December 14th-17th 2012 :: Theme: You are the Villain

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Namcap: Reverse Pacman

by caranha - 48 Hour Compo Entry

"It's a simple plan. We kill the pac-man."

The roles are reversed! In this game, you are the bad guy, controlling the ghosts in the game of Pacman. Which side is harder to play with?

Use the directional keys or ASDW to control the ghosts. Press 1-4 to change which ghost you control. Don't let Pacman eat all pellets!

Please let me know your high score when you comment!


* Many commenters complained about ghost selection (hard to know which ghost corresponds to which key). Post-compo version will feature a better ghost selection scheme inspired in the suggestions. Thank you!
* Pacman's AI is dumb. It will get stuck sometimes when it can't find a path to its desired coin. It completely ignores pellets. Still, it should give you a nice challenge.
* I had no time to implement increasing difficulty. So the game does NOT get more difficult as you kill Pacman.
* Someone reported a crash when pathfinding. I was not able to reproduce it.

* Software: Java with Slick2d, programmed with Eclipse
* Graphics: Inkscape and The GIMP
* Fonts: "Joystix" font from the "Game Font Database":
* Sounds: Bfxr
* Music: Autotracker (I wanted to use darwin tunes, but couldn't get my computer to listen to it)

Downloads and Links




Zaszx says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 12:08am

Could be better if pacman had a better AI, but it is still nice this way.

xgeovanni says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 12:50am

Straight implementation of the theme. I like it.

Manuel777 says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 5:29am

Would love to see more implementations like this on, good job!

Smaxx says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 10:58am

I really like the idea, also feels like the original. The only downside for me, I've had issues picking the right ghost in time (yes, it's on screen, but I'm usually too distracted keeping an eye on Pac-Man). I guess just requires some more practice.

Fonserbc says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 4:35pm

Really Nice. Clear objective, and quite confortable control.

SonnyBone says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 6:33pm

Wow, this game looks very smoooooooth. The art is very well done here, although I know it's not totally original. But still, the aesthetics are great. The AI of PacMan leaves a lot to be desired. He mostly just ran right into a ghost within seconds of starting. Make that AI a bit tougher and you've got yourself a winner!

lucky.luddite says ...
Dec 17, 2012 @ 11:55pm

I like the simple layout. Nicely polished.

caranha says ...
Dec 18, 2012 @ 2:21am

Thank you all for the comments!

Smaxx - yeah, some people commented on having difficulty switching ghosts. I tried a few alternatives, but nothing that really satisfied me. Someone else making a Pacman game on this LD put a huge arrow on top of the Ghost head, which was brilliant. I will try to add that to the fabled post-compo version :-)

Sonny: Thanks for the comment! Making it very similar to the original pacman was a conscious decision. The art is not original (although it was hand-made), but I think this makes the "you are the enemy you always fought against" impression stronger. What do you think?

ilo says ...
Dec 18, 2012 @ 3:22am

The AI needs a bit of work but the core idea is implemented well.

LoneStranger says ...
Dec 18, 2012 @ 7:30am

Great job. Blows my anti-Pacman out of the water.

KWL_TW says ...
Dec 18, 2012 @ 10:16am

pretty fun!

Dec 18, 2012 @ 3:40pm

I think this is probably one of your best LD entries so far. You kept the scope a lot tighter in this entry than in past ones where the scope of the world stood in the way of your progress.

Sure, the AI here is a little wierd, but it's still pretty good.

My only suggestion from a mechanics perspective is that in the arcade game each ghost had a different behavior profile and speed. I kept expecting to be able to move faster as blinky, or for Pinky to do his whole "cut him off at the corner" behavior.

caranha says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 3:41am

Hey .Frog(Soda), thanks for the comment!

Having different behaviors for the ghosts was in the original plan (that is why I added the names and stuff). But that was quickly dropped when I started cutting off features :-) Maybe in the mythical Post-compo version!

caranha says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 3:42am

Also, yeah, I was super worried about the tiny scope of the game when I started it out, but it turned out to be my best decision. I'll surely talk more about it when I write the postmortem/timelapse.

SonnyBone says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 5:18am

Yeah you can tell that you made the art from scratch, but it's still obviously the Pac Man we all know. Your art, however, is very smooth and appealing, unlike the much older and obviously outdated 'real' Pac Man.

Faust says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 6:16am

Interesting reverse pacman, would be better with smarter AI and control.

Jiggawatt says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 8:11am

Deconstructions are well in line with the theme. It's a bit difficult to effectively micromanage, particularly after Pacman's had a power-pill and you can't tell who is who.

ArkadyDracul says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 10:17am

Good entry! I like it!

marudziik says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 11:54am

Wow, what a perfect idea! It definitely feels like Pac-Man, so congrats for achieving the right mood! I think that Pac-Man's AI is pretty good - if it was any better, the ghosts would have to move much faster (and then it could be really hard to manage them).
Regarding switching: you could also put somewhat transparent numbers over the ghosts' heads (or that could be switched on/off). It would really help to distinguish them.
Anyway, I loved the entry. Congrats!

boxerbomb says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:01pm

Great entry yet there were 3 reverse pacmans (mine was one) this was much better than mine. Next year you should come up with a more original idea.

caranha says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 1:34pm

Marudziik: "you could also put somewhat transparent numbers over the ghosts' heads (or that could be switched on/off)."

Wow, what a fantastic idea! Thanks!

Boxerbomb: Well, I'd say that 3 out of 1000 people is acceptable, in terms of originality :-)

mutuware says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 1:54pm

Nicely done! I was wondering how you would handle the player controlling four ghosts, but the numbered switching feels natural.

Madball says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 1:56pm

You should make ghosts distinguishable while a powerup is active. And make another way to select ghosts, like you click the screen and it selects the closest one. The current way is too confusing.
Great idea. A decent game, but needs more polishing.

JaJ says ...
Dec 19, 2012 @ 1:58pm

Great job! It's hard but I did manage to defeat pacman once! (As in, killed him 4 times)

Pierrec says ...
Dec 21, 2012 @ 2:06pm

This is a simple and yet pretty cool idea! With the great realisation! I would say the only problem is that the ghosts don't really seem to need me to get Pacman :/ It get harder with the levels, but still

Birchmountain says ...
Dec 21, 2012 @ 3:43pm

A little hard to control the ghosts, but still very enjoyable. You almost managed to catch the retro feeling but the score numbers and the selection ruins it. Still a really good and well executed idea!

caranha says ...
Dec 21, 2012 @ 3:57pm

Thanks, by selection you mean the selection image on the bottom of the screen? I'm thinking about removing it once I implement Marudziik's idea.

GreenPixelDev says ...
Dec 21, 2012 @ 5:03pm

Very clever! :D I remember saying to myself as a kid playing Pacman, "I wonder what it'd be like to be the ghosts?" Thanks for answering that for me!

Dec 22, 2012 @ 2:59pm

Fantastic idea, completely on-theme. These are the first bad guys in gaming history, and it's so nice to play as them! Beautiful presentation, fun gameplay, lovely! I'm not as good yet, that pacman's AI strikes me as stupid.

Would like to see a button (space?) that overrides 1-4 and selects nearest ghost, like in old soccer games. Might be fun. All in all, excellent entry!

Eniko says ...
Dec 22, 2012 @ 3:34pm

I really like the idea but I am so, so terrible at this game. Like some other commenters, I have issues linking numbers to the ghosts on screen. Maybe it would work better if you could click a ghost/near a ghost to select them as well.

caranha says ...
Dec 22, 2012 @ 3:49pm

Christina, selecting the closest ghost is an awesome idea. Thank you! I will try to put it into the post-compo version too!

Dec 23, 2012 @ 3:25am

Nice. I wonder if it would have had the same impact if you'd chosen different characters. Also highlights just how sophisticated the real Pac Man AI is.

Puzzlem00n says ...
Dec 23, 2012 @ 3:45am

Funny idea here! Let's break down my comments:

-Slightly weird A.I. sometimes. Aside from walking right in to ghosts, one time he just stopped altogether and sat there.
-Ghost selecting is hard... Especially when they're all blue.

+It's still a great concept.
+I love how the scoring system works... Really adds some strategy to it.

savethejets1 says ...
Dec 23, 2012 @ 5:10am

I quite liked the opening part. Overall pretty good, it was a little hard to tell which ghost was which when pacman ate the pill though. Really good job!

BlockBrains says ...
Dec 23, 2012 @ 4:38pm

Great. :-D

Clodial says ...
Dec 23, 2012 @ 7:24pm

I like the game for its use of the theme, I just found the game to be slightly slow. Just slightly. Great Work! XD

Mista Koo says ...
Dec 25, 2012 @ 2:43pm

Good, but would've been better if I could control two ghosts - or more - at the same time.

lotusgame says ...
Dec 25, 2012 @ 5:50pm

Kill Pacman, what an excellent idea ! Good work and good polish. Bravo !

Dec 26, 2012 @ 4:24am

I found myself really wishing the ghosts would just stay where I placed them, but I guess that would be a bit unfair... It seems like the scoring system doesn't work. My score was always 0, even after I killed Pacman 3 or so times. Great job though! I enjoyed it!

caranha says ...
Dec 26, 2012 @ 4:55am

Pacifist Games:
The score is only increased when you beat the level (kill all 4 pacman lives). This is because the score for each level is (2xMaximum pacman score - actual pacman score).

In other words, you only get to increase your score after you get a "you win" message for the level.

AdricZero says ...
Dec 27, 2012 @ 3:29pm

Great execution on your idea.

infernet89 says ...
Dec 27, 2012 @ 3:31pm

Pretty awesome execution! I had a similar idea, but i was stucked by the IA of the pacman and the control system of the ghosts.. And you solved those problem very well! I see a winner here..

Rabbits... says ...
Dec 28, 2012 @ 5:31pm

fun game,the first round I got owned, but on the second game I got 9720 points!

LogGiant says ...
Dec 28, 2012 @ 6:37pm

Great game! The AI was a little funny at times, but it was never game-breaking. I was really glad when I saw the other ghosts moving as well, I was afraid I would have to micro all four at once (which would have been awful). Nice work.

Tobias Wehrum says ...
Dec 29, 2012 @ 3:42am

Interesting idea. I like the gameplay - it's surprising challenging. (Although sometimes it's very hard to catch him, and at other times he just runs right into you.)

I'm not sure if I agree with the choice of controls. It's hard to memorize the color-number-associations, and I'd like to control more than one ghost at the same time. Maybe you could try mouse-control, where you drag & drop to set directions or targets for individual ghosts?

I love the graphics. They are so neat, almost cute!

The audio works well. The missing music is barely noticable.

All in all quite a good entry. Good job!

Cake&Code says ...
Dec 29, 2012 @ 10:27am

I thought the Pacman AI was fairly good (mainly because it beat me so often!) and the ghost AI when not being controlled was competent enough. It definitely felt a lot like the original game, with the obvious twist.

Controls were smooth as butter, very well implemented. Switching between ghosts was easy enough once you got the colors mapped to numbers in your head. Though I kind of wish there was some kind of lead-up or story it is what it is.

Very well done! :)

Cyboot says ...
Dec 29, 2012 @ 11:09pm

Very nice reverse Pacman.
Good Job!

Jan 4, 2013 @ 1:38am

Nice job! Looking forward to seeing how you make out with the post-compo version.

BipoleMoment says ...
Jan 5, 2013 @ 1:19pm

Oh my gosh
That opening music <3

Jan 6, 2013 @ 9:07pm

As pretty much everyone stated, Pacman's AI isn't great and the difficulty remains the same, which makes the game really easy. Other than that, it's a great idea and pretty well made.

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