All of my character designs begin in a sketchbook. I find it’s faster, easier and more fun to brainstorm ideas with a pencil than it is with a mouse or tablet.
Most of the characters in Ramps are really simple. I wanted them to be really easy on the eyes and void of unnecessary distractions so that the game mechanics and emotive qualities of the designs could take center stage. This is also just a practical reality of dealing with mobile devices, since oftentimes the characters will be really small.
One of the few places I strayed from this was in the “world mascots,” the little characters that provide helpful guidance if you need it. Since they could be larger than most of the in-game objects, I got to explore a few weirder ideas just for the fun of it.
The idea of the little robot maintenance man had been in my head for a little while, so this sketch came very painlessly. Once I started applying him to the world, though, a few challenges arose.
I realized I had inadvertently channeled a bit too much of Homestar Runner with the star on his shirt. Also, I hadn’t thought about how he would exist in a land of lava floors when he had to stand on two feet. Even the Terminator couldn’t win against lava.
I ended up giving him an undershirt and a belt buckle simply because it made me laugh. After a few false starts trying to render dangling legs, I settled on more of a Jetsons-style hovering animation that Tim executed on beautifully.
The World 2 mascot had a different design journey. I’ll be sure to show it in a future post.
Tyler and I are super excited! Ramps entered into the Top 10 on the App Store last night (currently perched at #8 overall), so we are feeling extra invigorated to keep pushing forward with our upcoming 1.1 update.
Check out the video below to get an inside look at what level design for Ramps is like, and to see just how fast we can move when we’re motivated.
Remember when I wrote our first post and said I was at a loss for words? Now I’m at a loss for words to appropriately describe my loss for words. Probably not the best thing when we’re only three posts in, but I feel like I have a legitimate excuse this time.
We’re currently Apple’s iPhone Game of the Week. Seriously, our labor of love, our quirky little homegrown Portland indie game, is game of the week! Apple just made my year.
Pics or it didn’t happen, right?
I can’t overstate what an honor it is to be featured. It’s humbling to look at previous picks like Cut the Rope and Super Mega Worm and know that we’ve entered that realm of distinction. Ridiculously mindblowing.
Tim and I would like to sincerely thank Apple for selecting us, our favorite indie gamemakers for inspiring us to put our best foot forward, and most of all, each and every person who gives Ramps a try. We have an insane amount of motivation now to make 1.1 the best darn update it can be, with cool new features we think you’ll really dig. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!
Wow, what a wild ride this has been! Between getting featured by Apple in New and Noteworthy the last two weeks, and working with the press to get their unbiased take (and by the way, they LOVE Ramps!), it’s nice to finally dive back in to working on the game without any reservations.
I’m so excited that we now have our own blog! Make sure you give some mad props to Tyler for doing a fantastic job with all of our web work. I’m blown away with how spectacular this thing looks. If you haven’t seen the Ramps website yet, check that out too. Make sure you use Chrome or Safari also, as there’s little surprises for you to discover there as well.
We’ve been hard at work on version 1.1, which is going to be our first major update to Ramps. I don’t want to spoil any surprises just get, but I will say that it’s going to have a TON of new content, and some new gameplay elements that are going to make it seem like you’re playing an entirely new game! So when do you get it? Well, sooner than you think! But in the meantime, make sure you’ve completed both Worlds 1 and 2. You’re going to have to earn this awesome new stuff!
But while we’re working on that, we’ve also been working on making improvements to the game as it stands now. Some users on older devices have had some crashes. Not very many of you, but we want to make Ramps fun and playable for everyone. We’ve submitted an update to Apple this evening (1.0.2) that should help those of you on older devices that are getting some crashes. See, the whole reason it happens is those devices don’t have as much memory, and we’re using really high resolution artwork so we’re really trying to push the graphical limits of even the newer hardware.
If you get a weird crashing issue, reboot your device. It will fix it. Seriously.
This works for other games and apps too, not just ours. So in the future of stuff is wigging out for you on your phone or iPod Touch, just give that guy a fresh reboot and chances are your crashing problem will be fixed.
I’m not satisfied with that as a solution though, as I know most people who play Ramps aren’t going to read this post, so in our new update, we’ve reduced the amount of memory Ramps uses on older devices by 20%. That should make this problem a lot more tolerable, and maybe even get rid of it altogether.
We’ve made a number of other improvements to Ramps also in 1.0.2 that I give a sneak-peek of in the video. Here’s the full release notes in-case you’re interested. We’ve addressed some things that a lot of people brought to our attention.
We’re waiting for Apple to approve this update, so hopefully you will all see it drop sometime next week.
NEW IN 1.0.2:
0) Improved memory utilization for older devices. This means less crashes! We’re constantly fine-tuning our little app to make it the best we can. If you get a crash, don’t panic! Send us an e-mail at: email@example.com and we’ll help you out. Promise!
1) You spoke, and we listened! When you complete a level, the screen now fades to gray instead of white. Now you can play Ramps without going blind!
2) You can now drag a ramp to the edge of the screen to scroll a level. If you drag a Ramp to the edge of the screen (within 25% of the edge) while in a level that is scrollable, the level will scroll until you either move the ramp away from the *hot* region, or let go of the ramp.
3) You can now tap to skip the pre-roll when a level starts (GO! text, animated arrow, letterboxing with scrolling).
4) You can now use your own music from the iPod app or other apps via multitasking.
5) We’re now supporting landscape left orientation, so flip that bad boy around and play Ramps like a Backabat!
BORING BUG FIXES
0) If a ball had touched a Ramp, the Ramp would always remember the ball had touched it, even if a ball died. (until you restarted a level or started a new one). This made it kinda hard to beat the challenge where you beat a level without using every Ramp.
We love our game and we love that you guys all enjoy playing it as much as we do. We’re going to keep working to make Ramps better and adding more content as long as you guys keep playing it and telling us how we should improve it. Stay tuned, we have lots more cool stuff to share with you. Not just with updates to Ramps, but with our marketing learnings as well!
I just threw my dictionary across the room. Okay, I’m lying… I don’t have a physical dictionary to throw. But if dictionary.com could momentarily take physical form, I’d give it a throw. Not out of anger with the site (which is lovely to use, I assure you), but out of frustration with the English language. None of its hundreds of thousands of words appropriately describes how Tim and I feel after seeing the audience Ramps has found in just a few short weeks.
Does this make us want to sit back, take a break, soak it in? Heck, no! This is our first game, and we want it to be as awesome as possible. Even now, Tim and I are hard at work on the next update. We hope you really dig it.
We’ll be updating this blog with the usual news and announcements, interwoven with neat artifacts from the process of indie game-making. We continue to accumulate a lot of odds and ends we’re excited to share with you.
We know blog comments are becoming passé, but we like em’ anyway (give it a couple years and they’ll be “retro”). We also dig Twitter and Facebook, so we put their links under each and every post. Now you have no excuse not to let us know what you think, right? Right.