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LD39 Argon

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Escape from hell with a twinstick plasma rifle fueled with souls!

Instructions

Firing drains energy and melee attacks regains it.

The first level is a scripted introduction level, the second level and the following is generated.

Game pad

  • Twinstick shooter,
  • Shoot & melee on the Shoulder Buttons

Keyboard

  • WASD & Mouse to Move & Aim
  • Shoot & Melee on Left / Right Click

(Unplug game pad to play on keyboard)

Play Online

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Credits

  • Art & Music – Tom Tavér
  • Concept & Sound – Victor Grenfors
  • Programming – Christoffer Lundberg

Powered by Construct 2

Ludum Dare #39 Page

Post-Morten

WIP

 

W23 Column 5

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A falling platformer with generated levels about digitally infiltration of machine ruled cooperations.

Autocratic machines rule world spanning cooperations. Everyday life is heavily regulated.  People go to Cyberspace to express their freedom. A world created only by the post human mind. Fear, greed or idealism, which one would you be?

The game is inspired by Downwell, but as the player progress and gather data from each column/level new abilities will be unlocked on that level. These ablities persist after the player lose and start from level one. When the game is completed (around 15 min) the data from each column is reseted.

The game started as a week long project but the game has been in development for three weeks so far. Most of the gameplay is the same as from week one but graphic and particles/ effects has been added along the way.

Play Online (Work in progress)

 

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1. Placeholder graphics form week one.

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Target graphic made in Inkscape

Post-Morten

WIP

W22 Cable Mess

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A Platform puzzle game of connecting cables in a land of animals and shrinking machines.

This is a prototype made in unity by 4 people in a informal game jam in the end of June. I made the level design and used a lot of different assets from unity asset store. Most of the assets was made for human scale but because we set the scale for the game to around 6 inch / 15 cm, a lot of the smaller decorations served as platform obstacles.

The garden level is a introduction level which presents all the different mechanics in a semi open fashion and have a combined puzzles which is the lock for the next level. We planned to continue developing the game, but because I want this blog to have chronologic order of the games, I post information of the game at its current state.

Download (Will be added later)

 

W21 Unity Introduction

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Download Swedish pdf (25 mb)

W20 Kvar

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A interactive documentary for children as discussion material about death.

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Post-Morten

Background – This game is not a idea I had floating around in my head waiting to get made, no. I heard about a project where they are making a documentary about a family where one of the parents die, and how the rest of the family survive with it. They want to make a discussion material for the documentary, but instead of making a list of questions, they explored the possibility of making something interactive. Theres books about how to make the best of the situation of children when a parent suddenly dies. Because of the stress involved when a family member die, its not the best opportunity to take in a lot of information from books. Therefore interactive medium are more approachable in these situation. Because I was interested in the project and have the game a week projects running I volunteered to make a prototype for their project, last week. The prototype is going to be used to look for funding, so it might be a longer project in the future.

Preproduction – One of the biggest differences compared to the prototypes I normally make is that this project had material from a long preproduction. It was very fun to work with. Most of the time I have to invent things on the fly, like setting or back story. But in this project a lot of it was already prepared for. That said, a lot of the more detailed information was left blank, and had to be made up on the go. For example one room where you would pop bubbles, and then information would be presented, to make the prototype actual information had to be included. We solved it, and thats one of the benefits of making prototypes, to know what kind of details to focus on, which will make further planning and development more streamlined.

Feedback loops and arches – The prototype was different compared to other games I have made before, mostly because theres no feedback loop. No health or loss condition, no challenge and no win conditions. So its mostly based on its art and narrative content. Thats makes it hard to playtest alone because the content only stay fresh the first time. But works because I was not responsible for the content creation. So basically I make a frame and test it, and then we fill it with content later.

Line art – It was also the first time I made clean up line art on paper and photographed it, without cleaning it up with vectors digitally. Its not exactly high quality, but if I draw it bigger on the paper, and have consistent scale with the line thickness and object size, eg no scaling in the game engine, I think it could look okay. Its nice because with this pipeline all of the art can be made 100% one paper which adds more flexibility, eg no need for a laptop. It still takes some time to make transparent, I use gimp and make a layer mask copy of the image, invert it, which removes all of the white. It also require color correction. But I think these things can be made automated.

W19 Ultra Risto Sib.

2017-06-24 Ultra Risto Sib. Screenshot 1

Another Classic Mario Clone

Controls:

Move – Arrow keys

Jump – Space

Run – None, you run all the time

Download (55mb)

2017-06-24 Ultra Risto Sib. Screenshot 2

2017-06-24 Ultra Risto Sib. Screenshot 3

Reference

Background music Woods by axtoncrolley

 

Post-Morten

TDLR: Most Mario clones have no momentum in the run. This makes the movement more static and less exciting, trying to rush the level but having to slow down in some parts to play safer.

The original idea was to make a simple version of Mario in Construct 2 to be able to use it in level design workshops. I really like Mario Maker, but theres no way to get a classroom full of Wii Un or 3DSs. I knew that it was hard to make a good Mario clone right from the start but it surprised me how much that actually was going on under the hood in one of the most copied platform games.

Mario Clones – Theres a lot of Mario clones out there and a lot of them are not very good. And one of the hardest things to nail is the platform physics. Its a different topic, but I think that the word ”clone” implies that the game have lower quality then the original. The clone tries to copy a lot of the immediate aspects of the game (like art, theme, story, and short game play loops), but misses some of the more finer details (like polish / effects, game design and level design), and ends up as a mere shadow of the original game. Theres also a perception that clones have close to none innovation and therefore adds nothing to the cycles of iterations of game concepts. I would say that clone is a word that is hard to use objectively, and describes more about the users subjective perspective and values. Some games, like doom, are so influential that what used to be ”doom clones” ended up as a genre, the same goes with DotA / MOBAs and also with minecraft crafting-survivals.

So what about Mario? It was the game that defines the platform genre, but in a way, only a few games manages to do it justice. Most games in the platform genre borrows a lot of elements like scrolling, jumping on platforms etc, but skips running, question blocks, and Mario’s level design [is level design really part of the gameplay formula? I would say yes, ex Super Meatboy wouldn’t be the same game with longer and easier levels].

So to make a true Mario clone, it would need the running mechanic, copy things that could have been reinvented but instated decided to use the same as its predecessor (same enemies, art direction, legacy system like 100 coins for a continue and scoring (who use the scoring system?)) and lack a high level of polish.

How I made a Mario clone – And it was hard, Mario is not the simplest platformer to make, 5 different blocks, 5 different items in them, enemies that react to each other (koopa shells). Blocks that reacts to enemies, a lot of components. And I only intended to make the components for the first level. It is strange, because platformers are one of the game archetypes that construct 2 are made to make. But its hard to replicate Mario’s physics in the program. I started to implement the things I know about Mario, and when I had the basic gameplay, I started to play the game and switch between my version and Mario for NES to pick out details. Heres a list of things I noticed:

None square collision and hitting blocks – In Construct 2 and other programs you make a collision bounder around the object, for example a square. Because Mario is squared I just expected the collision to be around the player, but it isn’t. When Mario jump up on the side of question blocks, if the middle of the character is under the block you hit the block, but if the middle of the character is just on the side of the block, you jump up and are pushed out of the block. If you press a little to the side Mario will end up on top of the block. This thing really surprised me. It is especially visible when theres a one block gap and you try to jump in between the blocks on the side. In my version its very hard because the hit collision is basically one block, compared to a half block in Mario, making it just possible to get in between but with little wiggle room. So the game doesn’t seem to handle Mario’s collision as a static cube but instead use different collisions depending on the context.

Brake one block in the middle of the sprite – Also in my first version, because the square collision was bigger then in Mario, you would constantly hit multiple blocks, which never happens in Mario. I assume that in Mario you break the block closest to the middles of the sprite.

Bumping the bricks as small Mario – If you jump under bricks as small Mario (or as Mario instead of “Super Mario” as the game calls it) they won’t break, but the block bumps up. I really like how that feedback is there, how the game shows that you can interact with the block although you can’t break it yet. This also works on question blocks, but only for blocks with content, it doesn’t work with used blocks. When theres things on top of the block the object will get a bump. If its a coin Mario will get it, if theres a mushroom it will jump, if its a goomba it will die.

Invisible blocks have no collision – This is kind of self explanatory, but was a thing my first version didn’t have. So in my version you could walk on top of a invisible box. In Mario games it gets activated only once you jump beneath it.

Flowers – You only get a flower if you take a question block and already have a mushroom. This is kind of Mario standards. But in Super Mario Bros. (SMB) theres always going to be a flower in a mushroom block if you are Super Mario, theres no “mushroom only” boxes like in Super Mario World. Also if you hit a box and it spawn a flower and you get hit and lose the mushroom while its still there and you pick up the flower you will only get a mushroom. It kind of annoys me. Also in SMB compared to the other Mario games if you got hit as Fire Mario you go straight to Mario, also losing the Super Mario / mushroom power up in between at the same time. I actually kind of like it. I recently played volgarr the viking, there you can get multiple power ups, and every time you take damage you will lose two steps, but if you only have step one of that equipment you only lose that one. So each hit hurts more then each power up, but if you only get one power up you are still safe.

Flat goomba – When Mario kills a goomba, it get crushed and remains on the ground of around a second. Other goombas can collide with it and change direction which can result in unexpected death. In my first version I added it but didn’t remove them, so the level got decorated with flattened goombas. It was kind of cool but a little to cruel for a intended Mario clone.

Bouncing on goombas – When Mario jump on a goomba theres a little bounce up wards. In later games if you time a jump Mario will bounce higher, you can not do that in SMB.

Off screen shells – In Mario enemies are static if they are off screen. So they start to walk when Mario get close so that they are visible on screen. This is different compared to other Mario games, and also compared to Mario maker. I think enemies gets activated 12 blocks from the screen in Mario maker. The enemies also gets disabled if they walk off screen. For example if theres a goomba walking right and theres a pipe, when the goomba collide with it the goomba will change direction and walk left instead. But if the pipe is off screen so the goomba walks out of the screen it will not return back on screen. But shells do. Theres a level in SMB (3-2) where you run forward hitting a shell and it smashes a lot of goombas, the shell goes off screen, you continue to run, and then theres goombas walking towards you. If you wait a little the shell will hit a pipe and return hitting the goombas that it ignored the first time.

Sportsmen like plant – The piraya plants go up and down in a specific pattern, but if Mario stands on top of the pipe and that piraya plant have not started to go up, it will no go up and damage Mario.

Star – The star have about 12 seconds active time, and bounce up and down. If it collide on the side of objects it will change direction. I also think that Mario is invisible a short time after the star theme stopped.

Animation details

  • When Mario pick up a mushroom theres a short frame freeze and a animation plays which transform Mario to super Mario. The animation flash fast back and forward between Mario, a middle state and super Mario.
  • When Mario takes damage, the time also freezes and Mario flash back and forward between the animations again.
  • When Mario hits a brick four particles are spawn, two pointing right the other to the left.
  • When Mario hit a enemy with a fire ball it will bounce up and fall of the screen. This does not apply to the piraya plant. The same effect is play when Mario hit enemies with the star.
  • When Mario dies the sprite plays a death animation and bounce up to around the middle of the screen and falls back down off the screen.
  • When Mario hit the goal he will hang on the location and then slowly fall down to the floor, the banner of the pole will fall as fast as Mario goes.
  • When Mario pick up a coin thers no animation at all. When Mario hit a block with coins in them, small coin will spawn that floats upwards.
  • When Mario does anything that gives score, like hitting a enemy, picking up power ups or coins, a white text will appear above the object and float upwards for 1 second and disappear. Bricks give 50 points, but theres no score text when Mario hit the brick.

Physics – The details in Mario that a lot of platform games in general and especially the Mario clones miss is Mario’s forward momentum. It takes some time to gain walking speed, I didn’t figure out how much. Then when you run it takes some distance to gain running speed, while you run the max speed is set and you jump one block higher. This was hard to simulate with the physics methods, so I just made something that was close but no exactly the same. Because theres a momentum when you release the forward button Mario doesn’t stop, but continue to move forward. This is especially prominent in the air. Also theres a different backwards movement when Mario is in the air. He moves more slowly backwards. If you have a momentum, the backwards movement only almost moves him to the halt. This is a big difference compared to a lot of Mario clones and the standard Construct 2 platform movement, where if you release the forward button you stop, also in the air. This is one of the core problems with a lot of Mario clones. When you run in Mario, you progress the level fast, which feels good, like your are good at the game. But when you run you also lose some control of the character making it harder. This is in the core of Mario’s level design, always pushing to get in the running mode but also having to slow down to play safer in some part of the level. Or I would say thats the core of SMBs level design, the later games introduced a lot of different mechanics which force the player to wait (like a platform moving up and down out side of the players range), eg rhythm pattern, which doesn’t emphasize the forward momentum, but instead stops it. Forcing the player to move in one possible rhythm, instead of a spectrum of different ones.

Theres also other things with the physics, like alternating between the running and walking state. But tbh, I never use it, so its hard for me to look into it.

Next version – I didn’t add all of the details I mentioned here, simply because I wanted to make a Construct 2 version under 100 events (basically if statements) so I could be used in the free version. But I found out that you could still make levels and save the file when you have more then 100 events, just not export it. And also in construct 3, which is platform independent and would be the version I would use in a workshop, they changed the limit to 25 events, which is not enough for this game. I ended ut with 124, and could remove the koopa to get down to 100, the shell…

Anyway, I want to add theres things, more level, different art themes, the other elements from other levels, maybe lakito and hammer bros. I also want to make the art less “Mario clone”, but I have not decided on the setting yet. If I would continue with this project, I would also like to include other mechanics that not in the Mario game. But still focus on the balance between wanting to rush the levels but having to slow down and play safer.

W18 Enter the Monastery

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Transport back in time to explore a long lost cathedral and its inhabitants, with the maps as the only clue… Enter the Monastery

Instructions

Left Click to Move

Right Click to Show Map

 

Play Online (Also Mobile Support)

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Resources

Made in Construct 2

Sound effects are made in sfxr

Movement sound – laser by kafokafo

Music – Explore town by Trevor Lentz (Creative common by)

Start Screen Background – View from the Monastery of Sant ‘Onofrio in Rome by Rudolf von Alt 1835

Player portrait – by Gustav Klimt 1889

Floor Tile – seamless worn pavement texture from http://texturelib.com

Ground Tile – Seamless texture of smooth concrete from http://texturelib.com

Bible Verse – https://dailyverses.net/random-bible-verse, 1 Corinthians 13:2, Luke 8:16, John 17:15

Map – Plan of Saint Gall, Its a architectural plan from 900, because most building was designed as they wore built in the medieval period, little is know about the though process of these constructions. Except this plan which is the only survival architectural plan from that time period.

Post-Morten

The Idea – I got the idea to make this game when I played Castlevania lords of shadow 2. One of my favorite games are the none linear exploration games, and I have tried to make a couple of variants in the game a week format. The original problem is that its hard to make maps thats not to complex, because when new players play the game and get lost they give up.

The games that I have made with none linear / exploration themes, are:

262 moments, was the first game, and I tried to make a none linear path finding with time as a resource. You walk around in the maze and your goal is to collect the four runes with in five minutes, but there are some doors that block the way. To unlock them you neither collect around 50 coins depending on the door or enter it when you have less time left, like 50s. Theres no map in the game and each room have some kind of platform elements most of them are fairly easy, if you get killed you start in the same room near the last door you entered. I also tried to have points of interests as landmarks, so I used artworks by William Turner (1775-1851) as background art. The reason I did not want to use a map was because I wanted the level design do be simple / elegant enough to be played without a map, like Dark Souls. I also used arrows scattered in the level which point towards each of the runes.

I actually like the game, but I spent very little on the playtest and the map was to big. And the people that playtested it was not really up to it. Most people played the tutorial and got lost there (its like 6 rooms, 4 which loop into each other).

So I knew that there was to much going on in this game. One thing I planned then was to make a game without platforming elements, and just focusing on the movement and none linearity.

Awake on Crete is a variant of that game, no micro movement, and only one right way, main road and sub points, with dead ends. This game was pretty simple, but because of the lack of gameplay goals, it was more of a experience then ”a map navigation”.

Secret maze of KLEE was, a variant of Awake on Crete, but with the ball maze gameplay, no health system, just rolling around and picking up coins. It used a hub fork in the beginning leading to three different paths, all which ended with one rune. It was pretty simple but somehow some of the playtesters managed to get lost anyway, so I guess it could be clearer.

And know Enter the Monastery, the game have a more open and bigger map compared to secret maze of klee and awake on crete. But it uses a map which is visible from the beginning with clear goals. No micro challenges at all. So: all playtesters managed to complete the levels, it only took 5 minutes to complete. Some left the game before it was finished, but because the game was to monotone / boring. So, at least it was clear enough, but probably to stripped to be fun, but hey that was kind of the point of the prototype. One playtester enjoyed it especially because there was no enemies and skills required to play, kind of meditative, to walk around, but still wanted more things to find.

I think the prototype worked well to isolate macro gameplay / big loop, but I released that there was more difference between Enter the Monastery and the other prototypes then what I initially was thinking. Mainly:

Visible Map – Enter the Monastery have a map which shows the level, its visible from the beginning of the game, and it shows the phttps://www.scirra.com/arcade/adventure-games/enter-the-monastery-18546layers position and the position of the goals. Most games don’t do this. In Castlevania SotN and the like, you don’t have the complete map from the beginning. Instead you explore and unfold the map while you are playing and finding out more of the structure. Most of the times you can buy map fragments which shows some parts of the map, not all of it. But it still clearly show where you have been and what parts are unexplored. Castlevania SotN don’t show any goals. In Super Metroid if you explore a map with something you can’t pick up the map notes a circles, which you can go back to later. Other games use pins which you can drop manually on the map to remind yourself of it later. In the Zelda games when you get the compass it kind of tells you where to go, but the map of the level is so abstract so you hardly get any information plus most of the Zelda dungeons are puzzle structure with one solution so you have to visit every room anyway.

The point is, most exploration games don’t give you the map, and don’t point out the goals[1]. And have no puzzle. Action games can have maps and goals, like (I’m having trouble to come up with examples, and google is no real help, probably need to make a list of this later), but in action games the designer really want the player to know where to go all the time and instead focus on overcoming the obstacles. So maybe I made a map for a action game instead of a exploration game?

None linear paths amplifies problems – Also, theres one thing I started to think about. Most of the times when I remember that I get lost in games with bigger maps, its mostly the puzzle thats unclear, not the map. For example an recently started to play Zelda a link between worlds for 3DS. Sin the beginning theres a map with X marks, exactly like in Enter the Monastery. In one point you get the destination in the Eastern Palace. But to get in there theres a puzzle which require you to get the bow to solve. Theres a sign that says ” Come by my show south of the castle”. So I walk around the map like crazy and never find the shop. Theres like two shops south of the castle but not the one which sells the bow. Some game faqs later and it turns out that the shop he talks about is Links house where Ravio opened his lending service, of course . The point is that I had issues understanding the puzzle, and walked all over the world looking for solutions. But if the game would have been linear there would just be the shop and the main parts, nowhere else to go. So my conclusion is that the big map is not the problem in it self but if any puzzle or something else would be cryptic or something similarly, the big map is going to amplify the issue.

The Designers Path – This is also reminds me of ”the designers path”, its kind of the idea of puzzles where the solution is not based on logic or something similar. You just try to find out what the designer planned, at it can create a lot of frustration. Instead of trying to figure out how the world behave you end up trying to figure out how the designer would think how to solve the puzzle. Example could be some old point and click adventures games, but a lot of adventure games tend to have some parts that are more cryptic. Designers path coupled with a big map can creates a lot of problems for the players. Solutions could be to have alternative routes, so if the player miss on they can still progress with the other. Or have the puzzles timed, and if it takes to much time, the opportunity is missed, and the game progress in another way. Or hint system, not just like Navi from Zelda ocarina of time. I kind of like the hint system from a link between worlds, you have to walk with the 3DS as a step meeter to collect coins which you give to ghosts that float around some puzzles. I’m not sure how relevant hints you really get, but I like the idea of taking a walk and fresh air, to solve a puzzle. In Machinarium you play a small shooter mini game to get the hint, and I remember how I would come up with the solution while I was playing the mini game, before I got to the actual hint. Getting out might have the same effect. Anyway, I’m not interested to make puzzle games, but its hard to make none linear games, without having the player get lost some time. But I don’t want it to result in getting stuck. Avoid getting stuck is the biggest concern in making none linear games.

Next version

Small Gameplay loop – Variants on Enter the Monastery need more small gameplay loops, or micro challenges, not to much but at least something more then the current game.

Environmental details – I would also like to add more details in the environment, thing you can find, like people in a RPG village talking, or some kind of hidden objects to collect, or quotes which I almost added more of. Or pictures of things instead of text, like in hyper light drifter.

Map variants – I think the map gives away to much information to early. Maybe having some areas grayed out in the beginning, or having the map smaller and making it zoom out the more you explore. Maybe you pointing out one goal from the beginning, and then require the player to talk to different people to get more goals on the map. And making the map more abstract, less details.

Multi-player would also be cool, and random generated locations, I actually planned to include that, before the game got on hold for like three weeks…

[1] …don’t give you the map, and don’t point out the goals. Metroid Fusion does this, but then the map change, so when you walk the straight line to the goal something is in the way, so you have to walk around and the map expand etc.