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Mark Mayers
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« Reply #820 on: September 14, 2015, 06:32:50 AM »

Looking really awesome, glad to see you back on TIG!

Game development is an emotional roller coaster, especially as a solo dev with an ambitious project.

*Having come to you* before for advice regarding stress management and avoiding burnout, I can't say much besides, 'hang in there man, you're making awesome stuff.'

If you're ever in Boston, I'll buy you a beer. Toast Right Toast Left
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« Reply #821 on: September 14, 2015, 07:36:04 AM »

This is an incredible game idea. Keep up the great work!  Gentleman
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« Reply #822 on: September 15, 2015, 08:36:25 AM »

Hey William, your devlog and Twitch stream are very inspiring! Wish that I didn't have to miss your mind-bending water puzzle design in your Twitch talk, just realized afterwards that I worked right through it! Hope that you have been taking care of yourself and get a chance to enjoy the remaining warm weather.
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William Chyr
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« Reply #823 on: September 16, 2015, 02:34:46 AM »

Devlog Update #245 - 09/16/2015

Many thanks to everyone for the support! As always Smiley

Heard back from IndieCade. Didn't get in.

Here's the feedback:

Quote
This game shows strong promise. Had lots of fun playing this demo. Some feedback:

-- I want to spend less time walking to puzzles and more time solving puzzles. World design could be tweaked to help this.

-- Frequently had no idea of direction. Either need more recognisable landmarks or some indication of direction (not at the expense of art style obviously).

-- Would be nice to see the gravity mechanic used more as a solution to puzzles, instead of the block stacking gimmick. Falling fast feels really cool.

-- Didn't quite understand why the player isn't presented with a failsafe after solving a room. You can walk straight off the edge of that final runway after finishing a room and just burn progress. Feels like it should be safer from "finished puzzle" to "cashing in reward block".

- Might be valuable to have a firmer hand when telling the player they can't re-use particular objects. Often thought I needed to take a clock with me to the next room and the high wall didn't make it clear enough. Portal does this well by just zapping the blocks.


-----
I found the game got disorienting very quickly as the room designs increased in complexity. I struggled to keep track of what color each wall was once I got into rooms with odd shapes and puzzles involving multiple colored blocks. While the puzzles themselves weren't that complex, I struggled to keep track of my surroundings, making the puzzles require a lot of extra attempts.
-----


Clean, consistent and clear visual design, though the environments could use some more varied and unique elements both to keep the player interested in exploring further and to provide landmarks to make navigation easier. Since the reward for solving puzzles is access to new areas it would help if those areas offered something to behold other than more plain rectangular hallways. As it is the world feels rather lifeless.

The puzzles were fairly intuitive and clever at times, though World 1 lacked much variety. I felt it would have been more interesting if each colored mini-area had its own mechanic or variation on the main mechanic.

The controls felt rough. To switch from one wall to another the player has to endure a slow and inelegant feeling transition every time. Gravity also behaved strangely. It didn't feel like there was a proper acceleration when walking off a ledge. Rather, you would immediately begin falling at terminal velocity.

The audio was lacking. While there were a few serviceable sound effects, many things had no sound at all (walking, landing) and the overall sound design wasn't terribly cohesive or evocative. Music was also noticeably absent. While puzzle games don't necessarily need or even want music playing constantly, a subtle ambient soundtrack would have helped to bring the world to life, perhaps only coming in at a moment of discovery or after solving a particularly important puzzle.

Overall, though not particularly new or unique, the game is nice to look at and the main mechanic is easy enough to get the hang of. I don't think the idea has yet reached its full potential.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 02:43:57 AM by William Chyr » Logged

marcgfx
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« Reply #824 on: September 16, 2015, 06:00:00 AM »

pretty brutal and honest, with quite a few helpful comments. I would love feedback like that.
the only thing that kind of hurts was "not particularly new or unique", the game looks pretty unique to me.
don't let it get you down, keep up the good work!
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Mark Mayers
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« Reply #825 on: September 16, 2015, 06:46:13 AM »

Many thanks to everyone for the support! As always Smiley

Heard back from IndieCade. Didn't get in.


I'm *really* surprised you didn't get in. I didn't either.

Are you still going to the festival though? Those who submitted get a free ticket.

I think I'm going for IndieXChange, plus there's the 'Gametasting' event where you can demo your game.
Depends on hotel + plane ticket prices, which will indubitably be expensive Sad
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« Reply #826 on: September 16, 2015, 08:51:26 AM »

Many thanks to everyone for the support! As always Smiley

Heard back from IndieCade. Didn't get in.

This is surprising and sad to hear. I just got my rejection too. I always thought if there's one game I know will get in, it's yours.

PS: Maybe try putting the feedback in a quote block, it reads better.
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William Chyr
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« Reply #827 on: September 16, 2015, 09:22:14 AM »

Devlog Update #246 - 09/16/2015

Relativity has been renamed to Manifold Garden




PlayStation Blog announcement: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2015/09/16/cultivate-an-infinite-world-in-manifold-garden/

New teaser trailer!

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oldblood
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« Reply #828 on: September 16, 2015, 09:55:03 AM »

Love the new name and trailer! Sorry to hear it didnt make indiecade. I honestly figured this would be a shoe-in...
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« Reply #829 on: September 16, 2015, 11:27:19 AM »

So...when are preorders going to be available? I want to throw money at that beautiful world
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« Reply #830 on: September 16, 2015, 12:37:21 PM »

I haven't heard of IndieCade before, might have been because as of yet I haven't had money to go to any cons, and as such haven't really researched many. Either way, for them to refuse you entry is pretty shocking, to be honest. The game itself is totally unique, in my opinion. I haven't seen anything quite like it in my entire 17 years being alive. Could be just the overall puzzle genre might not have been something that they really enjoyed anymore, could've been that they got too many puzzle entries, but either way you should've gotten in.

oh well, there's always next time. Don't lose hope!
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« Reply #831 on: September 19, 2015, 06:14:29 PM »

That's a damn good name.
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« Reply #832 on: September 20, 2015, 10:19:44 AM »

damn good domain name too
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« Reply #833 on: September 20, 2015, 11:20:51 AM »

Hey William, is there still going to be a part two to your edge detection shader post? I'd been looking forward to it. Game's looking great, keep it up!
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marcgfx
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« Reply #834 on: September 20, 2015, 11:58:22 AM »

manifold garden, why not. I really liked relativity, but it really is highly unsearchable.
while watching I noticed a lot of flickering and moirée-effect. Is this something that you can solve with anti-aliasing? maybe its not as noticeable in-game but with these very slowly moving shots I found it rather distracting.
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William Chyr
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« Reply #835 on: September 20, 2015, 10:13:30 PM »

Love the new name and trailer! Sorry to hear it didnt make indiecade. I honestly figured this would be a shoe-in...

Thanks so much!

Certainly I would have liked to have gotten into IndieCade, but not too worried about it. It's a festival, so it has its own criteria for deciding what games would work best for it.

So...when are preorders going to be available? I want to throw money at that beautiful world

Not for a while...

I want to take the time the make the best game possible. We still have quite a bit of a work to do. You'll know when we're ready!

damn good domain name too

Thanks :D Super happy with that one. Have always wanted a cool non .com domain name and not I've got one!

Hey William, is there still going to be a part two to your edge detection shader post? I'd been looking forward to it. Game's looking great, keep it up!

Yes, eventually. I've just been super busy. Once I find the time, I'll write it up.

manifold garden, why not. I really liked relativity, but it really is highly unsearchable.
while watching I noticed a lot of flickering and moirée-effect. Is this something that you can solve with anti-aliasing? maybe its not as noticeable in-game but with these very slowly moving shots I found it rather distracting.

Ya, Relativity had a lot of problems with search, but it also doesn't fit the game that well.

And yes, I will be diving into anti-aliasing shaders soon to address the flickering effect. I'll actually start doing that on the stream tomorrow: http://www.twitch.tv/williamchyr
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William Chyr
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« Reply #836 on: September 21, 2015, 02:43:16 AM »

Responding to some earlier responses regarding IndieCade feedback as I had missed them:

pretty brutal and honest, with quite a few helpful comments. I would love feedback like that.
the only thing that kind of hurts was "not particularly new or unique", the game looks pretty unique to me.
don't let it get you down, keep up the good work!

I'm not sure why they included that line "not particularly new or unique"... I supposed that's just how they felt.

No worries though. I don't really let stuff like that bother me anymore. I've developed a pretty thick skin, but I also know that the game is really unique and does a lot of new stuff.

I'm *really* surprised you didn't get in. I didn't either.

Are you still going to the festival though? Those who submitted get a free ticket.

I think I'm going for IndieXChange, plus there's the 'Gametasting' event where you can demo your game.
Depends on hotel + plane ticket prices, which will indubitably be expensive Sad


I wouldn't focus too much on festival selection as determinant of whether a game is good or not. The festival has its own goals that doesn't always align with what you're trying to do.

I'm actually not that surprised that the game didn't get in. Manifold Garden is definitely a game that takes time to understand, and much of the complexity is in the way the systems develop overtime as you keep uncovering.

I won't be going to IndieCade this year. I went last year, and had a great time. IndieXChange and the Gametasting event can definitely be helpful.

We're still working on getting tech sorted, so I'm staying put and focusing on that.

This is surprising and sad to hear. I just got my rejection too. I always thought if there's one game I know will get in, it's yours.

PS: Maybe try putting the feedback in a quote block, it reads better.

Thanks! Appreciate the support. Don't let the rejection get you down. Like I told Mark above, the festival has its own criteria that's very different than what your definition of good is. It's important to understand that.
 
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William Chyr
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« Reply #837 on: September 21, 2015, 05:31:19 AM »

Devlog Update #247 - 09/21/2015

Explanation of new name 'Manifold Garden'



If you've been following the game, you'll see that I've changed the name of the game from Relativity to Manifold Garden.

This wasn't an easy decision to make by any means. The game had been known as Relativity for almost 3 years now, and had gotten press coverage and been shown at various expos with the name.

However, it was a decision that I ultimately felt very strongly about.

Name change for games in development actually isn't that uncommon. There are plenty of examples for games which have done this: Nuclear Throne, Antichamber, Donut County, GNOG.

Reading about why and how these games changed their names was really helpful when I was going through the process, so I thought I'd share my own thought process that led me to this decision.

What started it

The game was named Relativity at the beginning because of the M.C. Escher print of the same name.



My idea for the very first prototype was literally to turn the print into a game, so the name made sense.

I remember searching online to see if there was another game called 'Relativity' already, and I couldn't find any results, so that was good enough for me. This was in November 2012.

Fast forward to March 2014. I was in San Francisco for GDC. On Tuesday morning, a friend sent me a link to a kickstarter for a game titled 'Relativity'.

I decided to reach out to the devs and to ask them to change the name of their game. I explained that my game had been in development for about 2.5 years at that point, and was already slated to be released on PS4, and had been profiled by major game press. I even offered to help them come up with alternative names. They were pretty adamant on the name and refused to change it though.

Here's the full transcript of the conversation: http://imgur.com/a/GrUaw

Ultimately, after consulting with several people and my lawyer, I decided to ignore the situation. The kickstarter didn't look like it was going anywhere - they had a few rough drawings up of the main character and were asking for $10K to buy things from the Unity asset store.

(In writing this post, I searched for the campaign, and found that they did eventually change the name to something else. The kickstarter was unsuccessful, raising only $500 out of $10000 with 1 backer)

So, this kickstarter wasn't really a problem, but it did get me thinking - what if another studio decided to call their game 'Relativity' as well? What if it was a bigger studio like Ubisoft? What recourse do I have then?

Trademark

I started looking into trademarking 'Relativity' in the game space.

As it turns out that, Relativity Media, a Hollywood film company, actually has a trademark on the word 'Relativity' in the game space.



This was quite frustrating, as I couldn't find any involvement they had with video games. However, they seemed to be incredibly aggressive with trademarking the term. If you search for 'Relativity' on the USPTO datatbase, it seems like they've trademarked 'relativity' for every category under the sun, from fashion to university.

I'm not really sure how they got the trademark of 'Relativity' in games without having made any, but that's a topic for another day.

After talking to a few other game devs and speaking with lawyers, it seemed like these were the options I had if I wanted to keep 'Relativity' as my game name:

1. File for a trademark for 'Relativity' in games. Considering Relativity Media already had this, I didn't have a really good chance of success here. A lawyer said I had 1 in 4 chance of being successful.

2. Contact Relativity Media and ask if I could use the name. I didn't do this, but I highly doubt they would have said yes.

3. Don't do anything, and wait for Relativity Media to send me a cease and desist. Maybe they won't even care, or the game is not really a big enough issue for them to be concerned.

After two months of looking into the legal aspect of the situation, I actually decided to go with option 3) and stick with 'Relativity'. I did add "Willy Chyr's" to the beginning of the name, to differentiate it further, just to be safe.

(Relativity Media eventually went bankrupt, so I supposed that problem sort of resolved itself).

Actual Reason for Change

While legal reasons were what got me thinking about the name change at first, it wasn't what made me decide to go with the change in the end.

I started to really think about whether 'Relativity' was the right name, and I realized the name is the only aspect of the game which hasn't gone through a process of iteration and refinement. Everything else about the game, from the mechanics to the aesthetics, have been discarded and rewritten multiple times. The game has evolved so much since the beginning. And yet, the name (arguably a very important aspect of a game), is the same as when I started the prototype.

I also realized I never thought through carefully about the title. It was chosen as a matter of convenience because of the Escher print, but is that what my game really was about now? It made sense when gravity switching was the only mechanic, but what about the other systems and the world wrapping stuff?

Besides, there were several issues with the name 'Relativity':

1) It was not very searchable. Between the Einstein's theory and Relativity Media, searching for 'Relativity' was alone was very unlikely to lead to the game. On google, 'Relativity Game' did return my game as the first result, but it was difficult to follow conversations about it on reddit or twitter. Try searching for #relativity on twitter and see what you get.

2) Everyone associates the word 'Relativity' with the Theory of Relativity, and while my game did deal with the idea of things being relative to one another, it did not have anything to do with Einstein's theory. I was pretty much constantly having to explain this to people when telling someone about the game for the first time.

3) I really disliked having to add the word 'game' to the url or social media handle. I mean, yes, it is a game, and I know this pretty standard practice, but it just kind of felt like unnecessary pigeon holing.

Starseed Pilgrim vs Platform Planter



Eventually, I read this Gamasutra interview with Droqen, in which he talks about how the name for Starseed Pilgrim came about.

"To this day Starseed Pilgrim builds out to PlantingPlatforms.swf".

When I read this, I realized Droqen could have also called the game "Platform Planter". This wouldn't have made a difference to the gameplay or mechanics, and some people might even say it's a better name because it actually describes the mechanic.

However, 'Starseed Pilgrim' is so much more beautiful. It is poetic, evocative, and mysterious. I actually think it's one of the most beautiful game names ever. In fact, I wish I could call my game 'Starseed Pilgrim'!

'Starseed Pilgrim' isn't merely a description of the game's mechanic. Instead, it is about the sense of wonder and the journey of discovery that the player takes, which is arguably much more true to what the game is about. Sure, on the surface it's a game about planting platforms, but really, it's a game about diving into the abyss of the unknown.

When I read the interview, I realized 'Relativity' was my version of "Platform Planter". It was a term that described the mechanic. In a way, 'Relativity' was just a slightly fancier way of saying "Wall Walker". Sure, there are different gravities that are relative to one another in direction, and that makes up the core mechanic, but it's not what the game is about now. It doesn't incorporate how the game brings together architecture and geometry, and it doesn't talk about the ecosystem of the mechanics.

'Manifold Garden', however, felt like it hit all those marks.

Manifold Garden

So where does 'Manifold Garden' come from?

Manifold

A manifold is a space that when zoomed in, each part of it is Euclidean (i.e. flat), but when you zoom out, globally, it might not be.

One example of a manifold is the surface of a sphere. Let’s look at Earth. Standing on the ground, the world around us appears to be flat. The shortest distance between two points is a line, and two parallel lines do not look like they will cross. If you look at the Earth as a whole though, these properties are no longer true. If you draw two parallel lines perpendicular to the equator, they will intersect at either the north or south pole.

In Manifold Garden, one of the global geometries is having the world wrap around on itself in each of three axes. Traveling in any one direction brings you back to where you started. Going down actually leads you back up. Mathematically, this space is known as a 3-torus (which is a 3D compact manifold with no boundary)



If you drop a cube off the edge, it comes back down from above, and you can see it falling above and below you simultaneously:



You’re probably familiar with the 2D version of this from games like Asteroids. When you fly off one side of the screen, you simply come back from the other side.



As you can see from the gif below, the world of the spaceship exists on the surface of a donut aka a torus.



The 3-Torus is like this, except one dimension higher. I can’t possibly show this, as it’s only possible to see the whole thing in 4D. Basically, in Manifold Garden, you’re a 3D being on the surface of a 4D donut.

This is just the start. From here, we can start to offset the repeated instances, or even twist the faces to create a solid klein bottle or a half-turn manifold (if you travel one iteration away, the world is reversed).

Finally, besides the mathematical definition, manifold also has these definitions:

1. of many kinds; numerous and varied:

2. having numerous different parts, elements, features, forms, etc.

There are going to be a lot of levels, and they're all embedded within one another in really bizarre ways, so manifold is also incredibly fitting in this sense.

Garden

What about the gardening aspect?

I've shown before how cubes in the game can be used to solve puzzles – triggering switches to open doors, holding up other blocks, etc.



The cubes are actually part of a larger ecosystem - they are fruit that grow on trees, and can in turn be “planted” to grow into trees. This is where water, comes in. You can rotate the cubes to redirect streams of water, and by directing water into a cube that’s placed on a special patch of “soil”, that cube grows into a tree. As you progress throughout the game, you’re cultivating a garden and harvesting cubes.  



In the above gif, water also reacts to the global geometry of the world. A lot of games have waterfalls, but what happens in a world in which geometry wraps around? The water falls back on itself, and you actually get a waterloop!

Conclusion

So that's my summary of the thought process that led to changing the name of the game to "Manifold Garden".

It was legal reasons that initially gave me the idea, but ultimately, when I started to really think about what the game has become and what it is I'm trying to do with it, 'Relativity' just didn't make any sense.

The entire process took 6 months, and involved many sleepless nights, but I kept coming back to 'Manifold Garden', and it felt more and more right over time.

The reception with the announcement last week was quite positive.

For the first time, I was actually able to follow conversations about the game on twitter!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 05:51:35 AM by William Chyr » Logged

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« Reply #838 on: September 21, 2015, 06:26:18 AM »

It's a much better name! It also works because it can be read as a garden of manifolds, as in rose garden, or a garden which is folded in on itself (manifold as adjective vs noun).

I'm just missing the "William Chyr's" : (
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« Reply #839 on: September 21, 2015, 06:39:35 AM »

Sorry to hear you didn't get into IndieCade. This looks amazing though! I look forward to playing it someday! :-)
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