Tiny Island Adventure – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @@AdventIslands)
April 23rd, 2012 5:23 am

This is the first time I’ve participated in Ludum Dare, I’ve previously just watched from side because I didn’t yet know how to make games. This time I had free time and I had the experience so I decided to give it a try.
Here is the page of my game Tiny Island Adventure: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-23/?action=rate&uid=11391

I think I spend the first 6 or so hours stressing out about the theme, Tiny World. What kind of game I could make from that? Such an difficult theme for one’s first Ludum game. After sleeping a bit to refresh my mind, I got an idea about small world made of floating little islands. I decided to make a platformer game. At first I though it was too ambitious and almost scrapped the idea, but I didn’t have any better ideas so I decided to go with it and I started to design the heroine Lydia’s first sprites in Photoshop. After those were done I started to draw the tileset. I drew almost all of the graphics in one sitting.

The beginning of a little big adventure!

The beginning of a little big adventure!


I wanted the graphics to be something simple, retro and cartoony. I like how the end result looks, it reminds me a bit of Earthbound and Terraria. While drawing the graphics I slowly formed the story in my mind. You play as young girl mechanic Lydia, who is stuck on a floating island. One day more floating islands appear near hers and Lydia starts to explore them so she could find a way to escape the islands. I also made a pile of sound effects with Bfxr and tried to compose something simple as music with PXTone. I’m no musician though and the program was unfamiliar to me, so I only managed to create some simple background beats. Better than nothing I guess.

The first cave you explore

The first cave you explore

I started to make the game with new 2.0 version of Stencyl that had just been released. It’s a great game developing program for graphics artist like myself who do not know how to code. Stencyl uses it’s own simple, block based behavior building for actors and scenes (like “If this actor collides with other actor, what happens”) I used couple of behaviors that are there already when you start a new project, but I made most of the behaviors by myself from scratch.

At first I wanted the whole islands map to be available from the start. You were supposed to be able to travel freely around and enter dungeons in any order you wanted, and scrap metal was just lying around and you were free to collect it. Kind of like coins in Mario games. And after you collected enough you could finish the game by building a rocket ship. Alas, I had not made item collecting in Stencyl before, and I figured I had no time to find out how it is done, so I designed to change the idea so that you were only required to enter and reach the end of the dungeons to collect metal in a cutscene. After you backtrack and return to the surface, a new island has appeared with a new dungeon on it.

Traveling through dungeons to find scrap metal

Traveling through dungeons to find scrap metal

In the finished game, you enter a dungeon and travel through it and in the end you find some metal, and then you have to backtrack the dungeon back to surface. To keep things interesting, I designed the dungeons so that you had to take a different path when you go through it backwards. I didn’t add checkpoints because I though the game was already pretty short and simple and it didn’t need them.

When you exit the dungeon, a new floating island has appeared and you are free to jump around and enter the dungeon on the new island. I had no set plans what the dungeons would look like, I have this habit of first drawing crapload of graphics and then just building stages from what is available. The lighthouse was supposed to be just a pretty background object, but in the end I thought it would make an interesting dungeon.

Time of the day moves on every time you clear dungeons

Time of the day moves on every time you clear a dungeon

I finished the game with something like 6 or so hours of time left. I spend last hours of making the ending and credits, and playing through the game couple of times to make sure there are not game breaking bugs. I am aware of couple of little glitches but they are not game breaking, just slight annoyances. Like how sometimes you get hung up when transitioning from one surface type to another that should be level, but instead requires you to jump.

In the end the game has three different dungeons, one big map with flying islands and and cute little storyline. I am very pleased with the finished game and maybe we will see more of Lydia’s adventures in the future. Only things I would like to change would be adjusting the jumping physics a little, it has a bit too much gravity, and fix the typo from the intro, it’s “flew” not “flied”.

Little easter egg in the credits: you can fly around with arrow keys. Actually, if I had though about it earlier I would have added Free Flying mode to the main menu after you clear the game once. in Free Flying, the final, full island map would have been available to jump and run around freely, and you could jump on the rocket ship and fly around as much as you want.

I already wrote this post mortem once, but lost it when my browser suddenly crashed before I could post it. Hopefully I didn’t forget anything important. Feel free to ask me if you come up with any questions.

Every old, abandoned building is bound to have at least couple of poltergeists to throw barrels around.

Every old, abandoned building is bound to have at least couple of poltergeists to throw barrels around.

One Response to “Tiny Island Adventure – Post Mortem”

  1. Interesting read. Really impressive to see what people can do even though they have 0 programming experience. The funny thing is, for me it’s exactly the other way around. Programming is totally my forte and I suck at graphics 😛

    I really liked the waterfall graphic btw ^^

    I hope you make more of those awesome looking games in the future! :)

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