Monochroma Reviews and Game Update for June 12
One week before the Steam release of the game, we were packing the collector’s editions, sending review copies to the press and we were excited waiting for the wonderful reviews we were going to get as it we received great comments on each preview, showcase and exhibitions we brought the game with us.
In a few days all our dreams collapsed and we have been devastated after the first bunch of reviews coming. We witnessed hours of silence in the studio, smashing the refresh button of google searchs to find some good reviews appreciating the game. Well, at least, there were some good ones but not that much.
After some quick rounds of anger, denial and depression we came to the acceptance state and we noted down each problem spotted in the reviews. Surprisingly all of the bad reviews had one common idea: Bad, clunky, unresponsive,frustrating controls. How could that be? Our most talented programmers spent years to perfectionize the controls and the transition of the animation states. The reviewers should be out of their minds to say something bad about the controls. We thought we had the best controls (air control, adjustable jumps, IK, very close simulation to real world physics) of all platformer games.
We are a self-funded indie studio and we had to release the game without any quality assurance except our own efforts. It was a mistake but we were financially forced to it after 31 months of development. While our features for the controls were good, they weren’t tested enough.
Later on, we e-mailed to most of them asking specific questions about the control problems. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it turned out that it was all our fault.
Our testers played it with a keyboard but it turned out that the character can’t get hold to inclined surfaces with a gamepad and the response time is a bit lower than the keyboard. (i.e it continues to run even if stop pressing forward for half a second)
First we removed the gamepad support and with the new update, we’re re-enabling it free of problems.
We didn’t have time to optimize the game well enough. But it’s a real problem when FPS drops to 15-20 even on a powerful machine. Eventually it causes to low response rates as in most games and leading to death.
We optimized each problematic scene by closing nearby sectors, turning dynamic lights to baked lights and clearing off a few little bugs bothering the game-engine. Right now the game is playable on max settings with the recommended system settings and it’s playable with lower resolutions for less powerful machines.
Monochroma has adjustable jumps (aka if the player keeps pressing jump key the character jumps higher) and air control (if the player keeps pressing forward the character jumps further) but as it turned out, when sliding people don’t use the forward key as the character is already moving on its own.
We removed the air control for the sliding state and fixed the jump distance to max
Loss of 3D perception:
As seen in the below picture, character is trying to jump from the edge of the platform. When the player hits the jump button at the edge, the character is already on the air and falling.
Fixing the camera angles or the position of the character on z-depth.
Although not directly related to control problems, this was something else adding into the frustration of the players. Pixel jumps after completing a puzzle, puzzles in which the player understands what to do in a second but can’t implement it well or repetitive sequences where the player has to perform perfectly to complete were damaging the flaw of the game.
We polished the level and puzzle designs in order to have a more fluent game. In the end Monochroma is our way of telling a story and not a game that should challenge the player by requiring perfect timings and teaching them by death.
Minor Flaws and Adjustments:
While we were trying to imitate real world phsyics, there were some scenes defying them and looking unnatural such as boxes floating on liquids or their unexpected behavior when pushed from the edge of a platform. We polished them to look and act more natural.
We implemented an auto-climb feature to obstacles and platforms where we can’t hold on to and stay.
We also shortened the duration of recovery time when the character falls from a distance. Some players thought of it as a bug but it was the result of realism concerns.
We hope that the updates brought in this version of the game will end the negative comments about the controls and we will be able to turn the focus to the story and the universal message of the game as we first aimed for. Be sure to check out for more in our blog, facebook and twitter pages. Also don’t forget to drop your comments on discussion boards!