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).
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 →
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.