[Project] Cadence: Road to Steam

edited in Projects
Cadence can now be added to your Steam wishlist:

The original Ludum Dare comment:


What went right:
- Managed to create an emergence machine, that just oozes the stuff from everywhere
- Found a really rich space with loads of ideas and possibilities
- Feels delicious to play with
- Actually has a win condition
- Found something that I think will work as a for realzies money product, particularly on iOS.

What went wrong:
- Paid the cost of technical debt and sleep deprivation on the second day, fixing loads of the same bugs over and over
- Despite all my promises to myself, didn't spend as much time on actual gameplay vs feel and aesthetics. Shows as the levels were implemented in a rush at the end. (And unity decided to not save a bunch of them. Arrrgh! )
Thanked by 2duncanbellsa BenJets


  • Ooooh that's really cool :D
    Played around a bit, got stuck on the level that requires 8 nodes and 16 beats but I thought it was a cool way to essentially create a kinda spatial-musical-puzzle game, who knew connect-the-dots could sound so great :P

    I thought it was a bit lame that you had to use alt+lmb to rotate (but that's just because webplayer doesn't let you right click =/) and the nodes were maybe a little small (I think it makes it harder than it needs to be to see which nodes are of what type when first looking at a level). Also like the clean, empty, but still visually interesting background (though it does bug out when the level first starts, but that's not really an issue)
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • I gave this a go this morning at about 3am (after submitting) and my mind was a little addled, but I think it's really awesome and good fun!

    In terms of the atmosphere, I love that you've created an environment that somehow manages to be both a little unsettling, but also strangely calming. It reminds me of a padded cell or an ancient sealed-off room, but when the notes play the whole thing becomes really wonderful and contemplative.

    The gameplay does seem a little confusing at first, but I'm someone who understands almost nothing about chords, notes, bars, and whatnot, and I understood the mechanics after playing around for a little while. This definitely has potential to become a really interesting and brain-bending puzzler, and on top of that you have this really amazing music sequencing that makes the player feel GOOD to produce something from. So I say keep at it, nice work!
  • Results came out today. Finished #5 for audio (SWEET!), #152nd overall. Feels like I still have loads and loads to learn - particularly when it comes to delivering a distilled experience with clear goals.

    Already started working on turning this into a more complete experience. Will be quite a niche game, but definitely think there's enough there to justify it's existence. And well more than anything I'm keen to gain some experience on actually finishing a game (incorporating feedback and iterating), and then trying to market it to the public, and then ya know, actually making some money from it.
  • Ah, I realise now the overall isn't actually an average, in which case I'm going to look at the fact I finished #23 in innovation as a pretty big win as well.

    Interestingly I did quite poorly in the graphics category. I thought my graphics were pretty sweet, especially considering the theme. Though I imagine this could be player feedback, as there was some criticism that things were hard to see and differentiate.
  • Awesome!!! :D When @Besonance was showing it it was pretty confusing, but really intriguing :) Congrats! :D
  • edited
    This is indeed awesome; I really hope you take it further.

    A few things consider:

    IMHO, although the atmosphere is very cool, I think 3D makes the game more confusing.

    Some of your puzzles have degenerate solutions (for example, if there are two squares, they can be connected to solve any puzzle, as long as you connect all the other nodes to each other). There are several ways to solve this; one way would be to require a single loop (and not more than one).

    The way cones work is a bit weird. (I think it's also the 3D view that contributes to this fact.). It's not always clear in which direction the sound will go. My intuition with this type of circuit is that you should be able to connect inputs and outputs separately (you could get this type of behaviour if you have uni-directional connections instead, and have them fixed as part of the puzzle.

    I agree with the others the mechanics are a bit confusing initially; a more gradual training set may solve the problem.

    But yes, both the puzzle element and the music emergence is very satisfactory.
  • Thanks for the feedback. I agree things are a bit confused, mostly because I only figured out enough myself to realise I had an interesting (aka fun) problem domain in front of me. Bugs on the second sleep deprived day of the jam were particularly awesome: "oh okay cool, so you can set up a loop like that! No, no wait, that node is bugging out". As a result level design happened at the 11th hour.

    My main goal right now is to thoroughly explore what this space has to offer, so that I have a complete understanding and can distill it down into a pleasant, coherent experience. There was a great talk on this process by Jonathan Blow and the Meigakure creator:

    @hermantulleken interesting point about directionality. I've actually managed to create a binary adding machine in the game by adding a state node and limiting directionality. Definitely a space worth exploring!
  • edited
    New version to share: Lots of changes!


    - Now called Cadence! (Feedback appreciated :) )
    - User interaction overhaul. Navigation feels much nicer. Nodes are bigger.
    - Loop detection is way smarter. Degenerate solutions eliminated.
    - New Levels. Still some way to go until there is a suitable flow into the game that grabs new players
    - First (horribly failed) attempt at a UI that gives player feedback on the core mechanic creating loops
    - Preview of new state node mechanic
    - Preview of different sounds (in the last level)

    The radar in the top left is new. I'm trying to find an elegant ui solution that shows the user:
    A) When they've used all nodes
    B) That they actually have a loop
    C) A generative art pattern that shows your unique solution to a level. With a view to online sharing if the game ever proves successful.

    So far my efforts have taught me: Vectors in unity is a bitch, Interaction Design is also a bitch.

    Edit: feel free to ignore the editor tab at the bottom. Play with it if you must, but right now it's not a gameplay element. Will be eventually though.

  • Early reports of a bug on mac. If you can't get past level one try refresh. Would appreciate if anyone else who runs into this could let me know...
  • This is the first time I'm playing it and I'm LOVING IT! It feels like an amazing mixture of music and logic gates.

    I'm currently stuck on level "Sprial" I can't wait to see what other logic nodes you have.
  • An elegant way to show if players have a loop would be to have an expanding "fill" like in Fingle. Every time a node gets hit, the fill would grow. Because it shrinks at a predetermined rate, it would never fill up whatever area you were aiming for unless you had a loop that was faster than the shrink rate.
  • edited
    You need to make a node like a transistor or AND gate. It needs to receive 2 inputs simultaneously to make an output.
  • @dislekcia been waiting to get fingle for ages now (struggling to add credit to my account). Thats a good idea, however the loop length is never determinant. As soon as they start playback I have the length of the loop, so I could throttle the speed of the fill - but then the user will be confused as to why its sometimes faster than others. Will seem like the game is cheating to avoid them progressing. Otherwise I could set a hard limit on the length of each level, cutting out longer loop solutions - which I may be a detriment as it limit the number of emergent solutions. But would appreciate any thoughts and suggestions in this regard. Know the solution will be painfully obvious in retrospect ;)

    @aodendaal Awesome! Have lots of ideas very similar to that I want to play with. The logic gets a bit fuzzy when there are more than 2 inputs, so keeping player comprehension is tricky. But might totally want to bounce ideas off you when I get there (soon hopefully). And yeah, spiral feels like the first real puzzle. Most before that is "learning the system" fluff
  • I'm wondering if a better idea might not just be to light up nodes as they're triggered, then when you create a loop, they all pulse.

    It might also make sense to solve the loop thing with setting: Make it so that you're restoring sound to something, so when you're playing each different puzzle is in a certain spot in a landscape (I'd make each landscape be all evocative and shit) and then as you complete the loop, the landscape comes alive/gains colour/grows/turns into butterflies/whatever. Then the player moves on to a new, obviously silent landscape/puzzle.
  • Very nice update :)

    I think the level design is now way better - or the underlying mechanics, or both; not exactly sure what are all the things you tweaked but I had a way better experience than with the first one.

    Now I would like some more puzzles!

    The one thing that is still somewhat degenerate is two blocks and a bunch of spheres. That puzzle always has one trivial solution. (Which is fine for one tutorial puzzle, but I think more than that just feels like grinding repetition).

    Some extra nodes will be cool; but I think you should play more with the existing ones. Some puzzles I kind stumbled through to a solution; it feels like there are perhaps a training puzzle missing, because, even when I have the solution, I don't understand it, and don't feel I learned something by getting a solution. (It may also be that my solution for that or previous puzzles are not the intended one, in which case I missed some "lessons") There is obviously a lot to explore even with just these nodes.

    The UI thing confused me at times (not sure if there is a bug there that caused it; at one stage it really looked like it was in some kind of perpetual limbo state. I could not reproduce, so it may also be imagination).

  • @hermantulleken awesome feedback! Appreciated!

    What you're saying mimics what I've seen in play tests so far. Two squares remains interesting when you don't go for the easy option. I've thought of adding constraints to force the player away from it, however I like the idea of "least contrivance" mentioned in the Jonathan Blow vid above. I agree with you fully, and will continue to explore the space in other directions before I come back and add arbitrary constraints ( read: more puzzles!). Also I definitely need to work on player education, teaching them one thing at a time and making sure they've learnt it.

    And yeah, the UI thing is borked! Back to the drawing board on that one...
  • Any chance of a gameplay video for the rAge 2013 submission?
  • Um, ass. Unfortunately I'm out of the country for the next few weeks, away from a computer and in fact in a place where YouTube doesn't even work (china). So I'm afraid won't be possible right now.
  • No worries, when you get a chance :)
  • Update:

    Been working full time on Cadence again. This means that there are some substantial updates to be had, mostly in the environment and player feedback. Very happy with the direction it's taking:

  • I've been waiting SO patiently for this game. It got a lot of positive response at rAge 2013 and people quickly got deeply absorbed. I want to play it!
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • Gearshift engage:

    The game is up on steam greenlight. Votes appreciated:

    And then finally, after much anticipation here is the Announcement Trailer! The hard work paid off and I'm very happy with the result. It was created as a machinima in Unity with visual effects set to full retard. This made my computer cry and for most of the time I had to run it at half speed while I was working on it. The final product was captured by a very useful wiki script that takes control of the frame rate and renders out an image for every timestep. This also happens to be a very useful way to flatten super complicated particles into an animated texture ;). Final touches were then added in After Effects with the sound design completed in Cubase.

    Anyway, enough babble, here it is:

  • Much pretty! Well done!
  • Such a beautiful game!

    When the US wakes up, I'm going into pimp mode.
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • I love how that trailer tells you absolutely nothing about the game, yet makes you really want to play it :D (Showed it to a friend, got pretty much that exact reaction).
    Now if only my internet would stop herping and I could upvote it... =/
    Thanked by 1TheFuntastic
  • DUDE! Your beatbox video on the Greenlight page is incredible! This is such a different game from it's rAge 2013 demo. Please let me show it off at rAge 2014!
  • @Fengol working as fast as I can ;)
  • So day 1. Holy crap balls, the reception has been way better than I ever expected. Thanks guys. Also, I had kinda assumed steam greenlight was a barren wasteland where no one cared until you dragged them by the ear and put them in front of your game. But (seemingly) just by virtue of being in the new queue with decent oh-god-my-eyes-aren't-bleeding cover art, the game has already organically gone up to 700 yes votes, or 9% of the way to the 100.

    Considering I haven't contacted any press yet ( which will happen next week) I'm quite blown away by that. I really thought people wouldn't care much about a niche puzzle game, but very happy to be wrong on that. Also steam has sent about a thousand users to my website, which is more than I've ever got in the entire history of the site. I realise that by the time we're done these numbers will be orders of magnitude larger, but now at least I feel like getting greenlit is totally achievable. Yay!
  • I'm sure you can add to recognition that you demoed at rAge 2013?
  • @Fengol not a bad idea. How would I phrase that " MGSA Official Selection at rAge 2013" My brain has been doing so much Englishing this week it has none left ;)
  • edited
    Day 3.5: 1700 yes votes and 21% of the way to the top 100 :)
  • Hell yeah, fist bump!

    The pace on the green light has fallen off quite a bit. 33% of way to top hundred. Will be interesting to see what this does. The article on PocketGamer generated like six views.
  • Played the demo, quite enjoying it. Made it to level 18 before I realized I should be working. Congrats on the early recognition :)

    Some feedback:
    I think you can still improve visual feedback. Have you considered giving the nodes faces/eyebrows/headphones? I think it'd be fun to see the nodes headbanging to the music... or get annoyed that they're not receiving pulses.

    The drum loop on the experimental stages made me happy. Looking forward to more of that!

    If a successful solution is found, it might be cool if it's hinted at more - like how the background lights up. Perhaps a bassline, or some background percussion could come in... I think it could enhance the feeling of 'I found the song I was looking for'.

    Then finally I think it could be interesting if you found a way to incorporate the audio into the mechanics a bit more. Currently it purely serves as a feedback mechanism, that doesn't say anything particularly meaningful. Satisfying, but the game isn't really any harder with the sound off. Perhaps hints could be given in audio form for harder stages, with the node visuals more closely corresponding to the tone they'll give off. I feel slightly more like an electrician than a musician while I'm playing.

    Looking forward to seeing where this goes!
  • Thanks for taking the time for some detailed feedback. I hear you in terms of making it feel more musical rewarding. It's quite a tricky thing - still got a few things up my sleeve, but how musically empowering the game turns out will make or break it I think. Tricky!
  • Also I'm now 51% of the way to the top 100 but traffic seems to have hit a brick wall. Still need to target lets players but after that I'm a bit stumped as to how to get more coverage with out some kind of solid marketing story... Hrm.
  • The part towards the end of the developer walk through, where it demonstrates the multiple instruments (and drums), made me feel more intrigued that the part before.

    Is there a reason why that isn't in the trailer?
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky Because I figured if I run out of money and I had to release the game tomorrow it's better to sell the part of the game that exists and I know works. Will definitely adapt the marketing story to show more of the '"layered" instruments as my own confidence grows that's going to actually work and I have a hope of building it into the game within the constraints of my budget :)
  • Yeah, new videeeeeeo! Explore the rich ground that lies between vague teaser and step-through description! Make a 2-min thingie which showcases stuff that's as cool as the last minute of your gameplay vid.

    I'm starting to think -- not just for your marketing, but for your game -- that you should give players an earlier way to access more complicated and rewarding sounds loops. Perhaps you could give them "mostly locked" node structures in some of the tutorials? That way they only have to interact with limited complexity but get to hear a more involved / interesting thing after all.

  • Have everything unlocked and usable in the first level to start the game. Then, just after the player completes it with the reckoning of an all powerful deity, have a mysterious force appear and drain all of their power so that they are totally useless and have to start fresh, while still retaining the knowledge of how cool it was to be equal to a god.
    Thanked by 1Nandrew
  • Such a wonderful trope to use, I never tire of it :)
  • Have everything unlocked and usable in the first level to start the game. Then, just after the player completes it with the reckoning of an all powerful deity, have a mysterious force appear and drain all of their power so that they are totally useless and have to start fresh, while still retaining the knowledge of how cool it was to be equal to a god.
    Advocating the Abilitease? Words of a man who has played too many Metroidvanias in his day.

    ...Wait, what am I saying? Too much Metroid? I think I need to go lie down.
  • Showing people what the potential of the game is during the first level is a great idea that echo's my own thinking. :)

    Though now I'm discovering just how hard it is to try and make an "intuitive tutorial" for this game. Spent the week working on a new tutorial interface and 10 seconds of user testing told me I was WRONG. Sigh. Back to the drawing board. Have the crazy idea of not using text for the tutorial - because you shouldn't have to speak english to enjoy this game. I think I'm going to have to let go of such lofty design goals...
  • @TheFuntastic Would you mind sharing yes vote TO comment conversion rates ?? I think the more data there is in the open the better for everybody.
  • @Kobusvdwalt9 Yeah sure, here you go:



    That first spike was due to RPS coverage. In total it was worth about 1700 hits and a couple hundred yes votes. I've gotten some press coverage on other sites, such as jayisgames.com, that delivered more hits, but didn't translate into greenlight votes. No news source so far can compare to simply being on Steam Greenlight - delivering several thousand hits. Overall hits (including greenlight) so far is at 16000 unique visitors across all my stuffs. So whilst I haven't exactly won the internet, that's a lot of people who have now at least heard of the game. And if each one of those yes votes translates into sales (it won't) then I'll be profitable.

    The vote ratio started just above 50% yes, but as the long tail is kicking that's gradually dropping towards negative (seems to be a common greenlight trend).

    All in all the fact that there are over 4000 beings that have said yes to my game still does my head in and was way more than I was expecting when I started. But it's amazing how quickly you get used to that idea and it becomes just a number you wish was higher.
    Thanked by 2Tuism MrNexy
  • @TheFuntastic Much thanks for being open about the numbers :) This will be very helpful to others as well as myself.
  • I saw this other game, which at first glance looks like it might be very similar to Cadence, and @Raithza said if there was a game that seemed really similar to his game then he'd want to know about it.


    Though it's frustratingly hard to try figure out what the gameplay really is.
  • Mike Rose actually raised Circuits back when I first started tweeting about Cadence's Greenlight trailer drop. In the end the game sorta sounds similar when described and gameplay videos are taken at a glance, but it's a different kind of thing altogether: Circuits is about recreating a track you hear as a primer and Cadence is about creating logical loops and the tracks that emerge from what you did.

    I'd suggest that a way to prevent the comparison being bad in the future would be to show off how Cadence's tracks can be completely different, like change the loop configuration at the end of the trailer a couple of times so that it's obviously playing a different melody.
  • @dislekcia Yeah, that does sound completely different (and not quite as cool as I'd expected).

    I'm a little worried this might be in poor taste to ask. But I'm wondering what Mike Rose did that allowed Circuits to get through Greenlight much faster than Cadence. It seems that both of them got some press attention. I wonder what lessons are there. Because the responses on Greenlight seem very very similar, and I certainly don't see Circuits making a much better value proposition in the trailers than Cadence. So was there just more traffic to Circuits, or was there a higher "yes" conversion rate for some reason... or did Mike Rose have some extra pull I'm not aware of?

    Sorry if this is in bad taste. I don't mean to compare Cadence to a game that's been somewhat more successful on one axis. I really hope there's something there to learn.
    Thanked by 1tbulford
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