Future Game Concept: Snipet

While I’m emptying my brain, here’s another concept that I actually created a little prototype for a few weeks back. The working title is Snipet as it’s a game in which you control a variety of household pets as they work to clear a sniper’s line of sight to their target. Sniper-Pet. Snipet. Not over the moon with it, but it’ll do for now.

I picture it starting out with you just controlling a cat, as that’s what gave me the idea in the first place. Cats love to knock shit over. There’s a vase on the mantelpiece blocking the sniper’s line of sight, so you jump up and knock it over. BLAM. The sniper shoots his target, hooray for you. Maybe in the next level though, the target has a dog, so you have to complete whatever puzzle awaits (Knocking shit over) and then after you beat the level, you recruit the dog to your team of sniper-helping animals. The dog can do some things that the cat can’t, probably knocking over much heavier things like tall lamps or TV’s or something. Then you recruit a mouse, who can crawl into a vent and unscrew a chandelier to knock it down, then you recruit an iguana, who for some reason I imagine using his prehensile tongue as sort of a grappling hook to get to other areas of the room and perform some sort of task.

It’s obviously an idea that needs some polish, but that’s the basic gist. It’s a puzzle game where you need to use your growing team of animals to perform specific tasks to solve increasingly difficult puzzles. Let me know what you think.

Future Game Concept: Drive Up

A game idea’s just popped into my head and I want to get all my thoughts down in writing while they’re fresh. The working title is “Drive Up” and that handily doubles as the instruction manual. It’d be a 2D multiplayer game where the screen is constantly shifting upwards and the players control cars who can drive up walls and on platforms that drop through the level. You can also jump, boost and perform special abilities that can be retrieved from floating bubbles. Your primary objective is to outlive your opponents, either by just continuing to stay in frame while they fuck up and drop below the bottom of the screen or by actually making them drop down by way of your special abilities. Maybe you’d be able to pick up something that blasts other cars away from you and can use this to bump them down or off of a wall. Things like that.

This concept is inspired by Rocket League, which I’ve been playing quite a lot recently, but also by Stick Fight: The Game, which is I think one of the most fun multiplayer games I’ve ever played. Maybe it can be a bit whacky like Stick Fight but I’d want to focus on making the controls really tight so that there’s a high skill ceiling, like Rocket League.

It’s also a game that I think would be very easy to add onto. Things like different obstacles and different abilities, differently shaped falling platforms but not different car stats, as I like the Rocket League model of cars being functionally exactly the same and skill being the deciding factor.

I think it’d be a fun game to work on and quite challenging, as I’ve never even attempted a multiplayer game before. Let me know if you have any thoughts.

Brainwave! (To Spring: Dev Blog #10)

Afternoon all!

Hope you’re all keeping well and safe and not having to ride fucking buses or tubes to work if you’re still in lockdown. I hope those of you who are no longer in lockdown… Erm… Just don’t rub it in.

So my plate’s been too full for To Spring lately. I know, I’m so changeable. I’ve actually been preparing Franjo: Slumberland for the last few weeks which has eaten up a fair amount of time, then I had a breakup which left me feeling quite unproductive for a while and then Player Power released, so I’ve been trying to keep on top of fixing bugs and adding little things based on feedback. It’s insane how even in a time when we’re indoors 24/7 I don’t have time to do all the indoor shit I want to do, but oh well.

Player Power’s release has got me thinking about To Spring though. PP’s a small game but I’m comfortable in the knowledge that it’s a complete game. I might add different game modes further down the line, but for now it’s a perfectly functional little arcade game. It’s been niggling me that I haven’t been able to say the same about my vision for To Spring. Currently, technically, you could complete a run in about 2 minutes by just running from left to right, hiding from the bear for 30 seconds and then running some more. Uploading a game to Steam costs £100 and as much work as I’ve put into To Spring, I just can’t talk myself into it being worth that to me in it’s current state. Luckily, this morning I had a brainwave and I want to run it past you.

I’ve Made A Third Of A Game

To Spring, in it’s current format, follows a fox running across the tundra and diving under the snow to find lemmings while evading bears. What if the game starts out with the player as the lemming! You come out from your little hidey hole to eat the frozen plants that already litter the tundra while avoiding bears and foxes. It’s the same deal though, you can find as much or as little food as you like and this will determine how many of you and your young will make it to Spring. Then you play as the fox, hunting the lemmings that you’ve hopefully grown relatively attached to and then you play as the bear, hunting both but having both try to evade you. This way there are 3 acts, you make your way up the food chain and the final “Spring Room” that I’ve still not got around to designing can just pan across and allow you to see which creatures (if any) survived, along with their young. This feels like a more complete game to me and is one that would be easily worth releasing on Steam.

So, What Still Needs To Be Done?

Right. So we’ve still got to build the Spring Room for the ending, but now we’ve got to add the following things:

  • Lemming sprites and animations
  • Lemming holes
  • Lemming mechanics, including walk, run and dive under the snow to evade predators.
  • Make foxes able to roam, similarly to how bears do at the minute.
  • Make bears controllable.
  • Bear cave.

On the face of it this looks like a hell of a lot of extra work, but I don’t really think it will be. The first 2 points I will have to make from scratch, obviously, but the last 4 I think will be just copying and pasting from objects already present in the game. The lemming and bear controlability (WordPress says that that’s not a word, but WordPress can shh) can be copy/pasted from the existing player object or even worked into the existing player object, which is probably the smarter, but more fiddly way to go as I’ll have to cordon different sections off into the different animals.

I’m still splitting my attention at the minute but I’ll have a go at implementing some of this and let you know how I get on.

Stay safe, wash your hands and Merry Christmas, you filthy animal.

Cheers,

Dave

My First Game Is On Steam!!

All gone a bit quiet on this front, hasn’t it. I’ve taken some time out the last 3 weeks ago to prepare for a new FM project which will be revealed tomorrow, but for now, Player Power’s finally live on Steam!!!

It’s been a long time coming, but I can finally tick “Release a game on Steam” off my list of life goals. Phew. Head over to https://store.steampowered.com/app/1142730/Player_Power/ if you want to have a gander.

Cheers!

Dave

Player Power is finally going on Steam!!

Ello ello! Hope you’re all alright and staying as germ-free as possible. You’ve caught me in a good mood today as not only is To Spring approaching completion, but I’ve finally got around to getting Player Power to the “In Review” stage on Steam.

It turns out that publishing your first game is just as difficult if not more difficult than creating the bloody thing. I made this simple 2D football arcade game in 2 weeks using a Macbook Pro and pretty much all of my evenings and weekends back in August. Yes that’s right, I stayed in and avoided human contact before society collapsed and it became cool. My plan was to release it on the Apple Store (OSX only, not iOS), which I did after jumping through a million different hoops which involved getting an apple developer account, downloading and wrestling with Xcode and filling in a metric tonne of forms. Then I would build the game for steam on Mac and use a friend’s PC to build it for steam on Windows. As it turns out, there’s not a lot of documentation whatsoever to help release a game on steam for OSX so after 3 actual months of banging my head against that brick wall, I gave up.

The steam page was pretty much complete from when I’d filled in all the details in August. All I needed was a working build and a trailer. Then my macbook died and I resurrected my old desktop computer in the new year, but it’s taken me 4 months to build up the strength to try and tackle this again. On Friday evening though I downloaded the extremely unintuitive video editing software named Lightworks and brute forced my way to a trailer, which you can find below, and then by lunch time the next day, the build was ready too. Turns out it’s a lot easier on Windows to upload things to Steam, although I did have to pull a little bit of my hair out and ask my mate Chris to share my screen and help me.

All this is to say that it took me a while, but we’re finally at a point where Player Power is up for review on Steam. Hopefully it’ll be released fairly soon, although there is a notice on Steamworks saying the review process is taking longer than usual, what with the apocalypse and everything. Here’s hoping To Spring doesn’t take me until bloody Christmas to release.

I’ll post again when Player Power is available to download! Until then, cover your mouth your sneeze, wash your hands and keep the drawbridge to your house raised when not in use.

Cheers,

Dave

Scary Beary & Little Touches (To Spring: Dev Blog #9)

Afternoon! Hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend and I hope even more that you’re maintaining your primary and secondary portcullises. Portculli? Who cares. I’ve just finished watching season 2 of Afterlife on Netflix. I cannot think of a single Ricky Gervais television series that doesn’t know how to punch me directly in the heart. Anyway, the game. I’ve been putting in a few little touches and tweaks the last few days, most of which won’t really be noticeable but there are a couple of things to note:

My Bear Scared The Shit Out Of Me

I got some feedback from my mate Chris that the bear could do with being able to run after the player instead of just plodding along behind you at a safe distance. To be honest, I think I always knew this deep down but I just couldn’t bring myself to make another bloody run cycle. I powered through however and the bear will now run after the player at a speed of 13 pixels per frame. The player’s run speed is 12 pixels per frame, so the bear not only chases you, but now it’s faster than you. Get hiding.

A couple of other little touches I added is that now if the bear has been alerted to you but has then lost track of you because you’ve hidden, it will come over to the last place it saw you and stand there for a moment before moving on. Also as you may have noticed, it now spawns to your right as oppose to your left. I’m not sure how I didn’t think of this earlier, but spawning the bear between you and your destination seems like a pretty obvious thing to do.

I’ve not forgotten what I called this section by the way. My bear did scare the shit out of me, but I need to tell you about another touch first…

“x Lemmings Caught” alert

This one of the more game-y touches I probably should’ve added earlier, but I’ve added a little line of text that comes up and drifts to the bottom of the screen when you catch a lemming, letting you keep track of how many you’ve caught so far. It also plays a tone to compliment the tones for charging your jump, although as this one represents the payoff of your dive, I made it a bit more special by giving it some echo and mixing in a bite sound.

But Anyway, My Bear Scared The Shit Out Of Me

So yeah, there I was testing out my new text line and tone. I went across the map catching all the food I could and seeing if I liked the way the tone sounded and how fast the text drifted down etc. All the while I’d completely forgotten about the changes I’d made to the bear. So I’m running across to the next foodspot and all of a sudden this massive fucking beast appears to the right of my screen, roaring at me as it’s feet thunder across the snow, the dissonant music wailing in my ears. I jumped out of my fucking skin, tried to run away, got hit twice in quick succession and died, after which I grinned to myself. “I’ve done alright with that bear.” I thought. It was a nice feeling.

Please enjoy the above demo. I’ve also made a new tileset for the cave, in which all I’ve really done is replace the snow with more dirt so didn’t think it worth getting into detail about. We’re really getting close to a finished game here! I’ve done everything I wanted to do in the Winter Level, now I just need to make that Spring level I mentioned last time.

Until then, keep your hands and germs to yourself and take care.

Cheers,

Dave

Welcome Home (To Spring: Dev Blog #8)

Evening all! I hope the moats that you’ve all surely built around your front doors by now are keeping the infected at bay. And if you haven’t already, erect a portcullis. Belt and braces, eh?

It’s been a funny sort of few days for me and my devving. Every day I’ve thought “Well I’ve only done this little thing today, there’s no point blogging about that.” But before you know it, here we are and I’ve got quite a backlog of shit to show you. To business then, gentlemen.

A Second (And First) Tileset

Not that I’ve come to write about my second tileset, I’m not even sure I ever mentioned my first. I made it at some point last week to replace the huge block of brown featureless dirt at the bottom of the screen and it looks a little something like this:

For those unfamiliar, a tileset is a group of sprites that you want to use for different sections of terrain: Flat bits and corners and ceilings and what have you. You can then use what’s called an autotiler in GMS2 to paint the entire area of terrain and the autotiler will put the correct part of the sprite in each tile. It’s probably easier if I just show you:

See how it’s using the different sections of my tileset depending on what the shape of the terrain is? I like it. So yes, that’s the first tileset, used for the ground, and here’s the second, used for the snow:

You may notice that I cheated slightly and used the exact same tileset, just painted grey with blue and white flecks, but as far as I’m aware there is no “Tileset Police”, so I imagine I’ll get off scot free with that one. Besides, Nintendo used a palette swap of their clouds as their bushes in the old Mario games and they’re Nintendo. They make some bizarre decisions at times, including the ongoing cloud storage saga, but they do make fucking good Mario games.

Jump Cursor

This has been a niggly little problem for me for a while and was satisfyingly quick and easy to solve. Although I’m quite happy now with how I’ve refined the jumping and diving process, I don’t think it was inherently intuitive as it was. So I added a jump cursor, which makes it obvious that your jump direction is based on your mouse cursor’s position and also makes it a bit clearer which way you’re going. As you can only jump upwards, having the cursor above the player has never had any impact on your jumping direction, but now I’ve added the option to cancel your jump by having your cursor up there.

Home

This is a big old section and this is where the bulk of my time has gone since the last post. I won’t go into agonising detail, but I’ve added a sort of cave at the end of the map which is the player’s home. This has included:

  • New text lines telling the player that they’re nearly home
  • New ending text lines, which scold or praise the player accordingly depending on how much food they’ve brought back tooooo….
  • THE PUPS! Small replicas of the player sprite that are colour blended with different shades of brown. They walk around randomly until the player lies down to sleep (end the level), at which point they gather round the player and also lie down to sleep.
  • Sloped walls and tiles + diagonal movement. This was quite the pain in my arse.
  • Fading terrain. The front wall of the cave fades as the player enters so you can still see yourself.

Do you have any idea what all of this means?!? It means the game has an ending! At long last, you can actually do well or do badly in it! We’re in the home fucking straight, people!

I’m not quite finished of course. There’s still some tweaks to be made here and there and after the player falls to sleep I want you to spawn in a second room where the snow has melted and it’s springtime, where you can run and frolic with your pups (As long as you fed them). This feels necessary due to the game’s title and I think could be quite a nice little ending. Maybe I’ll stick the credits up at the top of the screen while you run about. This does mean though that I’ve got a lot more art to do. 3 more tilesets at least – One for the cave, one for the ground in springtime and one for the grass in springtime. Plus new sprites and animations for the plants and rocks, maybe I’ll make some blossom that can drift through the air replacing the snow and some birdsong to replace the howling wind. There’s still lots to do.

But yeah, I don’t think it quite hit me until I wrote this all out just how close I am to finishing this. I’m quite excited. Demo below:

And that’s me til next time. Take care of you and yours, may your supermarket queues be ever short and your hands ever squeaky clean.

Cheers,

Dave