Plastic Reality - An Introduction
On September 21, 2015, we released Mondrian - Abstraction in Beauty on Steam, IndieGameStand, and itch.io. It did pretty well for having zero budget, zero marketing, and zero preexisting community. We kept it updated over the next year and a half, fixing bugs, adding game modes, improving the unlock system (gems yay!) and generally making the game bigger and better.
In this modern era of patching and iterating, it's impossible to know when your game is done, other than when people stop playing it. By January of 2017, downloads had slowed to a crawl, playtime was minimal, and the Leaderboards were not getting new entries. If there was going to be more Mondrian, it would have to be in something fresh and exciting. Something that, though being very familiar to fans of the game, would offer so much more than the original ever could.
The Biggest Improvement
Originally, Mondrian - Plastic Reality had been designed as an expansion to Abstraction in Beauty. Very simply, it would include new levels, a new game mode, and that's about it. However, that didn't feel like enough to justify the time commitment. Plus, level development still involved mapping out a level in Photoshop, manually writing down the X/Y coordinates of each block, and inputting those coordinates in the code by hand for each and every level. But that got us thinking: if 12 levels could addict players at events such as Indie Arcade and Playcrafting's Spring Play, then what would 1200 levels do?
The first time we showed off Plastic Reality in public, levels were still hand-coded. It was thanks to other members of the team becoming interested in designing levels for the game that we began dedicating time to making Mondrian Maker, a level editor that opens up major possibilities in designing Mondrian levels. One and a half months into Mondrian Maker's development, here's just a brief rundown of some of the major improvements:
|Abstraction in Beauty||Plastic Reality|
|Only one block shape per level|
One consistent block size
Blocks all facing same direction
~64 block limit
Levels built into code
90 minutes to build a level
|Every block shaped allowed at once|
Blocks scaled anywhere from 40% - 400% normal size
Blocks rotated anywhere from 0-359 degrees
No block limit
Levels built into shareable external files
3 minutes to build a level
This is all just the tip of the iceberg, but thanks to Mondrian Maker, there has been a substantial improvement in terms of turnaround from level concept to creation. All original levels from Abstraction in Beauty have been rebuilt in Mondrian Maker and then some. Our goal now is to launch Plastic Reality with 75-100 levels, each with 4 difficulty variants. Considering we are at 21 and counting, this is absolutely going to happen.
The Human Element
One aspect of Abstraction in Beauty that always bugged me was the lack of character. What I mean by that is, the game lacked the personality needed from games in the age of Twitch and Youtube. In order for any game to connect with an audience, it needs to convey some kind of emotion, even when minimalist. Super Hexagon, for instance, is the embodiment of panic, while Superhot gives you the feeling of being a time controlling superkiller. While the works of Piet Mondrian encouraged an escape from nature, it's unfortunately that very detachment from the natural that held the original Mondrian back.
Our solution not only adds an extra layer of humor and human connection to the game, but also introduces brand new gameplay possibilities: a diverse cast of playable "Curators" based on real artists from the 20th century. Obviously, Piet Mondrian himself takes center stage, along with the mother of Dada, Sophie Taeuber-Arp; the father of Pop Art, Andy Warhol; the great African American Post-Impressionist, Hale Woodruff; and Boston's own Loïs Mailou Jones. Each character offers a different control feel for the player, giving the game an almost sports game-like quality, along the lines of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or Jet Grind Radio. While we have not yet explored the possibilities for each character beyond their control feel (varying Top Speed, Acceleration, and Braking), we know there's a lot of room to play around with regards to special abilities, stories, museum galleries, educational content, dedicated unlocks, and more.
What began as a weekend game jam, and turned into a part of a Smithsonian exhibit, now has the opportunity to become a massive cross-platform success serving as a competitive action puzzler, game development teaching tool, art history textbook, and community revenue generator all in one (more on that at a later date). We are seeing massive possibilities with Mondrian - Plastic Reality, but we need time and just a little money to make it all happen. We are aiming for release within the next year, as we add further polish to old systems from Abstraction in Beauty, build out new systems in regards to Mondrian Maker and the Curators, port the game to other systems and OS's, and build up the initial level library.
We are planning to slowly open the game to testers throughout its Early Access, Alpha, and Beta phases. If you'd like to pick the game up, please play it, send feedback, stream some community levels or level development of your own, and help spread the word!
Keep an eye on this blog for more updates on the game's development, Mondrian Maker tips and tricks, team interviews, and more!
Thank you for playing!
- Danny Silvers, CEO of Lantana Games
Get Mondrian - Plastic Reality
Leave a comment
Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.