This past week I fell incredibly ill with what, atleast initially, was diagnosed as a virus. It was misdiagnosed as such and was in fact a serious bacterial infection that could have killed me had I not taken action when I did and received a second opinion. To make matters worse (because what's worse than death, right?), it has put me in a potentially serious financial bind having missed a solid six days of work.

Sadly, I am paid by the hour and am having to leverage my vacation time to cover the time missed due to illness. This is going to result in some time and budget being diverted from Thought Reactor. How much, I am not yet certain, as I am going day-to-day trying to figure out the best course of action to remediate the situation. I cannot, for the protection of my well being, divulge any of that in more detail publically.

Also, I am not even completely out of the woods with this illness either. I will be needing to visit an ENT within the week to follow up on the infection and results of the antibiotics to see if I will need to have any kind of abscess drained or my tonsils removed. That, plus the possibility that this was brought upon by a dental infection would incur further cost and time than that.

Given all this, I'm finding no other choice than to sort of put Thought Reactor on pause while I sort this shit out. I know I will want to spend whatever free time I may find working on something, if just to keep sane - but I will likely not be keeping you all updated for some time. It could be weeks. It could be months. I'm sorry for the uncertainty, but that is the very definition of my life right now.

Always want to keep it real and open with anyone who keeps up with the studio. Wish me luck!

Until next time!

By Michael DeLally Last updated May 15th, 2019

In 2016, Thought Reactor released its first complete commercial game. While small and costing only $1, IGEO was our studio's first foray into the world of selling games. After a few months of no success we pulled the price tag off IGEO and opted for a 'pay-what-you-want' model. While this netted us several hundred downloads, it only yielded $3.25 in sales (mind you, the proudest 3 bucks I've ever earned).

Over the years the interest on the game has maintained relatively steady. However, the game lacks heavy polish and depth of content - not lending well to replayability or warranting a price tag. Given this, on a couple occasions we've taken a second look or even a second stab at reimagining the game.

We've always aimed to reinforce the core gameplay loop of IGEO - a logic puzzler that uses spacial recognition and arbitrary rulesets. Players push various shapes around an isometric gameboard, combining like-shapes together to eliminate them from the board or activate unique effects. To avoid detailing the original too much, please pay it a visit and play it in your browser for a look into how it all works.

Temples of IGEO is the fruit of years of massaging that base concept into something far more deep and engaging to play.

While maintaining the core mechanics of IGEO, Temples aims to elevate the abstract puzzler to a fantasy narrative-driven puzzler with light adventure elements.

Featuring a blend of level-based puzzle gameplay and light exploration, players will take the role of Pakka and aid him on his journey through the Spire of Souls. During this journey players will learn the history of the continent of Calcias and the events that led to Pakka's tribe, the Jorrus, becoming the bearers of the Journey of Balance.

The Spire of Souls acts as a siphon, regulating the flow of souls between the ethereal and physical planes. Following the collapse of Lirthia, the civilization of sages that built and maintained the spire, Calcias became wrought with death and famine caused by the imbalance of souls.

With calamity spreading across the continent, Pakka's ancestors took up residence in the ruins of the Lirthian civilization to help preserve the flow of souls so vital to the order of their world. Since then, every decade the Jorrus send an adolescent known as a Seer into the Spire of Souls to attempt to restore this balance.

As players explore the spire they will unlock portals to the Temples of Old, focal points located throughout the cosmos that help direct and channel the spirit energy for all things in the material world. The Temples have become overrun with Aetherium the physical manifestation of spirit energy responsible for corrupting and tipping the scales towards calamity.

Conceptually, these serve as worlds containing the levels that make up the core puzzle gameplay of Temples of IGEO. Given this, players must collect Bone Keys from within various temples to unlock access to proceeding temples. This is designed in a way to allow players a bit of freedom to complete levels at their own pace.

As the weeks progress I will be doing more detailed blogs on various features and systems in the game. The game will retain all the core features of IGEO while adding new shapes, environmental mechanics, and special tiles that can manipulate the movement of the player and shapes.

The pushing of shapes is central to the gameplay of Temples of IGEO. Mechanic additions will serve to add complexity to moving about levels to lend to the challenge of spacial and pattern recognition that drive the core difficulty curve of the game.

The largest addition to shapes is the addition of Shape States. As players progress through the game they will encounter variations of the base 6 shapes that take on properties unique to themselves. These states restrict or change the movement of their constituent shapes and cannot be combined with shapes of unlike-state. More detail will be coming on Shape States in the near future.

Additionally, each Temple of Old contains some sort of thematic mechanic helping to create distinct sets of levels that introduce the games various mechanics. These mechanics will then be combined with increasing complexity in the games closing stages.

This flow allows the game's difficulty to ramp while still leaving lulls for new mechanics to be adopted and mastered by the player. This will lend to a game design that is more approachable but does not sacrifice the challenge and engagement we seek in our games.

Lastly, I want to mention the distribution model and plans for post-launch support and content. Temples will be soft launching in a period of early access on Itch.io before coming to Steam. I have no target release date set but the goal is to have the game launched before year's end. It will retail for no more than $10 and will feature free post-launch content and support.

Details surrounding post-launch content will come at a much later date, but they will revolve around player-generated content and replayability.

I don't want to reveal too much without showing off some of the gameplay in progress, so in the next blog I will breakdown the games two modes of play and demonstrate the unique effects of the various shapes.

Things are still fairly early in the process. A majority of the game's base features have been implemented as a first pass but there is loads of work to be done on the art direction.

This is just the beginning of our journey with Pakka and the Spire of Souls. You can keep up to date with the game's progress by following Temples of IGEO on Instagram or Itch.io. Thanks for coming along!

Until next time!

By Michael DeLally Last updated May 2nd, 2019

For anyone who keeps up with us on social media, namely Instagram, I did tease a little bit of what I had cooking up for Ludum Dare this past weekend. It didn't pan out, unfortunately.

To be blunt, the game sucked and it didn't get finished. I went into this year's first LD with the mindset of keeping the design simple and focusing on graphics and polish. To that end, I was successful - but so much so that the gameplay suffered and I didn't give myself the time to actually build a fun game.

I think this highlights a fatal flaw in my approach to Ludum Dare competetions recently: trying too hard.

With these types of high-intensity rapid development scenarios, one really has to lean on their strengths. When flying solo, there is little time to dwell on things you are not proficient with. While I'm a practiced artist, my technical skills in that arena (digital art and 3D modeling specifically) are not proficient enough to try and tackle during a jam. Art during jams has always been something I toss together last minute - often opting for simpler abstract styles to save the headache of creating detailed art.

So with that, come Ludum Dare 45, I want to assemble a Jam Team at Thought Reactor. I am not completely ruling out solo attempts in the future, but moving forward I think establishing a solid team for jams will not only help me focus on what I do best but also improve on my team workflow - which will carry many benefits over to the studio as we grow our team over the next few years.

Lastly, I've learned to take these events in stride and not get down on myself for failing or not getting it done. It's not the first and it certainly won't be the last. I learned something and now must move on!

I do have another blog slated for this week that will go into some details regarding the upcoming IGEO successor. It will tease the new artistic direction as well as the new features coming to the game. Expect that on Thursday or Friday!

Until then - onward and upward!

By Michael DeLally Last updated April 30th, 2019