I'm pleased to announce that we are pursuing a release date of Friday 26 April for the commercial release of GIF! As of right now the game is practically complete (with only a couple art assets missing) so we are about 95% certain we can comfortably meet this date.
The game will be initially available to buy on Windows, Mac and Linux (via Steam), Android (via Google Play), and iOS (via the App Store). The retail price of the game will be $1.99 (about £1.69 in the UK). Any proceeds made from the sale of the game will be put towards funding the next project.
All versions of the game will include the full single-player gameplay experience, including 3 zones with 25 levels each (so 75 in total), 25 unlockable skins, and full support for USB or bluetooth game controllers in addition to keyboard or touch controls. The PC version will also include integration with Steam services such as leaderboards, achievements and Steam Cloud. (The leaderboards are really my favourite feature in the Steam release, because they help to add a competitive element to the gameplay, letting you battle it out with your friends for the fastest times. Woop!)
As you can see, we are currently targeting PC and mobile only. You may be wondering why a console release hasn't been announced, especially since I've mentioned that the game works fine on my Xbox a couple of times recently, so I would like to clarify now that we would definitely like a console release in future. The game has been programmed with a possible console release in mind too, so there isn't really any reason from our side as to why this wouldn't be possible. However, the publishing policies operated by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are not currently flexible enough to allow us to pursue any console release at this time. It is possible this situation could change in the future, so I wouldn't count out a console release down the line, but as of right now it doesn't seem like a realistic endeavour. I guess it depends how well the PC and mobile versions sell
I have also been asked about whether we would be willing to release a DRM-free version of the game outside of the Steam store. The decision has been made not to pursue this option right now, because to release the game in that way the leaderboards would realistically have to be stripped out. It would also be much harder to issue updates and bug fixes to the game without using Steam. However, if there is a significant demand for a DRM-free version without the Steam functionality included, we will definitely look into that.
We are nevertheless really excited to be able to finally announce the upcoming release of the PC and mobile versions of GIF! This is a huge milestone for us, and I'm very proud of everyone on the development staff for reaching this point. The production quality of the game is a lot higher than I could possibly have hoped for at the start of the project and I'm really happy with the way everything turned out in the end. So thanks to everyone who supported us and helped to make this happen!
Look out for GIF, hopefully on sale from Friday 26 April!
The development of GIF is proceeding at full pace. It's been around 6 months since the last blog post, so I figured I'd get everyone up to speed with the state of the game's development.
I'm pleased to report that we have now completed the design and development of all levels. The final level to be completed, Suspension, was submitted by Paul on 26th January. To the best of my knowledge, the game should now be completely playable from start to finish without any major issues! As a result, we are now working on polishing Several of the newer levels have been designed by Braydon who was previously focusing on music and sound. He turned out to be a really versatile and multi-talented guy and I think we're very lucky to have him on the team.
In the last blog post, I talked about how we hadn't yet decided on what to call the "classic" zone. The name we ended up choosing was the cave zone. To go along with this, many of the levels have been thematically restyled in order to have a more cave-like feel to them - Braydon did a lot of work in this area. We've also added the previously promised parallax backgrounds to provide a really visually stunning appearance to the game.
Here you can see a before-and-after comparison of the level "Twists and Turns" which was shown off in the last blog post:
As you can see, the new version of the level has a sort of darker and more cave-like feel to it. This is something we have worked hard to push for, and it really shows - many of the levels have been greatly improved as a result of the work.
The ice zone has received similar treatment, and the new background helps to really emphasise the icy feel with layered spikes jutting out from the ceiling and floor:
Finally, the factory zone background features pipes and metal lattice:
If you compare to the original backgrounds, you can really see how much better these look, especially once you get in-game and see the parallax effect. Trevor has done an amazing job here and the effort has definitely paid off.
Of the 75 levels, 49 of them currently have medal times set, and both the cave and ice zones have had their levels ordered appropriately in order to make the difficulty increase gradual. The remaining 26 levels without medal times set (1 ice zone level and all factory zone levels) are currently being worked on to figure out what medal times are appropriate, and the factory zone level ordering will follow shortly afterwards. This is a process I expect to take a few more weeks.
We are currently in the process of working on replacing the placeholder menus with ones that look more professional. You can see some of the new menus here:
Most importantly, the settings menu can now be opened from either the main menu screen OR the in-game pause screen. As a result, it is now possible to edit things such as audio volume or screen resolution without having to abandon play.
Improved help signs
The help sign system has been significantly improved.
When the player walks over a help sign, the bottom of the screen now shows a little tooltip showing you which key or button to press to read the help sign:
If you press the relevant button, you're presented with the help information and the game timer pauses to allow you to read it:
This works much better than the previous methods of either forcing the annoying popup to be displayed (like the original) or displaying it in an obtrusive fashion over the top of the level (like the remaster previously used to do).
Improved level select and statistics
The level select screen is currently the area undergoing new work.
The PC/console version of this screen hasn't been skinned yet, but there are a couple of improvements to show. Firstly, the medal sprite has been updated and looks way more polished. Secondly, the leaderboard now has the best times colour-coded by medal type, with the medal being shown next to the time, and the timing numbers have been properly aligned to avoid visual discomfort. Thirdly, this screen now shows you how many attempts you've made on each level, how many times you completed it, and your overall success rate.
You might also notice the new "statistics" button, which sends you to a display showing you how many times you were killed by each type of thing so far:
These screens are still a work-in-progress, and, as I said, they haven't been skinned yet. You can therefore expect them to look way better once the skinning is done.
For mobile, we are hopefully going to design a completely new level select screen which features swiping to select levels. This hasn't been implemented yet though.
Medal shown on level complete screen
The level complete screen has been modified to show the medal you obtained, complete with a little lanyard:
This screen is, again, not skinned yet. You can expect to see some significant visual improvements here once the skinning is done.
In addition to visual polish, the game has had a number of important performance improvements applied to it recently. The biggest area of work has been in collisions, with inaccessible blocks no longer having any collision mesh, and with the remaining blocks having caching groups applied in order to further reduce the number of collision calls. This has almost doubled the fps of the game on some phones, as well as helping to smooth out lag spikes, which is obviously really important for the mobile release. I am going to continue to look for areas where the performance can be improved over the coming weeks as we eek closer to the release deadline.
I've also taken the time to improve the USB controller code. The game can now be played using the analog stick in addition to the d-pad thanks to a new subroutine which divides the analog stick into 8 equal segments in order to reliably determine which direction you intended to move in. It works really well - controlling the player is really consistent. There is also now a new setting which allows you to jump using the stick rather than using the jump button if you so wish (although IMO it makes the game significantly harder to play - serious players are likely to avoid it).
The mobile touch controls have been improved in a similar way, and can now be resized so that you can set a comfortable control size for your device. The superjump button will now also disappear by default when not required (but if you dislike that behaviour, you can disable it in the settings menu).
The medal system has been slightly adjusted too. You will now receive a "rusty" medal in the event that you complete a level but don't get a time worthy of the bronze rank (although we expect that most players will be able to hit bronze rank without too much difficulty). The rusty medal will not be worth any points towards unlocking the next zone, although the zone unlock restrictions are going to be relaxed a little. The idea is that you will be able to unlock the next zone either by A) getting enough points, or B) completing every level in the previous zone. This means that you can get 25 rusty medals and you will still advance to the following area. For this reason, the first play-through can be focused on just completing each level if you prefer, rather than worrying about how good a time you achieved.
I hope this update has given a little insight into the state of the game right now, along with what you can expect going forward I can also pretty confidently say that we are really close to release now that all the game design work is essentially finished. Once the rest of the polishing is completed, I can see us handing the game over to the various publishing stores pretty promptly. We are also likely to start work on the trailer and advertising materials soon.
If you're interested in this game, please check out the Discord server to keep up to date with the latest news and to hear promptly about any upcoming release announcements.
Things have been kinda quiet on the official dev blog. I honestly forget about posting here I guess it doesn't matter too much, since right now nobody actually reads stuff posted to the website... Oh well
Please be reassured that development of this game is still going ahead. In fact, there have been a LOT of cool updates over the past 6 months. The dev team has been working hard behind the scenes to try and get this game finished (although it's taking a really long time, because everyone is super busy, especially Paul and Trevor, and shuffling real life responsibilities around game dev is very challenging). We've settled into our roles as follows:
We're also looking for new recruits to help learn the ropes and get involved with development of future titles. If you know of anyone who might be suitable and interested, or you might be interested yourself, please get in touch
The original plan with GIF was to build 4 zones, with around 30 levels per zone. This was later revised down to 3 zones (classic, ice and factory) with 25 levels per zone, giving 75 in total (and of these, we have about 60 playable right now, with 5 or 6 more under development).
The first zone is currently called the classic zone - named because it contains all of the classic levels from the original release of the game (although we're likely going to rename it, since most people will be new players who won't recall the original). Here you can see a screenshot of how one of these levels looks right now:
It certainly looks better than the original...
The new HD remaster looks great even at resolutions as high as 4K, so I'm confident you will love it Trevor has done a really outstanding job. We've tried to maintain the original feel as closely as we can, while giving it that fresh, modern, professionally produced look that people have come to expect from video games nowadays. Hopefully that has paid off!
The classic zone has some new levels too. When designing these levels, we wanted to introduce a few new concepts which were aesthetically and thematically fitting with the rest of the zone. This means you're going to see lava in some of the later levels, along with fireballs that jump out at you from beneath:
You'll probably also notice here that we've swapped the madblock and player colours around. It seems to look nicer that way and helps the game to stand out a bit more from some other titles.
The only aspect that really needs to undergo significant work for the classic zone is the backgrounds. We're going to replace them with parallax backgrounds. It's on the to-do list. Hopefully you can see a preview soon The rest of the zones also have this to look forward to, as they're using placeholder backgrounds right now which are just retints.
So, how do the other zones differ?
Well, the ice zone is designed around environmental hazards. In this zone, you'll encounter things such as slippy floors, crumbling floors, dripping icicles, snowballs, snow blocks that fall to make new paths, etc. These new hazards add to most of those seen in the classic zone (hot blocks, mad blocks, invisible blocks and lava), albeit with retints to make them more fitting with the environment.
Here's a sneak preview of how this looks:
Finally, the factory zone is all about solving puzzles to reach the end, by means of a series of coloured buttons that you have to use to toggle hazards on and off. In addition to the standard hazards, you'll see forcefields, lifts, ladders, pistons, conveyor belts and steam vents, with most being toggle-able. If you want to reach the end of the level, you'll have to figure out which buttons to press, and in which order (as well as dodging the usual hazards of course!)
Here's how this looks right now:
This is a huge expansion from the original version of the game which will hopefully bring many hours of inevitable frustration to your homes
Leaderboards and Medals
I'm pleased to reveal that the PC release has been integrated with the Steam leaderboard service, providing friend-based leaderboards. The level select has also had a huge overhaul, showing you a picture of each level along with the leaderboard info. Here you can see that working (please note the GUI is "programmer art" right now and is likely to see visual improvements before release):
We've also set up a medals system. Each zone requires a certain number of medal points to unlock, and each level will award you with a different medal worth different numbers of points (diamond, gold, silver, bronze or none) depending on how fast you completed it. This isn't fully implemented yet, but most of the work is done for it at this point.
Steam Cloud and per-user saves
The PC version is fully integrated with Steam Cloud. This means that you can play the game on one computer, and then when you switch to a different computer your progress will follow you. Yay!
There is also support for per-user save files, with each Steam account having separate save data.
The game now has full controller support. You can play using any XInput compatible controller. I've tested with Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers and both work fine.
If you choose to play with a controller, all the controls on the GUI are updated to match:
Many of you are aware by now that we intended to launch this game on PC, Android and iOS. The builds on these platforms have been tested and are working decently (even on pretty old phones). What you might not know is that we're now also planning to release the game on Xbox One via the creator publishing system. Because of this, GIF will end up being our first game that reaches every major type of platform (desktop, mobile and console).
I would love to also publish on PS4 and Switch, but this doesn't seem likely right now due to developer restrictions on those platforms (Microsoft is the friendliest to indie developers right now by a long shot), so our console port will only be launching on Xbox. This is still way better than I originally planned and I'm super excited about the possibilities of cross-platform releases.
Plans for the future
One of the original things I wanted to do for any new versions of GIF was to build an endless mode. We have an early concept for this working now. I don't want to reveal anything else at this stage, because at the moment I don't expect it to end up in the final release (there are a lot of pacing issues which I never thought about) but I'm at least floating it out there as a possibility. It looks like it might be a nice extra to play about with if we end up with spare time between the completion of the game and the official launch.
I also really want to make some more zones (e.g. a magic zone, a poison zone, etc). I have some early concepts in my head for these.
I'm expecting though that once GIF is released or close to being finished, almost all the development time will end up going onto whatever title comes after GIF. We are really stretched very thin at the moment, so it's unlikely we will have the resources to work on two games at once. It all really depends how well GIF sells
Right now, we've been considering a tower defense game as our next project, and we potentially have two new artists with 3D experience that might end up helping out with that, but don't hold your breath. Plans might change.
That's pretty much it for this update. I know it has been ages since I posted - hopefully it was worth the wait