Archive for Talking

Light Fall Update: New Steam Beta!

Hey guys! It’s been some time since our last update about the game. The truth is we have been working on a new Steam build for our beta. Beta access was one of our Kickstarter rewards and it was a way for us to keep getting feedback with our fans throughout the development.

A big thanks to Ubisoft

A few weeks ago, we were offered a great opportunity by the Ubisoft team in Quebec City. They hosted two playtest sessions for our new material and it was a very awesome experience to see their playtest lab. We watched 16 testers play this new version and immediately spotted the glaring bugs and things that needed to be fixed. After the playtest, we went back to the studio and improved and fixed what needed to be done. If you were an Alpha Agent backer on Kickstarter, you can now directly test the new build in your Steam library.

We had a blast at Ubisoft's playtest lab a few weeks ago.

We had a blast at Ubisoft’s playtest lab a few weeks ago.

What’s new?

Obviously, we’re not going to leave the rest of you in the dark. Just so you know, the development is progressing nicely and the entire beta should be completed in December. Here’s a list of the new things in this version.

  • A beta version of the Prologue has been added in this build.
prologue

The prologue takes place in a mysterious setting.

 

  • We have improved several elements of the first Act, the Lunar Plain, ranging from the level design to adding new in-game narrations. All in all, this act hasn’t changed much but the changes will make it more fluid and immersive.
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Some parts of the levels have been redesigned to create a more adequate learning curve.

 

  • We’re presenting for the first time the second Act, the Marshlands of Sorrows. This act is a brand new region; new enemies, new game mechanics and new platforming elements will await the player.
act2

The player will be able to experience the second act’s beta version.

 

  •  We’ve also added in-game collectibles in every level. These in-game collectibles are not doing anything just yet, but will be lore-related in the final game. Do you think you can find them all?
collectible

Be on the lookout for hidden collectibles scattered across the levels.

 

  •  We have three brand new songs to share with you. We’ll post more about the soundtrack pretty soon but go find out in-game and you will not be disappointed!

We are excited to share this build with you guys. Your feedback, suggestions and bug reports can be sent at feedback@bishopgames.com! Your help and comments will be greatly appreciated; it will help us when we get to the polishing phase.

That’s all for now, stay tuned and thanks for your continued support.
-BEN

The Importance of Colors in Game Design

Light Fall Header

When you meet someone new, it takes the brain approximately 200 milliseconds to process a facial expression to generate a first impression. That first impression can stick for a while and define your whole perception of that person. Now, imagine how fast the brain can process a simple color palette. In video games, the color palette is your first impression. It can set the mood of a whole game or generate emotions within you before you even start playing it. So if you plan on making an immersive video game, you absolutely have to nail your color schemes.

The Not-so-Basics of Color Theory

Everyone knows at least a bit about color theory: blue is sadness, red is anger… you get it. Now, let’s spice things up a bit. What if you want to set the mood for an adventure? Is it possible?
Hmm… Adventure. Your first thought might be “a red mustang is pretty adventurous”. Well, let’s learn from those who make a living off color palettes and first impressions: posters’ designers.

Whoa, red Mustang? More like blue Westfalia with gold mags…

 

“It’s all in the backlighting and the fairy dust” you say? Well, it sure can’t harm to have a little fairy dust on an adventure. But take a quick 200 milliseconds look and all you see is blue and gold. In other words, a pizza is a pizza whatever dressing you put on it. Back to the point, a thoughtful color scheme can convey way more than simple emotions like sadness or anger. You can induce complex moods like the thrill of an adventure or the suspense of a mystery. You just have to find and create the right color palette for the emotions you want to convey.

The Love Story Between Colors and Level Design

Now the real deal: How can you use color theory in Level Design? Let’s analyze the first level of our upcoming game, Light Fall, and see how we used color theory for our game.
At the beginning, the player appears out of nowhere. He doesn’t know where he is or even what/who his character is supposed to be. It’s a complete mystery. So we went with a mix of blue colors that we called ‘‘mysterious blue’’ and put it everywhere.

LF3

The elements of the level all share the same color to create a specific mood.

The player then starts wandering off trying to find clues on what’s going on. He slowly discovers that all the things around him are supernatural or magic: friendly fireflies guiding him, huge and deadly crystals, etc. All this stuff cries outfor a bright and stand out color. So we decided to go with ‘‘sparkling pink’’ to contrast our ‘‘mysterious blue’’.

LF4

A new color is introduced into the level to change the atmosphere.

That’s right, blue and pink. We’re way off the boys and girls stereotypes. Blue alone can be mysterious, pair it with pink and you get magic. Now, you also have to be careful with the presentation of your colors. If the player would’ve appeared in a blue and pink environment straight from the beginning, the mysterious and eerie feeling would have been lost. In our case, a build up was needed to convey the right emotions at the right time.

As you can see, it’s possible to join hand in hand color palettes and level design. Slowly implement your colors into the level progression, stay coherent between the player’s emotions and the presented colors, and you’ve got yourself an immersive journey.

The Deep Relation Between Colors and Game Design

That’s all cool: colors, emotions and stuff. But we’re making a game, not a movie. So hang on and let’s dive deeper. What’s the utmost aspect of the art of video game and the main difference between films and games? Interactivity.
When you have pinpointed the color palette you want to use, it’s important to make interactive elements stand out using those colors. YouTuber snomaN Gaming makes a nice case study of this subject in his video “Rayman Origins: When Art Meets Gameplay”.

As a counter example, he also mentions the old cartoons’ backgrounds, remember those?

lf5

My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

That, my friends, is how you break an immersive experience. This cactus is so obviously not a cactus, it hurts. In TV and movies, it can help the viewer figure out what’s going to happen, but in the case of an immersive video game the use of incoherent colors makes you realize you’re in someone else’s Matrix. The absolute opposite of what you want to achieve, so stick to your palette.

Let’s go back to gaming. Remember the blue and pink level of Light Fall? In this very level, there are two types of objects: interactive and non-interactive. Additionally, there are also two types of colors: dominant blue and highlight pink. You see where I’m going with this? In this level, the bright crystals kill you if you touch them. So we wanted to put the “deadly pink crystals” into the spotlight without breaking the immersion. By making all the non-interactive stuff blue, we channeled all the attention to the interactive crystals.

lf6

In a sea of blue, the pink is your firework.

 

Beyond Stereotypes of Form and Colors

The pink crystals are not your typical “gonna kill you” stuff, so it may seem strange that we went with this in Light Fall. It’s true that pink isn’t usually used as a dangerous color and that the crystals aren’t extremely sharp. But because they are the highlight of the scene, the players automatically go ‘‘something’s fishy”, and they’re right. We didn’t need a red glow around some pointy sticks, we didn’t need a sign “watch out for the pink crystals of death”, we only went with a coherent color palette.

So, establish your color palette and embrace it with your game design. Go for a yellow but deadly banana or go for a red but loving bear if you want. Gamers want to see original stuff, give it to them. All that matters are the coherence and unity between your colors.

TwitchCon: I Thought I Knew Twitch, But I Didn’t

Hey everyone,

I hope you’re all doing well. For my part, I feel lovely! After spending 5 days in the beautiful and sunny San Diego, it is hard not to.

I wanted to write my recap on TwitchCon as soon as possible, while my memories of the event were still fresh in mind. There are many things to discuss when it comes to TwitchCon, but what I want to talk about is how clueless I really was about Twitch and its community in general. Don’t get me wrong, I am a user of Twitch and have been for a few years. Like you guys, I watch my favorite video game events, e-Sports competitions and my favorite streamers. I’d dare say I’m well familiar with Twitch, even. The truth is that after attending my first edition of TwitchCon, I came to the conclusion that I thought I knew and understood Twitch, but in fact I absolutely didn’t.

Welcome to TwitchCon, where memes and dreams come to life.

Welcome to TwitchCon, where memes and dreams come to life.

TwitchCon won’t be completely packed. Wrong.

Look, I’ve been to several PAX and other big video game conventions in my life. And I’m not saying there were more people at TwitchCon than at PAX East. In fact, I don’t know the official numbers and they are unimportant for the matter at hand. At a convention like PAX, you can expect a huge audience to show up because this is an event that celebrates the entire video game industry. From the indies to the AAA’s, from the publishers to the streamers, everyone attends PAX. But for TwitchCon? Twitch is just a community (albeit the largest one) inside video games. It is a fraction of the industry, or so I thought. Boy, was I wrong. This event was quite eye-opening for me, I was surprised by the sheer number of people attending. Twitch is part of gaming now and it is here to stay. Every gamer nowadays is familiar with Twitch, no matter the type of game he plays or the platform he uses. And that’s a good thing.

The San Diego Convention Center, home of TwitchCon 2016, was at full capacity.

The San Diego Convention Center, home of TwitchCon 2016, was at full capacity.

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The Kappa Theater, one of the many showrooms at TwitchCon 2016.

Twitch is just a by-product of gaming. Wrong.

I always thought Twitch was just a by-product of gaming. I initially put it on the same level as voice-chat programs, some sort of secondary tool for gamers. Boy, was I wrong. The truth is, Twitch brings gaming to another level. Really, the longer Twitch stays around, the better it is for gaming. It makes the experience both for the viewer and the streamer better. It was a big factor in making video games mainstream. Streamers can now easily showcase their skills and personality to a large audience and viewers have an easy way to watch content online.

Of course, I’m not saying Twitch is perfect. We’ve all heard about the horror stories; the bullying, the police raids, etc. But these examples are a water drop in the sea of interactions on Twitch, which for the most part, are positives for everyone involved.

Despite the overused memes, Twitch chat is a powerful tool that makes watching or playing games more interesting.

Despite the overused memes, Twitch chat is a powerful tool that makes watching or playing games more interesting.

 

Twitch is also so prominent among the community that game developers have started to integrate Twitch features in their games. Shardbound and Streamline are two examples of games that are made with a stream-first mentality. There are several ways to include the viewers in a game, these are called Stream First tenets by Twitch:

  • Game UI: Display a user interface that is comprehensible to viewers, not just players.
  • Inclusion: Include the audience in the streamer gaming experience.
  • Recognition: Recognize the audience for their involvement in the game.
  • Community Achievements: Give the entire channel community a chance to make progress.
  • Audience Feedback: Allow the audience to influence the gameplay.
  • Motivation: Reward the audience for their contributions.
  • Community Co-op: Ensure that everyone in the community feels included.
  • Twitch Plays: Allow the audience to play the game directly using Twitch chat or other controllers.

As you can see, a game experience can change drastically with Twitch. The viewer is now involved in the process, he can participate and engage with his favorite streamer. And this brings me to my last eye-opening realization.

Twitch is just about video games. Wrong.

I thought for the longest time that Twitch was just about watching people play games. Boy, was I wrong. Twitch is beyond the scope of gaming. It’s much more than that. First and foremost, it is about social interactions. It’s a mean for people to connect with others. I realized this when I walked in the lobby hall the first day. Seeing people that had never met at all (in real life or online) hug each other and start talking like good friends was a bit of a shock. People connected so easily with each other, all they needed was an interaction about their favorite streamer or their favorite content to watch.

I was also surprised by the amount of love the popular streamers received. I attended some of these ”Meet and Greet” reunions and some streamers were receiving cookies, t-shirts and all kind of crazy stuff from their most faithful fans. And thinking about it, why would they not? If you watch someone every evening, he is part of your life even though you have never met him in the flesh.

I also found out that there is a big audience on Twitch that is not watching game-related content at all. Some people have a cooking channel or a painting channel. You can watch pretty much anything on Twitch, it is quickly replacing television.

The bottom line is that the viewers on Twitch watch for different reasons: some are seeking attention (donation message and shoutouts), some are looking to interact and chill with others (Twitch chat), some are simply enjoying watching their favorite games or e-Sports competitions and some are watching pro players to improve their own play. And that’s the beauty of Twitch, everyone is benefiting from it. Each and every streamer has his own channel’s theme and way of streaming, and the same can be said for viewers and their watching habits.

 

MANvsGAME, a popular streamer, has built his channel around struggling and beating every video game he can get his hands on.

MANvsGAME, a popular streamer, has built his channel around struggling and beating every video game he can get his hands on.

Some streamers, like FuturemanGaming, have a very recognizable element to stand out from the crowd.

Some streamers, like FuturemanGaming, have a very recognizable element to stand out from the crowd.

Twitch brings a very diverse crowd, even the UFC champion Demetrious Johnson can be seen streaming regularly.

Twitch brings together a very diverse crowd. Even the UFC champion Demetrious Johnson can be seen streaming regularly.

 

To conclude, I really enjoyed my time at TwitchCon 2016 and as a game developer, I truly understood what this platform was all about.

That’s it for now, stay tuned as we will have a big announcement about Light Fall in a week or two.

Cheers!

-BEN