Cally’s Caves 2: Development Diary #9 – Getting Ready for Testing

Putting something you crafted into someone else’s hands is a harrowing experience.  When that person’s gaze locks onto the object you created, a shift happens.  What was once your private project is no longer your own, and a singular experience becomes shared one.  It can be amazing or terrifying, but either way you will walk away from that shared experience with an idea of how you could have approached your creation differently.  The beauty of game development is you can choose to incorporate the feedback you gain from sharing your creation with others before your product is finalized.  This is why we have dedicated a two-month period to beta testing Cally’s Caves 2.  In today’s Dev Diary we will discuss how we have approached the 8-week beta test period of our game’s development, and what we hope to gain from putting Cally’s Caves 2 in the hands of playtesters.

Cally's Caves 2 Screen

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Development Diary #7: Art!

Today’s Dev Diary is written by Yal, who is one of the two artists working on Cally’s Caves 2 (along with OHKO).  She shares some of her experiences and insights into the process of creating art for a 2d platformer.

A guest article? Does that mean… there is a guest?! Um, well, yeah. Long story short: OHKO asked me whether I was interested in helping out doing some weapon graphics for Cally’s Caves 2. I said yes. Done, stop yawning. Now let’s change subject to the actual graphics! =]

Since a large majority of all AAA games released nowadays are FPS games, it’s only natural that they use guns. The problem is, most of them also try to be vaguely realistic, which in turn means all weapons are of the type “fires bullets in a straight line”. Now how fun is that? This also generally results in unbalanced weapons, since if all weapons fire in a straight line, why bother getting more than one? The answer is: because every new weapon is tons better than the previous one, so why bother keeping that anyway?

Contrast that with a game like Cave Story by Studio Pixel:

cave story

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Development Diary #4 – On Level Design in a 2d Game

One of the greatest challenges developing Cally’s Caves 2 is how to go about designing 100 levels while keeping the game fresh.  Cally’s Caves had 27 levels, not including boss rooms or the challenge “subrooms.”  At the time, it seemed like a good idea to differentiate each level by the use of music, tile sets, and area names.  Every time you entered a new level, a new song would start playing, and every five levels the environment sprites would change.  While this worked to a certain degree, a large number of players played the first few levels and then gave up (either out of frustration at the difficulty, or just not enjoying the game).  This unfortunately led to a number of the levels and environment sets never being seen.  In retrospect, we may have been better off if we had changed the tile set every level and just rotated the four sets that we had.  Hindsight is 20/20, and having that hindsight doesn’t affect the product we already released.  It does, however, allow us to approach a sequel with the lessons we learned in mind.  Hopefully, using the lessons we learned, we can make the levels in Cally Caves 2 do a lot more for the player.


Level 3 of Cally's Caves
Level 3 of Cally’s Caves

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Development Diary #1: Making a Sequel

I’ve decided to write a weekly development diary about the process of making Cally’s Caves 2.  I’m doing it mostly as a design tool to help me reflect upon decisions I’ve made while designing the game, with the hope that it will help me think about the ideas from another perspective and help me create the best game I possibly can.  So it’s a personal tool, but if you read it and enjoy it, it certainly can’t hurt!  To begin, here’s a bit of background:


In June 2013, having quit my day job, I decided to try and make a video game with my good friend Dave.  The main barrier we faced in this venture was that neither of us had any experience in game design.  Sure, I had programmed some little bits of software on my Commodore 64 as a kid, but nothing resembling a full game, and that was 20 years ago.  Inspired by the likes of Tom Francis and Steve Gaynor, who both made amazing independent games (Gaynor had experience but left a big company to make a solo game, and Francis had no experience but kept his day job and learned how to do it at night), I enlisted Dave and we set out on the path.  By October we had finished Cally’s Caves, and released it on the iOS Appstore.  There’s no need to get into the thought process behind the design decisions we made here, but since its release we’ve had 7000 downloads and although we didn’t make any money, it was a personal success for us both – we proved to ourselves that we could ship a game.


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