For our latest update, we decided to take a closer look at some of the other characters that you will come across in your journey through the icebreaker universe.
As some of our loyal fans may have noticed already, we have spent a little time making the characters page teeny bit better by showing off a selection of expressive frames next to the main large idle Animation.(nice!)
We will be adding to this character roster again to complete the list of friends and foes, in a final batch before launch soon. So keep checking back for the latest updates.
The Village Chief
The Chief is leader over the whole village. He has been doing it a long time... maybe a little too long as he seems to be getting a little forgetful in his twilight years. At the start of the game he helps you learn the skills you need to compete in the Hammerfest games to become an Icebreaker. Which we guess is important as it is the name of the game after-all!
He will appear later in your quest from time to time to erm... check out how your getting along !?! Ah bless, the harmless old chap clearly has too much time on his hands.
The Common Troll
The Common troll is just one of many types of trolls you will come across on your Viking Voyage. Common Trolls tend to be amongst the most “sticky” variety and they are fairly stupid, so don't expect an intelligent conversation! They also eat pretty much anything, including Vikings.
Eeek! Best give them a wide birth.
The Goat Herder
Living with just goats for company for too long has clearly sent him off the rails. He may want your help rescuing his goats, but he doesn’t seem too interested in helping you in your own quest much.
Some of you may be familiar with this Viking form of transport. Who needs cars or horses when you can tie a rope around a crow and fly your way there. YE HA! Giddy up... erm crow?
The largest type of troll that ever roamed the Viking lands... folk says they were as big as mountains (hence the name we guess!)
As much as it would be impressive to see one, I’m glad they’re no longer around to get in the Icebreakers way. Yep definitely not in this game... definitely!
So you read our huge news about having Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage published by Rovio Stars?
When we started Icebreaker we had no intention of using a publisher. We were not looking for a publisher and even though we had interest from several of the biggest publishers during its development it wasn't really what we wanted.
So what changed? Well nothing really... but there are exceptions to every rule. In the paid app market Rovio is king, they have taken their Angry Birds game and made it a phenomenon and every game they have released has gone on to be very successful. We have a huge respect for what they have built up and they are possibly the only party on the App store that we would and did jump at working with.
The App Store is all about exposure, games are cheap so you need lots and lots... and LOTS of people to know about your game in order to get up the charts. It's only once you chart that anyone outside your fan base will ever hear about you!
As of last December Rovio has a user base of 200 million monthly active users... that's seriously huge! To give you an idea of how huge, that's more than Twitter has! By comparison Nitrome has around 5 million monthly active users, something we’re proud of but not all of those will even own a phone and well… you see the difference!
So what about compromising the game? Well that’s the other great thing… we don't! The game was fairly feature complete before Rovio got involved and they were impressed with what we had done. Everything that we changed after that point enhanced the game and we fully appreciated and agreed with their feedback.
Because of Rovio the game has been tested to death. Not only is it about as bug free as we could possibly make a game it also had a lot of user testing. We got lots of great feedback from this and we were able to adjust areas that people were getting confused or to make some elements more enjoyable.
Also thanks Rovio were thrilled to announce that Icebreaker is not only in English but also at launch supports French, German, Spanish and Italian!
Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage features an in depth dialogue throughout the game conveying a deep and often humorous tale. It is a feature we spent a lot of time on in the game and one of the features that we believe elevates the game above what you would typically find in a puzzle game on the App Store.
Rovio have helped us with the branding and we worked closely to create a new video and art to be used to promote the game. If you haven’t seen the video yet what are you waiting for? Go view it now!
The other major benefit of working with Rovio is that they know better than anyone else on the App Store how to take a hit brand to the next level. There is everything now from the familiar Angry Birds plush toys, to a cartoon series and feature film on the way.
Now don't get too excited, you may not ever see such things from the Icebreaker universe. But if we do have a hit on our hands, then Rovio will help us make the most of it in a way we never could have done on our own!
Alongside the very exciting announcement that we're working with the Angry Birds power house that is Rovio comes a brand new video. We closely worked with Rovio on this and as the previous video was very gameplay focused we felt a different direction was needed this time out. We never could have achieved such cinema quality 3d on our own or done such cool voice acting! We're more than pleased with the results and think it echoes the offbeat humour of the game rather well!
May 14th, 2013 -- Espoo, Finland -- Rovio Entertainment announced the launch of its new mobile game publishing initiative, Rovio Stars, which will feature the best new games from talented and innovative developers. This is the entertainment company’s first foray into including third party titles in its game line-up.
“Rovio Entertainment has positioned itself as one of the powerhouses of mobile entertainment, so moving into publishing is a logical step for us at this point”, said Rovio’s EVP of Games Jami Laes. “We want to help our fans find quality entertainment among the more than 100,000 games available in app stores. That’s where Rovio Stars comes in.”
“In the course of our work, we run into so many fantastic upcoming titles -- games with memorable characters and entertaining gameplay that are also just really fun to play!” said Kalle Kaivola, Director of Development. “These are the sorts of titles we’re interested in. We want to help the developers to give these games that last coat of polish, publish the games and find their audience. We’re focusing on a small, select number of games, and each Rovio Stars launch will be an event of its own.”
The first game to be published under the Rovio Stars program will be Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage by Nitrome Ltd., followed by Tiny Thief by 5 Ants. Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage follows the adventure of a lone Viking, combining a unique ice slicing mechanic with an offbeat humour. Tiny Thief is a beautiful medieval adventure featuring stealth-based puzzles.
“Being involved with Rovio Stars means that we have one of the best marketing teams behind us, as well as visibility to their vast audience. To a small indie studio like Nitrome this is all the backing we could hope for!” said Mat Annal, Managing Director of Nitrome Ltd.
Check out the brand new Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage trailer here: http://rov.io/icebreakertrailer
Developers who are interested in Rovio Stars can find more information at: www.rovio.com/developers
For more information and general media inquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, and Tiny Thief:
About Rovio Entertainment
Rovio is an industry-changing entertainment media company headquartered in Finland, and the creator of the globally successful Angry Birds franchise. Angry Birds, a casual puzzle game, became an international phenomenon within a few months of its release, and is now the number one paid app of all time. Angry Birds has expanded rapidly in entertainment, publishing, and licensing to become a beloved international brand. www.rovio.com
About Nitrome Ltd
Nitrome is an award winning games studio based in London UK, who develop mobile, PC and browser games. With over 100 games to date, the Nitrome website reaches tens of millions of loyal fans each month and individually titles have reached over 100 million plays across the internet. www.nitrome.com
About 5 Ants
Barcelona-based 5 Ants Studio aims to create imaginative and unique games for all ages. Tiny Thief is the culmination of our most enthusiastic work, a delicious adventure you will never forget. Intrigued? Visit 5ants.com
We are still busy working away on Icebreaker! Despite the silence there have been 6 of the Nitrome crew busy on the game for quite some time and were making great progress! The game is just about complete now and to show just how close to complete we are we have upped the percentage bar to 99%!
Why is it not finished already? Well mainly it is just a lot of work to make such a huge game...it has just shy of 100 levels and they are packed with story secrets and variety!
There is also another reason however...something that has been going on behind the scenes since the beginning of this year...a secret! Woooo! We're going to be revealing just what that secret is TOMORROW and we hope it will surprise and excite a lot of you when we explain just what it means to Icebreaker! Keep checking this page for the news which will be coming alongside a big Icebreaker site overhaul and a new video! We also have tons of other bits and bobs written up now to be posted between now and the games release so get ready for an Icebreaker news overload!
I know it has been a while since we last talked about Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage and I know a lot of you expected it would have been launched by now due to a comment on the Touch Arcade article which mentioned a January release. Well that obviously didn’t happen but rest assured that this is not vapourware... The game has actually never had so many people working on it and we have not at any point stopped working on it. It is getting close to being wrapped up and we will have more news coming soon. Until then thanks for your continued interest... It will be worth the wait!
While you wait check out this new screen shot from a later level in the game and note that we have also updated the progress bar to show that we are still erm.....progressing :)
A lot has happened since the last update. We hope you enjoyed the trailer as much as we enjoyed your great response, it has helped boost our motivation to soaring heights for the home-stretch of Ice Breaker's development! With your support and after a relaxing Christmas break, we're all ready to go and give it the finishing touches.
Last time we introduced you to some of the characters you'll encounter on your voyage through the strange lands of Ice Breaker. If you've played the previous Ice Breaker games, you probably noticed that your favourite vikings got themselves a beard trim and shiny new helmets too! So, in this update we're going to give you a glimpse of the transformation the game world has undergone. You'll get to see designs that did not make it into the final version and we'll let you in on some hiccups we encountered along the way. The development of Ice Breaker: A Viking Voyage has been going on (and going strong!) for over a year now and it has come a long way, so looking back at the very first drafts and the evolution of the design will be a real blast from the past for us. Hopefully it will give you some interesting insights into the makings of bringing a game world to life.
This is a comparison between the graphics of the original Ice Breaker from 2008 and a level from 'A Viking voyage'. Can you spot the difference? (Click to zoom in)
That's right, the boat's captain changed his hammer wielding technique! Also, if you take an even closer look, you'll notice how the entire look and feel got a complete overhaul. From the captain's nose hair to the troll droppings in the distant bays, nothing was left untouched (not quite literally, mind you). Here's what happened inbetween the left and the right screenshot:
As you can see, the first step we took was to base the new design off the existing games, slowly establishing a fresh style that's worthy of a reboot of the series. As we got to know the iOS devices better, which provide different screen real estate and interactive capabilities, so changed our approach to the design - both in gameplay terms and visually. Mostly, the new make-up evolved very organically, but the troll, for example, was a complete departure from the original rat type enemy:
The main concern with the characters and objects like the boat lay with the size and shape of things, as this directly affects the gameplay and had to be sorted out early on. However, the revision of the scenery and backgrounds is aimed at creating an atmosphere. It has to be both interesting and at the same time not overwhelming or distracting to the player. In our attempt to come up with something more unusual than the initial 'Winter Wonderland' scenario, we went through many iterations, gradually adjusting the color palette:
But that green muck was pushing it a little too far, so after some further tweaks and firing up the fog machines (an essential piece of equipment for every self-respecting game developer) we arrived at the moody, marshy, omnious lagoon that you'll be playing in before long!
It was at about this point in development that the art style started to embrace the angular nature of the geometry that all the solid shapes in the game are comprised of as well. You may be able to spot the subtle change the boat or the troll underwent above, but here's a more striking example of how this affected the design of the trees for good measure:
So we've got ourselves some new vikings, a new ride, beautiful dreary weather, a nice patch under a... weird-looking tree in a swamp and not to forget: we've mastered the ancient art of holding the hammer the other way - we're all set, right? Let's have a look.
Well, that looks a little plain. What's with all the talk about bringing a game world to life you say? You may remember from the 'set-pieces' update further down the page, that we pay specific attention to every single level. In general this means three steps:
Step number one is laying out an idea for a puzzle with just the bare minimum of purely functional objects and elements. It's what you saw in the shot above and ironically, even though it doesn't look like much, it's often the part that takes the longest! Working with physics in games can be very unpredictable, so before you know it you find yourself tweaking a single corner of an ice block for twenty minutes straight. After painstakingly ironing out all the quirks, you proudly go to show it to Jon just so he can go all "What happens if I do this?" and everything goes haywire again! Thanks a lot, Jon!
The second step is finding challenging ways to put in treasure chests and coins, which sometimes means making changes or adding new parts to the level. Also, let's get rid of this clumsy building shape in the background, we can do better!
Lastly, it's time to breathe some soul into the scene by breaking up the plain geometry a little bit, adding decoration, bespoke or otherwise, and finally by making the characters speak up. Place the level in a pre-heated microwave oven for about 25 minutes, no tumble dry, and voila! Cut and hammer away!
Clearly, as the rambling in this update demonstrates, prolonged development time takes all kinds of tolls, but not just on the mental state of the people involved. A number of assets created for Ice Breaker got left behind along the way, or sometimes it just takes many, many attempts to arrive at a satisfying result.
The valkyrie is one of the characters that didn't make the jump from the web series to the new version, even though we had a basic re-design finished already. Also, the flying troll type enemy proved to be a hard nut to crack. We've tried all kinds of designs: from a fluttering hermit eel to a winged lockehorn, to the common airborn fur-shrimp, the feathered strabismus, the tragic featherismus, the balding curlhorner, the bucktoothed batnewt... until we decided to go for a batwinged, skull-enthusiast version of his more down to earth cousin, the common troll.
This concludes our little behind the scenes for Ice Breaker: A Viking Voyage. Thanks for reading, keep your eyes peeled for future updates and, especially, the release! Discuss, comment, spread the word and if you've got more questions on the topic, ask away!
Hi all, just a quick update on our progress with Icebreaker. We have updated the progress bar to 90 percent! Woohoo, Not long to go now! We had a plan of what we wanted to do before we would consider it to be 90 percent… things don’t always go as planned though.
We planned to have our first boss finished, a demo to distribute to review sites and most importantly a trailer ready for that. The boss ended up taking a lot of time and we haven’t got the trailer yet, but in the meantime, other areas of the project progressed a lot further than we expected. As a result we are possibly even further than 90 percent complete!
There has been a little gap in updates as we wanted to announce what we have been up to with our Touchy and Steam Greenlight projects but that does not mean we have not been beavering away on Icebreaker at the same time... nobody sleeps here don’t you know!
This update covers a little about the characters in the game. Because our web games have a short turnaround time we rarely get to explore the characters in the game world so we made sure to make the most of it this time. We explore the characters mainly through in game conversations they have. It is quite like how we did it in our Rubble Trouble games but we have made more tools to explore this further than we did in those games.
OK so let’s meet some of the characters you will come across in the Ice Breaker universe:
The Gate Keeper (and his Mum!)
First up we have the Gate Keeper. This character primarily serves to charge a toll in order to pass a few gates in the game (so that’s what those coins and chests are all about!)
He looks quite menacing doesn’t he? Kind of like Gollum or a balding Steve Buscemi....creepy! Well appearances can be deceptive as it turns out he is a bit of a mummy’s boy and still lives at home. He tries his best to act hard only to be upstaged by his mum offering you in for a cup of tea!
Why is he so money hungry?, why does he still live with his mum? and more importantly why is he the only person in this game that can’t grow a beard?.....all these and more may or may not be answered in the full version of Icebreaker!!
The Cutting Master
Next Up meet the Cutting Master! He is the hero of the village and he knows it! Modesty is not his strong point liking nothing better than declaring himself the best at everything he does and encouraging Ice Sculptures likenesses be carved in his honour!
After fast taking over the first pack with his overbearing personality his is lost with the other Vikings to the great wind! Surely his arrogance won’t be missed! Unfortunately we have a sneaky feeling he may return a little later in the game to ‘charm’ us once more! After all they don’t call him the Cutting Master for nothing....or maybe they do!
You (nameless hero) / Viking on the longboat
We couldn’t very well finish this article without covering the main man himself.....you! Or well at least the character you play as in the game. He should really have a name by now but he does at least have a personality...yay!!
Following the great wind that sweeps through the village he along with the village chief are the only two remaining! The Vikings need saving and by default of the lack of alternatives you are given sole responsibility of saving the day.....nice!
You wouldn’t think it to look at him but he is only 25! Hard paper round you may think but this is a respectable age to reach in this village....Yikes! He starts the game taking part in the annual Hammerfest competition to become the slave...err... we mean apprentice of his idol the Cutting Master!
He may be a little wet behind the ears at the start but pretty soon he will become a mighty....ok so maybe he stays a little bit of a noob! You will learn to love him all the same though or else be forced to use the handy skip function and pretend he is not there...how cruel!
New Characters Page!
We have made a new Characters page which will house all of the character profiles we announce for the game. We will be adding more characters to it before launch so look forward to that. In the meantime in a sneaky way of forcing you to check out the new tab there is a final character profile listed on the page that is not here.....hehe!
With our last update (and a half) talking about screen resolutions we felt it was time to chat once again about something a little less practical and well...let’s face it more cool! This time we wanted to pick out the topic of ‘set pieces’. We noticed a few people pulled this from our features list and questioned, what we meant by it? It is an area of the game we felt was important, so we have put a lot of time into making it something really special.
So by the term ‘set piece’ we mean graphics and events coded and/or produced for a single level of the game. There are many, many examples of this in the game and some of them we have touched upon already in shots we have shown, or with the goats side-quest. This attention to detail however is not something that is reserved only for side quests, as almost every level has been given some individual love. This may be sometimes purely cosmetic, but often it’s fundamental to the gameplay that is unique to that single level.
So let’s go through an example! Here we have a level from the second pack that shows a Hot Air Balloon (see the very subtle Hot Air Cameo here!) Note that this is the only level in the entire game that uses such a mechanic or the graphic for it.
The basket of the balloon has some thrusters attached to the left and right of it, which will trigger when you slash past them with your finger.
Using the thrusters to maneuver the Hot Air Balloon you must avoid several obstacles (which also involve cutting) and deliver the Viking safely to the longboat!
Any More Examples?
Well we don’t want to spoil the game by telling you too much... but ok just one more example, this time explaining something from a shot on the front page.
On this level (also from the second pack) we find the Viking has managed to trap himself inside a huge shell (Note to self: no explanation as to how the shell managed to get pinned in the air is needed!). Holes in the shell reveal a potential path to the boat, but how to turn it?
As the user slices the ice the weight is shifted and the shell will rotate....you see where this is heading? Get it just right and another Viking is saved and the level is completed!
This example while more cosmetic than the last demonstrates how we make the puzzle more engaging through use of specifically designed graphics in each stage.
So that’s set pieces fully explained, (or maybe not...feel free to ask questions!). You can expect a lot more in the actual game and as usual we are holding the best parts back, so there are some really nice surprises to come when playing the final version.
We hope this is going to be a big release for us, but it only will be a success with the help of our fans so we thank you for your interest. Please help spread the word to people by your social service of choice (Like, Tweet, +1, Pin extra) using the handy bar below. Sign up for the newsletter that should start going out soon and if you haven’t done so already tell your friends if you think they may be interested. More news coming soon!
With the recent unveiling of the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch we get yet another screen size to support... Yay! (Seriously Apple this is a clear advantage over Android – stop adding more sizes for developers to have to support!). We were fairly ready for the announcement as the new longer screen was heavily rumoured to be coming. The news of a new iPod Touch was less expected, as it was rumoured that there would be an iPad Mini? For those not in the know, both devices now sport a swanky new 4 inch screen rather than the 3.5 inch screen of their predecessors.
So what does this mean for Icebreaker? Well not too much as it happens. The game is played in landscape mode and we already were accounting for some extra width for the iPad versions. This screen is a little wider still but it just means we have to check through the levels and make sure we have scenery that goes all the way to the edges. There might be the odd adjustment of buttons and other interface elements here and there but it shouldn’t hold things up too much.
While we haven’t got the devices to try the game on yet, we are committed to fully supporting this new display. Below you can see an image of how we expect the game will look on the new screen size... notice the extra level viewable to the sides...Drool!
Thanks for the support everyone. Keep it coming and we will try to get you the next update soon!
It is true, it’s not the most exciting topic but we noticed that a few people have been wondering how the game differs between the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch versions of the game. We felt this was a good question that deserved addressing so this update is to do just that. Most games in the app store use scalable art and the iPad version is just a scaled version of the iPhone edition. We notoriously work with pixels which don’t really scale well, so that makes things a little more challenging for us. We’ve put a lot of thought and time into getting this right so we think it’s worth highlighting how we have handled various aspects of this.
Some commenters have correctly speculated that the shots on the site are from the iPad version of the game. Those fearing that the game will play badly on a smaller screen should not worry. We have spent a huge chunk of the development time making sure that both versions are just as brilliant as each other. Below is a quick comparison:
As you can see on the iPad screen you can see a little more than you can on the iPhone/iPod touch screen. All levels have been built to work well on the iPhone first and then thoroughly tested to make sure they fill out on the iPad screen nicely.
It is not just the visuals that we have focused on for all devices. It is easier to be more precise on a larger device screen like the iPad or with the pin point accuracy of a mouse. We’ve designed the game from the ground up with multiple sizes of touch devices in mind rather than a mouse on a PC. Therefore we have been able to account for fat fingers and make the game very comfortable to play no matter what device you’re on. To be honest it was just a case of never asking the user to be too precise and making sure everything is spaced out enough, ensuring they don’t hit anything they didn’t want to. Though this may seem obvious, many many games on the app store suffer from control problems arising from the games being ported from a none touch based device. It is only through building the game from the ground up that we could get the controls the way we wanted.
Early in the process of making Icebreaker for iOS we felt there might be the need to zoom in to make cuts more accurately on the iPhone/iPod. Though this turned out not to be the case, we felt it was nice for the user to be able to zoom in and explore the level in more detail. So if you so wish... the option is still in the game. It is actually one of a few niceties we have in the game where it is not essential to the mechanic but it works well as an added extra. Another that springs to mind is that while you are dragging a line you can use a second finger to adjust the starting point... Cool multi touch action!.
This shot shows you a comparison between the zoomed in and zoomed out screen. Note you can use two fingers to scroll around and it’s double tap to zoom in and zoom out.
The final part that we wanted to highlight is how we have approached the differing resolutions of the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch devices. All three devices have two resolutions depending on the age of the device with the high res version called Retina display for those not absorbing the Apple jargon.
iPhone 4/4s and iPod 4th Generation all have retina displays. In a zoomed out state we run the game at a 1 to 1 pixel ratio. With iPad 1 and 2 they have a pretty similar resolution.....it’s just that the pixels are a lot bigger so the game looks similar but has a bit extra visible around the sides. The new iPad came out during the game’s development and has double the resolution of the other iPads. For this new iPad the resolution is basically doubled up which makes for the best looking pixel art on all devices!
For older (none retina) iPhones and iPod Touches (IPhone 3s and IPod 3rd Generation) the screen resolution is not capable of showing the game at a 1 to 1 pixel ratio. What we have done here is let the devices natural scaling take effect, which for the most part looks great. What we have done though is taken some of the smaller character sprites that didn’t look ideal and tidied them up with purposely redrawn to scale versions. This is just one example of the extra care we have put into making sure all versions look as good as possible, that we hope fans will appreciate.
This shot shows how the game looks on a non retina iPhone/iPod touch.....still very pretty!
Retina displays are lovely but when things get so small it can be hard to appreciate the pixel art on show, and we wanted people to know it is there. To do this we tackled the non-game areas in a different way. By adjusting the map and the menus quite heavily between the iOS devices we were able to keep the art at a resolution that you can see all the pixels clearly.
Below shows some of the game sprites in the two different sizes used in the lower resolution version of the game. Characters shown are (from left to right) Vikings to be saved, the boat Viking, a Troll, the Shephard, the Gate Keeper, the Cutting Master, a goat, a crow and a chicken. Please note that they do all animate in the game but we didn't have the smaller animations ready for some of them yet :)
You can see in this example how this effects things on the map below: Like the levels, we designed the map to fit the iPhone first. Then extended the image and replaced buttons to be more fitting on the iPad versions. Unlike in-game, there was no reason here to cater to the different iDevice resolutions.
So there you have it! I think that is everything we could possibly tell you about how we’re supporting the differing devices... you still awake?! Next update we will try to feature something a little more juicy! However we felt this was worth covering to avoid any doubt people may have over small screen versions of the game. (which are awesome!) Rest assured it will play great which ever device you have. Thanks to everyone who continues to follow this project. If you are looking forward to it please help us spread the word by social linking with the handy buttons below. Be sure to add comments and any questions you may have....it’s good to talk :)
In our second update we want to show you another great feature from Ice Breaker that we are very excited about and that’s the map system! As we have said in previous posts we really want to add a sense of adventure to Ice Breaker and we have been looking to Adventure games and RPG’s for the influences. Maps in RPG’s give the user full freedom to move around. We didn’t feel that it sat well with Ice Breaker, as in-game you don’t have direct control over a character. Instead we felt the map system from a lot of 16bit platformers such as the Super Mario games would be a much better fit. You move by tapping the level you wish to travel to and the boat finds its way to that destination for you. You tap again to enter a level or click the play button. By keeping the controls simple it is both a good fit for the game and for the device.
Much like the first update we’re going to take you through an example so that you can see exactly how it works. You can see in this first shot that the player has the option to access two uncompleted levels. The locked levels are shown as simple boxes, whereas the open ones are in full colour and the path leading to them is filled-in.
On completing the level you can see that the next level is opened for you to play. If there had been a branch at this point then multiple levels would have opened up. It’s also worth mentioning that depending on how skilfully the level was completed, new possible branches open up on the map screen. So depending on how you did, symbols on the level get added to indicate this (possibly more on that later!)
As we mentioned in the first developer diary post, there is going to be 3 packs available at launch and each one has a map. This map that we are showing here is from the second pack. If you click on the image we have the full map for you to explore. Perhaps you can find where some of the level shots we have revealed so far sit on the map! Enjoy :)
Maps Have Gameplay?
In many games that have maps they are pretty linear and act as little more than a glossy level select screen. Done well however, they bind the levels together into a much more compelling experience. The player should feel that they are on a journey and see elements from the map in the levels themselves. We want the user to be scrolling around on the map and looking for clues as to what they might encounter later on and be excited by that!
One big advantage with maps is that we can give the player options and help to stop them getting stuck. At certain points in the game you want the player to learn something or see a certain event. In this scenario the route needs to be linear, therefore we can channel the user down a set path to ensure they learn a new mechanic or skill. Where ever this is not so important, we try to give lots of choices and freedom to let the user simply have fun. One interesting thing we tried is on a map junction to make one path purposely very puzzle based and the other more skill/action led....they both focus on an element you have just been shown but then take it in two very different directions that might suit different types of player. Our hope is that someone who might lack the speed for the skill based levels might prefer a more direct puzzle, where as someone that might be frustrated with such a set puzzle might prefer the skill side.
People don’t always have a lot of time and we don’t want to force people to grind through endless levels just to reach the next pack. A lot of games suffer from this, especially in the iOS market. Even in the AAA sector how many games do you actually complete? We have put a lot of effort into making the levels as interesting as possible with regular variation and elements to break things up. We recognise that some people might want to take the more direct route to the next pack where as others will revel in finding every secret and unlocking every level on every route. Maps are a great way to cater to as wide an audience as possible.
Our maps will be jam packed with things that tie-in with the levels and make it more interesting. Choosing from multiple paths is just the start. Complete challenges like the goat herding to unlock a new path with a side story, find the secret entrance to new levels, do something in one level that perhaps makes you go back and be able to do things in previous levels that you couldn’t before (metrovania style). We have tons of ideas that both made it into the first release (everything I have mentioned here and more is in the first build) and more that will have to wait for future packs....we’re very excited to see how far we can take this game with the support we get :)
Hi all, to keep you all up to date on all things Ice Breaker we wanted to give you regular developer diaries from here on out. Whereas the updates take you through some of the cool features that we have put into the game, this diary will serve more to let you know just what we have been putting our time into. This also gives us the opportunity to update the percentage for game development completion! With that in mind we have now updated the percent complete from 80% up to 85% Yay!
This being the first Developer Diary it is hard to explain what we have done without first giving you some idea of the structure of the game and how much we have done prior to starting. The version of the game that will launch will contain 3 packs, each with a map that contains the levels. The first is a Tutorial pack that initially has 5 levels followed by a story that leads you into the main adventure (More will get added later but we don’t want to spoil how). The second pack has 36 levels in it, which are spread over a map and the third will have a similar number of levels as the second pack. Post release we are hoping to develop further packs with more levels but this is what we are making for release. It’s looking like there will be 80+ levels for launch which we think is pretty respectable especially when you consider they are full of variety and not throw away like other popular games out on iOS.
When we were at 80% we already had a lot of levels done over all three packs but no packs were complete and not many levels were in the final state they are now. At 85% complete we have all but two of the first packs levels complete, pretty and tested. We have the map working and drawn. We also have the initial 5 tutorial levels complete pretty and tested too! We have the final two levels roughly working but they are still not there yet. One of the two is the final level boss which is looking very cool and the other level introduces the mechanic you need to defeat the last level! We are working at the moment towards having a playable demo that will contain the first pack and tutorial that we can give to review sites to have a go and use for testing on a wider audience. Apart from those two levels we are also working on getting all the sound effects (music is already done and sounding great) that we need for the game and we need to write the dialogue. As we already have most of the levels for the final pack done, we’re hoping to look at starting production on the trailer soon. Once all that is done we’re going to be at 90% and we think on the home straight :)
That’s all for now......Thanks for your continued interest in our project, please share your interest with others and help us make this a big splash at launch :)
In our first update leading up to the games big release we would like to explain what we meant by the term side quests, which we mentioned in the features list.
To start we will guide you through a simple example to give you all a clearer idea as to what they are all about.
We can see in this first pic an idea in which a Sheppard has lost his goats which are scattered throughout the level. The concept being that you must help him get his goats back to safety. (Think the chicken sidequest in Zelda where you are collecting chickens for helpless villagers).
You will soon come to realise (if you had bothered to read the hilariously witty banter provided before the level) that Viking chief doesn’t take kindly to goats being on his ship. Because of this you must work out a way to separate the goats and the Vikings and avoid them landing on the opposing vessel.
Upon the completion of returning the goats to their owner the player will be rewarded with a golden puzzle piece.
You can of course just complete the puzzle in the usual easier way and rescue your missing crew which would get you to the next level. However if you do manage to save the goats, you will be further rewarded with a new path to explore on the map.
Without spoiling too much, this side quest will have you slicing your way through more goat themed levels, leading to the eventual exciting finale explaining just why you had to save them all in the first pace!
There are many side quests to explore throughout the game. In this instance the player has been given a simple task to complete, but other challenges may not be spelled out quite so much. Some side quests will only be discovered by experimenting with the surroundings and solving puzzles that might not initially be apparent.
So why put in Side Quests...isn’t this supposed to be in adventure games/role-playing games?
We felt that this side quest feature amongst others would add more depth to what is fast becoming a familiar physics puzzle formula on iOS. We already knew from the flash versions of Icebreaker that we had a well loved mechanic. So with that foundation we wanted to look at what else we could offer.
It struck us that almost all Physics puzzle games follow a pretty standard format. You get introduced to a new mechanic on each pack and then grind your way through endless rearrangements to the next pack. We wanted to avoid this tired formula, so we looked to games that keep the player absorbed in the experience. Adventure games do this very well and most Adventure games involve puzzles. So we feel there is already a loose connection between the two genres.
We hope that adding side quests and other in-depth features will keep the gamer wanting to play every level and be gripped to see what happens next.
Please feel free to ask us any question related to Icebreaker in the comments below
More updates coming soon so sit tight. :)