Before it was too long, I wanted to dedicate a post to a game I made for the Construct 3 jam : 'DUCKS'! And share a few doodles because why not... -I have at least a few posts to make about Dinomelt, those may appear first in the blog- 'Ducks' actually got #1 game of last month... WHAAAT... So it's a good time for a little recap of making this little game in the Construct 3 Jam... Let's go!
Construct 3 Jam - Good Things Come in Threes
It took me quite a bit to figure out what to do with the 2-weeks game jam, a number-based theme was still too wide to settle down with an idea, so the 1st week was just planning for it and looking at ways of making something fun which could take advantage of the '3-theme', without seeming too obvious. A part I find pretty motivating in game development is character design, so I decided to do something related to 3 characters, I thought about 3 rats, 3 worms, 3 different birds, and at the end it was just fun to go with 3 different DUCKS..
I looked back at The Lost Vikings, which was a great inspiration for a three-character game, but I didn't wanted to do a platformer (because of 'Dinomelt fatigue') or something too complex for the jam like an inventory system like Lost Vikings had, so I started playing with an overhead perspective and simple asset ideas.
Then came the ducks!!, I doodled around and the result were 3 desings I liked and were varied enough, one is the 'well-rounded' duck, the other is a heavy "brick-like" duck, and the 3rd one is just a "floating"(in the levitating way) duck.Each one should be able to bypass a certain obstacle, but also have a 'weakness' in a way that they had to work together, so it was about time to hop into the program!
My experience making other C2 games (Mastica Astros and Dinomelt) was really helpful to quickly jump into development of the game, as I didn't have much issues with the basic movement behaviours, the character-switch mechanic, and implementing objects and animations.
The thing that took me the longest was making a system to efficiently define how the ducks would interact with each obstacle. that's where Construct's "families" came in handy, as they allowed me to put all ducks into one, and define all of their properties inside of the family, adapting it to each ducks' properties (Though (blocks bullets), Floats (goes over spikes), Shoots (shoots...)...).
At the end, I made 6 levels where the ducks were slowly introduced to avoid starting with too much information, and see how much I could do for a 1-duck or 2-duck puzzle before getting too high on complexity (at the left is one of the many sketches I did for each stage, looking for interesting but not so obvious ways of making a way for the ducks (and some random creatures around...)).
I found a little time frame to add a little backstory just for the sake of completion, I actually intended more 'cutscenes' between stages which could develop the characters a little more, but that didn't have much priority for the jam... and that was IT!
After seeing the response, level 3 and 6 got a bit insane because they came really overloaded with objects, and there was a danger of dying and having to restart the level by mistake! From this experience, puzzle design was all about managing layers of complexity, defining the given information, and finding the right interactions, so it really requires some more focused testing, which is something to keep in mind for further projects (or potential upgrades of this one!).
Another thing that bothered some players were the hitboxes as it was an unusual perspective to define them, and the speed of the ducks, especially on the later stages where ducks have to travel longer paths, and the chance of failure gets higher- which means, restarting again! oh well-...
That said, players really liked the ducks in general! And this was a fun side-project to work on. While I don't have plans of making an expansion right away, it's a fun premise to keep planning on.
SO, how well did Construct 3 do?
For the most part, it was mainly 'C2 with a more efficient/structured User Interface', As other jammers have mentioned, working with images' properties in different ocassions made the engine crash, but that's mostly bugs which should be checked by now and the upcoming versions.
That said, there are a number of more technical improvements I'd like to point out:
-Sprite animation editor is so much better to work with, pretty well structured, as an animator, this is IMPORTANT.
-On-stage animation previews and defining starting animations are both really helpful to check and solve simple issues.
-Exporting (nodewebkit and html) was really fast, and nodewebkit offering export settings was a huge improvement over the C2 process.
-Being able to share a remote preview of your game is pretty handy, I didn't used it that much, but just thinking about how much I web-tested my previous games (always exporting them, uploading them, linking them...) It's a really well recieved feature!
So that would be it for 'DUCKS', I hope it was an entertaining read, Tune in next week where I'll explore deeper into Dinomelt's origins, and until then, may the ducks be with you.
After more than 2 years of melting development, I can at last announce that DINOMELT, is up!!
Here goes the final Release Trailer!
One thing to note, is that it did come with a buggy start (the game had a few (hopefully only) "1st day-bugs" which triggered at times when NG medals were requested, making the music go away, and even making the game crash!! (oh peanuts!), turns out, it especially affected users without accounts, which may seem like an obvious thing to consider, but it was never tested in that context on NG until launch) it should be running well by now, so give it a go! (but if anything comes up, please consider sending me a PM with the details :)).
In that sense, I expect this game to keep evolving for a more 'complete' version, so all feedback is welcome.
That said, thanks to all who have played it so far, reviewed and reported bugs! (and huge thanks to Tom for the frontpage feature! :O).
Now that I can finally call this stage 'done', I'll be making posts regarding the process of the game and the multiple alpha-beta-stages, also, let me know if there's anything about the game's process that you'd be interested on reading about!
Last week, I made a game called 'DUCKS' for the C3 JAM, it was great to make something that was NOT a platformer for a moment, and focus on simple duck-creatures and obstacles. I have a lot of stuff to write about that one (and also about using the C3 beta) but I'll be leaving that one for next week!!
Time for a SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT... (if you read the title, you know the "tl;dr", but anyway)...
My Dinomelt web demo will finally see a release date on Friday, June 2. The game has been 'complete' for some time (like 3 months!?), but testing bugs and balancing difficulty has been an important priority to avoid some of the post-launch brain meltdowns (or reduce them, at least...!).
Note that the version you'll be playing on NG, while not a 'DEMO' in its most common definition -it is a build which will feature a playable game from beginning to end- is still a 'compact' version of the larger and more fleshed out game (and story) I envision it to be if development continues (which I'll be considering depending of the interest and overall response). From now on I'll be refering to this build as the 'Web version' or 'Newgrounds version'.
Now this may seem like an unusual decision for a web release -I'll go into more detail on the motivations behind it in another post- but the main reason behind going through the work of making a game build which can be played completely as a short version of the story, was more related to the personal challenge of going through the whole learning process of developing a game "from beginning to end", connecting all of its elements.
While the Web version will certainly leave out a good bag of potential features, it was about time for a milestone in the process, and I'm pretty glad with how the current version is playing and the testers response has been great.
That said, STAY TUNED!, on June 2, a condensed subterranean clay adventure will invade your browser and brain-cells!
I wanted to narrow this one down to the anouncement, but when the game is finally up I'll be elaborating more on the development experience, motivations, and whatever you guys are curious about!
Also, you can now follow Dinomelt on it Facebook fanpage for more immediate updates!
Hey Newgrounders!, time for a bit of dev-blogging on my game Dinomelt!
But first, a little comic ...
More than once (and specially on a looong project), as one grows and develops better and more efficient ways to make things (an evolving artstyle, a cleaner way to program, new approaches to world and level design…), it becomes reaallly tempting to just go back and re-do the whole thing.
During the 2+ year development cycle of Dinomelt, this has happened more than once: The protagonist, Gwrep, had a complete sprite-re-drawing halfway through the project. Also, recently, plenty of the main background assets and platfoms got a color, line and overal polish update, so that most aspects of the game had a more consistant line.
As an example, take a look at this gif from version 0.4 (late 2015)
It was looking and working fine, but the animations on the protagonist, Grwep, weren’t the most convincing, they were stiff, and the ‘run’ was a bit off… Months later I went over its whole group of ~15+ animations to make them smoother with stronger poses, and a better sense of weight (specially on the runcycle)
In that sense, my current goal is to get the upcoming web release DONE before I get the ‘itch’ of remaking everything again, otherwise, you may expect the game to take another year or even more!!
Music production is halfway through, and in the meantime I've been heavily into 'post-production' details, so despite the tone of the comic and the last sentence, it's not something I expect to happen ;)
More updates on the game's blog.
As a little BONUS I’ll leave you with this fun and insightful micro-documentary by Adam Butcher; a good documented case to remind us of this issue... and maybe consider releasing projects instead of remaking them for years.
Heyy Newgrounds', in a bit of a break from Dinomelt updates and development, I made a few illustated token cards to play Magic: The Gathering ->
Wait, what are these?
There are many cards in the game that can 'create' certain types of creatures, which are usually represented with 'token cards' or wathever you have around, so I made a few of them to play with just for fun, and then I found a store which actually speciallizes on them!
SO, whether you actually play the game, or just like to collect illustrated cards, take a look!
It's been a bit of a while since my last update on things (mainly a recap of last year and a bit of the Newgrounds experience).
BUT here's some updates focused on the game(still-in)progress!
The latest ‘release date’ was “late January”, which is kind of gone, so it may be good to stop estimates for a while. Turns out, starting February, I can announce that, after heavily focused weeks, the game at last is on ‘COMPLETELY PLAYABLE’ (/beatable) state!
The game is done in most aspects of production, the whole world map, dialogs, sound effects, credits, secondary animations, enemies, debugging, typography… even a set of working “achievements”! (prepared to work as Newgrounds medals), most of those details, which compose the elusive and rarely accurate 'LAST 10%’ of 'polishing' work (this last stage has taken around 2-3 busy months so it may aswell be as big as a 25% of the whole work-time) (picture related)
The only aspect which is still on production phase is the music, which will take a bit longer considering the final volume of music needed for the game.
While it’s reeeeally tempting to release it at last, as the music gets done it will be a good time to test and polish the latest details shooting for a good web release, looking for a good week when I’ll finally be able to announce a real release date.
In the meantime, here’s a little peek at Fruwz, one of the most heavily clay-morphed areas of the cavern.
It's probably a good time to recap on what I've been up to on the creative side of the year of 2016! ->
Released a VIDEOGAME
On August I released my first "finished" game MasticaAstros! a videogame focused on astronomy contents while played as a 2d space shooter with exploration elements. This was the evolution of my thesis project on design school it somehow made it into one of Chile's newspapers, hahah!
I made an earlier post on more detail, but after a long process I can at last say that I have a 'published' game! One big learning experience, and also useful to start measuring the whole process of making a game from beginning to end, and how more than a year of constant work turns into...maybe 30 minutes worth of content?... (depending of the player... an average could be between 20-60 minutes) It's an odd thing to compare with making an animated short, but it certainly comes with a ton of more variables.
(it can be FREELY played here, the texts are on spanish, though).
Possibly the most demanding thing, and what most of my brain, arms, pens and sketchbooks have been occupied on, is my game DINOMELT. It has grown A LOT from its origins as a little 'metroidvania' styled platformer.
But so far it's been another big learning process. It's definitively one project which has taken more total work time than any other self-motivated project I've been into...ever?, it will take around one more month to reach its final state, but certainly not another year of development (at least for the version you'll play on Newgrounds earlier next year ;)).
And while I've been slooow with the blog and spreading the game over the internet, it's been cool to see a few early notices, good feedback from strangers, and even a Reddit post which was not made by me!
The rest of the 'creative time'
So I've been mostly focusing on a project so demanding that, aside from MasticaAstros, it certainly wasn't the greatest year to actually 'get things done' (that cake could go for 2014).
But it was still a fine year to find excuses for creative work, unsually a pretty game-focused year, but also the Newgrounds animation JAMS were great to experiment with smaller proyects; I worked on quite a bunch of Pencilmation episodes, and made a few more little LOOPDELOOPS (like this one)
But wait, TEN YEARS!?
Getting back to Newgrounds itself, being around the site for more than 10 years (starting from rough and badly sounding flash experiments) I've seen so many creators over the years who have gone through the site with awesome and even "cult-creating" work, that I've come to think of NG as a pretty productive and motivating kind of 'school'. at least it's been similar to one for me in terms of practicing animation and creative stuff of all sorts and collaborating aswell, where the feedback still keeps its constructive side, specially as one experiments and tries new things.
So another motivation for this brick of words is to also thanks to the community, all who have watched and reviewed with different perspectives over the years, the team behind all of those creative events, and to @Tomfulp and the ongoing staff!, it's also mind blowing to have reached over 1100 fans aswell. holy shmups.
I'll leave you with this real-world picture where earlier this year I was asked to do a 'talk' in a little festival at my hometown about my short 'Sprouting Frog Waves', where I talked about Newgrounds and the NATA tournament, It's always cool to speak about that side of NG in less expected situations, from my own experience Newgrounds hasn't made such a big impact in Chile (mainly due to the language barrier) but every once in a while someone would point out, "I started animating on Newgrounds!", or at least "I used to play a lot of games there!"
See you next year, when I'll finally have a game for all of your lizards.
Time for a game-focused update on recent things:
While I've had the possibility floating around for quite a bit, I had never participated on a game jam before, so
it was great to get into the dynamic mood for that. Using the procedural theme of the jam as an excuse, the game came from the idea of a game that could "spawn" multiple games with variable mechanics and rules, which (for the purpose of the jam) was narrowed down to top-down 2d shooters. As I worked on the art and assets of the game It was a coolibert thing to make, adapting to a system that could not only give gameplay variation, but also mix and match possibilities for the main character, enemies and the scenarios, making really bizarre beings into this odd environment.
The game it's on 'jam-state' and was complete in around a week, so it's not as generally polished as hoped, but it ended up as a pretty fun experiment to check the multiple possibilities wiithin this genre on randomly generated levels and characters.
Making this little game was also a pretty good break which left me in a great state to get back to work on...
The game will go through 3 main worlds/areas of the clay infested cavern, which are now finished on structure, each with its own enemies, hazards and a boss! which leaves the game with a 15% left which covers mostly polish and details regarding the final segments of the game.
So far, while the Trailer I uploaded earlier this year announced that the browser (Newgrounds!) version of Dinomelt would be up on late 2016, (for a while it seemed like a cool thing to release it by christmas, OH WELL) I decided to postpone it to avoid rushing the last segments and have an incomplete result, specially in an unpredictable month like December. SO, by now, the closest tentative date is by the end of January 2017, which seems like a good date to leave the game's development time on 2 years.
I've been a pretty inconsistent dev-blogger, so now that a major part of the game is finished, I will be filling in more updates in the upcoming weeks in the game's blog.
In the meantime, here’s a segment in progress of Hworb, the clay-infested volcanic area, featuring a tricky segment with one though Potato-Spit, and also a version of Wrep’s clay-roll.
Here's a little ANNOUNCEMENT: a game I've been working on has finally been released!
Lately I've been heavily into development of my 2D Platformer DINOMELT, BUT, there's another local project I've been working on for quite a while (before Dinomelt actually), which I'll elaborate a bit more on:
Mastica Astros! (could be translated to something like 'Astro Biter' or 'Astro Chewer'...)
A 2D space shooter where you go through space controlling an “experimental fish” with the ability to fly and grow by eating different sorts of matter. This creature is sent to outter space to fight an army of asteroids which are endangering the Solar System due to a strange disturbance on gravity.
This game began as my thesis project on Design School, and considering the good response, I kept working on it sponsored by the chilean Millenium Institute of Astrophysics. It's actually a game with educational purposes (mainly considering the big projectons of astronomical studies in Chile), but designed as a short (4 levels) 2d space shooter where an important part of the contents could be taken by the gameplay experience (enemies and locations based on Solar System objects, size comparisons, and some (REALLY basic) gravity simulation when you're close to the planets) it was tested as a tool in a pretty introductory science class with good results for a start. I still consider it more of an experiment in those matters, but the reception has been generally good.
As you can see it's all in spanish and since it was made for a chilean audience there are no current translation plans on it BUT, at least gameplay-wise, it's a concept I hope to keep working on.
And you can PLAY it HERE , even if it's on spanish I think the controls and gameplay should be accessible enough.
This was also the project that got me into developing with Construct 2, and I've been applying a lot of things learned from it on my upcoming game. This one is not as polished as I hoped, but if you have feedback on it let me knowwww.
OTHER STUFF -
> I did a thing for the Creep Jam, more like an atmospheric loop for a change, It was fun to work on something with little to no 'narrative' as a break.
> Also, I've been making a lot of improvements on Dinomelt, I'll be showing some updates on the upcoming weeks.
Found it a good time to update on a few things I've been up to in these past weeks:
The Sound Jam was a great way to jump back into animating something more complex; I Hadn't done a proper short in quite a while, and it really turned out to be a bit more ambitious than I expected, as it was pretty heavy on character animation.
I've found the themes based on "technical restrictions" to be the greatest ones for experimentation as you are forced to approach an animated short in a completely different way. Sound is, for the most part, one bit of the postproduction, but now all I had at the beginning were the sounds! Which led to a pretty unusual process, I ended up listening to the sounds and drawing characters assosiated with them (even better if they could produce more than one sound), after that, one thing that took way longer than I expected , was just to find a 'coherent' way for them to appear in this world, which led me to the idea of some kind of 'pit fight' or collosseum.
Here's a pretty messy sketchbook page with some early ideas, the first version of the 'hand-tongue' frog was more like a brontosaur, and for a brief moment there were more than one robot to make all of the blast sounds.
Overall I'm pretty glad on how it came out, and I'm currently checking ideas for the next MASCOT JAM.
The game I'm working on is slowly approaching a reasonable state of completion, it's constantly tempting to add more and more little things, and defining those limits is what this current stage is mostly about. My current "release date" is sometime around November. Let's see how that goes :O.
Here's a few of the NEW clay-distorted creatures from the planet.
These are part of the last batch of creatures I've designed for the game, which at least means that the enemy design stage is done (unless I get overly motivated with hidden goodies, which may not be so bad if I manage make it short).