Impocalypse Again!

Piercing PanicExploding Imp. Out Again!

The PC release is finally here! Available now on Indivania the PC release features full keyboard control as well as all the features of the xbox release. Also of note, particularly to Guff, is the restoration of his manhood, finally Guff appears in all his glory!

Impocalypse Now!

Piercing PanicExploding Imp. Out Now!

Exploding Imp has hit the xbox live marketplace. After only four days in review Imp appeared at the front of the new releases list at about 2am last night, so you can switch on your xbox and give it a whirl right now!

We'd like to thank everyone who took the time to review our game, it's fantastic to be part of such a great community. App Hub members one and all, We salute you! (shots some spiced rum...)

Back in playtest, but only for one week

After posting our game up for peer review last Thursday we had to take it down again almost immediately due to having forgot to change previously submitted screen shots...ooops! Another big shout out to Ken for pointing out our error before we wasted time trying to get it passed. It's a little annoying that you can't change even one screenshot without re-submitting your game but at least it's not a mistake we're likley to make again, besides which we also found an easily fixed bug after taking it down so perhaps it was a blessing in disguise!
So here are the new screenshots of Imp that you will see when looking at the game on the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace with a brief explanation of each.
The Main MenuThe Main Menu

Here's a shot of Exploding Imp's main menu, just as an extra for the website and not one of the shots that will appear on the marketplace. It's all fairly self explanatory, allowing the usual settings changes as well as new game and level selection.

An Arachnid AffairAn Arachnid Affair

This is a shot from An Arachnid Affair, the same level that is demoed in the latest video, Guff has just killed a spider which is about to shower the scene with it's bones. Guff has also been webbed so he didn't get away scott free!

The Tetriland OublietteThe Tetriland Oubliette

This is one of the later levels so not for the faint hearted, here we see Guff mid explosion and about to take out both a flower and fairy with the impact, both are being warped by the explosions refractive effect as are the surrounding platforms.

A Thorny DropA Thorny Drop

Another of the game's later levels, A Thorny Drop has a particularly tough start to contend with, two flowers are right there for the taking but the Trap Plant, Exploding Pods and down facing Fan Flower, combined with that Spider and Gnome, aren't going to make the task easy. You'll need a cool head and quick reflexes to get a good start here.

Slow and CarefulSlow and Careful

Thrown in at about the game's mid point the best approach to this level is just as the title suggests. You should by now have mastered Guff's movement well enough to bypass it's many pitfalls, just don't get too cocky or you may well regret it.

Playtest is over, bring on peer review

After many months of work Exploding Imp is finally in peer review so should hit the indie games marketplace in a week or two provided there are no hiccups along the way. The game has spent just over a month or so in playtest to iron out all the final bugs and implement all the suggestions made by our fellow Indie designers on the app hub, this time has been invaluable, as the changes we made, both asthetic and gameplay related have transformed Imp. It truly is surprising what wonders a fresh pair of eyes can do for a game, having spent so long looking at it every day really does dull the senses with regard to what might otherwise seem obvious flaws.
One thing of particular note is how few indie developers bother with this part of the game creation process. A quick check of the app hub site on any given day will reveal a whole bunch of games in peer review but only about 1/5th of that number in playtest, meaning that most of those games have never been seen by anyone other than the team or individual working on them plus their immediate friends and family, who are not the best people to give you impartial feedback!
Perhaps it's a lack of experience in many cases, i know we did exactly the same thing with Lemmy, placing the game straight into review due to a regretable overconfidence and enthusiasm to get the game out to the public. This is especially problematic because when in playtest you can upload a new binary as often as you like whereas peer review requires you to wait a week before you can post an updated version, thus even the smallest problem that takes five minutes to fix delays the release process significantly.
Playtest gives you the opportunity to not only fix the major bugs that would cause your game to fail review but most importantly to fine tune all the aspects of how your game looks , plays and feels. Some of the advice you'll receive may seem insignificant or a lot of bother to implement but you should take everything that's said very seriously. Remember that by this point in the development of your game you really do have very little objectivity regarding your precious creation. It could very easily be way too hard or simply have strange control issues that all the hundreds of test plays you've given it have blended away in to what seems like a perfect balance...until someone else gets their hands on it! Surfice it to say that with Imp we implemented almost everything suggested and have a far better game as a result, and at the cost of only a month of development time, so with that in mind i'd like to give a big shout out to all those who took their time to playtest our game and especially Ken from Polyart whose help and patient testing has transformed our humble game.

The Level Select Menu

A couple of shots of the level selection menu for your viewing pleasure.
Guff's Evil GrinGuff's Evil Grin

Here we see a clear view of Guff's face before it is mercifully covered by the level selection tiles which slide in from the bottom of the screen. An excellent piece of artwork by Bob who also drew the picture of Guff that appears on the main menu. Handsome chap isn't he!

The Level Select MenuThe Level Select Screen

The level selection screen in all it's glory. Levels must be unlocked before they appear here by beating the previous level. Players can sign their name if they make a best score or time so this also serves as a highscore table.

Imp Development in Video

Exploding Imp now has three videos up on youtube for your viewing pleasure, each showing the game at a different phase of it's development cycle, this seems a good opportunity to guide you through all the changes imp has gone through and give a little insight into the development process. I shall describe each in it's turn starting with the most recent and working backward to the early video made from the barely playable first build of the game.

This is the latest build of Exploding Imp and in all probability the one that will hit the indie games marketplace, a quick glance at the previous videos shows some fairly obvious changes, most notably that the background graphics have a blur filter applied to them, this was as a result of playtesters saying that objects in the foreground were getting lost in the background layers. We went for a fairly strong blur to ensure the interactive game layer stands out but also simply because it looks nice. Lesser blurs were tested and there was some debate as to whether we should let the player chose the intensity via a setting on the options menu, in the end though we opted to keep it at the fixed full blur level to make absolutely sure the player knows what's interactive and what's just scenery.
The next most noticeable change is a cut rather than an addition, and a very painful one for Guff, he's lost his manhood! It was gutting when we had to give him the chop, but it was a day we had long known might be coming. Xbox Indie Games submission rules don't allow 'Full or partial nudity exposing genitalia, buttocks, or full female breasts (including depictions on manga and cartoons, but excluding established and well-recognized works of art)' and although you'd hardly call it a graphic representation Guff's package had to go. We did think about waiting for moderation from the forums to see if Guff's parts even counted under the above description, but in the end it didn't seem worth the risk of a decision going against us after we'd passed review.
Other changes are numerous and more subtle. Movement has been tweaked to make jumping work in a more logical manner, Guff's position on the screen has changed, the selected menu item is now a totally different colour and the menu now makes a selecting sound when any item is selected, I could go on but a list of all the changes would probably fill most of this page. By far the most important of these are the movement changes. Before playtest the jump mechanic would allow a large jump with a tap of the A button, an even bigger jump if you briefly held A and a short jump to hover if you pressed and held A. Long months of testing had made this system second nature to us but the first few playtest comments soon told us how counter intuitive it was. Now Guff jumps high with a tap of A, even higher if you keep hold of A and only starts to glide when past the peak of his jump, much better and far far more playable!
This build is the game as it was when we first submitted it for playtest, all the main gameplay features have been implemented, including the full complement of levels, monsters and items. One of the most obvious omissions is that there is no signposting of the flowers to tell the player that it's them that must be destroyed. This was another of the first issues brought up in playtest. While it's true that all the flowers move in some way, making them stand out a little from other scenery, so do the piercers and exploding pods which are not things to stray too close to. In the latest build everything that must be collected produces yellow stars making it an obvious target!
The lack of any blur effect gives a much clearer view of the background graphics, with sharp contrasts between the layers, this makes everything seem far more obviously cut out so the blending effect of the new blur is even more welcome.
The levels played in this video remain mostly unchanged in the final version except for the information scrolls that you occasionally see pop up, these are now a little bigger and the scroll a little lighter in colour to make the text stand out more on those old jurassic age CRT TVs.

A very early build made for the the dream build play competition. A this point the game was barely functioning and only featured about five test levels, most of which have made it into the final game in a much changed form.
Many, if not most, of the games hazards have yet to be implemented and one of the background layers is completely missing. Bones have yet to be added and their place is filled with circular gems which look way less fun and dynamic.
Close observation reveals that the blocks from which the level is built have a very different look to the ones in the later videos when they have been smoothed and filtered to give a painted look which makes the individual game components jell together far more convincingly.
The basic concepts of gameplay are all there but the whole thing has been rushed together for a deadline we actually failed to meet!