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jrjellybeans
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« on: July 20, 2010, 05:46:57 pm »

(September 13, 2010)
For the latest news, it's probably best that you check out the last post in this topic.  I'd like to keep this part as is just to have a record of what I did and why I did it.

In any case, the demo has been released and you can play it at the site (Platform Explorer).

I'd love to hear any questions or comments that you might have!



Platform Explorer
(working title)

The Purpose Of This DevLog
So, I've always wanted to create a devlog.  I've read a couple of people's and I find them very interesting and informative.

Overall, I'd like to accomplish a couple of things with this blog:
  • get a steady and stable source of feedback
  • keep a record of how the game is developing

What Is Platform Explorer?
Platform Explorer is a 2D action platforming game made with Flash Actionscript.  Similar to with Earth Tower Defense, my main concern is just finishing a game that people can play and enjoy.  Nothing too deep or anything... just, walk around, kill shit, collect stuff, then try to get the highest score.



You can also check out a youtube video

.

Game Link:
Platform Explorer
Play it in your browser right now!

Controls:
Arrow keys to move.
A - Attack
C - Jump

As you can see, it's pretty early in the development!  But, that's all right.  I've only worked on it since July 3.

There are actually 4 different level (each with 3 rooms) but are inaccessible at the moment.  I even have a boss at the end of the 4th level.

Next Stuff To Fix:

The HUD is off  I need to fix a couple of things on that...
Add tiles to the game  This will require building a tile system that can be stretched and scaled easily.  That should be fun...
Add a background  Should be pretty easy.
Create the map system  This is the same type of map system that I have in every game I've worked.  I don't know why, I just love that style of level selection:)
Make sure the flow of the game is working  I like the way things are feeling right now, however, so I don't know how much I'll be changing of that...
Random tweaks for balancing purposes  For example, the bouncing ball that is the current weapon is actually the second weapon you can receive.  I'm not really sure I like the bouncing ball at all...
There is no sound.  This isn't a priority at the moment, however...

There is some more stuff that will have to be done, but, for now, I'm going to be working on the tile stuff and making it look better in the very near future.

[Just like with my last game, I'm doing the art myself because I don't have an artist lined up.  I could use a better artist, so if anyone is interested, let me know!]

(Updated July 21 - Added youtube link and edited text.)
(Updated September14 - Fixed the link to point to the new demo and removed text about location and such.)
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 07:40:36 am by jrjellybeans » Logged

jrjellybeans
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2010, 05:54:46 pm »

With the release of Earth Tower Defense, it's nice to get back to Platform Explorer.

I've been meaning to write an update for some time because a ton of stuff has changed.



New Youtube video:



STUFF I'VE DONE SINCE THE LAST TIME
The map screen has been created.  You can see it at the beginning of the game.
The tiling system has been fixed.  The game looks better, no?
The end level menu has been put it.  It counts up the percentage completion of the level and gives you a rating based on how well you did.
The game is optimized a bit better.

Overall, the game is coming along.  If I work hard, I should be able to bang this thing out in 3 more weeks.

Watch the new

and compare it to the previous video that I made for a really good look at all the changes.

UPCOMING STUFF TO DO  (I'll try putting this in the order that I'll actually do things in)
Create a starting menu.  Should take me a bit of time.  I always hate making menus...
Create a saving and loading system.  Should be easy enough.  I'm just going to allow people to save a single file this game.  And, the game will have automatic saving unlike the last game.
Build platforms that move up and down.  Easy enough...
Design and program more enemies.  Currently, the game has around 10 different enemy types.  That's not enough...
Design / program / implement the story.  I have a vague idea for the story that deals with creators and their creations.  Unfortunately, implementing it the way I first thought about it would take too much time.  I have to think of a way to implement an interesting story QUICKLY.
I'm putting an in game achievement system.  Something where you can earn awards and medals.  I've been trying to think of how to do that, and I think that I've finally gotten my mind around it.  It'll be a bit of work, however...
Design the rest of the levels.  I've got 8 more levels to go.  Each level contains 3 rooms.  Each room should take me about 2 hours each to design.
Adjust enemy AI behaviour.  I'll probably save this for last, however.
Fix all of the hud stuff.  Stuff is still off by a pixel or two.
Create credit screen.  Easy enough.
Tiling the rest of the game.  Easy enough.
Put in sound / music.  Again, easy enough...

RANDOM THOUGHTS
As confident as I am in my own ability to design games Smiley, I feel like this game is going to be hamperned by my crummy art.  It's a very specific type of game with a very narrow feel to it.  I wish that I could have gone with a really retro, NES type of look, but that's pretty much beyond my powers.

Even with better art, in place, I'm not too sure how well it'll play out for the flash crowd.  While the game is fitting nicely into the "vision" that I had for the game, I can't implement many features that I wanted to put in due to lack of time.

I'll probably do something similar to Earth Tower Defense, where I release one version of the game, then some sort of follow up with updated stuff.

Perhaps I won't...

In any case, writing these devlogs have helped me quite a bit.  I only started writing because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do next.  I will probably, literally go down that list and do stuff in order Smiley

Any questions or comments are appreciated!

Check out the blog for more info, as I tend to write more on there: Jr. Jellybeans Blog.
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 09:00:52 pm »

Oh boy.  I took a long time to update this page.  Sorry about that.  The reason it took so long was because I wanted to add a couple of features before I updated the post.  Unfortunately, some of those features still haven't been completed.

The good thing is that I've made a ton of updates in the meantime.



New Youtube video:



Last Youtube video:



STUFF I'VE DONE SINCE LAST TIME
Starting Menu was mostly finished.  You can see it at the beginning of the video.
In Game Achievements were completed.  Unfortunately, this idea didn't work out and I had to drop it (see below).
End Level Countdown was created.  Now, you can tell what your progress was for a level.
The pink tile sheet background has been eliminated.  That was pretty easy, but I finally got around to doing it.
Weapon Level Up announcement was put in.  Now, it's easy to tell when you've gained enough weapon charges to gain a level. And on that note:
The HUD has been mostly fixed.  Some colors need to be changed, but it's looking great.

So, I ended up finishing a lot of stuff.  I think that once the Map tiles are in place and the story is put into the game, everything will be pretty easy.  It will take a bit more work, but most of the thinking will have been done.  And, that's pretty nice!

UPCOMING STUFF TO DO
Map Tiles.  I'll be doing that next.
A story needs to be put in.  Again, I've been thinking about how I want to do this and I think that I've come up with a decent idea.
Saving and loading system still hasn't been finished.  This should be pretty easy now, it's just a matter of getting to it.
Create more enemies.  In addition, I actually need to draw the enemies.  That might take some time depending on how many enemies there are.
Design the remaining levels.  This includes tiling the rest of the levels as well.
Sound/Music needs to be put in.  Should be easy.
Design 3 more weapons.  Currently, there are 4 weapons that the player can choose from and I want to increase that 7.

RANDOM THOUGHTS
I wanted to finish this game in 2 months and I've only got about a week and half left.  I'm pretty sure that I'm going to miss that window, especially since I'm going to be going back to work soon.

Still, within a week or so things should be mostly finished.  Again, once the map tiles are laid out right, I'll be able to go on auto pilot and just crank out whatever else needs to be done.

The one thing I am a little disappointed about is the fact that I had to drop the in game achievement system.  I guess I should get some feedback before I abandon it completely, but it just doesn't feel as good as it could.  There's a visual problem in that displaying achievements blocks out most of the screen and I just couldn't figure out any solution for that.

Still, things are progressing nicely.  I can't wait to put up a demo which should happen soon.

Comments or suggestions are always appreciated!
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jrjellybeans
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2010, 03:52:59 pm »

Oh, boy.  I keep falling behind Smiley

Here's the latest video.  Not a lot has changed, but there have been a couple of things.
Youtube video -



STUFF I'VE DONE
The story system was put in.  This actually took me a while because I built a system that is two parts: 1) a "Story Controller" that controls the flow of the story and determines what characters say and do and 2) the actual text display message that displays text.  Basically, the system is the same I've designed for every Jr. Jellybean game.
Help Menu was put in.  This is really kind of an afterthought, but I thought it would help to design some sort of guidance so that people could know the full controls.  You can see this at the beginning of the video.
Map level tiles are set.  Levels now have numbers attached to them as you can see in the video.
Random graphic fixes.  You can see that now the level is finished when you touch the pile of energy.  In addition, I changed the look of the energy.

I, basically, fixed a lot of the smaller stuff that would have gotten done later.  The player wouldn't really notice them, but they had to be fixed.

UPCOMING STUFF TO DO
Basically, everything from before.
Adjust the backgrounds and tiles.  Things aren't really blending well together so the colors of some stuff will have to be adjusted.  I don't have an artists' eye, so this will have to wait until people play test the game.
Redo the end level countdown.  Um... without getting into too much detail, I'm going to remove a section from the end level countdown.  It's mostly the same however.
Create top down bonus level.  See below.

RANDOM THOUGHTS
The biggest change is that I WOULD LIKE to add a top down tank section.  You can see in the map screen, that you can control a tank, so I decided it would be cool to have random enemies throughout the level that you can bump into to fight.  Basically, like Bionic Commando.
That's probably going to take another week or so.  I'm just planning to really spit it out as quickly as possible.  If it doesn't work for whatever reason, I'll just drop it...

So, it looks like I'll probably miss the 2 month period.  But, such is life.  Work is getting done and, once I get that tank part put in, everything should be ready to just be cranked out.  I completed pretty much the rest of the "hard" stuff.

Lastly, if anyone has any ideas on what you'd like me to talk about on this devlog, feel free to share it.  I can understand if you just want to look at the devlog, but I'd like to know that people are interested in what I'm writing about.

Comments or suggestions are always appreciated!

(Updated 08/19/2010 - I had to adjust some text.)
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 10:38:32 am by jrjellybeans » Logged

PsySal
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2010, 07:24:19 am »

Hey I saw your latest video from your twitter feed the other day. This game looks pretty cool. Does it have a particular backstory? The main character looks like a robot of some kind...
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deathtotheweird
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2010, 01:17:49 pm »

I kinda thought it was a ninja, with the headband and throwing star looking things.

This game is in desperate need of a good artist, that's for sure.
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2010, 06:40:32 pm »

I like the art!
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jrjellybeans
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2010, 11:13:08 am »

Hey guys, thanks for checking out the game!

Yeah, there is a story and you guys are BOTH right - he's a cyborg ninja!  Imagine that!  But, there isn't much to the story.  I hope that, at least, the ending is kind of neat.

As for the art, I can't say that I like it much myself.  I had to do the art myself just like the last game (Earth Tower Defense). 

While I could find an artist, it would take a long time and I've had the last couple of artists just bail on me.  Currently, I'm going through a "FINISH THE GAME AT ALL COSTS" kick.  It's kind of annoying, but what can I do (I've whined about this subject on the blog if you want to know more).

I recently spoke with an old artist and we might do a collabo on the next game, so, hopefully, that works out okay.

In any case, thanks for the support.
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2010, 10:04:28 am »

i think that if you're going to do the art yourself reading a few art tutorials / pixel art tutorials would go a long way. if you read a few of those it probably wouldn't take that much time, perhaps less than a day, to bring all the graphics up to 'mediocre/acceptable' status rather than 'ms paint' status.

but anyway, good luck with this project
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2010, 04:55:50 pm »

I have always beleived that your game have tons of potential, just missing good art execution:



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PsySal
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2010, 06:42:15 pm »

Awrite you guys need to HOOK UP
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JMickle
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2010, 01:10:00 am »

Kren that looks incredible. You need to teach me.
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jrjellybeans
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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2010, 10:36:11 am »

@ Paul I've looked over a couple of tutorials in the past, but, you're right that relooking over them, is probably a good idea.  I'll check em out.  But, I don't think art is my forte...

@ Kren That is a sweet picture!  I'd be interested in a collabo if you could figure out what your schedule is like in school.

At the end of the day, I'd be pretty happy with the art as is, however.  My biggest fear in finding someone to work with artisticly is that they'll just bail on me.  As I said, it's happened before, and I'm getting a little... irked by it.

My main concern with these indie games is that I just finish them.  Not just for the sake of finishing them, mind you.  But, also as a display that I finish projects that I start.  I figure that if I can finish more games, it should help when I need an art or a sound guy.

Plus, the way things are going now, I'm learning a little about art.  I figure that the only way to learn something is to do it, eh Smiley

Thanks for all of the comments!
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« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2010, 11:40:02 am »

You have an incredibly good mindset and are one of the very very few people I see like that. When I see games with all mspaint amateur graphics i automatically assume everything else about it is going to be amateur but after playing a bit of earth tower defence I see that is completely not true. I think if you were in a partnership similar to mikengreg or be Alec Holowka to someone's Derek Yu, you could make something great.
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« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2010, 12:02:03 pm »

Woot! Hearts just jumped off my screen like when they kiss in that movie about Scott Pilgrim! <3 <3 <3
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« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2010, 04:36:26 pm »

Thanks for the encouragement guys!  That really means a lot and really encourages me to keep going.  I really appreciate that.

New Video -


This video is particularly interesting because it show's the workings of the Tank level with bad art.  I always found that stuff sort of interesting...

STUFF I'VE DONE
Tank Level is finished.  I need to create the art for it, but it's mostly programmed.
Random fixes.  Can't recall any off the top of my head, but I know that I've done some random stuff.

To be perfectly honest, THE MAJORITY OF THE TOUGH PROGRAMMING IS DONE.  Assuming that things are fun and enjoyable, most of the thinking has been done.  It's been fun and a challenge sometimes, but it's nice to get to some easy stuff again...

UPCOMING STUFF TO DO
Random bug fixes.  I can't think of any off the top of my head, but, I'll give the game a playthrough and see what I find.
All of the art.  I'm going to start with the Tank Section art, then work on the enemies.  This includes the actual gameplay elements, backgrounds, and tiles.
Add Twitter and Facebook buttons to the intro menu.  I've seen other games do this and would like to do it myself.
Create Preloader.
Put in the sound.  While this will be easy, I always hated doing sound stuff.  Mostly because it's hard to make / find all of the sounds I have in my mind...
Release a demo.  Should be pretty easy once everything is finished.


RANDOM THOUGHTS
There's still a lot of little work to be done, but, again, it's nice to be done with the major stuff.  I've had experience doing everything that still needs to be done, so, the rest of the development should go quickly.

I still have to build a couple of levels (and outright redo a couple of levels), and those take some time.  But, with the system already in place, adding stuff is remarkably easy...

On an entirely different note, I'm... frustrated because I wish that I had optimized the engine a bit more.  See, I've come to the realization that, instead of adding and removing children (objects) in each room, I should just create all of the game objects when the game starts up and swamp them in and out of the game as needed.  I'm assuming that this requires more RAM overall, but it'll probably help with the speed of the game as well as in making sure there are no memory leaks.

I tossed and turned over this for some time, then came to the realization that it would take too long to redo the engine as such.  Furthermore, I'd be afraid that I missed some stuff and make things worse.

Still, I'll try using it in the next game.
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2010, 11:05:19 am »



Oh, boy.  About two weeks since the last major update... That's what I get for trying to get a demo prepared.

I've been sitting around busting my ass for the past two weeks just trying to get this to a level that is acceptable.  I finally have!

Click Here To Play The Platform Explorer Demo

So, give it a play and tell me what you think of it or I'll be upset.  Keep in mind that you can pretty much play until the second level (I haven't tiled more than two levels).

STUFF I'VE DONE
A bunch of enemy art was done.  They were done in that crappy art style, but I kind of like it, so, I'll stick with it.
Social Media buttons were added to the intro menu.  I think they're hidden by the background.  What do you guys think?
SOUND has been put in (finally).  This was probably the most boring and difficult part that I've experienced.  I basically scored the internet and used sfxr (which makes retro sound effects automatically).  The music came from some good people at 8 bit collective.
Saving and Loading has been put in.  Because I don't really have a full understand of Shared Objects, I find it difficult to work with them.  I was having a problem at first implementing saving and loading, but I finally got it.

As predicted, things were pretty easy, but just took a long time.  There were a shit ton of little bugs that I needed to fix that took a while...

As I mentioned before, all of that sound was a real pain in the ass.  I actually think that I hate dealing with sound.  Well, it's not that I hate dealing with sounds, it's just that I don't know how to make the sounds that I think would sound good for the game.  As such, I just end up listening to the same sounds over and over trying to see which one fits better...

Luckily, I've found some that I think suits the game decently enough.  If anyone has any comments, please share!

UPCOMING STUFF TO DO
Edit the levels that I've already completed.  I've finished about 2-3 levels that pretty much need to be tweaked.  Right now, I kind of think the game is too easy...
Finish the rest of the levels.  This is a long process of designing and then tiling.  So, that's no fun...
Design and program more enemies.
Design and program 3 more bosses.  I have actually made the game slightly longer than I originally wanted to because of the way the map is shaped.  If I hadn't increased the number of levels, the game could have been completed in about 30 minutes or so...

I suspect that the game wouldn't really do well on FGL, so I'm not going to bother finding a sponsor or anything like that.  Plus, because of the music that I used, I'd have to end up contacting each one of the musicians and finding out what the deal is with that.

As such, I'm just going to release the game as is.  I figure at worst, it'll earn a couple of pennies and drive a bit more traffic to the site.

If you've been reading the Official Jr. Jellybeans Blog, than you'd know that I'm getting kind of sick of working on this game.  Certainly, a part of this feeling is that I don't really expect it to go all that well.  But, I promised myself to finish the damn thing and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Furthermore, I'm really looking forward to hooking up with some people in the next game.  I think that design wise, Platform Explorer isn't too bad, but, it lacks a certain amount of polish that I just won't be able to provide...  Hopefully, for the next game, I'll find a nice team to work with!
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2010, 11:32:28 am »

On my computer, there's a long delay while levels load. It actually causes my browser to lock up for a few seconds. Using Firefox 3.6. The parts I played were fun, though.

Edit: Also, there's a place in the second (?) level where it looks like I should be able to jump out of the water, but I can't jump higher than this:


...and I don't see any powerups/switches/any other way through...

edit again: I quit the game, then continued, and the the map screen was acting weird. The road on screen didn't match where I was able to go. Also, I entered a level and this happened:
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 11:47:02 am by pgil » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2010, 12:58:19 pm »

You have lots of good stuff here, just could do with work on the art. The only downside is load times are long. Perhaps a progress bar would be useful to let the user know the browser hasn't hung.

Don't beat yourself up about trying to finish it, that's a great goal! When you are done you will have written a fully functional platform game that you could reuse or even rewrite the logic in another technology now you have experience of it, it will be easier and more fun next time.
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« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2010, 05:59:46 pm »

Holy cow!  I didn't realize it's been a month since the last update.  Jesus Christ that's a long time...

But, thanks for comments OneMoreGo and PGil.  I appreciate you taking the time to play the game!

I was supposed to be finished with the game LAST month, but am still working on it.  Luckily, I'm VERY close to finishing it.  In any case, in keeping with my previous posts:

STUFF I'VE DONE
Finished the bosses.
Completed all of the levels (minus tiling).  I've ended up cutting the number of levels by 4.  Yeah, it sucks, but the game is taking too long to finish so it had to be done.
Minor tweaks that were necessary.  I've changed the controls slightly, for example.

From what I can tell, the game is pretty bug free.  It still has that long loading time, but that's PROBABLY because levels are loaded externally.  I say PROBABLY because is possible that I designed rooms too big...

But, stuff is getting finished.  It's now just a matter of time...

UPCOMING STUFF TO DO
Tile each level.  This is a long and boring process.  But, at least, it's easy.
Design 4 more story sequences.  This ain't Citizen Kane, so this should be easy as well.
Finish spriting two more bosses.
Create a credit sequence.

I will actually try to find a sponsor for the game.  I originally didn't think the game would do well AND I didn't want to deal with finding each musician who's worked I used and working out an agreement with them (I found the music from 8Bit Collective).  After thinking about it, however, I figured, what the hell?  I might be able to make a couple of hundreds of dollars or so.  I figured that Earth Tower Defense managed to get around 300,000 plays or so, so I should be able to meet that same number.  That's gotta be worth something, eh?

So, hopefully that goes well.

On worse news, I actually lost about a week's worth of time because of the Great Computer Failure of 2010.  Worse than that, I had to switch over to using a Mac.  If you didn't know, Flash and Macs aren't exactly friendly with each other...

But, things could be worse.  And, work is getting done slowly but surely.  I'm excited to FINISH another game and am looking forward to working on something a bit shorter!
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