02 Jul 2023 - FallingNinja
Cave Escape is about a ninja trying to escape a relentless cave.
An updated version of our classic indie platformer game, Cave Escape, is being released. This version is focused mostly on modernizing and polishing the game while retaining its original charm and vision.
The update will be released on the Mac App Store, becoming our first app to return to Mac desktop gaming in several years. Updates to the iOS and Steam versions are coming as well.
Check out the product details page for links to download the game.
The old version of the app had touch controls that required the player to tap on the character in order to move. The new control system is more flexible, allowing the player to tap and hold anywhere. The movement will still be relative to the character position and tap area, but flicking to jump will be more intuitive in most cases.
Games like Temple Run, which is one of the most popular endless runners in the App Store, have much simpler control schemes focused on gestures. Games like Jetpack Joyride and games like Flappy Bird are even simpler because constant movement is always occurring in one direction, and most control is done by a single tap. Cave Escape has a more complex control scheme so adapting it to a touch screen is a challenge.
Cave Escape is more like Super Mario with its precise platforming, and the addition of the grappling hook and special abilities leads to an increasingly complicated user interface. It was a challenge porting the precise movements that come from a mouse and keyboard into the touchscreen space, but we did the best we could. Expanding the tap area for initiating movement goes a long way here. Although, moving precisely, especially jumping, is something that simply could not carry over completely so the gameplay style is a bit different. Flicking the character about with slingshot mechanics, the game is like Angry Birds in a way.
Touch controls for a PC game port are tricky to do well, but the end result is hopefully rather fun, nonetheless.
The old save system was very limited and required the player to exit to the menu and forfeit their score when saving. The new save system is designed to encourage the player to save frequently in order to progress in the story mode. Ideally, a player that has retained a good number of lives, can make a checkpoint each time they enter the Temple of Logic. If lives are squandered, play can be reset later. To save the game, click on the biggest heart statue in the Temple of Logic.
Even after a game over, the player can resume from their latest save to avoid playing through the initial sequence of the game ad nauseum.
The player may wish to reset their save file and start a new game. This is possible by changing the game mode to infinite, and pressing Start. The game will prompt the player to erase their save file. The next time Story mode is selected, it will begin as a a new game.
The save file is stored locally, so the game can be played without wi-fi, offline, or in airplane mode with no interruptions.
A change from 30 to 60 FPS was made in order to get smoother performance on modern hardware. We also nearly quadrupled the base resolution of the game. While the charming, original 320x256 resolution of the game was kept for a long time, to preserve the integrity of some aethos (probably), a larger and more widescreen approach was ultimately chosen as it provides better graphical fidelity.
The characters themselves remained the same size, a stout 16x16 pixels, and look better than ever within the new resolution and free of interpolation.
There were some changes to gameplay, as the additional game space made the levels different to navigate. A lot of the game logic in the procedural generation was also affected by the changes, so retuning these algorithms was required.
After the initial update, we quickly realized that the new level size was much easier. Part of the thrill in the original Cave Escape is jumping between a stalagmite and stalactite, avoiding a cascading fireball, which is less dramatic when they are further apart. In response, stalagmites and stalactites have a chance to grow up to four times their original size, keeping the same feeling of challenge and, often, ruthlessness to the levels.
The main tip that will help a player in story mode is to cook fish for extra lives. Seek out the perfect relaxation spot - you might have to luck into one or travel deep into the infinite cave - that has a waterfall and a fireball. Cook up a bunch of lives and then complete the quest with ease. Or, travel as far as you can in the infinite cave and bring your net along to get extra lives along the way.
This update is not definitive, and we will plan to release another update sometime down the road. Some features we are looking at for the upcoming update include adding difficulty sliders, new obstacles, and other improvements.
Currently, the scoring in story mode is way easier than infinite mode due to a cumulative stacking of points. This will be removed in a future version to give more preference to scores achieved in the infinite cave.
The last update on Steam added a new obstacle - bats. These bats were almost impossible to see and we removed them in this version of the game. However, in a future version we are looking into reimplementing them with improved AI and graphics.
There are some obstacles in development - like slippery ice - and some other obstacles may receive a tuning update. The ground slam, which wasn’t even part of the original game, is a killer stacker for already challenging crumble blocks. Ground slam has two effects - the first which only generates new crumble blocks, and a second wave that will destroy existing crumble blocks. The combination of the two can put a quick end to an Escapist’s run.