Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy Auditorium Updates!

Alright, so first off, happy holidays to every denomination! Things have been a bit sparse around here as we’ve taken time off to visit family and such, but I wanted to give you guys a quick update. Progress on the game is moving forward, as we build out the community site as well as the new levels and audio. We’ve put as many hours as possible into the game for a 2008 release, but year-end business often gets in the way of, well, doing business. We are very confident for a January 2009 release, and should hopefully be able to give you guys an exact release date in the next two weeks. Thanks for staying tuned, and have a great New Year!

P.S. Speaking of holidays, we’ve been getting emails from people who have donated but not received their gift. This is an automated process, so we’re looking into the issue and should have some answers for you soon. Thanks again!

It’s over 1,000,000!

After literally weeks of waiting and hoping, we are incredibly proud to announce that Auditorium has passed 1,000,000 plays! I can’t tell you how excited we are to see our creation flourish. I also can’t tell you how proud we are of our server, which has withstood a constant flood of traffic from several Diggs, untold thousands of links, and the especially ridiculous outpouring of visitors from Penny Arcade and VGCats. Thanks to everyone who has played, and especially to those that have played more than once to see all the possibilities!

It’s a Day of Sharing.

I thought it might be nice to direct you guys to some gaming gems we stumbled upon today. While neither of these games are new flash games from what I understand, they are both great.

Without further ado, from the puzzle-game genre I’d like to present to you LaunchBall. LaunchBall excels in so many areas it’s hard to count. The puzzles are very fun and have that unique sandbox style game play we’ve come to expect in good puzzle games today

The second title I’d like to bring to your attention is RoboKill. Just as it sounds, this is your classic blow-it-up action game. The execution is just so good I had to mention it. I really enjoyed both these titles and I hope you do too. If anyone else has stumbled upon any really good flash games lately, send them our way so we can check them out too!

ByteJacker and Beta Testing

Yesterday it was announced Auditorium was the ‘Free Indie Rapid Fire‘ game of the week over at ByteJacker. I wanted to thank anyone who voted for us, you guys rock!

Meanwhile, I have some important news about beta testing. You may have noticed there is no longer a beta testing link on the Auditorium site. It’s sad, but we are currently at capacity. We have received thousands of requests and are going through them all in order to come up with our awesome testing team! For everyone who sent in an email, thank you so much and we’ll let you know as soon as we can. The beta testing system is still being built and should be ready in just a week or two. We have a lot of surprises so I hope you’re ready!

An award-winning agency.

We are proud to say we were featured on the FWA today as ‘Site of the Day.’ For us, this is a big honor. The FWA showcases sites that go above and beyond, totally pushing the envelope for what is cutting edge on the internet today.

Meanwhile, we have also won a few other awards. Our favorite award was a listing on Moluv. Not only is Moluv an awesome site, Maurice (site owner) is just a stand-up gentlemen. Maurice, you’re amazing and thank you so much! Besides giving us a featured site award for both Cipher Prime and Auditorum, Maurice has also added us on his site as a friend and even donated to our cause. Please check out his site. He has shown us a lot of love and we are very grateful. Keep up the good work man!

On top of these awards we also won a Dope Award and ‘Site of the Day‘ over at E-Creative. We are very thankful and hope we have some more award announcements soon!

Improving Auditorium

Everyone has been giving us great feedback, so I’d like to touch on a few of the major ways we can improve Auditorium. I think you will be happy to know that we are going to implement an “Accept Solution” mechanism, so that players can enjoy their creations before progressing to the next level. As you can imagine, this is probably the most-requested feature.

Sneak preview of the Level Editor

Sneak preview of the Level Editor

Additionally, the full online release of Auditorium will include a Level Editor. We also have plans for sharing and rating community-generated content.

Another request that has come in a lot has been the ability to add your own music, and we are looking into how we can set that up without (possibly) violating copyright laws — pesky RIAA. You’ll have to keep your fingers crossed there.

One of the more surprising requests I think has been for a Color Blind feature — surprising, to me at least, because I’m happy to know that the game is compelling enough without it for you guys to both finish playing it and write in to us. We are looking to how we can best implement this feature, so some feedback from the community would help, like information on the best contrast ratios and color choices, etc.

Many of you have expressed concern that Auditorium won’t make it to the PC or the Mac, but fear not — the full version of Auditorium is being produced as a totally online experience, complete with community features.

Super-secret development screens of Auditorium: iPhone

Coming soon?

Many of you have also asked — pleaded, really — for an iPhone version, and we are actively looking into development on that platform. So yes, we are trying to find a way to get Auditorium on the iPhone. It’s still far too early to set a release date or say anything for sure, but you can stay tuned here for more news on that as it develops.

Last but not least, a lot of you are asking about the Auditorium soundtrack, and while I’ll write a bit more on that later, I will say that we are going to make a complete album with fully-orchestrated tracks available after the release of the full version of the game.

So that’s it for now. Thanks for your continued support as we keep working to make this the best experience on the web! Let us know if there is something we forgot!

Auditorium Backstory

It seems like just about everyone asks, “How did you come up with the idea for Auditorium?” Well, the truth is, like any good idea, it started small and evolved into what you see today.

Now the question is, how small did this idea start? Surprisingly, Auditorium was meant to only be a mere widget at the top of Cipher Prime to engage visitors for a few minutes as they visited our site. In fact, the game was not even supposed to be a puzzle game. The first ideas that were thrown around were ideas of shooters and reaction games. We weren’t sure what sort of direction to take or where to start. So, Dain set off on a small personal journey of recreating an explosion effect he had made in 3D early this year. Meanwhile, I starting working on the game design and ideas.

Dain's Fun Sound Explosion

I was really pulling a blank for quite a few days, but that explosion experiment proved very useful. Sadly, Dain had little luck in recreating that explosion effect. But the project had struck a chord in both of us, fueling the original concept for Auditorium. We were going to make a game with light and sound, where audio would be interpreted as light. A spec sheet was made, designs were drafted, and we set out on creating an alpha version to see if our idea was any good.

Coding this little guy was not exactly the easiest task; Flash really wasn’t meant to do this kind of particle math or rendering. So as you could imagine, we made all kinds of little tests to see what we could produce. Lucky for you, we decided it would be fun to show you a few of them.

Basic Particle Test

Around one month after our eye-opening idea, we decided we were finally ready to show the game to a test group. I rounded up some friends and we presented to them a 3 level alpha, no level transitions, no end level state, and no directions. The response was pretty good, but really not the response we were looking for. Everyone saw the potential for the idea, but the execution just wasn’t there yet. But after many hours of testing, how could we not go completely overboard with our game? How exactly, could we not make Auditorium everything we wanted it to be?

So, we went back to the drawing board and completely re-designed the game a few times until we were satisfied. New ideas came about and new ways of interacting with the flow were born. It was time to take our idea to a new level. In order to do this we were really going to need a good development framework. We had looked around for awhile, but there just wasn’t anything that fit the bill. So naturally, we created our own MVC-based framework called Tricycle. This big fella allowed us to create Auditorium from scratch 4 times over our 3 month development cycle.

theGXL is a great organization and we can't thank them enough!

On the 24th of October, Dain and I were still hacking away at code, trying our very best to get Auditorium ready for a public beta at theGXL 400 Man LAN event. However, we had both fallen sick the week before and have been running on practically no sleep for days. Somehow, we were able to get the game engine done by 12AM. However, we still had no levels and very little audio. Dain started on the tracks and I went ahead hacking away at levels. At around 3AM in the morning we were finally ready. Luckily, many gamers were still awake on the gaming floor.

Our idea was to throw some foam grenades out into the crowd. Two of these grenades had little hearts on the bottom. The two players who found these hearts would get ten minutes with Auditorium going head-to-head for a beautiful video card. As you would expect, gamers left the floor as soon as they realized they could not win anything. However, after the game started a curious thing started to happen — half of the night-walking gaming audience came back up to the booth and proceeded to watch in awe as the two competitors battled it out in our arena. We announced the ten-minute end of competition, but the two men didn’t even hesitate. One could tell, these men were not getting up until they had finished. This was the fuel we desperately needed, the clue that we might be doing something right. Only a week later we released the demo that is online today.

If anyone has any questions or comments please let us know, we’ll try our best to answer them.

Welcome!

Welcome to the Cipher Prime Blog! If you’re so inclined, you’ll be able to keep track of what’s going on here, from inane things (like what we had for lunch) to things you actually care about (like when Auditorium is coming to your favorite console). Feel free to comment, post, and email us – we read everything, and the feedback lets us know you care (as trite as that sounds).