Grid-based Alien Action Puzzle (2017)

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Post » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:33 pm

*development started on June 1, 2017
This is my 2nd game after the egg cooking game Fry Me Omelette (see the WIP post here.)

This time, I'm making a a top-down, tile based puzzle game, with a bit of 'action' elements in it.
Theses are some of the inspirations...

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The famous Windows 3.11 game 'Chip's Challenge'. Also, Tinker from Windows Ultimate Extra, love them.
Also some other games like Chu Chu Rocket comes in mind as well! ;) I love them for being so much FUN!

However, the game mechanics I intended are not like those games, something that I'll like to write about in future.

I already have clear directions on the mood & looks for this game:
It will have a 12-bit/16-bit retro pixelated look. Oh yeah, the theme will be based on alien planets, the places can be simplistic, elemental, other-earthy or surreal. And the character will be an alien as well! The music will be somewhat retro, with some synth music. (also and a fan of PopCap's Bejeweled's "space-like" music)

Now, about the character of this game...

The Alien

This is basically my 2nd thing to work on when starting the development (1st is stages' layout). I already have some ideas when I'm developing my 1st game, so the design comes out without much difficulty.

You know, the game is for all ages, so a 'cute' approach is preferable. (or maybe it's just my cartoon-ish style)
I don't want to state it's gender cos' it's not important (maybe it doesn't have a gender) & I have no in-depth background for it, for now though.

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The looks of the alien is kinda hybrid mix between your typical grey alien & some imp-like creature.
The choice of the alien's white-grey skin is to contrast against the backgrounds. (which more likely to be colorful & vibrant)
The big antenna on it's head can give signal to the player to dodge certain hidden dangers.
And the blue tie is to just to make it look HIP! Practical? not really. :roll:

About the Stages (in general)

In stage, You are to get a few "things" and return to the 'post' while 'platforming' /dodging barriers and traps, you can even plan your steps ahead in certain area of the stage! (a game feature :) )

All moves are 'Step'-based. Although the alien moves seamless between grids. (Classic Pokemon games in mind)

Graphic wise, I haven't really designed the "visual outlook" yet, other than a purple-blue map. But you'll get the idea it'll be quite simplistic, with an extraterrestrial touch. (but not too outerword-ish people can't understand)

More details of these feature will be explained in future logs.

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And lastly, a brief about my current development status:

Actually, I've already done a good portions of the game structure.
These are the parts been implemented:
  • Draft Interface & Stages
  • Character Walk Animations
  • Character Hurt/Win Animations
  • Walking & Platforming mechanism

Again, everything is still on very-very early stage.
I can't even decided the game title yet. So right now just call it 'Alien Maze' or 'Alien Step'.

On next log, I'll show some WIP footage on the gameplay, and some of the game mechanics.
Thanks for reading!
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Post » Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:49 pm

Hi there, I'm compiling this post from my recent dev logs. This will be a bit long.

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Today's all about the game mechanics.
Let's jump right in shall we?

Since day 1, I've been working on building the basic structure of the game-- the stage.
It took me a couple of weeks to finalized the stage layout, and a function-able 'walk-around' game mechanic.

But first, have a glance on the interface:

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Pretty self-explanatory here.
The design is very simple & straightforward.
For the fonts, I'm using these typefaces but it's not 100% confirmed.

The choices of color themes are actually "realm-base". When you play the levels inside this realm(or planets) you get the same theme. Yes, there will be other realms as well, but only available when the game is fully released. I'll be using this bluish-purple theme as default for my demos.


The Grid
Grid is there so you can have a more controlled situation. (or in my case, steps) It makes puzzling manageable. Same account goes to all the other elements(most) in my grid-based game--grid bounded.

If you have a keen eye, you'll notice that the tiles are not totally square:
It's 48x54 pixels to be exact. Why is that?
For me they looked more aesthetical in the game than total squares. So it's a design choice.

Character Positioning("Camera")
At the very early concept, the stage was stationery and the alien walks across the screen. But that may cause a problem as this restricts the moving area severely. If you want to increase the "reach" you have to decrease the grid size, it'll be harder to control the alien movements, and very hard for mobile players to see.

Thus, the alien will always be at the center of the screen and the map 'moves' around him.
It works better that way. I can make larger maps without much hassle.


Next, here's some of the elements on the level:

Glowing Orbs
It's the alien's main mission. You have to obtain all of them in order to pass the level.
Though the design it's not confirmed. (it may not even be orbs in the future)

Well... why would an alien with a space-craft have to obtain stuff physically? Why risking life walking into those traps? ...I have no answer for that. XD

Ground Spikes
While not showing in the log, it's but a simple puzzle element, just don't step on them!

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Lazer Beams:
These are not really much a well thought elements to my degree, it's just a very convenient "puzzle device". If I have to use them officially, the lazers will be used in harder levels--and in adequate usage.

I've thought of making the beam reflectable to other angles but it may add difficulty to the coding, and also making the puzzle too complicated. Since I'm not making a puzzle solved by lazer reflections but by steps predominantly, I probably won't consider it.

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Padded Grounds/Diamond Tiles
The diamond shaped paddings are something extra for the game. At first i don't feel it's necessary to the gameplay, but now I can see them work as a side-bonus to get additional points. (point system will mention on next log)

Triangle Spot
To enter & exit the level. But you have to get all the glowing orbs first--in order to be beamed up to the spacecraft.

Forgot to mention, when you die(hurt) in the game, there's no game over screen. The level simply resets & you return to the beginning spot.

Right now, there is no real puzzle elements in the game but those simple hazards (spikes & lazers), I hope to design some real good items/traps for puzzle soon.
Last edited by Allen T on Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post » Sun Jul 23, 2017 2:54 pm

Next, is the "Path System", a key feature of the game.

It works like this: When the alien steps on a certain "pad/platform", the time stopped for it's 'steps planning', a phase for the alien to think for his "next route".

It may not shown in very-early levels, but this will be important to the gameplay in overall. (though I hope it does work in sense of solving puzzle)

Here's a demonstration GIF:

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Gee, this system may be one of the hardest part to code. (and felt so rejoiced when the system finally worked properly) A few functions are yet to be done, but I'm quite happy how it turns out.

Also, something to note about this 'path system':
No criss-crossing.
In other words, when drawing the path, you can't overlay an already drawn cell/square from the path.

Has length limit.
At default the alien may have a maximum of 5 cells to draw. It may increase the length every time it "upgrades". (*upgrades are not available in demos)

Drawn only inside a zone.
See the large flashing selections when the alien reaches a square platform? They're zones.
​The path can only be drawn inside the zone.


For future improvement, I will re-work on the graphic of the path. (zebra lines) as it is not very nice-looking.
Perhaps change it into a arrow-pointing appearance then...(also a bit thinner & denser lines)

Path-Combos

Notice the neon-green numbers the bottom-right corner, they're obviously SCORE.
What you see ("+100" and so on) are the addings from the 'path-combos':

The more length you draw the more points will add to the score.

This combo feature may sound cool... but right now I still can't figure out how to apply this feature in a better way.
One does not simply walking the 'path' continuously, keep adding up to whatever score they want. (cheat to get higher score)

I have to think of some good idea for its function to flourish, though...

Before wrapping up, here's something exciting:

I will upload the game's first demo soon-- on Scirra Arcade. :)
It's a demo to let players testing out the mechanics & puzzle elements, letting them know how this game plays first.
There are only 6~7 levels and they're demo exclusive.
​And don't be over-critical about the levels, they are basically test levels put together.

Date is not confirmed but it'll be on the first week of August.


Next log, I will write about a couple of new elements in the game & also more details on the 'score system'.
​Until then.
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Post » Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:31 pm

Try to make 'screen shake' ... comes up like a Salvador Dali's art. :shock: :lol:
#AcidTrip
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Post » Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:03 pm

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Let's talk about the score system, and a few new game elements...

Score System

It's very simple, It functions like an arcade style of scoring.
You get a score each level, and accumulate them trough levels and you get a total when a run is complete (or realm). (*A 'run' is a group of levels played in linear order,weird term i know)

What happens when you fail a level, how's the score add up?
Every time you lost/retry in that level, your score returns to the original amount.
eg: if you start a level with 750, get into about 1230 on that level then you died, you go back to 750 again.

Since I already wrote about the path-combos and 'diamond tiles', I won't repeat again.

STAGE BONUS
The stage bonus points are added into total score after you complete a level.
It consists of 'step' bonus and 'time' bonus.

The faster (or less steps) you finish the level the higher points you can get. It adds way more points than the other ways for a good run. In that way the game rewards you for using less steps and also less time.

P/S: Every time you retry a level, the bonuses you get afterward (in that level) will cut less by 15~20%. It can reach as low as 20% from the original amount you could normally earn.

Block Pushing

I finally fully debugged the rather hard codes-- the puzzle element: push blocks.
Let's have a quick look.

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White translucent blocks are the classic push blocks in many tile-based puzzle game.
You can not push 2 or more blocks together (the alien is not that strong), only 1 at the time.

So, ​How come the alien to don't "push" the blocks?
Well, for starters-- The alien never uses its hands! ;) It uses legs for almost everything!

Landmine Detection

I wanted this to be a surprise game element but I just can't help it... :roll:

The alien can sense hidden danger through his antenna. It changes color according to the danger scale.
Its antenna acts like a mine detector. It also sends audio signals. :)

This requires some logic & guessing to figure out where the landmine is at.
Brace yourself when you encounter one. It's possible to have multiple mines in a small area!

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I am happy to say I love this game element personally and have fun coding it.
In future update I may add a better warning sounds, and the flashing signal of the alien's antenna (something like that)

By the way, I also figured out how to balance out the 'path-combos':
Don't try to get high scores from 'path-combos' too much, focus on 'less steps'/'less-time' completion instead.
The score addings will gradually reduced if you use more than 3-4 times of path-combos.


Not all elements are introduced, but you'll found out in time.
I still have a few bugs left to work on.
I will upload to Scirra Arcade within this week and that's for sure.

Have a good day!
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Post » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:30 pm

'Alien Maze' demo #1 is now online. Come try out!

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Post » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:36 pm

Sorry but I got lazy for a while...

The development will be slower because in the meantime I'm also working on a the final major update for 'Fry Me Omelettes', which includes many art assets & coding to be done.

Alright, return to my 2nd demo plannings.
New worklist for the next stage.

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In general, the focus of Stage 2 development is Graphics & Music.
Development will mostly on adding art assets/revamping graphics.
It will be a more polished demo, to give players how final version will probably look like.

There will be a menu, level selection screen, and also a challenge mode...maybe.
There will be 3 realms to choose from. (open realms for this demo)
And for the demo, I'll probably have 4~5 levels available per realm.

Of course, all levels will be new and are demo exclusive.

Level Select Design

Originally I was going for a ring of levels layout, with diagonal level boxes.
Then i later realized it doesn't mix well with the square-grid game design.
Sometimes those simple, tried-n-true layout does the trick for it's functionality.
Pictures below are the mockups of level selection menu.

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Due to the mobile-game style of open level selection, there will be no more 'finalized' screen for score after finishing a run. Each levels will have their own data records (your best & recent score,steps,time).

The green big score at the bottom is the grand total score of all levels' score combined.

Winning Screen

I added 'alien win screen' for every end of a level.
By having a large cute alien picture, this could make players feel more invested about the character they play.
It adds likability. :)

A jingle will also present during the win transition.
Also, if you get stage bonus you will have visible bonus score--added into the total score.(lower right)

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Again, this screen layout may not be the final version.
The text may need some revamp for visual aesthetics.

​For a more attractive presentation, I could put in a few animated sprites of the big alien picture... for the release version. (fingers crossed)

Making Music Tracks

Little did I wrote about how i make music so here it is...

I use Reason Limited, it came as a side gift from my Korg usb midi keyboard purchase.
I'm really start to love this software even it's not full-version & has limitations.
I also use FL studio, but once I get into Reason I like its way to make music, in some way easier to input notes than FL Studio. The sounds in Reason has great quality (some instrument sounds are just so fantastic in the get go...)

Here's the style of the game music, in list form:
  • Steady beats (not fast, not slow)
  • Electronic/Synth sound textures
  • Upbeat rhythm with a dash of mystery/enigma
  • Somewhat space-like, somewhat E.T.
Most of the time the music turns out not quite what i wanted to be. :roll:
Beats are my weakest link-- compared to melody & rhythm. Mixing is still poor but I'm getting better every moment, slightly.

So far the pieces i make lack an 'E.T. feel' to it, I figured that adding some noise-type sounds could enhance the feel.

Alright, I'll let you listen to some of the game music tracks.
So far I only finished 3 pieces. (6 for pre-beta version)
Here's the mp3, excerpts from 3 music tracks.
*Right-Click to "open link in new window" to just listen.

This is all for today, folks.
See you on next log!

(*for additional personal/side info about the development, come visit my dev log site.)
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