from Nordic Game to release
It’s been a long long time since my last article (more than a year in fact). But we never stopped working on the game. Quite the opposite actually: we had so much to do that I forgot to write these logs. So what have we been up to ?
Post-nordic game 2017
The last devlog saw us going to the Nordic Game festival in Malmö, Sweden (in May 2017). There we had the chance of meeting with publishers from Nintendo who, after trying the game, told us it could be a good fit for their new platform, the Switch.
Switch & Unity port
So we went with it. The major change was the engine. Being a Unity developer in my day job, I’ve decided to rewrite the whole game in Unity (which, at the time, had more support for the Switch). This enabled us to be faster, more flexible. What we lost in visual appeal, we gained in iteration times and development speed.
Ghost in the Dark
There came the second big change. Our artist had issues with the current artstyle, and wanted something both easier to explain and more fitting for the Switch, more cartoony and colourful. We settled for a version of the game involving elemental ghosts fighting in a mansion. We called this “Ghost in the Dark”.
So we went from this:
Gameplay first or story first ?
But that still didn’t feel quite right. It was hard to explain to players, things were not making sense (“what is this golden artifact the ghosts are fighting for?”, “why are they invisible?”). Then it struck us: from the very beginning, the game has been all about mechanics. The theme was always left off, for fear that it would interfere in the “pureness” of the gameplay. I now believe that this was a mistake, and that the theme should have been included in the initial discussions, helping everything make sense, easier to explain and grounded in a reality.
That however proved to be no challenge for our amazing artist (who most definitely isn’t looking above my shoulder right now). When he realized that, he immediately stopped trying to fit themes and universes on top of a game that wasn’t made to empower them. He instead drew inspiration from more abstract and contrasted designs. This third and final artstyle change also came with a name change.
No more wizards or ghosts. The purely mechanical approach of the game is embraced, and frees us to explore the full depth of the game’s system without needing to fight with an unfitting narrative.
At the same time, the question of sound came to the table. The neon-like visuals called for electronic music. The high concentration required to play demanded low-distraction. Finally, the high tension meant we needed sustained rhythms. Drum and bass and psytrance were our initial style choices, with references from Infected Mushroom (<3), Pendulum, Phaxe. So that’s the style of music we went for. The game’s music reacts to in-game events, so the closer someone is to winning, the more stressful the music will be.
So there we go, one year later, the game is ported to the Switch and just released on the eShop. I had to keep this devlog short, or I would have never been able to write everything I wanted. There is still a lot more going on, (especially a post about the release!) so hold on tight. I’ll leave you with a few screenshots of the game.