Ancient history!

During the move we recovered a couple folders of notes and scribbles from very early in Teslagrad’s development, here’s a look at a couple of nuggets:

20150225_173442
an excerpt from the initial script outline for Teslagrad’s story! This changed a lot as we decided to do completely nonverbal storytelling, so in the end a lot of nuance was cut in favour of more instinctively understandable/ archetype based story beats. A lot of the story work in teslagrad was “how much can we cut/streamline this to make it more understandable without losing the flavour” rather than “how much of the story can we cram in before people get impatient”.
In the end, the amount of behind the scenes, not explicitly stated stuff probably made the ingame world feel richer and more expansive than it would have otherwise!

20150225_173105
20150225_173135

Early sketches of the king, complete with a list of design inspirations. his outfit was a lot more flash gordon-esque here!

Teslagrad has been released in Japan!

jp-cover

We’re happy to announce that our game Teslagrad is available digitally in Japan from today, February 18, 2015!
Thank you to our partners Square Enix (PlayStation platforms) and Unity Japan/Kakehashi Games (Nintendo Wii U/PC), who have worked diligently to bring Teslagrad to their shores.
Without them, far fewer people would be able to discover the world of teslagrad, and we’re very happy to recieve such great support.

We’ve updated the japanese translation of the PC version to ensure the best possible experience for customers in Japan. To all of our potential new players, hope you’ll have fun!

sqe2
Square Enix Homepage

Teslagrad Japanese release promotion: 75% off on Steam, plus 100 keys giveaway!

teslagrad-japanese

Today we’re celebrating our upcoming release in Japan, as well as an attractive 75% off discount!
As you may know, Teslagrad is a rollicking puzzle platformer with lush, hand painted steampunk visuals, silent storytelling and magnetic super powers.
Our game will be released in Japan on February 18th courtesy of Unity Games Japan & Kakehashi Games(Steam/Wii U) and Square Enix(PlayStation platforms), and will be recieving an updated japanese translation on Steam to coincide with this!

We want to share our joy with you all by doing a one week, 75% off sale on the Steam version, starting today, February 9!
To kick off the sale, we’re giving away 100 keys for free through Steam gifts, maybe you’re one of the lucky few?

Steam Gifts giveaway

Steam Teslagrad store page, 75% OFF!

The Teslagrad approach to puzzle platformer level design

editor

I got a question online the other day about level design that i gave a long and rambling answer to, but i figure it might be useful for some of you who might be starting out making games yourself:

“So I’m interested in getting into game development. I’d also like to make a platformer puzzle type game. I have 0 experience outside of being the consumer of games. I’m a developer and I’m sure with enough time and research (and tools like Unity) I can handle the programming side. For me what I think seems most daunting is level design. What was your team’s process for designing the levels?”

-Best laid plans, trial and error, killing your darlings and iteration! No one is born a perfect level designer and things rarely work just as you intended when you play the first iteration you build of a level- and that’s ok. The important thing is being able to identify what you are trying to achieve with the level and change it to fit that vision if something doesn’t work as intended. Or alternately, seeng when something unintended works outbetter than the original idea. Most of teslagrad’s levels changed a lot from first to final version! one thing to keep in mind is that level design that seems easy on paper can be very hard to play, almost all the initial designs had to be simplified and made easier-and teslagrad is still considered a fairly hard game!

Also, never start out trying to make levels with a high degree of graphical fidelity-always stary out just building them from grey boxes or basic tilesets, and decorate them when you’ve nailed the gameplay aspect. This makes it far easier to iterate. make sure you think of what parts of the level are visible to the player in-camera from any point in the level, if you keep that in mind you can imagine the experience of playing it for the first time from another person’s perspective, and try to make it an enjoyable experience for them.

Get people to play your WIP levels (anyone, but keep in mind how their skill level relates to your intended audience). Don’t talk to them while they’re playing, even if they get stuck. Never try to help them along, just observe and see what seems like it works for them and what doesn’t. This can be very hard to do. Afterwards you’re free to ask them anything about their ecperience, what they enjoyed and what they didn’t, what they found too hard, too easy, too obtuse or what confused them. Results may be surprising.Sometimes the part where they looked like they were struggling was their favourite part, sometimes it can be the opposite. Try to adjust your levels if it’s obvious that spesific parts aren’t fun for the majority of players. Listen to suggestions, but keep in mind that not everyone is great at problem solving and what they suggest may not actually be the solution to the problem they were having in the game. Never dismiss people outright if they are struggling in some way, even though something seems like it should work for you, it might still be a bad design choice. That’s not to say you should compromise your vision or make a dull design by comittee game, but try to find a balance!

Lastly there’s a Shigeru Miyamoto quote that applies to almost every aspect of game design-paraphrasing here, but it’s something along the lines of “A good idea is not an idea that solves a single problem, but an idea that solves multiple problems”.

Teslagrad will be published by Square Enix in Japan!

Square-Enix-big-banner
Final Fantasy! Dragon Quest! Teslagrad! What do these three have in common?
That’s right, Square Enix!
To release western games in Japan you need a Japanese publisher,
and they kindly stepped up to the plate for Teslagrad on PlayStation platforms.
We’ve spent a great many hours enjoying games from Japan over the years,
and a huge percentage of the all time classics have been developed or published by Square Enix.
It feels great to be able to give something back with Teslagrad!

Our artist Ole drew the kid from Teslagrad cosplaying as Yangus from DQ8 to celebrate, since he’s currently playing that:
sq

The Japanese release date is Feb 18. Check out the
Square Enix Teslagrad site!

Environments from Teslagrad, pt. 6

The Tower’s basement areas might have had a floor plan at one point, when it was first built into the mountain.
However, the combination of limestone bricks left to the teeth of time and reappropriation of spaces to accommodate new technology has left it a rather surreal, confusing place.

shaft4
Nature seems to have started reclaiming these rooms long ago, as moss and vines grow freely and roots that seem ancient and interconnected have made their way through many of the crumbling surfaces from somewhere high above.
As we make our way through gaps in walls, floors and ceilings by trial and error, we face what appears to have have served as a well at some point. It’s run dry now, its walls clad the aforementioned greenery.

shaft5
Fearing what may lurk down there, we try to make our way across to the other side, only to be met by the gaze of a creature that seems to be half wolf, half cockroach, all eyes and all too tired of an vegetarian cave moss diet. Luckily there’s an electric field between us and it, keeping us exploring the insides of its belly… At least for the time being.

Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Environments from Teslagrad, pt. 5

Passing through the narrow path of magnetic barriers, we emerge on one of many small balconies peppering the walls of a tall vertical shaft.

shaft1
The entire area is bathed in an a clear blue tint, emanating from a large electromagnetic device at the bottom of the shaft.

shaft2
A statue displaying the hallmarks of the Teslamancer order is floating in mid air, hinting at the power of their ancient artifacts. We chance a leap to the bottom, miraculously taking no damage from the fall. A strange flower grows in the cracks between the metallic plating on the floor, small currents running through it’s orblike petals. We touch the flower and are immediately propelled through the air, charged with the same polarity as the floor itself. Equal polarities repel, opposites attract. Unfortunately, a massive barrier stops us from exploring further up, so we set our sights on a doorway at the bottom of the shaft, hydraulics springing into action and lifting the heavy metal door as we approach it.

shaft3
Entering the bottom doorway, we realize that the tower’s foundations interweave with a naturally occurring cave system, rickety dungeon walls built into mountain itself.
On a makeshift bridge made from the tower’s omnipresent magnetic boxes, we walk by an effigy carved in stone, depicting a multi-eyed monstrosity of some sort. It seems to predate any architecture we’ve come across so far.

Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Environments from teslagrad, pt. 4

Moving through a crack in the wall, we stop for another sudden shift in environments- A huge cathedral, specks of dust floating in the air illuminated by a row of stained glass windows. Through the imagery tiled in glass, we can decipher a fragment of the history of the Tower’s masters, the ancient Teslamancer order.

Environment_screenshots_012

We see a story of prosecution and survival. Once a peaceful, small community of thinkers and inventors, the order suffered frequent attacks from barbarian tribes roaming the land.
They were forced to weaponize their technology to ward off the invading forces- the centerpiece of the stained glass imagery shows the creation of a golden gauntlet, capable of controlling the environment by adding positive or negative electromagnetic charges to nearby objects.

Environment_screenshots_014
Moving onward, we encounter an a passage blocked by gigantic metallic cubes, impossible to bypass with human strenght alone. We have no option but to turn back.

cathedral_wid

Upon returning to the cathedral, our attention is grabbed by vines growing on the left hand wall- they look solid enough to climb, and continue upwards through holes in the roof. We see a faint glow emanating from above.

glove-screeb

Climbing through, we discover a hidden chamber high above the cathedral. Upon a pedestal, gleaming in the light from a nearby window, we see a golden relic- the metallic gauntlet pictured in the stained glass imagery. Glowing insects circle the pedestal, seemingly attracted to the electromagnetic forces contained within the gauntlet. Clearly, this is the key to navigating the Tower.

Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Environments from Teslagrad, pt. 3

As we venture deeper into the castle that form the foundation of Teslagrad’s hulking tower, we see that beyond the partial renovations seen in the previous post, things are in quite a state of disrepair.
room1

Though whoever was here before is long gone, they’ve left the power running throughout the tower.
Plating emitting strong magnetic forces and diodes emitting deadly arcs of electricity have been placed haphazardly in this musty room, perhaps as a desperate measure to fend off the intruders- If we look closely at the crumling brick wall in the background, we can see the faint outline of a human figure turned to ash.

room1b

Tiny multipurpose robots (“voltwalkers”) appear from a protruding pipe at regular interwalls. These provide people and objects with a strong electromagnetic charge.
This can be useful for transportation and acrobatics in conjuction with the strong magnetic fields present in the tower- provided they’re not used in too close proximity to deadly arcs of electricity, of course.

room2
Moving forward, we come across a section of the tower that’s been crudely retrofitted to accomodate some kind of giant machinery. Intertwined with the pipe system and seemingly stretching far beyond this simple chamber, it likely fills nooks and crannies throughout the tower. An endless row of voltwalkers clatter over plates charging electromagnetic boxes, switching their polarity to drive an array of pistons before disappearing back into the darkness of the pipes.

Part 2
Part 1

Environments from Teslagrad, pt.2

In the heart of Teslagrad there is a grand tower, its base an ancient hamlet, with layers upon layers of newer and more advanced structures built on top.
Our entry point to the tower is through a musty, crumbling castle that once composed the city walls of Teslagrad, now haphazardly reinforced and outfitted with electrical devices with little regard to its original architecture.

We see the signs of conflict here, walls have been crushed and doors broken down, dusty corpses littering the ground.

Environment_screenshots_005
Ominous statues of hooded figures that seem to be holding the power of lightning in their hands tells us that this is a place one should enter with a modicum of respect.

Environment_screenshots_007
A courtyard, shrouded in mist with a long-dead figure slumped over at the base of a statue. There’s signs of struggle.

Environment_screenshots_006
An industrial-looking drilling machine lies near the inner wall, broken downe from breaching the tower’s perimeter. It’s likely to have been a gift from the neighbouring country of Motorland back when the relations between the nations were more amiable. No attempts at repair have been made- it seems whoever raided this place left in a hurry.

Environment_screenshots_008
As we enter the tower we come across an area that seems to have been modestly remodeled into a training facility of sorts- it seems a last minute attempt at a basic crash course in self defence and electromagnetic manipulation was cut short by the intruding forces.

Part 1