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CEO: Bo Bennekov, 0045 26830483, email@example.com
Lead Designer: Jesper Halfter, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sound Designer: Frederik Keglberg, email@example.com
Marketing: Rasmus Stouby, 0045 60690686, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Marbelous Coincidence
During a marketing session about the platformer “Glyph”, Bolverk Games realized they had probably also created a weird marble game.
While exploring a fitting genre for their game, coming to Nintendo Switch, Bolverk’s marketing and programming teams found resemblances to Glyph in Marble Games. That genre started with Marc Cerny (now busy leading the work on PS5) and the game Marble Madness from 1984.
Bolverk is launching the game in January21: Glyph for Nintendo Switch. It was originally published as a VR title on Steam, now ported to Switch, and expanded with more levels, skins, unlocks, challenges, and a new musical score.
Back in the Indian summer of 2020, the people at Bolverk are talking about how to create awareness about their upcoming release, Glyph. One of the programmers chimes in when the perpetual marketing-question of “uniqueness” comes up: To him, the game is a throwback to early versions of the Super Monkey Ball series. This train of thought is picked up by marketing guy, Rasmus Stouby:
“I started looking into SMB and the genre and that took me to Marble Blast and Marble it Up and eventually to Marble Madness. I was surprised to see how much resemblance Glyph has with these games if you consider it on an evolutionary trajectory. It turns out, we have unknowingly made a marble game.”
In Marble Madness, the very first game from 1984, the in-game enemy is a black marble that follows you around. It’s a total coincidence, Bolverk Games claim, but one of the enemies in Glyph for Switch is exactly a black sphere that chases you around. With Marble Blast, you get the possibility to take shortcuts on the tracks and in Marble it Up the marble gains the ability to jump. All of these features are in Glyph for Switch but expanded even further. It can roll, jump, double jump, glide, and perform a "smash" ability where it slams downwards.
The game is thought up as a traditional platformer but almost totally non-linear, inspired by Mario64. The team wanted to create a world to explore and understand, with lots of free movement and expanding player choices as the player learns to master the movements of the glyph.
So, the vast landscapes in Glyph own homage to the legendary SuperMario64 game, with an open world that breaks the classic platform setting.
Lead designer Jesper Halfter explains:
“The gameplay of Glyph takes the basic concept of marble games to a new level. It gives the player a lot of freedom to explore a wide range of environments full of challenges, and a set of awesome moves and abilities for the Glyph character. Once mastered, it will have the player feel like they can go anywhere. A lot of the inspiration for Glyph comes from games like Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, and Crash Bandicoot.”
The beautiful worlds are accompanied by a wonderful musical score composed by the studio's sound designer, Frederik Keglberg.
There is likely more effort put into the audio-side of the game than in any other marble game before it. Both the musical score and the sound effects are created in the Bolverk Games in-house sound studio, and the result in terms of quality adds extra depth to immersion and emotion when playing the game.
“Glyph is, in a lot of ways a game we designed to enable players to take on as a hardcore challenge demanding speed, control, and precision, but also as an almost zen-like experience of peacefully roaming through the environments while collecting things at your own pace,” says Jesper Halfter.
Chill out and speedrun
Having the game music react to player input makes the game well suited for chill-out game styles as well as intensive speedruns in the VR-game. But in the Nintendo Switch version, the music is updated to fit the tweaked gameplay. Without musical reactions to player input the audio is based more on level progression and not so much on the player. Instead, the Nintendo Switch version has exploration levels with slow and evolving ambient music and time trial levels with dramatic and dynamic drum breaks.
“Instead of having the music doing the same as in the VR version, I think it’s fun to try something that feels new, but is still an homage to the "old version". The way the music progresses in levels feels a lot like the old version, just tweaked a bit. It was a bit harsh in the VR version when you died in-game, the music died with you”, laughs Frederik Keglberg.
So, the VR players will notice melodic lines and chords from the old game, but in new varieties and with 28 new tracks to accompany the time trial levels. All in all, the music and the way it evolves through the levels and the game should feel new and fresh to both old and new players.
The studio's catchphrase for Glyph on Switch is “Easy to learn, hard to master”, so try it if you are ready to pop your marble with steroids and think you can handle it.
And don’t worry, even if you can’t, you’ll have a good listen.
Glyph is available on Nintendo eShop EU and AU regions.
There is also an earlier VR version available for free on Steam
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