I don’t see discussed much or I think are worth highlighting:

Production

I’ve yet to find my ideal process for making games, despite having tried a bunch of different production methods. Some things I would recommend considering though:

- Pay for art. Best results have usually come when I’ve hunted down a professional artist with the style and quality I want and straight up paid them.

- If it takes longer than a week to implement a feature, drop it. It’s probably too complex, fragile or conceptually flawed.

- Don’t chase opportunities (e.g. new platform or device). You are highly unlikely to see one far enough in advance or have the resources to effectively hit it.

- It’s never too late to drop a project (so long as it’s for the right reasons). My first game I worked on for 18 months before realising it had such a ridiculously huge scope, it would probably take me another 18 months to finish if I continued.

Feedback

Just repeating the mantra of test early and often doesn’t really help with the details:

- Always have a build on your phone to show people, and any time you have the chance, get people to play, no matter who they are. Or failing that, have a video of your game saved on your phone (not just on youtube, in case there is no internet).

- Consider context. Who is the person playing / giving feedback? Other Game devs for example are good for working out why something doesn’t work and suggesting solutions, but can sometimes give poor feedback because they are thinking through the lens of their own game. Non-gamers won’t be so good at articulating what is wrong with a game, but you can tell by their body language if they’re finding the game’s controls unintuitive say.

- Don’t take feedback at face value. Often people think they are being helpful by trying to diagnose a problem for you, when actually there might be a different underlying problem.

- Look for patterns. As in, if more than one person says roughly the same thing, seriously consider the issue.

Finance

I’m incredibly lucky in that when I was younger, my parents bought me a house in Nottingham where I went to Uni, which I rent out to cover my own rent in London where I now live, as well as pay for food and bills. That allows me to do game development full time.

Very few indies make enough money to live on purely from sales their own games. Most have another source of income. A day job, work-for-hire / making other people’s games, or support from a partner or family seem to be the most common.

However, I have seen other indies successfully get investment for making games. Insofar as I know from talking to those indies and going to investor-focused events, this is what I’ve learned:

- Investors look at people as much as product. A team with the right mix of skills, experience and complimentary personalities. And also just do they get on with you personally, since you’re going to be working together.

- Venture Capitalists (VC’s) in particular aren’t interested in “lifestyle businesses”. Don’t waste yours and their time chasing this type of investment if all you want to do is generate enough money to make your next game / work full time making games independently.

Marketing

Most indies understand that they need to “do marketing” and that their games won’t just sell themselves. However, the industry is constantly changing, and there are no business models or plans that indies can just pull off the shelf and easily use. From my own (largely unsuccessful) attempts at marketing, and from observing the efforts of others, I do have a few observations:

- The channels available to indies, such as twitter, youtube, or a feature on Rock-Paper-Shotgun are unlikely to let developers reach beyond the traditional “gamer” audience.

- Particular game types/genres tend to work much better than others on those channels. For example, Minecraft works great on youtube because each playthrough is personal and unique, versus say a playthrough of a linear narrative FPS.

- Content marketing and/or community building is incredibly time consuming. Writing blogs and doing dev diaries every day is essentially a full time job, and in my opinion, not cost effective for most games. It can also lead to burn-out.

I’ve learned a huge amount in the last four years. My hope is that 2015 is the year I can apply those lessons to actually finish my games and hopefully have a modicum of business success with them.

Flight of Light vs Totem Topple

Flight of Light

Last year we ran a competition to rename our Wii U game codenamed “Colour Park”. We received loads of fantastic entries, but in the end opted for “Flight of Light”. We also picked a number of runners up, who along with the winner will get a free copy of the game when it’s released!

We’re still aiming for a summer release of the game, but we’ve decided to de-scope the project. In other words, we will release a smaller version of the game than we initially planned, focusing mostly on the local-multiplayer racing part of the game. Depending on how that goes, we’ll release more single player levels and modes towards the end of the year.

Last weekend, we also took part in KinectHackLondon at Microsoft’s London Victoria offices, adapting Flight of Light to use Kinect version 2 for Windows (above). We’re now waiting to hear back from Microsoft on whether we can bring the Kinect version to Xbox One, in addition to the Wii U and Leap Motion versions we’re currently working on.

Totem Topple

We’ve also been working on a side project for the last few months called Totem Topple, which we’re planning to release on a whole range of platforms in April. It’s a vertical tower defence game with a native-American inspired theme that our lead developer, James Coote, made with a team of others as part of King game jam back in January. You can find out more about the game here: http://www.crystallinegreen.com/totemtopple

screenshot_31-01-2015_console_wip__3

New Year Update

December was a slow month for us due to team members having various family/personal obligations, but with the new year, we’re now raring to get back to work. Chiefly on our Wii U game, which still does not have a name! We’ve decided to extend the Name Our Game competition through January to give extra time for people to submit suggestions.

We’re now working on creating many more levels for the game. As well, there is lots of work to do to improve the game’s graphics and feedback mechanisms. Sound design and creating the UI (menus and options) will also represent a large portion of the work for the new year. We’re talking to Nintendo about possibly using Mii’s in the game, in addition to other Miiverse features.

If all goes to plan, we should be ready to release the game this summer. In the meantime, as usual, you can keep up with day-to-day progress on twitter and facebook