Friday, 26 September 2014

Game 05 - Deep Rising: Version 1.11 - Bonus Levels

I've been experimenting with level design a little and I've created 3 alternative levels which all take place in one view. No camera scrolling. All characters must be 'safe'. Water does not rise.

They're all possible:
Level 1

This first level is very interesting and quite possibly the MOST difficult of the 3. This level veers much closer to strategy than puzzle I think. The primary reason being that if you fuck up at any point then you're dead. It's seems initially fairly clear how to go about achieving the goal but in reality it can be rather more difficult. A fun, yet somewhat frustrating level. If you'd rather not, then skip it with 'P'.

Level 2
You really have to understand how the game works in order to beat this level. The main reason I think this level is more difficult that level 3 is because I removed as many red herrings as possible.

Level 3
Having designed these puzzles, it's very difficult for me to say whether one is objectively harder to solve. The reason I put this one 3rd is because I figured that anyone who got this far is probably willing to put in the time to solve it, whereas if I put it first I think people may be put off the bonus levels. There are a few crazy moves you have to pull off in order to beat this level but the main difficulty point I think is figuring out how to go about going about solving the puzzle; which characters you need where and when.

 Level 4
Super secret BONUS LEVEL. This level is a secret. The only way to get to it is with 'P'.
The reason I made this level so difficult to get to is because you actually have to exploit a glitch in order to beat it. I wasn't sure if this was fair or not so I panicked and got rid of the link. The level is still in the source code though and you can still get to it in game.

I may actually like these level more than the actual levels. I might consider making this way of designing levels for this game into it's own game.

I'd also like to create a top down version of this game.

And I'd also like to make an instrument.

Nevertheless, time is precious at university so I'll probably be spending a lot less time making games from now on (even though I'm taking a course in 'making games').

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Game 05 - Rising Deep (Sinking Ship Game): Post Mortem

I've worked really hard on this game. I even gave myself temporary repetitive strain injury due to programming so much. I think I've spent somewhere in the region of 150 hours on the game +- 20 hours or so. It's difficult to be exact.

Honestly the making of the levels probably only took about 10% of the total time. If you include testing in that you could probably ramp that up to about 20%. The tutorial alone probably took about 12.5% of the total time. It took me about 30 minutes per block of text + planning, tweaking and removing things.

A lot of time was spent recoding the movement. Twice.

But probably not as much time was spent on fixing bugs.

I haven't stopped thinking about this game for the last 2 months.

I'd quite like to see the game with alternative (not minimalist) graphics (especially for color-blind people). But I think that keeping the art so simple has helped me to focus on the gameplay more, which is, obviously more important (being that I'm a ludologist and all).

Although I love the game, there are a lot of things I would change for the 'expanded?' version. First off, the tutorial would be spread over multiple short levels (similar to the one explaining how to carry people with the climber). They would introduce characters and their respective mechanics one by one before introducing the player to many of the secondary mechanics found in the game. 

Talking of characters, I have lots of ideas for new characters too, which would be introduced later on in the game (all of which will require new ways of thinking) . I plan to have different sections of the ship with different hazards and characters and music. Basically just like different 'worlds'.

Thomas Was Alone:
I see a lot of similarities between 'Rising Deep' (by myself) and 'Thomas Was Alone' by (Mike Bithell) although it wasn't an inspiration to the game initially (atleast not consciously). That's great though because Thomas Was Alone is awesome. 

One thing I didn't include in the game was a narrative. I would quite like to include one in the expanded version if I ever make it.  Originally I had planned to have a kind of relationship thing going on between the swimmer and climber where if either died, the other one would 'move slower'. The engineer who's a bit jealous of the swimmer would 'move faster'  if the swimmer died. The character deaths would carry over as well and the ending you got would depend on which characters you got all the way to the end. I decided that this idea was pretty stupid though. The movement increase thing is fairly pointless and over complicated and the amount of limitations this would introduce to the level designs is huge. 
Another idea I had was to have short skip-able cut-scenes/visual novels between each level explaining the characters pasts before they ended up in this situation. I cut that too simply for the shear time it would take to make all that stuff for how little it would actually improve the game. Nevertheless, it's something I might consider for an expanded version.

Although I've finished this game, I can't stop thinking about it.  It's still a very interesting idea to me and I know it has a lot more interesting things unexplored.

If I ever get the opportunity to spend large amounts of time on a project again I'd love to spend it exploring the unexplored.

If I did, I would remake the game from scratch. One reason being that my current build has loads of unused code and assets from failed attempts at solving bugs/ recoded things. The main reason though is because this game was never intended to be a FULL game. It was planned to be just a prototype but I got a bit ahead of myself. Nevertheless, the way the game is programmed is very non-general. What I mean by this is that every time I add a new character or mechanic, the amount of programming I need to do to make it work increases exponentially. I have to program each characters interaction with every other character and back again separately as well as each characters interaction with everything else in the game. What I want to do in an expanded version would be to make it so I could just code something like 'if a character is here, do this' in a script and then call that script in all characters. Then just program specific things for specific characters.
Basically, my organization has been pretty sloppy =P
I think it's worth practicing these organizational skills and how to use scripts and stuff anyways =]

I had the idea of translating the game to a top-down perspective. I suppose you could can it a sequel. A 'shopping-center/large building with lots of floors'  is on fire, you must get all of the characters to the safety of a stairwell and every move you make, the fire spreads, blocking off exits which were once free. Different characters would have different abilities, such as rewiring doors =P, different 'movement speeds', the ability to set up barricades, etc etc. I'm sure more ideas will show themselves to me as they did with Rising Deep.

PS. I've actually been working on some super secret BONUS rooms for Rising Deep. They are all single screened (no scrolling up or down) and the water doesn't rise. They focus on the puzzle solving of the characters alone and not how efficiently you can solve them. As a result, the puzzles are all vary condensed and VERY difficult. These bonus puzzles may actually be MORE fun than the rest of the game but it's hard to speak without bias. I'll update the blog soon with version 1.1 =]

Monday, 15 September 2014

Game 05 - Rising Deep (Sinking Ship Game): It's finally finished!

Rising Deep

I don't know what to say.
Suddenly I just knew it was done.
I'll do a write up tomorrow or maybe this evening.
So until then...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Game 05 - Sinking Ship Game: Tutorials, and Challenges

So I've spent around 14 hours on the tutorial so far and it's pretty much done (with a couple of things missing). Somehow I managed to forget to teach the player that they can carry characters with the climber -_- I've been looking for some way to slot it in without having to completely redesign the whole tutorial.

I've fixed a couple more bugs too.

I've also included a lovely .txt containing, controls, challenges and credits.

The challenges are just a way for me to add some replay value for the hardcore players. I really wanted to push players to want to try and perfect a level rather than just complete it. This way allows me to keep the game easy enough for the average player but challenging enough for the dedicated player.

Think of them like achievements but without the obtrusive popups.

I'd like to get some more music if possible for level 3 and for the credits room but I'm not too fussed. 

I'd consider the game 9/10ths done now. Am I falling into the classic 'my game is never finished' trap?

All I need to do now is:
- Teach the player that carrying other players with the climber is a thing (a very important thing).
- polish level 3 a little bit (I'm still not entirely happy with it yet)

Stuff I'd like to do but might not due to time and effort constrains etc etc..:
- make it so the whole character has to be in the safe room for it to count?
- fix the bug causing characters to snap back under the climber if they try to step out from under her whilst she's climbing and they are not on the ground?


Monday, 8 September 2014

Game 05 - Sinking Ship Game: Now with credits!

Many thanks to Skullbeatz for permission to use his track 'Press Pause Part 2' in the game.
Check out his Newgrounds profile here - LINK

Since the last update I've added:
- UNDO - with the 'O' key (you can currently only undo movement of characters, not cables or water) and only once too (It's tough to program okay).

- Credits - still a little unfinished. Get there via completion of level 3.

- Settings still does nothing. Maybe I'll switch it to 'credits'.

- bug fixes.
    eg. stopped flashing 'drop' macro.
    eg. doesn't charge you time for trying to step into an occupied place.

- other stuff probably

I might have to go and buy Gamemaker: Studio Professional + html5 export so I can embed this game in webpages and stuff.
Money is expensive

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Game 05 - Sinking Ship Game: Still Sailing

Menu's, levels 'n bug fixes. Also, cables now work slightly differently (and a bunch of other stuff)

Although I haven't updated the blog in a little while I've been working on the game every day. I've been really pushing to "Actually finish a game". My previous projects have been arguably finished if not haphazardly but I think the reason I've been so reluctant to stop working on this project is because it's simply not finished yet. I want something I can put in a portfolio and show proudly to people (not that my other games are any less important).

This game's shaping up to be just that. I have 2 weeks until I move away and I am planning on getting the game finished in just 1 week. If time spills a little then spending another week is of no great expense, although I would like to spend that week preparing for the move and potentially working on another project if at all possible.

I smoothly like how the new cables feel. This new design fixes a couple of prior gameplay problems also. I've redesigned parts of Level 2 and it's honestly my favorite of the 3 levels (+2 tutorials) now. The 2 tutorials btw is because I still haven't decided which one I'd like to use yet (Skip the with 'P' if you like (or navigate the menu's)).

But yeah, I'm currently loving the game. I've found myself in so many interesting scenarios whilst trying out different strategies that I've really had to think through. It feels strangely satisfying to sacrifice a character to save the other two.

change character - '1','2','3'
move left and right - left and right keys
move up a step - up AND left/right (move up 2 blocks with 3 block high characters)
climb ropes - up 'n down 'n up 'n
'USE' - 'Z'
'DROP' - 'X'
'ROPE' - 'A' for left side, 'S' for right side, (or click the relative macro)
reset the level - 'R'
make the walls checkered - 'U' (easier to work out distances)
open the menu 'ESC'

One new thing I forgot to mention is the ability to 'staircase' with the Hacker. Stepping up whilst crouched allows him to climb zigzag like wall patterns (as shown on the right side of the above image). It gives him quite a unique way of moving past obstacles which the other characters cannot do.

Once I 'finish' the game I might consider making it again with more general systems to allow for more characters, procedural generation?, level editor? 
Just a full game really =] I'm expecting it to take about a year. 

Of course this is only IF I decide to work on it full time =P