A closer look at stylish action adventure forma.8, for PS4 and PS Vita

MixedBag offers an update on its follow-up to Futuridium EP Deluxe

Hi there, it’s Mauro from MixedBag. It’s almost one year since we announced that forma.8 was coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on PlayStation Blog, so it’s time for an update, isn’t it?

In the original announcement we shared ‘late 2014’ as a tentative release date and, as you can see since the game is still not available we, err… missed it, plain and simple. Two factors contributed to the delay: first we focused on launching Futuridium EP Deluxe on PS4 and PS Vita and it took a bit longer than expected. Secondly, we decided to raise the bar on forma.8, with a massive visual and technical overhaul.

As crazy as it may sound for a small team like MixedBag and on a long-in-the-making project like forma.8 (we started working on it back in 2011!), we really felt that we had to try harder and polish the game further, pushing more and more to reach our original vision. And we’re proud to finally share our progress with you for the first time here, right from the new demo we’ll show at GDC next week!

Bringing an alien world to life

forma.8 is an action adventure where you pilot a small robot probe stranded on an alien planet, on a dangerous mission to recover a powerful energy source from huge underground caves and bring it back to an orbiting space mothership that is too low on energy to continue its intergalactic voyage.

It’s a so called ‘metroidvania’, where you have to explore a huge interconnected open world, solving puzzles, killing enemies and getting new power ups to progress.

The alien planet and its eerie mood plays a huge part in the game, and giving it the right look makes or breaks the whole forma.8 experience. First, while we settled on a peculiar, very stylized graphic design early on, there’s a lot of subtle detail we can add without giving it up. This is a quick glimpse at what the game looked like back in 2012 and how it looks now, from the same area.

comparison

This is one of the zones that changed less from the start – please don’t search online for other screenshots from the 2012 build, we know they’re around and they could be embarrassing for us! Oh, we were so young and inexperienced…

Here are a couple more examples of the forma.8 improved look.

#07 - 20140604-0190#08 - Co_Op (5)

 
Another thing we’re working hard on are animations. Everything was a bit stiff before, but thanks to the addition of the awesome Andrea Marchi to our team (by the way, welcome Andrea!), things really changed during the last two months. Andrea is a very talented 3D modeler and animator and his years of experience are helping us inject more life into the forma.8 world.

And by ‘life’ we mean… say hi to one of our new friends, the creepy giant spider!

All enemies and creatures in forma.8 are being redone from scratch by Andrea, sporting new animations and sometimes a totally new look.

To sum the redesign up, we’re focusing on improving all the particle and special effects. Ranging from subtle ambient particles suspended in the air to big explosions and lava burst, with added full screen effects like wobbly heat haze distortions in the volcano area.

Under the hood

We’re using Unity3D as our engine for forma.8, and since the start of the project things evolved a lot: four years is an age in videogame and technology land. When we started working on forma.8 Unity offered a 3D physics engine and almost no 2D capabilities out of the box, so we had to wrestle with it to make a 2D game with what was essentially a 3D game making tool.

Things worked wonderfully, but then Unity evolved and got a lot of awesome 2D features, so we decided to switch forma.8 to the new 2D physic system in Unity. It required a lot of coding work but…
Okay, okay, that’s boring stuff I know, so let’s make things short: since 2D physics drive all the game, giving it a nice unpredictable spin, we can now throw a lot more action and interactive stuff on screen, with even better performances as icing on the cake.

Which means: full resolution and 60 constant fps on PS Vita (on PS4 that’s a given), a magic number that’s really important in a smooth game like forma.8. It simply doesn’t work at 30fps – trust us we’ve tried it.

7

What now?

After this big visual and technical transition things are going smoothly on the development front, and we’ll post more and more about the progress on the game in the future. But we won’t make the error of giving out another release date that we may miss: we made this mistake before (ah, inexperience!), and we don’t want to promise something we can’t deliver.

We want forma.8 to be the best game we can make – it’s our little baby after all – and we don’t want to rush it. It’ll still take a bit of time, but we really hope you’ll enjoy it when it comes out.

Since we’ve shared only ‘redesigned stuff’ today, how about a glimpse at one of the never-seen-before, work in progress areas? Here it is, and trust me it’s huge. forma.8 is like 1 pixel small here, and he has to deal with that giant… spider thing?

panoramicshot

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or Facebook; we can’t wait to share more with you in the future. I hope you enjoyed our update on the project! Bye from Italy!

12 Comments
5 Author replies

Looks great, you certainly haven’t been sleeping since last year :)

Question: still hard? ;)

1.1

Thanks!
Yes, still hard, but balanced. ;)

1.2

Complimenti per il grande lavoro che fate!
Magari uscirà nel Playstation plus di marzo? :D

2

Nice! This has been in my list for almost a year, then? I see you’re not giving a new time frame. I suppose you just don’t want to have to break it if things take longer than expected?

2.1

Exactly. ;)
We’ve missed all the previous announced release date, don’t want it to happen again!

3

This looks very much like Pixel Junk Shooter. I hope it plays just as good!

StevenJamesHyde 25 February, 2015 @ 16:04
3.1

I was thinking more Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

European_Gamer 25 February, 2015 @ 16:19
3.2

PixelJunk Shooter was also the first game I thought about.

3.3

We hope so, we love Pixel Junk Shooter!
The gameplay style of forma.8 is very different though.

Keep up the good work guys…I will surely buy :)

Loving the art style, so basic yet effective :D

How did you find working with Unity?

6.1

We love Unity.
We already shipped Futuridium EP Deluxe for PS4 and PSVita and it’s made with Unity, the experience with forma.8 was silky smooth.
If you want to get into gamedev, definitely check it out.

Played this last year at Rezzed! It’s a great little game :) Day 1 for me! Developer was a really nice chap too, showed me his other game on VITA too which has already been released I believe.

7.1

Thanks!
Yes, we’ve already shipped Futuridium EP Deluxe on PSVita / PS4 last year, now it’s time for the big one! ;)

Looks great. Reminds me of insanely twisted shadow planets

Thank you for your hard work, time and effort in bringing us another must have experience on the PlayStation 4.
Thank you, kind regards
Richard

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