New project – The Power of Love

The Power of Love - screenshot

Hey everyone!

Our last game TRI is browsing the green meadows of the First Highly Overambitious-but-finished Games for one year now and since then it has been a bit calm around our blog. It is not really easy to dive into the next project right after the game you have been working on for two and a half years is finished and got quite richly awarded with prizes. We just couldn't create a new game right after such a project. Not after a month. Or half a year.

Every project we started seemed not to be sufficient enough to be THE next project that would make us happy, keep us motivated and conquer this damn indie market. At least on some point in this depression quest we decided to f*ck the pressure and just make the game we wanted to create for so long while developing TRI: A multiplayer game that people will be able to pick up at exhibitions and have fun with together. A game where players really have to work together and talk to each other while playing.

When playing many crawlers that also allow multiple players we realized that players often don't need to care for each other. Everyone just shoots around until the stage is cleared. There is no need for interaction or sticking together. It's more of a competition instead of real coop.

In the Power of Love we have strong attacks that only work if you time your movement. And this leads to quite some energetic play-throughs, because you happen to depend on each other.

Last week we showcased the current prototype at the Poznan Game Arena in Poland (which we used as a personal deadline for the project). The PGA is the computer games event that we attended a year ago already; we came back because we enjoyed the country, people, beer, atmosphere and - moreover - visitors play-testing our game through the acid test.

poznan_03 poznan_02 poznan_04


(The last photo was made by Frank Groh. Danke!)

This is only the first announcement. Further information, pictures and videos will follow. If you like to stay updated, follow this blog or subscribe to our newsletter!

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Making-of video 5, Artbook, Honorable Mention

Yes, updates seem to become rarer and rarer. The main reason for this is that we still do not have a new project. Yes, we do have plans, but as usual nothing is set in stone yet, and nothing drove us into a development frenzy. Since the release of TRI we created a few internal prototypes and game jam games, some of them I wrote about on my personal blog. We also update our Facebook page more often than this blog, as some news are tiny.

And while we planned and created ideas and abandoned them every month, we were also giving interviews for local radio and TV broadcasts and local newspapers - so it's all in German. Press came when they heard that we won "Best Youth Game" at the German Computer Game Award 2015, so this is a nice side effect. Jana also created a booklet for German indies, which you can grab at the upcoming Gamescom 2015, or just read it online thanks to Martin Nerurkar. (Yes, we will be at the Gamescom, but mostly as visitors only.)

Another thing we did was filming my brother Ludwig Hanisch in his basement, where he created the music for TRI. It's an interview of around 15 minutes about family, inspirations and instruments. Watch it now - it even has English subtitles!

In order to create a more extensive, more interesting post-mortem of TRI, we made a digital artbook. Even though I already wrote a short retrospective about TRI's development, I felt it was necessary to close this chapter in a much cooler way. Thus there is the artbook now, which exists in two versions:

  • The full edition (94 pages) contains it all, background information, WIP screenshots, concept art, scribbles, etc. - everybody who bought the deluxe edition of TRI has it.
  • The lite edition is free to download for everybody - it contains the first 51 pages of the full edition and is only missing the transcript of the developers' commentary; the very same commentary you can also unlock in the game.
tri artbook cover tri artbook example page

Oh, and one last thing: to our surprise TRI got an Honorable Mention at the 2015 Geekie Awards, which is pretty crazy if you consider the high-quality competitors. Thanks to the judges for the mention!

geekie awards

That's it for today. Hopefully we have more news sooner next time!

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TRI – Award and Update

Exciting news AND great news ahead!

I still can't believe it myself, but our game TRI won an award just yesterday. So it's now officially the Best Youth Game according to the German Computer Game Award 2015! The award in this category comes with a prize money of around 50,000 Euros - which hopefully helps us to finance our next project.


Dear judges of the Computerspielpreis: thank you very much for this honor. And also a big thanks to all the congratulators!



Onwards to the other news. We took the time to update TRI. The latest release "PythagoreanBeauty" mainly contains a few minor bug-fixes and changes to the game which hopefully improve the overall experience. Some of the levels improvements and additions are:

  • Added an object force field in "Glimpse of Light" to prevent players getting stuck (minor fix)
  • Added some stepping stones to "A Temple on the Mountain"
  • Added a force field wall to "Overcoming Limitations" to prevent players from getting stuck without the wall-walk TRI (minor fix)
  • Replaced a few of the deadly light rays with less deadly light rays (orange color) to make them easier
  • Added a lever for a gate in front of an idol in "Out of the Box"
  • Added minor visual hints in "The Foxes' Playground", "Glimpse of Light" and "Red Means Dangerous"
  • Changed bottom puzzle in "Glimpse of Light" a bit to prevent glitches

A partial list of bugs removed:

  • Fixed a rare, scale related bug with the elevator in "Wings in the Void"
  • Fixed Monk not talking anymore after collecting the first TRI when moving away from him (minor fix)
  • Fixed subtitles not being shown anymore after pressing Escape
  • Fixed end statistics (played chapters and such)
  • Fixed a bug which caused resetting the statistics when restarting a level
  • Fixed a minor bug in "Out of Space and Time" by replacing an invisible triangle-destroying box with a visible one
  • Fixed an idol in "Wings in the Void" (regression from v1.0.1), should count now for the bonus content when collected again

Other changes include:

  • Improved black border and skip button for cutscenes
  • Added option to deactivate the voice of the Monk
  • Added a text in pause menu screen indicating how many chapters were played in the current playthrough
  • Changed auto-statify (of current triangle) slightly - moving the current corner beneath the player won't make the triangle immediately static anymore (min distance is 1m)

A complete list can be found in the Steam announcement. We tried to listen to what players said in the forums and via mail as much as we could, and especially the less deadly light rays might be very welcome to some of our players! Sadly, some things reported we didn't fix because we just could not reproduce the behaviour. So, in case you found a bug, it would be great if you could send a relevant save game and the last log to us, together with a description of the bug. (The Steam announcements also contains the folders where to find the save games and the log file.)

Last but not least, if you happen to attend the Lange Nacht der Computerspiele in Leipzig this Saturday - Friedrich will be there from 3:00pm, interviewed by the famous René Meyer for 20 minutes.

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Podcast #4 – Co-op Games für die LAN-Party


Ich weiß nur, dass es eigentlich sehr spaßig ist, wenn wir uns gegenseitig so anbrüllen. Und das ist zu viert einfach lustiger. (Friedrich)

Friedrich und ich haben neulich mal wieder zusammen mit Freunden gezockt und viele, viele Spiele ausprobiert. Was sich für Lans eignet, was man kompetitiv oder zusammenspielen kann. Und was fetzt und was eher nicht, erfahrt ihr im neue Podcast:

00:01:04 Risk of Rain ist unser neuer Lan-Klassiker
00:04:00 Far Cry 3
00:08:13 Damned lässt euch Monster spielen
00:14:15 Gang Beasts
00:18:38 Crawl
00:23:50 Attack of the Labyrinth
00:26:50 Hammerwatch
00:28:05 Legends of Dungeon
00:32:00 Contagion
00:33:00 Dino D-Day
00:36:10 Nidhogg
00:37:58 Portal 2 Co-op
00:38:26 The Ship
00:40:33 Tristoy

Habt ihr Spiele-Tipps für unsere nächste Lan-Party?

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We are nominated for the German Computer Games Award!

Hey folks,

it got a bit silent here on this blog for the last time, except some entries about journeys to promote TRI. We are currently planning a new project. At least we try. It's not easy to come up with something that beats your 3-year game project without consuming so much time and nerves.

But then, this baby brought us the wonderful nomination for the Deutsche Computerspielpreis (German Computer Games Award) in the category 'Bestes Jugendspiel' (Best Youth Game). Together with the awesome The Last Tinker by Mimimi Productions and "The Curious Expedition" by Maschinenmensch we will attend the award ceremonies on April, 21st in Berlin.

Until then, there is the opportunity to push us higher for the audience award and even win a ticket for the ceremony. Just head to this page and follow the instructions below. It's easy-peasy until you encounter the German anti-spam question under your e-mail. Just use Google Translate or write us a mail or tweet and we help you.

Tri Voting DCP

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The Casual Connect / Indie Prize 2015

On February the 3rd I took the train to Amsterdam. I was in the Netherlands before, but Amsterdam is something on its own and a city I'd really like to explore a bit. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see much of it during my time there: the Casual Connect Europe was calling! But not really. The Casual Connect - to be honest - is a convention about making money by utilizing browser and mobile games, free2play, in-game advertizing and so on. Not something where our game TRI would fit in, at first glance.

But here's the thing: the Indie Prize, which according to its Twitter is "a scholarship program for up and coming indie development teams who show promise to be future leaders in the games industry", also is an integral part of the Casual Connect. They probably included it so they would have actual game developers present and not only the publishers and SDK developers. Therefore five large rows of tables were set up and housed around 100 indies and their games. And PC games were allowed!

Play TRI!

So that's why I could show TRI for three full days on our laptop, along with some promo material. My table, or rather my half of the table, consisted of red table cloth to stand out a bit in a subtle way, a laptop with TRI to play, some flyers and my old 7 inch Galaxy tablet showing the release trailer of our game in a loop. I had to download an app so the trailer would actually loop - turned out the normal video player doesn't support that. I didn't find an app that would be able to show more than one video, but I guess that's asked too much already. I really wanted to have our iPad to play the trailer, but somehow it seems to be an impossible task to get the synchronizing of your own stuff (like videos) to work correctly. To be honest, Android is a bliss in this regard...

Anyway, it was really helpful to have the trailer, otherwise it would not be clear what TRI is about if you just looked at the screen for a few seconds. Some kind of eye catcher is always a plus! (Although some people pushed it a bit too hard with posters 2 meters high, just so you'd vote for their game ...) And for the first time our flyers were really nice - as they were not only printed with the correct colors, but also printed in time, so I actually had them with me. Yay!


The other half of my table was reserved for Constantin Graf aka RebusMind and his puzzle tile swapper with RPG elements SwapQuest, presented on two tablet computers. I played it for a long time when there was nothing to do, and I must say I really like it. The option to customize your character and the appealing graphics made me dig it a lot, and when Constantin will finally release it (soon) on Android I'm going to buy it for sure. Game Loop Lab's Blockadillo was next to Constantin, another 2D mobile game - this one has nice graphics, which for a change are handdrawn AND not pixel art! I already played it a bit on my own device as it is free2play, so I can only recommend to try it out. Last in the row of 'German games' was Schein, another PC game actually made by the Austria-based Zeppelin Studio. It's a unique, well done and very hard puzzle platformer which I luckily already have on Steam.

German Corner

It became apparent pretty fast that the organizers of the Indie Prize placed developers together according their country of origin, which was cool because this way one could compare games from each country and culture directly. So when I found the time to actually walk around a bit and have a look at the other projects, it was like wandering over a tiny globe. ;) Unfortunately I didn't have that much time or energy to play a lot of games. I remember liking Find the line a lot, and I wonder why it wasn't even nominated at the awards.

Indie Prize Tables

But the award ceremony was pretty well done, in my opinion. It had the right length, everything between the nominees was short and emotional. It was super nice that each finalist had a short moment of fame as a trailer of the game was shown. The judges did the right thing and didn't nominate any game more than twice - this way, more different games were in the final rounds and the award ceremony did not become repetitive. We are very grateful that TRI was nominated in the categories "Best Game Design" and "Best PC Game" - truly a big honour for us! Congratulations at this point to every team which won an award - I won't list them here, as I surely would forget someone. (You can find all the winners here!)

Award Ceremony

My only gripe with the ceremony is the fact that it began at noon on Friday, a bit of a strange time. I missed a warm lunch this way! Of course, that's not really something to complain about, as free lunch packages were handed out by the friendly volunteers and the buffet was free too. Overall this was the least expensive convention I went to, ever - even the accommodations were paid for: the StayOkay hostel was around 15 minutes of bus ride away, but it was comfortable and the breakfast was included. Interesting enough I was the only one in my 6-bed-dorm; I talked to some people about their lodging, and no one knew that there was some kind of Indie Hostel!


As I had to take the bus or the tram each day I had the opportunity to have a better look at Amsterdam. It really is a captivating city, with the grachten and the cool architecture. I will definitely revisit it some time, so hopefully I can actually see it by daylight then. ;) At least I had the change to explore some of the party locations, as the Casual Connect hosted a get-together each evening. For example, Constantin and I played a local multiplayer game and danced a bit at the Official Party "NEON" in the Club AIR.

My personal highlight - besides the nominations - was the fact that I had the chance to briefly speak to Peter Molyneux - I just love his game Dungeon Keeper. He was there to give a talk about inspirations and having new ideas. It was kind of interesting, as he gave some insights into Godus, 22cans' team structure and how to engage players. All this not very deeply, of course. I hope the Unity team recorded the talk, as he expressed "I love Unity!" loud and clear on stage. In the end I managed to give Mr. Molyneux a TRI flyer, which I am sure he framed and hung above his bed.

Molyneux At Work

I only found the motivation to visit one additional lecture; it was about workflow and automation for when you have lots of content and a small team. The talk was held by Alexander Birke from Rumpus Animation and was pretty complete, as everything was explained on what you should do in order to keep a general view over your project. There were a lot of other talks and presentations, always four at the same time. Fortunately most of them were about user acquisition and advertising and so on; not really interesting to me - thus I had more time to showcase TRI.

Although that was a bit in vain, as there wasn't much press at the Casual Connect (or it hid really well from me). But meeting other indie developers along with the volunteers (who guarded the tables and helped where necessary), and talking to them was the best part of the whole show anyway.

At the last day I got a bit sick, which is why I left right after the end. Normally I only catch the Fresher's Flu when I get home, so this was a new thing for me. Nonetheless the Casual Connect was nice and a positive surprise to me thanks to the Indie Prize organizers. A big shout-out to them!

And next time I might even be more open to the whole business thing!


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Ludwig’s art exhibition – All your base are belong to us


The Rat King is artsy, now! We visited Friedrich's brother last weekend to attend his art exhibition. You already know Ludi through our TRI soundtrack composed by him. But he is also an artist and painter. And his current presentation is called ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US. Yes! The good old meme from the Japanese computer game 'Zero Wing' made the theme for his game inspired art.



Friedrich also gave the opening speech for his brother which you can read here (only in German, sorry):

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Freunde, ...


Über 20 Jahre ist es her! Erinnerst du dich an die merkwürdigen Worte, die wir verwenden mussten, um unseren schon damals leicht veralteten Heimcomputer der Marke Commodore zum Gehorsam zu zwingen? MagischeWorte in Großbuchstaben, die – wenn man es denn wagte, sie auszusprechen – etwa so klangen:

LOAD "*",8,1

... oder auch einfach nur RUN.

Aber das Eintippen solcher Zauberformeln war nur ein Teil des Rituals. Am Gerät selbst mussten allerlei Handlungen vollführt werden, wie etwa Disketten in einen Schlitz schieben, oder diverse Kabel ein- und ausstecken. Nicht zu vergessen unser Verschleiß an Joysticks ...

All dies – irgendwie – erlaubte uns, Computerspielwelten zu beschwören und sie auch zu erkunden: als Pixel-Helden hüpften wir durch Zombiehorden, beschützten Wild-West-Banken vor Überfällen, jagten als Schwarzenegger den Predator. Das ganze in 16 aufregenden Farben, mitreißende 8-Bit-Musik ertönte im Hintergrund. Wie gern saßen wir vor dem Bildschirm, einer dem anderen dabei zusehend, wie er "Spherical" oder "Fist Two" zockte, "Giana Sisters" spielte oder bei "X-Out" gewann.

Viele dieser Spiele waren nur mit englischen Texten erhältlich, höchstens die beiliegende Bedienungsanleitung war in deutsch. Englisch an sich ist ja eine recht einfache Sprache – es sei denn, man ist zehn Jahre alt und spricht sie (noch) nicht ... Zwar waren die Computerspiele damals eher wortkarg, sodass wir selten Probleme hatten, Spielabläufe zu begreifen; aber mit der Zeit und den Neunzigern stieg die Komplexität, und der Anspruch neuerer Spiele an die Sprache in Geschichten und Dialogen wurde immer größer. Jedoch: Wenn uns Englisch nicht in der Schule beigebracht worden wäre, wir hätten es wohl aufgrund und anhand von Computerspielen gelernt!

Nicht nur wir als Kinder, auch japanische Spieleentwickler hatten so ihre Probleme mit der englischen Sprache ... "Thanks to the cooperation of the Federation Government forces, CATS has been able to take all of your bases." wäre ja eigentlich die richtige Übersetzung des japanischen Satzes aus dem Computerspiel "Zero Wing". Und doch klingt das eigentlich mangelhafte All Your Base Are Belong To Us wesentlich eleganter. Sicher, es fehlen ganze Teile des Satzes. Und die Grammatik ist falsch! Aber wer hierdurch neugierig wurde, konnte somit nur noch mehr entdecken, mehr Inhalt, mehr Nuancen, eine ganze Hintergrundgeschichte. Der scheinbar falsche Satz setzte sich fest, wurde bekannt und beliebt und findet sich heute noch in der aktuellen Popkultur als Zitat und in Abwandlungen.

Sicherlich hätten die verantwortlichen Spielentwickler nie gedacht, dass eine kaputte Übersetzung dazu führen könnte, ihr Spiel und ihre ganze Kultur populärer zu machen. Übersetzungen dienen dazu, fremde Dinge zu verstehen – und oft auch diejenigen, die die Übersetzungen anfertigen.

Ludwig, du bist hier und heute ebenso ein Übersetzer. Uns beide beeinflusste der alte Heimcomputer so sehr, dass wir wehmütig an die Zeiten denken, als man die Pixel noch mit bloßem Auge zählen konnte, selbst mit Sicherheitsabstand. Ich ging den direkteren Weg und wurde Spielentwickler; und als solcher finde ich es einfach nur großartig, wie du mit deinen Bildern diemagischen Worte und Spiele von damals ins Hier und Jetzt übertragen hast.

Die hier ausgestellten Bilder, verehrte Anwesende, sind quasi Meilensteine in Ludwigs Lebensweg. Der Weg begann bei Nichtverstehen und Kennenlernen eines neuen Mediums, und bei der daraus resultierenden Neugier. Er mündete unter anderem in ein Auseinandersetzen mit neuartigen Erzählformen, Bildsprachen, und auch mit fernöstlicher Kultur.

David Grimm schrieb in seinen Gedanken zu der früheren Ausstellung VERSUS: "In der Regel verschwinden [Ludwigs Bilder] für immer, werden abgeschabt und übermalt, bleiben höchstens als Fragment im Endprodukt erhalten. (...) Schicht um Schicht erhält [ein Bild] im Malprozess seine eigene Geschichte und seinen eigenen individuellen Charakter. "

Das bedeutet: Unter und zwischen den vielen – manchmal noch sichtbaren – Schichten von Ludwigs Bildern stecken noch unzählige weitere, ungreifbare: Ebenen, die im Grunde das sind, was wir Brüder als Kinder und Jugendliche erlebt haben, was uns verbindet und auch, was uns voneinander unterscheidet. So sind diese Schichten fürwahr Ge-schichten, die auch – aber nicht nur – von grob gepixelten Helden und fantasievollen Welten erzählen. Und ich freue mich sehr, dass Ludwig sie uns entdecken und übersetzen lässt.

Darum wünsche Ihnen allen noch einen inspirierenden Abend in dieser Ausstellung. Ab sofort gilt: All Your Base Are Belong To You!

TL;DR: The amazing stuff we loved in our childhood inspires us until today.

Go to Ludwig's website and have a look at his art + listen to the 'All your base are belong to us' - song: ludwig-hanisch.de



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TRI, our next project, and Advent of Indies

Happy New Year 2015! Well, yes, it's after mid-January already, and Jana's last blog post is from over 1.5 months ago. There just wasn't much to tell since the last blog entry; and still we are not ready to show our next project, which will eventually be our first bigger game since the release of TRI. (Also, I am more comfortable to write blog entries when I sit in a train with nothing else to do, and as I write this one we're on our way to Prague for some kind of short vacation!)

But let's talk about something else first: the Advent of Indies 2014. In our opinion it was a cool calendar this time, with great indies and a lot of people participating in the prize draws, which was nice. On the other side I am not so sure we will do it again (in this form) - too many people sent their material much too late. Especially the Christmas greetings, which we thought were the most important and interesting aspect this year, as they made the event personal and actually caring about the game developers and the community.

Advent of Indies 2014
One of the indies didn't answer messages anymore and we had to find a replacement quickly, which resulted in Bumblebee presenting their game Ghost Control Inc. on the 12th day. Thanks for helping out, Tassilo! And some days before the final 24th, everybody who came after was so late with their stuff that Robert Podgorski from BlackMoon Design offered his help and even sent material (for The Few) ready to release within an hour. Thanks a lot! In the end everything worked out somehow and I didn't have to replace another indie, but it was nerve-wracking, to be honest. This is why the next Advent of Indie might change a bit, at least for the participating developers.

Of course this is only the organisation side, which I know will never be without problems, especially if you try to gather 22 different people, all with their own plans and schedules. So we want to say thanks again to everybody who participated, who wished us a happy new year and who gave us a bit of feedback! Traffic seemed to have increased at least for some, which is actually just a side effect of our goal: we mostly wanted to spread some joy and bring the faces of indies in front of the community. Personally I loved when an indie was personal in their Christmas greeting. :)

Another thing not going as planned is, of course, TRI. A short retrospective: TRI was the game project we started to plan end of 2011, and which was finally released in October 2014 on Steam (with the help of our publisher Rising Star). Boy, what a ride! It was our biggest achievement in 2014, and we are glad it's over, although I still plan to do at least a small update for the game, perhaps even adding official Oculus Rift support. Because some people actually like it when they get dizzy, apparently. ;)

TRI on Steam
Unfortunately the game is not doing as great as we would have liked. While the reviews and general reception are mostly positive, TRI is missing the visibility in order to be actually profitable. It's just that not enough people play or even know the game. After three months on Steam the initial drive is long gone and we're stuck with a meager 70 user reviews on the Steam page. Everybody who really wanted the game probably got it in the Holiday Sales. (I find these big sales dangerous for the percepted value of games, but I won't go into this topic for now.) Apparently TRI is on a lot of Steam wishlists, but I don't think you can trust this too much - I saw people with 500 games on their wishlists...

Right now a small bit of money is dribbling in every month, but this will change soon enough. There's too much games out there nowadays, all craving for attention. Last I heard 300 games got released on the iOS AppStore in 2014 EACH DAY. And Steam isn't that much better with 15 to 20 new games daily, especially if you consider the price difference. I won't blame the market only - of course we also failed to generate a hype for the game, and even after over two years of development it still could use some polish. A real, thorough analysis is probably only possible after six or more months.

Yet we are thankful that we were able to work on such a grand project, and we learned a lot over the development time! Oh, and did I really imply that we worked for around three years on TRI? Well, this must mean that the Rat King became four years old two weeks ago! Happy birthday!


Yes. These are rats bursting out of a cake. Why not!

Our next project is still not planned to the fullest. Some important points are clear, but that's about it - we want it to be smaller than TRI, with less development time. We want to be on more platforms this time, especially mobile, not only desktop, which means it should support touch controls out of the box, ideally gamepad controls too. And it should be easier to handle and get it, so there should be "fun" right from the start.

Of course we already have some more concrete concepts, but nothing is totally set in stone. There's still a lot that can change on a whim, just because we think it would lead us into a dead-end eventually. Slowly but steadily we gain confidence about what we're going to do. By the way; if you played our old roguelike Pitman a bit, it wouldn't be wasted time if you could write about which parts of it you liked, and which you think totally should get changed. We need some feedback on it for research reasons...

TL;DR: Happy new year! Advent of Indies ended and was exhausting but cool. We wish TRI would be more popular. Our next project is on the way.

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