April 20th-23rd 2012 :: 10 Year Anniversary! :: Theme: Tiny World

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Interstellar Planet-Ship Adventures: The Search for... $@#% Aliens!!!!!!

by mattchu - 48 Hour Compo Entry

A mix of strategy and arcade games. Fill your distance bar and reach your destination! Can you survive the great unknown terrors of space?

The source is included and it also comes with a How-To-Play guide.

Downloads and Links




Cell says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 5:22am


Beanalby says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 5:35am

Even reading the guide, I couldn't tell what was going on. Placed some buildings with number keys, nobody moved, nothing happened.

spacerumpus says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 6:39am

Hmm, looks like a cool idea but I'm seconding Beanalby.I couldn't read the guide online, and clicking the guide button in game sends me online? Not sure where to read how to play.

The game works to place buildings for the most part, but I pressed 7 and got an error.

Could be cool but it seems like it needs more work.

j_peeba says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 6:53am

Yeah, I'll have to concur with the remarks about accessibility of the game.

LukeRissacher says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 7:01am

Cool - love the idea, first strategy game I've seen on here. Unfortunately really finnicky UI/controls and a lot of code errors, so couldn't get more than halfway through it - would love to try again on a more polished build.

aaronsnoswell says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 7:12am

Can't play because there's no mac build - but wanted to let you know that the title made me laugh out loud :) Nice work!

mattchu says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 7:13am


Alright, here's the deal. The website should have mentioned that there's a file that came in the archive with the game. It should be something like howto.rtf .

I honestly was not sure what to put in that file. The game is a bit obtuse in accessibility, probably largely in part due to the lack of automation despite being a strategy game.

So here's why they didn't move when buildings were placed: they aren't programmed to. You have to manually click one, click to send it to its associated building (howto.rtf should mention that), and then click it again to deselect it. In the case of militia and scientists, they'll automatically move to the enemy unit that they deal with when they appear.

And one more note: if bases aren't designed to accomodate, especially for paths between any and all buildings that require the associated unit to be AT that building and the nearest house, then there's a chance that units will permanently get stuck on buildings. It's something I tried to fix without implementing a pathfinding algorithm, and I dropped the ball on that one. I'm pretty sure howto.rtf mentions that.

spacerumpus: I wasn't aware of that error. I'll do a fix.

If there's any chance you guys could take another look at it, possibly with that knowledge in mind, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'll try and get the 7 error fixed. The reason it's occurring is that a Captain's Wheel already exists, and only one can exist at a time, but I didn't think that the method for checking would cause an error.

And lastly, thanks. Even just knowing the accessibility is low helps a ton. Had I had more testers than just myself, I might have known sooner and been able to retool some of the flawed design points before the compo ended. :)

mattchu says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 7:15am

Luke, if you could let me know about some of the errors, I'd be glad to do some fixes, polish it up a bit, and do a post-compo release. It's definitely an idea I want to explore more with more time in hand. :D

DoktorAce says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 8:45am

Can't run cause I have mac :(

steamgirl says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:13am

It looks really interesting but I'm having a hard time getting it to work. The .exe was corrupted, so I ran the gmk file instead. (Yay for fellow Game Maker creators!)

I had an error with the captain's wheel (7), something about a variable not existing. (Mind you, the game starts with what looks like a captain's wheel in the middle, perhaps related?)

When I tried to select units it kept moving the previous unit towards the one I tried to select instead.

The annoying thing is that after reading the howto file you included, it sounds like a really fun game! I'll keep poking at it today, hopefully I'll figure out how to make it work. ^_^

steamgirl says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 11:51am

I figured out how to select different units! I have to deselect them first! ^_^

Ran into another error - something about mating. (My villager who was near the brothel walked into the captain? Not sure what caused it.) I'm pretty sure now that the steering wheel is created at the start of the game, which might explain the error for #7. Is that meant to happen?

mattchu says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 3:46pm

Ah sheesh. I thought I'd fixed that one. The icons above people's heads don't want to cooperate with me, heh. So yeah, certain units colliding on certain buildings are causing issues. May not even be that specific. >.>

The captain's wheel thing, it sounds like I misspelled something.

mattchu says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 4:12pm


Okay, for those interested, I fixed the Captain's Wheel bug (I had essentially misspelled something...and yes, you start with one. :) ) and the issue with the mating icon.

If anyone else reports any bugs, I'll fix them and reupload to that address. Though for voting, I'd appreciate it if you only voted based on what I created in the actual 48 hours. :)

mattchu says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 4:13pm

Oh, and since it looks like I'm not going to get the awesome visual guide I had wanted to make done anytime soon, the Howto button now automatically directs you to the RTF file that's included. For most people, it should open WordPad.

cadin says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 6:14pm

Your screenshot looks cool. Unfortunately I can't play since I'm on a Mac.

Zathalos says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 6:26pm

Good effort.

Polar says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 7:41pm

Can't run it because I have Mac (and Parallels is WAY too slow...), but I'll still give it a Graphics rating :)

Nocturne says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 8:18pm

Cool little strategy game, but a little fiddly in the controls. I did enjoy it though and it's got a fair bit of cotent considering the time it was made in!

ben says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:38pm

Sorry i really didn't want to work through the learning curve at the start but it definitely looks cool and i applaud your ambition.

Kvisle says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 11:03pm

I really like the graphics, but the rest is hard to comment on - I don't know what I'm doing.

uberneen says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 11:31pm

I have no idea what's going on here, but the music was interesting.

VDOgamez says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 12:06am

Every time my units try to go to sleep they get caught on a building. I can't really do anything with them after that, because they won't let me make them move.

mattchu says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 12:23am

VDOgamez, I tried over and over to fix that, but short of learning how to use either Game Maker's built-in pathfinding support or a pathfinding DLL, which I didn't know if I would have time to do and decided against, I was having a lot of issues fixing that.

And so, I put in the how-to to keep paths between where the citizens are put to work and the nearest house clear, so as to avoid that.

For those wondering, the issue is that the AI takes over when the unit needs to sleep. All it does is find the nearest house and move the unit in a straight line. Unless it -reaches- the nearest house, it'll just keep going, and you can't get control back. I -did- put in something that was supposed to help, by moving it horizontally if it collides with a house while en route, but it just didn't work.

Jungorend says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 12:30am

Had trouble selecting people, and reading the font. Other than that, cool game.

ericdpitts says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 12:43am

I have to echo what others have said, the game is pretty inaccessible. I opened up the howto file, and then just decided "meh, I can probably figure out how to play it just by playing it a bit." I was wrong. So, I went back, read the howto, and then I got it. It's a pretty interesting concept, and the style of the game is very nice. Pretty nice music too. I liked the effect of the cursor above the peoples' heads too. But, most people are not going to want to read a manual to play a game. If you can, try to convey the goals, player abilities, things like that within the game. The initial inaccessibility will definitely turn a lot of people off.

I found a couple of bugs as well.

- The 7 bug that others have stated (no 'wheel_exists' variable)

- If you try to train a youth in front of the brothel, some sound plays over and over making a very loud noise. Then the brothel goes transparent.

- If you die and start a new game with a character selected, the cursor that was over their head will linger throughout your next game. Probably just a matter of cleaning up all of the objects after a game over.

But overall, pretty nice job! One of the more interesting entries I've played.

mattchu says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 1:05am


On the inaccessibility, I don't think I've said anything yet, so here goes.

I think that the 1-7 thing probably wasn't the worst move. I probably should have done a build menu, where it gives you a few details on the building when you hover over it, with a "shadow" building in place of where you are about to place the building. I just didn't know how much time I had when I was designing it. Several other parts had already been frustrating (namely the pathfinding, which never got fixed) and I just didn't know if I could piece it together in time. This way, I figured, there was a working build system, regardless of how basic it was.

What I should have done, however, was set up an in-game tutorial or basic tool-tips. I can't imagine either would have been insanely difficult, both just being basic scripted events. The youth, especially, with maybe a context-sensitive tooltip that would say if he's in contact with building X, "Right-click the youth to train him to be a unit Y."

However, the experience in creating systems that were not self-explanatory enough to work has been a good one, and I definitely have learned something for the future. Without playtesters, you sometimes forget that others that haven't been building the system will have a lot more trouble, even perhaps with instructions.

Now, as for the bugs:

1. I fixed that in the follow-up build I have listed in the comments system somewhere.

2. That's odd. It isn't coded to do anything if he's in contact with a brothel when being trained, which means nothing should happen. I'll have to look into that.

3. Yeah, sounds like Game Maker doesn't clean up particle systems the way it cleans everything else up. I'll have to look into that, too.

Thanks, though. Interesting is what I was going for more than anything. :)

Harrk says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 1:23am

I read the manual and still had no idea what I was doing. Also when pressing '7' for the wheel, I kept getting an error message.

I really like the graphics and the idea but honestly I couldn't figure out much. I also noticed that I could place building on top of one another including the people, which meant getting stuck lol.

mattchu says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 1:29am


No idea how I missed that one, but I really should have put a check in to make sure they weren't colliding with anything before they were placed. >.>

the8donut says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 8:24am

It's a bit hard to figure out what's going on, but you've definitely put some effort into it. Retro-graphics are very good!

bms says ...
Apr 25, 2012 @ 7:11am

LOL I got the guy to the porn shop then a little guy appeared :D then I made him captain! xD Well.. at least I think that's what happened :D Anyway, really experimental gameplay! I like that, very innovative.. Also the art and the music suits the mood well. With more informative GUI this game could be a hit! good job!

Impossible says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 2:27am

We talked a little bit on the Tigsource about our games being confusing. Now that I've played it I don't think the interface is very confusing, but the way selection works is.
My suggestions are to make clicking on another unit select that unit, to allow right click to deselect. Also you should be able to place buildings by clicking on their icons and then clicking on the map. The freeform building is weird and feels buggy, there should be designated building spots. It should also be more clear when civilians activate a specific building. It seems like they are somewhat autonomous? Like you can send a youth to a specific building and they randomly decide whether or not they want to upgrade? Either that or the building collision is buggy and it's hard to position units, I couldn't really tell.

The biggest problem I had was I didn't really get any feedback about if I was playing right or wrong. After X amount of time it seems like you just die randomly. I expected to see alien sprites spawn on the map and murder my civilians. Instead I play for a little while, and the game randomly tells me I lose.

Overall its a cool idea, its just way too hard to do anything, and it feels like the game is buggy and it's not by design.

mattchu says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 2:52am

Well, the "freeform building" was a side-effect of not really knowing how to do it without stressing myself out in the time period I had. I'm not the most experienced developer, so I intentionally took a few shortcuts to ensure I could do it, rather than spending too much time in one place.

The clicking, I did it that way to keep from having people clicking and accidentally selecting other units and getting frustrated, but it was a bad idea overall. Especially since if a unit is standing on another and you click either, it'll switch who's selected.

The way you died was probably that your food went negative. A side-effect I didn't foresee (I've never made even parts of my own font for Game Maker) was that you can't see when your food goes negative because I only included numbers, not including the letters or symbols (both literally being part of a PNG that makes up the HUD). You'd have to watch for an extra space that appears between the ":" and the food number, and I get that that's confusing.

Overall, I get that it doesn't give quite enough feedback, but being the person that created it, I was a bit blind to it. A side-effect of not having playtesters. :/

mattchu says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 2:53am

Oh, I forgot to mention - thanks. :) I really do appreciate the detailed analysis of what you had problems with.

mattchu says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 2:56am

Also forgot to mention, aliens do show up. So do asteroids (meteors?). And the plague. But I set the game up so that it gives you...2-3 minutes to set up before the onslaught begins, and it starts small, with only a single alien at a time, and gets gradually more difficult at each major time interval.

mattchu says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 2:57am

(Argh, I really wish there was an edit button now because I keep wanting to add to it...)

It sounds like the best thing I could have done for play-ability was remove the need to watch your food, or at the very least, make the food much, much easier to manage.

Impossible says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 3:41am

Ahhh, so it's negative food. Maybe add a "you starved" screen?

mattchu says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 3:44am

Yeah, I had thought about it, and I think it slipped my mind. I'm definitely going to take all the feedback I've gotten, retool the game, re-release it and such, and I'll be sure to make very specific win/lose screens.

Oye Beto says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 5:42am

I read the guide and it sounded like a good concept but in practice it was difficult to play. I built but I couldn't make my people do something :P

mattchu says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 5:56am

Yeah, I realized that I missed in the guide the fact that if the building is usable, then you have to make sure that the associated unit is in contact with it for things to happen.

xBlinkedx says ...
Apr 27, 2012 @ 7:44am

I'm not actually sure what was happening in this game, the guild didn't load in my browser, and shortly after starting the game I got an error, I liked the music though.

Jezzamon says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 2:37am

D: I can't play this on my mac.

JaJ says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 5:31pm

I finally managed to get some youth to train when I got an error I couldn't ignore (something with the variable 'mating') I see the potential but I think it was a bit too ambitious for 48 hours.

mattchu says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 6:52pm

Odd that the training error happened over a brothel, considering youths can't train there. Though I think I may have fixed that one in the follow up.

Yeah, it's a bit ambitious, but overall, I like how it turned out for a 48 hour strategy game, and the fact that there is potential leaves me with a bit more motivation to touch it up later on.

robcozzens says ...
May 8, 2012 @ 4:47am

I would try it, but I am on an iMac.

Ben says ...
May 10, 2012 @ 8:40pm

Want to play... Mac.

demonpants says ...
May 10, 2012 @ 11:36pm

Looks interesting, but I can't run Windows. Can you make a Mac port?

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