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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMable & The Wood
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« Reply #100 on: October 18, 2015, 01:51:02 AM »

Beautiful scene/setting. I was skimming and read that you wanted to make battle feel more necessary. This might be a bit blunt, but how about a big old barrier that falls from the sky. Or just some kind of magic barrier that doesn't dispel until slaying the enemies?

Forgive me if this has already been said.

And so we have a magic barrier!


It doesn't technically work yet because I've only had about 40 minutes to work on the game this week, but it will. And when it does, I'll just need to quickly re-code how all the enemies work. Definitely got a good feeling about the direction it's going in now. I can fit the game in my head at last (Sort of).

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« Reply #101 on: October 28, 2015, 04:40:57 AM »

Finally got a chance to download and play this.  I love the look of the game!  You mentioned before something like wanting to add a mechanic that incentivizes mastery of the sword?  I was thinking some sort of combo system would be good.  For example, given how difficult I'm finding the timing, being rewarded with a "life" everytime I kill a monster would be great.  As it is I die too quickly and I just end up frustrated and not wanting to go on (although maybe that's the point?).
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« Reply #102 on: October 28, 2015, 06:28:40 AM »

This was one of my favourite games in LD32 so nice to see how much further you've been pushing it. The barrier mechanic looks like it will work well in helping set tasks in specific sections which is a nice way to do it.
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« Reply #103 on: October 30, 2015, 06:53:37 PM »

Right away this art and animation has me attracted to the game.
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« Reply #104 on: October 31, 2015, 04:26:34 PM »

I like the game's look. Following the log, and I'll play the LD version when I get a chance.  Smiley
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« Reply #105 on: November 07, 2015, 09:22:36 AM »

Wow, I just saw this Blink Looking great, overall art style and colors are really atmospheric and memorable. Though I seriously sucked and died many times in both versions (ludum and indiecade versions) Smiley
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« Reply #106 on: November 08, 2015, 12:36:35 PM »

Thank you for saying nice things.

There's a few quick updates below:


  • I've got a new title! Sarah helped out with this, as I wanted to keep Mable in the title but make it sound more like a fairytale. It seems that the answer was simpler than I thought. I like it. I'm going to stick with it.
  • We have new UI, as you can see fading in on the top left of the screen.
  • We have health!? How does that work? I'll show you later Smiley
  • Wait, what's that other thing under health? Well, that would be the subject of my next blog post (which I'm sure I'll get around to in the next week......) - there's a little hint in the gif below!


It's a pretty crap gif but hey you get the idea

I've still got a list of things to fix up before starting from scratch with the levels. The level design in the Indiecade version is pretty bad. It will be better.

I'm actually planning it out as a standalone demo experience now, with roughly 6 levels of content. The aim is to have this ready for early in the new year. It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I've actually sat down and sketched out everything I think I can do with the mechanics as they are, but now I have I've realised just how many possibilities there are to explore in different directions (with the design and as the player, natch), so the demo will be a lot more than just slicing lots of enemies into pieces - although I'll be sure to let you do a little bit of that if you want to too.

Anyway, there'll be more on that later. For now I have to try and get a little girl with bronchiolitis to sleep without catching it myself. Wish me luck!

Cheers  Beer!

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« Reply #107 on: November 10, 2015, 04:18:14 AM »

Liking that title change, think it works well and does give that fairytale feeling. Also the font design is great.

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« Reply #108 on: November 12, 2015, 01:04:59 PM »

The style of this game is where it's at. Very beautiful and enchanted Smiley
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« Reply #109 on: November 23, 2015, 01:17:47 PM »

DEVLOG 001

Yeah I'm calling this number 1. I've never really done a proper devlog before, just vague mutterings as to where things may or may not be going. I can't imagine it's been a very interesting read, so I'm surprised you've all stayed put for so long. Must be all those GIFs huh?


What Even Is This Mable Thing Anyway?

Mable started out as a compo entry for Ludum Dare 32. It looked a little something like this:


It was my 8th entry to Ludum Dare - you can try my other entries here, if you so wish - and was by far the highest rated thing I've done.

The theme was 'An Unconventional Weapon', so obviously I decided to make a game where your weapon is a sword. The twist is that it's a magic sword that you can't lift from the floor, but that you can drop and magically recall to you, slicing through anything in the way. Oh, and you're a shapeshifting fairy girl.

As I said, it was received pretty well:



Naturally, I was extremely disappointed.

How Many People Have Actually Downloaded The Game?

It was also the second game that I had uploaded to itch.io (my first being a pretty awful attempt at a 7-day-roguelike that we shall mention no more).

Apart from my haphazard posts on here and tweeting a GIF every now and then, I haven't really done any promotion at all. I continue to be impressed by the game's performance on itch, particularly as the version on there is what I managed to pull together in 48 hours and the game page is about as unappealing as it could be.


What I like about this is that it's still getting views and downloads on most days (but not in the last week huh!?), despite being uploaded in April and despite no changes being made to the page to make it any more enticing.

I've been trying to work out what this means, and I've come to the conclusion that it must just be that there's something appealing about what the look of the game communicates. That it looks like something that quite a few people want to play.


Didn't You Submit This Thing To Indiecade?

Yes I did. No it didn't go all that well. I was still trying to decide what I wanted the game to be, I had no idea how it was all going to come together and was just trying to draw things that looked cool because the visuals seemed to have really connected with people.

At least I got good feedback out of it, which you can read here. This really made me sit back and think not just about this game, but about how I actually approach designing games.

This was difficult, and not something I would ever recommend. My approach so far had been to focus on making things looks and feel good, without really having any kind of big picture. Kind of a 'oh that would be cool' kind of approach to game design. Now that I had something that people seemed to see potential in, that kind of approach just wasn't going to work.


So, I decided to do a little research. I'd go into more detail here but this is already going to be a pretty big post - I can elaborate and post resources if anyone is interested, just let me know. Basically, it wasn't that I hadn't read A LOT about design, it was just that I hadn't thought critically about how that might apply to my own process of creating things that people play with.

I knew so much about game design, but I knew nothing about how to design a game.

That realisation sucked. It also led to me scrapping all the work I had done for the Indiecade build! Except for that cool boatman animation obvs.


So, What's Changed?

I have a baby, and therefore less time. I'm also working full time again, which is good for money and avoiding getting cabin fever but not a lot else from a making games point of view. I'm working most evenings when everyone else goes to bed, but that's starting to wear me out when combined with the many wake up calls from baby Joni May.

Oh, I should probably be talking about what's changed in my approach right? Well, it's getting a little late here and I haven't done anything on the game yet tonight, so if it's alright with you, I'll continue with this later in the week.

I hope you prefer these more in depth posts rather than my usual quickfire stuff. Obviously this is my first attempt and I'm not the best at making words make sense, but I'll stick at it and hopefully these posts will get better.

If this throws up any questions then be sure to shout them out so I can answer them.

Good night Smiley
« Last Edit: November 24, 2015, 11:22:21 AM by and » Logged

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« Reply #110 on: November 23, 2015, 02:04:36 PM »

This post resonated with me.  A lot.  Especially the part about not having a clear idea of what your game is and just injecting features (to paraphrase).  I've had fits and starts with developing my own game due to this very same problem.  I was so frustrated at one point that I called it quits this summer and deleted everything, even my twitter account.  I was done.  I couldn't do it.  Later I came to my senses and realized I was just throwing a digital fit, though I still haven't solved my original problem of not knowing exactly what the game is.

Anyway, I'm saying all of this not to tell my story, but to let you know you're not the only one.  Sometimes I feel like we need a support group.   Cry

Thank you for sharing your story and I'm looking forward to seeing more on how you work through this.  Keep it up!

Oh, and congratulations on the baby!
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« Reply #111 on: November 24, 2015, 01:11:04 AM »

Thanks ElfSpit!

Always good to know I'm not the only one prone to a meltdown every now and then  Toast Left
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« Reply #112 on: November 24, 2015, 03:12:33 PM »


I knew so much about game design, but I knew nothing about how to design a game.

That realisation sucked. It also led to me scrapping all the work I had done for the Indiecade build!


Not that I have any definitive data or anything, but I don't think it's much different for the experienced designers, because of the nature of designing something. I'm pretty sure even the most known ones are constantly hitting a lot of roadbumps along the way and ditch a lot of ideas without being able to bend them to their will.

So, I just don't think there is much reason to be hard on yourself Smiley Congrats for your baby, btw!

Looking forward to the new build (if it will be available for us) to write a more detailed comment since you said you're revising a lot of things (and I didn't want to mess up your process).
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« Reply #113 on: November 30, 2015, 09:56:23 AM »

DEVLOG 002

Right, where was I? Ah yes, I was going to talk about how things had changed through the various iterations of the design. Let’s do that then!

Mable The Journey – LUDUM DARE VERSION

This is the version that I made in 48 hours for Ludum Dare. I’ve covered the main mechanic before: you can turn into a fairy, which makes you drop your sword. When you change back into a human the sword is pulled back to you, killing any enemy in its path.

Due to the short time, I implemented this mechanic in the simplest way I could think. You move back and forth along a flat level and random enemies spawn.


If you kill them, the spawn frequency and maximum number of enemies slowly increases. If they touch you, then you die and it all starts again. There was no score and no time limit. The only additional mechanic was that the colour slowly faded from the world, and you also lost if the colour faded completely. The colour could be restored also by killing the enemies.

There were 3 enemy types: a charging devil/bull, a leaping frog dressed as a roman legionnaire (because why not) and a flying devil guy in a waistcoat (because why not – this is a great design philosophy huh)


(business guy didn't make it into the game)

As I noted in the previous post, this version of the game was well received. Obviously there’s different expectations placed on a jam game and the Ludum Dare community is generally positive and constructive, but it’s always good to know when you could be on to something good.


Mable The Journey – Indiecade Submission Version

I wasn’t considering submitting to Indiecade, but I’m a sucker for sales and the discount for Ludum Dare games pulled me in. To summarise my thoughts on my decision to submit to Indiecade, I’d say that it was a mistake.


While the feedback I got was very helpful, I had rushed expanding the scope of the game in an attempt to have a more full game to show as an example, but that could still be developed into the longer form game that I actually wanted to turn it into.

I tried to come up with the easiest way to expand the game that could hint at something bigger. In hindsight, keeping it as more of an arena combat thing, perhaps even a versus thing with enemies and environmental hazards in there to spice it up – that kind of thing might have been better suited to a festival submission, but I wanted to make a game that took you on a journey and told the story that I had in mind.

In the end I decided to lift the mechanics exactly as they were in the Ludum Dare version and stuff them into a side scrolling platformer – kind of like Super Ghouls and Ghosts but with flying and the cool sword/shapeshifting thing.  That was pretty much how I was selling the game to myself. The problem with this was that somehow it felt worse than the original jam version.

I’ve discussed the various ways that it felt a bit rubbish throughout this devlog, but I think the issues can all be traced straight back to one issue: the mechanics that worked in the game jam version didn’t work in the Indiecade version.


Mable & The Wood

This brings us to now, so I’ll quickly talk about some of the changes that I’ve made to those original mechanics.

The change that has had the biggest impact on the way the game works is the changes I’ve made to the colour fading mechanic. In the jam version, the fading colour worked well. The ambiguous feedback of how much colour was left serve to increase the tension of making sure you lined up your next kill. This was good. Unfortunately, it was exactly this ambiguity that DIDN’T WORK AT ALL in the Indiecade version of the game.


I tried to fix this by adding in UI, the heart that you can see in the screenshot above. This was not a fix. It was the equivalent of trying to plug a hole in the dam with chewing gum. As a player, your focus is on the action and not on the edge of the screen.

For things like health or points and such, it’s a reasonable solution to show this in the corner of the screen as that is the kind of information that you can take in at a glance when there’s a break in the action. However, the colour state changes all of the time and is of most important right when the action is at its most frantic. To make matters worse, you often wouldn’t even realise that the colour had any kind of effect because, even if you’re flying fast through the level, you tended to kill an enemy just by travelling and thus refilling the colour.

This led to the colour fading mechanic being irrelevant for roughly 80% of the time and frustrating for the other 20% of the time.


I’ve always found that the best way to fix something that’s broken in your design is to simply get rid of it.

If this doesn’t break anything else, and your game feels better without it, then you’re sorted. Unfortunately, in the case of Mable, it DID break something – namely the flying mechanic. Without the fading colour you could essentially fly forever (previously the colour faded faster when you were flying), which removed any kind of challenge to the movement (making it pretty boring) and made combat pointless (because it was MUCH easier to just avoid everything – even though that was more boring than stopping to fight).

I briefly implemented the barriers that I’ve shown in earlier posts as an attempt to combat this and force you to fight, but this system on its own just felt like exactly what it was – a makeshift solution. I mean, those barriers are good for having contained challenges so they’ll still be used, but to make them work with how things were I’d have had to basically have one barrier after another. Not particularly great level design there (particularly in a game where the way the combat and movement mechanics work together were a big part of what made it fun in the first place).

This was the solution I settled on:


You now have a limited amount of magic, which you use to sustain the fairy form which allows you to fly. This magic is recharged when you land or when you kill an enemy. This is already a massive post (particularly by my standards), so I'll expand on this further in a later post and cover how it fixes the issues as well as the new opportunities it presents for interesting gameplay - although I'm sure you can already think up some fun level bits using these mechanics Smiley (oh and you can probably see that I added in health too but I’ve already gone on too long to go into the reasons for that - I will let you know).

I also managed to tweak the old colour fading shader to add a cool effect that helps to communicate the difference between the forms and the magic use:


Cool huh?
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 11:22:55 PM by and » Logged

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« Reply #114 on: November 30, 2015, 10:39:23 AM »

You got something here. +1
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It's all good.
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« Reply #115 on: November 30, 2015, 11:19:43 AM »

Really like the changes to the core mechanic. Glad you're still messing around with this idea, there's something golden underneath all this...
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« Reply #116 on: November 30, 2015, 11:20:44 PM »

You got something here. +1

Thank you, can never have enough +1s Smiley

Really like the changes to the core mechanic. Glad you're still messing around with this idea, there's something golden underneath all this...

Thanks Jon! Your progress with Masochisia and particularly your detailed devlog posts have been a constant source of motivation and inspiration  Coffee

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« Reply #117 on: December 02, 2015, 04:50:22 PM »

I like what You've achieved (sort of by accident I think) with colour fading in newest version. It is kinda like when you use magic on you, whole magic in the world (represent by colours) is fading away. Maybe You should use it to give deeper sense of magic in Mable. Like saying that egoism ruins the world :D

edit: Maybe she even isn't a good fairy? Maybe she do not know how to feel about it, and she want to learn all about herself and her impact on the world? Who knows, maybe she will find out that it is eventually better to not using the magic at all?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 05:13:38 PM by matheavyk » Logged

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« Reply #118 on: December 02, 2015, 05:09:45 PM »

Love the simple and graphical treatment.
I think this works very well Smiley
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« Reply #119 on: December 03, 2015, 04:17:17 AM »

I like what You've achieved (sort of by accident I think) with colour fading in newest version. It is kinda like when you use magic on you, whole magic in the world (represent by colours) is fading away. Maybe You should use it to give deeper sense of magic in Mable. Like saying that egoism ruins the world :D

Definitely not by accident Wink

Yeah I really like the metaphor of colour/magic and various things it can mean. It's nice and ambiguous.

edit: Maybe she even isn't a good fairy? Maybe she do not know how to feel about it, and she want to learn all about herself and her impact on the world? Who knows, maybe she will find out that it is eventually better to not using the magic at all?

That might actually add a nice twist to the story I've got in mind you know...

Love the simple and graphical treatment.
I think this works very well Smiley

Thanks! I'm not particularly good at pixel art so I try to keep it simple and avoid using too much detail (as that makes it stand out that I can't draw)
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