Tag Archive for Artwork

Who doesn’t love a tutorial?

Recently I was playing a demo of a major Nintendo Switch game that was part of an established series. After about 30 minutes I was bored stiff of tutorials. More time was spent telling me things than actually in control. This is not good design.On the same day I played a demo of a re-release of a classic arcade game. Within a minute of launching the game I was enjoying myself and quickly picking up the controls. This is very familiar for traditional retro / arcade games.

Given that Paint It Jack is a relatively simple game, I certainly don’t want to be dragging the user through a long, boring tutorial process. That said, the game is one that I hope will appeal to children and casual players. When looking at mobile games, the typical platform for casual games, it is clear that tutorials are a must. Players might want their hand held a little.

My plan of action for this is to create a series of tutorial screens that will be displayed in between levels. First of all you get given the absolute basics (controls & objective) then before the next level the player is introduced to the cleaners with a simple text screen. Following that there will be screens introducing the pickups, more advanced controls and story. I also plan to throw in a few tips in among the “Fun Facts” to inform the player of techniques.

The “tutorial” screens will be kept relatively simple. All I’d want to convey is the most basic information so that the user is made aware, can absorb the concept and then get back to playing. This would be accompanied by a large bit of artwork, trying to bring some character into the game.

Generally this approach should be relatively hands off, just a click here and there once you’ve read the page. This should allow the player to just play without having to get dragged through a tedious section learning the rather simple gameplay. The player is informed of core mechanics to avoid being sat there pondering “what on earth is going on?” but to be really good at the game, albeit one with a low skill level, players will learn and develop as they play.

My biggest challenge with this is that it is a rather art intensive approach with large images and then a little bit of information. My art skills have always left something to be desired and have previously been a core reason as to why I’ve minimized the amount of story and tutorials in my other games! However rather than being afraid of this challenge, I’ll embrace it. Even if it looks a bit rubbish, hopefully forcing myself to have a go will help in improving my skillset!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A new look for Paint It Jack

Paint It Jack was originally designed to look like an old school arcade game with Pac Man being a major influence. Of course with my limited art skills and low effort for the prototype, it didn’t look great but I did like the style. However I somewhat suspect that I was alone in that.

With the new project I’ve decided to use multiple worlds with very different art styles. One will have similarities with the previous game using neon colours on a black background. It will be full of bold colours and whilst arguably a little gharish, it will keep faith the original design.

However with the other two worlds that I am planning for the initial release, I hope to have a much higher quality of visuals. My initial work, with the help of my wife, is leading me to think this will be the best looking game (excluding Invertical Touch as Hunted Cow provided the art for that!), although the bar I’ve set is pretty low

I’m hoping it will be quite fun to play with shaders rather than having eye bleeding colour. I also want to have the whole environment gains colour as you paint more of the level, rather than just the path.

The characters and items will all be getting a revamp. Sticking to a top down view makes this a little more challenging but I won’t leave assets as “job done” once I’ve completed my first go. I hope to rework them, try again and give myself a range of options.

I also hope to create a range of unique and interesting characters, although perhaps not for the first phase..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Invertical – Improving the first gameplay experience

Welcome to the first of my “blog a week” posts, starting off with a look at Invertical and part of my work planned to turn it from what is a good little game into something a little special.

I’ve great belief in Invertical as a concept and also believe that the released game is great fun, original and for the price, an excellent buy. However it has its flaws and all too many of them are in the first few minutes. They aren’t huge but if you are put off by the first 2 minutes, there’s no guarentee that you’ll continue playing. The one I’ll be discussing today is the first level.

The original introduction level was meant to give players practice at jumping and changing colour. In truth it turned out to be slightly too difficult for players and just wasn’t an interesting level. The fun part of Invertical is figuring out your route and this was just jump then change in mid air several times. Of course it is good practice for levels where you need to jump and change colour in mid air but the game needs to engage players so early on.

I’ve made a number of changes to the level. For starters the level design is very different with no requirement to change colour whilst making diagonal jumps. Now there are just simple jumps and you can usually change colour whilst standing. There is also a very simple bit of puzzle solving. The other notable change to make the level a much better tutorial is that will introduce the both the concept and controls to the player, not just jumping practice. Finally I’ve altered the artwork slightly rather than being very plain. Still considering a background and neutral change but that is still to be decided.

If you have any feedback, fire it my way! I’ve put together a quick video where you can see the two levels. Hope you agree, the new one is much better!


Started development on Invertical

Yesterday work begun to take the Invertical prototype and develop into a fully fledged game. Already there’s a massive improvement, in no small part down to the fact that someone with artistic talent is helping out! @Hannahsayshey has provided a bunch of backgrounds in addition to some baddies. They perfectly match my vision for the game and gives it a much better visual impact.

King Simon

There’s now a bunch of extra levels, providing new challenges and in a variety of styles. These styles will go on to form a chapter comprising with between 5-10 levels with some kind of boss challenge. Upon completion of the chapter you’ll get a nice break in the game, a chance to replay levels or carry on. I’ve never been a fan of when games allow you to save mid-section so the end of chapter is likely to be a nice save point. That way when you rejoin the game it isn’t straight into a tricky boss level. Each chapter will have its own difficulty progression arc where the starting difficulty will always be greater than the start of the previous chapter but not as hard as the last level or two… perfect for getting back into the game.

Anyway, I should get back to working on the game. In the meantime, the idea for Invertical hit me when watching the following music video based on a game. Obviously Invertical is a completely different game to Touhou, but I loved the shadow art style and everything about the animation in the video, which got me thinking about game ideas and eventually lead to Invertical.