The Test

What’s the best way to know whether your game is good or not? By having it tested, of course!

If you recall in our previous blog post, I had the iOS build tested in Testflight as part of our preparation for Gamescom Asia – albeit to a very limited audience. I am glad that the ones that play seem to enjoy it, so yes we have an early validation towards what we are doing thus far. However, we still have Gamescom itself and our beta tests. These will be the true litmus test on how we are doing.

This, however, is a challenge we’d like to embrace. Also, we must prepare for every eventuality. Even failure or cancelling the game is real possibility that we have to accept is real.

In the worst case scenario that the game’s concept simply does not work out, we have to be able to swallow that and overhaul the gameplay too. But otherwise, if the general consensus is that it “just” needs refining then we are definitely on the right track. “Just” is a vague term here, but it should range between tweaking numbers and something less than a gameplay overhaul.

So, to ensure the worst case scenario doesn’t happen – conduct tests early and to an audience that is as unbiased as possible. Our appearance in Gamescom is also to collect valuable feedback. And some time beyond that, we’ll conduct beta tests so that we can collect feedback from you too.

From our conceptualizing, refined by your feedbacks, we are going there towards making a good game. But yes, from the beginning, the concept has to be good first so that it’s worth the refining in the first place.

And the best way to get a good concept… is to look into what’s been done so far.

Taking Inspirations

Let’s go back to 2010 when I had a 7-inch Android tablet. Back then, you have Cytus 1 and… Tap Tap Revenge. Yes, there are more rhythm games in iOS but iOS stuff is expensive. Cytus 1 had things that really stood out to me, namely:

  • Song animations. We have song animations too, and now we are just blurting it out in open where the inspiration came from. I really liked Retrospective (the one with the clock)’s animation in particular.
  • The song list. This one doesn’t need explaining.
  • Tutorial. This is generally skipped by core players but a very important part of the game. It used Chemical Star as the song and I felt it became easier and more fun to follow as a result.
  • Gameplay. 2010 was DJMAX Technika’s heyday but I struggled to follow its horizontal scheme. Cytus provided that itch in a vertical scheme which I felt was better.


With all of these plus points… Despite a lackluster charting at that time there were more than enough to keep me interested.

These are the experiences that I hope I can improve upon and incorporate into SparkLine. And from there, we’ll improve upon these things even further. The journey towards improvement never ends, my friend.

But of course, we have our own set of features that we hope can make our game stand out by itself!

"1.0" Charts

Speaking of the charts – I hope that SparkLine’s charts don’t feel “1.0” to you. This is a negative connotation as generally early charts are where the charters get a feeling for the game. This generally means the charting concepts are relatively experimental as we figure out what works and what doesn’t. As I said, with the tests conducted we should be able to graduate from this step before our actual 1.0.

A little bit of anecdote regarding our charts – by the time we revealed this game, at least 15 Master charts were made already. But as newer charts were made and the “meta” is progressively getting defined, I felt that the old ones became unfun in comparison.

At least half of this 15 ended up revised.

However, I would like to note that the charts are not the very first thing people would see in a game. Most people will not be capable of judging whether a chart is good or bad on their first look. This is true especially for people new to rhythm games, which we have to get. The tutorial would most likely be the judging point. If the little they see from the tutorial is fun, they will stick to it. If not, then it’s most likely a bye-bye and uninstall.

This is especially true today as people have choice now.

In that case, wouldn’t that mean the charts are not the first priority to revise?

That may well be the case.

But I felt that the most important thing is that I can enjoy it, so I revised them… perhaps a bit too early, and given that there are other things to prioritize too. However, I suspect that after Gamescom I can take a break from charting for a little while.

I have charted for more than 10 years, but my Stepmania days aside (+ a now-defunct flash rhythm game), this is the time that my charts are seen and played by the wide audience. For some reason, I don’t feel nervous about it. At least, not the charts. The base gameplay concept is more important right now, and what I may be actually nervous about.

Closing Words

So overall, as we approach closer to our offline debut I am a little bit anxious given that it is the first time we are in the open like that. I think we might even get some harsh words (to put it lightly) in regards to our game but it’s better to receive it now rather than later

Right now I’ll personally be focused on polishing up the UI as much as possible, aside from charting. In the meantime, content creation is still business as usual at least for this month.

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That’s about it for today’s blog post. I think it went a bit rambly in the end but I hope you enjoy it.