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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogs[KICKSTARTER] Threshold - Illustrative 2D Puzzle Platformer
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QuadraTron
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« on: November 17, 2014, 11:51:00 AM »



Threshold is a non-combative puzzle platformer that takes place in a magical setting. You play as the young gnomish wizard, known only as Hood, who is trying to return home by solving the mysteries of the magical, but treacherously unstable, land. All is not as it seems, however, as depending on which direction Hood faces, the world changes to present different challenges.


The Game
The gameplay for Threshold mainly consists of solving platforming puzzles with the added twist that based on the direction that you’re facing you will shift back and forth between two distinct seasons, spanning multiple lands, each with their own unique layouts. Since you are the only one that can bridge the gap between the two worlds you’ll need to choose wisely, and sometimes quickly, what goes where and when! Pick up a key in the summer world but find out that you can’t take it into the winter world. See a key frozen in midair in the winter world but if you don’t get in to the right place at the right time when you enter that world that key will resume it’s descent… you just need to be there to catch it!

Threshold has evolved out of our love of games that have made incredible contributions to the way that we all look at games. Drawing inspiration from games like Braid and Fez that take interesting core gameplay and push them to their absolute limits. Not stopping there we saw how important it was to combine that gameplay with an visual aesthetic that would draw the player in to the world that we were creating for them to play in.


The History
The game was originally created during the Global Game Jam of 2014. We put the original GGJ version of the game up at IndieDB for folks to try out (we would love to hear your feedback). Some of the original team have gotten back together and are currently re-developing the game from the ground up.

Our artist, Mila, has been working hard over the last 9 months to develop the hand painted watercolor world inspired by the works of Mary Blair and Gustav Klimt. As a whole, we've been experimenting with game play. We would love to enhance the original design with additional mechanics and features.

Development is being done in Unity with the bulk of our level design done ad hock in the editor. Ultimately we would love to build our own in game editor that we could then pass on to the players BUT we also want to make sure that such a system would also allow us the same level control of each level's art aesthetic.



The Dev Log
We currently live stream our development desktops throughout the week because we not only enjoy sharing our workflow but also chatting with viewers in IRC. Our hope here on Tig is that we can replicate a similar camaraderie with a more developer centric community. We'll have to admit, however, that we are not used to spilling the beans in text. Hopefully this will be a great learning experience for us in that respect as well. That said, we are looking forward to reading the community's feedback, both on the game itself, as well as our ability to write about the technical process of making it.

If you find our game interesting, fun, beautiful, or even not so much any of these, please feel free to post your opinions and feedback. We want Threshold to be a great game and we believe that's only possible if folks let us know what they think we are doing right or wrong. We'll also be regularly making available builds for the community to play. We'll try to keep the latest of those on our press list download page. Also, check out our website at www.quadratron.com for more information about the game and ourselves.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 05:41:11 AM by QuadraTron » Logged
Savick
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 12:21:41 PM »

Looks like a great visual style and interesting central mechanic. You did break my H scroll with the images though.
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The Translocator
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2014, 01:16:02 PM »

It's an amazing concept and art. The build on the website is pretty finicky (probably because the player can't change directions in midair and takes a bit too long to accelerate and decelerate), but the puzzle are interesting.

A few suggestions:
Instead of having the keys go to the end door, have them unlock doors similar to the way they work in Braid. Some could be doors that LOCK after getting a key, some could only exist in one universe, and getting unlocked in the one universe could lock them in the other (and vice versa). There are some insane possibilities.
Keys that exist in both universes but can only be held in one (in the other they just fall- so you can leave it on a platform and drop it off later)
Doors that, when walked through, reverse the two universes (switch left and right)
Platforms that you can't switch universes while standing on them
Buttons that have to be held down by boxes (with the same types as keys for the boxes). These would require the boxes AND the ground they're on to be active
Goomba-like enemies that walk back and forth- some follow you in universes, some follow their own motion
An item that can invert the direction of enemies in the universe
Maybe you could have an ability (eventually) that flips your x-coordinate or x-coordinate AND the universe you're in when used- meaning you have to find a platform that exists symmetrically to use it (or use it mid-jump if the game isn't aiming to remove platforming challenges).
Universe reliant conveyor belts
Maybe platforms that, when jumped off of, invert the universes
Keys that, when used, invert the universes
Buttons that, when pressed, invert universes and/or the horizontal plane
The ability to manually drop keys

If possible, make the game feel less level oriented and more puzzle oriented- in Braid and Portal, you're still in rooms that you have to get to the end of to progress (usually), but because the challenge comes from clearing the path to the door or collecting things in the level and not actually getting/unlocking to the door directly, and because the challenges are mental and not platforming-centric (again, usually), it becomes more about thinking through the level and less about actually doing the level, which is what makes them great in my opinion. Bigger levels (more than 1 screen width), and metroidvania-like progression all aid this in 2d games- if you can still have interesting puzzles without screen wrap then do it and make the game flow instead of jumping from puzzle to puzzle and it will be amazing.
You could still have horizontal (or vertical) screen wrap for specific puzzles designed around it as well, because it definitely compliments the main mechanic well when used right.

I'm imagining a game with a simple core mechanic that grows complex over time by fully exploring the depth the mechanics offer. The puzzles that could be made using the mechanic can never really be explored because it's such a unique foundation- Braid tied horizontal motion to time (for one World), this game ties horizontal motion to space. A really clever combination, in my opinion.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 01:22:06 PM by The Translocator » Logged

AD1337
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 03:29:03 PM »

Delicious art style!
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2014, 03:53:54 PM »

The mechanic sounds very interesting and challenging, I like that! Also, I love the art style, it screams indie!!
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2014, 07:31:27 AM »

Looks very nice, and I love the dual world idea. I agree with the notion of maybe having aspects to make the transition more complicated than just left/right sometimes.

Maybe the level editor would be easier for users to keep things looking nice if some aspects of it can be rendered procedurally? How manual is the arrangement right now for levels y'all design? I understand the hand designed artwork. I'm just saying maybe there's a mix that could make things easier while retaining the aesthetic.

Also, the Linux download link is off. It says "MonstersLinux.zip" where it should say "ThresholdLinux.zip" (guessed based on the other file names). Downloading right now to try it out!
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2014, 08:07:34 AM »

Ooohhh, looks lovely! :D
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zenasprime
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2014, 01:35:47 PM »

Hi folks! 

I'm Zenas. Founder of QuadraTron Games, programmer, and project lead for Threshold. I'm thinking I want to try replying on a more personal level with this account while leaving the QuadraTron account for posting dev logy style things.

Thanks to all of you for your kind words about Threshold. It's really encouraging when I heard that folks dig our game's art and game play. We've been working hard over the last several months to get the game to look beautiful. and have also been experimenting with many different game play mechanics. We've been in a bit of a bubble for the majority of that time so getting out of our shells is quite refreshing.

I'm super happy to hear the generally positive feedback on our art style. It's taken us a few months of the pain and agony of throwing away so much potential artwork. I'm pretty sure our artist's heart literally breaks every time I tell her that we need to do another iteration!  Wink

@The Translocator - I'm super excited to hear your feedback! We've actually been playing around with a few of the ideas you have mentioned. It's nice to see that we may be on the same wavelength as far as new game play elements as many of our play testers thus far. Specifically, I'm currently experimenting with door that work more like portals to other areas of the level rather then the end of the level itself. Additionally, items, such as "boxes", that can be used to modify how our character can move around within a level. Also, did you know that you CAN throw keys around. We haven't actually taught anyone how to do this in a level just yet, but with the press of a controller button (or the ctrl key) it is possible.  Wink

@tjpalmer - Thanks for the heads up! I've gone and fixed the broken link. As for the editor, we haven't put too many resources into solving that problem yet. Rendering the background procedurally sounds like an interesting way about solving the problem, one that I honestly hadn't thought of. Thanks! :D

Are goal here on Tig is to post some new info here in the log every few weeks if we have made significant progress. I know that I'm going to be putting some time into posting on a more personal level from this account. I think Mila will be hopping in to post fun art updates as well. Wish us luck!
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MereMonkey
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2014, 02:20:11 PM »

You guys, this is looking beautiful!!
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2014, 07:30:34 AM »

 Smiley Hi! I'm Mila and I'm the artist for Threshold. Everyone has been saying really nice things! So Thank you so so much!  Tears of Joy I've never heard the word "Delicious" used about my work, so thank you for that AD1337! I'm getting a write up about art ready for Monday, so I hope many of you will look forward to it.  Kiss
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« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2014, 07:42:59 AM »

I must agree with everybody, it's really beautiful! Keep up the good work!
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BSKgames
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2014, 07:00:26 AM »

Looks really great! Design is awesome!
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QuadraTron
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« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2014, 01:41:35 PM »

 :smbc0:Hi there! This is Mila for those who don’t know, I’m Threshold’s artist. I said last week I would talk about Threshold’s art journey. So here I am.

But first, we need to rewind a bit. With January coming up, Threshold’s going to be a year old. It was originally developed for Global Game Jam 2014. The theme for this jam was “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” When we came up with Threshold’s game design, I was really excited. Whenever I do a game jam I always make an internal goal for myself. I had been doing vector heavy work prior to this game jam, so I really wanted to switch it up with some ink heavy art.


Woody was also making some really cool music for the game. I found that dark colors and muted tones fit the music best. I was really happy with it at the time, even if it did feel very Dr. Suess-ish. I made a bunch of cute assets like mushrooms and trees which is art sugar for me.


There was also some decent animation in our project of our main character. At the time, Hood was, for the most part, very triangular in shape, which we found really fun.So what do triangle shaped characters go into? Triangle shaped doors obviously. And from there we start building this very whimsical world.

We did have smaller issues though. Eclipse, someone cool enough to

, was colorblind, and clued me in on the fact our game wasn’t colorblind friendly. Most differences of the seasons were depicted by color, not by shape. The other issue was many players were confused by the trees and mushrooms. They thought they were meant to interact with them, and not just there to be cute.

I made it a point afterwards that i would design Threshold with colorblind audiences in mind. A tool I recommend is ColorOracle (mac/win/linux). It applies a filter to whatever you are working on, including Photoshop documents, and shows what someone with each type of colorblindness would see. I urge anyone who works with color to use it.

So when we wanted to take Threshold further, we had some crazy ideas. One was to make each level its own illustration. They say that even in the vacuum of space you can still hear me screaming when everyone asked me to do this.

This was a mockup of what level one looked like. I look back at it now and theres parts I still really like about it, but these took forever to do, and it was really slowing down our workflow. This also gave a cold feeling to Hood’s world because of all the stonework. I didn’t have a clear direction of where to go after the ink heavy work.

So there was still a lot of soul searching I had to do FOR Threshold. Was it going to be painterly? It took longer but the final results are wonderful. Vector-y? Some odd place in the middle? The first image on the left was a test asset to see what the team felt about the style. Right was a mockup of vector-y app-like art.


At the same time, I was working on Hood’s new design, but didn’t want to go too far where it didn’t feel like the same character. It was here that I began to exhaustively concept the games art style.


I didn’t know how comfortable the team was with how far we could go with Hood’s design. So above was an attempt to keep his colors and silhouette. We wanted to explore more, so i scrapped the old Hood to bring the new Hood.

Regarding the designs above, I think I favored D, which make them feel more like a mage type. Then i considered animating patterns and then was glad we didn’t choose D. I think the combo the team chose was F, N, and G.

I wanted to maintain that Hood isn’t human, but as to what they are, it is a mystery. The most important thing I pushed when designing these hoods was that I didn’t want them to feel like a human in covered in cloth. I felt that if players see Hood as a creature which didn’t need arms or a face, this would help solidify the fact they weren’t a human. This doesn’t stop the questions regarding Hood’s gender or what they are.


Above is the design I proposed. I think we said in unison “…GREEEN…” and wanted to change it up. We did, however, love the watercolor technique I used. I really did too. Little known fact, Watercolor is my favorite natural medium to work with, along with brush pens. Someone said it reminded them of Mary Blair, and I used this as inspiration for designing from that point forward.


Above ended up being Hood’s final design. This new color and design really made Hood to feel like an inviting character. I really fell in love with him after this, and it became much easier to create their world.


We wanted a world filled with Hoods who live in these interesting floating places with nature around them. Above are some story sketches and color connecting I did. I loved the idea of these long bridges with things growing on them that lead to another interesting floating place. This really recreated the whimsy we had with the GGJ version of the game.


This was a mockup with background and decorative elements on platforms. We then made the decision that the stonework remaining the same color was jarring. and needed an element that would disappear with the changing seasons.




Above is a current screenshot with treetops, the element i chose to be summer only. I had to make sure platforms remained the same shape, so this really conflicted with my cute orb-like trees. Also, we decided the summer assets should not have so much blue as they were confusing when viewed next the winter version of the level.

I iterated again on both the background and the platforms. The colors have changed, winter was pushed into a blue/purple combo, while summer was pushed to green and yellow. Which brings us to our current designs. If you notice I pushed the colors of the keys pretty hard, so they should stand out among other elements and made sure to use different shapes. I also made sure the backgrounds were ready for stacking, since we had been designing some 2+ screen levels like the one below. The last nine months working on Threshold has been a splendid experience. There’s still so much to work on but I’m excited for the challenge. 


I hope that was an enjoyable read for you guys, and would love to hear your feedback.
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AD1337
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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2014, 05:26:28 AM »

Excellent write-up, very cool to see the evolution of the art style.
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2014, 12:56:27 PM »

Hey everyone!
I guess it's time to introduce myself in the thread! I'm Woody, nice to meet you Gentleman
I'm working part time with Quadratron on Threshold as a level designer. To me, the levels are a showcase for all the weird little things that the game can do. Smashing them together in different and fun ways!

I'm also making a little bit of music here and there. Experimenting with different sounds and textures. It might not be the music that's used in the final game but will definitely give us a clearer look at what we might want in the future for the aural feel for the game.

I'll be posting an introductory level design post here in little bit. Going forward I hope to do more.
As for music those will come much fewer and further between but keep an eye out!

Check back with you all soon!!!  Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2014, 01:27:10 PM »

Hey hey,Woody here again! So here's the quick post I wanted to write up about what we’ve got so far. What I mean by what we have so far is literally all the stuff we are building the levels out of. I’ll probably come back later and make some posts about some level designs standards that we have set it stone, design principles that we are taking inspiration from other games and more. Until then this post is just about the basics of what we have in the game so far and throwing it all together to give the player a cool little platforming experience with some brain teasing thrown in!

So here’s what we are working with and some of the ways that they can play off each other

PLATFORMS
Pretty simply we wanted to have worlds that you would switch back and forth between depending on which direction the player is facing. You control what direction the character is facing so you control the layout of the worlds at all times!
Here’s an animated gif showing that off:


Stand on a winter or summer platform and face the other direction and it will disappear… leaving you with nowhere to go but down!

KEYS
In their simplest and earliest itteration keys were basically just things that you needed to get to the door to unlock it but we want them to eventually be so much more. For now there are Winter, Summer and Neutral keys. The summer ones can only exist in summer, winter in winter but neutral in both! Simply put, if you are holding a summer key and running to the left as so as you turn to the right you will no longer be holding the key and it will be frozen in place in it’s season. Same with the winter keys. Neutral keys on the other hand can exist in either season. This is pretty cool because they can faze through platforms the same as the player!
Here’s another animated gif showing that off:



BOUNCY CREATURES
We actually discovered the amazingness of these guys totally by accident. We have shrubs and walls in the game that, when the player jumps in to them, cause the player to turn and face the opposite direction. In the playable (read:very early) version that we have up to play now the player couldn’t change direction in mid air and this sort of “fixed” that. We’ve since been making it so that the player can change direction in mid air as much as their little thumbs can flick the controller stick back and forth.

But back to the subject at hand, we found out that the tops of these walls and bushes were bouncy just like the sides and it was super fun to bounce off them so we made bouncy buddies to assist you in your quest. Eventually you will be able to pick some of the little buggers up and place them around wherever you want!
Here is a player using the bouncy dude to get up over and obstacle in their way:

Keys can actually bounce off of them as well, just like the player!!!

That’s it for today!!! Hand Thumbs Up Right
Let us know what you think. We are thinking about other ways that we can implement these cool little items and game systems. As we come up with more I’ll make new posts to show them off!

Any ideas for ways to use them that we may not have thought of?  Grin
« Last Edit: January 21, 2015, 08:10:13 PM by QuadraTron » Logged
zenasprime
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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2015, 11:35:47 AM »

Hey folks, just a quick post to say that we've decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign for Threshold. The launch date is January 19th. This is one of the reasons we haven't been dev logging much the past month (aside from the holidays). So much work that's not just development!!!

kickstarter.quadratron.com

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zenasprime
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2015, 12:03:51 PM »

It's been a crazy month but we have finally launched the Threshold Kickstarter campaign!

We haven't updated the devlog lately because we've been spending the majority of our time gearing up for the campaign launch. Most of my own time has shifted from helping to solve technical issues to mostly production and marketing. I'm sure there are a lot of you out there that are already familiar with that feeling where you know you are working hard on things related to a game's production but there is this feeling in your head that you just aren't doing enough to move the game's development along. There's this constant nagging worry that I should be working on designing levels or writing bits of code to implement this or that feature but I'm way too busy on ancillary things.

Someone has to do this other grunt work though, especially on a team as small as ours. We don't have, nor can we afford, someone who's job it is just to talk to people about the game, or create a website, or write up post on google+/facebook/whateversocialmediathekidshangoutontoday! That said, I feel very proud of the work we have done so far:

we created a new studio website that allows us to blog our goings on... www.quadratron.com

we created a mini-site just for hosting Threshold pertinent information... threshold.quadratron.com

we created a kickstarter campaign page... kickstarter.quadratron.com

we spruced up our google+ and facebook pages... plus.google.com/+QuadratronGames, facebook.com/QuadraTronGames

we've also been spending a lot of time on social media finding and getting to know other developers and their games.

All this can be fun in it's own right, but I'd really love to just get back to the job at hand, making this awesome game with some awesome friends of mine! So wish us luck while we wander off into 2 months of fundraising hell!

-zenasprime

« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 12:15:11 PM by zenasprime » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2015, 02:57:51 PM »

Looks lovely!

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