Game development can often feel like a locked box. Behind walls of marketing and non-disclosure agreements, we rarely we get an insight into how our favourite games are made. Enter Mixolumia developer Davemakes, who's kept a complete Twitter log of the rhythmic puzzler's development from prototyping to its release this past weekend.
It all starts familiarly enough. God knows I've started a few misguided projects myself by posting a picture on Twitter with the caption "so, I had an idea". The difference here is that, over the span of a year and a half, we get to see Dave actually push this idea from a neat concept to a stunning, full-featured musical puzzle game.
idk what this is yet but I had an idea pic.twitter.com/w9JbNxZ0Zt
— davemakes ? mixolumia ✨ (@davemakes) January 29, 2019
It's a fascinating insight into the creative process. Dave starts out with a simple idea, a sort of diamond-tilted take on Puyo-Puyo, and early posts grapple with some fundamental roadblocks. How, for example, should a block handle hitting a point head-on?
A big question mark is: what should happen when you hit a corner? It probably shouldn't pick a random direction to flow. Should it all go to one side? How should it break? Hmmmm... pic.twitter.com/BqflrpEOQw
— davemakes ? mixolumia ✨ (@davemakes) January 30, 2019
We see more of these decisions build as the months go on (including a rework to the above that sees blocks move in the last direction pushed). Musical elements are pulled in fairly early, along with a good bit of "juice" - the act of slamming the screen and setting off fireworks to make something as mundance as knocking blocks about feel brilliant.
But we also see the intersections with real life, as the dev takes the game to events like Tokyo Games Show and finally names their creation. The ball really starts rolling around June. Features hit hard and fast - flashy palettes and joyous ripples, yes, but also vital elements like visual and accessibility options, gamemodes and player profiles.
As launch approaches, things tune further towards smaller quality-of-life features, along with hints at new songs from collaborator Josie Brechner. What we don't see during this process, however, is a lot of the less glamorous work - very little of Dave's thread is dedicated to fixing frustrating bugs, or bashing heads against weird engine quirks. It's important to mind that, even with deep dives like this, this is still a curated glimpse into the process of game development.
— davemakes ? mixolumia ✨ (@davemakes) August 8, 2020
Mixolumia finally released last Sunday, August 9th. You can pick it up on Itch.io for £7/$9. Seems pretty fun, imo.