the first Pitch!

Welcome to the Pitch! The first of a series of articles from the infinite cortex brain trust. This is going to be a weekly exploration of casual game design concentrating on mobile and web apps. I’ll be concentrating on mechanics and flavor at first, trying to pare down scope and eventually be producing small scale games bi-monthly based on the best pitches.

So here’s the Pitch! Cirque Mechanique! A steampunk flavored juggling game. Essentially a combo of Tetris and Breakout, the curved swipe motion takes advantage of the most interesting part of the touch interface, and a randomized element helps let players externalize blame for losses fueling interest in continued play.

First the mechanics. Juggling is the act of catching and throwing multiple objects into the air and not dropping them. It provides a fun reflex based challenge and the first place to create player rewards. Points are awarded for successfully catching an object, so as long as you’re playing you’re scoring points. Too many dropped objects lead to the end of the game. Further rewards are given for hitting specific targets (more on this when we talk flavor), and the challenge scales easily simply by adding more objects to juggle.

The player would tap->swipe, the tap tells the hand where to catch, the swipe swings the hand and releases the object. For practicality’s sake the objects would be confined to the space of the screen, bouncing off the sides if they contact. The juggler’s hands would automatically alternate, so the player can tap anywhere for the catch and not worry about how the catch is going to actually happen.

By varying the puzzle goal, and randomizing to some degree the objects a player is juggling, the player is given a psychological out, if the successes can be traced to their skill, but a certain percentage of the losses be blamed on bad luck, the player has a way to read continuous advancement into the process.

Mmmmm delicious flavor. The Cirque Mechanique! Needs to setup. The riggers are putting up the big top but they need you to toss them their tools. Juggle the tools until a worker calls for something then toss it to them. End game tool to be tossed? Flaming axes! What does a steampunk work crew need a flaming axe to build? I have no idea, but it must be awesome right?

So Ball or Strike? Fair or Foul? Do you wanna be juggling flaming axes on your ipad?

Flexibility

As you can see in these examples, The ability to take the basic shape of our logo and vary it across a variety of projects is a big part of why we selected it.

A Starting Point

 

A Starting Point

I started creating the Infinite Cortex Creations logo the way I often start logo concepts. I sit down at a coffee shop, I sketch, and I think. This must look very silly to the local barristers as I sit for an hour or two furiously scribbling circles and lines over and over again as I drink several  very large iced chai lattes. But that’s my process, and taking the time to pencil sketch and work out what you want to express in logo can make all the difference in good and bad design. I decided I liked the design pictured above as a starting point. It only took four strokes to draw, making it simple, pleasing to look at… aaaaaand with the right imagination it could be a character’s head, with his brain exposed. I wanted to include the cortex into the design some how, without just drawing a brain.

We had our first design meeting for the logo and I got every ones feed back. We decided it needed more of what I call the cortex part of the logo, and that it should include the infinity sign tastefully some how. We also were not sure it needed the outer circle. I then produced the fallowing concept sheet with a refined design of my original concept and some other directions we could go.

We selected the direction based off my original sketch and continued to refine it.

You’ll see in some examples in the next post how the ability to re-imagine the logo was a big reason we selected it.

Launching the News Stream

In anticipation of launching our website, this is officially our first “News” post! To kick things off here are a couple things we’ve been working on.

  • Fat Frog Feast, our first iOS game is coming along nicely! We have been working on coding the menu/UI systems and fly behavioral algorithms. Meanwhile on the art side of things, our look is finalized, the background daytime matt painting is done, and we are  putting together some test sprite sheets for the bugs.
  • Gellini’s Special Gift, our first children’s book is currently going through design refinement. We are ironing out the details of the characters costume to make them unique and iconic. That way they stand out, while still speaking to the classic circus setting of the story. We have a great new set of clown shoe concept paintings.