Well folks, we did it... Release day is finally here! For two years we’ve worked passionately on this game with all of our hearts, and today we get to share it with all of you in its entirety!
First off, we owe a huge thank you to all of our Early Access players on Steam and Stadia! Everyone who streamed the game, wrote reviews, or left comments in our Discord helped us understand the best and worst parts of our game so that we could improve it as much as possible before our launch. The game would not be as magnificent without you.
Now that One Hand Clapping is fully released, we’d like to tell you a short story of our development and what finally getting to this point means to us!
How We Got To This Point
Bad Dream Games was created by the two of us, Zach and Thomas. We met in college, where we learned how to design games and write code. Thomas came up with the idea for One Hand Clapping while singing in the shower and started developing it for class in 2016. It evolved into a senior thesis project, which is when Zach joined the team along with many other talented students. At the start of 2018, we released the game demo for free on itch.io, and it received a shocking response! At first there was a gentle trickle of players willing to try it out, but soon it was picked up by streamers and YouTubers who convinced hundreds of thousands to download the game. With our heads in the clouds, we went to game festivals all around the world, where we eventually met HandyGames. They believed in our wild concept of a fully-fledged singing game and agreed to become our publisher. Thus began our journey working full-time on One Hand Clapping!
Having recently graduated, this was going to be the largest-scale project that we’d ever worked on. Following our hearts and the advice of friends, family, and mentors, we posted job offers online, found a grungy studio space in the Arts District of Los Angeles, drew up a wildly unrealistic production schedule, and got to work. It was exhilarating and terrifying. We made lots of mistakes in the beginning, but everyone on the team was new to the industry, passionate about the game, and eager to brave the storm together. Eventually we learned to improve our practices. We found out how to work best together and developed routines to help us organize our thoughts, like daily standup meetings and weekly trips to get two-dollar slices of pizza.
Making games is incredibly frustrating, but it is also amazing. For each part of the game, we would come up with cool ideas for new mechanics, draw paper prototypes of puzzles and create concept art, implement them in our game engine, realize they were terrible, go back to the drawing board, do it again, and each time end up with something more decent than the last. Every step was collaborative and iterative; rarely was any design, code, or art created entirely alone or written only once. As tedious as it was, that feeling when the hand-made work of all of your beloved teammates finally comes together is beautiful and makes it all worth it. Here are some images that illustrate that process:
A lot of the work was also very personal. If you read into the characters and their relationships with the player, or the implication of the mechanics, you can find the emotions and personal histories of our team members. Even with an abstract form of story-telling, it felt vulnerable and scary, but also empowering, to express such intimate feelings in our work.
What It Means To Get To This Point
So now we’re here, on the day of release. Nervous, excited, relieved and exhausted. Anxious to know what players will think, while also confident and proud that we made the game we wanted to make. Our feelings are a mess of contradictions, but one thing is absolutely true above all else: we love One Hand Clapping. Not everyone who plays it will like it. Some will be frustrated by the abnormal mechanics and request a refund within 10 minutes. Some will be self-conscious about singing aloud to play a game, but then realize that, in spite of themselves, they’re actually having a lot of fun. Some will feel all the best feelings we felt while working on it: playful, curious, and creative. No matter what you think when you play One Hand Clapping, we are infinitely grateful to you for trusting us, trusting yourself, and trying out this cute, peculiar game.
As for us, we’re going to take a well-deserved break. However, we’ll be around to talk with you on Discord, listen to any feedback or theories you may have, and eagerly answer all of your questions. We’ll start working on patches to fix any serious problems that you encounter, so please tell us if you do! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you again for playing. We hope you enjoy One Hand Clapping.
Build version: 0.12.48
Previous version: 0.12.21
Hello! Thomas Wilson, Creative Director, here with the next One Hand Clapping Early Access development blog! We have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on the game, and I’m super excited to reveal some of what we’ve been up to. Alongside improvements to pitch detection, environment art, and puzzle design, this update adds the culmination of Fugue Forest, the last biome we'll show before our official release.
The Finale of Fugue Forest
I am very impressed by all of you who made it to the end of our previous release, and I'm excited for you to complete your journey through Fugue Forest. This update adds about four more puzzle sections and deepens your relationship with the Harmony Hermit through passionate songs that will put your understanding of harmony to the test.
Better Voice Analysis (for real this time)
Ok so in our last devlog we said that we improved our algorithm for determining the pitch of your voice. Well, that wasn’t entirely true… Who would have thought that the way the world sings is incredibly diverse, what with your highs and lows, ooohs and ahhhs, whistles and growls. It is very important to us that, no matter how you choose to sing, you are able to “sing your song” with as little technical friction as possible. After testing the limits of both our algorithm and our vocal chords, I think our office neighbors hate us. But, I also think our analysis is as accurate and accommodating as it has ever been! Definitely worth it.
Ever Ebullient Environments
With the goal of maintaining a cohesively gorgeous art style, we have updated a variety of the game’s environments, some of which are pictured below. Additionally, there are a couple new character animations that will help breathe more life into our musical friends.
As with any Early Access release, there were also a slew of design tweaks and bug fixes based on all of your feedback. I really look forward to hearing you sing if you stream the game on Twitch, and also hearing your thoughts on Discord or Twitter! Thank you for helping us make this wacky game the best it can be by playing our Early Access :)
Build version: 0.12.21
Previous version: 0.12.9
Thank you so much for playing One Hand Clapping! Your support and feedback, especially during this early access period, is extremely valuable to us. I've heard some amazing voices, cracked up at some ludicrous sounds, and hung my head in shame when I see a bug in a puzzle I designed. But with such a wacky game, that's the best part of early access: seeing where people have the most fun and where they have the biggest problems, and adjusting the game accordingly. In the months leading up to our full release, we'll periodically post about build updates, as well as some technical or design topics that you might find interesting.
Zach, lead designer
Reworked Puzzle Sections
After obsessively watching streamers on Twitch for the past few weeks, I've noticed that some of our puzzle sections are slightly prone to frustration. We've reworked and revised the guiltiest areas to make the game play more smoothly. Even after revisions nothing will be trivially easy; however, there's a fine line between challenging and frustrating, and we want to make sure we're on the right side of that.
Updated Pitch Analysis
In the same spirit of reducing frustration, I've made some updates to the pitch analysis algorithms that the game uses. I'll do a more in-depth description of how it works later on. For now, suffice it to say that the game is doing more to ensure that your voice is being picked up accurately. There will always be imperfections though, so here are a few pieces of advice to make sure you have the best experience:
While One Hand Clapping is first and foremost a singing game, we want the movement and platforming to feel great too! Our lead engineer has been working hard to improve the physics of walking, jumping, riding platforms, and the crazy stuff that's unique to OHC, like walking on lines that you draw with your mouth. Here are a few of the major changes:
Various Bug Fixes
There are far too many to list, but I'll point out a couple major ones: