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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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Production Update, PAX Prime Megabooth

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Hello again Chasm backers! Production has marched forward steadily this summer, and we're happy to report that we're making great progress. It's been a while since we've done a proper production update, so we thought we'd try to break things down into categories as neatly as we can, and give you an idea of where each is. Please don't take the percentages too seriously though, they're only meant as a rough approximation!

GAME ENGINE - 100%

Just shy of 50,000 lines of code!
Just shy of 50,000 lines of code!

The game engine has been done for a while now, and we have production-quality code running on all our launch platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, and PS4) at a silky smooth 60 FPS. We're still refactoring and cleaning things up, but all the major systems are in place and functional!

STORY - 100%  

The basic story for the game has been done for over a year, but we have had to modify it a bit as we've progressed and fill in some details. Back in the spring we decided it was time to do a major revision in order to ensure all of the details we've added fit in nicely. We added a new intro, outro and epilogue, as well as improved the flow and trickle of new information. Your objectives are now clearer, and the stakes feel higher than ever before!

TOOLS - 100%

Our custom editor "Apparatus" showing how the world is connected.
Our custom editor "Apparatus" showing how the world is connected.

Our editor Apparatus was finished last year and has been working amazingly. We're able to create a lot of high quality content quickly and see what works and what doesn't. It also has custom support for the world layouts and dungeon creation, scripting, and animations so it's pretty much our secret sauce!

GAME DESIGN - 100%

As attested by the Alpha's success, the core game design is working well! There were a lot of tough things to figure out when thinking about how a procedurally assembled Metroidvania would work best: how the areas are constructed, how the portal system works, how to pace correctly with save points, and how to quickly travel back to town. Everything fits well and feels great now, but it took a LOT of experimentation to get here!

GAMEPLAY MECHANICS - 100%

The core moveset of the player was one of the very first things we tried to get right, but we have taken the opportunity to fine tune things and get it feeling perfect. We have a whole slew of awesome moves and equipment for the player to gain, spells that tie into puzzles as well as combat, tough platforming to perform, traps to avoid, and a ton of items to find. We'll be trying to add as much extra content as we can when we get to the end, but all the core mechanics are in the game now.

TILESETS - 90%

The latest revisions to the Gardens tileset including improved details, lighting, and readability.
The latest revisions to the Gardens tileset including improved details, lighting, and readability.

The visual building blocks of the world are the tilesets. The tileset for each area includes the terrain you walk on, walls and ceiling, as well as the wall behind the player and parallax backgrounds. Dan is finishing up the last tileset (Outpost) while doing revisions to the others, so we're expecting these to be completed in the next few weeks!

SOUNDTRACK - 90%

A lot of effort went into finding the right atmosphere to accompany the visuals of the game and set the tone, but we finally found what we were looking for! The soundtrack tops out at 20 tracks, including 8 main area themes, plus intro, outro, credits, and many special tracks. A couple dozen rough cuts and concepts were left on the cutting room floor, so expect to hear those in the Extended Soundtrack. Jimi is working on final touches for the last area's music now, so it should be wrapped up soon!

USER INTERFACE - 80%

We recently switched from modern button labels to manual selectors for that old school feel.
We recently switched from modern button labels to manual selectors for that old school feel.

We just finished up our UI framework earlier this year. We did a full pass on the game consolidating all the menu and UI functions, improved NPC menus and dialogue, journal and note interfaces, and more. We still have a little more work ahead with final styling and making sure everything is consistent before calling it done.

BOSSES - 75%

There will be 6 main bosses in the game, and as of now 5 are playable with the final boss ready to be prototyped. Some areas also have minibosses to battle, and 3 out of 5 of these have been completed.

ENEMIES - 70%

First look at one of the undead soldiers of the Keep.
First look at one of the undead soldiers of the Keep.

We've completed the core enemies for just over 2/3 of the game as of now. The fifth area has rough prototypes while the last is in concept only, so a large amount of the content work lies here.

BACKGROUND ART - 65%

These are mainly extra background wall variations to keep things interesting, as well as what we call "set piece" rooms - rooms with large, unique (and time consuming!) backgrounds that aren't reused anywhere else. Some examples would be the Campfire room, the cave paintings and frescos, and the boss rooms. Once the tilesets are completed Dan will be focusing all his energy on these.

ROOMS - 60%

All of the areas have been planned out in detail (you can even run through the entire game at this point), but we have just over half the rooms required in the game. As well as the special core rooms, we also need to create a lot of extra rooms that will enhance the procedural nature of the game. Along with enemies this will be one of our main focuses this Fall.

SCRIPTING - 30%

A look at our script editor in Apparatus.
A look at our script editor in Apparatus.

 We've tried our best not to put scripted sequences in Chasm to keep the player always feeling in control, but there are certain instances where that has to happen, such as the intro of the game or special events. These scenes have all been written and storyboarded, but we still have to script most of them in the game.

SFX - 25%

We still have a lot of sound effect work to do, but once the Soundtrack is completed Jimi will be focusing his full attention on it. Unfortunately, sound always seems to get put off to the end, but it's almost necessary in a way so you can see what all your game needs. Consistency is big thing here, so having the perspective on how the game looks and feels should speed things up considerably.

ETC - 20%

First look at the Bestiary prototype - gotta collect them all!
First look at the Bestiary prototype - gotta collect them all!

There's a lot of necessary extras that don't particularly fall into any category that will take some effort to complete. Things like extra side quests, game modes, NPCs, minigames, secrets and more are all planned and detailed out, but are waiting their turn to be worked on.

CONCLUSION

As we've learned during development of this game, one of the hardest and most time-consuming parts of game development is really just finding what works best for your game. With all the difficult design decisions out of the way and the unknowns down to a minimum, we're finally able to focus 100% of our efforts on churning out awesome content to jam pack the game with.

We know everyone is anxious for a release date to be announced, but we're not quite there yet. We do have a much clearer picture of what's ahead though, and we've started talking with Sony and Steam about the best time to launch from their perspective.

It's been a long journey, but we want to thank you all again for sticking with us and believing in our vision. Chasm is turning out more amazing than we had any right to expect, and we have you, our incredible backers, to thank for helping make that happen!

P.S. One more thing before I go – three members of our team, Tim Dodd, Dan Fessler, and Dan Adelman, will be showing off Chasm in the Indie Megabooth at PAX PRIME this weekend! If you’re at PAX, be sure to swing by and say hi! We’ll give you a full update on how PAX went after everyone fully recovers.

New Area, Enemies, and Mechanics Revealed!

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Ever since the original prototype, Chasm has begun with a short intro text crawl followed by Daltyn entering the town of Karthas. We've always tried to stick to a "play it, don't say it" philosophy, and after studying up on Joseph Campbell's hero's journey we realized that the Outpost Daltyn's stationed at was the perfect place to begin an epic adventure. The Outpost lies on the border between the rival kingdoms of Guildea (Daltyn's homeland) and Delkath, and is an important strategic position in the long-running war between the two. Starting there will not only give you a taste of Daltyn's life before the journey, but also help establish the lore of the world more deeply. We'll be showing off more of the Outpost in the coming months, but for now enjoy the first look at its courtyard!

GIFs

We've been hard at work on new content for the past couple months, as well as doing some overall improvements and polish to the game. The next few GIFs show off a couple enemies you will encounter in the Gardens, as well as many improvements we've made such as new hit effects and shaders, dynamic dust particles, improved damage stats, dramatic freezing for important events, and more. Please keep in mind these are downsampled from 60 to 30 FPS, so they aren't nearly as smooth as it will be in-game!

Battling a fungus infected Stone Worker.
Battling a fungus infected Stone Worker.
Taking on the mighty Ohgrilla.
Taking on the mighty Ohgrilla.

 We usually only show off the more polished stuff, but we thought you all might like a little peak behind the scenes to see how things are made! The following GIF was recorded in a debug room we use to develop and tune the mechanics of the game. It features a new Wall Jump ability, hard landings, push-able obstacles and more!

Mechanics testing in a debug room.
Mechanics testing in a debug room.

Art Improvements

Original (top) vs New (bottom) palettes
Original (top) vs New (bottom) palettes

 One of the constant struggles with Chasm's art style is maintaining clear action in the foreground. The outline-less style makes it very difficult to separate layers, so we're constantly learning new tricks and adjusting things to look as good as they can. The above is an example of tweaks we've made to the Catacombs area to not only improve visibility, but also lend a bit more atmosphere.

Soundtrack Update

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The soundtrack is quickly approaching completion! It's been quite a process figuring out what the world of Chasm sounds like. We tried many different approaches, but always pushed for something very atmospheric while staying energetic and driving. Jimi has delivered in spades, and we're now in the process of finishing up the mixes and mastering the game's 20 tracks. Above is the latest full-length mix of the Mines theme, we hope you enjoy!

Stay tuned, we'll be releasing more sneak peaks at gameplay, art, and audio over the coming months!

Chasm Goes to E3 2015

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Once again, we were fortunate enough to be invited to E3 in Los Angeles to show off Chasm on the PS4! We had a great time last year, and thanks to our new biz/marketing guy Dan Adelman this one was even bigger and better. Our schedule was jam packed every day with interviews, events, and livestreams to attend.

All in all, it was a great experience for us. Since we all work remotely it was actually the first time many of us had hung out together in real life. We had a great time catching up, the press really seemed to enjoy the new build (we even won a couple of awards including an Editor's Choice award from Metroidvania-aficionado Jeremy Parish!), and we got to meet a lot of fans and backers as well. Here are a few pictures from the trip:

(Clockwise) Arriving at the convention center, Testing our equipment, the Sony Press Conference is about to begin!
(Clockwise) Arriving at the convention center, Testing our equipment, the Sony Press Conference is about to begin!
(Clockwise) E3 Team - James Petruzzi (Director), Dan Fessler (BG Art), Tim Dodd (Programming), Dan Adelman (Biz), Chasm at the MIX E3, Best of E3 Nominee from WorthPlaying and USGamer Editors' Choice Award
(Clockwise) E3 Team - James Petruzzi (Director), Dan Fessler (BG Art), Tim Dodd (Programming), Dan Adelman (Biz), Chasm at the MIX E3, Best of E3 Nominee from WorthPlaying and USGamer Editors' Choice Award
James and Tim with MANvsGAME
James and Tim with MANvsGAME
James and Tim with Final Fantasy Tactics composer Hitoshi Sakimoto
James and Tim with Final Fantasy Tactics composer Hitoshi Sakimoto

In The Press

Wrap Up

After a brief respite, we're back at work again and more inspired than ever. Everyone is fully focused on content creation now, so things are starting to come together quickly. Stay tuned for a first look at some brand new content next month!

Two Year Anniversary Mega Recap!

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This month marks the two year anniversary since Chasm was successfully Kickstarted, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to recap the ups and downs of the past two years, while also catching you up on what's been happening more recently. So settle in, and let's jump back in time to just after the Kickstarter ended.

The team in Summer 2013 (Tony, Tim, James P., James S.), World Map, Backer Rewards
The team in Summer 2013 (Tony, Tim, James P., James S.), World Map, Backer Rewards

After the insanity of the Kickstarter campaign in May 2013, we got a couple of weeks rest and put together the schedule for the year. That summer was spent entirely in pre-production working on the story, deciding on the major areas and bosses, getting our new level editor working, and prototyping powerups and special abilities. We also wanted to get the physical rewards out of the way, so we had them printed and shipped out to backers in July. That same month, pixel artist Dan Fessler joined the team taking over lead background art duties from Tony Redmer since he was about to go off to college and wouldn't have as much time to dedicate to the project.

Background Artist Dan Fessler, Our level editor Apparatus, First mockup of the Catacombs
Background Artist Dan Fessler, Our level editor Apparatus, First mockup of the Catacombs

By September 2013 we felt like we had the basic story and design figured out, so we started working on an improved version of the Mines for the final game. Little did we know, we were about to run into the biggest challenge of Chasm's development: how exactly do you make a great procedurally-generated Metroidvania? We were unhappy with the floor-based linear structure of the original prototype, so we set out to improve it with more backtracking and a maze-like feel inspired by Super Metroid.  

James S., Tim, and James P. at MAGFest, Working together at a temp space courtesy of BreakAway Games
James S., Tim, and James P. at MAGFest, Working together at a temp space courtesy of BreakAway Games

After a couple of months of work, the new maze-style dungeons were working as planned and we prepped a new demo that we took to MAGFest in January 2014. It received good feedback from the attendees, but it wasn't clear to us just how many problems it had until we watched Northernlion play it later that month. We began dissecting his video bit by bit, analyzing every second of footage to figure out why it wasn't meeting our expectations. We realized there were some major problems with the pacing, the maze-like dungeons having no direction, and the gimped difficulty that helped avoid the inconvenient death system. Unfortunately, there were no easy answers to most of these issues.

Box art by Gilang Andrian, Vector logo by Terry Mack, Our Candy Jam entry "Candy Chasm Saga"
Box art by Gilang Andrian, Vector logo by Terry Mack, Our Candy Jam entry "Candy Chasm Saga"

Meanwhile, we knew we had to get a final logo and promo art done to start building some brand recognition. We went through hundreds of portfolios before we ran into Gilang Andrian's. Once we saw his style, we knew he was the perfect artist to tackle the box art. Our fan art contest winner Terry Mack also created a new vector-based logo for both print and web.

Trip to IndieCade East 2014
Trip to IndieCade East 2014

In February 2014 we attended Indiecade East in New York City, and demoed the game at the Show & Tell on the second day. It was a struggle to the last minute to prep a new demo that worked for the short time-slot, but we pulled it off and had a great time. At the end of the month, we had to accept that the game wouldn't be out on time, and made the hard decision to announce the delay to "Fall 2014". We were terrified of backlash from the fans, but everyone was incredibly supportive and urged us to keep pushing onward. 

The team at PAX East 2014, James and "La Mulana" Producer Takumi Naramura
The team at PAX East 2014, James and "La Mulana" Producer Takumi Naramura

In March 2014 we participated in the Indie Megabooth at PAX East, and it was a crazy experience! It was our first real convention with a 10x10' booth all to ourselves and thousands of people stopping by to play the game. We did a bunch of interviews, met a lot of fans and Kickstarter backers, and learned more about promoting and conventions. 

From Floors to Mazes to Sub-Areas
From Floors to Mazes to Sub-Areas

Tension was starting to mount as we approached the one year mark with a game we weren't truly happy with, but after settling back in after PAX East in April 2014 things finally started to click. We began to understand why the pacing was off, why the exploration felt overwhelming and unrewarding, and why it wasn't as fun or challenging as it should be. We came up with a completely new approach to area dungeons that we called Sub-areas. We felt confident it would fix the major problems that were identified in the MAGFest demo so we got to work on prototyping it.

While in the midst of that, the Indiecade trip a couple months earlier suddenly paid off when Sony contacted us and said they wanted Chasm on PS4. We were invited to demo the game at Sony's E3 booth that June, with the stipulation that the game had to be running on actual PS4 hardware. We gladly accepted the challenge, and while working on the new dungeon generator we also began tackling the PS4 port.

James with kiosks at E3, Chasm on the big screen, With MANvsGAME and Tom Happ
James with kiosks at E3, Chasm on the big screen, With MANvsGAME and Tom Happ

Luckily, things came together quickly, and we got the E3 demo submitted just in time. It was a great trip out to LA in June 2014 and was really nice to get away from development for a week, get some perspective on things, and meet some awesome people like Tom Happ from Axiom Verge. 

Alpha access launches.
Alpha access launches.

Since we were already past our projected release date and pleased with the results of the new dungeon generator, we decided to just try to get the Alpha out as soon as possible. For the remainder of the summer we worked our hardest on getting the game into a playable state, which culminated with the first Alpha release in September 2014. To our relief, the testers really seemed to like it! Many commented on how awesome the world and dungeon generation felt, but it still had a multitude of other issues like extreme difficulty, platforming & combat imbalance, the incompatible Dark Souls-inspired systems, and low reward frequency. 

From October 2014 through February 2015 we continued to work with the community to refine the Alpha to a point where everyone felt it was fun. We introduced completely new systems like the elemental weapon gems and Chirpy, changed some like the Altars and enemy behaviors, and removed others like the Dark Souls-inspired Essence system. Once we felt like the Alpha was good enough, we had a difficult decision to make: do we keep trying to piecemeal things out to Alpha backers, or take a step back and focus on the game as a whole? We felt the latter was the better approach, and decided to pull the plug on the Alpha. 

One unexpected benefit of the Alpha release was that it managed to catch the attention of former Nintendo-exec turned Indie-Marketing-&-Biz-guy Dan Adelman. In December 2014 he joined the team to help out with business and marketing, freeing us to focus more on the game. 

Chasm PS4 Kiosk at Indiecade, Chasm's first Valentine, Delicious ghost cookies
Chasm PS4 Kiosk at Indiecade, Chasm's first Valentine, Delicious ghost cookies

In February 2015 we attended Indiecade East once again. It was really weird going back a year later with the luxury of a Sony kiosk set up for us right in the main area for all 3 days, when we had to do it true indie-style the year before and haul a laptop and monitor up on a train for an hour-long Show & Tell! 

NPCs for the new Outpost intro area: Cmdr. Silxer, Tomekeeper, Rorre, Guildean Guard, Jareth and Master at Arms
NPCs for the new Outpost intro area: Cmdr. Silxer, Tomekeeper, Rorre, Guildean Guard, Jareth and Master at Arms

With the Alpha complete, the next phase of our plan kicked off in March 2015. The goal was to get the skeleton assembled for the remainder of the game with every major character, plot point, and setpiece put in the game. This process included doing final revisions to the script and characters, adding a new intro area, finishing drafts of every area's graphics and music, sketching the remainder of the setpieces for the artists, and designing the area layouts and major puzzles for the second half of the game. We just wrapped up that process this past week, and it's left us in a great place where you can finally run through the entire game, from the brand new beginning to the end credits, albeit in a rough form.

An old and mysterious painting in the Keep.
An old and mysterious painting in the Keep.

Now that the skeleton is done, our goal is to finish the core content of the game over the next few months before we begin polishing. We still have a lot of enemies, minibosses, rooms, items, sidequests, and various challenges to design and program. We want the game to be jam packed full of content, so we're not sure exactly how long that process will take.

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(Draft of Outpost theme)

As everyone knows, we've been wrong twice already with projected release dates, so we're just saying "when it's done" until we have something more accurate to share with you. Thanks to everyone's patience we've been able to take the time needed to fully explore ideas and make Chasm the best game it can be, but we hope you can hang in there just a little longer so we can finish it in the same manner. 

New optional xBR Smoothing effect for the pixel averse.
New optional xBR Smoothing effect for the pixel averse.

Hopefully this recap gave you a little better idea of the long journey we've been on since the Kickstarter ended two years ago. While we've completed a ton of new stuff in the past few months, we hope you can understand that we're not ready to start revealing it just yet. Stay tuned for this summer as we start releasing the first looks at new artwork, music, enemies, and more. Thank you again from all of us for your continued support and the amazing opportunity you've given us!

March Update

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We've been incredibly busy this past month working away on the game, but we're happy to report that things are progressing smoothly! With the Alpha completed and all the design problems out of the way, we've been able to dedicate 100% of our energy on content. We were planning on doing a big production update this month for everyone, but there are so many things wrapping up in the next few weeks that we thought it would make more sense to just hold off until next month. In the meantime, here's a look at a few cool things we've been working on: 

A test Achievement (they won't really be this easy!)
A test Achievement (they won't really be this easy!)

Achievements are now working on all platforms, both Steam and DRM-free! The framework has been set up and the unlocks work, so we're basically just down to creating the list itself. We're looking forward to brainstorming some fun and challenging feats for you to perform! (original GIF if you can't see image)

A prototype secret nook.
A prototype secret nook.

Secret areas have been prototyped! We went back and forth on how to do them for a while, but we ended up with something inspired by one of our favorite series about an Italian plumber. Walls, floors, and ceilings can be fake, and you can move behind them to discover hidden treasure and passage-ways! (original GIF if you can't see image)

A test for fancier transition effects.
A test for fancier transition effects.

We've been thinking about fancier transitions for a while now, so we tried out something reminiscent of some of our favorite 16-bit games. What do you think? (original GIF if you can't see image)

PRESS ROUNDUP 

If you haven't had a chance to check out anything about Chasm recently and don't have a lot of time, definitely check out Super Pawsitive's brief 5 minute review of the Alpha. He does a great job quickly encapsulating how the game plays, and showing off a lot of the stuff you can do in the early version!

Gamespot highlighted a few games from this year's GDC MIX event on their on their livestream, and Chasm was among them! In this clip, Chasm biz man Dan Adelman talks about the game while Axiom Verge creator Tom Happ plays the demo!

Other sightings: