Caromble! is a fresh brick-breaking game in a 3D, physics-based dystopic world with an unique art-style and epic gameplay features you wouldn’t expect in a brick breaker.
It is created by Crimson Owl Studios, a small part time indie team that comes together every Friday to develop their first game. Caromble! will be released in 2015 and will be available on PC, Mac & Linux.

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In our first Early Access release there are two skill levels to unlock. The first is Sharphooter, for which three medals are needed. Have you unlocked it yet? Can you beat Peter’s highscore:

Once you have defeated the Chapter 1 boss, Two teaser levels for Chapter 2 and 3 are unlocked as well. Chapter 3 introduces multipaddles and we hope you are excited for them. What do you think of our crazy-pazy work-in-progress shader effect:

We are currently working hard on finishing Chapter 2. Check the pinned discussion on Steam to keep track of our progress. We are aiming to release Chapter 2 before the end of October, but yeah… part-time indies 😛

For the Dutch fans, or any happy travelers; in 2.5 weeks, from 9-11 October, we will be attending FirstLook in Jaarbeurs Utrecht. Here you can play Caromble! and have a sneak peek at our Chapter 2 levels! Hopefully we see you there!

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

Early Access Round One

And the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Steam Early Access Video goes to…

What a week! Thanks for all the feedback on our Steam Early Access release! Caromble! only got positive reactions! Which is a great stimulus to work even harder towards the full release 🙂

Also, we we’re a little surprised on the reception of our Early Access Explanation Video. You people really liked it! It’s good to see our message about releasing on Early Access has been received well and gets great support. Haven’t watched the video yet? Please do.

Besides the great reactions on our Steam community page – thanks again! – some friendly redditors picked up on our video and gave really nice comments:

“This was the best explanation and implementation of Early Access I’ve ever heard. Seriously.”

and

“This is a brilliant Early Access video. Using humour and truth to break the news to people will win them a lot of leeway and respect.”

and

“Really great take on the early access system; honestly wish more people would take the route they have.”

Also, great to see Thomas – the artist – being admired for his acting skills! “And the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Steam Early Access Video goes to…”

Besides creating the game itself, it is also a lot of work for our small indie team to create additional content like our videos. It’s reassuring that the result of those midnight hours is being appreciated!

Controllers

This Caromble! Friday

After this milestone it’s time to look forward again. This Caromble! Friday we’ll discuss all the responses and decide what will be in the next bigger Early Access update. In between the content updates we’ll possibly push some hotfix updates.

We’re glad that the number of issues didn’t grow that much, so we can already focus on introducing new features.

You want control? We are working on our controller support. The logic is already present but the controller needs more tweaking to make you – ehm.. – feel in control. Naturally, we also want to add the next chapter levels. So those will probably be in the coming update.

Until next time, happy gaming!

Early Access, here we come!

Finally we can proudly announce that after six years of work we’re releasing Caromble! to the public on Early Access!

It has been six years one-day-a-week effort to create this on this for us. That’s 312 Fridays! And we’re still not quite done, since this is a version we’ll improve until the final release in a couple of months. If you want to support us, and maybe give us feedback – head over to the Caromble’s Steam page:

We have released a fresh trailer with the release also:

And an explanation of what Early Access means for us (and you):

Since the morning we sold a few copies, and one of the first reactions we got was “That game is fun… ALOT of fun”. We even scored a neat Caromble! review already. And the graphics style and physics often get compliments. Good start.

Happy Caromble Team

Time to celebrate! …a little.

Early Access means though that it’s not the full version. It’s for us to ask for help with finding bugs, optimizing the engine and content. It contains the first levels… but every buyer will get the rest step by step as we’re finishing it.

Marketing will be one of our next challenges, since we have zero budget. And we notice that it takes a lot of time. But since people really like our explanation videos, it seems we’re learning.

So please check it out – and any feedback and share will help us a lot.

Caromble Early Access

Caromble! Early Access Artwork

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!

Next Steps of the Cover Artwork

Taking in the feedback from the team, I worked on new versions of the Cover artwork (of which I posted the first steps last week).

The crew liked the general idea of the zig-zag pattern. But the idea of tumbling objects got a bit lost in the latest sketch. So here I’ve made it central, and removed the enemy – so that the composition stays simple.

Good progress – but I wasn’t quite quite happy. And the team wanted to keep the alien, as it hints at an interesting story. So here is another version… though the composition is narrowing down.
This drawing is cleaner, so I can use it as base for working digitally on it.

Next I made a blockout, so I have a better feeling for the brightness-values that the image will use.

And finally I added some colors. Some things I just keep in mind for now – for example that the explosions will blend better with the background in the final version. But it gives a good preview. The detailing can begin.

Caromble! Cover Art Is Coming

This will be an important part of our Greenlight launch, so I have to get this right. Here are some first sketches I did for the cover art – of which I will use elements for the various images in the Steam store.

Quite a lot of elements to get in there. I have the paddle shooting the ball straight at some objects. Lots of explosions of course. And the nemesis wailing about.

In a second sketch I tried to highlight the specific game elements more: The ball bounces around, and aims finally at the enemy as central figure. The scale comes across a bit better – and I think it’s overall nicer to look at.

More work is to be done on these concepts – I’ll update next week with the progress.

Fun by Metrics

Fun! That’s what most games are meant for. Some people argue it’s the meaning of life. Like in the book Homo Ludens (‘Playing Man’) by Johan Huizing. At least, that’s my over-generalized conclusion of a book that I have yet to read.. It discusses the “importance of the play element of culture and society”. Hence, the importance of playing Caromble!.

Our goal with Caromble! is to create a fun game. One of the aspects of creating a fun game is that it feels immersive. This requires a fine balance between boredom and frustration; or as we like to call it: the ‘Fun Flow’. The zone where you forget about time and yourself while having fun. One of the major slowdowns when creating Caromble! is to debug something and get side-tracked by playing the game. Yes, we as developers think to know the game is fun! Unfortunately, we aren’t important.

Metrico

Metrico – A game where players themselves can have fun with metrics!

We are humble game developers serving the people’s need to have fun. You, the people, are easily bored and/or frustrated. I don’t mean to offend, but that’s the conclusion of many game design books. So, we want to avoid boredom and frustration by doing our very best in balancing the game. One way to balance a game is to collect game metrics, identify unbalanced areas of a game, and… fix them!

How do we identify these unbalanced areas? By asking the right question. However, we are still arguing about what data to collect. But it will certainly contain data like:

  • How much time does it take to finish a level?
  • How many balls are lost?
  • How many times is screen X shown.

How do we collect these metrics? Unfortunately, it seems that the Steam SDK is not designed for this. So, we searched for another, easy way of tracking data and found Craig Timpany’s article from 2009 on how to collect game statics using Google Analytics. (As a sidenote he happens to have been involved with another brick-breaker – Shatter – as stated on his so-called ludography).

Game analytics dashboard

All Work All Play – Google Analytics dashboard with game metrics by Wolfgang Graebner

Another article by Wolfgang Graebner (2014) says this about using Google Analytics:

“It’s reliable, easy to set up, tracks common metrics such as views & hosts, supports custom metrics, and the data can be shared with others. That’s basically everything [you] need from an analytics service.”. It shows a nice example of collected data:

Bingo! That’s what we need. Let’s collect some data and add more fun!

Sweating the Small Stuff

As we’re in the final mile of the project, there are quite a lot of little details that need polishing. Not the most fun work – but gotta be done. Girders and metal bars are used all over the game, and used still some early test textures without final effects like normal maps. So now I redid all of them, fixed all errors – and brushed them up to the style of the other objects. That will also help to make the game look consistent.

girders 3d

Supports and girders

And menu stuff – little navigation arrows and medals for the achievements.

Menu Icons

More Icons – including achievement medals

And the endboss you will meet every chapter got updated – we’re still tweaking the gameplay. Beware: He can now shoot back!

alien mesh

The “alien” – got a new home.. and weapons.