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Incidentally, this GIF is slightly out of date now that Patch 1.0.10 is out…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!
Patch 1.0.5 is out on the App Store right now! Here’s a quick look at what that means, plus an update on our upcoming Android release.
What’s In This Patch
These changes are available right now to anyone who has Where Shadows Slumber on iOS. Go to the App Store and re-download the game if it doesn’t automatically update.
We’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the past month about our draggable touch control scheme. For the uninitiated, draggables are those glowing square pieces in the game that you can move by dragging them with your finger. (Hence, the shorthand “draggable”) It wasn’t clear why some people didn’t like the way we had it set up, but it seemed like everyone had a different understanding of how these objects should move under their control.
I’m not entirely sure what Jack did to rewrite it, but they feel great right now. Give it a shot! I’d say that’s worth buying the game over, if you haven’t already 😉 In particular, those draggable pieces that rotate have been made much smoother. If you gave us a review that mentioned this issue, we ask that you try the game again and reconsider your review.
This “fix” didn’t really address a bug, but rather addressed something I screwed up when I first uploaded Where Shadows Slumber to iTunes Connect before our iOS launch. I assumed that Apple would recognize the language options in our game (we have 11 languages besides English you can play the game in) but that’s not how this works. In Xcode, you need to manually set which language options are in your game. Otherwise, your game will only show customers that “English” is an option.
I had a feeling this was hurting our sales. Also, it really bugged me. So I changed that too! Now it properly shows the language options on the App Store when you go to see the game’s page. Let’s hope the Germans in Germany and the Japanese in Japan don’t feel left out anymore…
This patch also fixed some small visual errors in a few Levels – the kind of thing we would notice, but players probably never saw. The big thing in this patch was the draggables. No other patches are planned at the moment, but we’ll see if anything else breaks I guess!
Prepare Yourselves For Android!
At this point, Jack has tested the game on dozens of Android devices using a simulator service we got from Amazon Web Services. Along with the positive feedback we got from our free beta, we’re happy to report that the game is ready for prime-time and has received the “green light” – Where Shadows Slumber is launching on Android November 20th! Of course, you can still sign up for the beta right here, as we’ll be updating it on launch day to direct everyone toward the full release. That’s a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on the day 1 insanity!
So far, 3,833 of you have graced our beta with your presence! We hit our cap a few times and had to keep raising it, so it’s at 5,500 now. I doubt we’ll get that many people, but we’ll see…
Supanova Brisbane, Here I Come!
I’m writing this blog post from the rainforests of Mt. Ommaney, Brisbane, Australia. The screeches of exotic birds outside my window was soothing, until a local told me that was actually the sound of two possums fighting each other on the roof. Easy come, easy go I suppose.
The Australians I’ve met on my trip so far keep asking me: why did I choose Adelaide and Brisbane to visit instead of Melbourne and Syndey? The answer is Supanova, of course! Supanova is a comic & gaming convention series native to Australia, and they allow game developers to show off their work in the Artist’s Alley. I just came from Supanova Adelaide this past weekend, and I’m heading to Supanova Brisbane on Friday. Here’s the address:
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC)
Merivale St, South Brisbane
If you’re reading this and you’re coming to the show, the first thing I want to say is “what are the odds of that? Wow!” The next thing I want to say is “come say hi to me!” I’ll be in the Artist’s Alley. You’ll recognize my table because it will have a bunch of mobile devices running Where Shadows Slumber. If you’re in line to get Dean Cain’s autograph, you’ve gone too far.