New Song: Cally’s Caves 4 – Zone 2 (Rough Edit)

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Development Diary #11: Making a Trailer

We just posted our first trailer for Cally’s Caves 2, and since we were figuring it out as we went along, nothing seems more appropriate than a dev diary on how we made it.  You can use it as a cautionary tale, or get some tips that may be useful for your trailer, it’s really up to how you judge our final product.

Background

When we made the trailer for the first Cally’s Caves game, we used a very popular screen recording software called Fraps to capture our footage.  We then used an editing software named Proshow Producer to edit the clips together and make our trailer.  While this was a decent way of doing it, we had problems with the overall video quality.  Fraps recorded high quality footage, but when we stitched together the .avi files that Fraps makes, then rendered the project again in Proshow Producer, there was a severe decline in video quality.  Add Youtube’s compression to the mix and we ended up with a pretty grainy trailer, as you can see for yourself above.

One thing we think worked out nicely for the Cally’s Caves trailer was how the footage was edited to the music, and ramped up as it went along.  We knew we could use some of the techniques we had learned making that trailer and make the trailer for Cally’s Caves 2 way better.

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Development Diary # 10: Implementing Feedback from the Beta

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.

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The Testers

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

Development Diary #3: Music Beginnings

I started working on the music for our second game before we knew we would be making a sequel to Cally’s Caves.  This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve always been into making music using Propellerheads’ Reason software, as well as playing guitar and piano in my spare time.  In the lull between games, I knew I could be productive by just making some songs and experimenting with different sounds and chord progression ideas.  I was proud of the music from Cally’s Caves and wanted to continue to make tracks since I find it very creatively satisfying, even if my ears are the only ones hearing it.

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The general feel of the soundtrack in Cally’s Caves was not exactly coherent, it was a melange of upbeat, hyper tracks, and ambient, atmospheric ones.  I liked the way the music evoked different moods in the different levels, but I know I can do better this time around, and give the soundtrack more of a coherent feel.  That being said, my musical process remains the same, and it always begins with a guitar or piano.

(note – this diary links to my soundcloud for the tracks I’m writing about, since WordPress doesn’t like audio files)

https://soundcloud.com/jordan-pearson-10/cally-2-lloyds-theme

“Lloyd’s Theme” was one of the first tracks I composed for Cally 2, and I came up with the idea while noodling on my guitar.  I eventually came up with the verse and chorus riffs, which are incredibly simple (and not very well-played in the recording).  Lloyd is a character that helps Cally learn the systems of the game, and appears at many different points throughout Cally 2.  He’s always sitting there, playing guitar, and I wanted a guitar-based theme to play every time he shows up, so the player hears it and knows a tutorial is sure to follow, a Pavlov’s dog kind of situation.  After recording the acoustic bits, I fed them into reason, sequenced them, and created a simple drumbeat, bassline, and synth melody to round out the track.  It’s very simple, but that’s the feel I was going for, and I hope that it will come across like Lloyd is playing the guitar in the final product. Continue reading