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 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 →
This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone reading this. If you finished the bonus levels in Cally’s Caves 2, or follow us on Twitter or Soundcloud, you probably know that we have been working on Cally’s Caves 3 for some time now. After the wonderful time we had with Cally’s Caves 2, we decided to put the puzzle game we were working on to the side and try to keep the ball rolling with the Cally franchise. So, what’s in store for Cally on her next adventure?
Cally’s Caves 3 is another chance for us to aspire to make the best platformer on iOS. We’ve taken a lot of the feedback we received from the first two games and are putting it to use while developing Cally’s Caves 3. The biggest change is that we are adding a new game plus mode, which will give players a lot more reasons to come back and keep playing. After finishing the campaign (124 levels or so), new game plus mode will open up. Another tier of weapon upgrades will open up, leading towards a god-tier final form for each weapon. Instead of just making new game plus be like the campaign again but harder, we are adding new enemies and weapon types into new game plus, and the one “true” story ending to the game will be at the end of the new game plus playthrough.
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.
Well, we’ve been approved by Apple, and the game is finally about to launch. Our release date is next Tuesday, July 1st, and the game will be available completely free. Here are some gifs to celebrate!
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.
The art in Cally’s Caves was done entirely by my good friend Dave in an open-source pixel art editor called Aseprite. Well we were very happy with the art as a first effort – Dave taught himself how to do it in just a few short months – there’s always room for improvement, and some of our reviews commented on the art in a not-so-positive way. I know that with Cally 2 it is incredibly important to have the art be amazing, and comparable to the best art on any iOS game, in order to have the best chance at success. Things evolved naturally when Dave moved to a different city and let me know that he probably wouldn’t have enough time to do the art on another game (he will be staying on in a design/level editor capacity).
I posted on the TIGsource forums about looking for a pixel artist for Cally’s Caves 2, linking the first game and hoping and praying someone would answer and want to collaborate with me on the game. Enter Pablo, an artist who emailed me asking if the position was open and sending me a portfolio of some of his work. I instantly jumped at the opportunity, recognizing his work as exactly what I was looking for. The first actual work he sent me for Cally’s Caves 2 was this promo image, which you may have seen before on this blog: