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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsCatcher! (Now with procedural backgrounds & more!)
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Author Topic: Catcher! (Now with procedural backgrounds & more!)  (Read 9309 times)
TobiasW
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« on: December 09, 2013, 03:06:57 pm »


Introduction

Catcher is a sometimes fast-paced, sometimes almost meditative arcade game. Instead of weapons, the player controls two space ships connected by a net made out of energy. Enclose huge groups of enemies, build up combos and try to figure out those odd geometric shapes before they kill you!

  • A unique take on the shoot'em up genre - with an energy net instead of guns
  • An unusual mouse-only control scheme that quickly becomes intuitive
  • Dozens of wholly different enemies waiting to be figured out
  • An original electronic soundtrack ranging from soothing to tense

It started mid october as a remake of a game I did in Java/Processing 4 years ago with Unity3D. By now it has more features than the old version ever had, and there's still so much planned!


Latest Playable Versions

Play it in your browser*!
(*If you have the Unity Web Player and a browser that doesn't hate the Unity plugin.)

Adopt a desktop version!
Windows
Linux
Mac

Note that while the web version is always up to date,
the desktop versions don't automatically update.


Magically Moving Pictures



Gameplay Video

...coming soon, stay tuned!


Still Up Ahead

While it's already playable and fun, there's still a lot of stuff for me to do! Hence the devlog.

Gameplay
  • Enemies still patiently waiting for implementation: ~50 (and already implemented: 36)
  • Randomized Arena Mode
  • Items/Power-Ups

GUI/Menu
  • Port to Daikon Forge GUI
  • Display leaderboards from current day/week
  • Options
  • Cooler level select: Visual sector map instead of list
  • Localization to other languages

Music/Sfx
  • More songs
  • Sfx for basically everything, especially the enemies

Other Stuff
  • Analytics to find out which parts of the games are too easy/hard
  • Randomly generated ingame backgrounds

Experimenting with...
  • Controllers in general
  • Tablets
  • OUYA
  • PS Move
  • Ingame gravitation, streams and level geometry
  • Scrolling levels

Maybe, Maybe
  • Online/Local Multiplayer
  • Level/Enemy Editor

...and the usual: lots of balancing, polishing, bugfixing, refactoring and optimization.


Feedback?

Yes, please! Of any kind!

I'm especially interested in:
  • Bug reports
  • Feedback/suggestions regarding look & feel

Also:
  • Which ones are you favourite enemies? And which ones are the worst and should be scrapped?
  • Is there anything you figured out very late and you think it should be mentioned somewhere?
  • Is anything unclear?
  • Ultra-special bonus question: Anyone has an idea for a better name for the game?

Any other feedback is very welcome too! And if you have suggestions for new enemies I'd love to hear them.


Credits

Programming, Design and Nearly Everything Else™
Tobias Wehrum
http://blog.dragonlab.de

Music and Sound Design
Moritz Ufer
https://soundcloud.com/nexus-child


*) In dire need of a good name
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 03:03:33 pm by TobiasW » Logged

migrafael
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 08:40:33 am »

Looks amazing and great concept. Clicked immediately to play. Once in the game was really confused on how to start playing. Clicked "Play " and then what? Added my name and then what? Had to click on a tiny text link called welcome. Put a BRFB on it Tongue


Edit:

Yeah, #1 Homing Enemy Aproaching

Really like how it gives you your ranking at the end of a level. This is really really fun
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 08:47:53 am by migrafael » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2013, 09:01:26 am »

Yes! Following! The concept is great and simple yet effective graphics, watching each and every update.
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Silbereisen
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 09:40:20 am »

Played through the "Starry Skies" sector (is there more?). The concept is pretty great and the execution is good too. I like how there's a slight puzzle feel to the game. Every level has a "method" to beating it and it's very satisfying figuring out what the method is. I liked the music too. I DO have several criticisms w/r/t the UI though:

1. Like migrafael said, the title menu is pretty confusing. You should tidy up the layout and make it more obvious what to click to start the game.

2. The size of your ship is not the best indicator for your health, mostly because it's so small to begin with. A health bar would be less elegant but would get the point across better I think.

3. The messages felt a bit too small to me and didn't "pop out" enough.

That's all, keep up the good work.  Smiley
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TobiasW
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 11:18:20 am »

Looks amazing and great concept. Clicked immediately to play.

Thanks a lot! I was already wondering if I did something wrong here, with the devlog already on page 3 of the forum overview without any answers at all Smiley

Quote
Once in the game was really confused on how to start playing. Clicked "Play " and then what? Added my name and then what? Had to click on a tiny text link called welcome. Put a BRFB on it Tongue

Haha, yeah, I guess my new level select screen is a bit busy. Until I get to tidy up the layout, I made it at least easier for new players: "Play" just jumps immediately into the first level for them.

Quote
Yeah, #1 Homing Enemy Aproaching

Really like how it gives you your ranking at the end of a level. This is really really fun

Sweet! I am not sure I see your score in the leaderboard though. Did you just close the game? The game submits the score when you press any button ("Back to menu", "Repeat sector", "Continue!") on the "Sector Clear"/"Game Over" screen.

I'm very sorry if your score was lost Sad

I added a "Submit Scores" button now to make it clearer that action is needed to submit the scores.




Yes! Following! The concept is great and simple yet effective graphics, watching each and every update.

Thanks a lot! Looking forward to see you play!




Played through the "Starry Skies" sector (is there more?). The concept is pretty great and the execution is good too. I like how there's a slight puzzle feel to the game. Every level has a "method" to beating it and it's very satisfying figuring out what the method is. I liked the music too.

Thank you! And yeah, I want to expand on that puzzle feel later on - there will be some enemies that you really have to figure out before you can beat them.

It seems my UI has a *lot* of problems, because there is a lot more content than the "Starry Skies" sector. You probably overlooked the "Continue!" button in the "Sector Clear" screen? I made it yellow now, just to be sure people see it...

Also there was a bug in the level select screen that I just fixed. When you restart the game, you should be able to select the sector "Moonlit Nights".

Quote
1. Like migrafael said, the title menu is pretty confusing. You should tidy up the layout and make it more obvious what to click to start the game.

You're absolutely right. I'll probably do that once I migrate to the new UI system - for now I've made it that it totally skips the level selection for new players.

Quote
2. The size of your ship is not the best indicator for your health, mostly because it's so small to begin with. A health bar would be less elegant but would get the point across better I think.

Hum - yeah, I guess so. I'd like to find a more elegant way than a simple health bar though. It's on my to-do list now!

Quote
3. The messages felt a bit too small to me and didn't "pop out" enough.

Which messages are you refering to? The tutorial-like ones in the background in the first few levels?
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 06:59:18 pm by TobiasW » Logged

Silbereisen
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2013, 03:44:20 am »

Quote
Which messages are you refering to? The tutorial-like ones in the background in the first few levels?
I mean the ones like "Ship Collision", "Net Overlap", "75% Health", etc.
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TobiasW
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2013, 04:59:43 pm »

Quote
Which messages are you refering to? The tutorial-like ones in the background in the first few levels?
I mean the ones like "Ship Collision", "Net Overlap", "75% Health", etc.

Hm, I'll have to think about that. I am not sure if stuff like that should "pop out" - actually I feel that it's too intrusive as it is already, distracting from the other visuals and the actual gameplay experience. There will be sound effects for the different things that can happen though, hopefully that'll help.
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2013, 12:30:40 pm »

Quote
There will be sound effects for the different things that can happen though, hopefully that'll help.
That's good!

I guess "pop out" was the wrong term. What I meant was, make it easier to tell what's going on.  Tongue
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TobiasW
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2014, 07:27:01 pm »

I've been busy starting the development of a point&click adventure and doing freelance work lately, but now I'm back on Catcher! (Can't let it take another 4 years, can I.)

The current build has some bugfixes and little changes. The next days I'll post something more exciting though: A few GIFs of new enemies I'm working on. You never know how good a concept actually plays against, but some of them came out especially well.

Later this month, there'll finally be more sound effects (especially for feedback and some of the more significant enemy movement/actions). After that I'll probably do a GUI rework with Daikon Forge GUI.

Feels good to be back! Smiley
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Christian
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2014, 06:47:21 am »

Wow, this game is great. Really smooth and fluid and netting a bunch of enemies at once feels great. A cool clever take on the arena shmup
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TobiasW
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2014, 10:22:59 pm »

Wow, this game is great. Really smooth and fluid and netting a bunch of enemies at once feels great. A cool clever take on the arena shmup
Thanks a lot! Smiley

And surprisingly, I've never seen it so much as an arena shooter variant - but it's actually an interesting way to talk about it.


Here are some GIFs of new enemies! Part one of two. You can also already see some of the new particle effects that'll come with the particle/sfx update soon Smiley

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TobiasW
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2014, 02:41:53 pm »

And here are a few more of those terribly big new enemy GIFs:



And soon: A new release with the new particle effects and a lot of new feedback sounds!
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SolarLune
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2014, 11:20:02 am »

This looks awesome! I like the neon visuals and unique gameplay style. Posting to follow here!
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Christian
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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2014, 12:14:05 pm »

Those enemies look so cool. Really like how you exploring such a simple mechanic with all different enemies
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TobiasW
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2014, 05:59:55 pm »

Thanks guys!

Yeah, the "different enemies" thing works really well. The enemies almost design themselves - I currently have 30 different types (not counting enemies that do the same with higher speed/difficulty) and a lot more ideas for new ones!

By the way, if anybody feels inspired: "Catcher" really needs a new name. I'm super picky, but thankful for suggestions!
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Christian
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« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2014, 06:08:54 pm »

idk, I like the name. Then again, I really like simple minimalist titles. Catcher perfectly describes the gameplay. You evade and catch enemies to destroy them
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 06:35:36 pm by Christian » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2014, 10:28:55 pm »


Just played the browser version of your wonderful game.

The controls seem fluid and well crafted, and it is fascinating to see the variety of enemies you can create, within a game with such simple game play.

I did find the text gui during the game, a little jarring. Given that the text notifications like collision or combination moves are not numerous, you might consider turning them into simple symbols/glyphs ? That might help keep your minimal pallet clean.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 01:20:37 am by oleomingus » Logged

 
TobiasW
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« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2014, 08:01:30 am »

idk, I like the name. Then again, I really like simple minimalist titles. Catcher perfectly describes the gameplay. You evade and catch enemies to destroy them

It describes the basic gameplay mechanic quite well, that's true - but the game is also about flow and elegant movement, about discovering new enemies and figuring out their behaviour, and the name doesn't even allude to that. It's also hard to search for and extremely bland. And it doesn't even sound good. Concerned

Also I think I have a cool and accessible game, but I hardly get many responses here. I think I need name that better alludes to the feeling of the game and sounds more interesting might help with that.



Just played the browser version of your wonderful game.

The controls seem fluid and well crafted, and it is fascinating to see the variety of enemies you can create, within a game with such simple game play.

I did find the text gui during the game, a little jarring. Given that the text notifications like collision or combination moves are not numerous, you might consider turning them into simple symbols/glyphs ? That might help keep your minimal pallet clean.

Thanks a lot! Do you think the game play might be a bit too simplistic and samey over time?

I definitely agree about the texts, but I think they are needed for beginners. Once I have particle effects and sound effects for everything, I'll probably allow to turn them totally off in the options.
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« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2014, 08:25:33 am »

As for the gameplay being repetitive, I certainly haven't encountered that yet. I think because each enemy requires such a different strategies and mixes up the core gameplay in different ways. It's kind of Luftrausers or One Finger Death Punch, in that the simple mechanics is given variety and longetivity through the challenges the player faces rather than complex gameplay

Name suggestions:
- DriftNet
- Neo-Seine
- Hyperfilament

Drift Nets and Seines are types of fishing nets. DriftNet just sounds cool. But Seines are basically the same kind of net as in Catcher


Hyper, Neo, Cyber imply a kind of visual style IMO, flashy neon colors, etc.
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TobiasW
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2014, 06:22:40 am »

Gameplay: Great, that was what I was hoping for! It's so hard to ascertain when you've been playing your own game so often.

Thinking in fishing terms might really be a good idea for the name - I didn't think about that yet. And I probably shouldn't be surprised that this type of net actually exists, haha. Thanks a lot for the suggestions/inspiration! (I briefly entertained the thought of "Starfisher" until I actually googled it.)
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