Pulse, She’s getting there…

As you may have gathered, it’s been an extremely busy couple of months for the gang here at Cipher Prime. In between perspiration-inducing bouts of Starcraft and Dain’s all-too-frequent group demonstrations of the Insanity Workout program, we’ve been laboring tirelessly on our baby girl, Pulse.

As CP’s designated content developer and resident hipster (according to my business card), it’s been my task to build levels for this sweet little cherub of a game. On top of that, I’ve had the immense pleasure of co-composing Pulse’s soundtrack with Dain.

Only days after Will first scribbled a few rings on a dirty paper napkin, (when little Pulse was conceived) Dain and I were banging away on our MIDI keyboards, searching for the right tunes to compliment our baby’s delicious gameplay. After a bit of deliberation and experimentation we landed on a scatterbrained assortment of orchestral arrangements, 80’s dance riots, chiptune fusion, and pirate shanties.

We had the chance to show off Pulse a bit at this years Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. That went well, and we were lucky enough to get some feedback in articles from by Tracy Erickson from Pocket Gamer who called Pulse, “a package so thoroughly well put together that you’re reminded of why music games were popular in the first place.” and Chris Holt from Macworld who said that Pulse was a, “remarkable rhythm game” in his feature.

Anyway, here’s the scoop:

Pulse will be released sometime in the NEAR future with 7 core levels for just $4.99 through the iTunes App Store- how sweet is that? These will be made up of the aforementioned collection of songs that big D and I have been tag-teamin’ for the past couple months. We’ve already released one track called “Porcelain Doll,” which was really well received. Now, we’re excited to release our second track called “Straylight,” available through the Cipher Prime Store for $0.99. Both tracks have an ethereal quality that hint at a magical world.

And it doesn’t stop there! Every week, Cipher Prime will release a new track collaborated with local Philadelphia artists that makes Pulse a lot more interesting. We’re excited to announce our new rhythm-based game, while being able to promote the independent local music scene at the same time. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to keep you guessing for another few days before we unveil our next bit of juicy news. I will, however, leave you with the following three words: Mountain, Bounce, Godzilla.

Having read all that, try and tell me your ears aren’t tingling with anticipation.


GDC 2011: Wrapping up the Experience

This year’s GDC was a pretty awesome week for us. One of the highlights was being able to show off our upcoming release Pulse. We’re thankful it made a great impression on both Macworld and Pocket Gamer, but we’re also thankful we were able to play around with a lot of cool games from other developers. We were lucky enough to be judges for the IGF (Independent Games Festival), and want you to know about a few games we loved:

Solace, in all its glory.

  • Solace is a great indie music game, and we love the guys behind it,who we fist met this past year at Indie Cade. Rob-thanks for giving Will a badge. Dan, you and the Danish game have a special place in our hearts. If the rest of you don’t know what we’re talking about here, that’s okay. The most important thing is that you give Solace a look. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Helsing’s Fire, from Ratloop is an innovative puzzle game that’s a hell of a lot of fun. We met the guys behind the game when they presented at the Flash Gaming Summit. We truly love them, and love to see our friends doing well. Nice work, boys!

    Solipskier in action. See what we mean about the rainbows?!

  • Solipskier is an addictive, fast-paced game created by our friends Mike and Greg. We have a lot of respect for them because they run a two-man studio, and crank out awesome games. Make sure to check out Solipski… especially because it has rainbows. Any game with rainbows is a win in our book.
  • Bit.Trip Runner, by Gaijin Games – We love the Bit.Trip series, and the team over at Gaijin. We look to them for inspiration and always enjoy hearing about their successes, since we’re both similar studios. Chris Osborn, who’s had his hand in the game, was a wonderful addition to our GDC experience. The conference wouldn’t have been the same without you, buddy!
  • Nidhogg. No seriously, Nidhogg. There’s not much to say about this fantastic game, except that it’s one of the best ways to kill a few hours. We played a round in the office not too long ago (Will won, of course) and can’t wait to make time for a rematch. Don’t let the old school graphics fool you: Nidhogg will rock your socks off.
  • Shot Shot Shoot – This is Will’s personal favorite for the iPad, and a game that we feel is worthy of competitive gamers everywhere. It was one of the nominees for “Best Mobile Game” at IGF, and we couldn’t agree more. The visual simplicity of this “minimalistic dueling game” will have you trying to conquer your friends. Trust us; Will’s already clocked in some serious hours.

Honorable Mentions

  • Amnesia won Best Audio, and for good reason: the game wouldn’t be what it is without the haunting soundtrack. The game shows off an attention to detail that we haven’t seen from anyone in quite awhile. Check this one out.
  • Bastion is a neat action RPG that has some seriously awesome voice-overs. Overall, we dig this game.

PS: Minecraft.

Extra Credit: A Look at Cipher Prime from Down Under

Imagine being asked to pick just two game studios out of a sea of thousands and analyze them for an assignment. Well, that’s exactly what Simon Lydiard had to do. Simon, who attends Bond University in Australia, contacted the Cipher Prime team a few weeks ago about including us in his work. Naturally, we were pretty excited that someone across the globe was really into our games. Even more exciting? The other studio Simon put us up to is Bungie, which you may recognize if you’ve played a little Halo in your day.

In his report, Simon showcased the differences between a large and small studio, noting that no matter the size, communication, innovation, and a love of the job are all key components for success in the video game industry. “Each developer has conducted themselves in a respectful way to not just the industry, but to their fans,” he writes.

“Bungie keeps fans updated on their website and maintains their pristine image through careful handling of any public relations issues. Cipher Prime engages their fans in the same way, but is also heavily engaged with social media such as Twitter. The ability and importance of following up a product is just as important for each developer as the creation process itself.”

He also talks about the challenges surrounding game creation, and highlights the fact that trial-and-error is a huge part of how time is spent. Simon’s insights into the creative process behind our game, Auditorium, is a testament to this. The report touches upon the hard work that goes into making any indie game a hit, and we’re flattered that Simon calls us “one of the elite small development studios in the world.” Not too shabby, to say the least!

When it came to his report, Simon says picking Cipher Prime was a no-brainer. “I have played Fractal and Auditorium into the ground. When I got my new headphones, I played them all through again.” Simon is also anxious to get his hands on Pulse, our upcoming release.

Why such a game-centric assignment, you ask? Simon’s on track to graduate this year with his Bachelor’s Degree of Computer Games, and has a major in IT. After college, he plans on doing Master’s level research about games and mobile learning. He’s also thinking about working at his university as a designer and teacher. Sounds like some pretty sweet gigs, no?

Simon considers himself to be the typical, average gamer in his spare time. He likes to sift through various app catalogs to find indie treasures, but also makes a point of playing the big titles. We think it’s pretty awesome that someone like Simon is a fan of ours, and we look forward to seeing where he ends up in the industry. Thanks for writing about us, Simon! Keep up the good work… and tell that professor of yours we gave your paper an A+!

If you’d like to check out Simon’s full report (it’s a good read), visit his website and contact him there. You can also follow him on Twitter at @simonlyd.