Everything is not okay…

Sometimes you have to admit you’re a bit overwhelmed, and that it’s okay to take a break. Looking at this website one might be forgiven that Cadence has disappeared in a puff of dust, however our silence is not because we haven’t been working on the game, but rather a case of emotional burnout. I’ve started a new space called Creative Suck where I can talk about these issues out loud as way of processing them and offering advice to others. If you’re any kind of creator or just interested to know what’s going on with Cadence I suggest you check it out.

Read the full post on Creative Suck

Specifically on the game, while we’re on a bit of hiatus right now to recharge, we’re going to need some Steam beta testers. If this sounds like you then go check out the Steam Forums

Building up Steam

It’s been a pretty significant week for Cadence. Steam keys went out to our awesome Noodlestater beta program backers – which means we’re now into a hardcore phase of bug fixing as we prepare for a full public Steam Early Access release. I’m not really sure how long this period is going to take, so this time I’m not announcing any dates until we’re totally sure when it’s going to land.

In the meantime you can check out the official Cadence Steam page and add it to your Steam wishlist in order to be notified of when it’s released:

However the delays and time spent with the Steam backend have allowed us to implement some pretty wicked sharing features. I’m super excited to see what you guys are going to come up with. Get a sneak peak in the following video:

What’s in store for Cadence?

So what’s up with Cadence? Well, quite a lot actually. I’ve written a fair amount before about our unsuccessful Kickstarter earlier this year – so I won’t harp on that anymore than to say missing our goal was emotionally brutal, and the aftermath involved considerable introspection and soul-searching. As a natural consequence, we shied away from our responsibility to keep you guys informed of our progress. So let’s catch up with everything Cadence!


Straight after the Kickstarter went pear shaped – you might be aware of the Noodlestarter preorder campaign we set up. It was a good way to have a much needed laugh, and to give the most excited amongst you a chance to still throw some money at us (if you did, high five – you’re awesome). We were also hoping that we could maybe swing this into a small community helping us with feedback and some much needed motivation!

Well, communities are built on regular updates and meaningful interaction. In other words, you need a reason to keep coming back. As a one man programming team running low on energy, it was perhaps a bit optimistic of us to think we could keep this engagement up. It didn’t help that even the simple task of pushing updates out to beta members remains an unsolved problem.

Full Steam Ahead

So we decided to refocus our energy, and instead to set our sights on a Steam Early Access launch. We still have every intention of bringing Cadence to iOS, but by focusing on a single platform we get to take advantage of all of Steam’s built in infrastructure, like automatic updates and workshop integration. Also Steam is huge, there’s a better chance we’ll get a critical mass we need to make the game better for everyone.

On Stugan, and being a hermit in the woods

But, Steam is huge! There’s also a good chance Cadence will go completely unnoticed and slip into the void, which wouldn’t be great at all. It’s around this time that I was lucky enough to be a part of Stugan, a two month indie accelerator in the Swedish countryside. It’s safe to say that the experience was sublime, and Cadence is infinitely better for it.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on the lessons of the Kickstarter and Noodlestarter. Really trying to figure out the “magic” of Cadence, and perhaps more importantly, how to show people this magic. Much of our Kickstarter campaign talked about the ability to create your own music using the game. What I realised at Stugan is that, for people to really understand this, they needed to experience it for themselves.

The Stugan effect, how the editor has been radically improved in the last few months

The Stugan effect, how the editor has been radically improved in the last few months

Stugan was an incredibly productive time, and I’m really proud of the fact that the editor in Cadence is unrecognisable from just a few months ago. It also feels like Cadence is finally finding its voice and becoming the thing I’ve been seeing in my head for 2 and half years now (is it still a game? I’ll leave that question for another day). Definitely watch the video below:

So when do we get to play Cadence?

The thing about Steam Early Access is that you only get one chance, and in order to stand out, the room for error is very low. I was desperately keen to get Cadence launched by the time I left Stugan in August, but it was clear this simply wasn’t humanly possible. And so August slipped into September, and then September slipped into October.

Of course these dates were more about how much money I didn’t have and the emotional release of finally getting the game in your hands. A more reasonable goal should have been based on how much work was still left to do on the game. This disconnect was burning me out pretty hard, and I’m glad that I’m getting much better at recognizing when I need to take a break. But what this means is that even though Cadence is almost, so very nearly there, unfortunately we’re not going to be able to get it out in time before the Christmas rush.

It’s well established that the holiday period is not a kind time for new indie games. They get drowned out by all the games with mega millions of marketing dollar to throw around. This means if we put aside our emotions that January or February is probably a much better time make a splash with our Early Access launch. On the upside this gives us time to really do our marketing right and give it the best shot. For our Noodlebackers keep an eye out over the next while, you’ll be getting your Steam keys early as our way of saying thanks for being there – and to help us iron out any Steam kinks and bugs we’ve missed.

If you’re in Joburg you can also try out Cadence at during its third rAge expo showing and take the new editor for a spin yourself.

– Peter

Announcing the Cadence Noodlestarter: our delicious Plan B

Attention, backers and other wonderful humans! Are you ready for our most important news yet?

(Today we’re going to talk about not getting the money, and looking at alternative money instead. To skip all the reading, you can immediately help us by clicking here)

It seems like a forever ago that we exhaustedly hit the launch button and sent Cadence out into the world. Throughout the campaign, we’ve been delighted by the support, encouragement and enthusiasm shown by every one of you!

Unfortunately, the rest of the world hasn’t been so quick to catch on (unlucky, world!), and we haven’t hit our goal. Due to how Kickstarter works, that means all pledges are cancelled and no funds get transferred to us. Your wallets remain unperturbed, and we earn nothing (nada, zip) except cherished memories and somewhat-less-than-cherished jet lag.

While haters might say the campaign failed, we’ve seen so many happy faces and heard so many happy voices that we have to call it a success! Which is cool, except that irreplaceable experiences are not legal tender in South Africa or anywhere else we know of (we checked). So where does that leave us?

After some epic 80’s synth music montages of us getting intimate with the mysteries of the universe, we used our newfound introspection to channel ancient wisdom and boil our ambitions down to their core: noodles.

Noodles are simple. Noodles are delicious. Noodles were heated in a microwave, by whatever god you believe in, five minutes before the universe was created. But most importantly, noodles are the fuel we need to carry on building Cadence. So without further ado, we’re proud to introduce:

Help us finish Cadence by sponsoring the noodles we need to finish the game!

Update Feb 2016
The Noodlebacker tiers are no longer available. Lookout for Cadence on Steam Early Access in the near future:

We even got a dog, because market research told us to!
We even got a dog, because market research told us to!


PS: Cadence Forums!

We almost forgot to mention, our forums are now online as well! We’ll be manually sending out invites to anyone who backs the Noodlestarter, but anyone can sign up. And we’ll be answering your questions and going into more detail about the future of Cadence there, too. Note: you’ll need to be part of the Beta Program to get access to the Beta-Only areas of the forum, as well as our latest beta builds.

Wanna play Cadence? Now you can!

If you’ve been following our Kickstarter’s progress, you’ll no doubt know we’re showing off Cadence at SXSW and the EGX Rezzed Leftfield Collection. But what about those of you who aren’t in Austin or London? Well, you can now play the brand new Cadence demo! 😀

Get it over here!

Why now? Well, creating a successful Kickstarter is a monumental task. We researched and hustled furiously to put together the best damn campaign we could muster. And while we thought we were onto a winner, it seems things haven’t quite taken off like we’d hoped. This tells us something is missing, especially when we consider all the wonderful feedback we’ve received from you, our current backers, and every one we’ve demoed to at GDC. And we hear that at day one of Rezzed yesterday people were lining up to play our silly little sound game.


The truth is that Cadence is quite unprecedented in terms of games, and it seems it’s quite hard to explain it unless people get to see it in action. So here we are. We’re taking on feedback and adjusting course, because we certainly don’t know everything and we’re learning as we go. So besides playing Cadence and seeing what it’s really about, we’d like to ask you a favour.

With this demo, we’re hoping to kick off the momentum we need to get over the finish line. All of you who have backed us so far are wonderful people for understanding what we’re trying to achieve with Cadence, but the goal is still a long way away. We’d like to request a few seconds of your time to help amplify the news that anyone can now try Cadence for themselves.

News aggregators are a great way to make strangers aware of the game that have never heard of it before. But the way these services work means that unless we get an initial boost of votes we’ll fall off the radar before anyone gets to see it. So if you hang out in any of these places please throw us a vote.

Reddit thread

Hacker News

… and if you’re on twitter we wouldn’t mind a retweet to help make people aware 😉

Official tweet

Don’t forget, either, to visit the Kickstarter page directly: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/947738574/cadence

About the alpha demo:

Featuring 20 levels of the game to give you a taste of what Cadence is about. Please note that this is what we consider alpha level, which means several things might change by the time we reach final release, and you may well encounter bugs and some rough edges.

Cadence on Kickstarter

Huge news everybody, we’re on Kickstarter!

What an absolutely frantic few weeks it’s been, but we’re really chuffed with the big-bang kickoff and support we received from our circles. Everyone did a fantastic job shouting it wide and far, and we’re really humbled by the support people have shown so far. 

The path to Kickstarter:

As many loyal followers are aware, we had to break rank at the end of last year due to financial difficulties. As emotionally laid bare in Peter’s previous post, working under such uncertain conditions was a gruelling affair leading to the realities of burnout. But thankfully taking a break is the best prescription! Not only did it allow us to recharge ourselves, but it also allowed the good parts of Cadence to shine brighter in our minds again. Importantly, this reminded of us of what was so special about the game in the first place. That means we’re back, with a bang!

Even though we weren’t actively working on Cadence, many serendipitous things were ticking over in the background. We’ll be saying hi to folks at GDC, Cadence is on the lips of more and more audio/game devs who we all deeply admire. We’re also thrilled to be receiving some recognition on the reward circuit. Incredibly, during the same weekend, Cadence will be on show at both the South by Southwest (SXSW) Gaming Expo and the EGX Rezzed Leftfield collection! Both amazing opportunities that puts us amongst some very esteemed company.

But as wonderful as all of these happenings are, they all require their own kind of special attention, adding to the many balls we were already juggling. In particular organising our stand for SXSW was a complex foray into the world of exhibition organisation: contracts, insurance and a whole host of other things we never dreamed we’d be dealing with.

Honestly, even without these, we knew we were biting off a very big mouthful. We did our research – a successful Kickstarter campaign in itself requires between two and three months of full-time work. The tasks are endless and the needs varied: business administration, project setup, Kickstarter compatibility hoops, shipping and manufacturing needs, the pitch video project, frequent update schedules, and correspondence with fans, peers and press. To name some.

Between the Kickstarter, planning an American trip, organising a stand for SXSW, and still trying to service our contract work commitments, there was more than enough to consume the precious energy we stockpiled during the break. Was ironic taking a break to recover from burnout only to immediately start fanning the flames again. Overall, we buckled down hard and everything came together well, but some opportunities for exposure and engagement have slipped along the way. Critically, we haven’t had enough time to do the press rounds (a mountain of work in itself, especially if you want to show proper respect to journalists). This means that despite a great opening salvo, accolades and other exciting happenings, our voice doesn’t echo in quite as many places as it should.

Keeping the momentum going on any Kickstarter campaign is a tough job. And now as two indies from South Africa we really have to try and figure how to do that well.

But almost without exception, the most successful Kickstarter campaigns are made that way by the weighted desire of fans. And on this front, we’re doing fantastically! In the first few days of the campaign, we’ve already earned more than 200 backers. With a critical mass of fans wanting Cadence to happen, we think we can carry this the rest of the way. We’ll be diverting more of our attention to press over the next couple of weeks, but so far we’ve greatly valued the core that managed to get us our first chunk of backers. Not only do those numbers impress and encourage new backers seeing the page, but every extra person who tweets, shares and comments can probably take credit for getting our fan base this far.

If you would like to contribute further to our Kickstarter efforts, you can do two things which we immediately value:

  • Sharing the Kickstarter project link with your friends: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/947738574/cadence
  • Reaching out to us for more information on the game. After all, this is being made for you! What do you need to know? What would you like to see in our next project update? If you’re curious enough about something, chances are that another potential player has those questions too! Holler on Kickstarter or catch us at any of our other contact points

Thanks for giving us cause to smile already. With your continued support we can make it the rest of the way.

Making Games Is Hard

A year and half ago, Cadence was nothing more than a post-it note on my wall. Today, the game that was supposed to take six months still isn’t done. The “gentle practice run” into the art of releasing video games has morphed into the most challenging and rewarding project I’ve ever undertaken. We’ve reached an interesting point in our journey, so I want to take a moment to reflect on that and let the world know what’s up with Cadence.


It feels like the number one enemy in any act of creation is time; there’s never enough of it. And of course time and money have their own special way with each other, so in fact you get two enemies for the price of one. When you’re lucky you manage to put this equation out of mind long enough to get some damn work done, but other times it feels like you’re in freefall and the ground is rushing to towards you at a million miles an hour.  Being productive under such circumstances can be trying, to say the least. Nevertheless you know that is what you signed up for so you grit your teeth and you hustle and you find a way to miss the ground. Unfortunately, this time the ground didn’t miss.

From the outside, the story of Cadence is setting up nicely. Among our victories we can count being greenlit, getting positive feedback from players, finally understanding the game we’re making, and most of all seeing a fabulous outpour of enthusiasm at local game festivals. I’ve also been floored and humbled to be contacted by students and aspiring game developers who look up to me and find my work inspirational.  That took me by complete surprise, and as much as I don’t really believe it I am still truly grateful.

One of the things I’ve been trying to come to terms with throughout my journey is the question: “What does it mean to be successful?” Time and again I hear the message that success won’t feed your demons and deliver you to happiness (wonderfully exemplified by Stanley Parable creator’s piece Game of the Year). Even though I’m still nowhere near that kind of stratospheric success I think I’m at least starting to appreciate why it might be true.

Let me first say that there are some truly wonderful moments of external validation. To watch someone experience the delight and joy of cracking your game for the first time never gets old. Or a friend telling you they overheard a stranger telling someone about your game, that’s pretty damn cool too. But the thing is, consumption and production are grossly asymmetric. These moments, gratifying as they might be, are really just a fleeting punctuation set against a landscape of gruelling grind. Day after day, month by month, you find yourself in a wrestling match with the same impermeable adversary, trying to figure out how to get your game made.

Sometimes it feels like you have the upper hand. Those tend to be the days when you’re in the zone, you can see the matrix. Everything is falling into place as hours slip past in a frenzy of productivity.  Most of all it feels like you’re making progress and getting somewhere. These days are your raison d’être. Without them getting back up and throwing yourself into the ring one more time would be impossible.

Other times though it feels like you’re going absolutely nowhere and the anxiety is overwhelming and everything is taking way longer than it was ever supposed to. That would be okay if it wasn’t for the fact that your money is running out fast and it feels like things are about to explode but you can’t go anywhere because you’re a year and a half into this and the only way out is to either fail or make it happen. Yeah, those days suck.

And that’s just it, the overwhelming majority of your time spent birthing a game isn’t the quaint picture our minds like to draw: It’s not about tweaking a level that final percent so it’s just right, it’s not about the euphoric high of release, it’s not about showing it at festivals and it’s definitely not about playing games all day. Rather it’s about trying to make those connections that seem painfully obvious in retrospect but until you figure it out you don’t have the first clue.

The tutorial in Cadence is currently on its fourth iteration, and it’s still not quite right. To both the naive developer about to kick off production and the person playing the final version of the game, that journey is invisible. They will only ever see the fully-realised tutorial and assume that’s exactly how it always was for anything less simply doesn’t make sense. But making sense of things is a difficult process, one which is only conquered by living with something imperfect and broken for a long time.

I think the reason we don’t hear about this story is because honestly, it’s a bit boring: “Developer fails to make game fun. Still no idea why?” Of course each time you hit a dead end you do learn something about what doesn’t work, and gradually over time the game does get better. But when you’re so close to something the gradual change can be invisible. It only ever appears broken and unfinished.

This becomes emotionally dangerous when you start to invest your sense of self in the game. To believe that you, as a person, will be a failure if your game fails. It makes the hard days all the more desperate, a matter of emotional life and death. As much as I’ve tried to retain a sense of perspective, to tell myself it’s just a game, the process remains inevitable. I think the same could be said for any creator who invests so much passion and energy into a single project.

It’s also very easy to start believing in the corollary: if your game is successful you will be happy. But, as I’m starting to understand, the adulation of eager gamers will never be enough soothe the mountain you had to climb to get there. They are at a distance, mostly just anonymous text on the internet, delivered in euphoric spikes when you hit milestones. They don’t know the reality you live with every day and they are not there with you on the days you need support the most.

This is certainly not their fault, and they are wonderful human beings for being excited about a thing I made. But nature of the narrative in your head is insidious. It’s always possible to wish for more love of your game, and to believe that when you reach this new magical plateau you will finally find happiness and acceptance.

This was thrown into sharp relief while I was demoing Cadence at the A MAZE games festival. I had spent so long fixated on trying to make the game “commercially ready” that all I could see were the flaws. In fact I could barely even stand to look at the game anymore. This meant it was very hard for me to believe it whenever someone enthusiastically heaped praise on the game. “Obviously they are mistaken” I would think. Also they couldn’t know how dangerously close I was to running out of money.

Ultimately A MAZE was a sublime experience. I decided to catch myself poisoning praise and instead start believing it. I decided to be honest about how I felt and what was happening financially and found myself greeted with overwhelming love and support. I was no longer sheepish about the Kickstarter we were planning and most importantly I was fucking excited to make a video game again. I believed.

Unfortunately enthusiasm isn’t always enough, particularly when dealing with the slow moving world of bureaucracy. And despite the fact we’ve already done many of the hard yards preparing our Kickstarter campaign, the fact we’re in South Africa has made the equation a lot more complicated than it needs to be. Being held ransom by the slow processes of third parties and staring down a pitiful bank balance, we made what I believe is the sensible choice of putting the Kickstarter on hold until we can get everything in order.

That also means Cadence is taking a break while we engage in some bank account CPR (ie contract work). In a way I feel like I’ve let down some people, that I could have done more to keep the dream alive. But, amazingly, as soon as the decision was made I had one of my most productive spells in months. So we’re taking a breather, but we’re not going anywhere. There is a lot to look forward to: most of all we have a clear vision of where we want to take Cadence, and we can’t wait to share that with you. Making games is hard, but so are we.

Look out for the Cadence Kickstarter early 2015.

– Peter

Confused About Cadence? New Gameplay Video Ahoy

Being a rather abstract and experimental game, Cadence is somewhat difficult to explain in detail.

Of course, that’s exactly why we’re doubling up on our efforts to refine and succinctisize our communication about its core ideas and interactions (while also petitioning to make “succinctisize” a real word).

So: this is our new gameplay and overview video! It covers everything from the first basic puzzle to the deepest editor interface in less than five minutes:


Cadence: Catching Up On The Dev Diaries

After a while spent languishing in a special kind of WordPress hell, we’ve got our site fixed up and running blog posts like a nice, regular website instead of the custom beast that’s been splacked onto our homepage for the past two months.

So if you’re new here: welcome! This is the place to be if you want to keep with the most major news updates on our audio generative puzzle game, Cadence. For more general info on the project, check its page over here. If you like your info in an audiovisual style, the most recent episodes of our developer diaries are below.

Here’s Part 2, in which Peter describes the real-time audio synthesis behind our unique music:

And here’s Part 3, where Rodain sinks his teeth into the mechanics and motivation of Cadence’s multi-solution puzzles:

More videos are available on our YouTube channel, with dev diary updates, general game info and eyetastic trailers.

Veteran Designer Aboard!

In the time since you’ve last heard from us, the team has doubled in size — swelling from a respectable single developer to a gargantuan, two-man team. Rodain Joubert (creator of the IGF award-winning Desktop Dungeons ) has stepped in to bring even more heart to this indie love project, and the new talent injection has allowed Peter to focus on hammering out some awesome sound engineering. Check out our first Developer Chronicle and we’ll tease you with a listen:

Like what you see? Don’t forget to vote for us on Greenlight! More regular dev posts will be showing up in the weeks and months to come, so you’re welcome to stay tuned and follow our story. Important updates can be sent to you via the newsletter signup at the bottom of the page.