Incredibly hardcore levels
Our game is hardcore. You propably don't know that, but we are saying that from the beginning. Ever since we have seen so many players to attack best times and collect all selfburns. But we have to say that many basic levels were pushed-back to easier difficulty. I've discovered that some players have really hard time to finish the story and they gave it up. In my eyes, this was the main problem with the game-design.
So, we decided to remix some levels to easier difficulty. But that didn't stop my co-workers Vojta & Patrik (level designers) from showing me new elements for the basic story-line levels again, and again. My reaction was like everytime: "Hell no! It's so hardcore, that even Chuck Norris will have problem to solve that..." And these levels were decided to put under the table. Until now.
When we were putting new update together, we created a clear plan of what will be inside.
- Fixing some of the biggest deeply hidden bugs
- Fixing the problems with controllers & key bindings
- Adding Coffee Time! functionality (I will talk about it later in this post)
- New & Final ingame menu design
- Fixing all missing achievement's and dogtags
- Creating the map for better navigation in the Entity
- Adding "Less Dialogues" mode, just for platformer experience
- and adding some new story event for the players!
All of this is signed under update 1.0.5. and it contains more than I've written above. I will not bother you with exact and deep game-design decisions, rather allow me to express how excited I'm in providing set of new 12 levels!
These new levels are really hardcore, pure platforming experience. There is no Auriel talking behind, no fighting with big monster or saving some crew member again. This is something, what extends the gameplay and hopefully invite some "old" players to come back on an Entity again. And maybe some new players will decide to play our game too.
On the scale of difficulty: we can say, you will fight with yourself - a lot. You have no idea. If you thought that Blackhole is like Dark Souls Platformer, then you should try at least one level from Secret of the Entity. Collecting all selfburns with 100 % success means hours of training.
BUT! This training will be extremely rewarding. We will uncover more information about that later ;). Here you can see one from the new levels in the Secret of the Entity update, enjoy!
Hey, what is the Coffee Time?!
You will probably remember this functionality from other games in same genre. When you do the speedrun game - you're designing each level also for "runner" gameplay style. Each level has some "developer average time to finish". Basically, when you beat this time (which is hidden, but it's an average, so hey, it's fair), you will get special mark. In Super Meat Boy game is this technique showed as "A+". And in our game... well, you guess it right: "Coffee Time!"...
When you load the BLACKHOLE, you should check in Teleport menu how many levels have the "Coffee Time" mark. It's another layer for brand new local challenge. Could you beat the developer's average? I'm pretty sure you can. And YOU will. Of course, we have achievement to get for beating these times!
New design, ready for console...
I've taken a lot of time and effort to make the game as accessible as possible. We are doing another language updates and research for new players. When we see that something is poorly designed - we think about changing it. We are also thinking how some elements change in order to get better feeling from playing the game.
We have designed brand new ingame menus, all of them are ready for console release (yes, it's coming, but psssst, it's still unconfirmed for no reason!). Also we took big effort in making the game playable with more controllers - like PS3 or custom controllers for Windows.
If you're not using original XBOX 360 Controller, well, other controllers have to be still emulated as XBOX 360 Controller, but when you do that - we have new options menu with "controllers schemas", which change the behaviour of the HUD based on your controller or custom bindings.
I never thought that it could be so hard to allow player use custom controllers, but here we are. It's so difficult... as our levels are. But at least, we tried, right?
Issues with achievements & dog-tags
There are some players complaining like the game isn't finished yet. It looks like some achievements can't be achieved. And they were right. Back in the February 2015, we released the game in hurry, because we promised the exact release date (it's complicated thing about our publisher for Czech republic release, so I will skip this story for now). The game itself should be like Secret of the Entity right from the launch.
For example: you have chance to repeat all "story" levels now. It opens new feature to replay the rescuing of the crew members or "run during falling avalanche". At the same time it gives you the chance to practise and get achievements like: "run this level without any restarts or deaths" - it's complicated to get these, but now it's possible without playing whole game from the start.
Dog-tags were completed. At least - most of them. We have still one big update ahead: "Challenge Vault", and during release of it we will focus on delivering more "exploration" quests. Like now in the jungle, where we have brand new puzzle for you! Collecting dog-tags is like collecting all feathers in Assassin's Creed. It's not mandatory. But it gives us opportunity to test your skill and entertain you with a lot of different style of gameplay. These puzzles are not speed-run limited. So it requires during the solving more precise control and patience from you.
Last thing, but not least... The Story.
The story itself is big challenge. Especially for me. As the producer I've a big impact in which way will going this project next. Basically, I'm thinking less about the story and more about pure gameplay now. That's why we are introducing the "Less Story" mode. Which is for you guys, which are not familiar with story mode in hardcore platformer or you care more about jumping and solving puzzles than about this spacey-comedy-thriller-fully-voiced-and-amazing story. You will still experience the same storyline in "Less Story" mode as everybody on "Full Story" mode. But with less dialogues - there are really differences.
The intro takes like 3-4 minutes to complete now instead of 20 minutes in "Full Story" mode. And aftercrash cutscene itself is like about 2 minutes long? Long story short: it's faster experience, mainly useable for the players which are seeking for the "platformer" experience more than our story. But I'm not sure if some story events will make sense. Especially on the end of whole game - but hey, it's an option - so it's up to you to decide :).
Secret of the Entity features some new dialogues between crew members, new Selassie's quest and "dark selfburn" interlude. I have to say, that we've come with this idea after huge decision process how we will implement old selfburns above the storyline gameplay. In my head a great idea popped-up: "So, what about making player search for the special fuel." And it was done. Capt. Jetsen will ask Coffee Guy for one side-mission, if he can search in Entity once again and find all secret locations where the dark selfburns are hidden. Then, take them to the Endera to start preparations for escaping from the black hole.
!START OF SPOILER ALERT!
Many players asked me about Auriel. She is not coming back in the Secret of the Entity, but if you are "attentive", you will see some hints what will happen next. But this is up to you to find. I won't tell you anything more than ... Yes, she's "alive". In both endings. And your decision will have "tragic" consequences. Again. In both endings ;).
!END OF SPOILER ALERT!
But cameo of Auriel is also about big story DLC, and we don't have any resources (read as money) for that right now. We are NOT working on that DLC and for some time we won't be. But we have almost complete "screenplay" for it. We have even engine ready. But we want to make sure that this DLC will come when our studio will be fully stabilized. And you can help us with that. Yes, you can! Just tell your friends about our game, try to catch the game in some discount (if you still haven't played our game, it's great time to do so - i.e. here!).
I will talk about our result of sales in post-mortem blogpost, which I'm trying to prepare as soon as possible.
We are so thankful to whole community for such a big support. Thank you, really. You've changed our lives in a way you can't even imagine. FiolaSoft Studio has a chance to grow and make even bigger and better projects. We will definitely try to polish BLACKHOLE as far as we can.
Thank you for reading! :)