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Chasm is a 2D Fantasy ARPG Platformer featuring procedurally generated Metroid-like dungeons and authentic pixel art.
Chasm is a 2D Platform Adventure featuring procedurally generated Metroid-like dungeons and authentic pixel art.
Chasm is a 2D Platform Adventure featuring procedurally generated Metroid-like dungeons and authentic pixel art.
6,938 backers pledged $191,897 to help bring this project to life.

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Mid-Summer Production Update

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Hello again everyone! We hope you're having a great summer, and staying cool inside playing some games. This month is just a quick update to let you know what's been going on the past few weeks.

First off, we're happy to announce that aside from the Crafting, all the Kickstarter Stretch Goals and Backer Rewards have been designed and programmed. We have just a few pieces of art left to wrap up, and we'll be getting to the Crafting when we revisit the weapons and items in a few weeks. We've also done our best to make the extras part of the main experience where possible. For instance, instead of the Arena being a separate mode it's an actual place in the world you can visit when you want to compete.

Running into Jinx in the Catacombs.
Running into Jinx in the Catacombs.

One of the rewards we thought turned out especially cool is our $2500 Backer's reward. It was listed as "Design your own enemy", but the backer thought a minigame of chance would add some more variety to the experience. Working together with him, we developed the character known as Jinx. For those with a sharp eye, you may recognize Jinx from the box art we had done a while back. Unfortunately, the character was cut after some story changes rendered him unused, but when we heard the backer's idea we thought he would be the perfect match for it. Jinx will appear at several locations throughout the world, and offers players a spin of his wheel for a chance to win a range of things from gold to stat points and items. Careful though, not everything on the wheel is a reward! You also run the risk of losing your hard earned stat points and gold to Jinx.

Before (top) and After (bottom) dungeon generation changes.
Before (top) and After (bottom) dungeon generation changes.

One other thing we're very excited about is some recent improvements to the dungeon generation. As you may remember from our previous updates, we've put a lot of effort into it to make sure the game feels varied and well-paced. One of the major breakthroughs that really helped us achieve that was breaking down the areas into "sub-areas" that consisted of about 10-15 rooms with a save point at either end. This did wonders to get things under control, but on the negative side we were left with a mess of a map that had lines drawn all over connecting these sub-areas together. One of our polish tasks was to hide these seams and make the areas feel like one large, continuous location. The save rooms are also inside the area itself now as normal rooms, so it should feel more like a classic Metroidvania experience than ever before!

Lastly, while we worked on the Kickstarter rewards we were playing the game over and over, fixing things, and building our final Todo list to reach Beta. I believe we have identified the weakest and most problematic areas of the experience, as well as what needs polished or is unfinished, and we now have a solid plan to reach the finish line. I know everyone is excited to hear dates, but we're not quite there yet. There's still a few tricky tasks remaining we want to make sure we don't rush.

As usual, thank you so much for your support and patience. We'll have some more updates next month on our progress to reaching Beta!

Production Update

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I feel like I need to start off every update with an apology for how long the game is taking. Many of you have told me not to worry about the time and just focus on making the game as good as it can be. A few others have expressed frustration about how long things are taking. As I’ve mentioned probably a million times before, this project turned out to be way more ambitious than what I expected when I started down this path. Thanks to the teams perseverance and everyone's patience though, we've been able to overcome every obstacle before us and create something we're all very proud of.

The exclusive Blue Canary familiar for $50+ backers will attack foes and retrieve dropped items.
The exclusive Blue Canary familiar for $50+ backers will attack foes and retrieve dropped items.

So where are we now? The game has been fully playable for a couple months. It is a game with a beginning, middle, and end. There’s a ton of polish we’re working on now to take it from being a functional game to a great game. Maybe one analogy is that we’ve just built a skyscraper, including all of the electrical, plumbing, elevators, etc., and now we’re going through floor by floor adding the furnishings.  

Some old enemies have gotten bigger, more detailed designs.
Some old enemies have gotten bigger, more detailed designs.

One must-have bit of furnishing is the Kickstarter rewards! We've been working hard on them for the past few weeks, but here’s where they stand right now:  

  • Exclusive items for $15/30/50 backers - Done 
  • Backer’s Tome (name in the game) for $50+ backers - Done 
  • Backer's Tavern (Hidden room) for $1000+ backers - Done
  • Special gameplay feature for $2500+ backer - In Progress
  • Stretch goal: Achievements for all versions - Done 
  • Stretch goal: Extended Soundtrack Album - Done 
  • Stretch goal: Alternate Chiptune Soundtrack - In Progress
  • Stretch goal: Arena - In Progress
  • Stretch goal: Crafting - In Progress

Speaking of the Extended Soundtrack, here’s a sample for you! Our musician James Stevulak put together a number of remixes for the album including this one. If you played the early build, you might recognize the theme of the track as the Catacombs:

I’m hoping to get the other Kickstarter rewards and stretch goals done in the next few weeks so those will all be out of the way. In the meantime, we’re playing through the builds over and over and asking ourselves the hardest question in game design - what’s not there that should be there? We’ve identified several features we want to add that will kick up the experience to 11 and have added those to the to do list. That said, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of continually polishing and adding new features and pushing out the finish line so far that the game is never done. We’re very conscious of that trap and will be questioning every new feature as we pin down our plans for the final push. The finish line is in sight, and we don’t want to stray too far from the path!

The travel scene has gotten some polish like twinkling and shooting stars.
The travel scene has gotten some polish like twinkling and shooting stars.

 

Kickstarter Anniversary, Chasm Hits Alpha, Shows and Travel

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It’s been a busy couple of months since the last update - and we’ve got some good news!  

Happy Kickstarter Anniversary!  

It’s now been 4 years since we launched our Kickstarter. By that point, I had already quit my day job and put in about 6-7 months of work to create a workable prototype and proof-of-concept of our dream game. That early build came together so easily and effortlessly that we naively assumed turning it into a full game would be just as easy! Since Kickstarter makes you put in an expected release date, we put down May 2014. Well, it turns out that we missed that date by a little bit, but we’ve stayed committed to the original vision and quality bar that we set out to hit from the beginning. I know I sound like a broken record, but I can’t overstate the appreciation we have for everyone’s continued support and patience. And with that, I’m incredibly excited to announce...

We’ve Hit Alpha!  

The big announcement is that we’ve officially reached Alpha! Alpha means the world, story, characters, powerups, enemies, bosses, and major set pieces are all complete. The game is playable from the beginning to the credits and has all the required features. Our plan is to send out the Alpha build to a few trusted friends in the industry (mostly other game developers) to kick the tires and make sure there aren’t any major flaws that we’ve just overlooked since we’re too close to the game at this point.  

 

 

The next step is Beta. That’s the version we’ll be sending out to all of the Early Access-tier backers from Kickstarter. To reach that stage, we’re working on adding all the extras like more content, items, FX, and lots of polish. Luckily the hardest part, creating an entire replayable world, is over, and now we get to focus on the details that will keep everyone playing for a long time to come. As much as we want to get the game in everyone’s hands already, we also don't want to rush things now that we’re so close to the end. I’m hoping that in the next newsletter, I’ll be able to give you a good ETA on when we expect to hit Beta. Once we reach that milestone, we’ll gather feedback from the backers, fix what needs to be fixed, and get ready to launch. There’s light at the end of this tunnel!

Shows and Travel

After setting up the booth on Thursday
After setting up the booth on Thursday

Staring at the same screen all day and tweaking and retweaking rooms and enemies for months on end can feel a little isolating. Progress is never as fast as you want it to be, and there are a million little details to get right. So going to a gaming show every now and then can be a huge shot in the arm.  

The Armory from the Outpost intro area
The Armory from the Outpost intro area

Last month I went to Boston for PAX East. As always, PAX was a fantastic experience. I got to talk to a lot of people who have been following Chasm for years, and others who had never heard of it. However, the the most exciting aspect was probably that we were able to show off the opening scenes of the game for the first time ever. It really gives the game a more cinematic experience and makes it feel like a real game. The opening scene gives a lot of the context for why you’re in these mines fighting monsters and how all of that came to be

All demo stations filled!
All demo stations filled!

The feedback from PAX East was truly fantastic and extremely reinvigorating. When you work on the same game for so long, you tend to notice all of the flaws, and for most of the last year, I was working on all of the technical plumbing and infrastructure that was super important but not fun in and of itself. It’s super gratifying to see people loving the game and totally getting your vision for it.

Kuwait? Kuwait!  

The showfloor (Chasm banner visible in far back center)
The showfloor (Chasm banner visible in far back center)

A couple weeks before PAX East, we were contacted by a group of gamers from Kuwait, of all places. They invited us to the small gaming convention they hold every year and told us that even though most people don’t realize it, there are a ton of passionate gamers in the Middle East. We took them up on their offer, and Dan spent a week out there.

It was definitely different from what we expected. In some ways, it was very similar to an American or European show. People were super knowledgeable about games, and Dan had lots of conversations about the games that inspired Chasm, including Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. There were cosplay contests and a fighting game tournament - with world-class players. Even the male:female ratio was comparable to what you’d see at PAX. A lot of stereotypes about the Middle East were challenged, to say the least!  

The huge Chasm banner, some gamers playing Chasm, Axiom Verge, and Mages of Mystraila
The huge Chasm banner, some gamers playing Chasm, Axiom Verge, and Mages of Mystraila

In other ways, it was very different. Unlike Western shows, this event started at 5pm and went until midnight. There is no alcohol in Kuwait, so there were no after parties like you’d see at PAX. And for the fighting tournament, they had to get special permission to play DOA, since the scantily clad female characters are not officially allowed in Kuwait. Overall though, there is much more that unites us than divides us. We’re all hoping that the common language of videogames will serve as a bridge of understanding for our and future generations.

Development Update

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Hello again! I know we've been extra quiet lately, but I promise it's for good reason. We've been working our hardest to make it to Pre-beta (a true Alpha build of the full game) for several months now. In the last update I said I was hoping to finish it by the end of 2016, but as they say the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

New features have been added like scripted animations to liven things up.
New features have been added like scripted animations to liven things up.

We're finally closing in on the "point of no return" where the base of the game is being locked down, so I decided to use this time to revisit things one last time and work out some final kinks in both design and storytelling. In addition to creating new content, we've also been focused on getting rid of old baggage that isn't needed anymore (the boss jewels for example), and improving the narrative since it wasn't quite as strong as it could be. It's been a difficult balance trying to have an interesting and well-paced story, while not taking the focus away from the gameplay. We want this to feel like a classic experience, so it's taken a lot of refining to find the right amount of each ingredient.

The Keep area was improved in December with bigger enemies and revised rooms.
The Keep area was improved in December with bigger enemies and revised rooms.

 

Experimenting with some new puzzle elements.
Experimenting with some new puzzle elements.

I can't stress enough how grateful we are for your patience. It's proven to be a massive challenge designing a game that can hold up to our influences, but each day I'm surprised at just how well it's coming together. We anticipate to be done with the remaining Pre-beta tasks in the next few weeks, so we'll keep you up to date as we close in on our next milestone.

Conferences

In other news, it’s show season again, and we’re also getting ready to show off Chasm at a bunch of different press and industry events. The next ones on the docket are Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) where our marketing guy, Dan Adelman, will be showing the game in the Intel booth, and then PAX East. I haven’t had a chance to leave my dev workstation in months, so I’m really looking forward to show Chasm off to PAX East attendees. Every time someone picks up the controller and has a great time with the game, my batteries get a nice recharge, and that energy will fuel me and the rest of the team as we keep polishing away!

Bloodstained Community Podcast

We also did an interview with the Bloodstained Community podcast, and talked about Chasm at length with them. Both Dan and I had a great time doing it, so give it a listen!

PSX 2016, Dev Update

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Happy December, everyone! We’ve been hard at work on reaching our next milestone, but we thought we’d come up for air with a quick final update for 2016.

PlayStation Experience!  

Playstation Experience 2016
Playstation Experience 2016

Jimi (our composer) and Dan (our marketing/biz guy) are heading over to Anaheim for the PlayStation Experience event hosted by Sony! It will run over the weekend, and attendees will be able to check out the game. Even though it feels like we’ve been talking about Chasm forever (and you may feel like you’ve been hearing about Chasm forever!) every time we go to a show, for the majority of attendees, it’s the first they’ve heard of the game. And the reactions we get always give us that morale boost to keep the wheels turning and pushing us closer to the finish line! If you’re going to be at PSX, please come say hi to Dan and Jimi at booth B1028!

Dev Status Update  

In the last update we talked about the development roadmap, and how our next goal was reaching “Pre-Beta” – a complete beginning to end experience with no placeholders (but missing all the fun side stuff, polish, and various bells and whistles). We’re still making great progress towards that goal, and pushing our hardest to reach it by the end of the year.

The Outpost Courtyard with completed backdrop.
The Outpost Courtyard with completed backdrop.

Over the past month we’ve been tightening up the boss battles, revising areas, fixing lots of bugs, finishing placeholder art, and starting to add some polish to the game. We’ve also spent a lot of time on optimizing the engine. This work isn’t glamorous, but it’s hugely important to making sure the game runs smoothly on a variety of machines and that loading times will be suitably short.

A more epic view of the Ladorian Mountains for Karthas.
A more epic view of the Ladorian Mountains for Karthas.

While there’s still a lot of small tasks to tackle, our primary focus is now on adding all the townsfolk to rescue and the end sequence of the game. We’re very excited to finally get to all the fun polish tasks and extras, but we have just a few more major tasks to finish up first!

Wrap Up

Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays!

 Now it's time for us to get back to work! We hope everyone has a great holiday and a happy new year. Thank you for your continued support, and we'll see you in 2017!