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Log #3 - Videogame showcase

These two last days have been quite the work for me, not just on making the game, but in a small showcase in my country. I'm pretty happy for it since I sometimes thought game development was unexistant here, but it looks like it's slowly getting more and more developed. I met lots of people that make stuff, specially in Unity and Unreal, others in Game Maker Studio 2, etc. And a guy that uses libGDX. Etcetera.

It was a pretty nice experience, had the opportunity to share this game's alpha with many people, see their reactions, think about the possible market/target audience to it, etc. Saw what they liked better, what they didn't, and so on.

My stand. Pretty simple.

And some people playing the game.

Fro what I can gather, the game could potentially be played by most people, all ages and sex. Kids played it fine. It actually SEEMED harder to understand to the more adult. So I think from what I can gather I can understand what would be the target audience, and so consider that when setting the tone of the game. As in, the kind of content it will have. Not so mature, yet not "kids stuff" either, kids that played it were not so young either. 10s to 20s could work as a nice age range.

So yeah, I'm happy, VERY tired, but I have lots of feedback that will hopefully improve the experience and give this game way more direction. I think.

Thanks for reading!


Log #2 - Uploaded prototype

From the actual prototype download page...

This is a pretty outdated version, but has most of the core adventure game mechanics. There are a lot of problems present in this version that have been solved (and some new bugs that appeared -_-" that's how life works I guess?).

This version was initially made for Taira's game jam in September, in about 3-4 days or so. The idea was to make something kind of inspired in some way or another in The Last Night, a game I still don't know what is about. But I'll know someday, that's part of my work (?).

So yeah, I uploaded it just in case someone wanted to try it out. It's pretty barebones, mostly is just the eventing system thing and the bus.

This eventing has been expanded upon now, there is now an inventory (which by the way I need to fix since I'm not saving the items on the savefile whoops). And of course, this version has no trace at all of the puzzle mechanic. I started to consider it at the end of the development of this prototype.

So yeah! Thanks and hope you enjoy the little there is of it. It's maybe 5min long.

Game Design

Log #1 - Oh god what have I done?

Hello! This is kind of a me trying to present this to everyone.

Let me tell you a story...

The game's acronym stands for Ethereal's Loongest Nights. I started making it as an entry to some game jam, and the game first name was Ethereal Last Night. The jam was about making a game inspired in some way on The Last Night, a game that has its own story revolving a jam that I don't even know. I'll probably play it someday, since there is this saying that says (?): "it's best to know about what you're trying to not rip off, instead of accidentally rip it off". Or something along that way.

This is the jam banner, just to fill this up.

Anyway, I think the only thing they share in common is something about night, which I could totally forget about, and combining pixel art with 3D stuff. I am still working on its title, since when I started I just combined Last Night with Ethereal, since one of the things the gamjam said was using one of the jam organizer's songs. I selected one called "Ethereal", and so I went with Ethereal.

The Last Night, looks nice.

At the moment all there was about The Last Night, that I knew of, was the E3 trailer. I saw the pixel art and the 3D environments, and I just thought about the PSX era. I always think about the PSX anyway xD. So I went for something like that. While working on the game, I was actually thinking on things like Klonoa. I went for a sidescrolling thing for that reason. But I didn't want to make a platformer.

Oh Klonoa, you little cute bastard ♥. I need to actually play your game...

In the gameplay, I am always thinking about Monkey Island, but at the same time wanted to simplify that. One thing I didn't really like about old graphical adventures are the amount of different interactions with the environment. I mean, I like to be able to look at something, and stuff, but sometimes it's a little excessive. Open door and close door shouldn't exist! On that regard, maybe something akin to the verb coin from Curse of Monkey Island.

I could actually consider implementing something like that.

I try to keep interfaces at minimum. But along these last days, I've been facing the need of adding more of them. Nothing too special, just that for the jam I left out things like save/load and config. But I just finished implementing them :^). Now I need to focus on the inventory.

NOW! I've still to talk about the puzzles. Because oh boy, that's the meat. The graphical adventure is the bread. Then comes the graphical aspect, which is the lettuce I guess? Maybe tomato. ANYWAY.

While I was working on the first demo/prototype, I struggled with something important. What kind of puzzles did I want. I first wanted puzzles more like... actual puzzles. I remember "old" PSX survival horrors having pretty nice and intrincate puzzles. Things like in Resident Evil 3, something with coloured cables and something with transistors or water pipes or I don't know. And well, Silent Hill's piano, no need to say more.

Yeah I found it! This ducking piece of excrement! I love it but I hate it.

But while I was struggling to make up the first puzzle in paper, I thought that maybe there was a different solution. Every puzzle has its own interface, surely you can press things with the mouse but I thought that unifying that would be kind of bad. And I don't consider myself a good puzzle designer either, could give it a try but... yeah. I also fear a lot the feature creep. So I thought I could instead make one single puzzle, then add complexity layers over the course of the game. Similar to Undertale, that's something I think its developer did right.

I still wanted some puzzle, so I thought about puzzle games. I first set out my eyes on Bejeweled, I thought I could replicate something like that. I managed to do a simple version of it, but in the end I didn't liked it. I feel Bejeweled is ok, but it was not what I was looking for. I think I was looking for something more frantic, like Magical Drop. When I play Magical Drop my fingers hurt. Well, maybe not THAT frantic.

Moving those marbles god-speed... hurts just by thinking about it, but I love that game.

Speaking a little about puzzle game genres. Bejeweled is a tile-matching swap-tiles puzzle. Magical Drop and Puyo Puyo are falling blocks. The part I wanted from Magical Drop (and PuyoPuyo) was the falling block mechanic. So... yeah, my puzzles are actually more like Puyo Puyo, since you swap tiles instead of grabbing them and throwing as in Magical Drop. I thought it was easier to understand.

It's still work in progress but here is a screen of the puzzle as it is right now.

As you can probably see, I grabbed the QUOTA which works as in Magical Drop, you win by filling it. There is this thing called CHARGES which you get by doing combos, and is meant to be used when using special marbles. And there is the special marbles. Since there is a storyline progression, I thought that you could find special marbles along the way, and use them kind of like skills in RPGs.

I'm still not completely satisfied with this part, since it's prone to the same problems RPG skills have, and I feel there are some limitations to what I can do with effects since is kind of an action/arcade mechanic. I feel the need to keep them simple, yet useful, and all them useable. I can't make them be entirely based on RNG, neither want to make the player always use the same one over and over.

So yeah, I hope someone considers this as an informative entry. I'm always thinking about a lot of things and trying to inform myself on my own. And as always, thanks for anyone reading this. Hope it didn't felt like a demoralizing wall of text.

Till next time!
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