Pixplorer post-mortem

Posted by
December 11th, 2014 1:56 pm

Hello, we are Nega Drive and we made a game for LD31 called…

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Go and click the image above to get to the game. DO IT NOW. Ok now come back.

I’m the art guy behind the game (Rich), I have a mate who does all the programming stuff (Matt). So I’m writing this more from a design/art perpsective than a technical one because it’s what I know.

I have had the idea for a tiny platformer taking up a single screen for a while actually, so when this theme came up, the choice of game to do was obvious  I really enjoy exploration-focused platformers, such as the Knytt games by Nifflas. Anyone who has played those will probably see a lot of influence in this game, particularly the checkpoint system and the tiny pixel art graphics. The idea for the zoom function came from our programmer Matt, and I think it helps the game especially in those tricky platforming sections.  Overall I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out, even though, as is normal for these very time-limited projects, not everything went entirely perfectly.

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Above: A screenshot. Of our game. I realised after writing the post I didn’t put one in, so here’s me editing in a totally pointless caption for it.

Now for the all-important ‘what went good/badly’ rundown.

 

What Went Right

We finished it. This was the most content-heavy project we’ve done for LD, it was certainly an ambitious idea, but somehow we managed to get it “done” fairly comfortably within the time limit. I not only had to animate player sprites but draw an entire map, so I had my work cut out for me, and I imagine there was a lot of tricky work to be done on the programming side of things too (I myself am but a mere simpleton and not privy to the intricacies of my programmer mate’s coding exploits, but I imagine it wasn’t entirely trivial) but we got it done. Yay!

The game world.  It certainly needs some tweaking on the gameplay side of things, but I spent like more than a day drawing that thing from scratch in Photoshop, and at least aesthetically I think it looks pretty neat. We decided to use one huge image instead of a more traditional tile-based map because we felt it would suit a single-screen game better.  Having thousands of tiny repeating tiles probably wouldn’t have looked too great.

The animations of Pixelfella.  I haven’t really had much experience animating, and the fact that I had to do a tiny pixel guy didn’t make things too much easier either.  Overall though I think the animations are pretty fluid and not especially awkward or anything. There’s probably room for improvement but it turned out pretty well I think.

The explorey feel.  We had the idea about half way through, of enshrouding the map in blackness until you move over the area to uncover it. It makes the whole experience much better. Not only does it add a feel of discovery to the game, but its actually a good indicator to the player of where they are in the map. Due to the very zoomed-out nature of the game, everything that can help the player get their barings when dealing with such tiny graphics is welcome.

 

What Went Unright

The jumping physics.  Yes we know they suck. They’re too floaty and there’s not enough air control. You spend more time hitting your head on ceilings than getting anywhere. This is just one of those things that we didn’t have enough time to tweak. Wrestling with Unity’s physics engine makes it quite a task to get the balance exactly right. We’re going to do a post-compo version with better handling, and possibly a double-jump option instead of single really high one.

That bloody bottom right area.  Loads of people seem to be tripping up on this, I think I may have made it a bit too tight to navigate. The aforementioned dodgy jumping doesn’t help in this regard either. Unfortunately the way we did the levels makes it more of a chore to tweak it, since instead of just editing a tilemap, we have to edit the image and then edit the collision maps seperately. This is just something we needed a bit more time to tweak really. Roll on post-compo version!

The shooting.  It’s a bit weird isn’t it? It sort of has a delay on it sometimes, and occassionally queues up several shots and does them all at once. I have no idea why. Something to do with how the animations work or something. We’ll fix it in, you guessed it, the post-compo version, hooray!

The music.  People have expressed that they liked the music in the game, and that’s pretty cool. However it was kind of an old track of mine that I threw in at the last minute, and to me it doesn’t really fit the atmosphere of the game at all. It’s a bit somber and I’d rather have more of an ‘adventurey’ feel to it. I will probably redo the music for the…  wait for it…  post-compo version!

 

Seems I rambled a lot. Well there we go, despite its flaws we hope you enjoy the game, and we value all the feedback you guys are giving. Hopefully we will actually do this fabled post-compo version and not let our terminal laziness take hold. Only time will tell!

PS. Click here to go to our game page if you ignored us earlier when we told you to click the image to go play it, you numbskulls. You know who you are.


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