Category: News


Happy Christmas!

Christmas treeThis is no political blog. Although, one could consider us as a single-issue party for Caromble!. However, we have yet to launch our political campaign. So let’s start right here. Vote Caromble! on Greenlight. Or for president. Just vote!

Where were we? Right, I wanted to address a political issue.

I’ve happened to notice there are some discussions about why people celebrate Christmas. Sometimes referred to as The War on Christmas. Is it a holiday about food, presents, family, Christ, Santa Claus, or an evergreen conifer? To be politically correct, I avoid to answer this question. But, I think it’s great to have hours of extra free time to play video games!

Unfortunately, this Christmas will go into history as the holiday in which video gamers around the globe could not yet play Caromble!. I very much look forward to a later blog post which might be titled ‘Happy gaming!’.

For now, Happy Christmas!

 

Creating Challenging Challenges

Nowadays, games cannot be taken seriously without having unlockable challenge levels. Ok, it’s probably not that extreme, but it can be a great addition to your game for several reasons. It can present extra content for hardcore gamers that want to unlock everything, encouraging multiple playthroughs. It can also help to engage players and spice up the gaming experience by deviating from the core gameplay. But for us there is an extra reason…

What all game developers probably recognize, is that you can think of too many cool features for your game. When we were in the beginning (read: ‘more than a year later’) of the development of Caromble!, we realized that we had too many features planned for the game. Almost every new level would introduce a new gameplay feature. Finally we became smart enough and decided to choose a list of features to implement and just leave the rest be (I miss you so, oh ‘gravity switch’ and ‘teleporter’). This turned out to be a good decision (still I’ll never forget you…). There is so much more we can still do with our current set of features, that I believe we could make a hundred more levels with these, without becoming repetitive. It is a pity though, that some of the cool features we ‘invented’ are not in the game. But thank goodness we have some unlockable challenge levels!

Caromble! features 24 story driven levels, these are at the heart of what Caromble! is. When certain targets are met in the story, a challenge level is unlocked. A challenge level is a small simple area, in which the player gets one specific task. These levels can be crazy strange and each one stands on itself. No rules, just fun! This allows us to introduce a new feature only for that level. And why not, everything is possible in the HAVEFUN (Hypnotically Abstract Virtual Environment For Unconventional Needs (name suggestion pending)); the simulation room in the mothership designed for training purposes (story pending).

The tasks in the challenge levels range from: ‘hit as many blocks in 1 minute’ to ‘survive as long as you can with a single ball’. These challenge levels provide small ‘snacks’ (as Mark Overmars (professor and creator of Game Maker) once called them in one of his lectures on game design) that allow for a quick play, but are very entertaining for the thrill of beating the highscore. Some examples of ‘snack’ games that are very addictive, partly because of the highscore aspect, are: Jetpack Joyride, Super Hexagon, Super Cratebox and (why was I addicted to this?) Bookworm Deluxe. If the challenge levels in Caromble! provide some of the fun and addictiveness that these games have, I’ll be very happy.

As challenge levels are not part of the ‘core’ Caromble! experience, we work on them in our spare spare time (first spare time is reserved for core Caromble! tasks). Last week I had some of this precious time and created 2 challenge level prototypes. For now I call them WallSafety and BallFrenzy.

In WallSafety the player gets one ball, and one ball only, and is burdened with the task of surviving for as long as possible. The score is given by the seconds survived. The catch? The level sides are made of blocks that are destroyed by hitting it with the ball 1-3 times. Behind these blocks awaits nothing more than emptiness, thus death:

 WallSafety

 

In BallFrenzy the task is to have as many balls in play after 45 seconds. Each block that is destroyed creates another ball:

 BallFrenzy

These challenge levels provide a different gaming experience than the core gameplay and hopefully give Caromble! extra appeal. They are fun to create (because it is so simple) and fun to play (because it is so simple). The objective and scoring mechanic are very transparent and perhaps this simplicity makes it so fun. Games have become much more complex over the years and I think that sometimes we long for the simple gameplay of the old days. In that way, games are a nice analogy for life.

 

Crunch Time!

 

Thomas

Normally, we only work on Caromble! every Friday. This week though, for the first time ever, we will work on Caromble! full-time. We all took a few days off and the coming week + weekend we will be crunching our way through the last few levels.

After that, we can finally start to polish things up and add juiciness everywhere (although we will still be adding challenge levels).

Expect more updates during this week! Follow us on twitter: @Caromble

Tickets for Beyoncé …

… is the reason why the team had to work without internet for over an hour. This Friday it was my turn to provide a working location (indie to the max), so we were all at my place. However, as a bigger brother, I sometimes sacrifice my dignity for the goodwill of my little sister, meaning I was about to stand in the digital queue for tickets for Beyoncé (singer / actress / model / idol for my sister). As my router sometimes refuses work when too many machines are connected, I had to politely ask the team to disconnect, because disconnection for me would mean re-entering the queue. What I expected to last for 10 minutes, took more than an hour. And I didn’t even get the right tickets! One for sitting in the back, and for standing in the front (sorry sis).

After all this nuisance, we could finally do some business, and on the menu for today was: the new Trailer!  Our first trailer was very simple: a few seconds of gameplay, from different levels. We didn’t put much effort in editing slickly or adding juicyness. Why would we need that, the game speaks for itself doesn’t it. Wrong! The youtube statistics showed that many people already clicked away whilst showing the logo’s. They hadn’t even seen anything from our game and they gave up on Caromble!. So our GameTrailer 101 was: start with the action. Show immediately what your game is about, because the attention span of your viewers is… well, probably less than you’d hope or expect.

We think our next trailer is much juicier than the previous one. Also we show some more of the content from Caromble! We hope you like it. Expect it to be online somewhere in this week.

Back from Japan

Thomas Schmall is back from Japan and so we had a ‘Welcome Back’ diner last Thursday. Whilst having some Chinese food, we discussed our progress and brainstormed about the paddle redesign, menu and general presentation of the game. Finally we have got our Graphics visionary back, good you’re here again Thomas!

We have more or less finished the levels of our first graphical theme and next week we’ll start on new levels. A bit late perhaps, but still as a present for Sinterklaas: a screenshot. And keep in mind, this is a singleplayer level:)

The Friday after…

Finally it’s Friday again and we have time to work on Caromble! Game in the City was exciting. It was great to see so many people enjoy the game. Needless to say, our fingers have been itching all week to get back to working on the game.

Today was mainly reserved for finishing up the levels of the first theme, so we can make a start with the Metropolitan theme next week. Also, we’ve been gently adding some Michael Bay into Caromble!. You’ll see…

 

Caromble! at Game in the City

Although our awesome artist Thomas Schmall was not present (how is Japan Thomas?), the two days at Game in the City were great. We thank everyone for the invaluable remarks, tips, comments and ‘wows’, and will use it to make Caromble! even more fun!

Caromble! at Game in the City

On the 22nd and 23rd of November, Caromble! will be playable at Game in the City as part of INDIGO on the Road. If you are around, don’t hesitate to try out Caromble! at this event in Amersfoort!

Proudly Announcing Caromble

So here we go – the official announcement of our game: Caromble. A breakout clone of so epic proportions that it will shake the very foundations of the universe! …or at least the physics-based-3D-breakout-clone universe, we are sure.

Caromble Promo picture

A little optical fluff, to sell it to ya.

The original Breakout.

The original Breakout. You might also know it as Arkanoid.

It not set in stone what comes out of it: Maybe just a free game, and maybe a bit more if all goes well. Right now let’s call it “indie-project for fun” – because the fun is what matters.
The game was born from an idea of 3 programmers from Utrecht (Netherlands): Pascal, Peter and Thomas. They worked on a physics engine based on Ardor3D and used it for a 3D variation of the good old classic Breakout. Later they invited me (Thomas number two) to do the art side, and Stefan for the music and sound.

Let’s start with the first screenshots – I think they give quite a good idea of what the game is about. You steer the paddle, and have to keep the ball in the field to clear it from the blocks. The twist is that it is not just a 3D version of the classic – it actually has nice physics. So you will see collapsing stacks, ramps and explosions… because you always need explosions!

Maybe you can guess from the page design that we’re also further in setting the style of the game. There is also more to the gameplay. The next updates in the blog will run a bit through these changes, and why we did them. We will explain the game design, how it evolved and where the road leads us. Well, rather than a nice road, it will be more like a steep mountain to climb until we’re here we want to go – and there will be lots of experimenting.

We hope you stay with us, when we continue our updates. We’re of course curious of what you think of the goods. How about the name, the concept? Any critiques, ideas you have to get off your chest? Here’s the place.