Because we (Idle Action Studios) were doing a demo at BostonFIG yesterday, I thought I'd take the time to explain a little about our game, Candlelight, and what you should expect from it Saturday and in the weeks/months to come.
As I said previously, our game is a 2d puzzle platformer. I'll be talking about it in terms of some other games, because it's hard to talk about platformers without making reference to what's come before. Candlelight is not so much a puzzler the way Braid is, or at least, not yet. Our goal is to keep the puzzles a little more organic, and a little more dangerous. We aren't quite going for Limbo either, though. Our characters aren't so powerless, and our atmosphere isn't as uniformly oppressive and violent. And yes, the use of lantern-light, as described in my last post and as seen in our demo, may remind some of Closure, which is a fantastic game which I intend to review sooner rather than later, but those similarities are more aesthetic than anything, and as our art style changes I think it will become harder to draw parallels.
So if we're not any of those, what are we?
For one thing, I'm seeking to make this game a little more Metroidvania style. Named for the Metroid and Castlevania games that first explored the concept, the idea is to have a side-scrolling game featuring one big environment, parts of which are out-of-reach until you've acquired some new item or ability elsewhere. What we have on display for BostonFIG won't be quite enough to represent that - we wanted to show off what can be done with one of the two main basic abilities, the lantern light, and the simultaneous two-character control. There's already a lot of depth in these mechanics, and we want to flesh them out a little before exploring further.
Our goal - one of our goals, subject to growth and evolution - is to create a world that eventually will offer a little more emergent gameplay - that is, interesting and complicated uses of simpler mechanics - than most puzzle games typically provide. We want to build a wall and give you several ways around it. By the end of the game, there will be a number of abilities that the characters can use in different combinations to overcome obstacles. It's my hope that, sometimes, people will approach our puzzles with solutions that never occurred to us. When I was a younger man, I loved watching speedruns for Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, and my favorites were the moments when the players did something that made no sense. I would narrow my eyes and say "Wait, why the hell is he skipping X or going around Y? Why is he leaving this room and going back in again right away?" And then it would click, and I would laugh at the absurdity and brilliance of how they'd exploited the game. I hope Candlelight can generate those kinds of moments.
This post claims to be a state-of-the-game, so I should probably actually address that. What we have right now is most of a single level, quite linear, and the most basic of the lantern abilities. Going forward, we're going to add the most basic of the mask abilities, and then . . . We'll see! We've found a lot of richness in the few abilities we've implemented so far, and we're hesitant to add in more until we get to really explore the ones we've already gotten. But iterating through the new abilities, and Finding the Fun, is a top priority.
Yesterday, at BostonFIG, we got an incredible amount of love. There were a lot of people impressed with the feel of the game, with how we'd implemented a few key features, with the art design and general art direction. Given that this is something myself and a few other lovely, talented people have done over a period of half a year or so, with no budget ($40 for a great book, $20ish for BostonFIG, $20ish for business cards), we're really inspired to see what a positive response we've received, and I feel like I'd be letting those people down to not amp up production a little bit. Over the next few days/week, I'll try to figure out what that means, and what resources are at our disposal, and then I'll update you all. If you're interested in following the process, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll be creating a mailing list and keeping everyone on it updated with news and info about new builds and beta testing opportunities.
Thanks so much to everyone who came out to BostonFIG this year, and for making the first year an excellent start. I'm really hoping this is a springboard for our game and that you'll be hearing more from us soon.
Idle Action Studios is:
Solomon Lutze (Yours Truly) - Cofounder, co-designer
Andrew Ross - Cofounder, co-designer
Tess Grover - Lead Artist
Other contributors include:
Jacob Seabolt - Music
Juliaty Hermanto - Concept Art
Eric Honour - Sound Effects
Caleb Niederer - Music