Beta: How our testers create ghosts for the final game!

Our beta has been released around one week ago. We got a lot of positive feedback so far and the gamers enjoy to discover all the beautiful details in every particular map. As you might know, our game also contains a “Time Attack Mode”, where the player needs to beat the developers. For the beta, we have provided 3 ghosts for each map with varying difficulties, namely bronze, silver, and gold. Since we capture the trajectory of the spinship, the players can actually see their opponent. During the beta, our testers try to beat the ghosts we have captured.

And here comes the challenge: We also capture the spinships of our testers giving them the chance to replace our ghosts for the final game! We are not only taking the best ghosts, but rather keep care that they are “good” ghosts (the less wall hits, the better) which are good replacement for each skill level (bronze, silver, and gold). Our testers are so motivated, that we decided to prepare a web-widget, which not only shows the ranking, but also provides an interactive way to watch and inspect the trajectories of the other players!

For our blog, we have created a light version of the web-widget (see above), which does not reveal the player’s names and only contains maps 1 and 5 of each chapter (open the ranking by clicking on the upper left button). However, it is also live and instantly updated as long as the beta is ongoing! So whenever our testers have finished a map in the Time Attack Mode, you can have a look on the ghost they just created. Note, that we have highlighted our original ghosts in the ranking in yellow.

Since we only need to capture the attributes of the spinship, the schematic view of our web-widget only contains the static physical boundary of the map and the spinship. All other game elements like springs, pillows, or moving obstacles are not displayed. Don’t be confused, if a ghost in this schematic view seems to behave weird on large free areas. Most probably, the player just needed to avoid a moving element… or maybe the player is just crazy himself :-)

You can also have a look on the distribution of finished maps in the Time Attack Mode, if you click the button in the upper right of the web-widget. Note, that the charts here contain all ghost data (including all 40 maps). Further note, that we will reveal the in-game graphics of the ghosts in our next episode.

Simply creating complex maps with Blender

Modeling one level in “Why Does It Spin?” is done basically in two steps as explained in one of our previous posts. In this video we demonstrate this map creation process by example and show how easy it is to create a complex map with our level tools in Blender in a few minutes. After creating outlines with Spiro splines, different game elements are playfully placed and arranged.

Level tools built upon Blender

Our 3D content creation pipeline is mainly based on Blender (www.blender.org). When creating a level we start with painting the level outlines and then in the second step place all the game elements needed, selected from our 3D model database. We wanted our level outlines to be as “blobby” as possible to visually fit the look of the game where a permanently rotating stick is moved around. Hence, circles and arcs are often encountered in our level design. For this purpose we have used Spiro splines (for more information on Spiro splines please check www.levien.com/spiro/). Our experience in short: Although numerically unstable, Spiro splines are very intuitive in practice and create visually pleasing results. In order to use Spiro splines in Blender we have ported the C implementation from Inkscape (www.inkscape.org) to a Blender plugin implemented in python. All 3D models used in “Why Does It Spin?” were also created with Blender. We have extended the Blender GUI to allow for adding different game entities (e.g., springs, gates, conveyors, etc.) along with all their specific properties. While advancing from level to level new game elements are introduced, and each chapter in “Why Does It Spin?” has its own style defined by specific decoration objects, colors and textures. We wanted the players of “Why Does It Spin?” to have fun exploring the levels and detecting all its details besides solving the level objectives.

Why Does It Spin? – First Gameplay Footage

This is the very first official gameplay footage of “Why Does It Spin?”, the debut title of Incodra, coming soon to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The concept of the game is to control a continuously rotating long stick (the spinship) by tilting the device. There is only one important rule: The spinship may not touch any wall! This sounds rather simple, but as the player encounters narrow areas and moving obstacles avoiding damage becomes a quite sophisticated task. Watch the video to get a first impression of the upcoming game challenges and join our YouTube-Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/WhyDoesItSpin) for any new official footage.

At this point we would also like to thank Thomas Flachs for the 2D artworks and Markus Roth for the background music. Both have done a great job in pushing our game to premium quality.

Incodra prodly presents: “Why Does It Spin?” coming to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

“Why Does It Spin?” is a game of skill with a well-balanced arcade style gameplay where a continuously rotating spinship needs to be controlled through a colorful and fascinating world full of narrow areas, moving obstacles, and many other interesting game elements. The game is developed by us, Lars Krecklau and Darko Pavic, who are two experienced computer scientists from Germany with a strong affinity for games. During our academic career at the chair of computer graphics and multimedia we have published a bunch of papers at international top conferences such as Eurographics and FMX (have a look at the our list of publications: Lars, Darko). After finishing our PhDs we decided to go indie and founded Incodra to start something on our own, namely the development games for mobile platforms.

We started our first project with the development of our own 3D engine for large-scale 2.5D game environments with major focus on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. From the beginning, we wanted to create a visually pleasing premium game without in-app purchases and with a nice story behind. Hence, we carefully planned the outline of our first title “Why Does It Spin?”, developed and designed a lot, and now we are close to its completion. The featured image shows an artwork of the main character (Dusty), his rotating spinship, and his family members, who got lost in the strange world of colorful bands.

We have also just finished our sites in the following social networks:

http://www.facebook.com/WhyDoesItSpin
http://www.twitter.com/WhyDoesItSpin
http://www.google.com/+WhyDoesItSpin