Where Shadows Slumber has been slowly climbing up the App Store puzzle charts the past few days. (Rank 37 in Paid Puzzle apps, last time I checked) Let’s see how far we can climb after this week’s flash sale in honor of Halloween!
Shamelessly reuse last year’s Halloween trailer? Why, I would never do such a thing… (This one doesn’t even have the Google Play icon [>_< ])
Starting tomorrow, the game will be on sale at only $0.99 for 48 hours. (Just in time for mischief night) By the time the clock strikes “November”, the sale is gone! You’ll have to wait until Black Friday to get another deal like this…
Does it count as a flash sale if I tell everyone about it beforehand? Who cares! Tell someone who doesn’t have the game yet that this is their big chance to grab it at the lowest price ever [^_^ ]
Google is announcing their response to the Apple Arcade, something they call Google Play Pass. They’re promising developers that it will help them reach new users and get more money as a result.
“Google Play Pass is a new subscription service offering access to hundreds of apps and games, completely free of ads and in-app purchases. Play Pass provides a high-quality, curated collection of titles – with new content added regularly.”
You can read more of the details in their announcement, here.
Did Google Copy Apple?
I don’t think Google just copied Apple. Every platform is doing this these days, and Apple didn’t invent the concept. Besides, it’s different than the Apple Arcade. Apple’s subscription service was for entirely new exclusive games. They made sure that those titles did not appear anywhere else beforehand. Google seems to be taking a note from Xbox, and other console subscription services, since it focuses on existing products as well as new ones.
That’s what makes this so enticing to us… could Where Shadows Slumber qualify for the Google Play Pass? It seems like we could remain on the Google Play Store as we are now, but also attract a lot of new attention.
As far as money is concerned, we have no clue about how developers make money on Apple Arcade. Did Apple buy those games for a flat amount? Do developers get revenue for time played? (Wouldn’t that require a constant internet connection?) With Google they state pretty clearly that we would “earn recurring revenue from Play Pass users who engage with”Where Shadows Slumber if it was available through the program.
As an aside, I would happily be accepted into the program if offered, but I wonder what would make more money? People buying the game outright (in small numbers) or people finding the game and playing for a few hours, to the tune of some kind of fractional micro-payment (in large quantities)
As long as Google wouldn’t demand we take our game off the App Store, it seems like a no-brainer!
A few other things stand out for me. This announcement mentions that you can “highlight your app in a curated section of the Play Store with new featuring opportunities”, which is something Google Play definitely focuses on less. Opening the Play Store on my Pixel 3 always feels like a bland experience: same-y games in the “New Games” section, and some games “Recommended for me” that don’t look appealing. I have been hoping for Google to emulate Apple more here, in the sense that every good game gets its 15 minutes of fame eventually. (I still tell people about when Where Shadows Slumber was Game of the Day on December 10th, 2018) I’m looking forward to that as an optimistic developer, but also as a gamer.
It’s not clear how this integrates with the Google Stadia streaming technology. But it does make sense to have a library of prepaid games ready to go if you’re launching a streaming-only gaming platform. I suppose that although they haven’t announced a clear connection yet, it’s pretty obvious. And this makes Stadia more appealing to skeptics like me!
As far as actually paying for Play Pass – would I do it? I don’t know. I didn’t even subscribe to Apple Arcade yet, and that already launched. I guess I don’t game on my phone too much? Interested to hear your thoughts in the comments!
*Don’t* Sign Up Here
I shouldn’t mention this, but I will – you can nominate your game for the program here, and if Google likes it, they’ll accept you into the program… one day. That is, if they read your application. I can’t even imagine how many forms are being submitted at this very moment. It must be hell on Earth over at Google right now.
If you sign up, you’ll just make it harder for us to stand out. But you should do it anyway! If we hear back from Google and we’re allowed to talk about it publicly, we’ll announce the good news here. I really hope we get in! Where Shadows Slumber is perfect for the Google Play Pass.
Wish us luck! If you decide to sign up, good luck to you too!
If you remember last month’s blog post about an upcoming patch to Where Shadows Slumber, and you’ve been eagerly awaiting it since then, I have good news for you. The wait is finally over! Kind of… for some of you!
The patch is coming to iOS later this week once it makes it’s way through Apple’s approval process.
While we have no plans to add more puzzles to the game (a frequent request from fans of the game) we’ll obviously continue to support the game via bugfixes and quality of life improvements as we see fit. Thanks for all the helpful feedback over the past few months on that end!
Stay tuned to this page for more announcements regarding Where Shadows Slumber. While we don’t have anything concrete to announce just yet, a cool experiment is in progress…
What’s Where Shadows Slumber?
I always assume that I’m writing these posts for an audience that reads them regularly, but if you just found out about our game because of this post… welcome! Where Shadows Slumber is a mobile puzzle adventure game for iOS and Android. As the name implies, the driving force of the game’s puzzles center on the shadows your character casts from his bright handheld lantern.
Incidentally, this GIF is slightly out of date now that Patch 1.0.10 is out…
As these shadows move across the landscape of the environment, they can cause objects to appear and disappear from reality. These changes can happen to entire sections of the puzzle or tiny pieces of a single pathway. Shadows from two different objects may have two different effects on the level. Your character’s position matters since Obe is holding the light – he’s more than just a passenger meant to be carted from point A to point B. Where Shadows Slumber encourages outside-the-box thinking, exploration, and puzzle solving!
Try the new-and-improved version of the game at the links below:
After PAX East this year, Jack and I spent the entire car ride taking a critical look at our game based on the feedback we received. It may seem weird to continue iteration on a game that’s already been released, but we wanted to make the game as perfect as possible before it heads to new platforms later this year.
Many of these changes are substantial – altering the solutions to puzzles, the artwork, and even the order in which you solve puzzles. Some changes are so small you wouldn’t notice unless I told you, which is precisely the point of this post!
Here’s all the changes you can expect in the latest patch, which we hope will go live sometime early next week:
10 Artistic Changes
Some of the design problems with Where Shadows Slumber are actually just bad artistic cues – which is to say, these are things I made that looked cool to me but ended up communicating the wrong ideas to our players.
Most of these fixes are focused on the beginning of the game, since that’s the “make or break” period for gamers. If players aren’t impressed after the first five minutes, or the game is frustrating, we’re destined for a 1-star review. So here’s a visual walk-through of all of these changes, with the old versions on the left and the new versions on the right.
The Forest Levels
Forest Level 2, “Bridge”
This is the player’s first interaction with the design pattern we use for Draggable objects, but sadly it’s on two Non-Draggable objects that appear Draggable. (The ancient, crumbling bridges in the water) We decided to cover them with moss so they don’t look interactable.
The Jail Levels
Jail Level 1, “Light”
Before we changed this puzzle, it was very difficult for players to tell when the bridge was being repaired by the shadow. Now the bridge is much longer, which gives you more space to explore and see what the shadow is doing to the bridge.
Jail Level 3, “Lock”
This Level badly needed clarity and simplification. My earlier attempt at color-coding the different gaps in the bridge with really dark, indistinguishable colors and incredibly small little gemstones did not work. The new version has bold colors, big pieces that still connect the bridge even when it’s broken, and one fewer draggable light source.
Jail Level 5, “Pressure”
Similar to the puzzle I just mentioned above, 1-5 needed a lot of color to clarify what’s going on with different shadows affecting different objects. I like how it turned out!
The River Levels
River Level 1, “Docks”
The corner of the land mass above is not traversable. As you can see in the old version, it’s not clear that there’s a gap in the walkway. (We put a gap there because we only want players to see this shadow illusion in a specific way) This fix makes the gap more obvious.
This Draggable raft was giving players a lot of trouble, too. The square pieces are halfway into the water, so it’s not obvious that you can drag them. We want to try the new design, where the Draggable squares lie on top of the surface so they’re visible.
River Level 3, “Guide”
This Level featured a large tree that had some kind of light inside of it, and you could close the shutter to hide the light. This shadow was used to change the bridge in the center. Ultimately, this puzzle had too many elements going on in it. We can keep the same design without requiring players to figure out what’s going on with the tree.
River Level 4, “Ebb”
The shadow-casting wall in this Level is really big now, because it was awkward how you could shine your light as you walked down the steps here. Some people accidentally solved the puzzle on their way down the staircase!
The Hills Levels
Hills Level 5, “Rest”
This Level received a huge change, as well as numerous small ones. The most noticeable change is that the center island is no longer one big draggable, but instead is a platform with a draggable pillar on it that slides freely. We feel that this will allow players to more easily solve the puzzle, though the solution remains the same. There are also a bunch of small changes to where pillars come up to stop you along your path.
The Summit Levels
Summit Level 2, “Blind”
This one is super subtle. Can you see it? We added some footsteps for the invisible ghostly Knight who is patrolling around inside the shadow realm. (If you’ve never played the game before, I’m sure that made no sense at all.) We hope this helps players determine where he is as they try to solve this difficult puzzle!
Six Design Changes
Not everything we’re changing in this patch has to do with artwork. One of the largest changes is really subtle – you’d only notice it if you played the game a lot. New players would never even realize what we did.
These changes were made based on lots of user feedback with the final product, as well as in preparation for a future version of Where Shadows Slumber that’s free to download and has paywalls interspersed. Here are six non-aesthetic changes happening in Patch 1.0.10…
No More Riding Draggables
The largest change, and one that spawned a whole bunch of other changes, is a clarification to the way draggable objects work. Obe can no longer stand on these while they move, so a few puzzles had to be updated. Now you’ll always see the image above when Obe is standing on a draggable bridge, and we hope this is less confusing.
Forest Level 3, “Monolith”
The draggable pillar now begins raised out of the water instead of submerged. We felt like it was not obvious that it could be dragged, since it was so well hidden by the rock and moss.
World 1 Order of Levels
We’re rearranging this World in order to make the introduced mechanics flow better. (The actual screen won’t look as it does on the right, that’s just a diagram I made to show you how the puzzles are moving around.) The previous section used the old World 1 numbers.
River Level 3, “Guide”
In this Level, you used raised walls to cast shadows on the center bridge. This involved “dipping” the center in shadow briefly either by letting the walls go up and down, or by walking Obe in and out of the corner to see the change. In the end, it was a relic of a way shadows used to work very early on in the game’s history. We eventually changed the walls into pillars you can walk around, to be more consistent with the rest of the game.
Title on Device
We’re changing the build name from Shadows to Where Shadows Slumber. I chose “Shadows” because I knew it would fit nicely on everyone’s phone screens. But it seems like poor branding to have everyone refer to our game as “Shadows” from here to eternity. We also considered “WSS” but that seemed to cryptic. Let me know how it looks on your phone screens!
Paradise Level 5, “Gates”
Last but not least, the most difficult puzzle in the game just got a whole lot less tedious. Now there are doorways to any of the four colors in this puzzle, available from any color area. No need to keep going back to the yellow zone!
Coming Soon To A Phone Near You…
I had hoped to get the patch out already, but there are still some tiny fixes left to do and a lot more testing. But once it’s all ready and this patch is uploaded to the App Store and Google Play, you’ll get a push notification to notify you that it’s been downloaded. Please try it and let us know what you think of the alterations!
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting London for the Indie Prize contest at Casual Connect Europe! (If you want my thoughts on the show itself, you can check out the previous blog post on this feed here.) This post is exclusively a roundup of some of my favorite games from the show, regardless of who won the actual Indie Prize contest.
Don’t feel bad if you’re not on this list, I only got the chance to play a few games out of all the ones there! Plus there are still some on my list for later, like Holly’s Home Design. You didn’t think I’d forget about you Holly, did you?
Number #3 on this list will shock you!
Morkredd by Hyper Games
Morkredd instantly caught my eye because the aesthetic looks like our game Where Shadows Slumber, and I just had to know what the mechanics are. Whenever I see another game that uses shadows, my gut reaction is “Did they copy us? Did we copy them? What is this game?!”
Well it turns out no one copied anyone! Morkredd is a co-op game for Nintendo Switch where you play as little shadow dudes. If your character ever falls into the inky-black shadows, he dies and the group loses. This forces a restart. It’s tricky, because you don’t normally pay attention to the shadows being cast by yourself and other objects. (I finally understand the initial frustration everyone has when they first play our game!)
I don’t think Morkredd (which is Norwegian for “afraid of the dark”) is available for the Nintendo Switch yet, but you can follow their progress here.
Unbroken Soul by Oscar Ruiz
Although I didn’t get to play Oscar’s game too much, I appreciate how:
It looks like Dead Cells on a phone
Oscar is making use of this ridiculous, awesome control rig
Yes, that’s an iPhone you see in the image below. I have no idea what the controller rig is called, but it’s really cool. (No, you don’t need it to play – but you probably need it to be good.) Gameplay video below:
Oscar has had a lot of success in the indie space already, so it was good talking with him. I wish him luck on Unbroken Soul!
Hellrider 3 by Andrey Chernyshov
Andrey has a really sleek looking motorcycle game that’s the third in the series. The first two were pretty different, so I’m assuming this is the kind of gameplay he’s always wanted for Hellrider and he finally made the game he was dreaming about. It’s amazing what people can make for mobile devices these days! Check it out:
I really love the art style for this game. Everything fits together so well in a cartoony, low-poly indie way. This game is not available to the public yet, but he has all of his current releases available on his website here.
Pico Tanks by Panda Arcade
Not only is Pico Tanks an impressive online mobile game with cute art and fun gameplay, their setup at the Indie Prize was incredible! Look at the effort they put into this display. Indie Prize gave us the smallest amount of space I’ve ever had at a show – essentially just 1/2 of a table and 1 chair. Using that limitation, Panda Arcade created a themed display that blocks out other competing games from taking up your attention, and invites you into the space. I’m impressed… now I just need to ask them how they did it!
I’m definitely taking notes for future Where Shadows Slumber shows…
Honorable Mention: Last Pirate
Finally, this pirate game was a little odd and I’m not really sure what was going on, but his setup was pretty good. A pirate pistol, a box of gold coins, and plenty of signs – honorable mention for you, pirate game! Last Pirate is a survival game where you’re stuck on a deserted island, forced to survive using only your rusty hook-hand and your wits. (The developer showed me the game and chopped down a tree with his hook, then got killed by a wild boar. 10/10 would be a pirate again)
The pirate’s life for me! Check it out on the Google Play store, it has a ton of downloads so far.
This Saturday there’s a huge Playcrafting event happening at the Microsoft Center in Times Square. We’re going to be showing off Where Shadows Slumber, and perhaps doing a bit more PC testing… don’t miss it! If you’re a fan of indie games and local businesses, you can get into this event entirely FREE! You just need to register for the event, which you can do here.
Video games are taking over the Microsoft office in Times Square for an all-out Expo celebrating local developers! Join us for a day of games, pizza and fun. All ages are welcome. We hope you can join us for our biggest seasonal gathering!
Over 100 game developers will be showing off their latest games one-on-one to a crowd of up to 1000 people. For developers, this is a great opportunity to show off their games (finished or unfinished) and get direct feedback from players. For everyone else, it’s a unique opportunity to try out the biggest collection of games made in and around NYC all in one place. More games being added daily.
Robert Adams of Tech Raptor has a good article about what you can look forward to at this event right here. He also mentioned us specifically!
I can’t say enough good things about Playcrafting. If I keep promoting them, Dan’s going to have to bring me onto the payroll at this time. But seriously – even if you’re not ready to show off your game yet, I strongly recommend these events for developers. If you can get into New York City by car, train, or bus, then GET HERE! It’s never too late to join the community.
It’s never too early, either. Jack and I have been going to these since 2016, if you can believe that. It was this very event (Spring Play) where we first showed off the Where Shadows Slumber Demo and started to get noticed. Robert says as much in one of his many articles about the game:
“…a game called Where Shadows Slumber had caught my attention at the 2016 Playcrafting Spring Expo. I got a card from the developer and decided to keep an eye on the game while it was under development.”
Robert N. Adams of TechRaptor
You never know who will be at these events, or what connections you’ll make with unlikely people. Hope to see you there!
Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook too, and share the event!
We want to extend a very hearty “thank you” to all of you Android gamers who patiently waited for our game to launch on your platform. It’s a shame we couldn’t do the App Store and Google play at the same exact time, but this strategy was a bit easier on our small indie team.
Note: If you get a strange message that the game needs to access the storage on your device, you can press “Deny” and the game will still work. We’re looking into why that false alarm is being triggered.
We Need Your Help!
First and foremost, grab a cup of tea and curl up on the couch with Where Shadows Slumber. You’ve waited a long time to play this, and we spent a long time working on it. You deserve to savor the moment.
When you’re done with that, go leave a 5 star review on the game’s store page! Look at it right now. One review?* Get in there, people! Let’s make this as popular as Monument Valley so Jack can retire and fulfill his lifelong dream of replacing author Stephen King and taking over his life without anyone noticing o_o. That’s a secret, but you read these blog posts for inside information, right? We trust you.
Seriously, go leave a review and share this link with your friends:
It’s always good to share some beautiful artwork of the game with your friends, instead of just shouting at them. Here’s the YouTube link to our promo video. Check it out, and share it on Facebook or Twitter! You can also boost our original post if you want to see how many Shares we can rack up on that bad boy.
Amazon Is Happening!
As we speak, our game is chugging along in Amazon’s review process. It’ll be there for another day at least, so if you have a Kindle… just wait longer! You’ve waited all this time, what’s one more day? If you want, you can keep furiously scanning the store page. It may randomly show up sometime during the evening!
Don’t worry – the game is coming to the Amazon App Store. I can’t promise that anyone will actually buy it there, considering it’s the smallest market, but it’s coming! Maybe we should have a stretch goal if we sell 10 units?
Thank you for your patience, Androids of the world. Your time to rise up and take your rightful place is finally here! We hope you enjoy the game [ ^_^]