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Brace for something a little harsh:

So I was expecting classic Tomb Raider, but the jumping doesn't feel all that momentum based and doesn't quite nail the thrill of leaping large gaps. Not to say that it needs to be, but when the character auto grabs the ledge instead of wanting to jump off of it, there's a problem and this was a constant throughout. You could argue that it was the intent to go for Modern Tomb Raider, but the issue is those games don't really pride themselves on "jumping puzzles" as much unless you count "spot the white highlighted edge" as the same gameplay. Point is, level design feels like a classic tomb raider, jumping feels like an awkward modern raider, the two things don't mix well together.

The atmosphere doesn't really quite hit the mark either. The looping music really dulls the experience as opposed to implementing soundscapes and putting in musical ques for when you reach a new area or something significant happens. There's not much contrast other than the boulder scene inserting new music. It helps to rely more on ambiance and noise, and use music when necessary for an emotional change or discovery.

I also feel that getting to the series of ledges at the top of the first area to activate (the starting platform I think?) could have been more interesting to backtrack from. Instead you had to shimmy across the very ledges you climb up to. I really don't think wall climbing is that fun unless there's some kind of risk or thinking to it, instead they're just spammed along the wall to create filler and busy work. Not only that, but there's no way to jump down as a neat little shortcut, instead you pretty much die. Although by accident I managed to survive a fall near the secret green object (I assume that's optional). But I noticed a trend in a lot of games when they program ladders, it's always faster to go down them then it is to climb up, it's an interesting design philosophy that I think could have been used more here. When someone wants to go snow sledding, they wouldn't want going down hill to take the same time/effort as going uphill. That's kind of the logic I'm going for here.

Roll doesn't seem to do anything, and I got through the spinning blade section without really crouching. The timing puzzles before the boulder were pretty annoying. In old TR games they're usually timed in such a way that you'll get through them as long as you past the first one, but the obstacle usually isn't just the swinging blades but rather the crumbling floor or some other element that forces you to improvise while having to constantly run. Having to stop in-between each blade was pretty frustrating, and the timings were rather unforgiving. Again though, had a lot of issues jumping between the ledges in that section (where my character kept constantly grabbing it).

Overall there were a lot of movement glitches and odd behavior throughout. Kind of dulled the experience more. I thought the art-style and lighting was okay, but I've seen a lot of stuff like this before in unity. So I don't really have a glowing opinion on it. Sorry if this is all very negative but I'm pretty passionate about the old Tomb Raider games. And although I think the modern tomb raiders are fine, I do desperately want a return to old form. Mirror's Edge is the closest they got to that, but then the sequel went open world for no real good reason.

A horde of monsters have invaded a small town, the remaining citizens decided to hide in a cave. At some point the sun stops rising, and the towns people spend what might be their last days. However, they are not alone.

Programming/Story/Design by Shweep
Music and Testing by Agent Parsec

Game was made for the LD43 Jam in 72 hours. The current post build has some additional content.

Thanks! I appreciate the feedback.

Thanks for the play-through! Was surprised you got through that fight up the stairs with only 1 health. You're also right on the money about the huntsman and the evil queen, even well before the lore hints at it. But yeah I'll try to have a better ending for the next game like this.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad the game and elements hit the spot for you.

I don't like making excuses but yeah the ending was rushed as I had only really one day to tie loose ends (due to the contest deadline). But it does make me realize the priority of a satisfying ending and that people do care about this sort of stuff! I'll keep it in mind for next time.

Thanks for the feedback! Really appreciate it. I mainly observed the Brother's Grimm though I'm pretty sure some naming conventions might be from Disney. There's also references to a greek tragedy that inspired the tale.

Yeah sorry for the late reply, I plan to get back at it some time in the winter when I have time. I think the art side of things took a lot of time and doing a one month project burnt me out with how much art I had to do. I can't bare to release it in its very tiny state when I think it has potential.

Hey thanks for the play-through. All along there was actually 4 slots of inventory you could have used (using the A and S keys) sorry that wasn't clear. I've taken a bunch of notes on what you observed and any incidental things. The feedback is appreciated.

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Spent a month developing a survival horror game. It takes place within a mansion where missing children might have ended up in. A lot of the design focus was on inventory management and exploration. There aren't really any puzzles , it's more about the layout of the environment and understanding the usage of items.

It's made in gamemaker, but uses free to use assets for a typical RPGMaker game. It was an experiment to make a game that would be very hard or impossible to do in RPGMaker but reap the benefits of premade assets. I had an easy time spending more effort on the story and design rather than the backgrounds (tile based) and I learned a lot from this process. Near the end it's a little rushed but it's pretty zany anyway.

Let me know how it plays, I plan to make more games similar to it or at least some kind of survival aspect. So I appreciate any feedback on how to improve the context sensitive UI and combat.

Finally added the first area of the game where you noticed an object falling through the sky with your little telescope. Gotta go down and check it out. Going down the ladder surprisingly didnt take that long to implement, though it has no real functional purpose (will be useful later on). So the status right now is that the jam is due in 1 hour. But I have 2 backgrounds left to do (unsurprisingly) for the little teaser demo I'm cooking up to feel submittable. So later on tonight or tomorrow I'll just get those 2 backgrounds done without pushing myself too much.  The jam seems lenient about stuff like that anyway.

The next post I'll make will likely detail the tech demo release and what my plans are for beyond this jam, and I'll likely continue in the actual game page's blog.

Assuming you get all of the orbs or "keys" (all laid out for testing purposes) from the puzzles you solved, the door that locks you out until you place them into the slots is now implemented. Very lazily inefficient copy pasted programming was done to accomplish this but at least everything functional for the planned demo is done. Last thing to do is to do the backgrounds and maybe a ladder climbing functionality/animation.

If things go well I might have a day to just add meaningless interactions to make the game more "alive" (but then again I have a lot of sound effects to implement still). But yeah potentially a day of polish to slot in.

Poppy, the weapon to surpass metal gear.

Movement is looking pretty sick though.

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Have not worked on it as much as I wanted to as there's 4 days left. But I did manage to visually update the puzzles (in the above post) complete with backgrounds. I plan to release a demo that will likely contain 3-4 puzzles and then a to be continued screen. I want to actually continue this project even though I told myself it's usually better to try and complete something and just move on to some other jam. But I do like the potential this project has as a decent puzzle adventure. So I will give myself the rest of September to complete the rest of it.

For now the goal is to finish up the rest of the backgrounds (there are 3 before coming to this area) and program the point of getting the orbs in the first place (I almost count it as a 4th puzzle)

Push an inaccessible orb off, but pushing it blocks your path. Puzzle explores the use of using both directions (the door puzzle before only requires one).

(Still need to make the elevation of the orb going from the conveyor belt to the ground make more sense) but the puzzle introduces alternating between panels to solve things.

Issues with this project stem from being too ambitious and overestimating the 1 month time. As I don't feel comfortable releasing a game that has puzzles that seem like they could be explored more (or "resolved" to put it in musical terms). Yet due to the inspirations and how I imagined the game to be, maybe this is the best case scenario, a jam purely for getting a rock solid foundation.

Mocking up a game where you explore the "Moon" only to realize it looks nothing like the moon and harbors strange illusions. Nothing really solidified yet just figuring out some color scheme ideas for the environments. I actually need to finish up another game jam game im in the middle of but brainstorming this one anyway.

due to the extension of the deadline I decided to take a break and just focus on what I feel like working on atm. Basically puzzles without visuals figured out. Top is essentially a puzzle where you push down a key orb from a high place, but block yourself off to picking it up, and bottom is a conveyor belt puzzle where you alternate between two control panels to bring it towards you. Both are teaching ways to alternate and reverse how you utilize panels but I'm designing as I program at this point. I kind of like how the shape of the conveyor belt room drives me to sort of zigzag the conveyor belt layout to match it (which the design is heading towards anyway).


My issue with that is I've been doing a lot of gamejams in a row lately, so if the game gets submitted unfinished I'll likely never finish it lol. But in my last post I decided on a compromise.

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Picking up things. Not really so much for a puzzle but a goal for each puzzle. Eventually you return to this place to put the orb thingies in. I really didn't want an GUI for a long time, but I figured at least making up made up symbols will retain the vibe of the game. Need to make more backgrounds, which doesn't take much figuring out anymore, but is just a grind.

So my plan is to make a finished version of the first half of the game (probably not gonna be very long) to at least achieve some level of completedness. The only real unknown element of development time is just the puzzles. I've created so many puzzles similar to this in another game before, so the design likely isn't going to be put into question, just if I can program them effectively. The activated floor is pretty much the base of every puzzle, but some of the design twists might be difficult to execute.

-program the thing that opens the locked door once you've collected all 3 pieces
-make 3 backgrounds for places that loop back into locked door room
-program a basic elevator (and make the background for it)
-program several puzzles for the upper areas (one continuous puzzle that builds on elements carried throughout the room)
-make backgrounds for them
-make a ladder sliding puzzle of sorts (easier than the last)
-make backgrounds for that
-make backgrounds for the sight-seeing areas at the beginning of the game + add that ladder interaction at the begginning

-maybe some intro cutscene idk

can I do this in a week? we shall see. it lines up with being possible per day.

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Made a little interactable thing where you kneel down to use, it shows you what controls you're able to use after using it. Depending on what the designer sets it to you basically control anything from doors to strange pulley systems, maybe ladders or any such manner of the environment. What connection does our protag have with this world?

Funny bug that happened. Indicators go off on their own

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Didn't do much over the weekend. Been scoping out the areas of almost the entire game. All of the backgrounds are in very blocky rough prerendered ideas. There are no puzzles yet or even collisions. Hell most of these maps are too wide for my liking. Just the bare flow of where you end up figured out. The game is 3 minutes in length if you just walk from beginning to the current part I blocked backgrounds for. Indoor/Outdoor ambiance is at least established and the way I've organized teleporting between areas seems to be pretty consistent.

Chances are you aren't going to make out anything or relative stuff, it's more for me and to show the process.

She looks like a Sofia to me. (Sophia??) 

Thanks! It's being done in Game Maker Studio 2. Though a lot of choices I've been doing are kind of just recreating the things I like about old rpgmaker programs (and making it much better without the limitations).

Thanks a lot! and thank you for letting me use the cover. It's been a big inspiration.

Didn't think I'd get anything done today but here's some video footage with audio added and shadows affecting the player sprite. It uses a palette changer that essentially drops the shades of grey down. So to an extent the shades are being changed to "artist chosen" ones. My only worry is that doing this puts it into requiring directX stuff. So people with crappy GPUs pre 2010 might not be able to play this game. And it's weird because this game has a lot of retro things going for like only being 5 shades of grey and being pretty low res so far. So you'd think I'd be able to take advantage of that more in terms of optimization

One thing to note is certain shadows won't actually affect the player if they're too thin. I thought about doing a specific overlap thing, but it was much simpler I think to separate the shadows out as two different objects to worry about.

That's all so far today. Going to start to dig a little more vertically in development as it's past the halfway mark. I've been spending too much time doing the foundation for a lot of aesthetic stuff. But then again I've been interrupted by a lot of things lately so maybe the pace is alright relatively speaking.

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Finally pixeled the rest of the background. There's a lot going on in here, and surprisingly the process wasn't long to figure out when it came to implement what I wanted out of this background.

These broken lamp posts are their own objects and go infront of or behind the player depending on their opposing y values. RPGs typically get around this by being tile based and hoping the base of the lamp is in the way of the player to prevent being covered by it from below, but with pixel based movement you have to do some simple programming to solve that.

Here's how the game is laid out
1. Floors that aren't too detailed but just enough to feel textured.
2. Shadows straight from the render reference (this is separate because I'll make the player actually affected by the shadows after a point)
3. The main background that the player can be infront of
4. Instances or colliders that I sort through game logic
5. Instances that are by default above other instances or have some special case to them
6. The upper background that's above everything
7. Disabled the instances to show the final look as ingame.

Up next: Implementing Player Shading (affected by shadows) or maybe just adding more backgrounds (notably the inside of the tower) depends on what I feel like doing.

I do have gameplay or a game in mind. I guess it's just not apparent as I detail throughout the blog. But yeah I definitely started with an aesthetic and went from that as the source.

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Not much to report did some transitions for transporting between areas. Been spending the weekend battling life stuff and social things. It's quite easy to make variants of these transitions btw

edit: more fine tuned!

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I told myself not to do this but I spent all night getting help from a friend on how to fix moonwalking. (The white squares are testing the arrow keys and are just there for visual debuging). But the gist of it was that I wanted the first direction you press to become the "facing" of the sprite until you let go of the original direction. Since you move in 8 directions but face in 4 there were exceptions made for when you move diagonally. It's confusing stuff but I'm just glad to get it working and fool proof.

What it used to be:

Haha thanks, I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to collisions but we'll see how it goes!

Backgrounds are getting super temp atm.

Made a camera and some kind of basic roomteleport / teleport management thing. Basically just makes it easier for me to assign places to go and where you'll end up in rooms, can have multiple entrances/exit that lead into coresponding ones. Still have problems with moonwalking, decided to move on until the character movement becomes relevant later on for stuff. Really want to add an actual transition to make this look more seamless, also need to figure out if I need some sort of auto move while the transition is happening.

I've always thought the most possible classic way to go about this is to intentionally misinterpret the cover and do a reverse megaman 1 us boxart situation. As if the boxart for your game only barely hints at what the game is about. But I don't think japan had that problem as much.  But this is one of the many approaches to tackle this so it doesn't matter.

Looking neat so far!

Added some sweet 8 direction (4 direction for graphics) movement and collisions with the background. Still has some moonwalking errors but those will be cleaned out eventually. I essentially copy pasted some of the movement code from DUNkrsh but it took a good moment to figure out how to properly ignore the additional 4 directions I don't need when updating the sprite.

Collisions is a big one, this the first time I've encountered the choice of deciding how to tackle "organic" obstacles. Usually it's recommended to make things tile based even if you do plan to have non blocky environments. But I really want the flexibility and there's not gonna be a whole lot of complex action involving collisions anyway. Here's me experimenting with Elipses and square colliders, I'm not sure how much performance it'll save as opposed to making one image with precise collisions but I'll see once I get some more backgrounds implemented and the workflow gets going.

Tonight I might get a camera system going to scroll along backgrounds bigger than the screen. My incoming todo is:

-Camera system
-Moving between rooms (kickass fade transitions perhaps?)
-More placeholder backgrounds developed and properly layered
-A way to make cutscenes or take control away from the player
-Some sort of simple intro cutscene tying the first area together

These tend to change as I discover pressing issues but it's what I think about atm.

Interesting weapon concept, will the emotion factor into the game-play somehow?

Haha that poor old lady! I like that she's included in the battle as a hostage.

Looks cool,! What sort of genre are you thinking of doing? 

Yeah I feel really comfortable with this as a starting choice more than most games I've worked on. But hey I've heard good things about a ghost story! Curious to watch that one.

Life has been kicking me in the butt lately so this is the first day I'll actually be working head long on development.

Worked on some protag sprite animations. Wasn't happy with them, so I redid them.

Still need to clean them up, but it's basically a 6 frame walk cycle in 4 directions (think Chrono Trigger or Seiken Densetsu 3). I was getting hung up with whether or not to make her pants poofy pants or just a straight up consistent skirt.  This is one of those awkward moments where I've designed the character as I'm animating and I notice things like the hair being in the way or how to identify she might have a back on the side (missing in on the of the side frames). Thank god there's only one character in this game, it's going to be a very lonely one.

I went to a carnival with some friends the other day and I managed to notice a lot of interesting wirings in how the rides are powered. Here's a gallery. Might be good for some references for the background art.

Tomorrow I'll be doing some programmed in character movement and maybe some camera work.

Didn't get a whole lot done today but I figured I'd share some inspirations on where I'm coming from in terms of the visual design. Here's a photo collage of stuff I've taken IRL over the past few months (warning large image) which contains a lot of industrial stuff that caught my eye. Especially the strange pipes and odd wires. It doesn't matter what it actually is but kind of informs my sense of how weird urban maintenance can be. Yet there seems to be an inherent order to the chaos... so if you live in a city you don't have to look too hard for that kind of stuff in alleyways and such.

Visual media wise a lot of my conscious inspirations for this game are:

  • Blame! (obviously)
  • Tetsuo the Iron Man
  • EGG Elemental Gimmick Gear
  • Last Exile
  • Valerian and Laureline
  • Junk Head
  • Naussica Valley of the Wind
  • Beneath a Steel Sky
  • Dark Seed

Imgur compilation for those curious, images speak louder than words.

One thing I have to note was how disappointed I was about how goofy Beneath a Steel Sky and Dark Seed was. You have these gorgeous backgrounds and these amazing premises and title names. Yet the voice acting and the general tone of everything just contradicts the bleakness of the settings they're in. Fortunately with this anger I can put it to making such a game that I imagined them to be. I hope I do not make the same mistake...

For gameplay and general style I'm mainly going for something like ICO or the beginning parts of Another World. Where it's very atmospheric and not a whole lot going on at first.  I have some puzzle ideas jotted down where I think I get something relatively setpiecey yet dynamic enough so that I'm not programming a brand new thing every area. The biggest challenge is really getting a visual style I'm satisfied with and making sure it's not too complicated when it comes time to interfacing with the gameplay.

But yeah feel free to mention anything that this reminds you of. There's a probably a lot of stuff out there that I could drench myself in with desolate oppressive landscapes.