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Hyperforma - hardcore cyberpunk arcade for iOS and Android

Discussion in 'Works In Progress' started by TheCookieSpice, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Hi! We’re Nord Unit – a game developers team, based in Kursk, Russia. A former web-design studio that turned into a gamedev team. Currently we're working on cyberpunk arkanoid for iOS and Android devices.



    The idea of Hyperform was born in thinking of a game about rotating a 3D cube in 2D space. In short amount of time the idea become stronger and raised the fundament – the 2D arkanoid about a ball, destroying white cubes of 3D object. It was hard to imagine this gameplay. Concepts covered the blank spaces in understanding the project almost in a half. So we decided to delay other projects and start creating a mobile game.

    Firstly, we tried Unreal Engine 4 by creating a simple demo almost empty inside and we got problems in starting project on our devices. The weight of it was too large and it was too strange. So, we took Unity3D as a primary and a main development tool.


    First builds showed us, how objects in the game will interact with each other, how it can be played and the visual design of this insane idea. The ball hit the edges of device display and destroyed white cubes, rotation of the object was performed by a thumb and black cubes infected the nearest cubes as you hit them. The point was to destroy the object and don’t let the black cubes capture it. And the game was called – Cubenoid.

    After everything we decided to make it more playable. We thought of flying platform, that will be connected with the rotation of the central object. The platform reflects the ball, collects modifications like Freeze or Fire, this modification projects on the platform and the ball gets improvement, that can help beating the object faster. But we thought that the infection of a cubes is not a good idea in arkanoid and the game continued walking it own different way.



    Cubenoid has been changed. We discussed so much about using an arkanoid as a main genre for the game. At last it brought us to think in a different way. Gameplay become more like a sidescroller, and user got a character. Now you are a magician.

    The game brings us to the isometric world, full of danger and creepy monsters. The main character has to walk through the cubic world fighting with the dark matters. Design changed a bit, but it has the same plot. User has to throw magic balls from the character’s wand with finger swipes, to destroy matters. Epidemic has to be stopped and the world will gain it purity.


    The concept wasn’t bad and had a huge plot, but it was a different game, more difficult and required more time to implement. That’s why we brought back the original project and sought for new ideas and ways to fix the game. We included clear borders with gaps, so the ball can rebound and fly away. Modificators were integrated to the main object, as a cubes. And the main feature, that we included, is that we set the goal to the user – Cores. Core is like a heart of the object. Destroying the core will take us further. So, the main difficulty of the game is reaching the core.

    The project began to gain speed so the new prototypes has arrived.




    Light colors turned into dark. The design of the constructions depended on core so the cubes were built up on it. The idea began to look more like product, that we needed, but it was too far from perfection.

    We came to the idea of writing a soundtrack that would react on the object’s condition. A little part of the track will repeat until the object be destroyed for some percent. After reaching the threshold comes the next part of track and everything repeats.

    We’ve discussed this idea, looked through the different articles, wrote some parts for test, but refused it, and agreed that the soundtrack would be a rhythmic music that could help beating the objects with joy.

    Little by little we’ve succeeded to curb Unity3D and we’ve learned some new aspects of development. Tested new builds on tablet device and the results inspired us.




    Last builds were super playable. We have created several levels with different difficulties, and played them all day. Everything was good.

    Included soundtrack that we wrote recently. Made a starting cutscene where the ball flew through the space, met the core and it activated the shield. The core was protecting against user and he needed to launch the ball to crash the object. Drew the launch zone and made an animation to it. Then we gave this prototype to our family and friends and we noticed, that we have made a mistake after watching them play. Users thought, that the animation of the launch zone meant the loading of the level and launched the ball after we told them. We’ve received many feedbacks, and started fixing them.

    The game needed more control of an object. You could play one level for an hour and fail and succeed with one shot after a little break. It was too random and we tried to correct it.

    The main problem was the handling. The object was rotating by your commands and was smooth and obedient. But when you tried to do it accurately, all attempts were in vain, and it rotated as it wanted. The rebound angles were random. There were problems with bouncing with a straight angle to the opposite wall, and rebounding from the wall with the angle that didn’t cross with the central object, and all of it has to be fixed. After some time, we have finally found the answers.


    At first, we have corrected the rebounding angle with counting wall hits. If the ball touched walls for 5 times without hitting the object, it automatically changed it direction to the center. Sometimes it looked weird, but it worked. That crazy curves can be found not so often but they appeared.

    At second, we tried to set the zones for the circle rotation to fix the control problems. The millimeter after zone of the central object was the zone of circle rotation. Inside the central object zone, it rotated as it did before. We also thought of putting the object to isometric space and rotate it on 90 degrees with swipes. Also, we thought of making a finger pressing zone an analog to gamepad sticks. The point was that pressing the screen the game drew an invisible circle around your finger, and you could rotate the object inside this circle as it was basically, and you could rotate in circle outside that circle. An interesting control system, also it allows to easily rotate the object without sliding the whole screen. You just needed to press the screen and feel it like you have a gamepad. All of these features were integrated to the game, but we accepted the other one.

    After we improved the basic rotation we have achieved the circle rotation with 2 finger rotation. Pretty simple decision.

    The music theme was almost done and with it came the game setting.




    The game setting idea came to us after reading Dan Simmons book “Hyperion”. The fifth chapter describes us the system hacking. And we thought of making our arkanoid to be a visual part of hacking process. We liked the idea and continued making the story according to the cyberpunk style of sci-fi novel.


    The story tells us the confrontation of two forms of artificial intelligence. The antagonist is a centralized system with multilevel protection. We, as a player, present a copy of adaptive virus, trying to hack system. The virus is too weak alone and can’t oppose anything to the system. But all the players present an apportioned consciousness with one goal – a symbiosis with the system, that opposed to this.

    It flows us to the philosophical plot of the story – a problem of losing the meaning of personality for collective mind. In the game process the system argues in favor of the person as organic whole, but the virus substantiates the benefits of the collective consciousness, such as equality, non-violence in such society and its functioning for the common good.

    The gameplay is about destroying elements, that symbolizing security protocol. Every chapter with several levels has their own color. Passing the whole chapter, hacking the core and gathering helpful data to modificate the virus, we are exploring the brand new skill and getting a one-time perk that can be activated in a moment on every level from the menu pause. During repeating levels with the explored skill with a certain probability comes a corresponding perk, and the probability corresponds to the difficulty of the level. For each skill keeps only one perk and you should go back and gather it again if you failed to use it properly. The point is to pass some levels you need certain perks or their combinations.



    At this moment our project has considerably been clogged with trash, we needed to clear the code and set it up to the functions and events. That’s why the whole code was rewritten. It was so good to open the project and continue working on it after clearing the trash without having to mess around with a bunch of unused text.

    The time has come to write the design document that included the general terms, the modificators of the game process, levels and etc. The document was extensive and heavy. And we needed it all to understand the project progress and to mark the start point of it as a serious and meaningful project. All the ideas that came to us were filtered and written in the document that was constantly been complemented and corrected with fresh looks after our brainstorms.

    In the end we printed it to gain more access to it and according to our setting we called the game – HYPERFORM.

     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  2. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Short game prototype video

     
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  3. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    The game world has been filled with different modules, bonuses and other stuff to diversify the gameplay. Also we decided to add Triangles and Spheres to octagonal cube world. Eventually we’ve got a versatile project with its properties and behavior.

    We’ve already included bonuses and we needed to rethink them according to our setting. Modificator transforms the look and the abilities of a ball, and the animation of cube destruction. On activating bonus, the ball changes its color and achieves additional properties, like:

    - Electric impulse. Hits with electricity several cubes. Works immediately after first impact with module.
    - Boost. Blocs the informational gaps and beats the object with super high speed.
    - Flame impulse. Breaks through the simple protected modules. It cannot effect on Protected modules with custom properties.
    - Digital smoke impulse. Hides several cubes into smoke for a short amount of time. We can fly through these cubes. Works on the first impact with the module.
    - Informational impulse. Makes several modules smaller for a short amount of time.
    - Slowdown. Slows the ball’s speed.
    - Hyperbonus. Destroys every module.


    Included modules:

    1. A complicated module, that can be destroyed with double hit in cube world, makes clones in spherical world, rebound the ball with higher speed in triangle world.

    2. Protected module with custom properties that can be destroyed only with hyperbonus.

    3. In Cube world:
    - White unbreakable module.
    - A cube, increasing its size on impact
    - A cube, rebounding to the nearest informational gap like spring
    - A cube, reviving destroyed simple protected modules

    4. In Spherical world:
    - A sphere as a digital black hole. Causes death on impact
    - A portal. Teleporting to the other portal.
    - A gravity sphere. Increasing speed and changes the directory.
    - A sphere, that sucks you into itself until you complete the QTE to escape (move your finger on display from one point to another, or just touch it in certain time with two fingers).

    5. In Triangle world:
    - A triangle, that causes a laser field around the module, killing the ball.
    - A triangle, shooting with laser.
    - A triangle with a hole appearing inside it. Creates an imaginary clones of the ball that confuses the player.

    All of it brought into gameplay a diversity and the following builds were much difficult to pass.
     
  4. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Creating game levels we wanted to make them diverse and unpredictable. What can make it better than the random generation? You can set some difficulty in every chapter and that’s all, every other thing makes the game for you. And every time you start the game you will be pleased by the randomly generated levels and other constructions. But at this point everything comes to the single simple idea – Destroy everything. We already thought of several unique levels, and we loved them. So, not to kill the unique of the project, we decided to build levels manualy.

    3 months later, after starting the development, we were happy to find out, that the quantity of levels grew faster and that we incarnated our very unusual ideas. From the very simple constructions we came to the optical illusions and logical levels. Combining the objects with rotations we find the core, that wasn’t seen. Spiral constructions like DNA, moving white cubes, trap-levels. And it was a small part of what we’ve developed.


    At the same time we thought of monetization. Character and game look improvements was not for us. But the additional bonuses might be purchased. Passing levels player gets a certain number of bonuses, that needed to be cautiously used. If the player runs out of bonuses he also might pass the level without using them, and if it was too difficult he might buy some. A time ago we’ve made a bonus packs – a one-time purchase to get certain amount of bonuses.

    Several concepts of personages were drawn. The main character’s name was Glitch, and he tries to get the truth across the digital noises destroying the defense modules. We’ve imagined how the defense module, that we’re against, will look like.

    The ideas evolved and been fine-tuned so that turned into the whole universe. In this moment the CYBERCENTER has occurred.

     
  5. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    When we came to game map realization, we thought of making it big and nonlinear. The point is we have a system core, a Cybercenter (hi, Dan Simmons!), surrounded by the net of unrelated levels. Player can go inside the level connected with the passed one, thus making its way through the system.

    The map consists of 3 parts by level types:
    • Square
    • Circle
    • Triangle
    Why is it important for player to pass all levels and further branches? — needs a motivation. There may be some additional bonuses. So, the full access isn’t necessary, but gives additional capabilities to play.

    Player may choose the part of the system he wants to hack, after he had passed several training levels, and map unlocked new ways. For hacking every segment of the net player gathers a key (a square, a circle or a triangle). Combining these keys, he could open the harder levels, that consist of combinations of geometrical figures, corresponding to the key types.

    On the level ending the player gains the information of a key he got (the animation) — the screen is getting dark, the central element is rotating and turns into a key. A sign “You got a triangle key”. The total number of keys on the top. Go to map button in the bottom.

    The map button is available from the main screen. He may go there and choose another level, if the current is too hard for now. A representation of a cybercenter is communicating to him, when he is inside the map, a monster, that annoying, motivating or intriguing him. Calling the full range of emotions and feelings. At the same time the player can always see the most difficult level, which consists of all types of non-standard properties and protective modules (non-destructible, gravity, portal, etc.). After accumulating a sufficient number of the most powerful hyperbonuses he could destroy the concentration of complex protection objects and beat the system.


    Then we decided to simplify the system and reduce the number of keys to nine. We come up with the Cyberbox, that appeared after destroying all the protection objects on the last level and opened the access to the secret level – The real system core, that we represented with a 3D face, consists of spikes and red eyes (llike a Shrike from Hyperion). Here is the best moment, to begin the final battle. As the player pass the game he collects a specific key type at the certain points (single of double). But he could always go to a level with the box and insert the keys into it. There were so many transformations of this idea. It seemed to us an interesting solution. But we didn’t think that casual mobile gameplay doesn’t like this kind of complications.

    Everything has become too complicated and we started to get confused imagining how we immerse ourselves in the labyrinth of software code to implement this idea. The idea acquired new idea and we decided to stop it until it’s too late. The decision came after two weeks of debate. Make a linear map without keys and cyberboxes. The idea of the Shrike was also rejected – after building this level we realized, that it all looks no good. It was necessary to redo everything and start to describe the world and the universe. Then came the idea to form a Cybercenter into a defenders and produce the story narration through them.

     
  6. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    So the player is hacking a system, and it resists, prevents to make your way to its heart. And the preventers are the guardians – a huge avatars, parts of the system that are on guard of the important information. Guardians – are a mini bosses, which, firstly, will tell the player about the world, and secondly, represent different game mechanics.

    To make it easier for us to deal with game objects, we decided to use vector graphics (SVG format). Fortunately, the is a plugin for Unity to import SVG files, and we use them successfully. As a result, we have completely switched to using the SVGs, except for three-dimensional objects and some gameplay parts.

    After a long-time searching we have added a central button, which allows you to launch Glitch to the core, to the center. Like an attack button. The solution allows us to eliminate a headaches during the passage of the levels, but not making the game easier. There was a balance between the level of complexity of constructions and the use of attacks.

    We know that guardians – are the bosses, so we have included a final battle, after which we move to the next guardian. Each battle must be epic and saturated the previous one. The concept has already been tested, but still in development.

    Enriching the game with all possibilities we faced with a significant FPS decrease. Dynamics fell heavily and we were worried about it.

     
  7. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Drawcall — a request to draw an object. At levels with lots of objects we have exceeded its number to 150, which significantly reduced FPS. This was surprising, because the used materials and textures were few and all cubes repeated themselves, and it turned out that the cubes were individual and the device resources were spending on nothing.

    Batching — an optimization of drawcalls, by combining the same materials into one. Thus 30 objects with the same material will not cause 30 drawcalls, but 1, significantly reducing CPU overhead. But it didn’t work for some reason. And the reason was in the materials. This brought us to use the texture atlas.

    Texture Atlas - is a big texture, which contains the smaller textures used for different objects. These “subtextures” can be applied by specifying the coordinates on the atlas, selecting a certain part of the image. So, we are using one big material and apply it to all objects, changing the coordinates for each. This reduces CPU overhead and a large Atlas file takes much less disk space than a lot of small materials, reducing the size of the game.

    The monetization issue we solved towards simplification. It will be inappropriate to use packs or individual ways to increase the amount of bonuses. We also abandoned extras and bonuses for a fee, and decided to move to a one-time payment for the game. It seemed to us more simple and fair solution, rather than invent from scratch ways of permanent sucking the players money.

    According to the latest game screenshots, you may notice, that we have tweaked the design. This was done in order to finally come to a decision with the game style and continue development based on the approved style. Distracting background we have simplified and added tracks (similar to tracks on circuit boards) which scatters the signal when we hit the object. Redrew the bonuses and added the appropriate color to the smashing cubes. Added a scene after the destruction of the object. Worked on the light and particles, and we were satisfied with what had happened.

     
  8. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    We begin to work with our good friend and a great musician and a composer CUTglitch, who is cooking for us a lot of interesting sounds, also cooperates with us in writing music. As we he is also fascinated with a style of a digital future and he tries to understand and predict what the future will sound like, what music will be playing and what the world will be filled with?

    As we started working we were highly inspired by his song HIGHWAY. It seemed to us that it is filled with the future so much that we decided to use it as the game end theme.

    Sound work is still in process and we are preparing a new batch of powerful sounds.
     
  9. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Some key arts to show you the unkowns. We are using SVG graphics in the game, to make it easier to look better on any device.

     
  10. ImAldu

    ImAldu

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    This is so cool man. This project is amazing.
     
  11. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

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    Its turning into something cool
     
  12. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Thanks guys! We're glad to hear it)
    And here are some videos of a process and etc.

     
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  13. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    A system core concept.

     
  14. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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  15. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Testing the level on PC.
    Also updated the main post. It will be updating with news and latest developments.

     
  16. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Building the level ending.

    As you may notice, we've added a quick tip for each level, to help players understand what to do now. Also it was important to say, how accurate the player was, passing the level. Added some animations and graphic stuff to make this scene be insane.

     
  17. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Improved the unknown's animation

     
  18. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Building a scene animations is a hard and long way. You may spend a day creating one scene, improving and starting over again, but the results totally worth it. And so we are happy with the results, when we upload the prototypes on our phones. Every time we make smth new the game is changing. And the experience is changing too.
    We remember the game at the start and it was completely different than we have now.


     
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  19. Zionmoose

    Zionmoose

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    I'm loving the direction this is taking. The artwork is fantastic. Dripping with style. If you ever decide to release a 1080P wallpaper be sure to let me know! :) Will definitely get this game once available.
     
  20. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Sure, we will make some wallpapers, somewhere at the end of developing. And of course we will send you them.
    Thank you for writing here such a warm response. It means a lot for us! ;)

    Tell us: is everything clear with understanding the game or it's blurry sometimes and it needs to be shown in video gameplay?
     
  21. Zionmoose

    Zionmoose

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    I think the way you are showing it is just fine. A mix of game on phone being played by person and full screen video stuff.
     
  22. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Okay) If it's fine let it be so) I hope it will be more interesting to show everything on video. We are working on sounds to make gameplay video be more like a finished product. As soon as we accept the results that are enough for current dev progress we will make a video.
     
  23. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    UPD the main (head) post

    We are doing our bests to make the game be better every day. A lack of time and a global news affects on the news to share with you all. But it doesn't mean that nothing happens.

    First of all we have made a Twitter account and updating it sometimes more frequently. If you are interested, you may follow us here: TWITTER.COM/NORDUNIT

    Secondly we assembled a few more characters and made animations for them. Creating new levels and testing them. Also making new sounds, and, as i said before, accepting them to finnaly make a gameplay video.

    Some pics to show you the results:
     
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  24. FreakForFreedom

    FreakForFreedom

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    This! So much this! A ton of inspiration! :)
    Also, if you are looking for a good screenshot/gif tool, I would recommend ShareX. It's free, it has a quirky name, it's open source and it works really good.
     
  25. kenlem

    kenlem

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    This looks amazing. I really enjoy your detailed updates. I has a unique style. I'm not exactly sure what the game play is but I'd love to find out.
     
  26. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Thanks man! We're glad to hear it)
    We will definitely try ShareX. The more tools we have in equipment the more various content we will produce.)
     
  27. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Thanks a lot! We've posted the early gameplay somewhere in the beginning, but I'll repost it for you.
    The video was shot several month ago and it was tested on Android device Xiaomi Redmi 2. Now we have huge improvements in speed, design, visuals, and as I said before, we can't wait to make a new gameplay video and share it.

     
  28. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    A quick update to show the working process, inside the studio. Just a little GIF's tell you, that we're going deeper into the rabbit hole.

     
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  29. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Every part of sliced character has to be in right three dimentional position. And it's tough sometimes.



    Actually, we have some problems showing GIFs. Maybe it's just for this time, but since now we will post video content through YouTube (sorry, if it's not convenient). Just to be sure the material will appear.

     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  30. TheCookieSpice

    TheCookieSpice

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    Early concepts of game characters. We will talk to them, fight with them. And some of them you've already met before. The end result may differ from sketches.

     
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