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.
Sorry it’s been a while since our last update! It’s crunch time for Cally’s Caves 2, which means we are spending a ton of time polishing, bug fixing, and getting ready to submit to Apple. In our last post we detailed how we hoped our Beta test would go, and at this point we have wrapped up the testing phase. It didn’t last the 8 weeks we planned on, it actually only took about 2 weeks to receive feedback from all of our testers. We thought it would be a good time to discuss the feedback we received, and how we are using it to make our game a lot more user-friendly and fun.
We ended up having 15 people beta test Cally’s Caves 2, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but for an indie developer like us, it was a gold mine of useful information. I put a post up on my personal Facebook and Twitter pages, and the testers all volunteered from there. Of all the testers, only 2 people tested the game on iPad, 5 people used iPhone 5 or 5s, and the rest were on the older iPhone 4 or 4s models. We were lucky to have a wide range of devices testing the game, and that’s mostly just due to luck with who signed up. We also (as detailed in our pre-beta dev diary), sent out an introduction package and survey with the beta files, which most of the people filled out. It also helped to have my phone near me, as testers would often text me the bugs, which I would then add to my to-do list. We did have people report quite a few bugs, which was amazing because we may have never found them if we were testing the game ourselves. Continue reading
We already posted on some of the thoughts behind the level design in Cally’s Caves 2 a while ago. In the time since that blog came out we’ve made a number of crucial decisions regarding how the levels will be laid out. Also, the overall level design is such an important part of developing a 2D game that we figured it would be worth another post to discuss some of the decisions we’ve made. We’ve already written about how we approach tutorials, the smaller level sizes, and increasing density of objects in a level, so this time we are going to focus on the smaller things that go into making a level for Cally’s Caves 2.
A good 2D platformer should always be fun to run and jump around in. Player movement mechanics are incredibly important, and part of developing player movement is figuring out how the player’s interaction with the environment works. If the player stands on a brick block, they shouldn’t fall through it. If the player runs into a wall, horizontal movement should stop. Basic stuff, right? But if that’s all there is to the game, it might get a bit boring after a while (although plenty of games don’t, and are awesome). Introducing hazards allows a designer to inject some danger into a level design, which helps keep the player on their toes. It also increases the reward value for a player when they beat a level. Would a player feel more satisfaction if they ran down a level that was designed like a hallway, or if they navigated through a maze-like level filled with spikes and lava pits? We believe the latter provides more opportunity for player satisfaction, although there isn’t an objectively correct answer.
Levelling up and increasing different aspects of a character is one of my favorite parts of playing games. Series like the Elder Scrolls and the Ratchet and Clank games have always kept me hooked through the promise of being able to see a little meter fill up and know I’m about to reach that next level. Considering how deeply RPG mechanics hook me, it should come as no surprise that Cally’s Caves 2 includes a number of mechanics that will help Cally grow more powerful as the game progresses. Player leveling, finding weapons, leveling up those weapons, the upgrade shop, and in-game currency – these are the RPG mechanics at the core of Cally’s Caves 2. Since we are making a sequel we can some of the ideas we had for the original game and taking them as far as we can.
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: