BUGS!

What up team?!

If you’re reading this blog, then you’re definitely among the people who know about the iOS release of Where Shadows Slumber last week. If you somehow managed to miss that news, then guess what – we released Where Shadows Slumber for iOS last week! If you have an iOS device and you haven’t gotten a chance to download it yet, you should – and if you have downloaded it, make sure you give it a 5-star review!

The whole team has been working really hard on this game for a long time, so it’s a great feeling to finally release it into the wild. On one hand, it’s very freeing – theoretically, the game is done, so I don’t have to spend all of my time working on it. On the other hand, we’re all very anxious to see if the rest of the world likes the game as much as we do. However, there’s one thing that’s on our mind right now above all else.

Bugs.

We’ve put a lot of work into making sure that Where Shadows Slumber is as stable and bug-free as possible, but with such a small team, some things are bound to fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, experiencing a bug, especially a bad one, leaves a terrible first impression. People are justifiably upset when something they’ve paid for doesn’t work – and that’s a perfect recipe for bad reviews and poor sales numbers. We’re spending this week working on addressing many of the bugs that have come to our attention, and, in the interest of transparency, I want to share some of them with all of you!

 

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Unexpected Crashes

The bug: The biggest issue people have been running into so far is that the game will crash unexpectedly. This usually occurs just as a level is starting, or shortly thereafter. For most users, it will happen consistently, although some users might see sporadic crashes.

Cause: We somehow missed some poorly-compressed textures before releasing. This caused the game to consume way more memory than it should have. For older devices, or for people with something else running on the device, the operating system will kill the process to retrieve the memory, thus closing the game.

Fix: Obviously, the fix to this is to update the compression settings on the offending textures! We’re currently going through all of our assets to make sure they have the correct compression settings (along with making a few other tweaks to our memory usage).

Workaround: Until the next patch is published, the best way to play the game is on a device with enough RAM to handle the memory problems. This means either making sure that nothing else is running on your phone, or using a relatively recent device, which has enough RAM that it’s not an issue.

 

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You can tell just by glancing that this level is freezing.

Unexpected Freezing

The bug: During some levels (particularly in the Hills and Summit Worlds), the game will simply freeze. The OS won’t kill the process, so it’ll still be on the screen, but nothing will be moving. Sound will still play, but the only option you have is to kill the game.

Cause: At some point, we thought it might be due to the snow particles (since it only seems to happen on snowy levels), but it seems that’s not the case. Rather, it’s due to Obe’s footprints.

Whenever Obe (or any character) takes a step, he leaves behind a little footprint. These stay around for a bit (usually up to 15 seconds), and then they disappear. This gives us the juiciness of footsteps appearing, without peppering them all over the level.
This bug is caused by some of the footprint objects (specifically the snow-related ones) having bad settings. Rather than disappearing after 15 seconds, they disappear after 150. So, when you walk around the level a lot, wayyyy too many of the footsteps are being created. The overhead of managing so many game objects is causing Unity to freeze up.

Fix: This one’s an easy one – we just updated the number from 150 back to 15. After some testing, we’re unable to reproduce this bug, so it seems like this one is in pretty good shape.

Workaround: You’ll have to beat these Levels in as few steps as possible, to reduce the number of footprints. If you can beat the Level in under two minutes, you may be able to escape the deep freeze.

 

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Go ahead, try to click it. See? It doesn’t work!

Level “Titlecards” Not Working

The bug: A few people have mentioned this bug – apparently, the level titlecards (which let you know which level you’re about to play) will appear, but they won’t disappear when you click on them! This prevents the user from continuing into the level.

Cause: Unfortunately, our team hasn’t yet been able to reproduce this bug. We’re going to continue to try to do so on our somewhat limited range of hardware until we can figure out what’s causing it. Since the titlecards themselves are pretty simple, the cause of the bug is most likely something fairly innocuous.

Fix: Once we’re able to reproduce the bug and know the cause, it should be fairly simple to fix, as the titlecards aren’t incredibly complex.

Workaround: Until we push out a fix to this issue, the only way around it is to close the game and restart it, since you can’t access the menu from the titlecard.

 

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Those who’ve watched the story know that a lot of people ask Obe this question…

Disappearing Blocks

The bug: If you’re savvy enough to fight your way past the other bugs mentioned here, you might get a chance to experience this one. As the final level of the game, World 7’s fifth level is a tricky one which introduces a mechanic not seen anywhere else in the game. It involves “teleporting” blocks from one section of the level to another. Unfortunately (and apparently randomly), the blocks will disappear from one section, but never appear in the other! Obviously, this is pretty bad, since you need all of the blocks in order to complete the level, and some of them just get ejected into the æther!

Cause: When the blocks are teleported, their parent gameObjects change in Unity. I’m expecting there’s some error in the code which is causing the gameObject to inherit the wrong parent, so it doesn’t appear where it’s supposed to be. This bug has also given us some trouble in terms of reproducing. Since it’s likely an error in the code, it’s only useful to reproduce on a device where we can do some amount of development, but we have never successfully reproduced it in the Unity editor. We’re going to keep trying to do so, but do so on a variety of devices until we find the root cause.

Fix: This one is pretty straightforward, if not easy in the traditional sense. Once we determine why the blocks are disappearing, we simply have to determine how to update the logic of the mechanic to ensure that it no longer happens. Obviously, it’s more complex than that, but I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of it here (especially since I don’t know what the exact fix would be).

Workaround: Aside from the bug that literally prevents you from playing the game, this is the workaround that I’m least happy with – the only way to fix this issue is to reset the entire level through the menu. Since it’s such a long level, that means losing a good bit of work. We’re working on all of these bugs, but this one in particular I want to fix. Since it’s the last level of the game, and you lose so much progress when you restart it, the user ends up with a bitter taste in their mouth, which is exactly how we don’t want players to finish Where Shadows Slumber.

 

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Other Issues?

Of course, these aren’t all of the bugs. That’s one of the first things you realize when you let someone else use a piece of software you’ve created – there’s always a fresh horror just around the corner. This list is just the biggest offenders we’ve discovered so far. I can personally guarantee that there are others, and I’m tasking each and every one of you with finding them!

If you do happen to stumble across a bug that I haven’t discussed here, there are a few things you can do for us:

  • Tell us about it! We’re active on Facebook and Twitter, and you can always shoot us an email at contact@GameRevenant.com or join our Discord Channel. If you do, make sure you include details about your device. We want to make Where Shadows Slumber as awesome as possible, but we can’t fix bugs we don’t know about!
  • See if it happens repeatedly, and if there’s some pattern to when and how it’s happening. This helps us immensely when we’re trying to reproduce the bugs. After all, it’s a lot harder for us to fix a bug that we can’t reproduce. Screenshots are great too!
  • Don’t leave a disparaging review. All too often, we see people giving us a poor rating and review because of a bug. In a lot of these cases, it definitely makes sense – you paid for a product, and it’s broken. One out of five! The problem with this is that reviews and ratings are our best way to get other people to start playing the game. If our ratings start to tank, nobody is going to download the game! It’s definitely better to tell us about a bug and help us fix it than to simply hurt us by leaving a bad review (and then not updating it when we fix the bug, thus leaving us with a permanent scar on our rating).
  • Share app analytics with the developers. I think that this is a setting somewhere in iOS that will share data and statistics about app crashes. A detailed email from you is usually better (because not all bugs count as “crashes”), but checking this allows Apple to send the crash logs straight to us.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read about some of the bugs we’ve experienced. Putting something that we’ve worked so hard on out into the wild is always a big question mark. We’re happy with the amount of publicity we’ve managed to stir up, but we’re also a little annoyed by these bugs, as I’m sure many of our players are. We want to make sure that you all know that we know about these issues, and we’re doing everything we can to fix them as fast as possible.

If you are experiencing these bugs, never fear! We’re fixing the major ones, so you can keep your eyes peeled for a new version of Where Shadows Slumber later this week! Once it comes out and you update the app on your phone, some of these bugs (and maybe some others) should be taken care of.

Next week we’ll share more details about how our iOS launch is going!

 

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You can always find out more about our game (and tell us about bugs) at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, find us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, join the Game Revenant Discord, and feel free to email us directly with any questions or feedback at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Jack Kelly is the head developer and designer for Where Shadows Slumber.

Where Shadows Slumber, out on iOS!

The long wait is over… Where Shadows Slumber is finally out on iOS worldwide! Grab your iPhone or iPad and download the game from our store page by clicking the link below:

STORE: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/where-shadows-slumber/id1221749074

If you’d like an easier link to share with your friends, try this one:

SHORT LINK: bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Thank you to everyone who followed the development of this game via our blog for the past few years. Your support means the world to us. The entire team (Jack, Alba, Noah, Caroline, and myself) want to express our gratitude for your comments, Likes, Shares, and Retweets over the past few months as we prepared for this day.

We’ll have more news in the coming days as journalists post their reviews, but for now we have some exciting news to share…

 

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Apple Placed Us On Top Of The Games Tab!

This is incredible – the whole team is freaking out right now on our team chat. I went to the Games tab today because I’ve been checking it frantically, and the very first image you see is Where Shadows Slumber!

This spot of the store is reserved for brand new titles, but you are never guaranteed to end up here. Nothing on this list is random. In fact, Apple put us all the way to the left, which means you don’t even need to swipe through the other titles of the day (Jurassic World Alive, Rise of Civilizations, Maze: Shadow of Light) to see our game.

NB: This is the U.S. App Store – I checked a few other countries and we are placed in different sections depending on the region. For example, in Australia we’re still in the “Coming Soon” tab. Every region manages their own curated list.

This should lead to a massive surge of impressions, sales, and reviews. But we still need your help, loyal Where Shadows Slumber fan! Read on to find out how you can help…

 

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You Should Review Our Game on the App Store

When you launch a game on the App Store, it doesn’t matter if it’s something you spent 3 years working on, or a weekend project that you’re uploading on a whim. The App Store treats both the same way: your game is sort of hidden, you can only find it by searching for the title, and it says “This app hasn’t received enough ratings or reviews to display a summary” under Ratings & Reviews.

We don’t actually know how many ratings we need in order to get an App Store ranking, but we’re going to assume it’s “a lot” and try to get as many as possible. So if you have an iOS device, you should go review Where Shadows Slumber, whether you’re reading this on launch day or months from now. A good review always helps!

Let’s go over the difference between a rating and a review:

Rating: You choose a star value from 1 to 5 to “rate” our game. The higher the number, the better. If you were being objective, you’d assess if the game was outstanding (5), awful (1), or somewhere in-between. Don’t be objective. Give us a 5! After all, Where Shadows Slumber is outstanding.

Review: Along with a star value, you write down the reasons why you’ve chosen this value. Perhaps you’ve given a game a 3 because it’s good, but the game doesn’t let you tweak with the sound settings the way you like. In our case, we hope you’ll give us 5 stars and also write a short message about why you love the game. Don’t mention that you’ve “followed the game for years and loved the demo” because that will make it sound like you haven’t played the current version. When in doubt, just say you love the puzzles, the aesthetic, the music, the story, and the game’s originality.

As you can imagine, a Review is better than a Rating, and a Rating is better than nothing. Go find our app by searching Where Shadows Slumber on the App Store, and support us by reviewing or rating our game positively! Don’t feel the need to be “objective and fair” by giving us 4 stars. Anything less than 5 stars will harm our rating in the long run. Remember, we’re a tiny indie game going up against goliaths like Fortnite for mobile, which has a 4.6 out of 5 score and over 2.5 million ratings. We need your 5 star rating to fend off the occasional spoil-sport who gives us a 1. Go go go!

NB: You’ll need to purchase the game first before you can review it.

 

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Spread The Word!

When we launched as a pre-order last week, it was a little difficult to “sell” people on the game. “Hey man, there’s this great game on the App Store! All you have to do is pre-purchase it and… wait longer!”

Well, now the game is out and ready for download today! No more waiting. So please, spread the word about the game, and feel free to use any of the information found in our press kit to do so: WhereShadowsSlumber.com/press

That secret page is really for journalists, which is probably why you’ve never seen it before. However, in the age of Facebook recommendations and retweets, sometimes word-of-mouth goes further when it comes from real fans instead of professional writers. So use those materials and share, share, share!

 

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Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

In The News

Things are crazy over here at Where Shadows Slumber HQ right now. We’ll tell you all about it in a future blog post, because a lot of what’s happening is confidential. For now, here’s a roundup of all of the news organizations that have written about our game so far!

Apologies if you’ve read some of these already – part of the reason we do this is to aggregate them and make sure we don’t lose track of the articles. You may have seen some of these on our social feed throughout the week. If you have, you don’t need to read them again… share them with your friends instead!

Shameless reminder that you can still pre-order the game on iOS if you act now:

bit.ly/WSS-iOS

Okay, on to the articles!

 

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The team nervously reads what everyone thinks about our game. (Dramatization)

 

Pre-Order Reactions

When we launched as a pre-order on the App Store, many in the news media were pleasantly surprised to see our game. Others had been waiting for it patiently. Below, you’ll find some of the coverage people wrote before they got a chance to play our game. (Some had already experienced our free 2016 demo, which they mention in their articles.)

“It’s like someone took the ingenious shadow manipulation of Helsing’s Fire ($0.99) and mixed it with the hypnotizing isometric puzzling of Monument Valley ($3.99), which is a mashup made in heaven if I’ve ever heard one.”

-Jared Nelson, TouchArcade

Stunning Puzzle Adventure ‘Where Shadows Slumber’ Finally Arrives September 20th

 

“Personally, I’m excited to get my hands on the game at last and hope there’s a good chunk of content to dig into.”

-Emily Sowden, PocketGamer

The curious puzzler Where Shadows Slumber is finally up for pre-order on iOS

 

TouchArcade and PocketGamer are two of the biggest and most influential websites in the mobile game industry, so it’s nice to see how interested they are in our game! But it wasn’t just English speaking sites that noticed us, we also got some attention from other countries…

 

Where Doze the Shadows is a colorful puzzle where you have to control the shadows and solve difficult tasks with their help.”

Alexander Yarovoy, App-S.ru

“Where Shadows Slumber”: the Wanderings of a Lonely Old Man [Pre-order]

OK, that one had to be fed through a translator to actually read it. You can’t control shadows in our game, so Google Translate probably messed this one up. But we like the idea of referring to our game as a “colorful puzzle.” Incidentally, “the wanderings of a lonely old man” would be an excellent title for my future autobiography one day.

Finally, here’s an interview I did with Megan Meehan over at Blasting News.

“For as long as the game will run on existing hardware, it will be an enduring cultural artifact that people will enjoy for generations.”

-Frank, the guy writing this blog post

Where Shadows Slumber: Interview with Game Designer Frank DiCola

 

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Our First Review: AppUnwrapper

We sent Lisa of AppUnwrapper a promo code last week once we went live on the App Store. Apparently she knew about our game even before we reached out to her, but I never directly asked her how. (The demo, probably) That in itself is cool enough, but she also decided to review it and posted the article today! I don’t want to give away her reaction, because then you won’t click the link. So go read it!

‘Where Shadows Slumber’ Review: One Lantern to Rule Them All

It’s so strange to read reviews of our work. The feeling hasn’t really sunk in yet. I wonder when it will?

One more thing: our Metacritic page has been automatically generated by their system, but it’s looking a little empty right about now. Let’s hope it gets filled up with 5 and 10 star reviews in the coming weeks!

 

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Want a promo code? Email us with proof that you create content for a website or YouTube channel and we’ll send it right over! For everyone else, find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Pre-order Where Shadows Slumber on the App Store Today!

Starting today, Where Shadows Slumber is available for pre-order on the App Store! This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Click here to be taken to our App Store Page!

And share the shortened link with your friends: bit.ly/WSS-iOS

If you’re not sure what “pre-ordering” means, read on…

 

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What Is A Pre-Order?

When a game is available for pre-order, it’s very close to launching on the App Store. So close in fact, that you can tell Apple you want to download the game the instant it becomes available on the App Store! Because Apple knows our game is launching so soon, they may place Where Shadows Slumber on a special “Coming Soon” section of the App Store to advertise it to their customers.

You can’t play it until the game is really available on September 20th, but you can share it with all of your friends! If you pre-order the game, you’ll be charged $4.99 USD on September 20th and the game will load on your device that day.

Tired of waiting for the game to launch? Sorry… we couldn’t pass up this marketing opportunity. Getting the game on App Store’s “Coming Soon” list is a huge boost for a small studio like ours! Besides, it ensures that we can spend the next two weeks marketing and talking to journalists before players get their hands on the game. When people start playing, I’m sure I’ll have to be glued to Twitter and Gmail answering people’s questions and giving them cryptic hints. It’s nice to have a reprieve… this is the calm before the storm.

 

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Do I Have To Buy The Game Right Now?

Yes, you do.

Ok, not really. You can wait until the game launches for real on September 20th before committing to a purchase. Some people like to wait until reviews come out from other customers or game journalists – that’s fine with us. (I do that, too) Chances are that if you follow this blog, you’ve already decided that you’re buying the game. If that’s not the case, just wait a few weeks! We’re confident that Where Shadows Slumber will be a critical success. We’ve put years of work into this game, and we know you’ll be impressed with the final product.

 

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Find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.

Something is Coming…

 

 

 

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That’s all for now. If you’re new to this blog, you can find out more about our game at WhereShadowsSlumber.com, ask us on Twitter (@GameRevenant), Facebookitch.io, or Twitch, and feel free to email us directly at contact@GameRevenant.com.

Frank DiCola is the founder of Game Revenant and the artist for Where Shadows Slumber.