Currently working on a graphical retouch of Quaintbrush.
Right now, I have a really rough 2.5D system set up.
Neat! Quaintbrush was featured today as a jayisgames.com Weekend Download.
Check it out:
Wow. This weekend was a really exhausting one. This was my first Ludum Dare competition, and I’m really glad with how it turned out. The game I designed was Quaintbrush, a puzzle-platformer where you can change the world around you using different brush colors.
I programmed everything in Game Maker 8.1. I bought GM 8.1 Pro just hours before the competition hoping to take advantage of its new features – it turned out that it was really buggy. I lost around an hour and a half of work because my game file was randomly corrupted.
I started the competition right off using Paint and drawing a stick figure animation. I’m no spriter, to be honest. To achieve the stick figure’s running, I used Super Metroid’s Samus sprite as a reference for the arm and leg positions. Even though both characters look totally different, I think the end result for my animation ended up looking decent. This was the only sprite that I actually drew pixel-for-pixel, aside from the paintbrush cursor.
For the rest of the graphics, I used Photoshop. I had a broken tablet that had been sitting on my desk for a few months – the HP tx2500z. These tablets are awesome to use, for like, a year and a half – then like half of them are wrecked beyond repair due to a crappy manufacturing job that melts the GPU. I decided to give the thing a shot, and to my surprise, the tablet actually turned on.
I was first hesitant with using it to draw backgrounds because if it crashed in the middle of the process, everything would be over. I had to sketch all twenty background in one go and race against the clock – not only in terms of the competition, but also in terms of my crappy tablet. It was really intense. In the end, I think it really paid off. The little doodles on the walls were one of the highlights of the game, according to most feedback I got.
The doodles served two purposes: first, they were a really neat way to guide the user. A lot of things were tough to explain without actually pointing out a location on the screen – so this sort of solved that nicely. The doodles also added some more character into the game and provided some humor. I think without it, the game wouldn’t have felt as complete.
In terms of level design, I designed the first ten levels with a pencil and paper in around an hour, and the last ten in around an hour and a half. I really had a lot of fun working and exploring the new concepts I developed. There was a lot of room for extra mechanics – I’m definitely sure I could’ve expanded the levels to around 40 or so if I had the extra time. The two biggest mechanics that didn’t make the cut were an erase feature and the gray brush.
The erase feature was pretty clever. It revolves around the idea that you drew something with your paint, and got one step towards completing the level. However, now that same paint you drew is actually hindering your progress. If you take a look at level 11, that was one of the first levels that was supposed to use the erase feature. The switch on the left wouldn’t appear until after you crossed the bridge with the yellow paint. Once you hit the switch on the right, a switch would fall from the sky and fall into the yellow paint. Because its timer would then be sped up, you’d need to erase the yellow off of it.
The second feature that got cut was the gray brush. This is a really, really, neat brush in my opinion, but I didn’t have enough time to expand on it. The gray brush acts as a sort of ‘Stealth Fog’: once you draw on it, nothing in its area makes a single sound. Furthermore, enemies are oblivious to your position if you hide in the fog. If you cover an enemy in the fog, they become disoriented. This would also make for some really neat sound-based puzzles. For example, a certain door could only be opened if it hears a sound – but you have to use the gray brush to cover the object to get somewhere in the first place. You would then need to erase that fog, and then activate the sound to open the door.
Although I’m generally pleased with how the game turned out, I have two disappointments. Firstly, I didn’t have enough time to compose any music. I’ve never composed before at all, so when the clock was ticking and there was only an hour or two left, I made the decision to leave out music because it wouldn’t be worth it trying to learn how to compose / experiment in those crucial last hours. Secondly, the boss was really rushed. Really. I made him spontaneously in around twenty minutes. I’m a little proud of myself for that, but I’m still not too happy with it because there’s so much I *could’ve* done with the boss. One idea I had was a four part boss battle, each one using a separate brush color. The last part used the purple brush, and that was when you would finally defeat the boss.
One of the magical experiences that I felt the game had been discovering some hidden uses of brush colors. A lot of them aren’t really explicitly stated at all. The red brush actually helps heal you faster – again, it “prolongs” things, so it would make sense for it to prolong your life. The red brush also makes turrets shoot and aim slower, and it also decreases their accuracy. The yellow brush’s effects on painted objects are the exact opposite of the red brush. Furthermore, the yellow brush sets drones off course – -this was something the gray brush was originally supposed to do, as a matter of fact. The blue brush I think had the least ‘hidden effects’ – however each of them were really awesome. On level 19, try using a blue brush instead of a purple brush on the spawning drones. It’s amazing to see them all falling up one by one.
Overall, I think this experience really changed the way I make games. I’ve learned so much this past weekend, and regardless of the competition results, this game really was my “prize”. I almost can’t believe that I made something like this. I want to thank Ludum Dare for making this happen.
I also wish each of you good luck!
The game is now very close to completion. There’s 20 levels in total, and nineteen in this demo. The boss is not included.
Checklist - Retouch all 20 levels' backgrounds - Make a boss - Menu stuff, and pause screen stuff: end game / skip level - Saving progress - More sound effects, background music
Here’s a quick demo of my progress so far:
The game is playable up to level six. Keep in mind there’s absolutely zero instructions / user friendliness. I’ll provide that here:
WASD – Move
Left click – draw with your brush. drawing on you / objects changes specific attributes.
Grab floating pointed stars to change your ink color.
Overload gel – red: this gel PROLONGS events.
> increases health regeneration rate
> allows double jump, only once
> makes turrets slower, bullets slower, and increases reload time
> makes switches’ time increased
Speed slime – yellow: this slime lessens friction / SHORTENS events.
> makes you slippery / faster
> makes turrets faster, bullets faster, and decreases reload time
Stuff done since the last update:
– prevent the player from leaving the sides of the screen
– Doors to get to the next level
– fix brush drawing to be less laggy
– Ink limits / ink bar on top
– switching ink
– WASD support
– Laser tripwires, buttons
Stuff left to do:
– Add enemies: turrets, especially
– health system
– crumbling blocks, blocks that appear/disappear with switches
– make current levels fully functional
– Pop in stealth fog and vaporizer fog
– Erase ink, create surfaces that you cant draw on
– ten more functional levels
– End game boss
– Menu stuff, end game / skip level, pause screen
– Saving progress, dialog / instructions
– sound effects, background music,
Hey everyone! I’m Jesse, and this is my first time trying out Ludum Dare.
I’m pretty familiar with Game Maker, so I’ll be using that to develop my project. For graphics, I’m going to go with Paint, and for sound effects I’m using as3sfxr. I’ve never composed anything in my life before, but I just downloaded the FL Studio demo and I’ll try to give some background music composition a shot.
If I decide to make my game a platformer, I might use a neat collision script from FoxEngine.
It’s going to be an interesting 48 hours.