Excellent news, continued! I just wrote a long history of what Defective’s been up to on Gimbal Cop for the last year or more since we last really made any public posts or announcements. If you’re curious to hear what’s been going on in the project, feel free to catch up on that. If you’d rather just cut straight to the excellent news that is the Now, read on!
We have the game in a pretty solid state, with two game modes, Tunnel and Snake. Tunnel is the current incarnation of the long-term lofty goal of the project: an asymmetric multiplayer creation-racing game. That mode’s closest to the goal that it’s been, but still is going through continued iterations.
Snake is a simplified, streamlined, scoped-down game mode which focuses entirely on a freeflying, track-laying experience: collect the goodies in the environment without crashing into your own tail. This mode is working well as-is and looking very promising for further fleshing out.
With that, we’re happy to announce: we’ve officially begun private alpha! A handful of fellow developers, friends, and fans have the game and are receiving ~weekly updates. We’re working with feedback from those testers and our demos, fixing bugs, making the game more clear, and further playing with the mechanics.
My next big objective on the gameplay front is expanding the single level environment we have right now, which works very well for single-serving play at demos, into a campaign of levels that someone can enjoy over long repeated plays. My intention is to take a page from Starfox’s book and have a branching campaign of about 15 levels to start, where you can complete a level with no special flare and continue onto the next “easy” level, or you can complete challenges in the level to unlock other, harder paths.
Web & Replay
One of the big features / systems I didn’t mention in my last post is a Gimbal Cop web suite Schoen’s been developing for a while now, which handles all of our analytics reporting (what did players do, how long did they play, what device did they play on, what was their framerate, etc), and high score tracking, and also enables another major feature / system: Replay. Danger mainly has been working on replay functionality for a while, and we’ve had a lot of different ideas of how to use a replay system in the game. The most immediate application of replay we have in mind is a web viewer, where you can load up past games in a spectator mode, and potentially even spectate games in real-time.
The other big thing Schoen’s working on right now is a control framework, which has been a looong time coming. The core issue we have with Tunnel mode, and part of the reason we’re not iterating on its gameplay right now, is that the game has changed dramatically since we started, and the control system hasn’t really changed much. In other words, controls are a big issue, and when you have a control issue, the experience really suffers. The control framework design is very cool, essentially allowing us, or even the player, to plug any device input (joystick, button, orientation, touchscreen, etc) into any controlled object. It’s still in progress right now, but I’m sure you’ll hear a full-detail report from Schoen as the system solidifies.
A light at the end of the tunnel
As much as I hate to name dates, we’re aiming to have an early access alpha on sale by the end of the year. That would be for the Windows / Mac OS X / Linux versions of the game, while we’ll probably take a little longer with the Android / iOS / WinPhone alphas. Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, we’re currently in our private alpha phase; aside from generating focused feedback, that private alpha is also letting us figure out distribution, communication, and bugtracking / feature request solutions which we’ll carry over to the public alpha/beta.
And with that, I do believe you, our lovely Defective fans and well-wishers, are caught up to speed with what we’ve been doing, where we are, and what our next steps are. Keep an eye on this space, as well as our Facebook and Twitter, for incremental updates as we continue to take the wraps off of Gimbal Cop and march towards the day we can finally get this puppy out of the lab and into your hands (/ screens / face!)!
You’ll be seeing two polished game modes in public alpha before the end of the year. By no means does this constitute the scope of our plans and aspirations for this game. For one thing, we’re toying with the idea of injecting a bit more “oomf” into the game’s universe and backstory, which may even involve a name change! For another, we’re constantly dreaming up new game modes. We have gone down a path or two that won’t see the light of day, but there are some ideas that we’re just so excited about that we have to share. One or two involve turning the runner game sideways and taking a 2D approach to gameplay. You might see an upcoming mode alla Tiny Wings (/ Time Surfer / Dragon Fly) involving jumps and airtime. Another big draw is to infuse music with gameplay, either in a reactive or generative sense. Schoen is enamored with the idea of creating something like an infinite Bit Trip Runner experience, and I definitely want to explore some music-based modes as well. We truly hope you enjoy what’s coming in both the near and not-so-near future.