From School Notebook to Published Game: And Yet it Moves
by Deborah M. Fike · 05/19/2009 (6:29 am) · 13 comments
And Yet It Moves is a unique game on a few levels. Unlike most platformers, the world is not limited to a left-to-right linear line. Instead, the player must turn the world clockwise or counterclockwise in 90 degree intervals to progress through the game. This rotation not only affects the player, but objects, like drops of water and branches, as well as living things such as bats and monkeys.
The art style also sets And Yet It Moves apart. The environment was made to look like a collage ripped out of paper, an artistic fantasy world. Each object, plant and animal was ripped out of a photo or movie image and brought to life using current realtime rendering techniques. Every level was designed through a meticulous handmade process, including various back- and foreground layers, making its texture-rich world more interesting to play through.
And finally, this isn't the brain child of a large company or even a start-up indie studio. And Yet It Moves began as a student design project at the Design and Assessment of Technology Institute at the Vienna University of Technology.
See what Broken Rules' project lead Felix Bohatsch has to say about creating this ground-breaking TGB game.
Where did your inspiration for And Yet It Moves come from?From a lot of things: all forms of culture, nature, and the lives we lived. For the art style, we were especially influenced by movies and cartoons, and the gameplay was most likely influenced by all the games we played before.
We like to think that the gameplay of rotating the world makes us stand out from the crowd, although we soon realized that it's our look and feel that gets people interested in And Yet It Moves. Our team lacked a specialized visual game artist, so we looked for a style we liked that we would be able to produce. The roughness and analog feel of a world set in a paper collage provided just what we wanted, without the necessity of 3D artists building it. The same analog approach was also used for the acoustic design of And Yet It Moves. In addition to visual finesse, the world is enriched with homegrown sounds and music, all originating from our sound designer's, Christoph's, voice.
Maybe the biggest inspiration was the confinement to 2D, which our supervisors imposed on us when we started And Yet It Moves as a game concept for a computer science course.
With 90 degree rotation, walls become floors, tunnels may suddenly be used as downward slides and a stone resting on the ground may fall, becoming either a dangerous obstacle or useful object for catapulting.
What was your development progress like?We are a small team of four former computer science students from the Vienna University of Technology. Our small size has kept us very eclectic in our work. In the true independent spirit, each of us made a contribution in each area of And Yet It Moves' development. It is important for us to emphasize that the game design of And Yet It Moves was a team effort, with all four of us heavily involved.
We finished the prototype for And Yet It Moves after six months in November 2006. We successfully demonstrated it at the IGF 2007 student showcase, where we decided to make a full version of it. We have been working on the full version for the last two years, in between studying and working. We could seldom work full time on the game except during our holidays. It was quite an intense experience where we all dipped a bit too much towards workaholism.
Because I did a MA in Game Design and Development in Holland for a year, we communicated a lot online: blogs, skype, etc. This only worked because we had a solid game design we could coordinate through. We would have preferred to work in one physical location, though. Thankfully, for the last six months, we had an office where we could meet regularly, which made polishing the game a lot easier. We held regular testing parties where we invited friends over to our homes and watched them play our game. That was a lot of work, but definitely helped us tweaking the gameplay until it felt really good.
What were a few major development challenges you encountered?The look and feel was a lot of work. We had to put in a lot of hours to get it looking good enough for our expectations. Planning the development was also quite hard because none of us had any experience with how long it takes to develop a full game. We miscalculated how long the polishing phase would take, and how much work it is to make a good user interface. We blew a few deadlines, but now at last it's done. :)
A great amount of effort was put into supporting the fresh and interesting gameplay, with a large variety of puzzles distributed over sixteen levels in three environments.
What was it like getting published on Steam?Nice. It's great to have it presented to such a vast audience. Of course our game is not the only one published on Steam, so there are a lot of games that could quickly rise above our own. How good it sells still depends a lot on our own PR work and getting the media to review it. Otherwise it will quickly fade away into the depths of Steam and we don't want that.
What did you learn in creating And Yet It Moves?Everything regarding game development. It's a big difference making a prototype for a student course, even when your goal is to get it to the IGF Student Showcase, versus making a full version of it. There is so much content, polishing and little details one has to watch out for, otherwise it would just be a crappy user experience. So basically we learned what it means to make a real game on every front: game design, look and feel, user experience, difficulty curves, etc.
What can we expect to see next from Broken Rules?We are now working on making a version of And Yet It Moves for WiiWare, so we are hard at work checking out Wii development. Next to that, we are really hungry to start game designing from scratch again and come up with another concept. We have to watch out, though, that we don't get distracted too much, since all our resources should be focused on the WiiWare version first.
And Yet It Moves was conceived as a game concept for a computer science course held by the Department for Design and Assessment of Technology at the Vienna University of Technology.
Thanks to Felix for working around his schedule to talk to me. For more stories like this, check out GarageGames' Developer Interview series.