Tag Archive for Squeebles

Still alive!

It has been a while since I’ve really done anything of note. So far this year has seen Invertical Touch get launched with a whimper (despite being a game that I’m very proud of) and then Invertical Touch Lite.

I’ve been primarily working on an unannounced title that has proven to be a heck of a lot more work than I planned. The game is coming along really well and I’m quite proud of it, however it is proving a little dry to work on. It isn’t easy to go “tonight I will sit down and figure out and implement this complex feature” after getting back from a day job of just that. I end up just playing games. Or blogging. Just like now, I’m avoiding work. Any pointers on keeping focused are welcome!

Battle-25July

I didn’t post this…

It is an odd one because I really want to finish. Partly because this will be arguably my best game yet and also because I’m desperate to work on new games… but I really can’t be arsed! Just very tired and looking at the mess of code gives me a headache. Perhaps one key factor is the lack of design input. Working on a port of a board game (*spoiler*) means that I’m primarily looking at turning physical rules and stuff that you count in your head, or hold to the side, into a slick UI that works across browsers is a bloody hard challenge! However it isn’t the challenge of figuring out how to make the game more fun. It will be fun because the board game is fun (and hard!). As I say, an odd one.

192To try and reignite my desire to make games I have tried working on a few side projects. I spent a couple of nights looking to make a simple game called Frown Upside Down that would be suitable for very young kids ahead of Dare to be Digital, however I lost interest in the project and don’t see it going any further. Maybe at most I’ll just stick it on Android with an apologetic description.

I’ve been keen to revisit The Really Annoying Game for a while now, in particular a mobile port. However I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d want the controls to work and as I’d want the whole level to be visible, this brings in aspect ratio issues. Due to the complexities and level of design, work on this as a “fun project” was put back onto the backlog.

Squeebles is another game that I’ve looked at revisiting, or more specifically finishing. To be honest the core gameplay was boring but I liked some of my plans for silliness, in particular Fun Facts. I’m thinking instead that I’ll build a new game that is based around very simple puzzles, primarily basic key skills (i.e. basic science, geometry, numeracy etc), with basic platform gameplay. It would be very accessible to children but also inject a little bit of my “humour” and more adult references (as in 80s culture not sex references!). This will be really fun to work on, but perhaps a bit of a more substantial side project than I plan for now.

The same can be said about my sequel to Captain Getsu, which despite being close to finished at one point I ended up canning it. Such terribly written code! Working as a software engineer in my spare time has taught me a lot and I’m confident that if I restarted the project it would be a lot better. A big change I made in the design was to move from lots of story and missions to having a “survive as long as possible” game but with stages that had a range of objectives. Seems interesting I hope! However time is running out for a new XBLIG title…

Why I believe Squeebles has potential

When I came up with the convept for Squeebles I wanted something fast, fairly intense and at the same time a have a bit of silliness about it. The game would be something that you’d play in bursts with each increasingly challenging level being a test of your timing and reactions. It would be the sort of game where you try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, try and then feel proud to finally complete the level.

Unfortunately the prototype didn’t quite capture the idea that I had. However I’m reasonably confident that I understand many of the reasons why it just wasn’t what I was hoping for and know, at least from a design perspective, where I want to go next.

First of all, the game lacked pace. Okay it was reasonably quick but it was hardly exactly Sonic. Given the key part of the game concept was the speed at which the character moved, this is obviously a failing. Not only was the standard movement slow but it was also quite “floaty” when jumping over objects & gaps. I found that you needed to start the jump well before the thing you were looking to leap over. Usually in a platform game you find that you die because you jumped too early but in the Squeebles prototype you often died or got muddled because you overshot, making it harder for the next jump. This limited level design because the levels needed to be fairly forgiving, especially as you can’t really stop and line yourself up for the next jump. The jumping needs speeding up whilst ensuring that the longer and higher jumps are still possible. I think the best approach would be to have two jump buttons with one being quick hop and the second being a leap. This would provide a quick fire jumping mechanism that makes you go “arghhhh” whilst frantically jumping whilst also providing scope for jumping up a few levels or over a large gap.

The second issue was that the levels are all square. The character doesn’t get sent flying through the air or whizzing down a hill because everything is made out of blocks. Unfortunately with the collision engine that I currently have, this won’t be an easy fix and will require a fair amount of learning… but that is part of why I’m doing these projects, to learn how to do them. I want to be challenging myself. However I do have a few other ideas to sent the player soaring through the air!

The third problem with the game is that I think it lacks coins, rings or some other collectable. This provides two functions. The first and most obvious is it is a reward and by placing them along say a harder route you are challenging players. Secondly it can be used as timing guidance to the player, after all you’d have to be a real arsehole to have an arc of coins leading straight into a trap… (hmm!). Rather than just sticking in coins I’ll want to consider whether I want to go down the 100 objects per level or 3 hard to reach ones, probably the 100, and more importantly come up with a context for the object, wether its coins, rings or gooseberries. I’d certaintly want something a little quirky that can work with a Fun Fact.

Ah yes, Fun Facts. These are the one aspect of the current prototype that I’d really like to do more of. At the end of each level, after dying or any other time that the game is stopped there is a short “Fun Fact” about the Squeebles, ranging from what they taste like (brussel sprouts, ewww) to their hobbies. There’s also a few references to folk on my Twitter account. I plan to add a few more but with well known game developers although the emphasis will remain on just plain daft “Fun Facts”. I’m also really keen to hear suggestions as well! Send them to @OxygenAddictUK on Twitter. Character limit is roughly the same as Twitter’s.

Something not present in the prototype is how I’d like to deal with the issue of defeating enemies. I don’t want to have the player killing enemies, instead it would be capturing them. In order to keep the controls to an absolute minimum (and we’ve TWO jump buttons now) it won’t be a button and I’m sticking to contact = death so instead it’ll be a case of activiting a trigger by say jumping on a pressue pad, crashing into a switch or similar to activate a trap. I’m thinking that limiting this to the boss fights would be the best way. Boss fights aren’t in the prototype and would be at the end of the various zones. I’m thinking that these will involve jumping and bouncing about the level, avoiding the boss and their attacks whilst trying to hit the triggers. Keep it simple but by using different styles of bosses, for example one shooting fireballs, one that is just a swarm of enemies and one that is huge (but slow) should maintain some diversity. Of course all this will evolve as I make it. 🙂

Well I hope that you quite like the sound of that. I may try to make a few tweaks to the prototype at some point but at the end of the day… it is a prototype. I don’t expect it to be awesome. Squeebles is up for consideration as my next game so if you’d like to see it get fully developed, vote for it!

Next up will be Invertical.

Squeebles prototype available to play

Check out this early version of the platform game “Squeebles”.

Squeebles

You play as Skwibble, one of the bravest Squeebles around. After Count Frackle took his wife Mibbeline and his kids and other Squeeblings, he has set out on a mission to rescue them all!

Gameplay is a very simple platformer, however what makes it a little bit more tricky is that Squeebles really don’t like standing still so the character is constantly on the move. It requires good timing and quick thinking to avoid dying.

Naturally the game is very light on content and the levels & artwork is far from polished but it should give an idea of what the game is about. Check it out either by downloading it or just play it in your browser.

PLAY SQUEEBLES  IN BROWSER

Rescue Squeeblings

Timing is key