Our 1st Bundle!

We are  in the LazyGuysStudio Bundle “Blurred Shapes”! It’s exciting to have Let There Be Life in a group of other indie games. Being in a bundle is a great way for people to try our game for a low price of just $2.99 ($2.49 if you buy it in the 1st 20hrs) along with 13 other games, plus you may be chosen for a random prize.

You can always spend more money to show your appreciation for the hard working  indie developers, so that they can keep on making great games for you to enjoy. (Indie Devs need to eat too 😉 If you contribute more than the $2.99 price the top 3 contributors get Steam Wallet Credits, and the wonderful feeling of helping out Indie Devs!

The bundle is available now through June 8th, 2014. So go help feed some starving Indie Devs!


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Art Show

Aside from working on porting Let There Be Life, I just recently submitted a piece of my personal artwork to the 9th Annual Art Show at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove.

This was my first time entering an art show. I submitted a pen and ink drawing on a black walnut wash titled “Connected.” Elements of my design were inspired by the textures of an osage orange and a wall in the  barn at Mill Grove Sanctuary. While working on the piece it started to look like waterways, a tree and the dryness of a cracked dessert. I named the drawing “Connected” as a reminder that we need to care for our waterways, otherwise our planet can end up a desert of undrinkable water or a place where no trees or life will survive.

I was so happy to learn that my drawing made it through the submission process and was accepted into the show. It is such an honor to see my artwork hanging in a room with so many other talented artists. “Connected” sold the opening night of the show which made me even more thrilled, although I will miss seeing it on my wall at home!

I’m looking forward to showing and possibly selling more of my work in the future. I’m already looking into selling prints of some of my other works.


Porting to a Mobile Touch Interface

It’s tempting to think, when porting a “click-and-drag” game from PC to mobile, that your control scheme update will be as simple as hiding the cursor, but the reality is far from it.

We knew from the start that the first major change in Let There Be Life would be that when selecting a branch for placement, it would need to be offset from the touch position so that the player’s finger doesn’t obscure the branch itself. This is not just important  from a visual standpoint, but essential for being able to see/align each branch’s attach point.

What quickly became apparent is that some branches looked too close to the finger, but others not. We realized that branches pointing away from the finger need a greater offset so the attach point is a comfortable distance from the finger.

Looks almost done…it's not!

That was a good start, but we still had work to do.

The next problem to be dealt with was the inability to consistently place certain branches near the top of the trees without risking the finger leaving the touchable screen area. This was particularly evident when the branch pointed up, such that the attach point was at the bottom. Compounding the issue was if the player clicked on the upper part of the branch-selection-zone (we maintain the touch point offset from the center of the branch, because all efforts to reduce it upon dragging felt awkward).

To combat this, we amplify the branches current y-position with respect to the finger as the player drags it upward. The amount of this amplification is dependent on both the current position of the finger (increasing the higher the finger moves) and the initial touch offset (if the touch is towards the bottom of the selection area, we don’t need to amplify much; if the touch is towards the top of the selection area, we amplify more because the branch is starting off lower relative to the finger).

No/little vertical change.










Note how the branch has moved up.










All these changes have us in a pretty good place. While playing the game on a touch screen is already satisfying, there’s still work to be done refining the controls (and I’ll write about that once we’re done). Nevertheless, it’s already exciting to see the game on mobile and we are super-psyched to introduce Let There Be Life to the mobile arena!

– Jay

It Takes a Village to Raise an Indie Game!

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I think it takes a village to raise an Indie Game! I want to thank all the journalists, and video journalists (YouTubers and streamers) and all the people out there who shared and spread the word about Let There Be Life and Indie Games in general. Without all these people we wouldn’t be able to make the games known. That is a big part of keeping a studio running, because they help us get sales.

We are so happy that our Greenlight campaign for Let There Be Life is moving along at a steady rate. It has only been 15 days and we are at 21% of the way to the top 100! Thanks, for everyone who voted “Yes”. I love reading all the kind comments that people wrote about our game on the Greenlight page. To help us with Greenlight you can vote here.

We had several articles written about our game including Indie Game Magazine (IGM), Indiegames.com, GamerWife, VG 24/7.  We were mentioned in Joystiq, which was a wonderful surprise. It’s always fun to wake up and see that someone out there took the time to play your game, and write about it. I want to give big Cheers to all the journalists out there who work really hard covering little Indie Games. I know that we really appreciate all the kind words about our game – I started printing out the articles to keep in a Let There Be Life scrapbook. :) It brings much joy knowing that people enjoy playing our game.

Along with the written articles about Let There Be Life, we had our first YouTube review. It was done by Indie Geek, and I encourage everyone to watch his video and subscribe to his channel. The video can be found here. He worked really hard on it and it is very well done. Big cheers to you Indie Geek!

We also have a lot of people on Twitter that have been retweeting and favoriting our tweets about Let There Be Life. I want to thank everyone who has been helping and showing support for Let There Be Life.


Springing Forward

Spring is almost here, and we’re leaping forward with exciting new things. Here are just a few things that we have been working on.

Let There Be Life is now available on Desura.

We just added Let There Be Life to SteamGreenlight . So please go show your support and vote for us! For those of you that have already voted we thank you, and hope you continue to spread the word. If you buy the PC version of the game on Desura, IndieGameStand, or from our Humble Widget, we will have a Steam Key for you so that you will not have to buy the game twice to play on PC.

We also have been hard at work porting Let There Be Life to Android – that way you can play when you are on the go (or taking a break while on the go). Later this Spring and Summer we will be also be porting to iOS and Mac so don’t worry if you have an Apple device we haven’t forgotten about you.

Please keep checking back for news about Let There Be Life.


Let There Be Life now on IndieGameStand

Good news! Let There Be Life is now available through IndieGameStand here. Even better news: to celebrate its release, we’re offering it for 20% off the normal sale price!

It’s hard to believe that a year ago this time, we had not even yet conceived of Let There Be Life. It was early March of 2013 when Edge-Online announced the theme for their “Get Into Games Challenge 2013” competition, and our work began immediately after (by the end of the day, we had already settled in on the design of the game). After being announced as one of three winning entrees, we knew we were onto something.

About eight months later, we finished expanding Let There Be Life into something we were ready to release to the world. We hope everyone will try our game, and experience the relaxating creativity it has to offer!

Let There Be Life is done, AND we’ll be at IndieCade East this weekend!

Hey everyone! We are proud to announce that work on Let There Be Life has finished, and we are currently going through the process of making it available for download from various digital retailers (Desura, IndieGameStand, and more).

We’ll have more to discuss once the game is online, but for now we want to mention that we will be demonstrating Let There Be Life this Saturday from 11am-1pm at IndieCade East in New York! We’re taking part in their “Show & Tell” event, where a small number of developers get to show off their games for a couple hours, then the next group comes in with their games. If you’re going to be at IndieCade on Saturday, please stop by and give our game a try!

The Greenlight Supershow!

We will be appearing on “The Greenlight Supershow” tomorrow (Saturday, June 29th) at 2:30pm to discuss our game Dukes and Dirigibles. The show is a day-long event promoting independent game developers who are trying to get their games onto Steam.

Come check it out!

We Won!!

We are both happy and proud to announce that our game entry “Let There Be Life” is one of three winners in Edge-Online’s “Get Into Games 2013” competition!

Their article about the contest with the winners list can be found here.

Specifically, we garnered the “First Runner-Up” award, which comes with it a suite of Unity Pro game development licenses (worth thousands of $$$!).

Developing the game over the month-and-a-half duration of the competition has been hectic, inspiring, nerve-wracking, rewarding, and much, much more. And now we’re turning our prototype into a full game, which is…well, pretty much the same!

We are so looking forward to Let There Be Life being finished and available for everyone to play, but for right now, please enjoy this screenshot that features some new game play elements that aren’t included in the web-based contest entry:

[singlepic id=63 w=600 h=337 float=]

Our new game: “Let There Be Life”

Last year Edge Online hosted a contest for games built in the free version of Unity, based upon a theme of their choice. We weren’t using Unity last year, but since we’ve moved to it as our game development engine, we decided to give the contest a shot this year, hoping to earn thousands of dollars worth of software licenses and also some publicity.

The bragging rights wouldn’t hurt, either. :)

So we waited with baited breath for the announcement of this year’s theme on March 4th. It’s impossible not to imagine potential themes and design game ideas in response to them, but we were committed to the principle of following the eventual theme as best we could, and not kid ourselves by squeezing an existing game idea to whatever theme was presented to us.

March 4th finally came, and with it the competition’s theme: “Do no harm”.

Immediately we began brainstorming. Naturally, a medical game was brought up, but quickly was  discarded as being too predictable. Naturally, a zombie game was brought up, but….well, anyway.

Then my wife Sasha had the idea of “growing” a tree such that plants on the ground below it “weren’t deprived of light.”

[singlepic id=57 w=600 h=375 float=]

I thought she was crazy. I said, “Are you crazy? I don’t know how to do any of that!” I’m pretty sure my arms were waving up-and-down as I said this.

<Let’s be clear on something: I’ve only been programming seriously for a couple years now, and had only been using Unity/C# for about four months.>

This concept scared the crap out of me. We discussed several other ideas for awhile, but none of them stood out as anything that interested us. Dammit. Okay, I then submitted to spending a few hours writing out ideas for how we could actually make this game happen.

Right away we settled on a 2D game, because 3D would get too involved. Then I realized I could set up colliders for each branch, then cast rays to test for valid connections. It started to sound doable (for better or worse). But how would I know how much light/shadow is falling on a plant? Hmm, more rays and colliders…uh, oh…looks like I ran out of excuses!

Prototyping began. After one week we could attach a rectangular branch to a rectangular stump of a tree. Ugly, but promising. Weeks two and three introduced being able to attach one branch to another, and to track the amount of shadow falling on a plant on the ground. Wow…it actually worked, and even better – it was kind of fun!

[singlepic id=58 w=600 h=375 float=]

And a good thing too – we only had until April 15th to finish our entry, and we had used up three of our six weeks of development getting to this point.

The following weeks went by quickly, but I’m proud of what we accomplished. Sasha painted art assets for the game while I improved the branch generation and connection tech. We collaborated well on the designs of the game play and interface. In the end we had a fun, innovative game with a pretty tight presentation package.

We were happy to find that our parents were able to sit down and quickly pick up the game. Not only that, but they were still playing it days later without us even asking them to, which just warmed my heart.

We won’t know for another few weeks how we fared in the contest (which is driving me nuts), but we’ve already begun marching ahead to make the game a standalone, full screen application that we will make available on pretty much every digital download service that will have us. For now, please enjoy some screenshots taken from the competition entry build of our new game:

“Let There Be Life”

[singlepic id=59 w=600 h=375 float=]

– Jason