Ludum Dare 35 — April 15th-18th, 2016 — Theme: Shapeshift

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by oparisy - Compo Entry

You control an elemental, which can switch between a water and fire shape.

Your goal is to light up seven torches. For this purpose, you will need to get in fire shape, which requires energy (at least 4). So collect woodpiles, keep an eye on your energy, and beware of those pesky shadow elementals!

Controls: analog stick (or keyboard arrows) to move, red (B) button (or 'F' key) to get to fire shape, blue (X) button (or 'W' key) to get back to water shape.

This game is better enjoyed in fullscreen!

Edit: thanks for your votes so far! I would be very grateful for any comment, even a one liner, especially about points you disliked!

Downloads and Links




TEAM-TIGER says ...
Apr 22, 2016 @ 3:49pm

Nice Job. I think it could benefit from a bit faster movement. I also think you could add more reasons in the game to switch to fire (fight enemies etc) to add more of a resource management element to it

hunttis says ...
Apr 24, 2016 @ 12:44pm

Nice work, I actually kinda liked the simplistic cubey graphics.

Like the previous commenter said, I think they game would benefit from faster movement.

Maybe when you're in water form, you move faster over water? Or maybe some kind of an activatable skill? Maybe crossing some parts of terrain requires certain element?

DeltaNegative says ...
Apr 24, 2016 @ 12:55pm

Pretty cool! And the minimalistic look is really nice ;)

endel says ...
Apr 24, 2016 @ 12:58pm

Nice idea. Maybe the enemies could be smarter, and have some obstacles or something to increase the challenge of avoiding them. Changing from blue to red could have some advantage/disadvantage through the obstacles as well. Great job!

oparisy says ...
Apr 25, 2016 @ 8:50pm

@TEAM-TIGER actually fire makes enemies flee, a la PacMan, but they are not aggressive enough for it to be very noticeable. I refrained to tune difficulty post-compo, could have increased the aggro radius as an example.

oparisy says ...
Apr 25, 2016 @ 8:52pm

@hunttis Taking terrain into account is a very nice idea, it was actually a basic placeholder I did not take time to change at the end, so the colors do not have much meaning. Indeed, I'm kinda pleased with the look of my 3-hours-of-coding particles system :)

madalaski says ...
Apr 25, 2016 @ 9:54pm

Really cool graphics and camera movement. Could have benefited from simpler controls and just a tad of sound design but overall a fun little game.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 28, 2016 @ 8:22pm

I really like the graphics of your elemental, the cubey particle effects work really well. I couldn't figure out what the other particle thingies were. After reading the manual I was able to win the game pretty easily.

I wish there would have been sound fx and music.

Now for some criticism:

Overall the game would gain a lot by being a bit faster and more challenging. Since you only need to stock up on wood and only quickly change your shape to fire and back when at a torch, there is not much competition here. Maybe you can play around a bit with different mechanics, e.g. introduce enemies that chase you and drain your energy. Make the player fill up a fire gauge at a torch before it is lit. The gauge will increase while you are burning at the torch and it will decrease over time as you move away (e.g. while you avoid monsters).

Then if time remains you could add multiple levels where the number of torches increases but at the same time each level introduces something new, like a new monster, a new skill etc.

If you get manage to offer small rewards to the player they will keep motivated and if you offer a challenge you will reward that motivation.

It's a solid concept for that short amount of time, I am sure you can expand on it. First you should add some sfx though, you'll see how that will do wonders to the feel of the game.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 28, 2016 @ 8:29pm

Addendum, I didn't realize the other elementals were the enemies. They should definitely be more aggressive, as someone else pointed out.

There is a pretty old study from 1944 by Heider and Simmel that shows (for game makers quite obvious really), that humans have no problems to attribute intent and purpose to moving objects even if they only take the form of shapes.

That said, even if your enemies only appear like particle clouds, their motion should be enough to let the player understand they are chasing us and clearly mark them as the bad guys.

There is a very good article about some basic AI programming by Ray Wenderlich, which I used as the basis for my game. I would suggest you give it a read and try outfit your enemies with the "wander" and "arrive" behaviour:

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 28, 2016 @ 8:30pm

...and by "game makers" I meant "gamers".

oparisy says ...
May 5, 2016 @ 12:46pm

@madalaski Thanks for you feedback! What would be simpler controls, in your mind?

oparisy says ...
May 5, 2016 @ 12:49pm

@Cerno_b Thanks, your analysis matches mine exactly :) This boils down to lack of time. Definitely the enemies lack hints helping the player understand their behavior (at the minimum, their "aggro" state should be explicit. Music and sfx: next time I hope :)

oparisy says ...
May 5, 2016 @ 12:51pm

@Cerno_b Thanks for the link! I actually coded similar behaviors, but did not fine tune them enough to ramp up the difficulty.

SantiHisteria says ...
May 9, 2016 @ 3:15pm

I like the idea and simple graphics. It is a bit difficult to control the game from here (in the ludum dare page) because the page scroll moves up and down with the arrows keys. Anyway good work!

oparisy says ...
May 9, 2016 @ 7:05pm

@SantiHisteria Is that so? I mostly tested it in full screen actually. Perhaps a focus issue? Did you click in the game area before playing?

Markus Brand says ...
May 9, 2016 @ 9:36pm

nice minigame. graphics and particle effects were awesome, although i wished i had a little shadow to better see my actual position to be able to collect them energy powerups. well done in total

Yetikatt says ...
May 10, 2016 @ 12:39am

Nice job. I think making the element move a bit faster would be good, it might also make it more of a puzzle if the water also depleted over time, that way you would have to strategically manage what routes you were taking. Maybe different terrains deplete different elements?

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