Development Blog


Time flies… we’re still alive!

Oh goodness, the last blog update was almost 3 months ago? That’s too long of a silence. 

So what happened in the meantime? Besides working on the game day by day, we had a great time at Gamescom, with more than 500 people playing Verge. We gathered lots of feedback there and were happy with how well the game was received by the press and by people coming to our booth. Here are some impressions from the booth (as you might remember, we’ve been part of the Indie Arena Booth).

We’ve been showing Verge a second time to the public at DevGAMM in Hamburg, which was a great event. Unfortunately we’ve run into technical trouble and the game was not running smoothly on both a Mac Book Pro Retina and a ASUS i7 / 12GB RAM / Nvidea m940 laptop. So we were struggling a little bit getting it to run properly, but finally managed to do so. We’ve shown different levels here, but people enjoyed Verge the same as before at Gamescom.


Showing a new version of Verge at DevGAMM conference in Hamburg to collect some more feedback.

I’ll follow with an update on the current development state very soon. 

Stay tuned!

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The first screenshot

Until yet, we didn’t show anything about the gameplay. Well, now it’s time to reveal it!


We won’t unveil the story now, but as you can see, the game has a quite unique look. More on the story in another post 😉

For some reason, you’re stuck in a… well, let’s say weird world. You control a character that can “clone” itself and transfer between its clones. Sometimes you’ll even have to sacrifice one of your clones. There’s a door in every level that you obviously need to reach. As you may assume already, you’ll have to reach that door in order to progress. Between the start of a level and the door, you’ll have to overcome mindblowing puzzles. Portal fans rejoice.

This all sounds a bit weird? It’ll all make sense very soon when we have the first video ready in a few days.

Stay tuned.

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The logo

Monday’s news was exciting and there are barely 2 weeks until GamesCom starts, so we gotta keep up the pace. We’ll try to give you a quick update every day or two. 

Every game needs a logo, right? Something unique, popping into your eyes that makes you recognise the game immediately. We’re excited to show you the final version of the logo (sure, it might change until the game is released depending on the feedback, but that’s it for now):


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Play VERGE at the Indie Arena Both at GamesCom

Wow, how time flies! it’s been some time since the last update… 

Anyways, we’re back with tons of news, the most exciting being: we will be at GamesCom! You’ll have the chance to drop by our booth at the Indie Arena Booth and play Verge there yourself. We’re really excited to meet all of you there, watch you playing, talk about the game and get your feedback.

We’ll post details where you can find the Indie Arena Booth soon. 

Stay tuned! =)


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The more rules, the better levels

So now I’m going to continue my story about my level designing rules.

What? Rules? Again?” – you may think. “Didn’t we learn how to create ideal levels with the previous rules?“.

Oh no, we didn’t, unfortunately. To be honest, my list of rules is quite an endless one, actually. And, the further I read it, the more insignificant and strange rules I meet at the end. But I won’t plunge so deep here. I’ll stop before new rules start to shock you and will conflict with the former ones. I promise.

To keep it short, i’ll only cover two additional rules it this post.

And the first one was named “Pure Puzzle“. As I already mentioned, Eugene and I are big fans of puzzle games. Personally, I always prefer intellectual games to skill ones where you need to use your fingers agility. Of course, I don’t think that every skill game is kind of garbage and shouldn’t exist at all. As many players, I also know many of these games are of high quality and have rightfully taken their place in the tops. But what I really don’t like is connected to situations when a puzzle game, with clever designed passages, require agility from you. Suddenly, it appears, that you need to jump so far and so precisely, that all of your 20 attempts turn out to be unsuccessful (eventhough you’re able to shot a squirrel eye offhand in real life). Very often these moments in those games are absolutely unexplained and inappropriate. Remember, that’s a Puzzle! Players wouldn’t have played it if they wanted to check out if they’re quick enough. Move this waterside closer, make that aim bigger, persuade this circular saw to move slower. You shouldn’t force a player, who already solved how to pass the level, to repeat similar actions again and again, only because they are not fast enough.

Today’s second rule is “No dead ends“. It is one of the hardest rules to follow, and it often depends on gameplay mechanics. But still, every time you decide that it’s impossible to organize level this way, think once again. This rule is about dead ends in levels. There are many places in puzzle games where you can progress only by using special equipment or elements. But very often they can be destroyed by lasers, acid, saws etc., or they can be forgotten in areas where you won’t be able to return. The most confusing situation can happen when the player still has many other gadgets to use, or many other rooms or corridors to visit. Facing this situation, the player can waste tons of time searching for the right solution, having no idea that it’s not possible to solve the level anymore. That’s a level design mistake. Some game developers solve this issue by using a special message, which appears every time a player falls into such a situation. But sometimes, the message cannot be understood correctly or even just noticed. The best way here is get rid of dead ends. And I proudly can say that, after many fixes and improvements, Verge has reached this point. There’s just one level where there’s a dead end. And in this case it’s  necessary to teach some fundamentals game mechanics to the player.  But there will be no other options except to die here and the player will see it immediately.

Well, that’s it for today.

I’ll go and choose the next two rules for my next topic.

See you later.

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Why so serious?

Watchful blog readers probably noticed that Vladimir’s and my profiles, as well as FDG’s are mostly connected with casual games. There are funny physical puzzles, cute characters and things like that in this type of games. But now in “Verge” there are gloomy colors, a rusty bed in a spooky room with a mirthless blindfolded person.

First of all, I’m going to tell you how Vladimir and I got the idea of creating a first-person 3D puzzle game. We are big fans of Portal (honestly, who isn’t?), and, to be more precise, we are big fans of puzzles in general.  That’s why almost all games we made in the beginning of the yellow brick road, signposted “GameDev this way”, were puzzle games. Many cubes needed to be  thrown, physical were involved, “from A to B” walkthrough variants, experiments with changing gravitation and so on. During the development process we noticed that physics just pretended to be physics. For example, it’s not so hard to set up one physical, turned down triangle on an apex of other one as it is in a real life. (Ok, ok my first game was “Nailnoid” and it wasn’t a physics or puzzle based game).

We started to be tired of the 2D puzzle world. Moreover, 3D world always seemed to be more serious and the real big thing. Also, we needed to fill ourselves by something new urgently, because our last games copied previous ones in most cases and we didn’t enjoy this kind of development. Sadness was growing up inside of us.

As I remember, back in December 2013, Vladimir and I were done with the development of the Android version of “Cover Orange”, so we started thinking about new 3D puzzle mechanics. An Idea about holes in walls, where one of them could be an entrance from one side and another one could be an exit from other one sounded cool, but there was already something similar. There were also games with gravity or  changing physics. We decided that we didn’t want to copy the main mechanics from other games. We thought a lot, soon our game mechanics matured and we started to prototype levels. At that time, an average level looked like this (by the way, this particular level wasn’t included in the game):


Vladimir will tell you more about levels. I just want to note that I’m proud that turned out to be very clever. There are situations when the player is walking from one corner to another one, being perplex, with only one question in his mind – “HOW?”. I always miss this feeling a lot. That’s why I like Portal and Quantum Conundrum a lot. One of my main goals while creating Verge is to give players this exact same feeling, in 3D world.

At that time, there was no story about coma and character with blindfolds.

The it suddenly struck my mind: “What if it’ll be a game about a person in a coma who tries to escape from it?”. I said it and was horrified immediately because of my originality. How many games are there with someone lying in a coma? Hundreds. And each character of them was searching an exit. And every time it is sad and gloomy. Maybe not all the characters are blindfolded, but still. It seemed to me that Lady Originality was pursing her lips skeptically every time I thought about this idea. Yes, it seemed so… But in reality it turned out that there are not many games with that topic, and she wasn’t pursing her lips so strongly. As as a result, the coma theme wasn’t overused yet, we stayed on it in the end.

Before giving the character a blindfold, he was wearing a respiratory mask:


But the character looked too spooky and, from a distance, too similar to an extraterrestrial. But it was enough just remove the mask and replace it with a blindfold to make the character to be pathetic. (by the way, does anybody remember a movie with a pathetic blindfolded character?).

If there were tons of humor in the game (which needs to be at a high level, actually), there will be huge number of links to Portal from players, I guess. I’m sure that there’ll be in any case, because there are cubes in the game which you can put somewhere. Also, there are lasers which can burn the character. However, we’re absolutely not worried that these elements are in our as well.

Considering that it is our first experience in making a 3D game, we decided that there are much more chances to create a sad and atmospheric game rather than a game filled with humor and hilarious characters, voiced by comedians. So we put the humor aside. The game will have a dark and sad atmosphere.

But, despite the game ambience is gloomy and somber, there are no monsters jumping from a dark corner to clutch the player’s throat. There’ll be no frightening crying, which often comes before somebody or something will eat you. Also, there won’t be any squawks trying to sink the player into a faint. The player can spend quite a lot of time in a level and they shouldn’t be scary, they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. That’s why we tried to create a sad atmosphere, not an uncomfortable one.

That’s it.

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Four basic rules for designing levels in “Verge”

Hey Everyone. My name is Vladimir and I’m one of creators of Verge. The main part of my work is connected to level design, so I’m going to tell you some thoughts about it. And, first of all, about some errr… let say rules, which I tried to follow every time I was creating a level in this or in one of my previous games. I have to admit that I used these rules only for puzzle games so far and I have no idea if they work for other types of games.

I’m not sure I list these rules in the right order. Rules further down my post may be more important then earlier ones, or their importance can change chaotically. But, anyway, it often happens that less important rules, which a developer decided to use at the ending of a level design process, finally change other ones which already were taken into account.

So, let’s begin with the first rule. I’d call it “quantity“. Imagine: You start a new level, then “your eyes are opening”, and you see 7 elevators, 12 horizontal moving platforms, several corridors with no visible endings and a huge number of buttons you can’t even count. For most people it’ll be a strong signal that party is over and it’s time to go sleep. That’s why my rule is: Don’t frighten them. Use as less elements as you can. Build as less constructions as you can. If all of these elements are necessary for all of 24 unique puzzles you have included in this particular level it may be better to persuade yourself to split this level to 12-24 separated ones.



What should I do with all of these things? I’m so frightened.


The next rule is “double usage“. This is related to the first one. So, what’s the point? Let’s assume your level is almost built and everything is working well. However, there are two elements, let’s call them A and B, that have a similar property. In this case, you should consider deleting B and think of how you can use A in a way to replace B. So element works in 2 ways: A and B. Thus the “double usage”. If you manage to rebuild the level like this, it will be more concise and cute.


Double usage 1

What the reason of ladder B?



Double usage 2

You can use ladder A in both cases.


The third rule is “necessity“.  Sometimes you can find elements that are not necessary for solving a level. Of course, sometimes the developers forgot something and the player passed a level in a wrong or alternative way (bad of course, but that’s a topic for another post). If these elements are there only to confuse the player, it’s not our approach. My motto is “each element needs to have its own, important purpose”. Moreover, if there are collectibles you don’tneed to collect in order to pass the main game, I try to include them into the flow of the level. I don’t like using extra elements solely for collectibles. They should seamlessly blend into the level design. Also, some games have a huge amount of empty corridors leading nowhere. They allow to explore every corner and can endlessly stretch the gameplay time. It can be a good idea if the game is kinda like a labyrinth, I guess. But in case of one-room-puzzle games, every hole in a wall has to be relevant. Just put something there you can collect at least .



You don’t need any ladder to pass this level. Don’t confuse player, remove it.


The fourth rule follows the last thought. A couple of months ago I was playing a game with Eugene, where we ran into the following situation several times. After many attempts to pass a level having two or three active elements that could be easily found at the start of the level. We tried to solve the puzzle for quite some time and in the end thought we’d better give up. This made it even more interesting and we thought the level was really cool. But then, we accidentally found a fourth element which was hidden in a hard to find place. You basically had to explore every corner of the level to find it, instead of finding a clever trick to solve the puzzle. With this fourth element found, it became a piece of cake. For us then, the quality of this puzzle felt really low. That’s why the fourth rule is “accessibility” (or I let me find things without pain).

Now I need to end this post, otherwise I’ll break my first rule I guess.

I’ll follow up soon.

See you.

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In the beginning…

Hi everybody and welcome to my first ever blog post =) I´m Philipp Döschl and the producer of Verge at FDG. I’ve been working with Eugene (or Johnny as many call him as well) for a few years already on games like Cover Orange 1 & 2, Ragdoll Cannon and Roly-Poly Cannon. We always had a great time making games, even having 2.000 miles between us. And we had even greater times when we meet 😉

In the end of 2013, Johnny told us of his new game idea. After doing what he did so far for a long time, he wanted to move on and make a more sophisticated (3D) game. Being a big fan of the platforming / puzzle genre that Valve’s Portal brought to life, I fell in love with the idea of Verge.

One of the first things I saw of the game was a photo of a prototype level design, built with lego bricks. I´m not sure if at that time I already knew what the game mechanic was about.

Check it out. Do you have ideas what the mechanics could be about?


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A small piece of a lie

Well, let me tell you how the idea to make this game in this particular way came to my mind (actually, you haven’t seen it yet, but still). Of course, everything you’ll read here is a lie and all the things that happened were absolutely different, because there were lots of non-interesting attempts and depressing mistakes when starting to create this game. Only once it became clear that gameplay and story will fit together, there appeared a possibility to wrap all the things in an interesting and non-depressing shell. So, now I’m ready to tell.

Once again – it isn’t true.

Seriously, don’t believe me.

I’ve never been in a coma. Moreover, I never had a  general anesthesia. There was something similar in my life and I dealt with it by myself during my childhood. Once, accidentally, but because of my stupidity, a soviet iron swing hit me in the neck. I heard many stories about what happened from other people and about terrible things which I was doing after. But for me, that day was just cut from my life.

I never met anybody who came back from a coma. There are many stories on the Internet about their dreams, but I guess they saw these dreams right before waking up. And I think that there was something else. Or there was absolutely nothing.

“There is nothing” – This became the main idea , which I decided to use as a start (and it is untrue, don’t forget it).

“There is nothing”.

Or maybe almost nothing.

Actually, I’m not so sure I can continue without being kicked by Philipp because of disclosing things we don’t want to disclose yet. I think I have to ask him. Don’t go anywhere.

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First Post

Hello and welcome to the Verge development blog.

For a bit more than a year, we’re working on game whose protagonist is lying in a coma. No, it’s not a coma simulator. Or, is it? I really don’t know what people are doing in a coma. Maybe they’re hitting penguins with a baseball bat, or they’re watching all episodes of “Star Trek”. Maybe they’re caught in something like a game, walking through levels and solving puzzles. Write me, if you know.

When I say ”we”, I mean my development team of two and a half men. There’s me, Eugene Kuzmin. You probably know some of my games, like “Ragdoll Cannon“, “Roly-Poly Cannon“ and “Cover Orange“. Then, there’s Vladimir Gusev. In case you know “Roly-Poly Cannon“, “Cover Orange“, “300 Miles to Pigsland“ and “All we need is brain“, his name may ring a bell. The half man is Lesha Babay. He’s known for the internet cartoon “Кочет i курiца“ (Warning! Watch it only at work together with your boss 😉 ). Vladimir and me are working together in my studio, Lesha is doing home office. And that’s the reason I count him as half man. Ressa M.Schwarzwald joined the team recently to work on the audio part of Verge. You’ll get to know more about everybody’s work and tasks in this project.

The game is being produced with the help of FDG Entertainment. The produced and published games such as “Cover Orange“, “Oceanhorn” and “Banana Kong“, as well as the recently announced “Monster Boy“. Philipp Döschl is being the producer.

The question that probably arises now on your (the reader’s) side is “What are they up to? Are they really creating a game with a guy caught in a come? And he’s solving puzzles?”
Turns out these guys are indeed creating such a game. And it’ll be done soon. But until then, we’ll give you insights on the progress of the game’s development. Game development can be a bit boring at times, but funny and interesting things do happen. These are the things you’ll read about in this blog.

P.S.: different team members will contribute to this blog, so don’t be surprised if you see somebody else’s name pop up.

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