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Weaver
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« on: April 19, 2009, 05:37:49 PM »

The Little Things is a new project of mine: a 2D platformer with a focus on exploration and collection.

You play as a collector, free-roaming in a massive, weird world. Graphics are simplistic and tile-based, platforming is the foundation, and you will meet lots of strange people and see many strange things.
Along the way, you will collect numerous small beings for your collection -- the titular Little Things. These can be anything from tiny animals and crawly bugs, to miniature golems and wispy spirits. You collect them, sell them, trade them, and document them. Many of them can undergo metamorphosis if given the proper circumstances and shift to an entirely new being.
At it's core, it's the roaming of Knytt combined with the collecting and evolving of Pokemon, but without the combat -- it's instead replaced by exploration and mild puzzles.
A mellow, free-roaming experience with lots to see and do, intended to be quite relaxing. Something that's not particularly difficult, but still offers lots to achieve.



Anyway, this is about the fastest I've ever made this kind of progress on anything, and I'm way into it now. The coding foundation of the game is done, so at this point I'm just adding content. That certainly takes its time, but it doesn't have me ripping my hair out trying to figure out why something isn't working.
For updates, I've got a running blog going with regular updates here.

Started it just under two weeks ago. First true public demo was released just yesterday.
Download the demo here.
Here is a download mirror!

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How do I feed something?
A: Left-click on the Thing you want to feed from your belt, then right-click on the item in your inventory you want, and finally choose the option to give it to the Thing.

Q: I can't figure out how to catch/metamorphose a given Thing. What do I do?
A: Talk to the locals. They may have helpful information on where to find Things, how to catch and morph them, and what container types you will need to store them. Some things you will still have to figure out on your own, but if you are patient and explore your options, you will succeed.

Q: My belt is full. How do I free up some room?
A: You can always sell or release Things or throw away containers, but most often you will want to keep a Thing you have caught. Simply return home and access your storage box. Then you can store containers from your belt in the box, or retrieve stored containers back to your belt, simply by right clicking the desired container and choosing to move it.

Q: How do I get past this darn bridge?
A: You will have to help the Scribe first.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 07:12:58 PM by Weaver » Logged
it_is_coming
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2009, 07:22:12 PM »

Sounds and looks awesome. Is there any sort of 'win' condition, or is it just perpetual collection?
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Inanimate
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2009, 07:24:10 PM »

This is a very interesting game so far! Definitely interested! :D
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sereneworx
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2009, 11:58:46 PM »

The graphical style is fantastic, reminiscent of Knytt, but with a flair and originality of its own.

The gameplay seems very interesting, I'll be sure to keep and eye out, and will play the beta when I'm home on my PC.
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KennEH!
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2009, 03:08:05 AM »

Can't wait to try this out, looks great. Grin
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2009, 03:31:53 AM »

Oooh! It's very sweet. It looks great - like Knytt, but I agree with Seren that it has it's own thing going for it. And I love the idea - non-violent creature collecting! Auntie GD is a pretty good character, as well.


Couple of problems, though. Firstly - I know it's a personal design choice and such, but... the jumping is a little too sharp. It'd be nice if I was a tad lighter - there's a lotta gravity at work here. But, hey, if you think it works, stick with it.


Secondly, and more importantly - the inventory's pretty clunky. It's an important feature, and having to switch from keyboard to mouse and then doing a lot of clicking is kind of annoying. If you could highlight objects on mouseover (physically, not just text) that'd be a nice start, but what I'd really dig is some keyboard shortcuts. Maybe the arrow keys and the Numpad to quick-select stuff? Or, a radial-menu thing without snapping to inventory. But, speeding up that process would be great. Shopping, too.


Lastly, sound! But, hey, I know that's coming. This is the first demo, ja? Just saying, remember to be as detailed with your sounds as you are with your text and graphics.


Overall though, great stuff. I think I'll be settling down with this for a while.

 Coffee


OH: And fix that ladder climb animation! Reminds me of the initial Spelunky rope issues - way too wide, slow and slippery.


ALSO: Skimming pebbles is strangely satisfying. Delightful.


AND, AAAND: Welcome to TIGSource! I admit, I chuckled when I saw your Avatar + Personal Text combo. Love me some cute punning.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2009, 03:37:14 AM by Gainsworthy » Logged
Glyph
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2009, 04:28:50 PM »

This was pretty fun. Nice concept. I do think the game could do being less linear, but I'm sure that's to change.
The ladder movement, however, should be fixed, so it doesn't look weird. By that I mean when you press to move onto the ladder, fix the player's x to the center of the ladder so no graphical oddities occur, i.e. being on the edge of the ladder and still holding on to nothing on one side.
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2009, 04:50:42 PM »

By god I love you for making this. Shocked
I absolutely LOVE exploration games of any type, but the 'genre' is so underfed. Very few ex. games turn out well. The few out there, Knytt (and Stories), Metroid, An untitled story, Arsenic Cookies (SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION!!!) and La Mulana, that are good, are really GOOD. I guess what all this rambling is leading to, is that if this game is half as good as it looks and sounds, you'll be nourishing a genre that greatly needs it.  Wink

Anyway, downloading now, will be back to you!
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2009, 12:30:28 AM »

I would love to try this but I try and download and it says "download limit exceeded."
Megaupload tends to suck in ways. Could you host somewhere more friendly, please? Willhostforfood is nice.
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Weaver
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2009, 01:41:23 AM »

Xion:
Sorry about that.
Here is a download mirror!
I hope it works better for you than the first one did. 

Gainsworthy:

Thanks muchly for the detailed feedback. As far as movement is concerned, the final game will allow the player to learn new abilities in addition to swimming, such as running, higher jumping, and so on. So movement feels restrictive early on -- and in many ways it is, restrictive in order to keep the player from reaching certain 'locked' areas -- but this will soon ease up.
The UI is admittedly very clunky. I'm doing my best to sort out exactly how to refine it, and I think some more distinctly variegated displays would be a step in the right direction. As you said, highlighting icons becoming more apparent, maybe a bounding box around the currently selected Thing on the belt, for a start. I'm definitely going to have to refine situational UIs like the buy/sell and container storage menus, since those seem to be causing the most problems. A lot of people seem to have trouble figuring out how to feed creatures. I tried to make it fairly straightforward: choose someone to feed, then feed him. But of course, to the designer, even the most clumsy interface seems understandable. I'm considering now: would it be easier to be able to choose "give this item to a Thing" at all times, and THEN be presented with a menu to click on the Thing you want to feed? People also seem to have some trouble figuring out how to move Things from one container to another. I wanted the radial menu to be user-friendly, to display everything people could need with quick, helpful mouseover hints, but evidently it's not doing the job I wanted it to, and I'm left picking up the pieces.
As for sound, this is my weak point. I have no skill or ability in creating sound effects, let alone music. I envision a sort of soft, atmospheric soundtrack with ambient sounds, something that's never intrusive, but I'd have to outsource it or find someone willing to work with me on it since I've got no audio experience whatsoever.
And as you and many others mentioned, you're right: ladders are currently slippery and way wider than they should be. I think some left-right maneuvering should be allowed but within a few pixels, rather than a whole tile-wide overlap spread. Needs work, duly noted.

I'm very glad you enjoy the characters and the minor distractions. I coded in a whole paper airplane physics bit just in case anyone enjoyed playing around with them, and added a randomized rock-throwing, water-skimming thing just for relaxation's sake. I figured I wanted to make a game that wasn't particularly difficult, but could still provide a lot to achieve. The game is fairly light on puzzles, because the Things themselves ARE the puzzles. Finding them, catching them, and morphing them is the challenge, and all it really takes, in the end, is a creative mind, patience, and a desire to experiment with what you're given and try new things.
And more than anything, I wanted a laid-back, mellow experience in which people could freely explore and relax. Throwing paper airplanes, skipping stones, seeing the sights... anything to help the mood.

Speaking of which, here's a title screen a friend of mine was nice enough to whip up for me.

Glyphmasta:
As I said, you raise a good point about the ladders. As for your concerns on linearity, yes, this is mostly a way of trying to fit a majority of the gameplay elements into a small area. In the final game, there would probably be a lot more wilderness between merchants and towns, and there would be multiple areas of exploration rather than just revolving through the rooms in a counterclockwise circle.

A few specific Things will be obvious and easy to get, notably the ones which unlock the new abilities which will allow you to reach new areas. The water spirit that teaches you to swim, for example, will not evolve in an esoteric way from some hard-to-find wild critter. So the game world will largely be open for roaming, and every further tier requiring an ability will unlock yet wider ranges of areas.
Of course, this also means that 'beating' the game -- reaching the final area, and completing the ultimate goal (which, to be honest, I haven't decided on yet) can be done without catching a vast majority of the creatures. You could probably beeline to the end and only catch 10% of the Things, but then again you could probably beat Pokemon with a single set of six if you chose them right or ground out levels. The point being that the people who are most likely to enjoy this game are the ones who are also most likely to seek out all the critters and their morphed forms.
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2009, 02:37:36 AM »

Hey, nice to see you here. I've been following you through your blog since I got the chance to ask you some questions about your game in /v/ some weeks ago. I can't stress how high my expectations are for this game and I also took the liberty to post your game in the Promisingly Good Freeware Games in Development thread some days ago.
Keep up the good work!
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battlerager
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2009, 02:52:04 AM »

This is awesome. I think I beat the demo...


(I got past the bridge)


It was lots of fun and its very, very promising, but I agree about the problems with the menu and such.

I found the feeding and moving to be confusing as well, with me accidently discarding stuff and things and accidently taking things out of their bags instead of feeding them and all that...

The menu right now is probably the weakest part. It could probably already be improved by not having to switch to mouse + keyboard, as well.



Also, what Gainsworthy meant about the jumping was not "you dont jump high enough" but "you fall down too fast". I agree with this. When jumping into that water.... lake... place, I needed to jump back out one step at a time, just because the gravity is so insanely high. Its a bit annoying. Maybe make the jump a bit... floatier?  Beg


Anyway, this is a really good start. The graphics are very nice and while reminiscent of Knytt manage to stand on their own effortlessly.
I can't wait for this to have sound and music and while I would love to help you out with the music, frankly I am no good at atmospheric, calm music  Shrug


I hope you find a great musician to help you out  Smiley

Keep it up!
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2009, 09:41:31 PM »

Battlerager, you may have finished the demo, by my reckoning. But did you find that last creature? Rather well hidden!

Heh, scrounging for creatures and figuring out how to find them. I just know I'm going to be enjoying this. Not to make a terrible pun, but it IS the little things which make this.



OH, ALSO: The "ESC"-Pause menu? You should re-wire the buttons to "ESC to resume" and "Q to Quit". It'd be horrible to accidentally double-tap ESC and lose progress.


Also, what Gainsworthy meant about the jumping was not "you dont jump high enough" but "you fall down too fast". I agree with this. When jumping into that water.... lake... place, I needed to jump back out one step at a time, just because the gravity is so insanely high. Its a bit annoying. Maybe make the jump a bit... floatier?  Beg

Yup, this. Sorry I didn't make it clearer. My writing can become very muddled at times.


OOH, AND: If you're new here, you may not have noticed our COLLABORATION Thread. Post a request for Musicians and Sound-Types there! I'm sure somebody will be happy to help you with such a nice project. We've got some talented folk around. Putting a [LOOKING FOR MUSICIAN] in this thread's name wouldn't hurt, either.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 09:56:08 PM by Gainsworthy » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2009, 04:12:45 PM »

ah, this was wonderful. I think I'd almost beat the demo when I accidentally double-tapped escape Durr...?. But I love what I see so far. I can definitely see that this is shaping into something really wonderful.

Quote
It'd be horrible to accidentally double-tap ESC and lose progress.
it is.
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2009, 04:41:16 PM »

For some reason it runs hella slow on my computer. I have no idea why.
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« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2009, 06:13:52 PM »

I like where this is going, and I think you're achieving the relaxed feeling quite well so far.
The menu system could use of bit of work, as has been mentioned.  I got the hang of it - it's not bad once you learn how to use the radial menus - but some of it felt a little cumbersome.
Also, it's a very minor thing, but you might be able to do something with the text at the bottom when it displays something new...  Just a little glow, or maybe having it move a little from the bottom, might make it a bit more apparent if you're trying to tell if an action is repeating (which I guess was only really an issue for me at the beginning before I could tell what I could pick up... but still might help a little).

Anyway, I'll be keeping my eye on this game.
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Gainsworthy
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2009, 01:39:14 AM »

WEAVER! COME BACK! I NEED TRIVIAL UPDATE NEWS ON YOUR GAME!

 Cry

Though, the blog hasn't updated either, so maybe he's just not an update-obsessive.
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2009, 03:48:53 AM »

This seems funny and charming, but I have two things:
The movement is really fast y-wise, but very slow x-wise. Maybe you could balance them a little.

Also, the text Shocked Tired There are so many signs, with so much text on them, and not only in the first room, but in other ones too, and the texts are very long.


It would do pretty good with "Right-click to select, click buy to buy selected items. You can right-click the buy button to buy five of the selected item." The rest the player would figure out.

Isn't there any way you can make the player explore all those things, instead of reading them? For the first room, a single "z for jump, space for menu, c - use" would do, the player will soon se for himself that his jumpheight is exactly two tiles. As for the inventory chest, you don't need to say anything at all, because when you interact with it you see your inventory, an empty inventory and a button that says "transfer", needs no explaining.

Remember that you know all the awsome things that is in your game, and a new player doesn't. If the first 30 seconds of your game is only about reading large chunks of text, you will lose a high percent of your potential players. You need to catch the player's interest from the start.

Other than that I think the game looks good, and the idea is nice. It's promising!
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« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2009, 06:34:09 PM »

That's some very good advice, JLJac. I sort of unloaded a gigantic mountain of text on the player first thing. Of course, this is before proper final-game tutorials have been added in, which are likely going to pace the player into certain aspects rather than just go HEY HERE'S HOW YOU PLAY GOT IT GOOD NOW GO

Still having trouble with this damned UI, trying to figure out how to make things work without completely rehauling all the major coding efforts. I'm trying to figure out how I even WANT these things to work. I thought the right-click menu would be intuitive but there's a bunch of problems inherent in the context-sensitivity of it all.

And for the record no I haven't been stumped for like two months, I just had to put things on hold because of a vacation. Back to work now. I'll work with what I know (new creatures, maps, etc) while I fumble over this UI business.
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Gainsworthy
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« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2009, 08:34:06 PM »

Yay, Weaver's back! Hope the vacation was good.

You know, the UI, if you really can't fix it... well, don't waste your time on it. I'd learn to live with it. Just because the initial usage is annoying doesn't mean it won't make more sense as time passes.

As for the text boxes, you could just break them up into smaller segments with a larger font and press "BUTTON" to scroll through them. I'd prefer that.

All the best!

 Beer!
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