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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsSea Puppies - Pet Simulator + Choose Your Own Adventure
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Author Topic: Sea Puppies - Pet Simulator + Choose Your Own Adventure  (Read 1317 times)
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« on: June 29, 2015, 11:49:59 PM »

The Game

Sea Puppies is a pet simulator (for lack of a better term), with lots of choose-your-own-adventure type aspects. You take care of adorable mermaid doggy sea creatures called Sea Puppies. You raise them, and feed them, and teach them lessons about life and what-not, so they become good sea citizens and contributing members of marine society. I really wanted it to be some kind of "parent simulator" to be quite honest, but I'm not sure if younger players would like that. Anyways~

More alpha footage: https://www.youtube.com/embed/pkv3xBYMwKo

The Puppies

After a comprehensive - but really short - personality quiz, you will be given your first egg to adopt that looks like the one below. Depending on your personality, you might get a more sociable, or a very shy, Sea Puppy breed. Right now, I'm planning on having six breeds in the first release.

In time, it will hatch into a Sea Puppy that look like these guys:

But Sea Puppies will get hungry, and you need to feed it in order to grow. Sea Puppies like to eat Kitty Planktons... and Kitty Krills... and Jellycats... and Cat Squids... and Neko Shrimps... and other cute-but-delectable feline-esque creatures of the sea. Here's a close-up of some Kitty Planktons:

As they mature, they will go out on different adventures, and seek your advice when they encounter life-changing events...

Or in dangerous situations...

Your Sea Puppy will grow depending on which choices you make. So for example, if you make poor choices, your puppy might not finish high school and run away... and end up working in a job he doesn't like, or even run off to join the army because your puppy has no friends and always felt out of place in school!

But if you did take very good care of your puppy, they might finish Sea Puppy College and even graduate with a major degree! Give them enough TLC and parental support, and who knows what your puppy can grow up to become!

And if you're lucky, they might even leave you with a little souvenir to remember them by - which future puppies can use as items that can help them in their many, many adventures!

The Platform

The current plan is to release it on mobile iOS and Android. I figured it would be easier to take care of your pet when it's on your phone/iPad.

The Team

Currently, the game is being developed by a single developer/artist - me - so production is slow, but hopefully it will come out some time this year (or not... idk... you know how indie games are). Until then, I'll keep coding my life away. Corny Laugh


« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 09:10:22 PM by helgravis » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2015, 08:59:41 PM »

Update #1

Adding puppy breed #4: Sea Chocola.

Sea Chocola's are very curious Sea Puppies. They love to explore the vast oceans, looking for sunken treasure, or taming wild, exotic marine animals.

One of the most notorious Sea Chocola's of all time is the Dreaded Pirate Furrybeard. One possible Sea Puppy adventure is to try and seek out Furrybeard's sunken treasure. It will be dangerous, and only the bravest and most resourceful Sea Chocola's will be able to find the Dreaded Pirate's hidden riches. But beware, there are rumors of his treasure being guarded by a terrifying monster: The Cat Kraken.

Still trying to come up on how the Cat Kraken should look like though. I have the story written out, but I still need to draw out the actual photos for each scene.

So Looking for Furrybeard's Treasure is one possible story route for Sea Chocola breeds. Sea Chocolas are naturally excellent at being Treasure Hunters and Archaeologists. But another alternate route is for Sea Chocola's to become Wildlife Experts. It is possible, when growing up, that Sea Chocola breeds might encounter a cryptozoic creature called the Narseacatpony (name still pending). It is a fabled creature, said to be a mix between a cat, a narwhale, and a seahorse.

Currently it looks like this:

I'm still considering changing it to a Narseacathorseray (Cat + Narwhale + Seahorse + Manta Ray) by making the ears more pointy and tail devilish-like, but the name is becoming a bit too long. Anyways, if you manage to complete Taming the Mysterious Creature, your Sea Puppy will grow up to be a Wildlife Expert or a well-renowned Journalist focusing on marine animals.
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2015, 10:27:01 PM »

Update #2

Today, I've been writing up more of Sea Chocola's story route. The Wildlife Expert route is done, and it's mostly straightforward. I wanted the player to teach their puppy how to be more environmentally conscious (and in-turn make the player more appreciative of nature), so the story revolves around befriending a mysterious sea creature that turns out to be rare and endangered. If the puppy is encouraged to be proactive, he/she can grow up to be a Journalist or a Wildlife Expert, and start a conservation program for the fabled Narseacathorse.

The other route poses a delicate problem however. Because I wanted the game to be a parent trainer/simulator, I wanted the puppy to feel intimate with the player. I also tend to avoid putting the puppy in situations where the player can accidentally hurt or kill the puppy, because of cases like these: http://www.theparanormalguide.com/blog/the-tamagotchi-suicides

The alternate Relic Hunter route focuses on Sea Chocola finding a treasure map that belongs to the Dreaded Pirate Furrybeard. I wanted it to feel like the puppy is living out an Indiana Jones-esque fantasy. The puppy would find a map piece, go on a journey, avoid booby traps, solve riddles, and find the treasure. This also means that if the player made a mistake, the puppy might end up getting hurt by a booby trap. I originally went as far as possibly getting the puppy crippled in bad scenarios (and ends up as a Museum Curator helping new puppy adventurers). Personally, I find the story more realistic (like I mean I do want parents to actually think about the risks involved when going out on random adventures), but I think I will rewrite that part to be more kid-friendly and less traumatizing.

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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2015, 07:34:40 PM »

Update #3

So today was spent on mostly overhauling the whole UI. For a newbie/intermediate pixel artist myself, I find it fascinating that in order to make good pixel art, I actually had to reduce the resolution of some of my images. Now as I am writing it down, it seems like common pixel art sense (duh~). Alas, common pixel art sense eludes me. Anyways, here's an example of the new layout, where the high-res fonts have been replaced with more 8bit-like font:

Personally, even though the high-res font looks better by itself, I feel the pixel font just fits better with the rest of the game. I also added some watermark images so the popup doesn't look too empty if it doesn't contain a lot of text. One thing I did have trouble with, it feels like the heavy-weight pixel fonts are fatter than the previous one I'm using. Notice how 4 words using that bold pixel font eats up an entire line! I tried using a skinnier pixel font, but it was too thin and hard to read, so I had to go with the current one. I'd probably have to rewrite all the text in the story database so it can fit inside the popup Waaagh!.

Another thing I changed was the buttons. The new buttons look glossier now, and removing the black border made them feel lighter/easy on the eyes.

Anyways, the moral lesson(s) for today is:

"In pixel art, making high res pictures into low res sometimes makes them look better!"

"If you're really going for pixel art style, make even the fonts pixel artsy!"
« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 07:45:06 PM by helgravis » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2015, 05:54:40 PM »

Update #4

This week I added a minigame. The purpose of the minigame is to provide a diversion for the player because food replenishing takes time. So while new cat planktons are spawning, the player can play a minigame and earn prizes. The game is a very simple guessing game, like the ones that you can see at Chuck-E Cheese's (I figured kids would love this kind of game). The object is to find the pearl, best 3 out of 5.

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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2015, 08:56:47 PM »

Update #5

Uploaded a video of the alpha build of Sea Puppies. You can check it out from the link below.


Also made some animated gifs (which I also added in the first post).

« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 12:23:17 AM by helgravis » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2015, 12:30:30 AM »

Dev Log Update #6

Remember that old acronym KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)? It's easier said than done...

So this entire week was spent trying to add a simple minigame. The minigame is a simple guessing game. You are given two choices, A and B, and you guess which one is the correct one. It's a simple game of luck. Easy, right? Well, easy is a subjective word...

The First Draft

Above is the first draft of how the UI would be laid out. The top and bottom strips are standard to all menu screens. Their main function is to show a navigational road map of which screen the player is at now. I think I instinctively did that because I was originally a web developer, and this is pretty common practice when building a website with a lot of page depth. This however poses a few problems however:

1. It eats up screen space - This wouldn't be such a bad problem if the strips were actually pretty to look at, or at least functional. The top and bottom text are essentially redundant.

2. Bad placement - Sea Puppies is intended to be a mobile game, so chances are the bottom part of the screen would be obstructed by your thumb. Whatever text is underneath is probably going to be unreadable.

3. Lack of relevance - The game is all about spending time with your virtual pet. This screen doesn't really give the player that feeling. It would be better if it actually showed that you were playing with the pet.

The Second Draft

So I knocked down all 3 issues, but then midway I realized I needed a tally counter. The minigame awards prizes if you do very well, but if it's just a one-match game, then the player can just abuse the minigame. It would feel cheap. I needed to make the game last longer so the prizes feel more rewarding. So I decided to make it a best 3 out of 5 matches, hence the need to make a tally counter.

Initially, I wanted to go with a quick and dirty solution (remember KISS?). O and X are very common symbols in some Asian countries to symbolize correct and incorrect actions. So I can display a simple text string, for example - OXOOX - and it would mean I had 1 hit, 1 miss, 2 hits and 1 miss. It works, and personally I think even western countries would easily figure out what the O meant after one trial session. But there is a fine line between keeping things simple, and just being down right sloppy.

Also remember previous issue #3? Notice where the tally is located?

The good news in this draft is now it feels like I'm actually playing with my puppy. He even talks to me, telling me what to do (which completely eliminates the need for a tutorial).

The Third Draft

Now, I relocated the tally counter, made them into actual image sprites (with matching colors to further enforce a hit or a miss), and added a victory/defeat label. I'm relatively happy with the layout at this point, but then I realized I actually had to reward the player with prizes.

I have a couple of design options at this point.

1. Transition to a different reward screen after X seconds - this felt like a bad decision because it removes player control. If the player wanted to gloat and admire his super lucky 5-streak check marks for a sec while his puppy praises his bloating ego, he couldn't. Furthermore, how long is X seconds? People who want to grind this minigame for all its rewards would want to go to the reward screen asap, so it has to be short. But if I make it too short, then you wouldn't be see any of the victory sfx.

2. Add a confirm popup - I liked this idea because the player would have control when he'd want to leave. If he's in a hurry, he can simply mash the Next button. If he wants to celebrate his victory, he can wait for a bit and watch his puppy shower him with praises. The only problem I had was that the popup actually had to be on top of the entire screen, so it prevents the player from seeing any of the victory details.

3. Add a next button - Remember KISS? This actually took me a whole day to figure out that I could just simply add a "Claim Prize" button at the bottom of the screen and it fixes the problem entirely. No one gets rushed, no one is forced to wait, and nothing gets obstructed. This solution does not get affected by issue #3 as long as the button is big enough. In fact, it feels more natural because chances are your thumb is already hovering over the button if it was on a mobile device.

The Fourth Draft

So after being satisfied with how the current mini-game's UI looks like, I had the brilliant idea thinking, "Hey, what if I made the reward screen some sort of mini-game as well?" And that's why the reward screen has cards in it. The player gets to flip one reward card, and you get random cards in every batch - which means I needed to make multiple card artwork for however many card varieties I would have. It took me another whole day just to design the card template for 4 cards. I wanted to add more, but then I remembered KISS. In the first place, I haven't had any player feedback with this iteration. For all I know, the layout might still be confusing or *gasp* - boring. So whatever additional cards I wanted to draw, I think they can wait until I get an actual beta version playable.

The Current State

So after going through several iterations, adding more pixel art and particle fx over there and there, here's what the current mini-game looks like:


I originally had planned to finish adding this feature in a mere day or two. Evidently, I vastly underestimated this simple mini-game. Hope you like it! And if you ever run into any design problems, always remember: KISS.
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