This post contains spoilers for Trick Parade. If you haven’t played it yet we recommend you do so first.
Last weekend was the 33rd installment of the Ludum Dare game jam and despite not initially planning to participate, we somehow ended up dedicating yet another weekend to the art of game jamming. Once again we had the pleasure of having Hernan on the team, who also helped with artwork for our Ludum Dare 32 entry N.O.D.E..
The theme this time around was You are the Monster. We wanted to steer around the obvious idea of taking a classic design and reversing the roles and instead went with the concept You pretend to be the monster, so we decided to make a Halloween-themed RPG in which you are a kid trying to scare the other kids on the block.
Instead of a traditional turn-based combat system we decided to have the player attack by completing a series of 5 second minigames to determine their damage output. In Trick Parade, as the game was named during the final hours of development, there are three basic elements of fear: paranormal, critters and splatter. Kids dressed up as one type can effectively scare one type, but are also easily scared by another.
Besides adding some flavor to the game’s world, this system serves the purpose of controlling the player’s progression through the world. Given only a basic ghost costume the player has to acquire more sophisticated costumes in order to beat and get past harder enemies.
To give the system a bit more depth we decided to add combinations of types. This allowed for some nice variety in costumes, but proved difficult for players to understand and remember. Unlike rock-paper-scissors players can’t logically deduce which types beat which and the addition of combinations only makes it even more complicated. If dogs are scared of ghosts, then why are zombie dogs effective against zombie ghosts?
The battles get repetitive pretty fast due to the low selection of minigames. In the current version only 9 minigames are implemented due to lack of time. We initially planned to have a much larger selection of games, each belonging to one of the three elements of fear, and the player’s choice of attack type would then influence which games they would be presented with. A large number of ideas and assets already exist and will be implemented if we decide to produce a post-jam version.
The low variety of minigames also resulted in a different problem: difficulty. Similar to the Wario Ware series, the games are all extremely simple. This gives the player a fair chance of succeeding even when presented with them for the first time, but makes for a very uninteresting game once the player has completed them all multiple times. Having a much larger selection of minigames and as well as some games that require a bit more skill would certainly make the battles more interesting.
Despite all its flaws the game has been pretty well-received and we are considering making a more fleshed out post-jam version. If so the main focus will be on making the battle system more intuitive and interesting as well as adding a large number of new minigames.
We recently finished up the remaining core elements of Tobu Tobu Girl and only sound and some technical stuff is missing before the game is complete.
We ended up making some more changes to the core design and have finally reached a design we are happy with. Most notably we made it possible to jump on enemies multiple times, mostly to make the game a lot more approachable for new players. However being able to carefully plan each jump makes the game way too easy and boring so a time limit has been added to push the player forward as well as some more difficult enemies. Dashing down into enemies will now kill them and reward you with blips for powerups.
The new design still has a rather high skill floor but this is probably as low as it gets if we want to keep the high skill ceiling. Overall the game is really shaping up nicely. Once sound has been added as well the game will really feel like a proper Game Boy game.
Tobu Tobu Girl progress
Most recently Simon and I have been developing our #GBJAM3 entry Tobu Tobu Girl into a fully fledged homebrew game. The game has gone through at least a few iterations as you might gather from comparing the jam game with recent screenshots. We have finalized the basic design and most of the in-game artwork and menus have been completed.
We are still trying a few things out gameplay-wise that might end up changing some of what’s present in the screenshots below. We’re aiming for TTG to be a fast paced and addictive experience where you’ll hopefully want go for just one more try!
Proximity Core preparations
Working on homebrew can at times be a pretty taxing experience! Our next game is something we’ve been working on/off since early summer last year. You might already have caught glimpses of Proximity Core on twitter, but none of that is really representative of the game in its current design.
For now I just want to tease the hopefully finalized main character design. This should prove to be our biggest project ever in scope and ambition, as long as we can keep confidence in our vision!
Dear God is it hard to keep a blog updated. Much harder than making videogames! How do people manage?!
Between the last post and now we’ve participated in a couple of different jams, all the while indulging in our other “bigger” projects. I’d like to say we have been busy but finding the time to dev while also committing a sizeable amount of time towards studies and work can at times be a difficult task! Nonetheless i would like to think that this has been a fruitful half year.
I guess getting a pretty unexpected 5th place in the first LD we participated in (LD29) made our 35th place this LD a kind of disappointment. The process and aftermath of making Dream Witch Erika certainly made us more aware of what constitutes a good, or atleast appropriate, scope for a jam game. Not to say that we think this is a bad game, but making our first metroidvania-styled game and doing so during a 72hour jam, made for more of a learning experience than a proper “product”.
We almost didn’t participate in this jam due to our immediate dislike of the theme. In the end we decided to throw a few ideas around, one of them being good enough that we ended up committing yet another weekend to the unholy practice of game jamming.
You don’t win if you don’t participate, and if you do participate you apparently do win! Placing 1st in Overall, Fun and Mood, 2nd place in humor and 3rd in innovation I guess you could say that this game was a much more calculated effort than any of our previous entries. We tried to apply what we had learned from our jam experiences during the year especially pertaining to scope and the games immediateness.
During the voting period people go through a lot of jam games, and as such won’t necessarily devote oodles of time towards each game - we know this from ourselves too. One of the faults of Dream Witch Erika was that the game simply took too long to unfold, being a bit barren and featureless until you ventured far enough into the world before the game got any fun. We definitely wanted this game to be small in scale but polished, and most importantly fun from the get go!
Lately the game has seen a pretty decent amount of exposure on gaming blogs, and seems to be especially popular among streamers and YouTubers. Seeing and reading about people having fun with our games really is one of the biggest pleasures of developing games. This flux of attention has been a big motivation booster. Hopefully more people will pay attention to our future endeavours now, as we have a few projections in the line that we feel really confident in!
Duck Marines version 1.0 is now out! We actually finished working on this almost two months ago but never quite got around to do a proper release.
Well here it is, Duck Marines version 1.0 in all of its glory. Not much to really touch upon eggcept to tell you to go check out our trailer grab the game!
Hurry up and go get it for free here!