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Froak!

A topic by Arcade Badgers created Aug 18, 2017 Views: 268
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Perhaps a bit late to start a devlog after the competition, so take this as a post-mortem instead!

So, Froak! was a bit of fun to unwind a bit from crunching on our main project - Snake-A-Roid 2.0. We'd just come back from the 4TG Game Con in Aberdeen that weekend, we were knackered, and it being the end of the Summer holidays, the kids were extra hyper about going back to school... so a perfect jam environment!

Froak's initial design was scribbled out on a small notepad the day the competition started during lunch.
It was actually going to be quite different from how it turned out.

Originally, the plan was to test out ideas for dual-stick controls... left stick to bounce about the lily pads, and right stick to flick out the tongue in eight directions to catch a fly. I threw together a quick arena of lily pads, calculated a grid, gave all of them a fly, and made a frog to jump about.

Then life got in the way until the weekend.

At this point, I hadn't looked at using the right stick yet, and was spending my time trying to get the jumping between lily pads sorted, and just collecting the flies as you went past. It seemed nice enough, and thinking it was too easy, added a lily pad sinking mechanic so that while there was a frog sitting on them, they'd slowly sink. ( Though at this point, they resurfaced rather than disappearing completely like the submitted version. )

The weekend came and went.

Over the next couple of lunch times, I added some more elements - the logs and crocs - and tested a few level layouts.
At the half way point, I stopped to have a look at everything and realised that the 4x8 grid layout I had given myself wasn't going to lend itself to interesting puzzle levels. I'd either need to make a bigger play area with a scrolling camera, or have a rethink. I'd already coloured four different frogs, so thought of changing it into a multiplayer "battle" thing instead. Be the greediest frog, eat all the flies, jump on the heads of the other frogs to steal theirs. Simple!

The next weekend appeared quicker than I expected, and I only then managed to sit down and write a little bit of "AI"
They ain't smart.
What they're supposed to do, is look at the (usually) 8 squares around them and jam all the cells with flies in a list. Then randomly pick one and go after it. If there's nothing in the immediate cells, look another set out. Repeat a few times to make sure the reach goes from top to bottom and failing that, pick another frog to go after until flies respawn. Pretty straight forward stuff.
What they actually tend to do, is pick the top left fly and go after that, then get confused when something else eats it and jump in the opposite direction.
Emergent Froak behaviour... honest!
There is a bug in here though.. in that I lock on to the fly's position, rather than the cell position.. and as the flies buzz around a bit, the frogs can get confused and think they're further behind/infront than they are, and jump about a bit more erratically than they should. Another bug, is that when they sink, their state can sometimes get mixed up and they go into limbo.. I didn't find this one until after submissions had closed, sadly.
I also got multiple pads working in both browser and Windows, so upto four players could play, and had the keyboard work as a separate interface from pad one... so if you only had one pad and the keyboard, two players could still play.

So, Monday rolled round and it was still pretty quiet... so I tried throwing some music together.
It was surprisingly harder than I expected, just due to having been working on Snake-A-Roid; an Arcade Arena shooter with a crunchy chiptune soundtrack with a much darker style than Froak. I needed something bouncy and happy. So nothing worked out. Spent most of Tuesday at work listening to Spectrum chiptunes to get those happy bouncy squarewave arps in my head! Not sure if my headphones leak or not, so that must've been fun for anyone walking past.

Tuesday night, I rattled out a title tune, and did two ingame tracks and a podium win on Wednesday plus sound effects.
Turned out alright, I think!

Wednesday lunch time; added some menu states in and the game loop, so you went through: splash -> controllers -> game -> win -> controllers etc... and threw together a few more arenas that are randomly picked. There's five in total.

Wednesday night; finished tidying things up a bit - such as the lily pads not resurfacing - and finished the music.. did some quick tests in the browser to make sure it all behaved, then just threw it onto itch.io about half an hour before deadline.


And that's that, really!

Nice and simple little game.. a couple of bugs lurking, sadly, but fun enough to hopefully continue later. Might stick up the GMS2 project later, if anyone's interested.

Now to go rate some games!