Itch.io Refinery, Design Club

itch.io refinery

itchio refinery

Itch.io has just announced the itch.io refinery, a customizable system of tools for developers to distribute beta versions of games and get useful feedback.

I’m proud to say that Manifold Garden will be one of the first games to be using this.

I’ll be starting beta testing of the game soon, and refinery came at just the right time.

I think itch.io is doing a really great work in the game distribution space, very much like bandcamp is for music. It’s still a very small audience compared to Steam, but they’re really putting control back into the hands of developers, and I think that’s awesome.

Design Klub

desing klub

(photo courtesy of Rob Lockhart)

This past Saturday, I had another session of the Design Club (or rather, Design Klub, as the slack group is called). If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, it’s a day long session where a bunch of game designers in the Chicago area get together to work through various design problems in their respective games. I organized the first one in January of 2015, and you wrote about the experience here: https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=37314.msg1101273#msg1101273

The games presented this time were:

Codemancer
Tumbleseed
Aerobat
Sausage Sports Club
Manifold Garden

I presented 2 primary problems for Manifold Garden, based on my observations from Indiecade East

1. How can I establish engagement for the player beyond the puzzles within the first hour? Namely, the puzzles and architecture are engaging for an hour, but then players are starting to question “why” they are playing the game. This is where a narrative or sense of mystery needs to be set. How can I do that within the first hour?

2. When players enter the area for the double gravity cubes, it feels like a let down, especially after coming from the infinite stepwell level, which for many people is the highlight of the first hour of the game. How can I make the double gravity area not feel like a let down?

Regarding the answer to the first question, I’m going to withhold that for now, as it would spoil the game ;)

However, regarding the second question, Thew Yeager, the dev of Aerobat, pointed out how the intro to the double gravity section is just a simple room. You come from the infinite stepwell level, which feels incredible and open, and are then presented with a small enclosed room with a button.

ManifoldGarden_2016-05-20_02-43-09

As you can see, it doesn’t exactly scream “exciting!”

I decided to move the portal outside of the room, so the player has to do a bit of searching around to get to the entrance, but I think visually it is much stronger, and feel like the game is scaling up rather than down:

ManifoldGarden_2016-05-19_17-12-39

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