This is the first time we have had the opportunity to do a big update to one of our games, and it has been really enjoyable putting it together and revisiting the game to fix a few issues that were present in the initial release.
I wanted to take the time to explain the various aspects of the update, to explain the thinking behind them, and what you can expect if you update the game.
This is the biggest change – we scrapped everything and started again. The first round of reviews and twitter comments highlighted the fact that players were not happy with the audio experience, which kind of let the game down.
So we put out a couple of posts looking for chip musicians; specifically those with experience of the different machines/sound chips for all the game systems included in Life of Pixel.
The response was brilliant – and within a few weeks we had a brand new sound track – with a unique music track for each machine, created either with that hardware or via emulation. This has really helped to enhance the identity of each machine and we have plenty of catchy tunes now guaranteed to stick in the mind.
We also redid all of the sound effects – again specifically for each machine sound chip to make the whole audio experience thoroughly authentic.
We had a few errors with palettes in the first release – as an example we were using a couple of extra greys in the Amstrad CPC levels, which while giving some nice metal bits were completely wrong! So we made sure every machine was only using the exact colour palettes – and while we were at it we redid several of the level tiles and updated backgrounds to improve bits we weren’t completely happy with.
Pixel can be hard – particularly the later levels, and we didn’t want to change this. BUT – it could also be unfair – a prime example being ‘Leap of Faith’ jumps which ended with you landing on top of a beastie and dying. This was random as you had no idea where said beastie was, and as such unfair as it relied on luck rather than skill.
I went through every level – multiple times – and I am confident I have eliminated every single unfair ‘luck’ based potential death. So while I didn’t try to make the levels particularly easier – they are now a fair test of skill, not chance. As such I am MUCH happier with all of the levels.
We have optimised Pixel to death – as far as the poor slow PSM SDK will allow – so just about every level now runs at a solid and smooth frame-rate.
We also fixed the memory leak which was causing the game to slow down after extended play.
I really enjoyed this bit – we added a new machine into the game; the Sega Master System. It is unlocked after you collect all 64 special gems.
Eight brand new levels – jam packed with nods to classic Master System titles like Shinobi, Wonder Boy, Sonic, Penguin Land, Bubble Bobble and more. These are fairly tough levels – but good fun to play and not too punishing.
I had great fun creating the graphics for the Master System levels – I didn’t realise until I started that the SMS allowed a fair few more colours in sprites and tiles than the NES, so it was nice adding lots more colour.
We found and fixed a few other niggles – including the double jump occasionally failing if you launched off moving/destructible platforms, collision fixes (sometimes you jumped through walls), tighter collision to platforms and more generous collisions with enemies (to stop you dying when close but not quite touching an enemy).
Oh – and we added a Restart level button!
So there you have it – lots of good new stuff, and best of all its free. Once live on the store, make sure you update to Pixel 1.1 without delay – you won’t be disappointed
Keep an eye on our Twitter updates as we’ll tweet as soon as we know the release date for the update. We are just about to submit the update to Sony QA, so it should hopefully be soon.