Vote for Paperbound on Steam Greenlight!

April 14, 2014

Paperbound is now on Greenlight! Please tell everyone you can to vote for it so that Paperbound can be on Steam.

steam greenlight 500

Posted by Dan Holbert

Paperbound selected for “Best of PAX East”

April 14, 2014

Den of Geek gushed about Paperbound after playing it at PAX East. It was highlighted in their “Best of PAX East – Day 1″ article.

We think this game is going to be the digital-only sleeper hit of 2014…We backtracked and played it again after we’d done our first lap around the convention floor.


Posted by Dan Holbert

April 2, 2014

Paperbound was just featured on Rock, Paper, Shotgun!

“I wouldn’t want to make any blanket statements, but I think some sort of grenade-lobbing, scissor-throwing, gravity-warping arena would be an acceptable next step. Oh, what a coincidence! I’ve basically described Paperbound.

It’s a gorgeous and fast-paced game, even with just two players. Movement is smooth, not requiring any particular acclimatisation to progressing quickly from wall to floor to ceiling.”

Posted by Dan Holbert

Paperbound on VG 24/7

March 31, 2014


“Paperbound is ‘Smash Bros. on crack,’ lets you become a scribbled gravity ninja”

It’s happening! Hot on the heels of Rezzed, VG 24/7 is providing coverage of Paperbound. Other sites are starting to pick on the game, and we’re excited to list those soon. Read the rest of the article here:

VG 24/7 Preview of Paperbound

Posted by Dan Holbert

New Artists: Josh and Lacey

March 17, 2014

I’m super stoked that two awesome artists have joined the team to create hand-drawn environments for Paperbound. Lacey is working on Tim-Burton-esque art for levels in the Skull Demon Kingdom environment. Here’s some of her early work:



Josh is focusing on the levels that fit a Journey to the Center of the Earth theme. The art is inspired by the original Journey work by Riou back in the 1800s. It’s very line-heavy, and we’re taking that as a jumping-off point to create something unique. Here’s one of his initial pieces.


I’m excited that these two are working on Paperbound, and I can’t wait to see more of their creations.

Posted by Dan Holbert

Paperbound selected as one of two “Promising Indie Games in Development” by UT-Austin newspaper The Horn.

March 13, 2014

While already fun to play and incredibly addicting, Dan Holbert ofDissident Logic told me that he is planning to add a few dozen more levels to the game, making for a surefire dorm-room hit.

People at SXSW loved Paperbound. A reporter for university newspaper The Horn definitely did. Read the rest of the article, and find out about other awesome games from the Expo here:

SXSW 2014: The Best of the Gaming Expo



Posted by Dan Holbert

Arcade Cabinet Concept

February 23, 2014


In preparation for SXSW, I’m making an “arcade cabinet” display. It will look like a book that’s been cut into. The type of book that’s OK with ending a sentence with a preposition.

In order to make sure I’ve got everything fully figured out, measured, and accounted, I decided to model it in Blender. Here you can see a mock-up of what the outside will look like, as well as the inner skeleton. I’ve color coded all the skeleton pieces based on length and material. The vertical blue bars are metal studs (let the jokes out now), the blacks are metal track to splice the studs, and the rest represent various lengths of wooden shiplap.

An unusual requirement I have is that the whole thing must be able to be transported on an airplane as checked baggage. That means that no piece can be longer than about 2 feet, and the whole thing must weight under 100 lbs (the typical weight limit for two checked bags). The wood alone looks like it will weigh about 50 lbs, constructed from lightweight cedar. If you’re wondering why it has the zig-zaggy, criss-crossing open-ness…it’s to save weight. The bottom is the only part that is solid, as it needs to be comparatively heavy in order to avoid the thing tipping over. I can throw rocks or something down there to weigh it down further if I need to. I will be able to assemble and disassemble this thing on the show floor.

I’ll put a 32″ LCD TV inside, with a hole cut out of the pages for it. For controls, I’ll just have wired Xbox 360 controllers at first, but I hope that I’ll one day be able to put real arcade joysticks on board.

Some say that I’m mad. Only time will tell. I’ll be making more posts as I build the thing.

Posted by Dan Holbert

Playtesting: Why You Should Do It At Least Twice a Month, and How To Do It For Free

February 19, 2014

Playtesting is something that you should just do. Don’t wait. Do it now. Don’t be afraid. If you are scared of what people might think, then you aren’t ready to go indie. If your game is great, playtesting will confirm it as well as show you where you need to improve. If the game just isn’t working out, it will tell you before you waste a lot of time and money on it. If the response is positive, it really provides that motivation to keep going.

Playtesting has been invaluable to me so far. It’s easy to get caught up in your game, which you know every detail of, and not realize what other people’s experiences will be. Playtesting allows you to test your assumptions. It sits you down, shuts you up, and tells you where you are wrong. Every month that goes by without playtesting is a month you could have spent going in the wrong direction.


My Recent Playtesting Adventure

I was lucky enough for Paperbound to be a part of the Indie Prize Showcase in Amsterdam. I did some playtesting with some game developer friends of mine just before the event  in order to make sure that I had the best showing possible. As a result of that playtesting, I was able to make some changes which required minimal coding but had significant effects on how the game played. In particular, I was able to improve

1)      Accessibility – Can people just pick it up and play without being confused?

2)      Information conveyance – Does the game present people have the information that they need?

3)      Tension – Is there a palpable sense of tension that grows as the game progresses?

4)      Balance and Flow – Are any weapons overused such that combat breaks down or is not fun?

#1 was accomplished by removing restrictions on where you can invert your gravity. It took a lot of people, or at least people saying it in the right way, to get through my thick skull that the restrictions were just confusing and didn’t add to the fun. I may later experiment with later having a “pro” mode with these restrictions, but the main game mode will not feature them.

#2 was accomplished by minimizing UI and putting more information in-game. Instead of having health dots in the corners of the screen, each character now has a damage texture to indicate if he’s not at full health. It’s immediate and doesn’t require you to look away from the action. I also added a leader glow to indicate who is in the lead and how close to winning he is.

#3 was also accomplished by the leader glow. It starts off gentle, but begins to grow and pulsate faster and faster, finally changing color for the last two kills. This adds anxiety and tension to really engage players.

#4 was accomplished by tweaking weapon strengths and ammo counts.

I am certain that the game would not have gone over as well in Amsterdam without this testing.


How to Playtest

“But, waahhhhh, I don’t have a big QA lab.”

Then get creative.

I have not paid a dime for testing, other than buying gas and a cheap $30 TV on Craiglist. I took the game to midnight releases at a local Gamestop, where the manager was excellent enough to allow to me set up outside. I also took it to a local college that offers game art and design courses in exchange for talking about my experiences as a developer. The teacher even made feedback for my game part of the coursework. Additionally, I am lucky enough to have a large group of game developer friends who provide me with feedback, which you should also be able to find in any major city.

For playtesting, all you really need is a laptop and maybe some controllers and/or a power source. My first time at Gamestop, I put my laptop on a stool on the sidewalk. A table and a big TV definitely help but are not necessary.

You should go with a definite testing goal in mind (“Is this new game mode worth pursuing further?”, “Is the game better with infinite ammo or limited ammo?”). Of course, it’s also a great time to simply gauge how much people are enjoying the game and where they have frustrations.

You should prepare a brief questionnaire beforehand. Ask very specific questions. Be careful on your wording. Try to phrase things in a way that will generate more negative feedback. If you can try for the most negative possible responses and yet get positive responses, then you should have confidence that you are onto something good. However, if you try to get people to say glowing things, then you cannot rely on the data. Be sure to tell people that their feedback is valid and appreciated, and be very clear that you don’t want them to sugarcoat anything. The nicest thing that they can do is be mean. Your livelihood is on the line.

Now stop making excuses and go test.

Posted by Dan Holbert

Gizorama Preview

February 12, 2014

Gizorama did a glowing preview of Paperbound.

“If The Nightmare Before Christmas and any Stick Man game had a baby, their lovechild would be the stuff of Paperbound. This beautiful and artfully imagined puzzle game, with levels of increasing difficulty and freewheeling terrain, is one of the most unique and hard-to-put down games I’ve ever played.”

Posted by Dan Holbert

Paperbound at SXSW!

February 11, 2014

It’s official! Paperbound will be part of SXSW 2014. An estimated 40,000 people will be in attendance, so I’m really stoked. I have big plans to announce for this, so stay tuned!

Posted by Dan Holbert