Although I have been developing games for a lot of years, our PS Mobile-exclusive title Life of Pixel was the first time I have had the opportunity to do a big update to one of the games I have worked on after release.
It has been fantastic to get the opportunity to revisit the game to fix a few issues that were present in the initial release, and to listen to feedback from those who downloaded Pixel v1. Twitter has been invaluable to keep in touch with those players and discuss issues and ideas for the update. In fact, I had such a great time working on the update I ended up adding in a lot more stuff than I originally planned!
Life of Pixel is an old-fashioned platform game with plenty of modern twists and puzzle elements. The star of the game is Pixel, a little green pixel who is tired of being part of the crowd. Luckily, he happens to live right next door to a videogame museum, so under the cover of darkness he sneaks in to take a look…
Players were not happy with the audio experience in the original game, so we now have a unique music track for each machine — plus brand new sound FX, created either with that hardware or via emulation. This has really helped to enhance the identity of each machine (eight in total, for 64 levels in the game) and we have plenty of catchy tunes now guaranteed to stick in your head.
We had a few errors with color palettes in the first release – for example we were using a couple of extra greys in the Amstrad CPC levels, which while giving some nice metal bits were completely wrong! For this update, I made sure every machine was only using accurate color palettes, and while I was at it I redid some of the tiles and backgrounds that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the first time around.
Life of Pixel can be hard – particularly the later levels – and we didn’t want to change this. But it could also be unfair at times – a prime example being ‘Leap of Faith’ jumps which ended with you landing on top of a beastie and dying. You had no idea where said beastie was, so these leaps relied on luck rather than skill.
I went through every level, playing them over and over and tweaking the layout as needed. I am confident I have eliminated every unfair ‘luck’ based potential death. So while I didn’t try to make the levels particularly easier – they are now a fair test of skill, not chance.
We also managed to fix a few bugs and slowdown issues that were present in Pixel v1. Performance is now nice and solid, and we fixed a few other niggles. Oh – and we added a Restart level button!
I really enjoyed this bit – we added a new machine into the game; the Sega Master System. It’s unlocked after you collect all 64 special gems.
I had great fun creating the graphics for the Master System levels – I didn’t realise until I started that the SMS allowed a fair few more colors in sprites and tiles than the NES. Look out for nods to classic Master System titles like Shinobi, Wonder Boy, Sonic, Penguin Land, Bubble Bobble and more.
All in all, it’s a big update with plenty to offer existing and new players. As a developer/publisher it was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity that PSM allowed us to re-visit and improve our game. We are really pleased with the update and hope you will enjoy it.
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