This is Gravirinth devlog.
Gravirinth Major Update
Gravirinth underwent several optimisations so it runs now faster, and ancillary features were removed. The game-changing change was the adoption of Jack Lance's Large Maps Puzzlescript Fork. So many thanks, Jack!
The dialog system was decoupled from the game map, for more immediate storytelling and to separate it from the naming of different chambers.
The wall outlines are now visible even in hidden areas, to better transmit the depth of the Gravirinth maze.
The full version of gravirinth will be playable for free in the Gravirinth's main page until the end of June.
A tiny playable demo of Gravirinth was prepared today!
Gravirinth was released today! What are you waiting for?GRAVIRINTH-ANNOUNCE
Gravirinth release was postponed due to technical issues related to payment integration, but will be released soon. For now, just one currency will be supported (USD) - if you use a different one, you'll have to convert it for the moment.
After some feedback from the Thinky Puzzle Games discord server, I've edited the Trailer to reduce the credits/text duration, remove the counterproductive statement, and introducing the mechanics more gradually. Overall the updated version feels much better! A major annoyance was youtube forbidding uploaded video edits - so next time I'll upload the trailer somewhere else.
Using OBS to record a full playthrough and later selecting snippets in Shotcut, Gravirinth's full trailer was born. Powerpoint was used for the logo and text animations.
End of Beta-testing
Many thanks to all beta-testers! A special mention to Lucas LeSlo whose challenging comments propelled the game to a new space beyond the known frontiers of puzzlescript!
Four Gravirinth screenshots were added, along with the option to download them all at once.
Free media passes
A more convenient way to request (and handle) free media passes, via the form below, was implemented.
After some benchmarking, it became clear that most puzzle games with similar complexity and quality (number of levels, degree of open-worldness, difficulty, story, artwork and music, etc...) are retailing between 4G - 10G so Gravirinth's price was increased to better position it in this market. A second reason for the increase is the significant improvement from beta-testing, which expanded the scope and quality of the game beyond the initial goal.
Naturally, those who reserved a place in the Gravirinth before 16-02-2019 are still entitled to the previous discounted price.
Landing page with teaser video
Gravirinth's landing page improved with the addition of a small looping teaser video with selected moments from the beta-test. This replaces Gravirinth's animated logo, still downloadable alongside screenshots.
Eliminating inconsistent physical behaviours when raising or picking a block, while carrying another laterally.
Minor level fixes
Preventing some traps and adding more post-win navigation possibility in certain level areas.
Crouching against a block of opposing gravity while carrying a second block lateraly, will now form an unstable block only. Carrying the lateral block must wait a full turn, and the player is required to repeat the action (now crouching against the new unstable block).
It is no longer possible to intentionally dash past a rotator beacon (by pressing two keys in very fast succession).
Bonus level updates
Level Unplugged became clearer yet harder. Another major simplification, to level Blockbooster, created a better level, renamed Hourglass.
An at first sight impossible bonus level, named Brakes, was created - the last level to be added to Gravirinth.
Light propagates instantaneously now. A missing checkpoint was added.
New release date
Although the game could be released as is, new polish ideas keep appearing. So the release date date will be postponed to February 2019.
Exit or keep exploring?
Upon completing the main puzzle, Xeno now has the option to continue exploring the Gravirinth and access overlooked areas (to perhaps collect some extra elusive fourfold orbs), or to be rescued anytime - terminating the game and entering the Gravirinth's Hall of Fame. This option is likely to be cherished by completionists and explorers alike.
Sound effects were added. Apart from the typewriter sound recording, all sound effects were created intentionally. The idea was that frequent sounds needed to be very simple and discrete, while others could be more complex and last longer. Each sound needed also to retain an own character: changing instrument, rhythm and pitch sequence.
- Activating one of 4 directional arrows: 4 different variations of three notes by a piccolo flute, with opposing directions having notes in opposing order;
- Saving progress: a very quick and high-pitch tuba;
- Activating a light beam: a mysterious and rewarding crescendo vibraphone sequence;
- Collecting an orb: a victory evoking slow, then accelerating piccolo flute;
- Undoing a step: an ultra-quick harpsichord dyad;
- Returning to a previous point: a soothing harp valley.
Happy new year and thanks to all beta-testers for an extra round of wonderful ideas and important suggestions, which motivated the following improvements:
The ordering of some levels (especially just before the posterior core) was changed to improve flow and make for a more compelling finale. World map size compressed further. Secret interlink between tutorial area and the Catacombs. The final part in the Tower was polished. Many new bonus levels!
New Bonus levels
Alternate ways, Double twist, Spiky, Clockworks, Sliding and Orthogonal.
Responsive gravity beacons
The flashy gravity beacons now remain idle until an object is detected nearby. They activate too when affecting moving objects, leaving a pleasing trail of motion.
Slow light beam
The light beams now propagate slowly and aesthetically through the walls.
Beta-test (second round)
After a first successful round of beta-testing, with extremely useful feedback, a second round is now live.
Old keys are still valid. If you haven't joined the first round, please contact Pedro PSI to obtain a password. Only an even more limited number will be issued!
What's still missing?
At least three extra bonus levels and music, for which suggestions are welcome!
New bonus level
New bonus level Unplugged added.
More story-related in-game comments were added.
New untreaded areas are now revealed progressively, encouraging exploration and contributing to a more mysterious atmosphere. This means some bonus chambers will only be revealed to the observing eye.
Many thanks to all beta-testers, whose brilliant suggestions enabled the following improvements:
Unstable gravity blocks physics
These blocks now disappear (when the conflict no longer exists) as soon as a player is moving, instead of waiting for the next gravity phase.
A new camera system was devised to enable focusing on certain level areas, improving playability. This system also eliminated the need for wasted tiles padding the sides of the world map, increasing game performance.
The next action intended by the player is recorded in a keybuffer, resulting in smoother gameplay.
Less flashy gravity beacons
The gravity beacons now flash slighlty less often, reducing distraction potential.
Gravirinth's font got upgraded to improve legibility, retaining its character.
Level map changes
Some areas were tweaked to accomodate the change in unstable gravity block physics.
Beta-testing is now live. Please contact Pedro PSI to obtain a password. Only a limited number will be issued!
Upon completing the game, the number of fourford orbs collected as well as the number of steps taken are recorded in each entry to the Gravirinth's Hall of Fame.
Three new bonus areas added.
All areas are now complete. The Tower and the Catacombs must be traversed (in any order) before entering the final chambers. One thus passes three times through the Main Atrium, which was redesigned.
Unstable gravity fields
Whenever two blocks of different gravities would fall towards the same point, an unstable local gravity field appears, and stays there until after the potential collision is resolved.
This was the last piece to be added to the tutorial area, which is now complete.
A system to allow speedy transitions between levels was created, dubbed the highway. Once a level is solved, you may extend the the highway up to that point, so you can shuttle back and forth between the main atrium and the last unsolved level in each area.
The game starts with a mysterious introductory scene.
Significant game lag was traced back to two sources:
- Scaling with map size: animation execution was restricted to the field of view.
- Split rules: where some display elements had a fixed size of n units, n rules were consolidated into a single one.
Gravirinth now runs super smoothly.
A basic dialog console was made. This will introduce new story elements, names of areas, hints, without breaking the action flow.
A minimalist uppercase 4 by 4 pixel font was designed to fit the dialog console. Trickiest characters: M and W!
A move counter and inventory were added to the new bottom display line. Now perfecionist puzzlers will be able to minimise the number of moves and the explorers may easily know how many fourfold orbs they discovered.
There is no pressure to do everything right the first time, as resetting to a previous checkpoint erases the elapsed moves. However, collecting a fourfold orb creates a new checkpoint, so to then undoing would be the only way to return to a previous state.
Naturally, both types of achievements will be displayed at the Gravirinth's Hall of Fame.
Gravirinth's cover page is now live.
Gravirinth's cover page completed, with a preliminary storyline and animated tutorial instructions.
To reward those who support the game earlier, the price could vary continuously until the release date. But simpler is better so a flat 20% discount on a 2.5G price (reduced to a plain 2G) seems more appropriate. There are other good indie puzzle games priced similarly so this price should capture the value of a couple hours of intellectual stimulation.
Integration with payment platforms
A basic payment infrastructure was set up. This is likely to improve in the future.
Meaning. When someone decides to pay, it means something special is received in return.
Learning. Making a paid game requires a broader set set of skills (marketing, communication, processing payments, taxes, etc...) than required for free games. My primary goal with this project is to learn these broader skills in practice!
What if you don't want to pay?
That's ok! You can still enjoy all free Pedro PSI's games!
After some iteration, Gravirinth's name was chosen! I'm happy with this choice, which reflects the character of the game: finding your way through a labirinth by manipulating gravity.
Names that didn't make the cut failed mostly for being non-unique (searching for them yields too many results) or not specially interesting. For instance names such as "Gravity Brothers" or "Proper Gravity" fell into the former case, while "Gravicrate" or "Gravitalt" fell into the latter.
Gravirinth's logo is born! The main goals were that it be easily readable and typographically interesting:
- almost all letters are contiguous and represent a labyrinth;
- the detached "v" symbolises a gravity beacon, so the line below doubles as a labyrinth wall;
- the large dots over the "i"s represent the elusive fourfold orbs.
The logo was animated, then etched onto a Gravirinth wall, whose shifting symbols and surrounding perpetual loop were added for decoration. This animated version will be displayed at the cover page.
The tutorial area of the world map was designed. In the first stages, the player shouldn't have much choice, since the goal is to learn all the rules in the simplest possible way. In the last stages, while play remains linear, the solutions are not direct, making the learning process more enjoyable.
This tutorial area should be self-explanatory, without text, so that players anywhere in the world learn easily. Optional helping points may be added later!
World map sketch
The world map was divided in five areas: a initial tutorial area, linked to the main atrium. From here one may enter the area codenamed the tower which is traversed linearly (with increasing difficulty) and another area dubbed the catacombs which branches to a shallow depth and contains harder chllenges. A last area called the core which will be central to winning the game, a puzzle equivalent to the "final boss".
Although recycling some assets from previous games saved some time, it still took a while to nail down the final set of rules and to polish the code!
An early idea was to control 4 different agents simultaneously, each with its own gravity direction; soon rejected as too confusing. Alternating control across all 4 agents cleared the confusion, but wasn't very compelling either. So I tried a single agent and introduced the gravity beacons to change gravity. When applying the beacons to the crates as well I instantly realised that a very cool game awaited creation.
A coulour palette was devised using purple as the primary background colour. Why purple? To be different from previous games.
Contrasting with purple, four secondary colours were assigned to each of the four directions:
- Left - Pink
- Up - Yellow
- Right - Beige
- Down - Orange
Then each of the five colours earned five shades: very light, light, medium, dark and very dark.