After last year’s PS Vita debut, SwapQuest is coming to the big screen

After last year’s PS Vita debut, SwapQuest is coming to the big screen

When SwapQuest launched on PlayStation Vita last year, we knew this would only be the beginning, as we wanted to bring it to the big screen to unleash the game’s full potential. But just porting SwapQuest over wasn’t what we had in mind. Even though it’s a pretty old-school 2D-experience, we wanted to use some of the power the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One offer to enhance the experience. The results may be subtle in places, but hopefully noticeable, so let’s get to it.


The first big enhancement, which required changing almost every piece of code in the game, was upping the framerate from 30 to 60 frames per second, which makes the movement in the game much more fluid. It doesn’t make the animations any smoother, but the way every object moves is a lot more pleasant to the eye.
After that was out of the way, I started working on something much more fun and meaningful for the game: the coop mode. Having grown up with consoles, couch coop (or “not so coop”) was always a huge deal to me and my friends. At first, I thought “just adding a second player is easy”. I was so wrong. But after a second round of reworking the entire code (with a period of six weeks in which I wasn’t even able to test the game as everything was broken), it finally came together. And it’s such a good fit!
Playing with a friend really gives a new dimension to the game, especially as both players can choose different character classes that complement each other. And as with most coop experiences, you are not limited to helping each other, you could also grab the path tiles that the other player is desperately looking for or spend all your hard-earned jewels in the store before your coop partner is able to. But who would do that, right?
One last thing about the coop mode I’d like to mention is that this also affects the single player in a fun way. If player one should ever be stuck in a level, player two can grab the second controller and hit any button, which then initializes the “Guest Mode”. This creates a temporary second player to help you out. This player doesn’t get saved for later sessions, but plays and develops just as the normal player.


Another graphical enhancement the console version got is what I dubbed the “Smooth Asset” mode. It takes all the pixel art graphics in the game and – through some magic and mostly math – transforms them so that they look a lot smoother and more high-res. It’s totally optional and was meant as an alternative for all those people that don’t love pixel art as much as I do. For extra comfort, the player can switch between those two styles anytime with a press on the R3 button.

All these more technical improvements aside there is also some new content for those looking for an extra challenge: remix bosses. After the PlayStation Vita release I got a lot of positive feedback from people saying that they loved the boss fights, so I decided to add alternate versions of the normal bosses to the end game. They are a lot harder, have all new attacks and you must beat them before the timer runs out. But remember: you can always invite a friend over and try it together!


I really hope everyone looking for a slightly different rpg experience is going to have fun with SwapQuest. It took over a year to complete the console version, which included many rewrites of the game code and countless hours of testing, but I feel it was worth it. I can safely say that the console version of SwapQuest is the definitive version of the game and especially with the added coop mode I hope it earns its place on this wonderful hardware.

SwapQuest at Casual Connect Europe

SwapQuest at Casual Connect Europe

SwapQuest has been invited to the Indie Prize Showcase at Casual Connect Europe in Amsterdam next week! I will be showing the game there for three days, hopefully talking to a lot of people from the press to promote the release, which will be at the end of February. If you should be at the venue, make sure to come over and say hello.

SwapQuest Beta Update

SwapQuest Beta Update

The beta is officially over and I’ve started implementing some of the excellent suggestions I got.

One complaint I often got over the course of the development is that you can’t tell the character to turn around and go the other direction (you can only choose a path when you reach a fork). I was a little afraid, that this might make the player too powerful and that the game would become super easy. But now that I’ve played it for over 20 hours, I think the difficulty lies (and should lie) elsewhere and not in the controls. To get to the point, you can now change directions whenever you stop your character, as you can see below.
Another thing that has been requested multiple times has been added: tapping instead of swiping to choose a direction. Now both works.


The next changes all affect the world map. You can now play the level you have completed before again to get some extra jewels or level your character up some more, should the next level be too difficult. Also bosses now have their own separate level, you don’t have to fight them right after you have finished the level, which should lower the difficulty considerably.


Last, but not least there are now damage numbers when you fight. This might not seem necessary at first, but I think it’s really nice to see how much damage you actually do, especially when you got a new weapon and want to see its effects. What do you think?


SwapQuest Abilities

SwapQuest Abilities

Today I finished implementing all the abilities. That took a lot longer than I thought it would, but I think it was worth the effort.
To give you an idea, each character class has one specific skill in the beginning of the game and learns two of four additional skills throughout the game. This means every class has 5 different skills and there are 25 skills in total.

The good thing is that each class finally feels different and it’s fun to acquire new abilities. As every ability can be trained and made more powerful, character customization is quite complex.

As a little preview I want to show you two of my favorite skills. They are part of the Trickster class and can be learned when the Trickster turns into the Mage.

The first is the Fireball:

The second is the Ice Lance:

I hope you like them! 🙂

Next up is the last part of the game, which includes a new cutscene and the ending sequence (and some surprises ;)).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

SwapQuest Devlog04 – Progress Bar

SwapQuest Devlog04 – Progress Bar

I’ve implemented a progress bar today that shows you how far you’ve come in the level, as some folks have been wondering about that as they played. Not as exciting as a boss battle, but a neat new feature (which you can also disable in the options if you don’t need it).

For those of you that are wondering why the marker on the bar is not moving constantly: the progress is determined by the rows of tiles that have left the screen, so only then a new progress value is calculated.

I’ve also been working more on the first boss, especially the balancing of the difficulty, as I kept losing.

Here’s a longer gif showing what it will be like to fight him (although the actual strategy is not revealed…)

SwapQuest Devlog03 – Status Effects

SwapQuest Devlog03 – Status Effects

I made a little gif showing all the status effects that are currently in the game.

Paralysis: randomly paralyses you when moving or in battle
Confusion: the hero will randomly choose a direction at forks and you cannot stop him
Blindness: the hero has a 50% chance of missing the enemy
Poison: the hero loses some life from time to time

I also made some changes to the way the hero reacts when a tile is swapped right in front of him (before you weren’t allowed to swap tiles that the hero wants to walk on). Additionally, the character now stops immediately when touched (before he would walk to the center of the next tile first, but that confused A LOT of people).

SwapQuest Devlog02 – The Dark Forest

SwapQuest Devlog02 – The Dark Forest

Finally I can show you something new. It’s the vine that grows from the Moonlight Flower in the Dark Forest. It slowly grows over the level and creates a new flower eventually. The vine can be cut by the hero, though.

Hope you like it. 🙂

Also there’s a strange hole that emits an even stranger mist that you should avoid. A strong enemy emerges near those holes. It is invisible as long as you don’t fight it, but you can still see its shadow on the ground.

There is a mysterious eye that appears out of nowhere and you have to touch it fast enough before it disappears again to get some extra jewels.

When I was not working on the actual game I had some more fun with this:

SwapQuest Devlog01

Today I want to show you more about the class system in SwapQuest.

In total there will be 5 classes in SwapQuest: the noble, the rogue, the fighter, and two classes that are still a secret. I’ll give you a brief description of the different classes to show their roles in the game and how they influence the way you (can) play the game.

In general, every class has three forms, an initial form that you start the adventure with and two subsequent evolutions.

Let’s start with the most basic ‘beginner’ class.

1. The Noble

Evolution: Noble > Prince/Princess > King/Queen
The noble class is a very balanced class with no big disadvantages, but also nothing it is exceptionally good at. The prince/princess and king/queen evolutions give the class a slight defense bonus, which makes it very suitable for the first playthrough.
The abilities of the noble class include the Royal Instinct, which marks tough enemies with a red aura, Expel, which stops the Horde for a short amount of time, and Last Wish, which gives you a second chance should you die, but only if you are successful in a minigame.

2. The Rogue

Evolution: Rogue > Thief > Ninja
The rogue class is leaning more towards speed than power. The rogue tries everything to stay alive by collecting every item on screen and moving as swiftly as possible. He/She is accompanied by his/her faithful dog, Shadow, whose role is to get items that are too far away to collect.
The abilities of the rogue include Jump, which allows you to get to a new position fast, and Lockpick, which lets you open a chest from afar.

3. The Fighter

Evolution: Fighter > Knight > Paladin
The fighter class is kinda the opposite of the rogue class, with a main emphasis on combat and strength. He/She gets high attack bonuses and also a luck bonus, which increases the probability of evading and critical attacks.
The abilities of the fighter class include Counter Attack, which does just that every time the enemy attack misses, Shout, which deals damage to every enemy and object in a certain area, and Battle Cry, which boosts the attack whenever his/her health is below a certain value.

That’s it for today, but before I finish this update, let me also show you a small effect I recently implemented that I really like, as it is reminiscent of old SNES and PSX games like Secret of Mana or Suikoden.

Leave feedback if you like and have a nice weekend! 🙂

Indie Speed Run: Sleepless Growth Post Mortem

After my horrible attempt to create a space adventure for the Ludum Dare earlier this year, I decided to give it another go in the Indie Speed Run, a Game Jam with actual prizes, in which you can choose when you want to start the 48h time limit by hitting on a big GO button.


The first day: Physical depression

As usual I already had a rough idea what I wanted to make before starting the timer. This is not very smart, as you get a theme and a mandatory element for your game as soon as you hit the GO button, so you most likely have to come up with something new anyway.
My theme was “Growth” and my element “Coffee”. While I really liked the theme, the element seemed kind of random. The first thing I did was thinking about how I could change the concept I had already in mind to integrate a growth element into it.
I came up with a physics game where you have to make objects bigger in order to interact with your environment. As I always wanted to do something with 2D ragdolls, I designed a scenario where you have to save a young man that wants to hang himself in his garage by making objects bigger.
It was really a dark and morbid idea, but I liked it so far, so I began doing the graphics with my graphics tablet. It took a few hours, but I was happy with the result.

Growth Screenshot

Creating the ragdoll physics was really simple in Game Maker, as it has integrated Box2D physics. Still it was already late in the evening and I decided to call it a day to be fresh for the second. As I got to bed, I had really big doubts that I would a) be able to finish it and b) create something meaningful and/or fun with this game. So in a kneejerk reaction, I scraped the whole game and thought what I could do the next day in order to save this chaotic game jam experience.
Before I fell asleep I only had a rough idea…


The second day: Alone in the Dark

As soon as I got up I started thinking about different ways to incorporate the growth theme in new and clever ways. This brainstorming session wasn’t successfull at all, so I began creating really simple graphics that looked like from an old Atari 2600 game. I liked the simplicity and atmosphere they created, but I wasn’t sure what to do with them.
In a burst of desperation, I decided to treat the development process like a mystery novel, where even I wouldn’t know how it would end. I implemented characters (a man, a woman, a girl, and a boy), objects (a hole, a seed, a watering can), enemies (plain and simple one type of enemy) and different terrain. To make things a bit more interesting I created all the graphics in shades of grey, so that I could blend any color over them while the game is played. This way the game looks different every time it is started and changes its color palette whenever something meaningful happens.

From there I let the concept grow (pun). The goal of the game – rescuing the family members from the monsters – wasn’t clear to me until the end of the development. I worked on the game for 24 hours in a row and especially the night hours created a great atmosphere to work on it.
To be honest, I like the game a lot. It is part having finished a game in 24 hours, part the symbiosis of simplistic gameplay and a creepy atmosphere.

You can play it on Game Jolt directly in the browser. Just click on the image below. Have fun!

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