Monochrono Prologue: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

When Monochrono Prologue launched in Summer 2016 on iOS and Android, I said it was going to be a book that updated chapter by chapter, regularly, to fill in the backstory for Monochrono. A year later and it only has one chapter on mobile. What happened?

In short:

  • iOS: App guidelines. I couldn’t tell the story I wanted to on iOS, despite having assurances that I would be able to prior to launching. Without saying too much, they didn’t classify the book as a book, despite it launching in the book category and getting their word that apps in the book category could be treated as such.
  • Android: Difficult to develop for without having an Android phone, I managed to launch it a few months later. I filled out the age rating for what the title would be when it was done. The title released with that age rating, and then upon review they lowered my age rating because it wasn’t objectionable enough. Then I couldn’t add new content with the new lowered age rating.

I’ve spent a large chunk of the last year trying to figure out how to proceed with the title, and have gotten just about nowhere. Briefly, here’s the roadmap:

  1. The iOS version of Monochrono Prologue will be delisted on August 14th, 2017. It will not receive any updates prior to then, nor after.
  2. The Android version of Monochrono Prologue will be delisted at some point in the near future. It will also not receive any updates prior to then, nor after.
  3. Monochrono Prologue will release on PC on Windows, Mac, and Linux in September 2017. The launch version will contain 3 chapters, and will be available on and through Humble. There are no plans for a Steam release.
  4. For the first two weeks of the PC version’s release, a program will be in place for owners of the mobile versions of the game to receive a free copy of the PC version. Just make sure that you have the app downloaded prior to the delisting dates. The Android delisting date will be announced at least 7 days in advance.

I want to apologize for any stress caused with the title, or any disappointments. I assure you that I’ve done everything in my power to try to resolve these problems quickly and conveniently for players, but have proven unsuccessful.

Finally, some postscript notes:

  • Monochrono is currently on pace for a release in the second half of 2018.
  • The Wii U version of Monochrono has been cancelled due to coding difficulties making it more difficult than most platforms, with a lower sales potential than most platforms. Nintendo fans don’t have to worry though.
  • I took the summer off of game development for mental health reasons. This did impact development timelines, which is why I’m saying it, but I don’t regret the decision for a minute.

Thank you for your understanding as I deliver less than stellar news!

Syrenne McNulty

4 Corner Games

Posted in Announcements, Monochrono Prologue

Monochrono Development Blog: Game Design (Part 1)

Hey guys!


I’ve been hard at work on Monochrono, coming to Nintendo Switch, Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, and PC in 2017 (hopefully!)

Sorry the website hasn’t been updated much!


I wanted to get on here and make a post about game design, and some of the challenges I’ve been facing with development of the game. I said on Twitter this post would be this weekend, buuut…….as with everything, it was delayed. ごめんなさい。


So with development of the I’ve Got to Run! games, the keywords behind the design were “simple,” “fun,” “accessible,” and “possible.” It had to be easily understood with no tutorial what the player had to do, even if they just saw the game running for one second. It had to be enjoyable and contain natural moments of tension after 100 hours of play, if someone were to invest that much time. It had to be accessible to people who had never played a game before, or who were handicapped and could only hit a single button. It also, as I’m fond of pointing out (too frequently,) had to generate and logically test new levels in real time. These four things had to remain true throughout the game, no matter what got added on. Whether you were changing the tempo of gameplay, flying through the clouds, or running right to left, all four tenants had to be present at all moments.


With Monochrono, I would say the keywords behind the gameplay design are “challenging,” “deep,” “alternative,” and “intuitive.” Monochrono is not the natural follow-up to I’ve Got to Run!, and it took a full year of experimentation to get to a point where it felt like it had 100% of its own identity. I’ll address three of the keywords, briefly, in reverse order:

  • The game has to be intuitive – from the moment someone experienced in the genre (twinstick shooters) gets their hand on the controls, they should feel immediately at home. Nothing should feel ‘off’ about their inputs or the way the game plays, and the new mechanics (time manipulation, various weapons, etc.,) should feel like a natural extension of a polished base, not complicated changes to a formula that actually make it harder for experienced players to adapt.
  • The game needs to have depth. You might find a strategy to cheese some of the AI with a weapon you’re really good at, and coast through chunks of the game that way; that said, if you do pick a randomized combination of equipment, and enter a level, not only does it have to be beatable (as will be guaranteed by CPAI*,) the player should be able to find a unique way of approaching that challenge that is then applicable as a broader strategy throughout the title.
  • Finally, the game is meant to be challenging. The game isn’t exactly meant to kick your ass, but the hope is for you to realize, after completing a mission that you’ve found particularly challenging, that your muscles were tense the entire time, and it feels like a huge weight was lifted off of your shoulders. The game will be as accessible as possible, but is designed to test your skills in a very real way. For this reason, I frequently introduce the title to someone who has never seen it before and make sure that they are both progressing steadily and being heavily challenged.


Frequent testing is also crucially important for this game. There are many levels and many weapons, items, and enemy types. This not only leads to a variety in strategies, it leads to a variety of balancing headaches. In December I gave the first 10 stages of the game to someone, started recording their gameplay, and left the room. When I watched the footage back, I discovered that she was playing the game in a way that I had never considered, and moved to design around that as well.


I’ll have more to say on specific game design decisions in later development blogs – I can think of four off the top of my head that are each worth of their own deep dive! In the meantime, I’ll just say this – this is certainly cutting my teeth on comprehensive game design, and the design is far and away the most enjoyable part of making Monochrono.


Have any questions about Monochrono? Follow @Monochrono and tweet them with #MonoQA! Follow @4CornerGames for information about Monochrono and other in-development titles, and don’t forget to have some fun today!





P.S. Have any of you found Chapter 2 of Monochrono Prologue? I don’t think anyone has! It’s out there though – has been for a few months. Chapters 2-6 are actually ready to go as soon as someone finds them! I’ll release them all in a few weeks if nobody finds them by then. Hint: Check social media!


*CPAI stands for Corner Procedural Artificial Intelligence, a portable middleware solution spun out of I’ve Got to Run! that can be introduced to guarantee that all procedural generation of content is made completable with a player’s current ability set. If it is not, it is scrapped and redesigned in advance, so the player never notices it is there but can rely on it.

Posted in Development Blog, Monochrono Tagged with: , ,

Monochrono Development Blog: AI (Part 1)

So, I’ve been hard at work on Monochrono™ basically ever since getting back from E3 (what an amazing experience that was. I might write more about that in a separate blog post, maybe on my Tumblr,) because everyone I spoke to about the game seemed super excited about it, including representatives from all three console platform holders. I basically came back, stretched, and got back to work with a renewed vigor.

The smart thing would be to work on art and animation on the title, but that’s the part of the project that’s a slog for me since it takes me so much time and I almost universally end up unhappy with it. The game design is actually almost finished, too, in a really cool way! I have on paper the exact design of the finished product that I hope to put out in 2017. So that leaves coding – specifically, a lot of the AI behind the scenes.


Monochrono’s AI works in an interesting way. I want it to feel human – by that I mean, I want it to be able to learn what you do and how you play, adapt to it in real time, and provide you with a challenging AI that challenges you as a player specifically, like playing against humans might. Learning to read your tells, learning to adapt to cover its own weaknesses – such that the player cannot coast on one strategy throughout the entire game (in Story Mode. Other modes feature different AI designs, but I’m not talking about those right now.)

Initially this led to a trial where I put very few restrictions on the AI and its abilities – I gave it starting abilities, and I told it to make itself stronger as it saw fit (essentially.) What that led to in practice was I completed an early stage no problem, and then the next stage, where it would adapt, the AI gave itself every weapon and power-up in the entire game, including 10 1-second invincibility weapons. Because I have the AI middleware from I’ve Got to Run! implemented, wherein it tests stages and layouts to make sure that it’s playable, it completely broke down and crashed the game before I could even attach a debugger. I had to retry it and set the process speed to 1/1000th so I could see what it was doing at a sub-frame level.


Clearly that sent me back to the drawing board – I couldn’t just make AI without restrictions, but I do not want players seeing the mechanisms at play. I want the game and its challenge to feel completely organic in every way. I also want to be able to play the game as a creator and experience a similar level of strategic requirement as a player playing it through casually on launch day.


I’ll share more about what I came across and decided on in a future blog post (largely because I’m still implementing it and if it goes terribly wrong, I want to do a postmortem on that, too.)

I don’t think blog posts on the topic of the game are going to always be in this postmortem format – I’ll probably just use this as a way to get across thoughts on the game and its development on a regular basis.


Finally, before I sign off, some bullet points!

  • Thank you to everyone for their kind words during and after E3. I was terrified to reveal the game after two years of working on it in silence, so to get a generally positive reaction in response was extremely heartening.
  • I made a booboo with my E3 trailers. I had made three trailers for contractual reasons – a trailer with an Xbox One endslate, a trailer with an endslate without listing platforms (that had PS4, PS3, Vita, and Wii U in the video title,) and then a Platform Agnostic trailer, that ended up with the announcement of Monochrono Prologue. Clearly that’s the one I wanted people to focus on, but…YouTube auto scheduling uploaded the PS4/PS3/Vita/Wii U trailer 30 minutes early…so that was the first trailer, thus the trailer that got all the retweets and news posts. Outlets got confused, too! My apologies. Game is coming to all platforms.
  • Monochrono Prologue’s Chapter 2 update failed Apple certification for containing inappropriate material that they don’t want on the App Store, which is fair. I’m working on a different version of that chapter, which will sadly delay it slightly.
  • Monochrono Prologue is STILL COMING OUT TO ANDROID. I’m just having a tough time developing for the platform without any device to test it on, and emulators are only so helpful. Please look forward to it.
  • Finally, question of the month! Please tweet @Monochrono on Twitter (or @MonochronoJP if you speak Japanese!) with the answer to the question: Would you like to see in-progress builds be streamed on Twitch throughout development? Please be honest with your answer (as in, would you watch live or as a VOD, not just ‘would you like to have the option to see it,’ and include the hashtag #MonoQ. I look forward to your response!


Thank you all so much for your support! Happy gaming!

Syrenne McNulty

4 Corner Games

Posted in Development Blog, Monochrono, Monochrono Prologue

Why Monochrono Prologue Exists

Hey! Going to be a bit informal here in my first of hopefully many blogs on this site, which will cover Monochrono™ development,

When I said back in early April I had one title (aimed at 3DS at the time) that would be releasing in June, the title was what would become Monochrono™ Prologue. First let me provide a quick rundown of the app, available now on the iOS App Store (iPad support forthcoming) and coming soon on the Google Play store for Android.

  • Monochrono™ Prologue provides the backstory to the protagonist of the upcoming arcade shooter game Monochrono™.
  • Monochrono™ Prologue is an Episodic Book, whereby content will be added on a regular (biweekly-ish) basis until the story is complete. The app launched with one chapter, with more coming every few weeks alongside larger app updates. The stories will not be told in chronological order.
  • The story is one that readers will need to stick with to get the full understanding of – readers will also notice an evolution of the app over time, including music, artwork, and more features not in at launch
    • To stress: the fact that these features are not in at launch was a conscious design decision, not due to constraints or rushing. It is a decision to better match what I am going for with the title.
    • One feature that will be coming soon that is not available at launch due to constraints is localization. The goal will be to support at least English, French, and Japanese by the end of the story.
  • Monochrono™ has a significant enough story to justify the app – as well as one other major reason. The story present in Monochrono™ Prologue, if present in the base game, would raise the game from an (anticipated) ESRB of T to an M. In order to widen the accessibility of the core title, and to not compromise on the initial vision, the story is being told in a different way.
  • The story will be told over the course of a few months and out of order – additional features such as reading the entire story chronologically (recommended to be done after finishing in “director’s cut order”) will be made available following the completion of the story.

So I guess that’s the bullet point list. But why do this, right? Why does Monochrono™ even need a story in the first place? And why do I keep adding the trademark symbol? You the reader GET it already.

…yeah I know. Just protecting the brand.

Monochrono™ has a story because it’s important to me. The story of Monochrono follows a character (whose name and backstory will be announced through Prologue) after their death, and follows my own internal questions about human consciousness and what that means in life.

As stated previously Prologue exists as its own product largely to possess a separate age rating. You don’t have to play Prologue to enjoy Monochrono™, but you will get more out of the story if you understand the character’s background and what they’ve gone through.

One thing to note that will make little sense now (or worse, just come off as needlessly pretentious,) is that Monochrono™‘s color scheme leverages heavy use of black, white, and gray. Prologue is exclusively black and darker shades of gray (with the exception of text display, which for readability is white.) This will make more sense in the future, and does not simply refer to morals or “darkness of tone or character.”


So, to briefly summarize, Prologue is an experimental way of telling a story that is personal to me. Huge parts of it are derived directly from personal experience, and most of the rest come from the experiences of my loved ones and those close to me. Every character in Prologue, regardless of their actions, is neither good nor bad, but the gray inhabit a gray space in between the two.


…and hey. If for no other reason, readers of Prologue will receive a bonus in Monochrono™.


Thanks for reading, and game (read?) on!

Syrenne McNulty

4 Corner Games



P.S. The app is launching at $0.99 USD, will increase to $1.99 USD after a significant amount of story has been added, and will settle at $2.99 when the story is complete and the app is finished adding content. Make of that what you will.

P.P.S. It’s not on Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS currently because there are technical limitations in telling the updated story that I wanted to tell, but the versions are still planned when the story is complete (albeit at an admittedly lower priority, with Monochrono™ proper taking top priority. I would like to personally apologize to Nintendo 3DS players, who supported my previous release of I’ve Got to Run: Complete Edition!, for not delivering the Nintendo 3DS version in line with the mobile versions.


Posted in Development Blog, Monochrono Prologue

4 Corner Games Formally Announces Monochrono™ Prologue, now available

MADISON, Wisc. – In conjunction with the announcement of Monochrono, a multiplatform twinstick shooter releasing in 2017, which was announced at E3 2016, 4 Corner Games is also excited to announce Monochrono Prologue, available now on the App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

Monochrono Prologue tells the backstory behind Monochrono in an ever evolving state. At launch, the story and app are both almost as barebones as it can get, with only one chapter of the story being available to players. More stories and features will be added in as the app evolves, changing the scope of the app, the appearance, and with it, the nature of the story.

More details are available on the official 4 Corner Games website at, and will be coming soon. The only way to experience the full story in the context of the evolving app is to begin reading and follow along with the app as it grows, so fans should not delay! The app can be found on the App Store, and is coming soon to the Google Play store for Android-based mobile devices.


About 4 Corner Games:

4 Corner Games LLC is an independent video game developer and publisher owned solely by Syrenne McNulty, with no outside stakeholders. While 4 Corner Games has been involved in a myriad of independently developed video games across a multitude of platforms, from everything from a marketing consultation and technical consultancy on Armillo™ (Wii U™, 2014) to English localization and editing with the scripts of titles like Bit Boy!! ARCADE™ (Nintendo 3DS, 2014), 4 Corner Games has published two titles previously: I’ve Got to Run!™ (Wii U™, 2014) and I’ve Got to Run: Complete Edition!™ (Nintendo 3DS™, 2014).


Monochrono™ is a trademark of 4 Corner Games LLC, ©2014-2017 All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Announcements, Monochrono Prologue

4 Corner Games Formally Announces Monochrono™, the Upcoming Time-Bending Shooter, for a 2017 Release

MADISON, Wisc. – After two years in development, 4 Corner Games is slowly (and quickly, and slowly again) lifting the veil on Monochrono, the fast-paced time-manipulation shooter coming to PlayStation®4, PlayStation®3, PlayStation®Vita, Wii U™, Windows PC, Mac, Linux, and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, in addition to other platforms.

Monochrono is a twin-stick shooter broken into ten second chunks, with hundreds of independently intelligent enemies on screen and a clear mission. Players can, at any point, hold down a button to slow down time in the world by a factor of three, providing the essential hook of the game: players can strategize, position themselves appropriately, and release the button to hit their enemies. Because the player them self is not slowed down by the mechanic, it provides an essential layer of strategy that the game is built around.

When players play Monochrono upon its 2017 release, they will find themselves presented with many options and gameplay modes, including a fully fleshed out story campaign, an endless survival mode, a challenge mode with a stricter mission structure that sees players attempting to clear a challenge while completing three distinctly designed challenges, a local multiplayer mode, and many more unannounced features, modes, and unlockables.

The announcement of the title is just the beginning. Fans can stay tuned to, as well as follow @4CornerGames and @Monochrono on Twitter to stay in touch about the game’s development, including frequent developer blogs, screenshots, updates, and more. Direct gameplay footage as well as more feature announcements will be coming within the upcoming weeks, and those interested in the title will not want to miss it!


About 4 Corner Games:

4 Corner Games LLC is an independent video game developer and publisher owned solely by Syrenne McNulty, with no outside stakeholders. While 4 Corner Games has been involved in a myriad of independently developed video games across a multitude of platforms, from everything from a marketing consultation and technical consultancy on Armillo™ (Wii U™, 2014) to English localization and editing with the scripts of titles like Bit Boy!! ARCADE™ (Nintendo 3DS, 2014), 4 Corner Games has published two titles previously: I’ve Got to Run!™ (Wii U™, 2014) and I’ve Got to Run: Complete Edition!™ (Nintendo 3DS™, 2014).


Monochrono™ is a trademark of 4 Corner Games LLC, ©2014-2017 All Rights Reserved.

Nintendo trademarks and copyrights are properties of Nintendo.

Bit Boy!! Arcade™ is a trademark of Bplus.

Armillo™ is a trademark of Fuzzy Wuzzy Games Inc.

All trademarks and copyrights contained herein are the property of their respective holders.

Posted in Announcements, Monochrono

4 Corner Games Announces FY2016 Lineup

April 2, 2016 – Madison, WI

4 Corner Games LLC today announced details of its upcoming slate of games to release over the next fiscal year ending in March 31, 2017. 4 Corner Games, who last released I’ve Got to Run™: Complete Edition! on the Nintendo 3DS™ eShop on November 13, 2014 in North America, is thrilled to share the results of its hard work over the coming year.

First, fans can expect an update to the title I’ve Got to Run™: Complete Edition! in late April that adds new content to the popular handheld platformer. While the nature of the update is under wraps for right now, fans won’t have to wait long to experience it – the free update will be delivered in North American regions by the end of this month.

When Platform Arcade VR (Internal Codename, not reflective of production title) launches next spring, players with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset or PlayStation®VR headset and compatible hardware will be able to immerse themselves in a digital sphere with classic-style arcade games taking place all around them, guiding them with a compatible gamepad controller while looking around not only at the playable characters or objects and their movements, but also at the entire map, granting players the unique ability to see the entire game field in full spherical form, presenting unparalleled strategy in the featured fast-paced games.

Platform Arcade VR (Internal Codename) represents over a year and a half of research and development into unique ways to utilize virtual reality headsets without simply changing control of the camera. Immersion is immediate, and every new experience in the in-game arcade can be immediately picked-up, understood, and enjoyed by a wide variety of players.

Platform Arcade VR is best experienced seated in a chair that can spin around 360º, and is expected to retail at $9.99

4 Corner Games also plans to ship an unannounced title for Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS systems in June 2016. More details will be available at a later date.

Fans can also look forward to more information on Monochrono™, the first title in the “4 Corners Series”, at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. Monochrono™ represents the most ambitious project that 4 Corner Games has worked on to date, boasting over 40 hours of unique engaging content, including a full story-based campaign mode. More details will be announced in June.

Nintendo trademarks and copyrights are properties of Nintendo.

Posted in Announcements