Category: Various


As with every game on Early Access, there is always a risk that a game may change drastically during development. Some games even get abandoned before their planned release date.
The changes in how games are sold over the last few years and the bursting of the indie game bubble mean that we’re fishing in troubled waters.
Of course, the last thing we want is to abandon a game we’ve worked on for so many years. But the truth is, to be able to finish the game and make Caromble! the game we’ve always envisioned it to be, some drastic changes are necessary.

After a long discussion within our team we are proud to present to you: Pay-Per-Ball. What does this mean for the game?

  • First of all, Caromble! will be free!
  • Secondly, balls that are lost in the game can only be regained by buying them in the In-Game Ball Store (IGBS).

Balls can be bought individually or in Ball-Packs. The more balls you’ll buy, the cheaper they get.

To compensate people who already bought the game, we give away a pack of 100 balls to everyone who currently owns Caromble!. We are currently in discussion with Steam about the pricing of a single ball. What do you think? What should be the price of a single ball?

We hope you understand and that you’ll have many more balls to play with.

Sincerely,

Crimson Owl Studios

UPDATE April 8, 2016: This post was an April Fools’ joke 😉

Balls

Dear friends,
Remember my happy dance in the last blog post? Well, the time has finally arrived. We know you have been patient. We know you sometimes wondered whether Caromble! would ever see the light. But after more than 6 years of development, coming Friday on the 28 of August (yes… 2015 you clowns), Caromble! will be available on Steam Early Access.
As Friday is our one-day-a-week-indie-game-development-day, it only makes sense to do the Early Access release on a Friday. Otherwise, who would take us seriously right? Get in the mood already by checking out our new fresh trailer:

Also, if you are considering to participate in Caromble!’s Early Access, make sure you check out our Early Access Explanation Video, to find out whether Early Access is something for you:

We are thrilled to finally release Caromble! and we hope you are too!

Caromble! happy dance

We have something exciting to share with you! We cannot share it explicitly yet, but let these Caromble! dances by Pascal show you our excitement:

happydance

happydance2


Prepare to be updated very soon!

Caromble!: The Playtest

Dear Caromble! followers,

Yesterday we made another big step towards the release of Caromble!. We have held an extensive playtest session. The ingredients were:

  • 13 friends from inner and suburban circles
  • Several story levels
  • A few skill levels
  • 5 PC’s and 2 laptops
  • Coffee, crisps and chocolate
  • Observation and a survey that should help us determine what we want to change, balance or add to the game before the release

The developers, nervous for the playtest.

 

After 6 hours we collected all data files, had some drinks, played some PES2015 (sorry FIFA fans) and talked with the playtesters about their first encounter with Caromble!; the game with which we aim to create the most epic brick-breaker game in the history of the universe.

We are now analyzing all our notes and processing the surveys, but here are already some of the results:

  • Many playtesters laughed when they catched the Pixelate power-down for the first time
  • 50% of the players destroyed the boss in their first or second attempt
  • No crash of the game occurred all day long (what we are quite proud of, as it is running in our own game-engine)
  • We encountered one gameplay-breaking bug:

    This should NOT happen!

  • Unfortunately 4 playtesters could not come (snowy reasons), one of them being a woman. Now we only had male playtesters
  • 3 bags of crisps were eaten
  • One player wore a Fez shirt, which is very cool:

    Thank you very much playtesters! You were awesome and Caromblecious!

  • One player thought that one of our gameobjects looked like a giant red dildo. Not sure whether we should address this…

 

We have had a great time and so much useful feedback. We want to thank all playtesters once more. We were very happy with your effort, feedback and joyful faces. Thank you!

Happy developers after a successful playtest day of Caromble!

 

Interviews – Part 2

Part two of our interview series where the Caromble! developers interview each other. This time our interviewee is Thomas Duindam.

Thomas Duindam drinking a beer at a festival

Thomas drinking beer at a festival

Thomas, when will you release Caromble!?

2014-ish. We release the game when we decide it’s finished.

How many times has this question been asked to you?

It’s a logical question to ask. I wonder about it myself. This year we will at least release something! We will open up and allow for early access to our game.

Let’s ask what should have been the first question: Who are you?

I’m one of the developers of Caromble!. I am a software engineer in the medical field by day, and a game developer by night – and most weekends. Sometimes I drink beer at a music festival.

What is your favourite game?

Monkey Island. I enjoy games with a strong narrative and which are able to immerse me into another world. It impresses me more than abstract skill games.

That sounds a bit like the opposite of Caromble!

Yes it does, but I don’t think that’s a problem. Opposed to my previous anwer, I also game to relax instead of desiring to have a new experience in another world. I relax the most with games that have familiar mechanics. It’s like deciding to watch an important art-house movie or a easy to digest blockbuster. When I want to relax I choose the latter. When I want to relax and play a video game, Caromble! will be a very good choice.

That sounds like fun! I want to play Caromble! How would you describe a day in the life of a Caromble! developer?

Wake up. Drink coffee. Commute to this week’s developer studio / kitchen table. Drink some more coffee.

This is followed by:
– 25% coding, mostly fixing bugs.
– 25% discussions about Caromble! At the time mostly about project management.
– 25% lunch.
– Another 25% coding.

Sometimes the Caromble! workday ends here. Other times the day continues with:
– 25% playing games and drinking beer.
– 25% coding, mostly creating bugs.

You mentioned discussing about the game. What was the most difficult decision during this project?

I remember the infamous ‘Feature Creep Dooms Day’. It was a day’s length discussion about the scope of Caromble!. We slaughtered many feature ideas. At the moment I think the scope is still too big. 25% of the current scope would also suffice for a really nice game. Three lessons learned: limit your scope, limit your scope, limit your scope.

Could you name some ‘slaughtered’ ideas?

Portals, which was the hardest to let go off. Switching gravity’s direction. Zombies. Multiplayer.

Sounds like enough ideas for a Caromble! sequel. You are developing Caromble! for quite some time now. What keeps you going?

I like the game so far and I am very curious about what the final version will be like!

What is the element of Caromble! that you are most proud of?

All technical stuff that’s written in Java. A lot of people said it couldn’t been done! But we did!

 

Caromble! in Paris

paris_5paris_3It’s been a long time. A very long time indeed. But we are still here, alive and kicking. We’ve had some hectic weeks, busy with holiday trips, finding new houses and unfortunately some hospital visits. But we are well!

I have just returned from a trip to Paris and Caromble! seemed to be a very big thing there, as you can see in the photos throughout this blog post.

monarombleAt the moment, Peter is probably chilling in a pool with a caipirinha and his girlfriend, but the rest is back in Holland to push Caromble! to the next phase. We will not yet go into specifics about what that phase is, but expect something to happen soon; something involving the fact that Caromble! is greenlit on Steam and yourself collapsing some structures in the Caromble! world.

paris_4
Because we are limited in our time to work on the game, as we still have our ‘normal’ jobs 4 days in a week, and writing blog posts steals some of this precious time, we have decided that for the moment we will be writing blogposts every two weeks. We will still do a #screenshotsaturday weekly, so check that out if you want to see more of Caromble!.

Interviews – Part 1

Crimson Owl Studios is a very particular studio. In fact, there is no physical studio at all. Every Friday all team members take a day of unpaid leave and gather at their kitchen tables scattered throughout Utrecht and Amsterdam.

We have talked about all aspects of the development of Caromble! on this blog, but we never had the team talk for themselves.

The coming weeks we’ll have a series of short interviews on this blog where all team members will be given a chance to talk about game development, Caromble! and how the last couple of years have been.

Raymond's table

Developing Caromble! at Raymond’s table. Left to right: Peter, Pascal, Raymond (interviewee), Thomas D (interviewer).

So let the first interview begin!

Who are you?

Wow, that’s a very philosophical question to begin with! I like philosophy. Of course it’s impossible to describe in a few words who one truly is. But let’s try. I am one of the creators of Caromble!. My name is Raymond Bijl and I like video games.

What is your favorite game?

It’s hard to name only one game. I can really immerse myself in a fantasy themed game with a good story. In that genre Baldur’s Gate is one of the best. Next to these comprehensive role-playing games I can truly enjoy arcade or puzzle games created by fellow indie developers. From a game design perspective I can wonder at the elegance of these apparently simple games and then think ‘I would have loved to have made that one!’. World of Goo is a great example of this.

Let’s talk about work. What are the consequences of splitting your time 80 / 20 between a regular paid job and creating Caromble!?

For a lot of game studios there is no guarantee for success and no room for failures. For me, a regular job means guaranteed income and that’s a certainty I really appreciate. Especially when I notice that I have all kinds of financial responsibilities every month. Anyhow, it means that creating Caromble! goes a lot slower in comparison to the development speed we would have if we were a full time game studio. When we say we are working on this game for four years, we mean one day a week for four years, and those days go by fast.

How about the people around you. Do they see you as somebody with two jobs?

Most see the ‘creating games’ part as one of my hobbies, but maybe that’s because how I first approached it myself. My personal goal was to learn to create games by creating games, but not necessarily in a professional way. However, the things that I do, I want to do them well. And I soon realized I could not approach this project as a hobby. Creating a good game means you’ll have to work hard and do that professionally. Of course, we are also friends, so we have fun and drink beers, but most of the time we just work hard. Creating games is not always as romantic as I would like to think it is!

Keeping it romantic. What is the element of Caromble! that you are most proud of?

I would not name one element, but the whole game. I think it’s really nice to see all the pieces fall together and to realize that we are creating a full-blown game that looks, sounds and feels like one of the real games I have always wondered at how they were created.

A very open and last question. What if?

I would really like to see Caromble! succeed and I believe it has the ingredients to do so! I think Caromble! will breathe new life in the brick-breaking genre. This genre is based on a simple concept – keep the ball in play and break stuff – but it has always proven to be fun and addictive. I hope that other players will enjoy Caromble! as much as I do!

 

Pitfalls

We are working on Caromble! only one day a week for about 4 years now. During this time our primary goal – Learn about every aspect of game development by building an actual game – didn’t change. However, an important secondary goal changed.

After finishing our own game engine and creating all kinds of prototypes with it (as described in our article: How it all came to be), we decided to make a simple game: a modern 3D Breakout. The goal was to make a short, simple game and learn as much about game development as possible and then move on to a full game project. But, creating this simple game seemed to be a lot more work than we anticipated, and our secondary goal of ‘making a simple game and move on to a full game’ gradually shifted to ‘make Caromble! a full game we can be proud of, for the rest of our lives!’.

Our attitude towards that one day we devote to Caromble! changed along. Before, this day felt as our ‘hobby day’ besides our normal work days. Some of these days went by with polishing and fine-tuning insignificant details. However, to actually finish Caromble! someday, we had to change to a more professional attitude. This seems obvious, right? For us, it wasn’t that simple.

Our greatest pitfall is that we are part-time indies who don’t have financial worries because we have a steady day job. Hence, we are not dependent on this game and it does not necessarily have to be a success (mind you, we work hard to try to make it a success!).
This means we don’t feel the pressure of a deadline or the fear of empty pockets. We learned to overcome this pitfall by prioritizing often and by defining smaller, clearer tasks. Both these actions help us to keep focus. It also helps a lot to show Caromble! on game events. These events provide real deadlines that force us to improve the game as much as possible, because we want it to be as good as possible.

Another pitfall is that we keep underestimating the project’s scope. For a lot of projects this would be a danger towards project completion. As we don’t want to make any concessions to the game we envisioned. Our only solution for this is straightforward: we just have to work hard and motivate each other to keep going!

We are already proud to have come this far and we want to sincerely pay our respect to all those indie teams who have already finished one (or even more) games! We hope to join you this year!

Gamekings Studio

Exhibit A – Crimson Owl Studios at an event; with Dennis de Bruin (Gamekings), Thomas D & Raymond (Crimson Owl Studios)

Crimson Owl Studios

Exhibit B – Working hard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greenlight News in Indonesia

I am back! This means that I was away, which I was. I visited Indonesia for four weeks together with my girlfriend Hanna. We went to Java, Sumatra, Bali and Gili Trawangan and it was quite the experience: it was great, exciting, different, itchy, inspiring, warm, far away. And I was completely cut off from my laptop with Caromble!’s source code, which was kind of strange.
However, I got some great news in the last week of my holiday: Caromble! is greenlit! As I read this news in my e-mail, I made a strange undefined sound and did a silly dance. I think the sound could be described as a combination of a screech and a high pitched sneeze from the mouth and the dance was inspired by the Batak dance (including some improvised little hops), I had learned on Samosir, an island in Lake Toba, which is a lake in a huge volcano crater #awesomeviews.
I celebrated this wonderful achievement with an Indonesian cocktail with Hanna. The Indonesians themselves also celebrated this achievement with lots of fruit and joy as you can see:

Fruit celebration for a greenlit Caromble!

Fruit celebration for a greenlit Caromble!

Of course this was very nice, but I can’t wait to meet up with the team and party hard with some nice, well deserved Dutch (or probably Belgian) beers. I’m writing this in the airplane back to Holland, (yes, yes, technically I’m not back yet and the title of this blog post is incorrect. Get back to your cave troll;) ), where I would like to dedicate a few sentences to congratulate my team members:

Yeaahhhhh!!! Great work guys, we did it! Super awesomedary; greenlit tralalalala greenlit… Tralalalalalaa greenlit, altogether now, greenlit, padappapaadapa greenlit. Caromble!’s gonna be on Steam oh yeah oh yeah, on superduper Steam oh yeah yeah yeah..
So, now I’ve got that out of my system, let’s talk some business. We are currently working on polishing the game and improving the menu and gui to make Caromble! as solid as possible on all levels that influence the gaming experience. Now we have been greenlit, we will get access to the Steam SDK, so we will start implementing that as well. Also we are working on something that allows you players to experience some Caromble! very soon already. I hope we can tell you more about this in the coming weeks.
I want to thank everyone who has upvoted Caromble! on Steam greenlight. Thanks to you we can share our baby (because that is what this project is to us, nourishing it every Friday) with the largest group of players as possible. We will do our utmost best, to make sure that Caromble! deserves your upvotes and attention.

On the island Bali people were also aware of this great news and they sold these great souvenirs. I couldn’t resist buying one for the team ofcourse:)

Artists on Bali are big fans of Caromble!

Caromble Bali Art

 

Now we can finally say: Let’s get ready to Caromble! on Steam!

 

 

Moving Pictures

Some weeks ago our beloved team member Pascal pitched his idea for our next trailer. He actually made a raw dummy trailer, which was very fun to watch! We unanimously decided to work out this idea and add a tiny bit of extra quality to it.

Since that moment we’ve set all gears in motion for our upcoming trailer. The story board is being drawn. Several unfinished art assets are being, erm, finished. And, our audiophiles from Nineyards are producing some vivid music.

We could of course show you the raw material, but that might spoil the experience of the final product. Unfortunately, it’ll be a little while before it’s finished. But when it does, we hope it’ll put a big smile on your face. Hopefully, it’ll also help to get those final Greenlight votes we so desperately want!

We are already looking forward to next year’s Oscar nominations.