Cally’s Caves 4 development is proceeding at a furious pace, and we recently had a chance to revamp the way our start screen works. Our first game’s start screen was simply a logo on a black screen, and with each successive game in the Cally series, we want to improve every aspect of the game. In this dev diary, we will outline the method we used to create the Cally’s Caves 4 start screen.
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).
After a busy couple of months, we’ve just submitted a huge new content update for Cally’s Caves 3, “Melvin’s Prototype Factory.” The update should be out for iOS and Android next week.
This is the biggest update we’ve ever done for a game, and will include a bunch of new features:
Massive New Zone: We’ve added a whole new 34-level zone, with all-new art, a fully functional map and lots of Checkpoints.
New Weapons: 3 new weapons and their final forms can be found in the new Levels! Try using the power of the Slimes for your own benefit with the Slimegun, trap enemies and prevent them from hurting you with the Web Shooters, or use the Bow and Arrow from Cally’s Caves 2 to pepper enemies with arrows. All of the new weapons have 4 evolution tiers, and can be used throughout all of the other game modes.
New Enemies: Melvin has been creating bosses in his prototype lab for years, and to destroy him, you’ll have to defeat them all! 5 new enemy classes with unique behaviors mix up the combat and test your skills.
Beyond all of the new content, we will have a ton of bug fixes and optimizations including the following:
fixed issue where Final Bladegun isn’t being awarded for beating Survival Mode
fixed issue where Bera would sometimes transform into Cally in “Bera: the Long Way Home”
greatly reduced frequency of video ads
fixed missing Sniper Rifle issue – find it in level 101
fixed rating message in pause menu
fixed several small resolution bugs
several new tracks on the soundtrack
We are also happy to announce that the expansion is totally free and is not an in-app purchase or anything like that. We wanted to find a way to thank all the people that have downloaded and supported Cally’s Caves 3. We will have at least one more free expansion out before Christmas, and an announcement of our next project shortly after.
We are just wrapping up work on the android port of Cally’s Caves 3, which should be out soon. There is also an update coming out this week, which includes a whole new zone with new art, and it’s all about telling Bera’s Story! We will have some more dev diaries breaking down how things went with Cally’s Caves 3 real soon…
When we started working on Cally’s Caves 3, it was clear that we needed to improve our tile system to give the game a better, more detailed look. In our previous two games, we used a really simple tile system consisting of 3 tile types; a “path” block, a “fill” block and a “boulder” block. We used the boulders as our “walls,” and flipped the path block for our ceilings.
It was a very simple system, and it worked for us at the time. A couple of months into Cally’s Caves 3 development, however, our artist 0HK0 suggested using a much more complex system to give our game some more visual flair. The suggested tile system would have two types of walls: environment walls and background walls. The environment walls tile set consists of 16 block types, and the background walls have 9. This dev diary will outline exactly how our tile system works, in the hopes that others may find it useful.
If someone who has never made a game before decides to try to create one, it seems like it’s going to be pretty simple. Then that person will have a day – deep into the dev cycle – where they discover a technical requirement they didn’t think about, pull their hair out, and have a nervous breakdown. When we were working on the original Cally’s Caves, there was a certain day when it dawned on us that we were going to have to account for all the different resolutions that iOS devices use. It had never occurred to us in the planning phase that we were going to have to make the game work on anything more than one resolution, and it set us back quite a bit while we implemented our strategy. Thinking back on those days, it seems like it could be a useful exercise to document how we handle the resolutions in specific detail. We do this in the hopes that some others may come across the article and find it useful when they are dealing with the same issue.
Schools of Thought
There are a number of different ways you could handle scaling to different resolutions while developing a game. Looking at GameMaker: Studio specifically, if you look at the tutorial on resolution scaling, it shows you a method of scaling that allows landscape and portrait mode. It’s an adaptable scaling method that is run during every single frame of the game. This is the first school of thought when it comes to resolution scaling on mobile devices: Continue reading →
When we came to the decision to make Cally’s Caves 3, we knew that we would have to radically rethink many of the gameplay mechanics that were in Cally’s Caves 1 and 2. One of the biggest benefits of creating a direct sequel is that it gives us an opportunity to do things differently. We are proud of our first two games, but it’s always helpful to take a step back and try to evaluate what you’ve created from a different perspective. Then, we can use our experience making the first two games to make Cally’s Caves 3 bigger, and much better. This Dev Diary will outline many of the design decisions we made during the planning phase of Cally’s Caves 3 development.
Bigger, but not Always
Cally’s Caves 1 and 2 were made of art assets that were mostly 32×32 pixels. We managed to get away with it by zooming in a little bit on the assets, so they appear larger on an iOS screen that 32×32 pixels. While we are happy to keep going in that direction, we know that we want to have some enemies or bosses that are quite large on the screen. This presents a unique challenge, as some of the boss sprites are so big, they won’t fit on the in-game screen. To account for this (and maintain the large size), we decided to implement a better boss introduction mechanic. When the player first sees a boss, the game camera focuses solely on the boss object, to highlight the size of the sprite, and make sure players get a good look at the boss before the fight kicks in. Continue reading →
With the recent release of new iPhones and iOS 8, we found ourselves in the position where we had to update our iOS games. If we didn’t, our apps would crash on boot, and even if they did run, we wanted to make sure we custom laid everything out for the new iPhone screen sizes. We had wanted to release updates for Cally’s Caves and Cally’s Caves 2 for a long time, but held off because we weren’t 100% sure how to do it, and updating player save data was intimidating. Faced with the prospect of having our apps pulled, we buckled down and got our updates done. Our process was probably unconventional, but we thought we would share how we did our updates for iOS without losing players’ save games in the process. So, let’s begin.
The way we handled saving variables across play sessions in Cally’s Caves and Cally’s Caves 2 was the most basic way you can save things using Gamemaker: Studio. We created an .ini file and had the game save variables that we wanted to keep saved in the file. For example, say the player levels Cally up and increases her max hitpoints to four. We don’t want that player to come back for their next play session and have their max hitpoints be three, right? So after they level up, we open the .ini document in a line of code, save that variable (global.maxhp = 4), and then close the .ini document. The next time the player starts the game, the global.maxhp value is read from the .ini document, so they will start with 4 max HP. It’s a really simple system that you can find in the GM:S help.
We were just going through our archives, and we found the original design document we made back in October 2013. How much did we stick to the original design? The text of the document is as follows:
Cally’s Caves 2
General Plot Synopsis
Intro – told in a series of slide animations
After saving her parents, life returns to normal for young Cally. One day, as she is browsing Facebook on her phone, she gets a Snapchat from Dr. Herbert showing her parents have been kidnapped AGAIN. Knowing what she has to do, Cally sets out into her backyard, ready to journey into the caves once more.