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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsFrogatto & Friends - Arcade Update
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Author Topic: Frogatto & Friends - Arcade Update  (Read 10320 times)
Jetrel
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« on: November 19, 2010, 06:06:34 PM »

 Droop  So, let's get this show on the road; covering the ongoing development.  Mind you - you can get the game here - yes, it's post-1.0, and we use an open-source development model, so the game has always and does always have frequent public builds available that you can play right now.  http://www.frogatto.com/

Also, yes, it being open-source means you can get involved too - and you can use our engine to make your game, and you can sell it royalty-free.  No strings attached as long as you share any improvements you make to the engine with the world.


So, one big thing we're working on for an upcoming release is an alternate game mode; kinda loosely like "doodle jump" (or many earlier games doodle jump is ripping off, like NS-TOWER, or much more loosely, Kid Icarus), where you proceed horizontally or vertically, and the level behind you disappears - there's no story, it's just about more points the further you go.  We've cooked up a new, more modular tileset for this area;  a lot less organic than our current ones, but more flexible for making small tile arrangements:



I've also been kicking on upgrading the forest area a bit, graphically speaking.  This is an older shot showing how the background got updated (for those who care, the background is some 4-5 parallax layers, depending on how you count) :


This, then is the upgrades to the tree trunks and foliage.  I've still (grr) got a couple of upgrades to do to the trunks; especially trying to alleviate how the branches currently can only jut out directly-sideways.  But we're getting there!  This shot is also showing off one of the alternate palettes for the forest, used in the "autumn" section.


« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 05:07:10 PM by Jetrel » Logged
TheLastBanana
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2010, 09:07:57 PM »

I haven't had a chance to play it, but boy it looks beautiful.
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Ben_Hurr
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2010, 10:57:36 PM »

Dat there is one beautiful game thar, son

And what's this about a modable engine?
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Aquin
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2010, 11:14:24 PM »

Yeah, I played it a few months ago.  It was a bit sparse, but even back then the polish is serious shine.  It's definitely got a good future  Beer!
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2010, 11:22:54 PM »

Having beaten Frogatto, all I can say is...
Yessssssssssssssssssssssss

My only complaint with the game was sometimes spotty collision with enemies. It felt like I got unfairly hurt sometimes but I don't remember when so who knows.

Good luck and cheer!  Gentleman
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Jetrel
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2010, 12:21:08 AM »

And what's this about a modable engine?

Frogatto's engine is open-source, under the GPL, so you can immediately use it to make anything you want with - for $0, and no royalties to us (as long as you share-alike).  The engine is not as flexible as Game Maker, but it's much, much faster, and it's suitable for nearly any "tile-based 2d game".  We're also partways done with adding some not-so-common "game kit" features like network-multiplayer.  And if you're uncomfortable with open-sourcing your game, we do actually completely own the engine, in a QT-style dual-licensing setup, so you could outright license the engine from us (that would involve some actual money, though).

We do have a level editor with some powerful auto-tiling capabilities; however, the GUI in the editor is still a bit sketchy.  Great for editing tiles,  great for placing objects/scenery, and you can set the bounds of objects that have them (like drawing a rectangle to define some monster's aggro range), but you can't graphically script behavior like you can in Game Maker.  We're working on that, but that's really hard (it more or less involves a complete, cross-platform gui kit, which is a significant part of an operating system, so that'd be very difficult to make).

What's an ace up our sleeve is that we have a really, really powerful scripting language we wrote, which is vaguely similar to Haskell; because it's a really high-level language, you're completely insulated from programming annoyances like "typing" or "memory management", and it prevents a lot of kinds of bugs that exist in C-style procedural languages.  It's also really fast - we tested it compared to python, and it's over 100x faster at some basic operations.  Because it's a high level interpreted language, you can do a lot of fun, crazy stuff on the fly - like composing a string that's the name of a function, and then using the string to call that function.  Also, knowing how "pure-functional" languages like it work is going to become increasingly important as a job skill in our massively parallel future.

Virtually all of the game logic is not written in C++; it's instead written in this language, which means that the entire game can be completely repurposed to do something else.  You could easily make a zelda-style adventure game, just by removing the main character's gravity, and making the up button walk north instead of frogatto's "look up" move.  We've already had one guy make a vertical-scrolling space shooter, and we've made pong, ourselves, without changing a single line of C++ code.



Mind you - we wrote this engine all on our own, but we're giving it away to the community; pretty much for purely altruistic reasons.  We would really appreciate if it gets used.  Our primary concern was just making our own game, but after that, we were kinda hoping to make a more general, "open-source" competitor to game maker.  But we need people to care - if they don't, we're going to lose heart.  (And tinkerbell will die.)



Regarding content:
The only thing we've "reserved rights to" in frogatto is some of the content.  Not all of it, though - a lot of it is free to share, and we're open to free-licensing anything that's not gonna amount to a cheap "dupe-and-sell" scheme.  Just ask.  In fact, we've already done so with some tiles - you can get a couple of old tilesets we've totally public-domained here:  http://opengameart.org/content/old-frogatto-tile-art


Also, everyone in this community should seriously get behind OpenGameArt - this site is your new best friend.  They exist for the sole purpose of collecting free art/sounds/music for indie game developers.  Help them, use them:  http://opengameart.org/
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Hempuliā€½
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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2010, 02:09:24 AM »

As many other people have said, the game has absolutely fantastic pixel art and animation, but the actual gameplay is a bit... boring, maybe? The game doesn't feature much variety to the run'n'jump'n'collect mindset, so even though the visuals are amazing, I didn't feel like going through it all.

Good luck with this, though Smiley
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Aquin
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« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2010, 10:33:32 AM »

Yeah, but this should maybe get more attention.  I know some new indie devs have been looking for a different toolset from GM or other game-making devices.  I might pull this one apart and see how it works.

Also, don't we have a bunch of free assets from that assemblee compo?  Maybe one should add all that stuff to that mentioned website. 
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« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2010, 01:52:43 PM »

i had no idea this was actually a tool semi-comparable to Game Maker. that fact should be advertised a bit more.
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2010, 02:12:35 PM »

I know it's open-source, but what's the policy on someone making a game in your engine and then selling it?
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« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2010, 02:26:56 PM »

And if you're uncomfortable with open-sourcing your game, we do actually completely own the engine, in a QT-style dual-licensing setup, so you could outright license the engine from us (that would involve some actual money, though).
THIS, is such a sweet compromise! I wish models like this was way more common!
Any thoughts about the cost yet?
cheers!
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Ben_Hurr
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« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2010, 02:35:53 PM »

Fuck Froggato the game, lets take a look at this easily moddable engine with level editor!

...although it would be sort of a waste, since I just finished my engine/editor.  Shrug
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Jetrel
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« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2010, 11:21:15 PM »

The game doesn't feature much variety to the run'n'jump'n'collect mindset, so even though the visuals are amazing, I didn't feel like going through it all.

Yeah, that's an interesting predicament, but the good news from our end is we don't have 'sacred cows'.  I mean, besides not gutting the game, we're very interested in changing stuff up to make the game more fun.  Partly because I'm a tad iffy on some of it at the moment.  One of the big reasons we got the game out the door is we just desperately need public feedback - the worst problem we have is that those of us on the team are just so incredibly used to and insanely good at frogatto, that we might be calloused to significant flaws, or just not see the obvious.  I mean, we're in a new era here, because this is an online game.  We're not out of business because it was "okay but not perfect" the first time - we do this in our free time, and I've put enough time into this that dammit, I want to get it right.   Wink

 Undecided  Mind you, though, we're very much aware that we can't please everyone.  One gamer's "perfect game" is another one's "meh".  (Like, if you were to try and fix a "street-fighter" clone into something I liked, you'd be in an entirely different genre by the time you were done.)



Specifics:
Frogatto himself is always going to be a kirby/yoshi like grab-and-shoot character.  But we're looking to offer some massively different playstyles by making two additional characters - nene, and pato, into playable characters; respectively, nene's going to be a contra-like run-and-gun character, and pato is a fighting-style character who attacks with melee combos.

There's also some dramatic flexibility we're going for in game-modes;  right now, you've got a story-mode, and if that's not your thing, you're kinda .. boned.  As I speak, though, we're halfways into an arcade rush mode where there's no story, and you're just trying to beat increasingly difficult platforming challenges.  I was just working on a level for that today.

Difficulty, I think is one area where we've really fallen down for hardcore players.  It's just so damn hard to judge what's right and what's wrong.  There are so many people out there who straight-up won't play videogames where they have to redo major sections of the game - even just a whole level, if they die.  A lot of people just don't have time for that; they have a real life; games are fun but the moment they see a "game over" and have to redo a whole level to reach a boss or something, they're gone.  As a community, we game-devs have traditionally pissed on these people, and decided they don't deserve to enjoy our work.  I don't buy that; I think we should make something they can actually play.  I think that's just jackass elitism.

But at the same time, we kinda blew it for the hardcore gamers - at any point where I was making a level I really enjoyed, that was usually a sign it was viciously, nintendo hard.  Frogatto is kinda fun for me during the bosses, but the rest of the game is a breeze.  I mean - maybe that's it?  Easiness is boring, but maybe that's the majority of the whole problem, right there.  We don't have difficulty modes, yet, and we can hopefully do them very easily via both a halo-like system, and via dropping the "respawn near where you died" noob crutch we currently hand out.  Maybe once they're in, the game will be much more engaging for the hardcore players, and that'll bring all the magic back.




I think frogatto's core mechanic, as a character, is pretty sound.  We tried a whole mess of stuff; from firing energy shots, to doing kicks and punches, before we settled on this pretty unusual "throw" mechanic.  I can think of a few games vaguely like it;  such as kirby or especially mario 2, but I think it's still relatively virgin territory (as compared to making a run-and-gun game, which .. well  Cave Story  ).  It's really hard to come up with unusual mechanics, because the platformer genre has been mined to death.

I do have a couple of ideas.  One really cool one we're not doing ... yet ... is having frogatto able to fire his tongue, stick to a ceiling, and swing from it.  I'd love to do that, but it's hellishly complicated.  Maybe someday.  (I've seen it done in one rare japanese title; nothing new under the sun, but it'd still be a fun and unique thing.)
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Jetrel
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« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2010, 11:38:55 PM »

i had no idea this was actually a tool semi-comparable to Game Maker. that fact should be advertised a bit more.

If you can code, (like, busting open actual object scripts in a text editor), it's actually quite comparable, however, the reason we're not 'advertising' it as such, is that we're lacking what's pretty much the #1 feature of "game maker" - graphically scripting together behavior, without editing code.  It's arguable that to make anything unique and worthwhile, you need to script anyways, but we'd just get shelled by some people for not having that, and I don't know if they're right.

I really need to evaluate whether that's a reasonable omission.  The idea of introducing "second system syndrome" into frogatto is something we seriously, seriously shy away from.  Like; we could put a text-editing line in the editor to add formulas for certain events, but that's prone to error, and when do you draw the line and say that's better done by a real code editor program?  Every bit you add plumps up your code and makes it more of a mess to deal with.  Go too far, and you've got a train-wreck like netscape 5  (the one they never released because it killed the company).


I know it's open-source, but what's the policy on someone making a game in your engine and then selling it?

(GPL) Open source means you're totally free to do that - as long as all the code you make for it is open-source, too.  There are other kinds than the GPL, but that's the one we picked.

Typically, open-source isn't about commercial/non - it's about sharing the code.  Commerciality is fine, just not being proprietary.

And if you're uncomfortable with open-sourcing your game, we do actually completely own the engine, in a QT-style dual-licensing setup, so you could outright license the engine from us (that would involve some actual money, though).
THIS, is such a sweet compromise! I wish models like this was way more common!
Any thoughts about the cost yet?
cheers!

Probably a small royalty percentage.  Alternately a few grand - honestly, we're totally up in the air about it.  No clue, really.  Most likely - you yourself probably shouldn't know if you want to do it until you're a ways into a project, and think you've got something you don't want other people "ripping off".
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« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2010, 06:06:21 AM »

Coolsies. You guys have a really awesome attitude about this project.

I downloaded the game yesterday and played for a bit. Y'all asked for feedback, so...

Feedback!

The game's got a ton of charm and a ton of good ideas. Little touches like the zoom-in when characters are talking and the moving tail on the voice bubbles are those little flourishes that make a game special. Starting out in Frogatto's house and being able to return there at any time makes the world feel larger than just the story campaign. It makes me really, really want to like the game.

What's holding me back from liking the game more is the controls. A platformer lives and dies by how fun it is to control the character, and fortunately controls are easier to fine-tune than bad level design. But controlling Frogatto just isn't very fun. He feels a little sluggish, a little unresponsive.

A few specifics:

-Not enough air control. Jumping to the right and holding the left in midair will pull you back some, but not enough to really navigate. Makes landing far-off ledges difficult. Generally jumps feel hard to aim.

-Tongue controls. Frogatto can only shoot his tongue straight forward, but much of the time there are short slopes on the ground that crawling enemies like the ants go up and down. If there's a slope in front of you and an ant coming up it, you can't hit the ant with your tongue, but the ant will hit you when it's close. Feels unfair that you can get hit before you're able to hit the enemy, at least with enemies that are so common.

-Spitting controls. Frogatto can spit up at an upward angle, straight forward, or right down in front of him, but I think the angles need to be tuned. Maybe his upward shot needs to be more horizontal, because it seems most of the time no matter which way I spit an enemy I don't hit any other enemies. Been playing it long enough that I feel like I should be adapted to the controls by now, but it's still very hard to aim shots.

-Wall hug is maybe too sensitive. Trying to jump to the top of a ledge is often canceled because Frogatto grabs the wall on the way up and starts sliding down. Not sure how to tune that.

-Collision box needs to be more forgiving. When walking to the edge of a platform, Frogatto often falls off when it looks like he should have been able to move another few pixels to the edge to make a leap. Might be mroe of a flaw with the art assets. Generally, allowing for a little bit of forgiveness with ledge jumping is doubleplus-good.

Basically, I don't have any problem with repeating chunks of a platforming game when I miss a leap and want to try again. But when getting back to where I was takes a lot of trial-and-error no matter how many times I've been there, it becomes a slog. When just getting around a simple stage involves a lot of basic jumps that you have to try again, it's trouble.

By no means does that mean make the game easier; better controls can usually mean harder gameplay. In Dave Rosen's design tour of Knytt Stories he says it best: "With better controls, you can make more complicated levels without making them frustrating or unfair. The overall difficulty of the game is a combination of the difficulty of controlling your character, and the difficulty of the challenges your character faces. And it's much more satisfying to have an agile character defeating complex challenges than a clumsy character defeating simple ones." See also: Super Meat Boy.

See, right now I feel like the difficulty curve in Frogatto isn't the game's design, only how long it takes to master the controls, which is too long at this point. Frogatto feels like he should be fast and precise.

But the design is sound and really compelling! I'm probably going to go back and play more presently. And I look forward to digging around in your engine!
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BoxedLunch
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« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2010, 02:28:22 PM »

this looks like all of those awesome mockups people never make as a game. can't wait for it.
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« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2010, 06:11:43 PM »

The background art is beautiful, the characters are nice pixel art but just look too cartoony for the backgrounds IMHO.
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Jetrel
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« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2010, 08:08:36 PM »

The background art is beautiful, the characters are nice pixel art but just look too cartoony for the backgrounds IMHO.

It makes the characters really *pop* out from the background.


I've seen a lot of arguments for or against;  on some of my/others' projects, the sprites in question  have been accused of mismatching the background.  But if you make them mesh into the background, then people accuse the sprites of getting lost on the terrain.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't.   Corny Laugh  I've come to the conclusion that as long as they're reasonably compatible, it doesn't matter in practice.  If squaresoft can do this in half their titles, and have them worshipped as classics, it's clearly not something for me to worry about.
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« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2010, 10:04:17 PM »

The background art is beautiful, the characters are nice pixel art but just look too cartoony for the backgrounds IMHO.

Respectfully disagree. I feel the graphics are impeccable. Nothing wrong in that category. But hey, that's me.
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droqen
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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2010, 09:23:33 AM »

As much charm and polish as it had, I found the game terribly boring when I played it (maybe a month ago or so?). An easy game is not, however, necessarily boring -- and a hard game is not necessarily fun (this one is a little more obvious).

The way things are laid out, the player is generally fighting the same enemies many times over and in situations not awfully different from one another.

... at any point where I was making a level I really enjoyed, that was usually a sign it was viciously, nintendo hard.  Frogatto is kinda fun for me during the bosses, but the rest of the game is a breeze.  I mean - maybe that's it?  Easiness is boring ...

So put them in somehow! ):

There are a lot of people out there who like games. Why cater to those who don't enjoy what you enjoy? Why make a game only 'kinda fun' for yourself, one of those pouring time (and maybe love) into the project?

Maybe it's just... a different mindset, but if you enjoy something, there must be some others out there who enjoy it too.

Difficulty levels would be a great way of dealing with something like this too, though, if you'd do something like make two entirely different sets of levels (or at least manual modifications) for each. Cater to multiple groups and make it clear that 'easy' is for those who want to breeze through and 'hard' (or whatever you'd call difficulty levels here) is for those who want to enjoy nintendo-hard levels.

~

But like I also said you can make it a breeze and still fun. Right now the options open to the player seem pretty minimal, because all you're doing is... killing simple enemies via simple means, and grabbing coins. In (for example) Spelunky, there are many ways to deal with all sorts of obstacles. Does Frogatto even have any non-enemy obstacles? (Aside from... jumping over things.) I can't recall any.

I'd say some nicer things but I have to go now.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 07:35:57 PM by Droqen » Logged

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