Ludum Dare 29 — April 25th-28th Weekend — Theme: Beneath the Surface

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Series Of Choices

by joe40001 - Jam Entry

The major inspiration for this game was SpeedRunning. Often watching SpeedRunners I think about the choices that go into getting such impressive runs. The original idea was to have a game that showed all the inputs/timeline for a SpeedRun of a level, thus letting you see "Beneath the Surface" of a SpeedRun and seeing all the decisions involved in each moment.

"series of choices" starts as a standard platformer but turns into a puzzle game when you attempt to optimize your speed in a level. This challenge is something you really feel in Hardcore mode. [CAUTION: The game is quite difficult even on standard mode, and on hardcore mode most levels can only be completed with 2 seconds or less to spare]

Controls:
[Arrows/WASD]:[Move]
[Space]:[Jump]
(Press 'Enter' when it says "Press Start")
('R' to resume from timeline)

[VERY IMPORTANT NOTE]
You can skip the rewind controls introduction by pressing 'Enter' at any time after you die.

Notes: Originally this game was going to be less "Braid-like" and track/display inputs and feature many more levels/mechanics. If the game is well received I want to continue working on it, but as it is I'm happy with what I achieved in 72 hours.

Programming: Me (no outside libraries) Made in Unity
Art Assets (CC BY 3.0):
"Lars Doucet & Sean Choate","Carl Olsson"
Music Assets:
"Eric Skiff: Resistor Anthems" (CC BY 3.0)
"Vasculoid - I Want you to Know" (CC BY-SA 2.5)
Creative Commons 0 Additional Assets:
Branch Sound Effect/Cloud Image

Special thanks to: The internet folk who share their art/music so that Programmers like me have Assets to develop from.

Downloads and Links


Ratings

Coolness100%
#304Audio(Jam)3.20
#313Fun(Jam)3.09
#352Innovation(Jam)3.05
#358Overall(Jam)3.23
#410Graphics(Jam)3.28
#451Humor(Jam)2.37
#471Mood(Jam)2.88
#733Theme(Jam)1.90

Comments

Solifuge says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 5:33am

Hi, this is Vector from the Victory Garden team! (posting under Solifuge's account)

I really love the graphics on this! They're crisp and clean with beautiful animations, and that fade-in gives an awesome feel. The character design is also the best I've seen so far this jam, so great job! Unfortunately, crossing Mario with Braid when Braid was already based on Mario to begin with doesn't make much sense. I also had a lot of trouble with jumping over some platforms due to placement, and I initially thought that "series of choices" meant I was supposed to run left instead of right, or something like that (instead of a rewind mechanic). Still, good job on the mood and audio. If you brush up on your mechanical design a bit, I think you could make some really adorable old-school platformers >w<

Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:31am

I really like the core mechanic, though I'm not too sure how this game relates to the theme.

Also level 5 was my personal hell.

psychonull says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 1:33am

Really cool, I liked the Mario-Braid merge. Music is fine but the sound on the screen for rewaind is freaggin awesome.
Pretty hard on jumps and felt it frustrating about the jump wide .. didn't really got it. great job!

MunkeeBacon says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 1:36am

Pretty fun! Nice job.

cr2crstudios says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 1:36am

Awesome concept! I think you could make the transition to the playback mode faster, though.

GamerTaters says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 2:13am

Really cool game. Not sure how the theme fits in though. Love the art style and audio. Being able to pick back up where you left off is a cool feature. It would have been nice to be able to skip past the rewind controls explanation each time I died (I died a lot...)

joe40001 says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 3:12am

Important note for everybody: You can skip the rewind controls introduction, just press enter at any point after you die. You don't have to wait for it to tell you.

Also thanks so much for the positive feedback. :)

PoQA Games says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 5:07am

Fun game, love the style. It doesn't really fit the theme though.

copain says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 7:17am

Theme-off and sound become awful if you have to rewind a lot, but very cool game.

angelk says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 7:33am

I'm impressed you got the rewind implemented so well in the time limit. The graphics and audio are nice for what they are. It seems very disconnected from theme.

Nezzhil says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 9:15am

The core is good.

Apr 30, 2014 @ 9:29am

At first I though this was just another generic platformer. Then I died...
I really like the Braidy rewinding mechanic. I do wish the interface switching was a lot faster. Also, a 5 second countdown is a bit lot. When you're experimenting to get past a hard part, you die a lot. And frankly, I did not finish the game just because it felt like a lot of the time I was just waiting to be able to try something else...
It really is a fun game though :)

joe40001 says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 10:59am

@zedutchgandalf Just a reminder: You can skip the rewind tutorial at any time by pressing enter, you don't have to wait for the "press enter" text to appear.

I could do a post jam options menu so that you can set the 5 second timer to be lower, but I wouldn't want to break any rules with an edit like that. I'm still happy to hear everybody is enjoying it.

I'll agree with the comments that for this game, the theme is taken very non-literally, it's essentially "Beneath the surface of a gameplay experience are our gameplay choices". And then the timeline mechanic shows those choices.

omaha says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 9:40pm

Very nice work. This was fun.

Unfortunately for me I got stuck immediately after dying. No amount of key mashing would let me exit the "move around in time" mode.

joe40001 says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 10:01pm

@omaha Did you press 'R'?

OddballDave says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 8:29am

Good solid entry. Looks and sounds great. The platforming physics need to be refined a bit. The jump feels very floaty and there's a weird effect where you can jump higher if you aren't moving when you start to jump.

Vandash says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 3:32pm

Love the graphics and the idea! I'd remove the "die" screen entirely and just let you rewind immediately after you die, so the experience is more seamless. Great effort!

J.Barrows says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 5:00pm

I think you could condense the controls for "R" and Enter to the Spacebar as well. It's a minor nitpick, but it would be a bit more fluid if I didn't have to hit buttons all over the keyboard.
Also, 5 seconds of preparation may be a bit too generous. I stopped playing because I was spending more time watching that countdown than anything else.

danialhyatt says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 7:52pm

Good presentation! Could've used some sounds, the rewind bit is nice but I couldn't figure out which elements fit the theme.

joe40001 says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 11:35pm

@danialhyatt: The game should have sounds/music, unless you are saying additional sounds/music.

CDK says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 2:25pm

Really hard to figure out the controls. were stuck in the game several times and when i started the recording thing i had no idea how to quit it.. might just be me who's a noob but i really didn't know what i could possibly do.. :/ but nice art - nice game - a shame that i suck at speedrunner like games ;)

ZQMony says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 4:41am

Nice job on a solid game with a creative mechanic.

bob_fish says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 4:42am

Very nice platformer with cool resume feature when you dies. Not really sure how it fits with the theme but still a very nice game!

shasharala says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 7:16am

That was awesome! I just spent the better part of half an hour or more getting through all the levels. I really liked the 'H' levels. Figuring out what corners to cut was a fun experience.

joe40001 says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 9:24am

@shasharala That is great to hear! I was worried nobody would play the H levels, and honestly the H levels are where the mechanic really comes into play. But I thought if players started out on the H levels everybody would just quit because it was too hard.

I have a bunch of ideas that would twist the mechanic even further in creative ways. I hope there is enough interest to justify me continuing to develop this game into a proper game.

It would be my dream to take a game like this, add like 9 other inventive timeline mechanics just like this one, make like 100 levels, polish off all the rough edges so it looks and plays super smoothly, and release it on steam for a couple bucks. But I don't know if that's a justifiable dream.

Anyway thank you very much shasharala, your kind words mean a lot.

May 6, 2014 @ 4:31am

Nice job!

May 7, 2014 @ 12:19am

I played your game, and I thought it was really good :3
I didn't beat all the hardcore levels, but I came close.

The graphics are good, even if there's nothing really special about them. The sounds are fine, as is the music. I especially like the audio at the rewind screen :D

A few things of mention:

1. I didn't really like the jumping mechanic that much. In my opinion, it forced the direction too much. What I mean is, when you press a directional arrow key and up at the same time and then let go, you'll still move much to the side. This is difficult when it comes to precision, which is probably the main reason I didn't feel like beating all the hardcore scenes XD

2. When you die, it would be nice if you could just double tap 'enter', instead of reaching for the 'R' :p

3. I feel like five seconds is a pretty long time to wait after each death. I'd say that 3 is enough for everyone to get ready :)

Otherwise, this was an awesome game. I can see how SpeedRunners has inspired this.

This isn't the first game to use a similar mechanic (rewinding), but it was a well made one!

The simple elements of the enemies and hazards worked well. Some times, you had to be pretty precise with your movements, but I managed.

Well done, and good luck! :'D

terraco says ...
May 7, 2014 @ 1:59am

Tip, I hated that I was running on the leading edge of the screen with all the wasted space behind me. Would be great if I could see what was up ahead instead of only 1 metre in front.

joe40001 says ...
May 7, 2014 @ 4:04am

@Shadow Dreamer: Thanks for the feedback, I added an options menu that you can access at the start of each level that resolves the issues 2 and 3. Issue 1 is just a feature of it being tricky to code a perfect jump mechanic, but I agree it could be improved. But with that said thank you very very much for your feedback.

@terraco, yeah that's my bad, I was just trying to match mario's lead space, I guess mario might have given more lead space. It's a shame, because something like that is literally 1 number in the code that I could change. Not sure if making that change would violate LD rules.

Also to everybody giving feedback, I'd love to hear if you'd be interested in playing a much more fleshed out version of this game? With like 8-10 timeline mechanics, redone art/music. And all the mechanics polished and smooth? It wouldn't just be "Braid-lite" because while this game plays mostly as a rewind based game, my actual driving vision was to have a timeline for the whole level and various things like divergent and convergent timelines and some other time mechanics. So if you really like this game let me know if you think it's the kind of thing you'd be interested in seeing a really polished much bigger version of on steam for a couple bucks.

And once again thanks for all the feedback, I really appreciate it.

May 7, 2014 @ 10:49am

Well, I'd certainly be interested is such a version, if it's well done :p
If this smaller LD project can be so entertaining, a more ambitious game with some more time put into it, as well as more gaming elements should be a lot of fun. So I'd say yeah for sure XD

mollymus says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 8:35am

I wish more platformers had this mechanic! So much nicer than starting over! Good job!:D

May 8, 2014 @ 8:46am

Hi Joe, just wanted to thank you for playing 'save us' and actually completing it, i've left you a longer comment on my page. Thanks again! Philip

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-29/?action=preview&uid=37109

May 8, 2014 @ 9:10am

Well made, solid game. Pretty much ready for release. I would remove the count down when resuming play though, I had to replay some bits 10 times and waiting 5 seconds each time felt like a long time. I was expecting my choices to have an affect on my environment, rather than being able to go back in time. so by deciding to take one route, or not kill a bad guy but avoid him, would change the level later on. great sound, especially the death/white screen time freeze. and great pixel art too.

joe40001 says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 9:39am

@Philip_sinclair
Thanks very much, yeah I'm really hoping to take this game idea further, and I'm glad you liked it, I'm sorry about the countdown timer, like I said to other people I added options menu post compo that fixes this issue (it's on the title screen before each level) but it was post jam so I understand if people don't use it.

The whole premise/theme would've made more sense if I had gotten to my next major goal which would be divergent/convergent timelines, so it wouldn't be "rewind" so much as "Diverge from here". These are mechanics that will definitely be in a fuller version of this game if I do make one. Feedback so far has been good. And I once again want to thank you and everybody else for your feedback and suggestions.

The LD community is a good one. Very kind, polite, and constructive. It makes these jams all the more fun. :)

joe40001 says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 9:51am

@mollymus Thanks :D

01101101 says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 10:23am

Good job on programming this core gameplay in little time. That said, I feel like the game would need a lot of work and tweaking to differentiate itself from Braid and other similar games that already exist.

bitserum says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 10:56am

This was really cool

bitserum says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 11:09am

And I just clicked submit too soon. The Audio is outstanding, it kept me playing as much as the puzzles did.
I found it really hard sometimes, which I didn't mind except for the countdown timer (I haven't noticed options until later).
The player's movement felt hard to control.
I LOVED the rewind "world", it created most of the atmosphere and was really well executed.

I'd like to see a larger more polished game expanded from this, especially as you describe with divergent/convergent timelines - I can see some really interesting puzzle gameplay there.

(I've been thinking of something slightly similar to divergent timelines for possible continuation of Soulitude, though mostly story driven.).

mark.goetz says ...
May 10, 2014 @ 5:09pm

I'm really impressed you put this together! The Braid comparison works out pretty well, and it's a really creative interpretation of the theme. I did feel like the light-hearted music and graphics didn't exactly fit with your theme of exploring different options, though. Some of the early platforming challenges also seemed a bit too pixel-perfect - even the first level after you get over the first pyramid. It sounds like you have bigger and better plans for this after the jam, and I'm looking forward to what you come up with!

Rodaja says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 12:00pm

This is taking me to a Kongregate error page

Bruno Massa says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 6:04pm

nice game joe. it is totally off theme, but fun.

rojo says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 7:37pm

Nice job! The mechanics felt good. The graphics and audio were great.

Sestren says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 9:03pm

A very hard but ultimately enjoyable game. Waiting 5 seconds after every death got to be a little tedious, though. Watching a 5-second replay of what I was doing before getting back in would help a lot more than seeing a static image, as it would give me a better feel for my jumps. Also, the rewind bar could stand to give me a little more fine-tuned control at parts. Overall, I think there's a lot of potential in this idea, and I'd love to see you do more with it. One last thing, I would have loved to be able to watch a real-time replay of the last level after I beat it. Some of those jumps would have been really neat to see "live."

petey123567 says ...
May 12, 2014 @ 5:05am

Jump height was kinda wonky - were you simulating character control with a dynamic body, maybe?

joe40001 says ...
May 12, 2014 @ 7:33am

@Sestren I did add an options page at the page that introduces each level number that addresses the rewind bar tuning and 5 second issues, and yes I had a few things like "watch it live" on my queue of things to do next for the game. Simply ran out of time for the 72 hours. But you make good points that I would definitely want to implement in a fuller version of the game.

@petey123567: Jump height is hardcoded by me, it is designed that your height is controlled by how long you hold spacebar (like in mario), the issue I think most people run into is that the collider dampens the jump height if you rub against a wall as you are jumping up. This is something I'd like to fix but simply didn't have time to do. You should always reach your max height if you aren't rubbing the wall as you jump (and hold space the whole time).

That said thank you for playing and your constructive feedback. :)

udo says ...
May 12, 2014 @ 1:36pm

This was a pretty solid entry, though not on theme regrettably :/

Garris says ...
May 12, 2014 @ 7:53pm

Good concept. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but turned out pretty enjoyable.

DrPrettyPatty says ...
May 13, 2014 @ 2:07am

I love this. It's all great, but I especially liked the music (I know you didn't make it, but great choice)! The only criticism is that I wish it was a 3 second timer (or that you could skip the countdown). Great work!

May 13, 2014 @ 11:37pm

Really nicely done! The theme is completely off the rails though :P

aelita1992 says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 9:35am

Nice game, I'm not really a mario fun, but the game is playable and challenging, I really liked it.

Meedoc says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 1:24pm

nice game! Even if I wish I could have more visibility on what was in front of my avatar.

Snoother says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 1:59pm

I actually really like the use of theme -- the underlying, meticulous workings of a speedrun -- but by its nature I think it makes for some frustrating gameplay. I will admit platformers are not really my thing, so it's not instantly appealing to me. But I can quite easily see how polishing the controls (especially the jump) could improve the gameplay experience. The core mechanic is very good, though, and thankfully a lot less derivative of Braid than I initially expected.

Also, I instantly liked the quaint graphics and the fading during the number sequence (I know it's a little thing, but for some reason I noticed it particularly). And the music worked well too.

Caridorc says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 2:01pm

#(This is not a comment on your game actually but...)
Thank you very much for being honest about my game! (The figth beneath the surface), I loved some sincere feedback on it, and yes I know I could have put 5-10 times more work into it. Your comment was one of the very best that I got on my game, many others are just nonsense or cheesy. I wanted to thank you again because you spent a lot of time writing the review of my game, (it's so long :) ), it seemed a professional review, well done, fight ipocrisy!

Make A Game says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 8:57pm

The camera takes some time to catch up with the player but good job with the rewind mechanic.

joe40001 says ...
May 16, 2014 @ 12:42am

@Snoother thanks very much I have unity free so the fade in to color actually tooks some tricky doing, manipulating a universal shader applied to all sprites. So I'm glad it's appreciated. :)

@Meedoc and @MakeAGame after going back and forth on fixing it I decided I just would change the lead space, like I said it was a single number in the code and the fact that it was hurting several people's experience made me think it was enough of a bug that switching it wouldn't be breaking LD rules, but if you want to be 100% fair to me future reviewers then you should know that the lead space was a tiny bit worse in the original submission.

Thanks again to everybody for the positive feedback! Because of all the support I'm really thinking I'm going to evolve this into a real game to be released for a couple bucks on steam! :D

(Don't worry it's going to earn it's cost with many more mechanics, levels/worlds/improved art/audio/ease of play and much more) :)

Nanolotl says ...
May 16, 2014 @ 9:11am

Really did not care for the jumping mechanics. They felt a bit too weird. Otherwise, a nice entry with a neat concept.

jsmars says ...
May 16, 2014 @ 6:02pm

Nice game and idea! A bit hard to grasp the concept immediately tho on the rewind mechanic.. and the jump height seems to be different each jump

BadPaul34 says ...
May 17, 2014 @ 11:41am

The concept is original! Like the music beneath the surface. Good work on the development and game design ;)

wademcgillis says ...
May 17, 2014 @ 8:18pm

Game never loaded. It got stuck on the "unity webplayer" screen.

May 19, 2014 @ 11:08am

Liked the way you used the control of the timeline. Was interesting to play around with. Would be interesting to see this developed further with the controls and movement tightened up.

7elephants says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 2:46pm

Very cool idea and execution. The "Braid-ish" mechanics are really unspected and fresh!

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