Posts Tagged ‘puzzle game’
A bit late, but here’s the postmortem of our 3rd jam game together: Erase
Sorry for the bad English, we are French.
Design vs Code :
The major problem with our team is that nobody has high knowledge in coding, the game designer has had to take on the programming task. In addition to making something in accordance with the subject, we had two limiting objectives.
The first one was to do something you can do. Obviously, the topic was an open door to an abstract gameplay. The problem is that even though we have the ability to imagine it, it was impossible to code it. We have chosen a simple base (a platform game) as the foundation of our game / topic interpretation. The platform game advantage is also that it’s known by all of us, and allows a rapid progression in the subject.
The second challenge was to make a game really Gamee. We don’t like things auto-claimed Indie in which players are completely inactive. We love indie games, but we love the game over all, and it’s important for us to produce something with a challenge to both brain and skill.
If the game is only a reflexive object, we don’t need to do it in video game (a card or board game is the same) which is why the address aspect is important for us, it’s a unique component of digital game. Conversely, if the game is just a skills game, it no longer carries the whole topic.
Among the list of potential topics, Minimalist was the one we liked the least (more relevant to the compo than for the jam we think). A priori, minimalism is a trend to remove all of the work that isn’t necessary to the core idea in avoiding unnecessary emotional or sensitive element.
Quickly, we’re start on the idea of staging the iterative removal of unnecessary elements of the game. The idea was to realize a platform game composed of a series of little level /puzzle with several features and decorative elements that the players have to destroy in order to solve the riddle. However, it was easier to find the idea than to done it, and the concept of clean-up the asset at maximum curlicue was actually very difficult to achieve.
In addition, the theme interpretation makes sense when the game is done as a whole and when you arrive to the final level without assets, with few sounds and a character without features.
The first night served to the basis codec implementation (the character and features, feature deletion, camera, collisions etc.). As we used Construct 2, this implementation was pretty fast. Meanwhile Mathilde and Alexandre were able to reflect the visual and audio aspect of the game.
Unfortunately, the game design work couldn’t be done quickly (efforts was concentrated on the code) and thus clear explanation of the game principle documents was missing, and therefore until the second day, the creation been difficult. Therefore the following days were more devoted to the creation of assets, levels and integration.
From a graphic design point of view, for a long time the results weren’t enough satisfactory and concepts were thrown away or converted without success. It was difficult to find a graphic charter in agreement with the theme, graphic and minimalist, which has evolved through the levels to represent the character life cycle and depending on the level design. For reasons of time constraint we had to start to make assets without being satisfied with the result and the guideline was found while the levels integration had already begun.
In the initial audio concept, was to form melodies which are decomposed over the levels outcome; however it was rather difficult to achieve an atmosphere both pleasant and minimalist. Communication between the sound aspect and the rest of the game for more than half the Ludum dare was almost nonexistent, which gave us a too late visibility of the total project, due to poor organization. Thus, inspired by Steve Reich on “Music for 18 musicians”, the audio is a music track that mix evolves through the levels. The sound integration hasty made at the Ludum Dare end, which didn’t allow us to do something up to our ambitions (a number of songs weren’t included).
From the game design point of view, there were a lot of things to balance without having the time to do it (notably find a compelling collision box for the triangle character). It was paramount for us that Character is pleasant to manipulate (as Easy-fun sense). It was important to gain momentum (especially the jump), and Dash feature inspired by Rockman X or Sonic in which the feature isn’t fundamental for finish the level but brings dynamism in control, the goal is to push the player to use the exhilarating but dangerous non-core features (the dash is required just in Level 4). But the fundamental interests of the number of features comes with the Erasing and self-Erasing feature. As a first step the player clears level elements to solve the riddle, but from level 5, player has to self-destruct its own features (Jump, Dash or Shoot) to finish the level which requiring a strategic choice in the level course.
Where we failed to use the self-destruct feature is because we don’t have enough levels to a slow difficulty progression and establish levels in which the destruction choice is a real dilemma. In other words the time devoted to the level design was too short and therefore the level is far below the potential that allows the erasing and self-erasing features combined with the three features.
This is the 3rd jam that we did with the same team and we met some difficulties we had never encountered before such strangely more stress and lack of sleep than in GGJ for example. Nevertheless we are happy to have finished on time a version of our game, a game that far from being perfect, who despite the lack of polish, shows anyway few good ideas and quality realization.
What went right?
1. Mechanics coding: construct is a powerful tool for jam.
2. Graphics: Because lot of people congratulated Mathilde’s graphic design.
3. Game is realized in time (but with few bugs), and it looks nice.
4. The erasing and self-erasing mechanics could be used through lot of level, the idea could be developed with better (and harder) level design.
What went wrong ?
1. The theme was pretty hard for a team with a graphic designer and without a real coder.
2. Coordination on the theme interpretation
3. Resource integration time.
4. Graphic research, it was difficult to realize different assets for the different levels, keep a graphic style and represent the life evolution of the character with abstract shape.
5. Time devolved to Level design.
6. Not enough time to test.
So today I posted my first entry into a Ludum Dare competition ever. How fun! The result is Euphoria. The first thing that jumped into my mind when I heard minimalism was visuals, clean and crisp. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try make a good looking game.
So let me talk about the game before you get too bored by all this visuals talk. It is a short story about a child that gets hit be a car. While the child’s soul is trying to come to peace, you gain memories as to their final moments. Many memories of which have parallels with what the child is experiencing.
For any decent gamer who gets annoyed at the symbolism do not worry, there are puzzles. Once collected an orb, the player can “phase shift” switching between two realities in the spirit world making for a few interesting puzzles.
I couldn’t have been happier with the final product and hope to get some feed back from some of the best indie developers out there. Good luck to the rest of you!
Ok, minimalism…. I googled it and the first image it returned was a art piece by Piet Mondrian:
And my initial reaction was to create a casual puzzle/touch game so to break my pattern of platformergames and since I missed the “F this game jam” and I hate casual puzzle games I’m going to make a casual puzzle game.
Hopefully I can achieve something as I basically have no time at all this weekend.
Hello fellow game developers,
I wanted to make a plug for a game I’ve just submitted to Steam Greenlight. The game is called Camera Obscura, and it’s being developed by a small group of college students from UC Irvine. We started it in a game jam almost two years ago, and we liked the idea so much that we’ve continued to develop it into a full-length game.
Camera Obscura is a puzzle-platformer that revolves around a unique mechanic that allows the player to activate a camera flash so bright that it creates “afterimages” of all visible platforms. These platforms are solid enough to walk on, and they can be moved around for a short time, mimicking the player’s movements. This ability allows players to cross wide chasms, reach high platforms, and otherwise alter the shape of the environment to accomplish the ultimate goal – reaching the top of the mysterious Tower. You can see some gameplay footage here to get a better idea.
The Greenlight page is right here. We’d really love your support and your feedback!
Steam Greenlight | Camera Obscura
The game also has a full, custom soundtrack by the amazing Trenton Ng, and we’ve shared a few of the tracks here:
Thanks for your time,
Some of you played my game “Lab Lights,” the game I created for the miniLD #36.
Well if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a difficult puzzle game where you push around batteries, crates, TNT, and magnets with a main goal of lighting up all the lights in each of the 23 levels in order to get to the last room and turn on the generator!
You may play it on my site here:
Here’s the link to the miniLD entry:
So here’s what my feedback was like:
When I put it on Newgrounds, it got daily 3rd best flash submission and later front-paged for a few days! A rush of reviews and comments appeared. Many people loved the difficulty of the puzzles. A few people mentioned how rare it is these days to find good puzzle games this hard. A few people compared it with “Chips Challenge” and “Shove It.” MDeathM (on Newgrounds) says, “All in all, a phenomenally challenging and engaging puzzle game. Thank you for this creation.” These words are very nice and I can only thank Ludum Dare for challenging me to make it.
To my surprise, Ryry67dude (on Newgrounds) made an hour long let’s play of it (and rage-quit at level 17) the day after the release! Here’s his video:
Unfortunately though, not everyone enjoyed the difficulty level of it. Many people got stuck on level 2 or 7. Some players mentioned I fried their brains, heehee!
Since I recognize how hard these puzzles are (I describe it as brutal), I made a full walkthrough of all 23 levels. Here’s the video:
(You should subscribe to me as well )
Lastly, some people said I should make a sequel. I was thinking about it lately, and I think it would be a good idea. I have some new gameplay elements that would be cool to add (Lasers and mirrors, differently sized boxes, teleporters, and boulders). If you have any ideas, I’ll be happy to hear them
Thanks for listening to my rambling, and thank you Ludum Dare for another fun experience! If you want, you can rate and review the game in the comments on this post.
(This post mortem can also be found on our own blog!)
Ludum Dare 22 was somehow pretty exhausting for me, and kind of depressing. I don’t exactly know why, but I think that multiple factors brought in.
The weekend before the compo I made a “warm-up game”, even though I planned to do it long before PoV announced this kind of thing. I just wanted to make a game in 48 hours in order to help a friend (a 3D artist), who needed a programmer for his university project. The programming part wasn’t wasting, but the fact that the game didn’t get finished at this weekend (mostly because of my friend ) left feelings of “incompleteness” inside me, which I hate.
Another thing: I didn’t like the theme “Alone”, and I still don’t think it was the best or even a good theme of the ones in the final voting round. But, as I always have to live up to my own standards I wanted to follow the theme AND make a good game. And this often leads to a status-quo – as long as I don’t have the right ideas I won’t start, and as long as I don’t start I won’t have the right ideas. Or something like that. My mind was blocked and I did other things, like playing Skyrim and chatting on IRC (not in #ludumdare, though, that place was CROWDED). Later, I started Unity3D and tried to play out another idea I had days before, about some time manipulation gameplay. It wasn’t feasible to do it in Unity3D, but due to the fact I did something concrete (game with 3D environment and FPS controls) I could develop another idea in my brain, which became the concept of the final SOLILOQUY.
I still think the best part of my game is this name! I thought of it before I thought of the gameplay (but it didn’t give me any directions,), and I liked it so much, I wanted to use it in any case. I’m quite happy nobody else named his/her game the same, too.
Even though I have some experience by participating at Ludum Dare before, I still don’t really know how to cut back optimally. The concept of SOLILOQUY demands levels, and levels demand content and art and story and design and choosing colours and making 3D models … but I knew this would be hard for me, as it was when I made my Ludum Dare 20 game, “TRI“. So I decided to do NO textures this time, and it didn’t hurt much (on the game’s side), but the benefits weren’t that great either. I mainly put the levels together in Unity3D instead of 3dsmax (in contrast to TRI), but this didn’t help me much, either. Altogether I have six levels now, where I really wanted ten, but at least seven.
The levels don’t look that bad (abstract style for the win), even though I chose the colours quite randomly. On the other side, what I don’t like much, the levels are all tutorial missions only. You just jump around in the first two, learn using your souls in the levels after that, press some buttons and work together with yourself. After this, the real levels should come, but I didn’t have time to do any more content.
I finished the last level three hours before the deadline, and I couldn’t do any more creative stuff. I especially failed in doing sounds or anything like music, unfortunately. I thought about using inudge.net again, but it would sound like my other two Ludum Dare games, so I dropped that idea. At least this frustration encourages me to actually learn how to make simple songs with real tools. (Wish me luck.)
The reason why I couldn’t do more creative work: This time, Unity3D was my enemy. Sometimes I really had to fight the engine, mostly when it came to the text you see in the game (story & hints) – Unity’s GUI system still is awkward to look at, and it has bad effects on the performance. So I used someone’s code which displays bitmap fonts via SpriteManager (the original one), but it didn’t work out of the box with all my bitmap font generator tools (I decided to use “TWL Theme editor”). After those problems were resolved, at the very end of the process, suddenly my white text became gray in the webplayer version. Argh! I needed nearly an hour to find out why that happened – a plane with alpha (the dark overlay) had the same distance to the camera as the text, and somehow the editor sorted it differently than the webplayer. Whyever that is.
After the mixed (or even bad) feelings I had about my own game, I’m really relieved that people actually liked it! The current feedback is mainly positive, and some things that were criticized are fixed in a post-compo version (on Kongregate, for more attention)! Other things, like the jumping height / range being too crass, are somewhat subjective and unfortunately can’t be changed without rearranging some of the levels.
Of course, many people complain about the brain-hurting aspect of the game (gameplay and visuals alike), but that was expected. I could have done the double-soul mechanic with just a picture-in-picture style or something like that, but then the game would lose its uniqueness pretty fast IMHO. Also, as soon as dogbomb does his “I play your game drunk!” video, the whole game visuals will make much more sense, haha.
BTW, if you have a look at the source you will need Unity3D. The indie version should suffice for just reading the C# files and so on, but you need Unity Pro (or its 30 day test version) in order to actually start the game, because I used Render To Texture. Sorry!
Thanks for reading this wall of text, and don’t forget to PLAY THE DARN THING!