On the surface, The Painter’s Apprentice might look like a straightforward platforming game with a simple gimmick. In terms of the mechanics, that might be the case. What allows us to stand apart is our emphasis on art styles. You get to travel through different paintings based on Impressionism, Cubism and more. And, of course, there’s the attacking element where you must match your paintbrush color with the color of the enemy to defeat them. To many, this might seem a bit simple or basic. After all, there’s a lot more you can do with paint and colors, etc. We could have had different attacks attached to the different colors. Or maybe we could have added in more elements of painting where you draw your own platforms/paths to the end goal (*note to self for future game). I ended up going the simpler route because I love old platformers and I wanted this to be a bit of an homage to them, with my own twist.
With all that said, we wanted the overarching experience to feel like you were actually playing through these art styles. How would an Fauvism level feel? What about Surrealism? I researched the themes of each of the styles and realized that I could incorporate those into the level design. While some were certainly harder than others (Impressionism, I’m looking at you), the others fell naturally in place.
For example, Pop Art takes things from mass culture and then tries to show off the kitschy/banal elements of culture. While that would be difficult to really do in level design, I figured the closest we could get was to take levels from popular platforms and then place it in our game with our assets. Obviously it couldn’t be 100% exact, we had to have more obstacles and enemies, but the general layout should make people think that they’ve played something like the level before.
Other styles are more difficult. For example Fauvism is more about emphasizing strong colors over realistic values. That’s too abstract for level design. Instead, I looked at the term Fauvism, which means the wild beasts in French. Fauvism as a style was also very short-lived. Thus, I designed my levels to be short but also “wild” in that levels would have a lot of unpredictable obstacle and enemy placement.
Something like Impressionism is about depicting light as accurately as possible while providing interesting visual angles. Again, kind of hard to incorporate with level design. However, it’s also about the passing of time and movement, something that you can absolutely bake into how you approach each stage. I tried to emphasize this point as much as possible by making the levels a test in patience, of letting the time pass. Did it work? Not always. I also had to keep in mind the difficulty level. Impressionism is World 2 after all so it can’t be too difficult.
To really make sure players felt immersed in the art style the sound design had to be on point. I researched popular composers and styles of music during these styles and forwarded them to the composer. From there he was able to provide an amazing soundscape that could work just as well as a regular song track as it does in a game. Some soundtracks might seem like an odd choice. For example, we went jazz for pop art versus the more obvious pop/rock sound. Why? Well we wanted it to fit in smoothly with the rest of our smooth, classical tracks, but the 1960s were also a huge time for jazz with Charles Mingus, Dizze Gillespie, John Coltrane and more – so it fit.
Put together with the backgrounds and the level design, the music adds that additional layer to make the game feel like an experience rather than just a simple platformer.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with seeing it as just a simple platformer either. So long as you have fun 🙂
Incredible. Amazing. Those were my thoughts as I left PAX South 2017 the last time. From the incredible gamers of all ages with the enthusiasm of teenagers to the amazing friendships I made with fellow developers at the PAX Rising booth, PAX South 2017 was an amazing journey. A journey that happened almost by a dare.
What is PAX (South)
PAX (originally known as Penny Arcade Expo) is a series of gaming festivals held in Seattle, Boston, Australia, and San Antonio, TX. PAX was created in 2004 by the folks at Penny Arcade because they wanted to attend a show exclusively for gaming. From that idea spawned a small 4,500 person event in Bellevue, Washington, focused on the culture and community that is gaming. Since then, the show hasn’t looked back. The San Antonio location was added in 2015. From tabletops, a console freeplay, a handheld lounge, PC areas and to the informative panels, PAX has something for everyone. I cannot forget to mention the phenomenal cosplayers and famous YouTubers attending either.
Why PAX South 2017, why us
The Painter’s Apprentice has been kicking into high gear for the last 6-8 months. We had just been selected into MagFest in Maryland and the game has demoed very well the last few months. So, as I was about to purchase my PAX South 3 Day passes and I saw the exhibitor button. Jasmine (President of Luminosity Mobile) and I had not discussed entering but I thought, why not try to show off the game at PAX South. The game was getting positive early positive reviews from gamers. Sure enough, we get a reply asking for more information about the game. I reply and we’re in!
We were selected into the PAX Rising category! PAX Rising is an entire space dedicated to the rise of the independent game developers. This year, 8 indie game developers were selected to showcase their respective games.
We started a small Kickstarter campaign to help with costs and it was worth every penny (pardon the pun)! It was non-stop action from 10am – 6pm. We had people visit our booth constantly. I may have had a 10 minute break spread along 2 days. It was that incredible. Word of advice, make sure you have someone with you on those days so you have time to grab some food and take a break.
What drew people in? The colors of the game, the design, the artwork. What kept them playing? The story line of our hero, The Apprentice Painter as he battles paint blobs on his way to escape his Master’s artworks. Each artwork depicts a different period in art history from the Painterly to Neo-Expressionism. Naturally the backgrounds match these art styles. We also went the extra mile to make sure the music resembles composers of said time periods.
Who knew? People love free stuff! 🙂 I gave away countless Painter’s Apprentice Pen Paintbrushes. If you received one, you are one of the lucky few (hundred) I ordered. However, if you decide to showcase your game with a booth, do not forget the power of candy! I can’t tell you how many people stopped by to grab some Starbursts then stuck around to play the game.
Thanks to the overwhelming support of the PAX South crowd, we were able to double our mailing list. Soon, we’ll spam you … hahaha…. jk. Really, we just plan on sending regular updates so you know what we’re working on.
Thank you to all who stopped by to play the game and signed up for the newsletter. I had a blast showing it off! The positive feedback makes us work harder to get this game to you as soon as possible. Look for it Summer 2017 !!!
As you may have guessed, we’ve been working super hard on improving The Painter’s Apprentice. We’ve demo-ed at some great places such as GaymerX East and we’re headed for our second year at MAGFest. Even more exciting, we were selected to show off the game at PAX South at the PAX Rising booth! How cool is that?
Since our last development blog, we’ve gone through a lot of changes. We’re releasing first on PC (hurray!) so we’ve been tweaking the controls to fit the keyboard and mouse as well as the controller. You can actually download the demo we show off at these conventions to try it out yourself at home. And if you like it, vote for us on Steam Greenlight.
So what’s changed since the last time? We’ve added an amazing parallax effect that you can see a gif of here:
We also added in some platforms that now don’t just move in a linear line but can go around in a box.
We’ve also updated the animation for the little blob so it stands out more. Here’s what it looks like now:
We’ve also cleaned up a couple items on the backend that makes the game run much smoother. You might not see it, but there’s a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes.
We’ll be updating this blog more often as things heat up. Of course feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter as you’ll be the first to get access to our builds and learn about some cool news.
If you haven’t been following our social media, we’ve finally launched the Painter’s Apprentice on Kickstarter and Steam. To be honest it’s a pretty nerve-wracking experience opening up The Painter’s Apprentice to public scrutiny. Still, we’re quite proud of the game and can’t wait to get it to you guys so you can experience it as well. With that said we need your help in bringing it to life.
We were a bit hesitant to go on Kickstarter at first. After all, we’re not a big name and over the years we feel like there’s been some crowdfunding fatigue. Still, we’re hoping to raise some money so we can offset the costs of the various events we go to, materials we purchase for the company and of course to compensate everyone on their time. $2,000 might not seem like a lot, but it’s a way to legitimize what we’ve been doing and hopefully show others that there’s enough people interested. With that said, even if we don’t reach our goal, we’ll still work on the project. It might just mean we can’t do too much travel to other parts of the country. Please head on over to our site and support our campaign! Even $1 helps
Steam is the biggest platform for indie game developers on PC. It’s therefore extremely over saturated – kind of like the app stores. It has over 100 million active subscribers, making it a perfect place to hopefully gain some new fans. Still, there are so many games released every day on the platform it’s easy to get buried. We’re hoping that with a lot of hard work and little bit of luck we’ll get our game on there. You can help with that as well by heading on over and voting!
We really want the game to be successful not just for us but for you as well. If we get on Greenlight we can reach even more people and it also means the game will be much more accessible to almost everyone. Of course we’ll still release for iOS and Android later on down the line.
Any questions or comments? Let us know in the comments. Please be sure to share to your friends as well when you vote and/or pledge!
Phew, it feels like forever since we’ve posted an update. It’s taken us a while to get situated again after the four-day weekend that was MAGfest, but now that we’re finally back in the groove of things we wanted to write up an article on our experience there and what went right and wrong.
What is MAGFest?
If you’re unfamiliar with it, MAGFest is a four day music and gaming festival held in National Harbor, Maryland. The main features are the amazing musicians who literally fly from around the world to play their video game music. The gaming section of it comes in the form of arcade games, board games and indie games. The Painter’s Apprentice was accepted to take part in the MIVS (MagFest Indie Video Game Showcase). We were one of 55 other indie developers chosen to exhibit at the festival, which was super exciting especially since there were thousands of people who attend MAGFest. If you’re an indie developer I highly suggest submitting here. Not only is it FREE to submit but also FREE to exhibit. All you need to worry about are travel expenses and promotional materials.
Every developer was given a 10 x 10 space, two tables, two tablecloths and two chairs. After that, it was up to us to decorate and arrange our booth to attract people. We also worked with a Yogibo representative and were able to get two of their bean bag chairs and holder for one of our tablets. I’d say that definitely helped draw a crowd as people were drawn to the comfort of the bean bag. Plus they were kind enough to let us developers use their products for free so long as we had their flyers at our table. It’s a pretty good tradeoff.
There were some pretty amazing setups for the booth and if we were to go again next year, we’d definitely rent a car so we could bring some more items like a projector and screen, a rug, some large screens playing some gameplay videos of the game and some more devices. I think we could have attracted far more people with videos of the gameplay as most people had no idea what kind of game to expect. Once I told them it was a platformer they were much more interested in trying it out. Our banner (printed by Vistaprint) did attract several people so I’m glad I invested the money in it early on.
For the first two days I had a PC which was a huge crowd draw. People would just stand and watch others play so at one point I had a nice little ground set up around the booth. Then my computer died. Needless to say I freaked out. I don’t know if there was anything I could do to have prepared for that. Carrying two laptops would be ideal but I just didn’t have the space (or money). Still, I had my mobile devices and managed to make it through the rest of the festival with those. I have to say though I saw a sharp decline in players once the PC was gone.
My devices included a PC (for two days), a Kindle Fire HDX, LG smartphone and Kindle Fire 7″. If you have an Android game, consider getting a Kindle Fire 7″. It’s $49.99 normally. I was lucky it was on sale for $39.99 and I got and additional $10 off thanks to a one-time deal for signing up for Amazon Now. It doesn’t have the best screen, but it managed to play my game without a hitch.
As someone who worked as a canvasser for almost a year and a bartender for over 5, it has almost become second nature to me to simply call people over to the booth once I established eye contact. This was especially critical for our booth if there was no one there as passersby couldn’t see what the game was all about. Once we had a few people playing on the devices others gravitated to check it out. If all the devices were being used I would hand them a postcard with our information on it.
I’d have to say canvassing people to play my game at a gaming convention is way easier than getting people to fork over their credit cards to donate to Greenpeace. After all, I already know they have an interest in gaming so I don’t really need to come up with crazy lines to get them to stop. There are some tried and true techniques though:
Make eye contact
Wave them over
Speak loud enough for them to hear over the rabble
Give a brief overview/elevator pitch of the game
While I didn’t track exactly how many people I had stop by my booth I would say it was anywhere between 300-400 over the four days.
At any event you want to have something to give to visitors so they remember your game. I had big plans to have some buttons people could take, but unfortunately I ended up ordering them too late and wasn’t able to get them to MAGFest. With that said, I’d still recommend working with Pure Buttons. It was fairly cheap and the quality was very good. They’re also very responsive and helpful through email. Next time I’ll make sure I order all promo materials at least a month before the event. Luckily, I did have around 200 postcards and business (Vistaprint) from previous expos I had already attended so I didn’t really spend much money at all on swag. By the time Sunday came around all my postcards were gone. Luckily, Sunday was only two hours so I ended up handing out my business card instead. I would love to have more stuff to hand out and I think next time I’ll wear a Painter’s Apprentice shirt.
There are a lot of reasons to exhibit at these conventions, but the biggest one for most developers is to build a community and generate some leads. For me, I really wanted to expand my mailing list. My method might be a bit tricky – I collected emails by saying they were signing up for Alpha testing. While this is true, they’re also going on my mailing list. I had a simple notebook and pen for sign ups, which I’ve found work very well for me. Other developers prefer digital sign-up. It all depends. I was able to collect quite a bit of emails and have increased my subscriber list by 100%!
Besides getting emails, the other great thing about these conventions is the free playtesting! There are literally hundreds of people who played our game, which ended up uncovering several new bugs and inspired some added features to the animation, sound and even gameplay. It was also pretty awesome seeing people honestly enjoy the game. I had one person who played through all of the available levels and another one who was super excited about the collectibles and star system. It justifies all of the time and effort we all spent on the game and really hits home that people will like it.
I ended up not staying at the Gaylord Convention Center simply because it was just too expensive. For the first two days I stayed at a motel in Alexandria, which is only about 5 miles away from the convention center. Of course that mean I needed to use a car service, but Uber and Lyft both cost around $10 one way. Since my hotel was only $74/night that saved me a good $70. Luckily for me, I was able to spend Friday and Saturday at my sister’s place for further savings. Of course, even if I stayed at the motel for the other two days it would have only costed me $288 for the trip.
As for travel, I took the Greyhound down which was surprisingly cheap. At the end of the day my costs were fairly low.
Travel – $286.13 (hotel, Uber, Lyft, taxi and Greyhound)
Promo Materials – $62.50 (Buttons)
Food – $81.42
Kindle Fire 7″ – $30.44
Total – $460.49
In general, I loved being a part of MIVS and had a blast meeting other game developers, gamers and even some press. It also taught me quite a bit about how to set up a booth and what exactly I need to catch people’s attention. Next time I go to another large event like this, I know exactly what I’ll bring. You can see a video of our booth in action below!
One of the biggest challenges of The Painter’s Apprentice has been designing the color wheel in a way that is fun, quick and easy with still an element of challenge. We tried a lot of different layouts from a slide out color picker option to tapping a button to cycle through the color wheel. All of them were a bit too clunky and slowed down the gameplay significantly. Whenever we showcased the game, the color wheel was the biggest complaint among all of the players. Finally, we think we’ve come upon a solution. At least for the most basic aspect of the color picker method. As you can see from the image below we’ve reduced the amount of colors to three and always have them available on the screen for players to tap.
If it seems too simple, we’re just getting started. We’re looking at ways to incorporate color mixing for the other three colors or, perhaps, introduce color inspired special moves. We want to add a bit more depth to the game than simply pick the color of the enemy to attack so we’re coming up with some other ways we can have the color interact with the environment and player abilities. If you have suggestions, let us know!
If you’re not a mobile gamer, never fear! We’ve actually implemented controller support now too, which means we’ll definitely be releasing the game for PC. Maybe Steam Greenlight is in our future? If not we don’t get Greenlit we’ll still have a PC version available so stay on the lookout for that announcement. And if you’re looking to beta test it, let us know by emailing contact [at] luminositymobile [dot] com.
Meet Luminosity Mobile
We attend a lot of events so there are plenty of opportunities to meet the people behind the company! If you’re in the DC area, check us out October 3-4 at VGU-Con. Future events will likely include:
Pax South in San Antonio in January
MAGfest in Baltimore in February
Pax East in Boston in March
We also attend a lot of the Playcrafting events in New York City so if check out their page for their event schedule. If you can’t attend any of these events you can always catch us on Twitch at 7pm ET every Saturdays.
Since we’re getting pretty close to finishing up the main parts of The Painter’s Apprentice we’re looking for some alpha testers to help us “break” the game and find some bugs. Interested? Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email out an open call for alpha testers when we’re ready, complete with instructions.
The past week has been pretty jam-packed as we prepare for our video submission to the Boston Festival of Indie Games digital showcase. We’ve been messing around with some UI and, of course, creating the tiles the other levels so we can showcase them in our video. We’re pretty excited with our progress so far, now all that’s left is creating the video!
Completed two different color picking methods for the paint
Updated AI branching trees for enemies
Created dialogue events for in-game cut scenes
Unlock more advanced gameplay techniques throughout the game versus everything available in the beginning
Updated enemies to be black and white for easier color changing
Brought on new Tile Artist to finish remaining tiles.
Besides that we also had our weekly Twitch Stream on Saturday. If you haven’t checked it out you should! It’s a ton of fun. This time we had our composer – Ray Flores – explain the process he goes through when creating background music and sound effects. Did you miss it? You’re in luck as we created two highlights for both music composition and sound effects creation. Check them out below to get a more in-depth look at what goes on behind the scenes.
We’re really excited the Painter’s Apprentice is coming together so quickly and we can’t wait to get it out to you! If you’re looking for something to fill the time between now and our release, might we suggest trying out Once Upon a Runner? It’s available on both iOS and Android. We’d love to hear suggestions on improvement as we’re working on a huge update that should be coming out in a couple months.
And finally, a little classified ad. We’re looking for some artists to feature in The Painter’s Apprentice. Our plan upon its inception was always to features some modern artists and their work as a backdrop to a level. If you’re interested in being featured, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
On April 29, 2015 we showed off The Painter’s Apprentice in front of 300+ people at The Spring Expo hosted by Playcrafting NYC and Microsoft. Leading up to the event we were really burning the midnight oil. Luckily all of those late nights weren’t in vain as we got a lot of positive comments from the attendees. Everyone we spoke to loved the idea of The Painter’s Apprentice and were interested in trying it out further down the line. We also received some excellent feedback on how to improve the game as well and we’re already busy implementing these updates. So a huge thank you to everyone who tried out The Painter’s Apprentice! We’ll be at the Summer Expo in July and it will definitely be much more polished by then.
Speaking of upcoming conventions, we’ll be submitting The Painter’s Apprentice to a couple places. The first deadline coming up is for the Boston Festival of Indie Games in September. The digital showcase submission deadline is May 15 (eep!) and requires a 3-5 minute demo of the game, how it works and what makes it unique. We’ll be bringing you the completed video once it’s done. Fingers crossed we get accepted! The next event we were invited to was the Artcade 3000 out in Bushwick Studios happening June 5-7. We actually met up with the organizer – Jan-Luc Van Damme – at the Spring Expo and he was impressed with how we tied art and videogames in The Painter’s Apprentice and wanted to know if we wanted to exhibit. The answer is of course! So if you’re in the neighborhood during that time, stop by and say hello. We’ll be hanging out with fellow devs and gamers.
We had a lot of updates the last week since we were scrambling to get everything working for the Spring Expo. This week we worked on fixing some bugs and getting some more artwork completed.
Fixed UI configuration so it adjusts to the screen size
Removed area of effect on dive attack
Added adjustable gameplay button UI so players can adjust size and location of buttons
It might seem like a slower week than last but we’re still making some pretty steady progress. If you want to watch us make levels, create animations or make some music, you can tune into our Twitch Stream every Saturday at 7pm ET.
For the past week our team has been prepping for the upcoming Spring Expo held by the Playcrafting group. After a couple pitfalls, we are well on our way to completing a workable demo of the first couple levels and a boss fight for The Painter’s Apprentice. The last couple of weeks have been intense with many long hours, but the end result is shaping up. We’re steadily making progress and now it’s just about testing. So what have we completed? A whole lot!
Completed win, lose, home, level select and options menu.
Implemented small and medium enemy AI.
Fixed a couple bugs where player was not detecting collision boxes during dive attack.
Updated attack to be continuous.
Tutorial level completed.
Players have all attack options available (dive, dash, regular and paintball).
Background artwork for all levels completed.
All player animations updated.
Mover boss animation finished.
Final boss concept artwork completed and approved.
Level 1-4 music completed.
Basic sound effects approved.
3 levels completed.
9 levels designed.
We continue to forge ahead at a fairly even pace and while there will likely be some other bumps and hiccups along the way, the path forward is relatively clear of obstacles. This upcoming demo will be the first time we allow others to see The Painter’s Apprentice. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but these events allow us to get priceless live feedback.
For those in the New York City region, stop by on April 29, 2015 between the hours of 6-9pm. For a limited time only you can get tickets to the Spring Expo for $9 instead of the standard $16. You’ll get to play The Painter’s Apprentice and 74 other indie games. You can also meet two of our team members: Liz Phillips, our marketing and community manager, and Jasmine Greene, the President of Luminosity.