Cipher Prime Geeks Out at PAX East!

We love games. We love making them, playing them, talking about them, licking them, etc. This weekend, one lucky Cipher Primate (the author of this post, in fact) attended PAX East, where she fangirl’d hard while helping represent the Philly dev scene.

She demoed our magically microbial game, Splice, attended some amazing panels, made Bostonian snow angels, and met some extremely cool fellow indie developers. These creative folk included longtime Cipher Prime friends Ichiro Lambe and Rohit Shenoy of Dejobaan Games, Owlchemy Labs’ Alex Schwartz (of Snuggle Truck fame), and Supergiant Games’ Greg Kasavin, who wrote the story to Bastion.

She also bought this so-not-emotionally-devastating T-shirt:

But enough about us. We want to hear about you! Comment, and tell us your PAX East stories! Coolest story posted by next Thursday (4/4/2013) wins a free Steam key for Splice, Auditorium or Fractal–your choice. We can’t wait to hear from you!


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Cipher Prime Interviews Dejobaan Games!

At a recent Cipher Prime dev night, a roomful of game-lovers and -makers had the pleasure of sitting down with Ichiro Lambe and Rohit Shenoy of Dejobaan Games for a virtual chat. These dapper gentlemen imparted great wisdoms ranging from their personal experiences making games to their success in marketing (according to Rohit, giving games interesting names “seems to work every time”) to their mastery of the art of seduction (it’s all in the salsa, apparently).

At any rate, even if you weren’t there, you can still watch the interview!

We’re excited to announce a new playlist on Cipher Prime’s YouTube channelDev Night Q&A’s. In our magical journeys through the lands of game studio-being, we have met some pretty remarkable fellow developers who have allowed us to peer into (and occasionally film) the depths of their souls. So come cozy up to your favorite devs: subscribe!


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Super Hexagon: Six Sides of Awesome

After thousands of losses and months of play, I am just 17.87 seconds away from beating the final level of Super Hexagon. And when the clock ticks pasts 60:00, I will prize that moment as one of my greatest gaming achievements.

This is weird for me, because I’m a brain-games person, not a finger-games person. I like games that take forever to play and even longer to master. Games where you spend as much time learning how to play as you spend actually playing the damned thing.

Yet Super Hexagon, in which my all-time average round length is probably somewhere under ten seconds, is also one of my all-time favorite games. There’s a lot to learn from a game that can break my expectations of a genre, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how Super Hexagon makes me feel and why I play it.

It Feels Good to Know I’m Improving

Almost from session to session, I know I’m getting better at the game. This improvement might be incremental, but it’s there and it’s gratifying.

Super Hexagon’s game design maximizes this feeling in a couple of ways: it has a focused objective (survival over time), and you are given many (many, many, many) trials in which to improve.

Moreover, the game is awesomely efficient at bringing you back to the action. After you lose, a single tap anywhere on the screen takes you right back into the fray. A game isn’t menus. It’s a game. For small arcade-style games, it’s especially important to keep your player playing the game as much as possible. Super Hexagon nails this.

In a single session, you will play dozens and dozens of seconds-long rounds. All that focused feedback makes you hypersensitive to small improvements. It feels like a big deal when you pick up the game and find yourself consistently reaching ten seconds past yesterday’s performance.

To win, you must move precisely, navigating and switching between particular wall patterns. The walls you get aren’t completely random, but a series of wall patterns, and you start mastering them each in turn. You end up improving in phases, and noticeably so, as sections that once seemed impossible become trivially easy. It’s far more gratifying to know that you can “beat” this or that pattern, because you often can’t tell that your reaction times are getting better–that sort of thing sneaks up on you.

Super Hexagon’s modular level design gives you more chances to feel better about your performance in every session.

It Feels Good to Have a Goal

Months after its release, I still play Super Hexagon, an arcade game that technically never ends, because I have a goal: beat all six levels by surviving for sixty seconds in each.

Now, sixty seconds is just an arbitrary stopping point set by the game’s designers. But reaching that final sixty seconds is no mean feat, so it’s a goal that seems both worthwhile and attainable. The game keeps on going after that, but once I break past sixty seconds on Hexagonest Hyper Mode, personally, I’m done. I’m retiring until the sequel comes out. And I will be exceedingly happy.

It Feels Good to Stop Losing

This is my favorite part of Super Hexagon. You spend most of your time losing, but you get pretty zen about it. Losing happens in Super Hexagon, and it happens a lot. You know it and you expect it. But starting again is so, so easy. Each new round is enticingly full of potential, and the amount of energy you need to invest to try again is ridiculously low.

But the best part of frequent losing is that once you’re on a roll, you are on a fucking roll.

You might be stalling at a 10- to 15-second plateau, and then suddenly find your time shooting up past 20 seconds–25, 26, 27… And when you realize it, you get this kick of adrenaline because you have no idea how far you can go. Your movements are so correct and so masterful that you can’t believe it’s you doing what you’re doing. It’s like you’re a runner breaking away from the pack and pulling mysterious speed out of nowhere to finish way ahead of your competitors. It’s thrilling, and it washes away the frustration of your numerous previous failures. And it makes you want to play more.


Super Hexagon deserves the praise it’s getting because it does what few games, brain-games or finger-games, do well: it streamlines an experience down to its very essentials and makes that experience worth more than the sum of its parts.

Splice in Another Humble Bundle!

Splice is gonna be in the latest Humble Bundle. Boosh.

The addition will go live today (on Tuesday, March 12th) at 11:00 AM PDT (2:00 PM EDT).

The sweetest thing about this promo is that it’s cross-platform: you’ll get Splice (and a metric buttload of other cool games) not only for Android, but on Macs, PCs, and Linux; you’ll even get Steam keys. Achievement unlocked.

To get all these games on a ton of different platforms, all you have to do is donate more than the average donation (currently, $6.65).

Sweet deal. Get it!


God Mode:

If you feel like being a Cipher Prime hero, you can put a countdown/purchase widget on your site to let people know about the bundle. Here are the instructions:

1. For embedding on a site (it will float on the top and scroll with the page)
<div style=”width:410px; height:150px; position:fixed; top:30px; right:30px; z-index:2000;”>
<iframe scrolling=’no’ frameBorder=’0′ style=”border:none;” src=”” width=”410″ height=”150″></iframe>

2. For embedding in a blog post (it will be centered)

<iframe scrolling=’no’ frameBorder=’0′ style=”margin:0 auto; border:none;” src=”” width=”410″ height=”150″></iframe>

3. For free style embedding (wherever you want to put it):

<iframe scrolling=’no’ frameBorder=’0′ style=”border:none;” src=”” width=”410″ height=”150″></iframe>


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Splice Featured at IndieCade!

This February, Cipher Prime had the honor of being featured in IndieCade East 2013! For one orgasmic weekend of indie love, we shipped off to New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image to share our games with developers, artists, press, and fellow game enthusiasts alike.

We demoed Splice and gave a show-and-tell session about its production. We also participated in the GameSlam, a three-minute pitch-your-game throw-down with other developers, where we showed off a prototype called Intake.

We played and were inspired by other featured games, including the gorgeous four-paneled puzzler Gorogoa and the face-meltingly competitive Hokra. Our favorite gaming experience, though, was helping an auditorium of people collectively guide a spaceship to safety using laser pointers in Renga.

We also explored the museum’s “Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off” exhibition, which explored the evolution of videogames from the first digital video game, Spacewar!. We had the most fun shooting life-sized portals onto a massive wall projection of Portal.

IndieCade was exhilarating, and we feel privileged to have been a part of it. We can’t wait until next year!


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