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The "Gratitude Update": Connectrode 2.0

Even when you really want to move on to your next project, spending time giving back to the people who supported you is important. Connectrode has just released version 2.0: a "Gratitude Update" to the community who supported me.

Three months ago I thought the story of Connectrode was over. And I was okay with it. I knew that, if and when I ever designed/developed another indie game, it would be something new, and more ambitious than a tile-matching puzzle game.

But then Zynga effectively asked me to give up control of it if I wanted to stay employed, and I said no, and then I shared the story in an op-ed here on Gamasutra. The story then got picked up - much more widely than I expected. And the response was almost wholeheartedly supportive, which surprised and moved me. The week after, some drama exploded on Twitter, and there was another groundswell of support.

And though I expected a spike in the sales of Connectrode from sharing the story, I thought it would be in the low hundreds; instead it ended up being in the low thousands! The screenshot above is a representative sample of my Twitter feed that day: it turned out that a lot of these sales were from people buying the game as a way of saying: "You rock, I support your decision and your values."

And that was... unbelievably moving. I don't have words to describe how it felt. I talked to my partner, Dale Austin, and we decided the best way to express our gratitude was by spending some time improving Connectrode.

There is now a new update to Connectrode: version 2.0! After so many people bought the game as a show of support, we knew we had to say "thank you" by revisiting the game and adding some things we'd always wanted to do, but hadn't had time for until now.

(I really wanted a way to give this update to existing players first and let them have it exclusively for a while. I toyed with the idea of doing an "anti-sale" as part of the Because We May indie game sale: temporarily raising the price of the game, as some indies such as Michael Brough are doing. The idea was that new players would then have to wait to buy the game, while our loyal players would get the update immediately, for free. But in the end, this just equated to penalizing new players and/or jacking up the price... none of this seemed in the spirit of a "gratitude update." But if you're a loyal player, just know: this update is for you.)

Here's what's in the update:

Push Mode

This is a new "endless play" mode, something that I always wanted to try. Every 3 turns, 1-2 new chips appear at the bottom of the screen; they'll push up the pieces above them. You may be able to fend off this influx of chips for a while, but at some point they'll overwhelm you, fill up the board and end the game. Survive as long as you can! I'm looking forward to seeing the high scores people post to Game Center for this mode.

iPad/Retina Support

Connectrode is now a Universal app; Dale's upgraded all the menu graphics to hi-res versions on iPhone Retina, iPad, and iPad Retina (iPad 3) resolutions. The actual in-game graphics are now scaled-up in a pixelated method, which fits Dale's art style, and is much better than the blurry scaling-up that the iPad was doing previously.

Colorblind Support

I'm very happy about this; I wanted it in the game from the beginning, but never had time for it. About 8% of the population is colorblind in some way, which means that normally I avoid game design choices where things can only be distinguished by color - it makes the game unplayable for all those people. But Connectrode is a color-matching game - I've gotten many emails from colorblind people who are unable to play. For a while I wasn't even sure what the solution could be.

What I've done is to let players optionally customize the colors of all 6 piece types in the game. No matter what kind of color blindness you may have, you should be able to find a set of colors/shades that you can distinguish. (Our open-source engine -Flixel for iOS - didn't have support for dynamic color-tinting of textures. So I added the OpenGL code to support this, and shared the code.)

Even if you're not colorblind, you can customize the colors just for fun. Here's Connectrode in what I call "Game Boy palette":

Whether you already own Connectrode or not, we hope you'll pick up this update, and let us know how you enjoy it by rating it in the App Store! Happy circuit-building, and thanks again everyone!

[Reposted from the Deep Plaid Games blog at]

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