[Project] Cadence: Road to Steam


  • Well, Mike *is* press, so I dunno what he did that was special beyond talk about the game?

    The dev behind Circuits tweeted @TheFuntastic and I when the initial comparison was made, maybe we should ask him? I think Circuits has just been visible longer... Also, Circuits being visible on Greenlight "first" may have taken some momentum from the voting for Cadence. Not that that's something anyone can control, but maybe people went "Oh, another music game, why do we need so many?" even though it's not even a fair comparison.
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    @Dislekcia Your suggestion about Mike Ross *being* press sounds like the most influential difference to me (as far as I can grock these things, which isn't necessarily well). Or at least too big a factor to discount its effect in any scenario (unless Peter knows of some better evidence).

    I do wonder what difference the two week Greenlight difference could have made (if any).
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    Hmm this is interesting. I did actually contact Mike Rose during the initial press bomb (perhaps this is the reason he didn't pick it up). I also saw circuits whilst I was looking up press sources and downloaded it. It's a nice sounding and interesting looking game, but the specialness of it is a very long away from the specialness of Cadence. I had to laugh when Chris Priestman described Cadence as even harder to explain than Circuits.

    Gameplay in circuits is quite linear. Basically just shuffling cue points so they trigger in right sequence. There isn't really any logic or emergence there. But I can totally see why the comparison gets made. Even the name sounds similar. The dev tweeted me? Oh, who is he? I may have actually tweeted circuits when I found it...

    Yeah, what I've learnt about greenlight is that I don't really understand it. After a great start it's now completely flatlined. There was another great graph based ludum dare game called mini metro that started greenlight the day before Cadence. They didn't do anything different but got retweeted by Matt Rix resulting in some major press coverage (the verge) which exploded and got them greenlit. For me the biggest difference is they have the story: "Ever wanted to try your hand at programming the metro". Perfect fit for people waiting for the subway.

    So right now that's my biggest challenge: trying to explain Cadence. This is why I've been sinking a lot of time into the tutorial and the onboarding experience. Trying really hard so that more people "get" the game. It's really difficult. People most often say "it looks really interesting, but I have absolutely no idea what's going on".

    Also I'm a bit stuck as to where I should focus my energies next. It's apparent my money will run out long before the game is where it needs to be. On the one hand I really want to focus on finding more specialness in the music creation and the feeling of creating interesting music. As in the beat boxing. I think if I can get that right people will lose their minds for the game. But it's a BIG "if" that might lead to dead ends.

    On the other hand a level creator is the most requested feature. This will also engender a feeling of authorship. I always regarded this as the last step, but maybe it needs to come forward. I think my biggest reservations is that there is actually very little content to play with so far (different nodes, different sounds) and making a useable level editor will steal energy away from me properly exploring the play space and maximising the specialness. But on the other hand people might find specialness I didn't know was there and start organically spreading word of the game...

    Anyway, I'll post the updated tutorial later today/tomorrow.
    Thanked by 1francoisvn
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    Day or two late, but here is the updated tutorial:
    http://www.madewithmonsterlove.com/demo/cadence/index.php (33MB)

    What I've learnt about tutorial design so far:
    • Making an intuitive tutorial is damn hard!
    • Successful tutorials separate game loops into their most granular components and present them one at a time.
    • The most granular atom of a loop might be much smaller than you realise.

      Eg The loop "Create infinite loops by sending pulses" can be deconstructed into:
      - Tapping a node sends pulses
      - Choosing the right node to start
      - Nodes affect the flow of pulses
      - The right sequence of nodes will cause the pulses to flow indefinitely

    • There is no such thing as a one size fit all tutorial.
      - Some people will get it instantly and blitz through it. You need to stay out of those peoples way
      - Others will struggle and you need to stick around to give them a helping hand (i.e show them more than once)

    • It's really difficult to know at what point someone has actually grokked something and you can advance the tutorial. (At least this is true in the case of a very emergent system like Cadence).

    • There are certain golden types of feedback that ensure people get them instantly.
      Eg Pulses collide generating a shower of sparks and juicy BARRRP sound effects. No one has as yet failed to understand " pulses colliding == bad"

    • It's not possible (or at least bloody difficult) to wrap everything action in this kind of feedback, but that should be your aim.
    Can't exactly say I've nailed it yet. But at least I'm a lot closer than I started a month ago (and when I thought this would only take a week and be a quick update. Ha!).
    Thanked by 1AngryMoose
  • I'm really liking this tutorial progression, I think interspersing new ideas with occasional "reinforcement" levels is great and serves players well in terms of learning progression. I've thus far played until about Level 10 or so.

    I also once again appreciate the idea that you've presented a relatively impressive loop to begin with, to show players their potential and make the learning experience more rewarding. I'd additionally suggest that you bring in the idea of alternative instrument tracks just a little earlier -- I was pleasantly surprised to hear the chiming on Level 8 but I think there's enough breather room to put a bit of that into Level 6 (maaaybe even Level 5, to be honest). Even if it's a long time before you pull that stunt again, players will be made aware that different sound types Are A Thing and that's something for them to look forward to. :3
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    @TheFuntastic haven't had a chance to play yet but @Squidcor posted this link the other day http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1015541/How-I-Got-My-Mom about the tutorial design of plants vs zombies. Good watch (though I've only been able to watch the first half).

    Mention in case you haven't seen it. Also will play the new demo soon as my work is out the way! [edit, like in a day or two]
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • A redditor actually just linked that talk to me, it looks like a goodie. Going to be watching after work today!
  • So many of you may have already heard via the rumour mill, but we can now mark today as the moment that we're finally destealthing and telling the world:
    • @Nandrew is joining me on Cadence!
    • There is a new audio engine. And it's kinda awesome:

    (Also we're about number 50 on steam greenlight. Seems getting greenlit is both an eventuality and nothing special anymore).
  • Dude you guys are kicking ass! :D And the eventuality is only for games who make it, plenty still don't :)

    I have a question - your website kicks ass, is it a template or did you guys build the template from scratch? I'm looking for a good template for myself (not meaning to take the one you're using but it would be nice to see who made it and see if they have other good ones :P)
  • I used the Volumes wordpress theme by themezilla. It's...okay. I end up fighting with it every time I want to do anything vaguely outside it's very narrow convention - but such is the way of wordpress theme I guess. It at least provides a good visual starting place ;)
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • Cadence got Greenlit yesterday! Thanks everybody who voted! :D

    To be honest though my feelings about it are mixed. On the one hand there is a sense of validation - my game's going to be on steam! I'm a real developer now! But at the same time it's tempered by the fact that being greenlit means less and less. Steam have adopted a policy greenlighting 75 games every two weeks. Whilst there are still a 1500 games in the greenlight queue, it's clear the floodgates are starting to open.

    Comparing the number of yes votes on my game to Broforce, I needed an order of magnitude less (round about 5600 yes votes). This leads to a situation where I haven't heard of a single one the fellow Greenlight games in my batch. Many of them seem...not good. In this sense the goal posts have shifted. Yes Steam is democratizing, and this is good. But getting on Steam itself is no longer a means to an end.

    You now need to catch Steam's eye not for distribution, but so you can secure critical shelf space on launch. When they open the user curated store fronts, none of that will change. As ever effectively marketing your game remains a matter of indie life and death...
  • @TheFuntastic It almost seems to me like the playstation 4 and Xbox one are the new "holy grail" because they promote your game and sales are almost certain.
  • @kobysvdwalt9 yeah, those look like really attractive platforms at the moment. Whilst I think the consoles new indie friendly approach is a sign of the times, I wouldn't be surprised to see that change as the AAA production mill gets up to speed on the new console generation.

    In other words: there is a golden window of opportunity, and it's closing fast!
  • I would really, really love to hear about your experience of creating that synth engine in Unity - the IDEA of implementing such a thing has been at the back of my mind for AGES (I did something like it for XNA), and it'd be awesome to hear about your experiences. Mostly on what capabilities your system has. Did you make it yourself or buy it somewhere? What would you like it to do that it doesn't? These sort of nerdy technical questions. Are these things you're capable of and willing to answer?
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    Yeah sure.

    The secret sauce is libpd, which is the embedded version of puredata - a node based audio programming environment very similar to Max/MSP, but open source. Embedding puredata gives you a muture DSL with a theoretically strong libraries, rich editing environment and established programming paradigms. (This is also the secret sauce behind Fract OSC which came out recently )

    Conceptually libpd is awesome, but getting it to speak to Unity is no trivial task. There is a repo which I'm currently contributing to, but it's very long way away from plug and play. Not to mention timing is a bit of nightmare, as the unity audio buffer runs slower than pd. Also you have to deal with threads (which break my brain and so far I'm just mostly ignoring the implications of).

    But all that said, the benefits of integrating an established technology versus rolling your own can not be overstated! Integrating Pd probably took me about 6 weeks, but if I was building my own I'd be so lost. Most of all I'm certain technical issues would have completely torpedoed my creative energies required to come up with sounds.

    There's a lot of literature about dynamic sound for games. For the most part I don't really buy it. Moving away from a sample based approach means you're sacrificing the collective advances of music recording over the last hundred years - both in terms of recording technology and very impressive (and CPU hungry) software synths and effect processors found in DAW's and recording studios. Yes you lose expressiveness, but in the hands of a capable composer and FMOD it should be more than possible to retain some of that but still having sound track that sounds expensive.

    Once you decide to synthesize everything, creating a lush, high def, textured sonic soundscape in real time is HARD. In a sense one can only hope to create a "lush" feeling in a very small band of music, particularly electronica. This is a limit of both processing power and knowhow of sound synthesis theory.

    All that said, building your own synths from nothing is OH MY GOD so much fun. Also for a game like Cadence, the glove fits and the trade offs are more than worth it!

    I'm rambling a bit, so feel free to ask any more directed questions. ;)
    Thanked by 1Chippit
  • Hey, we have a new dev chronicle ready for y'all! @TheFuntastic does a bit of explaining about the Pure Data roots of the revised audio engine, and provides an overview of how it interacts with Unity.

    Personally, I quite like this video because it's a little more meaty and knowledge-based than our last one. That, and Peter does a fantastic job of putting things in terms that even I can understand. And makes noises.

  • Mind Blown!!!!
  • So, I played the awesome new version of Cadence at rAge. Awesome as usual. Really enjoyed the way you can change the sound now, I've been looking forward to that since I saw the footage at A Maze. Anyway, I'm really curious as to why you made the decision to have only one node to start the pulse?
  • Cool thanks,

    Quite simply - player testing revealed multiple start nodes was such a large play space that often people would get themselves into a corners they couldn't get out of. So by having a single start node we cut down on the emergence, but gives player a fighting chance of learning what they need to in order to solve each level.

    That's actually the biggest challenge in Cadence, making each level manageable so the players can understand it, but without making it boring. ;)
    Thanked by 1dammit
  • Honestly every time I see Cadence in action it amazes me. Personally I still haven't figured out how it works properly yet, but I'm just me. I also have no patience for Starcraft :P I'm waaaaay outside the mean on this one :P

    But each time I see the game in an expo I constantly see a bundles of people playing and tinkering with it, having a quiet, calm, serene blast. That's just incredible :)

    Well done guys :)
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • Cadence is looking lovely guys! Well done and good luck! :)
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • So (many of you have already heard) but Cadence got nominated for a South by South West gamer's voice award.

    This means we get to exhibit in the Indie section of the SXSW gaming festival, a subsection of SXSW that takes over Austin every year. We're quite stoked! :D Still no where near post indie, but it feels like I've personally turned the corner from Amaze last year - when I was actually feeling quite down on both myself and Cadence. Very excited for things to come!
  • We're now on Kickstarter! WOOOO!


    Want to cry and laugh and sleep. It has been hectic, fitting in all the time for this stuff has not been easy, but we've gone ahead with it and are super excited for the next couple of months.

    Any shares, likes, press contact, warm remarks or free beers are welcome.

    Share and conquer!
    Thanked by 3francoisvn Karuji Tuism
  • Oh, and for the meantime, we have a few posts and announcements across the various social meddierzz that would mightily benefit from every single share and comment. Pick your favourite outlet and be showered in our thanks.

    Our Twitter announcement: https://twitter.com/LovingMonsters/status/570106809920450561
    Our Facebook hooha: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1616791818539330&id=1428226340729213&notif_t=like
    Hullabaloo on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+Madewithmonsterlove/posts/eMQQqLsC52R
    Or, of course, you can just link to the Kickstarter page directly: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/947738574/cadence

    Thanked by 1francoisvn
  • I want to back this but I just found out it's R18 to the £ so I'll have to wait a bit and hope it comes down. Best of luck though!
  • Yaaayyy! So glad to finally see this out there.

    I do have one question that wasn't quite clear on the KickStarter page: With the iOS Beta tier, does one also get the final version on iOS? Or is that only for the pre-release version and it will need to be purchased through App Store afterwards?

  • Congrats, and backed!

    This is definitely one of the better KS videos I've seen. They usually start off quite well showing the game, and then fail horridly when the creators start talking. But yours was actually really interesting and watchable right through.

    Do you have the first bit (the game trailer part) standalone on Youtube?
    Thanked by 2TheFuntastic BenJets
  • Sweet :)

    Don't forget to re-announce even bigger and stronger when the US wakes up!
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • Might be worthwhile saying somewhere how the money will be used.
  • Might be worthwhile saying somewhere how the money will be used.
    Yeah, this was the only thing I thought was missing. I've backed it. Good luck!
  • Backed, good luck with the campaign! We'll do what we can to help.
    Thanked by 2TheFuntastic BenJets
  • Thanks everybody! All comments are good ones, but to be honest we're just a little bit burned out at the moment. Will update as we go ;)

    @DavidHecker yup. You get the final app. One of the reasons we've got a restrictive limit on it. We still need to explain this properly on the page. Thanks for bringing it up

    @Fengol yeah we hear you. Feels a bit weird that this isn't the best value for South Africans. But well, as creators the exchange rate is pretty great ;)
    Thanked by 1Fengol
  • Great! Thanks for the update @TheFuntastic I thought that might be the case but just wanted to be sure.

    Hope the campaign goes well for you!
  • I'd like to chime in here with the brag that this video is first game related video @mattjets, @jaysong and I have created as Cool Your Jets. Make a note; if in the future, you need someone to help make your game look awesome, we can make your dreams come true.
  • Dudes, getting Cool your jets on this video was one of best decisions we could have possibly made! Highly recommend them for anyone that needs to make a game trailer ;) See a lot of work going overseas, but we have the talent right here!
  • go south africa! the kickstarter vid is amazing (and the game too *much jealousy ensues*)
    Thanked by 1Nandrew
  • I'm still confused - having watched the video and looked at the kickstarter page - on exactly what is going to be done on the game...as in where the money is going.

    From what I can see, the game is finished and polished. It's not clear how many levels of puzzles there are though. So, ultimately, it looks like the funding is going towards this synthesiser thing...which, while is probably super impressive, is an even more niche market thing. And it's possibly putting people who want to fund a *game* off funding a synthesiser. (I mean, if the kickstarter is to fund a thing I don't care about - the synthesiser-, then there's no reason for me to fund it. If the kickstarter is also there to add much more to the gameplay or levels to the game, then it makes sense to fund it).

    Also, overall, the kickstarter and video seem to focus on the dev's love for music...without selling me anything. I think the video's fantastic in terms of it being a narrative, but it doesn't make me want to buy/kickstart the project which is problematic. The final phrase on the video should be a strong call to action to fund this.

    The tiers are also somewhat confusing. I'm not sure why IOs is being separated out.

    Anyway, these are my personal opinions and others may not agree but I did want to share in case any of it is useful in helping to get further support.
  • We've just released a playable alpha of the game!


    (build available here: http://madewithmonsterlove.itch.io/cadence-demo )

    Shares and such are naturally valuable, but we want to hit it big on the news aggregators in particular and upvotes here, right now especially, would be pretty rad:



    This is the last major stab that we can foresee in terms of top-tier-attention-getting-priority, so if you have one more round of support in you, now is the time ^^
    Thanked by 2dammit francoisvn
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    What do the diamonds actually do? How are they functioning?

    Edit: Oh i see - requires two sounds hitting simultaneously
  • Hey everyone!

    Made With Monster Love have just released a new demo of the game in an effort to help people understand Cadence and help generate some extra hype for the Kickstarter campaign.


    After getting off to an incredible start (thanks in a big way to support from our community) the campaign has since slowed down drastically. Unless there's a sudden surge of new interest, things are looking pretty bleak. Let's all team up in trying to get this new demo out to as many people as we possibly and help make this campaign a success!

    Please share the demo and kickstarter page with everyone you can. If you see other people doing the same, please like/ favourite/ up-vote their posts. Encourage people around you to keep spreading this thing. It's do or die time and spreading the love is all we can do to help make this game the great success story it deserves to be!
  • So, last night, @TheFuntastic mentioned a problem in not getting any "bad" feedback. Of course, I really don't want to be *that guy* on the forums, but if you're not getting this kind of feedback from other people, I'm going to volunteer my thoughts here.

    Granted, I might be missing the mark. I might not have all the details and stats and data, but I'm going to give you my thoughts on where the campaign missed its mark.

    I did say this above, but I'm repeating it here: Your kickstarter didn't tell me what was in it for me. The focus of the campaign generally seems to be about what you - the devs - will get out of it - making the game - with the assumption that that is enough for me. Sure there are tiers of rewards, but you didn't sell those to me as amazing either. For example, I would love a T-shirt showing off that I backed a cool game, but the T-shirt design is obscure and so people won't get the external validation for wearing it out - so, again, there's not much in it for your backer.

    And now, your new campaign sort of explodes this problem. You've focused on what you want - money for noodles - without a focus on what the person giving you money is getting. You're not even coding for the person who's giving you money. You're coding for noodles. Which is an obscure reference to dev experience which is also limiting your target market to devs...which you pointed out yourself is not your target market.

    It's also still not made clear exactly what the money is for when the game looks as polished as it does.

    Anyway, for those ready with pitchforks at the gate to lance me for not fully supporting the Made with Monster Love campaigns, just know that I do want their success which is why I'm being honest here in my thoughts. Perhaps others who have more insights could add their thoughts here so that Cadence does get the funding it needs, through us all figuring out the problems in the campaigns.
  • Thanks @dammit for the feedback. It's perfectly valid.

    I find it interesting in particular that you found the kickstarter campaign very "us" centric. That annoyed us about other campaigns and we tried very hard to avoid that. Seems we missed the mark. Damn.

    To be honest something that I think really hurt us here is our humility. It would have been much easier to say "a brand new way of making music that turns anyone into a musician". That would have allowed us to create the call to action of liberating the music for you, the player. Instead we talked in way that didn't oversell anything and kept expectations reasonable. That's perhaps better for after the game launches, but not the best way to sell a kickstarter.

    One thing I am okay with is the Noodlestarter not selling the game - because it's main purpose it's to capture the backers who are already invested in game. Something we've learnt is super important is to keep momentum going. This is really just our way of sustaining ourselves using the backers we did manage to convince while we go back to the drawing board. ;)

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Thanked by 1dammit
  • I also understand where @dammit is coming from - it's really a beautiful game with amazing aesthetics and design, I understand the mechanics are super niche, but seeing MANY MANY MANY people spend ages on it throughout all the festivals I've seen it hit, I know it's doing something right.

    But the marketing around it has been really unfocused around the "what's in it for me" question as @dammit mentions.

    They synthesiser thing is great, except that it's probably not what 99% of people who'd potentially buy/play Cadence wants. It's already pretty and slick as hell, so what's more to build from the perspective of potential backers?

    What do "they" want? I've chatted with @Thefuntastic over GDC about it, and it's a real scratcher, I'm not really an authority, but I'm venturing a few guesses...

    1. Probably 100 levels. Or 1000, probably.
    2. Even cooler if the 1000 levels let you puzzle over Jingle Bells or Gangnam Style or whatever pop tunes are in at the moment, in a deconstructed, non-copyright infringing way, of course.
    3. I'm a budding music maker. I want to feel like Cadence can make me make music. So here's my tune, put it into the game. (show me that you've put it into the game, don't just say you can)
    4. Daily challenges?
    5. Musical greeting cards/puzzles?


    All that said, I really really, really admire the tenacity with which you guys have tackled Cadence. It's unfortunate that it hadn't taken off, but I really believe there's something special there, it's just a matter of the right message or some kind of tipping point factor. Hats off to you guys for getting it as far as it has.

    Keep on keeping on, guys.
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
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    Thanks @tuism You make a valid point as well.

    One of the things that I did learn about Cadence over the course of hundreds of playtests is that the synths really don't mean much while you're playing the game. In fact even showing people that they existed while they were playing seemed to be a distraction.

    However when people start creating their own content the synths and all the rest will start to become really important, because it allows people to distinguish their creations. So that is our next focus, we know that there is immense potential in Cadence to be a creative tool, but until we can actually get people making their own content with the game it's going to be hard for anyone else to see that. So it's full steam ahead until we can re-launch with a level editor in the game. Hopefully then people will begin to "get it". ;)
    Thanked by 1dammit
  • We should probably at least mention our NOODLESTARTER! Help us out by Pre-ordering the game or joining our beta program. :)


    Thanked by 1AngryMoose
  • In fact even showing people that they existed while they were playing seemed to be a distraction.

    However when people start creating their own content the synths and all the rest will start to become really important, because it allows people to distinguish their creations.
    So this seems really weird to me. The conclusion doesn't follow for me. If people care more about the playing part...then you should be focusing on that as well! Trying to sell me synth while I want puzzles will make me less interested, not more. I'll try and post my thoughts on the kickstarter itself here later, but I feel a lot of the problems with the kickstarter is actually rooted in this problem of "target audience".

    Thanked by 2dammit Tuism
  • @Rigormortis perfectly valid criticism. But we've learnt an almighty amount about our target audiences over the last four weeks. Most importantly, we learnt that we have several different customer profiles. A hardcore gamer is making a very different decisions from the parents of an 11 year old girl who is into minecraft. How we reach the latter is a very important question we're still trying to figure out. ;)
  • @Rigormortis perfectly valid criticism. But we've learnt an almighty amount about our target audiences over the last four weeks. Most importantly, we learnt that we have several different customer profiles. A hardcore gamer is making a very different decisions from the parents of an 11 year old girl who is into minecraft. How we reach the latter is a very important question we're still trying to figure out. ;)
    Both Facebook and Adwords have the opportunity for you to create very (scarily) targeted ads. Literally, you can target women who are mothers who like games and education and music and are between certain age brackets. And the more narrow you target your ads, the less you're paying overall.
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    A hardcore gamer is making a very different decisions from the parents of an 11 year old girl who is into minecraft. How we reach the latter is a very important question we're still trying to figure out. ;)
    At the meetup you mentioned that you encountered little girls and women who really enjoyed Cadence and that surprised you. Now, I'm not in that demographic, and I don't make games for that demographic, but from what I understand of that demographic they're more inclined to enjoy puzzle games than making electronic music. I would have thought that your experiences at SXSW would have made you more inclined to agree with @Rigormortis's point, but you seem to have come to the exact opposite conclusion.

    I'm also not saying that the music creation part isn't a cool thing to focus on. I'm personally much more interested in that than the puzzle part (I have an interest in creating electronic music, and I have spent time doing that even when there isn't a game attached). But I don't think I'm in the demographic you're looking for for Cadence, and I'm certainly not an 11 year old girl who loves Minecraft. I think there's a lot of value that can be gained from having music sharing in the game, but I think @Rigormortis has a point.
    Thanked by 2AngryMoose Tuism
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