POLYBALL is an action platformer that combines the classic mechanics of games like Marble Madness with contemporary digital art.
POLYBALL is an action platformer that combines the classic mechanics of games like Marble Madness with contemporary digital art. Read more
About this project
Combining the simple mechanics of classics like Super Monkey Ball and Marble Madness with the visual styling of low-poly artwork, Polyball is a blend of fast-paced time trials and puzzle platforming. Over the course of the game you travel through different environments, from the inside of a volcano to the depths of space, through an abstract world of light and geometry, all the while striving for the best possible time and score. There are a total of 60 levels, divided up into 6 sectors of 10 levels each.
When we first envisioned Polyball we wanted to create a game that took those simple gameplay mechanics and opened them up to modern game design principles in order to appeal to a more mature audience. The level design is initially simple and increasingly punishing, requiring a high degree of mastery in later levels. We're inspired by the games we know and love, taking different aspects from different ones: the skill curve of games like Dark Souls and Super Meat Boy; the speed and tactility of franchises like Tony Hawk and SSX; and the atmosphere of titles like Limbo and AER. We took these facets and combined them with one of the simplest and most rewarding mechanics we could think of: physics platforming.
The game can be played in two different modes: one, a level by level progression through each sector of the game; and the other, a marathon mode, which keeps track of your total in-level playtime for an entire sector.
The level-by-level play is the first unlocked, and whenever you finish a level you are scored based on how close you were to a gold, silver, or bronze time The level unlocks work similar to that of a racing game: you don't need to get first place on every level to progress, instead needing a total number of medal points (Gold is worth 3, Silver is worth 2, Bronze is worth 1) to unlock the next sector of levels. To go beyond the medal system, there are collectibles along the way in each level that add to a final total score. If you finished the level faster than the gold time, you will get a time bonus to your score as well. You can play the game either way, choosing to climb the leaderboards of fastest time, highest score, or even both! The collectibles are also used to purchase different Polyballs and effects in the customize screen.
We wanted to tailor the marathon mode for those who might want to compete for speedruns of the game, and so the time you get at the end of the run is a cumulative time of each life, through each level, of every level and sector of the game. There are no menu times recorded, no pauses: just the time it took you to get through each level. This affords the players an official platform for hosting their best speedrun times, with no gimmicks or questions of legitimacy.
I mentioned customization before. Customization is something we all love in games, and so we wanted to implement a robust system for personalizing the Polyball that you play through the game with. The system involves different models, texturing options like diffuse and specular, multiple colour layers, speed effects like sparks and fire, all which can be stored into a preset Loadout slot. Each collectible that you pick up in-game is used to purchase things in the customization screen, and there are also special unlocks that can only be acquired in other ways.
There is a distinct feel to playing an arcade-style game, one of in-the-moment skill rather than long-term planning or commitment. Polyball is game you can pick up and play for a few levels, or sit down and complete in marathon mode complete with built-in speedrun timing. We wanted the game to be simple, unadulterated fun, with the difficulty curve that we've all come to know and love that has developed over the last few years of releases. Your best times are tracked and can be raced against as a ghost, which you can toggle on or off at any point during a race. The game also has both friends' and global leaderboards, so you can compete to get to the top of every level.
Our approach to level design incorporates different gameplay archetypes, with styles ranging from downhill races to slow-paced physics platforming. Our method of quality assurance was that if it was hard for us to beat it after we designed it, then it was almost ready to be put in the game. The lines between these types become blurred as the game progresses, with levels that are more of a gauntlet incorporating elements of platforming, racing, branching-path exploration and puzzle solving.
A Bit About Us!
We're Studio Monolith, a startup digital design studio based out of Southwestern Ontario (near Waterloo). We've been working on Polyball for a few months now, and need a little bit of help to get us the rest of the way through production. The project took a foothold in late 2014 when a group of friends got together and wanted to make a game that played like the classics we remember from our childhood.
Polyball is, currently, almost complete. If our project doesn't get funded, we'll be releasing it anyways, but we're using Kickstarter as a way to raise money for additional features, to pay certain licensing fees, and to support the rest of the projects development. It's a work in progress, and it's nearing completion, so no matter what we're going to deliver a finished product.
We have been Greenlit. Even if we don't get fully funded we'll be releasing the game there so keep an eye out for us on the store.
WHY WE NEED THE FUNDING
We need funding to support additional development on top of what we've already done. The main features of the game are completed, the initial level set is designed, and the audio design is on the way.
There are also inherent costs to the development and production of a title: we're independent, so we're looking to our players to act as the producers. We need to pay for licensing, assets, plugins and a myriad of business overhead. Your support will help us in creating a huge amount of original content and will also support other local artists.
One of the main things we'd like to have is funding to develop an original soundtrack. There are a lot of independent musicians out there and we'd love to be able to hire some original talent to produce music for our game. We're already in talks with a few musicians with whom we have begun to create an OST, but with the money we have in our pockets there isn't enough to create a true accompaniment to the whole game.
Here's a few screenshots of the art that we will be printing on shirts!
$15,000: Online multiplayer. Racing on large tracks with 12 players? King of the Hill matches on dynamic levels? Bringing the Ball online will open up a whole new way to play, but comes at the cost of servers, security, and more dev-time.
Our team is comprised of a small group residing in Southwestern Ontario. We have a few programmers, an artist, and a sound designer, and are looking to expand after the release of Polyball.
Risks and challenges
The biggest roadblock we could encounter is one that is (with your help!) entirely avoidable. We're hoping to get approved through Steam Greenlight, which would assist in our integrating friends, multiplayer, leaderboards, and overall online security. So if you're thinking of backing our project, or even if you'd rather wait and check it out after launch, we'd really appreciate it if you went over to Steam and gave us an upvote for Greenlight.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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