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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsDEMO! A Light in the Dark - A relaxing exploration game in a world of darkness
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Author Topic: DEMO! A Light in the Dark - A relaxing exploration game in a world of darkness  (Read 2905 times)
Alce
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« on: September 10, 2017, 04:43:16 PM »


A Light in the Dark is a relaxing top down exploration game in a world of eternal darkness. I'm currently prototyping it to see if it's worth continuing, so honest feedback is appreciated! The demo is 5-10 minutes long and is playable in your browser.


Original Post

Hi everyone! First time writing a devlog here.

Have been getting busy lately as the academic season begins to ramp up, but I decided I needed to set aside some time for a simple but interesting side project to keep me sane. So far... I don't have anything to show, just a vague idea Shrug But I'm creating this topic in hopes that having something up will give me the kick I need to get working and not set aside the idea.

What's the idea then? I want to make a top down exploration game inspired by the sensation I've gotten with games like Knytt Underground, endeavor, and An Untitled Story. This means a large world you're plopped into without much direction on where to go, a light metroidvania-like feel as you get skills that allow you to progress further, and a strong focus on an enveloping and inmersive ambience.
The twist though? I want to make a world eternally enveloped in darkness, where light is a resource you have to manage to continue exploring and reaching new areas. I haven't defined it mechanically yet, but I want to recreate the feeling I used to get when I was new to Minecraftand night fell, or when I explore the caves and nights of 2D MMORPGs like Tibia.

Will this work out? Who knows! But I'll be sharing the results here.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 04:45:56 PM by Alce » Logged

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RizeoftheSummonds
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 05:05:40 PM »

Welcome!
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Alce
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2017, 07:09:20 PM »

@RizeoftheSummonds Thanks for the welcome!

Been playing some games to inspire myself and better define exactly what I want to make, and I decided to write down my thoughts here:

endeavor
  • The game begins with a simple intro that sets the mood of the story, and it also starts by showing you the "final goal" of the game while keeping it out of reach
  • The tutorial area forces you to grasp the basic concepts of gameplay so that you may continue
  • What's the basic gameplay? It's a platformer where you play as a small character and explore the expansive world screen by screen. You can climb but are limited by an endurance bar that can be increased through collectibles. Additional items allow you access new areas, and the objective of the game is to find different collectibles in the world.
  • Flowers that wilt as you touch them serve as markers of where you've been
  • Characters that talk open a dialogue box automatically when you see them, which makes it easy and seamless to interact with NPCS while exploring

Minecraft (wanted to study the sensation and excitement of night time darkness in peaceful mode)
  • Torches are comforting, but they illuminate only whats near you... peering to the darkness beyond the torch is exciting
  • Seeing lights you didn't place is exciting!
  • It's nice to place many lights while exploring and then look back from a distance to see them all together
  • Silence is appreciated
  • Bumping into chickens, cows or other friendly mobs is nice

Now though that I have a clearer idea of my references I also have more questions for myself...
  • What I noticed is that movement in these games needs to be fun. How can I make movement in a top down game fun?
  • Being able to look into the distance in Minecraft and then go there is a great feeling... Is there anyway to replicate that in top down 2D?

Will begin to brainstorm and prototype now, so when I have anything interesting to say I'll put it here!
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Alce
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« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2017, 03:16:56 PM »

Heya! It's been a while, but I began experimenting as you can seen in the couple gifs below. You can walk around lighting torches by touching them, and the camera has a screen-by-screen movement inspired by Knytt. What's more fun though is this little boomerang that lets you light torches from afar, but it only works if it can return to you before its light runs out. This could make for some pretty interesting challenges, but I need to test that out!




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Alce
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 05:16:15 PM »

I've been playing with basic mechanics, but I think it's time to make something a more thought out demo to share around and get feedback on. My goals are to:

  • Show off the main mechanics and the dynamics that can surge from it
  • Small world size, approximately 30 rooms
  • Free assets for the art, and royalty free music+sfx to help show mood

Need to start designing more specifically, but I'm looking forward to making it!
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PetSkull
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 11:06:01 PM »

Hi,

in your first GIF when the torch light comes on, you can see a light difference between the torch light and player light. You should consider merging the two lights, only showing the brightest one. I think this will give a better effect.
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Alce
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2017, 08:01:43 PM »

@PetSkull Thanks for the reccomendation! Will implement it in the next build.

...which sadly won't be coming for quite a while :/ Academic season is ramping up, and I don't really have the time to finish the demo in time for the October deadline I had set myself. After that... things get worse, so I rather wait until I'm done with this term (late Novemeber).

Thanfully I have a few other gamedev projects (with more urgent deadlines) to keep my sanity in check but I do wanna get back to this soon... but until then!
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Pixel Noise
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2017, 05:32:37 AM »

Really like what you've described for the gameplay - will keep an eye on this  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2017, 08:37:57 AM »

The gameplay idea sounds really neat.  Smiley
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Alce
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2017, 04:30:19 AM »

@Pixel Noise @RadicalBradical Thanks for the nice comments!

And... the term is done! Not really my peak of academic of achievement... but I can come back to this, which makes me really glad.

The plan now? Basically the same as before: make a prototype and share it. My goals for this demo are
  • Show off the main mechanics and the dynamics that can surge from it
  • Small world size, approximately 30 rooms
  • Free assets for the art, and royalty free music+sfx to help show mood

I got more time now, so I'll keep you updated!
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Alce
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2017, 01:37:26 PM »

Before jumping into making the demo, I've been trying to think of more obstacles. A simple one I added was a turret. In this case, lighting the torch turns off the turret and lets you pass.

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Alce
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« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2017, 01:47:29 PM »

Starting work on the prototype! I'll be using Construct 2, if anyone wants to watch the code as it progresses it's on Github.
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Alce
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2017, 12:50:07 PM »

Advanced today on the demo. I know that since I'm just making a demo I should focus more on mechanics than pretty art, but it's so much fun finding pretty assets and implementing them Smiley I'm currently using stuff from kenney.nl and opengameart.org. Here's how it looks so far:

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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2017, 10:38:58 AM »

I like the idea of the game.  Is the theme intended to be somewhat scary with all the darkness?  Or a different direction?
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Alce
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« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2017, 07:08:34 AM »

@Mochnant Good question! It's supposed to be more of peaceful darkness. I'm not sure it's something that's been done much before.
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Sundrop
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« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2017, 07:37:38 AM »

This looks interesting!
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Alce
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« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2018, 06:29:04 AM »

@Sundrop Thanks :D

A late happy new year to all of you! Hope all of you have started 2018 well. I've been working mainly on level design and programming lately, but now I want to talk about the former. Inspired by more informative devlogs like M0ti's Tower devlog, in this post I'll explain how I design levels.


Here's how it looks like! Yup... it's a mess only I can understand, but since it's only me working on the game, it's fine and lets me work faster. Since it's a more open ended game, I break the level into segments that I work on individually. I try to keep 2 things in mind when designing:

  • What are my design objectives for this segment? Some example objectives are "teach a new mechanic" or "introduce a new item". In the segment above, an important goal I set was to make it feel more open, because the segments before it are pretty linear.
  • What kind of pacing do I want this segment to have? Is it a break? Or is it meant to be something more intense? How do I want the pacing to change through time? These kind of questions help me define the size of the segment too. In this segment, I wanted it to start calm (top-right) but get more intense as you advanced (bottom-left).

Hope these questions help someone else!
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Pixel Noise
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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2018, 03:51:20 PM »

Very cool view of your process! There's no "right" way to do it, haha, so if it works and makes sense to you, then use it.
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2018, 08:14:17 PM »

in this post I'll explain how I design levels.

Thanks for the insight.
Will there be any amount of foreshadowing in your levels?
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Alce
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« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2018, 10:17:05 AM »

@Pixel Noise Thanks!

@Stevepunk Oh good question, it's not something I had considered! I'm not sure it's something that fits in the demo I'm currently working on since it'll be relatively short, but I'll try to keep it in mind if I continue to expand this game.

I'm in the final stretch of building the demo. Still have some features to program and I haven't implemented any audio yet, but we're getting there. Last thing I finished was adding props to level. It's a bit of a random process but it's fun.


Pro-tip for those of you who use Construct 2: if you're adding props like this that don't really do anything, it isn't worth creating a individual object for each. Just create one object, and make each prop a different animation of that object. The result looks like this:

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