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Henry the Cloud is almost here! Help Henry travel the world!

03-22-2016, 11:48 AM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 26
Henry the cloud: Can you control the wind? DevLog I

Edit: added app info in first post

Minimum iOS Version: iOS 7.0

Download Size: 54.2MB

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Devlog I

Hello everyone!

Welcome to our bi-weekly developers log, in which we will give some insight into the weal and woe of our studio and the road to creating our first iPhone/iPad game, Henry the Cloud. In this first post, Nick and Xander each tell us a little about Dual Cortex Gaming and Henry the Cloud.

Nick: First, some background information. Dual Cortex Gaming is an independent game development studio founded by Nick van der Meulen, Xander Horjus and Brent van der Meulen in the Netherlands. We are currently creating the mobile arcade action game Henry the Cloud. When the three of us discussed the possibility to create our first indie game back in the summer of 2014, we used this simple sentence to guide us in our development process: ‘At Dual Cortex Gaming we believe that mobile games should allow people to play for short moments but still be challenging in the process.’ Traveling, waiting for public transport or just on a short break? Our game was meant to fill these boring gaps in the day. Gaps in which you think, “I wish I had something other to do than expanding my social skills by starting a conversation with somebody, or to endlessly refresh my social media feed over and over again..”

However, what kind of game would fill this gap? Yes, it had to be mobile. Of course it would. You can imagine that we would have loved to develop for Nintendo or Sony, for either of their incredible handheld devices. However, let's be honest, except for the most geeky of us (yours truly included), who carries their mighty handheld gaming devices with them these days? Most of us would rather download an emulator to get some taste of that nostalgic handheld Pokemon glory from back in the days. No, we knew our game had to be mobile. But this didn’t mean we couldn’t derive some inspiration from the big two.

When analyzing the mobile market, ranging from King and Supercell productions to indie hits like Monument Valley and Flappy Bird, we discovered that the games that actually fit our aforementioned mantra were games that were mostly based on what we call the ‘tap to flap’ principle. You guys saw what I did there, didn't you! Games like Flappy Bird use the most basic of mechanics: tapping. Is this the golden ticket to game design for mobile these days? Tapping? But there are so many games out there that use tapping, it has to be.. No! We are not going with the flow.

First, let’s take another step back. It was November 2005, back in the days when Europe got everything half a year later than the rest of the world. A young me just got a hold of Kirby: Canvas Curse, Nintendo's first Kirby game for the DS handheld. Unlike most previous Kirby games, the player could not directly control Kirby with a directional pad, face buttons, or shoulder buttons. Instead, the player had to use the stylus and touch screen to control Kirby. The game mechanics consisted of drawing rainbow lines that gave Kirby a direction! This, ladies and gents, stuck with me until that summer in 2014. This was swiping on steroids. Yes, we had seen games like Fruit Ninja and Temple Run, which were incredible games. However, we wanted to take swiping a step further. Our game had to be able to steer our character through swiping!

Xander: When in the summer of 2014 Nick introduced me to the idea of creating a mobile game together, I was somewhat reluctant. I was starting my own business and, while I found the concept of the game very compelling, I wasn’t sure where to find the time. I was working more than full time and my evenings were mostly occupied trying to remain physically fit by hitting the gym, leaving no time for such ventures.

However, as anyone who is passionate about their venture will tell you, there is no easy way out. I knew we would have to work hard. For us, it meant sacrificing any remaining free time we had, as well as sacrificing the aforementioned gym sessions. We started working workweeks close to 80 hours, neglecting social contacts (sorry guys) and physical activity, so we could put in the required effort to create the game we had in mind. I would say this defines Dual Cortex Gaming: extremely passionate, always going the extra mile - or as we have joked before, the extra marathon - and not being satisfied until we get the tiniest detail right.

In fact, this really shows in Henry the Cloud and its evolution over time. The next devlog will grant some insight in how the game’s concept evolved from something very minimalist and rough to a full-fledged game with a lot of bells and whistles. This is all to blame on our passion and perfectionism, which has been both a good and a bad thing.

Finally - don’t worry, we will not keep you waiting on the next devlog for two full weeks without anything to keep you going. Keep a close eye on TouchArcade where we will steadily treat you with goodies like trailers, images and GIFs in the coming two months until release day. Stay tuned!

Last edited by Henry the Cloud; 09-20-2016 at 06:25 AM.
03-23-2016, 11:43 AM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 14
Love the trailer, can't wait for your next blog post.

03-23-2016, 02:27 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 3,424
Ah Dutch people, Dutch people are always good ahummmm Ha ha, gonna play your game when it comes out, it looks like fun.

Veel geluk met de game en tot ziens.
03-23-2016, 04:26 PM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 26
Thanks (Dankjewel) ROGER-NL!
04-05-2016, 12:09 PM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 26
Henry the Cloud: Devlog II Scope Creeping

Hello everyone!

Welcome to our bi-weekly developers log, in which we will give some insight into the weal and woe of our studio and the road to creating our first iPhone/iPad game, Henry the Cloud. For our first Devlog

Scope Creeping:

Most people would say that creating a scroller-like arcade game is pretty straightforward, and that was exactly our thought when we first came up with Henry the Cloud. With the core mechanics being as simple as they are, there was no reason creating this game would ever take longer than a month or two, right? ...Right.

In all our enthusiasm and lack of experience, we experienced a serious case of scope creep. Despite having some background in project management and recognizing the importance of good requirements engineering and documentation, we failed to create one requirements document and stick with it.

As a result, what started as a fast-track project with a very low time-to-market ended up taking us over a year. Since this was a side-project for all of us, we were inspired by several minimalist games with extremely simple core mechanics, little to no side-features and possibly even very rough graphics. However, thanks to our endless stream of “cool ideas that wouldn’t take long to implement anyway” and perfectionism in implementing these ideas, our scope ended up being that of a full-fledged game.

Examples of this are found everywhere in Henry the Cloud. We wanted to offer some competitive element, so we decided to create leaderboards. But wouldn’t it be nice to also offer Facebook integration so you can compare your score with your friends? Absolutely. We also wanted to give the player some incentive to keep playing, so what better way to provide item upgrades that boost your character. And what if you could see these upgrades in-game and on the leaderboards, so you can show off to all your friends how awesome your gear is? Before we knew it, we had created over a thousand unique Henry sprites ... by hand!

The list goes on: give animate objects animations, create neat menus for everything, add statistics, create an awesome website, place banners in the map that can be picked up in to wear as vanity items, add a slot machine, allow the player to add extra powerups ingame, make a gameplay trailer... We could go on forever.

Scope creeping is generally considered harmful, but that really depends on what resources limit you and what your goals are. For us, it made our game evolve from a quick’n’dirty sidescroller to a full-fledged game that we are proud of. None of us had to live off this project so there were no immediate (tangible) costs associated, other than perhaps opportunity cost. This was more acceptable to us than launching a game that was not complete in our eyes. It was also a very educational experience, teaching us more than one life lesson and costing us more than one grey hair.

All in all, we definitely dropped the ball when it came to creating a proper project plan. We just went with the flow, and in our situation that was acceptable. However, for most indie devs trying to live off their games, it isn’t acceptable. At all. If you want to prevent this happening to you, make sure that you have a solid project plan before starting anything. You can be agile in your approach, but make sure that you have defined scope, deliverables, goals, resources and requirements, and stick with them. There are always unknown factors and things that you think of later in the process, but make sure you plan room for them beforehand, and clearly define limits on expansion of your scope.

Alas, you live and you learn. Next time, we’ll be sure to more concretely scope the project - and stick with it. That’s for sure.

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Got feedback? Questions? Don't hesitate and leave a reply!
Stay tuned for our next dev log: April 14!

Last edited by Henry the Cloud; 09-15-2016 at 05:18 AM.
04-19-2016, 10:19 AM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 26
Henry the Cloud: Devlog III Less is more!

Hello everyone!

Welcome to our bi-weekly developers log, in which we will give some insight into the weal and woe of our studio and the road to creating our first iPhone/iPad game, Henry the Cloud. For our first and second devlog please follow the links!

Over the past few weeks we’ve been busy working on the private beta for Henry the Cloud. We are currently testing it with a small group of friends and family, which will soon be extended for more rigorous quality assurance. We are happy to inform you that we are still on track for a May 2016 release. We will also be launching our Kickstarter campaign next week to give us that extra swipe, eh.. push in the back to help Henry travel the world.

Talking about swipes, in our first Devlog I discussed how we wanted to take swiping in mobile games to the next level. In our game you had to be able to steer the character through swiping. As you might have noticed from earlier devlogs, we succeeded at this in Henry the Cloud. In this Devlog, I will therefore delve deeper into how and why we made the design and art choices for our game.

As with most of the games - AAA, indie, mobile, you name it - many of the first sketches were made “on the back of an envelope”, as they say. This was no different with Henry the Cloud. Although the concept of Henry the Cloud was already there (“a little cloud that wants to discover the world on his own, helped by the player through the swiping of wind currents”), no concrete design or artwork was set in stone. We discussed that, with Henry the Cloud, we wanted to go for an artstyle that puts a smile on players their faces.

Furthermore, we realized that with a game like Henry the Cloud, being fairly small in scope, it should be playable for everyone: age, sex or location shouldn’t be an issue. We therefore needed to create a game that looked stunning on a wide variety of mobile devices. Obviously it had to support high resolution screens, but we had to keep in mind that the majority of people around the globe are still using phones with a resolution of 720p or less. The graphics of Henry the Cloud therefore couldn’t be overly complicated.

As many games have taught us over the past years (and this is a personal experience amongst the developers at Dual Cortex Gaming), games with a cartoony artstyle generally seem to resist the test of time a lot better, as long as they are executed in the right way. Because of this, we decided to design everything in Henry the Cloud very minimalistically, only using 3 or 4 colors for every character or object. Less is more! This meant that all the colors had to be just right: they had to *pop, the contrast had to be high and you should still be able to distinguish the characters and objects while traveling at a great speed through the map.

Although most vector-based artwork is developed using programs like Adobe Illustrator, for Henry the Cloud we chose to use Adobe Animated CC (formerly Flash). Animated CC enables designers to manipulate lines and objects directly and features a timeline which can be used for frame-by-frame animations. This is very useful when you are making sprites or animated objects. Admittedly, Illustrator does have some perks regarding the export of EPS and other AI files; files are easier to manipulate for other developers. However, for a small project like this where you want to create a design where not every pixel has to be aligned perfectly (although we did align them perfectly, but that’s our perfectionism), Animated CC turns out the be a great choice.

In addition, another benefit of Animated CC was - as you might have guessed already - that it enabled us to make an animated gameplay trailer with all the characters and objects we had already created for Henry the Cloud. We didn’t have to import PNG’s or other files. Instead, we could start right away. This reduced the time to create our gameplay trailer immensely and in addition made it look great, if we may say so ourselves.

“But does this mean that you did not have to use programmes like Adobe Photoshop?” Well, to be honest, we have been using Photoshop, a lot.. All files that were created in Animated CC were exported and made ready to be used as sprites for the game. Sometimes we decided we wanted to reduce the size of a sprite or wanted to retouch some minor things. You might call us lazy, but ‘tha shoop’ always had our back in these situations.

All in all, the design and art of Henry the Cloud proved to be more difficult than anticipated. Yes it is very minimalistic, but that meant that we had to make solid choices about what to include and what not. As Blaise Pascal once famously wrote: “Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” (I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.) ‘Less is more’ took a lot longer for us if that meant that we wanted to perfect every little thing.

Next time, Xander will be writing our last devlog before the global launch of Henry the Cloud. Don’t forget to give us some love and support on Kickstarter next week as we are are doing everything we can to let the whole world enjoy our extremely challenging and addictive game!

Want to stay updated with gameplay material and much more follow us on Facebook

Got feedback? Questions? Don't hesitate and leave a reply!
Stay tuned for our last dev log: May 3!

Last edited by Henry the Cloud; 09-15-2016 at 05:18 AM.
04-20-2016, 05:34 AM
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 451
look great !! well done !!
04-20-2016, 03:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 26
Thanks Kripa!
04-20-2016, 03:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 14
Excited for the release, keep it up guys!
05-03-2016, 10:33 AM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 26
Henry the Cloud: Devlog IV Road to Release

Hello everyone!

Welcome to our bi-weekly developers log, in which we will give some insight into the weal and woe of our studio and the road to creating our first iPhone/iPad game, Henry the Cloud. For our first, second and third devlog please follow the links!

Some exciting things have been going on in the past weeks and will continue to go on in the weeks to come. Of course, we are thrilled to share these things with you! In this devlog, we will reflect a little on the road to releasing Henry the Cloud. Keep reading!

One of the things that has been going on recently is that we were featured on CoronaLabs’ CoronaGeek podcast. We discussed a wide variety of things, ranging from our philosophy to the toolsets used in developing Henry the Cloud. In addition, we discussed that we are driven by passion more than anything else, and that we want to give back to the community. Stay tuned, because to do just that we have a very, very exciting gift prepared for the (indie) game world. We will be announcing that in the next blog post!

Currently, we are still in the closed beta (testing) period and we have gathered a lot of feedback, most of which overwhelmingly positive! We are currently working out the final quirks before we shall move onto the next and final quality assurance phase, after which the release is planned.

These QA sessions and closed betas are truly valuable to us: when developing a game, you always (think that you) have some idea of what good scores are, what kind of crazy things players will do and how fast players accumulate coins and rewards. Nope. What we thought would be a pretty good score was more than doubled within the first 24 hours of beta testing. The amount of droplets (in-game coins) accumulated was almost five times as fast, due to the way we had structured bonuses. Lesson learned? Make sure you have a lot of tracking in place so you can datamine and tweak your settings! It would truly be a shame to only find these things out post-release.

Another thing that really has our attention currently, something we really want to get right, is the map of the game. Level design is an art, and good level design will make your game come alive: in the case of a scroller like ours, the flow of the map should feel organic. No jitters up and down, but a smooth wave-like form. On the other hand, the players should be kept on the edge of their seat, and should be rewarded for choosing to take the more difficult route.

How not to do level design: smack a bunch of objects together

This consequently ties back in with the QA sessions and mined data: you will want to “funnel” your data so you can identify the sticking points on the map where people are consistently dying or even quitting playing altogether! This most likely indicates bad level design and will frustrate your players. You will want to ensure that when a player dies, they feel like it was a lack of their own skill that caused their failure rather than bad level design or gameplay mechanics that just miss that finesse. These essentials will make your game have a high replayability factor - a lack thereof will take it away!

To conclude: start prototyping early on, have iterative feedback cycles, collect and mine data from other people’s gameplay sessions and make sure that you are reading and hearing what the players are experiencing. Developers will often convulsively hold on to what they have in mind, but at the end of the day, you want to put a smile on the players’ faces. Thus, their voices should be heard!

That wraps it up for this time and stay tuned for the next devlog, in which we will discuss what we have planned for the post-release period! Keep a close eye, as we will have a spectacular gift for you. You will truly feel like you are on a pink cloud.

But not this one. Probably.

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Got feedback? Questions? Don't hesitate and leave a reply!

Last edited by Henry the Cloud; 09-15-2016 at 05:18 AM.