How Skala stunned its personal creator with its scale-shifting mechanics


This interview is a part of our Street to the IGF collection. The IGF (Impartial Video games Pageant) goals to encourage innovation in recreation growth and to acknowledge unbiased recreation builders advancing the medium. Yearly, Recreation Developer sits down with the finalists for the IGF forward of GDC to discover the themes, design choices, and instruments behind every entry.

Skala permits gamers to vary the dimensions and form of the world and every part in it, asking them to resolve puzzles by stretching and rising issues.

Recreation Developer caught up with the creator of the Finest Scholar Recreation-nominated title, Gustav Almström, talking with him about how designing a customized engine actually helped make the scale-shifting mechanic work effectively, bringing the attraction of wanting into the night time sky into this world, and the way the surprises that got here out of the sport’s mechanics delighted and mystified its personal creator.

Who’re you, and what was your position in growing Skala?

I am Gustav Almström and I’m the developer of Skala.

What’s your background in making video games?

Someday I principally determined to Google “Easy methods to program” and I have been making video games in my spare time ever since.

What ideas went into the mechanics gamers may use to change the size of themselves and the world? Into making them intuitive to work with?

The core thought behind the design of Skala was to attempt to discover what truly occurs in a world the place issues can change scale. By experimenting and enjoying round with the sport’s mechanics, I discovered issues that stood out as fascinating and made ranges about them. An instance is how the participant falls slowly when they’re brief.

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I all the time tried to discover the mechanics I had as deeply as doable, and solely added new ones once I had squeezed loads out of what I already made. The sport took two years to make and good concepts all the time appeared to come back in huge bursts of inspiration. There the place lengthy intervals of time once I could not give you or design something (which was a bit aggravating), and different intervals the place the sport nearly appeared to design itself.

What growth instruments have been used to construct your recreation?

The sport was constructed with a customized engine based mostly on C and Opengl. At first, the one purpose for this was that I like writing engines, however for this explicit recreation it turned out to be particularly helpful. There have been a variety of bugs brought on by floating-point precision points, and the best way that objects can change dimension created a variety of conditions that I am undecided common physics techniques may have dealt with.

So, by writing every part myself, I gained the management over the code I wanted to take care of these varieties [of] points successfully. It in all probability would have been doable to create the sport with an already present recreation engine, however I believe that it will have been rather more troublesome.

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What drew you to the visible fashion for the sport?

The visible artwork fashion of the sport could be very easy. Most issues on the planet are simply single-colored rectangles or fundamental shapes that point out several types of objects. This artwork fashion is what could possibly be described as “programmer artwork” and hasn’t modified a lot for the reason that starting of the sport’s growth even when I supposed it to. It did, nonetheless find yourself having a really constructive impact on the gameplay. Since issues are drawn so merely, there’s no visible noise that distracts the participant from fixing a puzzle, and the simplicity additionally lets them simply visualize the weather of a degree and purpose about them of their head.

skala character, big green key and door

What concepts go into designing the world round these sorts of scale-based puzzles?

I stay out within the nation the place there is not a variety of gentle air pollution, which implies that the celebs are very clear and vivid. I spend a variety of time simply sitting exterior and watching the sky, and I needed the overworld of Skala to form of really feel like this. I like searching for star constellations, and there are some within the recreation’s sky, however they’re fairly refined, and I am fairly positive that only a few individuals have observed them.

Are you able to stroll us by way of the design of a favourite puzzle? The way you conceived it and the applied it into the sport?

My favourite degree might be “Rider.” It got here from asking the query, “What occurs if the participant is standing on a block that may change scale, and solely does so when the participant strikes?” and the outcome was a degree the place you’ll form of surf on a platform that might additionally float upwards as excessive as you needed it to.

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The platform may nonetheless solely transfer upwards, and within the ranges that observe, I attempted to determine methods of constructing the platform go downwards. I discovered that in the event you moved it right into a area the place its scaling route modified, jumped, and moved it out of that area, it will begin to fall and shrink quickly till it disappeared. By experimenting with this interplay, I discovered that what occurs if you soar out of the size area depended closely on the precise parameters of your soar. When you jumped in a really explicit manner, you possibly can create a platform that might fall down slowly, however nonetheless could possibly be moved upwards, which allowed the participant to fly wherever they needed freely.

I truthfully nonetheless do not fairly perceive precisely how the mechanism in these ranges work, however I nonetheless put them within the recreation as a result of they felt so fascinating to play with and the mechanics in them can nonetheless be utilized predictably even in the event you do not perceive how they work. This sense of fixing issues by way of the exploration and taming of an incomprehensible system is why these are my favourite ranges.


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