A strange and mysterious aquatic world filled with brilliant lights and shadowy monsters is the setting of Luminesca, a brand new action-exploration game being created by indie developer Matt Glanville.
The game’s tiny protagonist, a water-bound creature named Lum, finds his world under threat when a massive, ancient machine begins consuming the planet’s water supply. Light and physics both play large roles in the aesthetics and gameplay, as players guide Lum through underwater caverns, collecting pearls and contending with a variety of deadly creatures.
I’ve spent some time playing a bit of an in-progress build of Luminesca, and it seems as though Glanville has already laid out some strong foundations visually and mechanically. Guiding Lum through the protozoan soup is a very fluid experience (pun intended, of course), especially when using a gamepad. Keyboard controls are also available, but using an Xbox 360’s analog control stick felt much more smooth and natural.
In the demo (which Glanville is updating regularly), some of the world can be explored, but there are also some pearls to collect and some light physics-based puzzles to solve. There are also a few enemy-types on display, including spider-like creatures that charge up and then dash at Lum, as well as some pink jellyfish-like creatures that pursue Lum when he’s in range. Lum can also dash to break certain destructible blocks in the environment (or drag them along).
Even in its early state, Luminesca already offers up some fun basic mechanics and a compelling world to explore. While it certainly brings its own style and flavors to the table, the game seems to have familial similarities with titles like Bit Blot’s Aquaria (mechanics), and Playdead’s LIMBO (aesthetics). I asked Glanville to elaborate on the inspirational forces behind the game, and he explained that the game’s cool silhouetted visual style was born through a combination of utility and panache.
Some games that have influenced Luminesca’s design are ones that portray a rich, memorable atmosphere like Ico, Half-Life 2 and Super Metroid. That strong sense of mystery, awe, and the connection you have as a player to your environment is something I find very appealing and have wanted to expand on for a long time. The visual style has some obvious similarities with other silhouette games like Patapon and Night Sky, but was also born out of a necessity for it to be easy to produce a lot of content in a short time. Another thing I love about silhouette art is that its clear and easily readable for the player. I think that’s a very important aspect of game art that can often get overlooked in favour of just making things look as pretty as possible.
As mentioned, Luminesca is still very much a work-in-progress. Glanville is currently seeking help to fund the project through group-funding site IndieGogo, and those who contribute to the game’s funding will receive special bonuses. Donating a single dollar will get your name into the game’s ending credits, but more substantial donations yield bigger bonuses, including things like access to the in-progress version, a copy of the soundtrack, and/or a high-quality print of some concept art. Donate $100 and you can even help design a new creature for the game. A $200 (or more) donation will also get you access to Glanville’s Unity project folder, so you can see the game’s source code and design your own levels. In a nutshell, very cool incentives.
I asked Matt about his decision to use IndieGoGo to solicit funding, and whether it was a service he’d recommend to other developers.
I was initially looking at using Kickstarter as it seemed to have the largest user base, but I later discovered that they don’t support projects based outside the US. Being a UK resident, I opted for the next largest crowd funding source which was IndieGoGo, who also have the appeal of letting you keep the funding you raised even if you don’t meet your goal. With this model, I can use the funding to get started and drive pre-orders from there. I think it’s a great model which gives developers a lot of flexibility, I’d definitely recommend it, but you do still need to be prepared to push for the publicity yourself outside of IndieGoGo.
As of the time of this post, Glanville has raised nearly $1000 for Luminesca’s development. An impressive number, but still a ways away from his $9,000 goal. With the understanding that the project’s available funds have yet to be determined, I asked Matt if he had an idea as to when Luminesca might be ready for release. “I’m aiming for a 2-6 month development time – heavily dependent on the amount of early funding I can raise – so the best answer I could give is ‘later this year,’” he said. “The longer the better, as it allows time to make Luminesca meet its full potential.”
For more information and regular updates about Luminesca, be sure to check out the official blog. If you’re interested in helping make the game a reality by donating, be sure to head over to the project page on IndieGoGo. Luminesca is currently being developed for PC, but Glanville says he’d like to bring it to more platforms, if funding permits.
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