How do we create a new game in the Cally’s Caves series that feels fresh and changes things up? The first 3 games in the series were very light on story, and although we were able to plant some seeds for future story ideas, we could take the plot for Cally’s Caves 4 anywhere. This dev diary will go over some of the decisions we’ve made to make Cally’s Caves 4 stand apart from our previous games.
All 3 Cally’s Caves games took place in “the Caves,” a place that started in Cally’s backyard and gave us a good amount of variety to work with. The story of Cally’s retaking of the Caves has now been told, and we want to take the environments in Cally’s Caves 4 in some new directions. Instead of taking place in one interconnected Cave system, Cally’s Caves 4 takes place all across the globe, in facilities owned by the Golden Skull Society (more on the G.S.S. later).
One of the reasons why we initially chose the Caves as the setting, was because we were always trying to make a map like the game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. SoTN’s map was interconnected and required exploration and backtracking to overcome gates that block progression through the game. However, over the course of 3 games, we never really achieved that same sense of the map being so interconnected. So for Cally’s Caves 4, we made the decision to make each zone set in a different area of the world. We will focus less on making it a metroidvania, and focus more on the combat. This aspect of the setting is intended to make the game feel like a global adventure, and also provide greater variety in the visual look of the environments.
A New Big Bad
Cally’s Caves 1-3 told the story of Herbert, the misguided scientist who would stop at nothing to cure his son Rupert’s curse. At the end of Cally’s Caves 3, Herbert is talked into joining team Cally.
Cally’s Caves 4 will see Herbert contributing to the team, advancing the storyline of his redemption. In his place, we need a new “Big Bad,” to be the antagonist for Cally’s Caves 4. We planted the seeds of the “Golden Skull Society” in Cally’s Caves 3, when Melvin escapes at the end of his zone, and when Cally runs into her sister Robin, who mentions she’s been working on taking the G.S.S. down. Cally’s Caves 4 will tell the story of Cally hunting down the leaders of the secret Golden Skull Society, which has controlled world politics for centuries. Early on the team discovers that Rupert’s curse can be cured by an artifact called the Amulet of Valerius, and the Amulet is in possession of the G.S.S. leader, Ivan Magnus.
Cally’s mission at the start of the game, is to do whatever it takes to cure Rupert’s Curse, and defeating Ivan Magnus and gaining control of the Amulet of Valerius is the only way to make it happen.
More isn’t Always Better
Each successive Cally game has seen the number of weapons and powerups grow. Cally’s Caves 3 introduced weapons that actually changed how they fired as they levelled up. By the time we had finished adding content to CC3, there were 16 weapons, each with 7 different ways of firing. Although we loved the variety of weapon looks, the argument could be made that a number of the weapons worked in similar ways. In Cally’s Caves 4, we are reducing the number of core weapon types to 11, in an effort to make each weapon feel more unique. There will be 8 tiers per weapon class this time.
We are working relentlessly to try and make each weapon class feel truly unique and valuable. We want the player to find their favorite weapon, and enjoy how it fires different from everything else.
We spent almost 6 months working on the CC4 engine to improve many core aspects of it based on feedback we received from Cally’s Caves 3. First off, the game runs at 60fps the whole way through, which is a huge improvement. Collision has been drastically improved so the movement and collision feels much more solid and reliable. We also have Mfi and bluetooth controller support built in this time around, which many people from the Toucharcade forums asked us for. We improved our scaling method to ensure that the pixel art is always displayed at a crisp 1:1 ratio or higher. After this, we decided to add several new effects such as screenshake to make the game feel better. All of these changes were the result of mistakes we made in the past. We hope that by learning from our errors we can take the feel of Cally’s Caves 4 to a whole new level.
New Characters and Looking to the Future
It’s important to us to create new characters to help expand the cast of the Cally’s Caves games. Cally’s Caves 4 will see a number of planned story arcs take place, as well as several new characters being introduced. We also need to think about future games in the series, and set them up properly (but without making the story feel like it doesn’t end satisfactorily in this game). All of this tends to be a tricky balancing act, but character development is extremely important to us, and we want Cally’s Caves 4 to have lots of it.
In the coming weeks, we will post some dev diaries that will delve into more specific aspects of Cally’s Caves 4, but for the first Cally’s Caves 4 post, we wanted to discuss some of the more sweeping changes we made during the design process. What do you think about the decisions we made?