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Getting the job done is hard. In just three weeks time we’ll celebrate the 400th Caromble! Friday, and we still haven’t finished the game yet. Admittedly, we are not 100% clear when the first Caromble! Friday was exaclty, but 400 probably isn’t that far of the mark.

As some of you are aware, a lot of things have changed in the personal lifes of several of our team members recently (suddenly there are 3 fathers in our team 🙂 ), and those changes are not without their impact on the way we work.

We have effectively moved from a team that worked together in a single location (ok, the office was actually a kitchen table, but that still counts), from a team that has to work completely remote. And on unpredictable hours as well. That is not necessarily an easy transition.

A lot of things that we got for ‘free’ by being in the same room every Friday are now quite hard. For instance getting time for all the chit-chat that is so essential for productive co-operation is suddenly a thing you have to plan. And the same goes for discussing the little questions you might have when developing.

But things are not fun if they are not challenging, so we are happy to embrace all of this unplanned extra fun ;-).

We are making a lot of changes to the way we work, so that we may stay productive and at the same time still have fun while working on the game.

We try and use productivity tools such as Trello and Gitlab where we can. These tools can greatly structure the discussions you have about various topics. It turns out that Slack is also quite useful, and whatsapp maybe not so much.

Another thing that we cannot delay any further is creating a marketing plan to guide us through the final stages of development towards the final release.

So indeed, while we have not produced as much visible output as we wanted to at this point, we are still very busy with the game.

To conclude this post, I have two images. Of course an image can be worth a 1000 words, but the first image I’ll share will communicate at least two messages:

Getting the job done, and also defender

The first message is of course that Defender will be a new awesome skill level to be included with our next release. And the second one is less literal and shows that we’ll always eventually get the job done.

Ok, and my second image is perhaps a bit cheesy (cheesecake?), especially since I’m not exactly immune to spelling mistakes myself, but still, I could simply not resist making a bit of fun about Peter’s spelling mistake in his last post, and showing an image about some actual peace of cake…

An actual peace of cake...

Caromble at PC Gamer Weekender 2017!

Well in fact only Raymond is larger than life, or at least taller. I (Thomas D) think I’m only just about life sized.

The paddle has landed and the PC Gamer Weekender ball is rolling in Londen. Raymond and I have taken our positions at our booth and will be looking to show [i]Caromble![/i] to as many people as we can.

Caromble  on PC Gamer Weekender 2017

We are looking forward to seeing you as well! Come find us at booth E20. And very hush-hush: we might be selling the game at a discount from our booth.

Caromble  on PC Gamer Weekender 2017

Meet us in London at PC Gamer Weekender 2017!

If you’re in London coming weekend make sure to come and visit us over at the PC Gamer Weekender event. Apart from playing Caromble! (awesome) you’ll get a chance to talk to the developers in real-life (super awesome). Get your tickets over here!
Thomas and Raymond will be there the whole event to answer all your questions and collect any feedback. So how do you recognize them? Well that’s easy, take a look at our website!

Apart from playing Caromble! there will be many other great games to check out. PC Gamer made a great selection of titles to play.

Chapter 4 is coming along nicely as well. This will be the first chapter in our Commercial theme (see below).

Chapter 4 of Caromble!

Today was my (Pascal here) first of 4 Caromble! Fridays where I will be working all alone . Thomas D. is traveling through Taiwan with his girlfriend. Peter and Raymond have other reasons why they are not here, but I think it’s better if they tell you themselves why this is the case. @Peter and @Raymond: the announcement for next week is for you guys!

Ramp issue fixed
This week I finally found the cause of the issue where balls got stuck inside the ramps, which we mentioned previous week. It’s a bit technical, but here it goes anyhow:

By removing the plane floor under the ramp, we couldn’t reproduce the issue anymore which pointed us in the right direction. Turns out that our engine did something not quite right when handling collisions with multiple objects over which the ball should roll. Our code sets the speed of the ball directly in this code (overruling the physics engine). Now if the ball collides with 2 of these objects, only the second object has an influence on the ball as it overwrites the speed set by the first object. In case of colliding with both the floor and the ramp, it could be that the floor collision was handled as last, overwriting the effect of the ramp.

We now fixed this problem in the current build!

Reaching an audience
I think that this was the last bit of programming I will be doing for quite some time as we need to focus on marketing now. We are programmers (+1 artist) and we are not so much trained in the art of marketing and reaching an audience. However, it is very important to reach an audience as that will result in revenue, which in turn allows us to spend more time in making Caromble! better and perhaps even making a new game after this. Furthermore, we get happy feelings inside if people play Caromble! and enjoy it, You can make a great game, but if no one has heard of it, what’s the point?

So we are focusing on reaching an audience for the coming weeks. It seems that it’s a bit harder to get noticed as an Early Access game. Written press seems especially less interested in that. So we are mostly focusing on youtubers. We hope that this will result in many Let’s Play videos or Twitch streams to reach players that might be interested in Caromble!.

Do you have any tips for us to reach players that would like Caromble!? Do you know curators, youtubers, blogs or individual players that are especially interested in brick breakers or Early Access games? Let us or let them know. We can use all the help we can get!

Arkanoid tribute
What was nice today is that PixelProspector has mentioned us in a list of 3 games that are tributes to Arkanoid. We are mentioned together with Wizorb and Shatter, which are nice titles to be standing next to. You could help us by retweeting this tweet.

pixelprospector

As we are nearing the completion of Chapter 3, we are taking care of some gameplay elements that could use some tweaking.

For starters, we have tweaked the collision shape of the paddle. It used to be just a box (say what!), but now it is a composition of 2 cylinders and a box. This makes the collisions slightly more satisfying and aligns them better with the graphics.
Furthermore, we wanted to have more control on the spin ball effect. To do this we have changed a part of the algorithm. At one point we had this peculiar situation:

Although it’s quite funny, we have made sure this cannot happen anymore.

These 2 features give a better feeling of control of the paddle and we hope you agree. Let us know if you have any suggestions or feedback after we have released Chapter 3 (including many tweaks, bug fixes, optimizations and a prologue story level).

We have made quite some progress today. We can see this by looking at our Trello board, which we use for Caromble!. In the following image you can see our favourite list: Done. Today’s completed tasks didn’t even fit on one screen!
Our Trello Board

Regards,

Crimson Owl Studios
Crimson Owl Studios

Looking back on Firstlook 2015

Firstlook 2015 is over, and my voice almost sounds normal again. Two days of talking about Caromble! with loud music blasting from speakers everywhere did take its toll.

But a creaky voice is a very small price for the awesome experience of seeing so many people play and enjoy Caromble!.  At times there was even a bit of a crowd around our booth, unfortunately also resulting in a bit of waiting time occasionally. Guess we’ll bring two machines next time. We’ve been on shows before and had plenty of feedback from players on other occasions, but the feeling you get when someone genuinely enjoys the game you made never seems to get old.

We also made a picture to prove that marketing is also something that we take very seriously, and that we have been giving our best effort during the Festival.

You can't see the picture, so just assume that whatever you would have seen here would have convinced you of how very seriously we take our marketing effort.

Without any doubt, only a team taking marketing very, very seriously could have made such a picture.

And finally a congratulation to Jenfri for winning tickets to Firstlook by writing the best slogan for Caromble!: If it ain’t solid it will Caromble!

IMG-20151011-WA0010

Op 10 en 11 oktober staan wij met Caromble! op Firstlook in de Jaarbeurs, Utrecht. Als je er heen gaat, kom dan even langs, probeer Caromble! en ervaar brick breaking in de 21e eeuw!

Heb je nog geen kaarten, maar wil je wel graag naar Firstlook dan kun je ze bij ons winnen! Wat moet je doen? De slogan van Caromble! is “This is Caromble!“, maar jullie kunnen ongetwijfeld iets beters verzinnen. Tweet jouw slogan naar @Caromble, zet het op onze Facebook of nog mooier; maak een video waarin jij jouw slogan voor Caromble! aan ons voordraagt. Om het goede voorbeeld te geven hebben wij alvast een video gemaakt waarin we onze slogan op zeer muzikale wijze met jullie delen:

De winnaar wint twee kaarten voor de Firstlook beurs in Jaarbeurs Utrecht op 10 en 11 oktober. De beste 5 slogans krijgen bovendien een Caromble! Steam key en een gesigneerde poster. Ook getekend door de artist:). Wat houdt je nog tegen sloganeer als een malle!

Als je wat meer inspiratie wilt hebben of nog niet helemaal weet wat een Caromble! precies is, dan is hier onze Early Access trailer:

Om meer over het team te weten te komen en te horen en waarom we voor Early Access gekozen hebben, kijk dan hiernaar:

We zijn benieuwd naar jullie slogans en hopelijk tot op Firstlook!

Caromble! is nu verkrijgbaar op Steam Early Access!
Steam: store.steampowered.com/app/347660
Twitter: @Caromble
Facebook: Caromble

Features for next update announced

The post-release buzz has died down a bit, and the pre-next-update release crunch has begun. We’re currently working very hard on every Friday to finish the next Early Access update as soon as possible.

The big feature is a large overhaul of the input system, so we can have smoother gameplay at low framerates. This has a lot of impact throughout the game, so we’ll have to do some extra thorough testing.

Chapter two will be also be part of the next update, effectively doubling the amount of content in Caromble!.

Controller support is another big item on the list.

And last but not least there will be tons of bug fixes and tiny improvements.

To end this post, please look at this gif from a scene that will not be part of the upcoming release 😉

Scene that won't be released this year

Paddle Mk 4

This weekend, as part of an internal sprint we created what will be the final, official, and ultimate version of our paddle.  We call it the Paddle Mark 4.

The Mark 4 was designed with only one thing in mind. Better feedback than the old Mark 3. The Mark 3 did have a system for visualizing the size of the paddle, with removable segments. This system proved cumbersome in maintenance, and more importantly, it was way too subtle.

That’s why the Mk 4 was designed with two separate moving base-parts, that can be moved apart or closer at will. The shield for bouncing the ball can take any size required.

Additionally, to provide some much needed feedback for the charge-ball mechanism, the back part of the Mk 4 has been fitted with a charge-indicator-shield. Appearing as soon as the Mk 4 begins to charge, it will grow to fill the entire rear-end of the paddle. This give you an accurate estimation of how much the paddle has been charged.

More features might be added to the Mark 4 before release, but plans for those must remain classified for a while.

Please, enjoy some footage of the Paddle Mark 4 in action.