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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsNomerads: engineering puzzle adventure - now with Puzzlescript demo version!
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Author Topic: Nomerads: engineering puzzle adventure - now with Puzzlescript demo version!  (Read 2202 times)
DantronLesotho
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« on: November 26, 2018, 11:01:49 PM »

Just been working on this for a few months to take my mind off of my other game, and ended up wanting to put more work into this because I think it has better potential (typical, right?).

MECHANICS
It's kind of hard to describe so I'll link my posts/tweets showing prototype videos/gifs. But basically it's a farming game that also lets you set up pick-up-and-move production lines to do the farming for you if you like, and there are resources that will be created from those production lines to help in the game's progress.

Bouncing, splitting, and upgrading (latest artwork)


Rudimentary farming mechanics (with bonus timedust to speed up growth). Note that I have mostly ditched the idea of farming in the game, but you never know!


Clearing out fog:


Setting up satisfying lines: https://twitter.com/dantronlesotho/status/1060401571924766720


Using torches and a lantern to see through the fog (older): https://twitter.com/dantronlesotho/status/1044791307049283584


SETTING
The game's progress will have you clear out regions of the land from a harmful fog using the same production lines, which will reveal more resources that you can use. In a way, it's an open-ended-open-world puzzle game, but the fog puzzles will probably not be the most demanding part. The inspiration is mostly along the lines of "enemyless and combatless Stardew Valley, Zelda Link to the Past, and The Witness with manufacturing puzzles to aid in your adventure". There's going to be a village that you have to rebuild and people and animals to help as well.

STORY
The land around your village was cursed generations ago, and the fog created from that curse is finally creeping into the town, trapping all the villagers in a central location. You strike out with your spouse to investigate why the fog won't go away, and will befriend the land spirits called Nomerads that cursed your ancestors. You then use the nomerads to capture, route, and modify the land's resources to help restore a natural balance thereby proving that your people can be responsible, leading the nomerads to lift the curse.

GOAL
I want to make a manageable puzzle game that has a pastoral and adventurous feel with a lot of charm. I adore Zachtronics's games and Factorio and want to make something similar, but more accessible. I come back to some games for comfort year after year, have analyzed why I pick those games, and want to make someone else's comfort game. Plus I've always liked when there are systems in other action-adventure games like this (albeit usually VERY rudimentary) and have always wanted more, so I am basically making a game I want to play that I think will resonate with others.

CURRENT PROGRESS
I just got the farming and story progression/storyscript aspects implemented last week, but the hardest part was designing and programming the production line mechanics. Most of the initial programming heavy lifting is done, so now the effort begins to add more to the manufacturing process which is of course the actual toughest part. That will entail adding more resources, flora and fauna, and more production goals to tie them into the story. Once that's built up more, I will start building out all the fog puzzles and setting up progression with those to dovetail with the story progression. With that comes inventory management, a quest system, and a shopping system. Once all THAT is done, then I should be able to play the game in its roughest form from start to finish. It will be at that point that I will have people playtest it and if it comes out as good as I hope, I will begin to look for options for sound and art, which may include going the publisher route to assist in that. I work a day job now so my risk is super low. But this has been a really exciting project to work on thus far! I've been having a blast solving my test puzzles so I think that says something. I hope people enjoy it!

Demo
As mentioned later on in the chain, I made a Puzzlescript version of the game to explain the mechanics better than gifs or writing can do. It's a fun little thing that I thought came out rather well. I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.puzzlescript.net/play.html?p=264abe8ccec1099ce8100b9827cf6a48
« Last Edit: September 09, 2019, 07:43:39 PM by DantronLesotho » Logged
Geoff Moore
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2018, 02:15:31 AM »

Oh wow, this looks really neat! It's awesome to see a farming game with such unique mechanics, as a genre they doesn't usually appeal to me but this one looks fantastic. Good luck staying focused through the legwork! Gomez
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2018, 07:51:12 AM »

Nice idea! I wait to see the first screenshots! I follow!
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2018, 08:53:56 PM »

Added some elements into the game now, which will be the start of their manufacturing. Right now the resource bubbles will just change when they pass through the gates, but eventually to get some resources you'll need to combine and refine them separately.

(I really need to find a good place to host my gifs)

https://twitter.com/dantronlesotho/status/1072715746306940928
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 01:12:01 PM by DantronLesotho » Logged
DantronLesotho
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 08:57:59 PM »

Also I really need to start thinking about a name for this thing so it will be easier to search and parse. My naming criteria for games is that they are ideally one word, maybe a compound word or one made up entirely, and is something that is easily searchable and is not a bad word in another language. So whenever I consider a name, I do a bunch of googling to see if there's another game out there already, if the name is used for something else, and then weigh it against how much I really want to name it that name.
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2018, 02:39:30 AM »

This is very, very exciting. Loving the pixels and the colours!

What about the name Pinplant
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2018, 04:52:16 PM »

Thank you!

Pinplant is good, but since the pinball and farming mechanics are probably the lesser of the mechanics that I'm going to focus on, I will probably not want to make that stand out, heh.
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2018, 01:04:10 PM »

Added a "combiner" spirit that will take two elements and add them together. It was causing a bit of a fuss but I got it working. I wonder if this image link (hosted on imgur) will work this time:



Edit: I am using Imgur to host my gifs and that seems to work out rather well so far
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 01:20:09 PM by DantronLesotho » Logged
DantronLesotho
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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2018, 12:36:19 PM »

Just decided on the name of the game. It's always an arduous task to do so I think, because you want to encapsulate the whole being of the game into the name without it being TOO descriptive or TOO vague. And if the game is strong enough, the name will gets its distinction from that. So we'll see if it holds up. Maybe I'll change it to reflect the mechanics in the game a little more, who knows. But it's good to have that sorted for the moment.
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2019, 10:51:37 PM »

Finally developed a quest system for Nomerads and got it working. So far I am planning on having the system check for story progress (via flags and not yet implemented), section clearances (via flags), and inventory items (not yet implemented). I just wanted to start with the basics first, so here it is. It's currently flexible enough to be able to check for any section of the map to see if the fog has been cleared though. What a relief!

Really wish imgur didn't convert the gif to a video, but whatever!

(video is me clearing fog out of a section and having the quest system respond by celebrating!)

https://imgur.com/gallery/FvpL1AO
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« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2019, 11:35:29 PM »

i'm such a sucker for tiny sprites. I love your art overall. and I really want to play this game. good luck on development!
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2019, 01:17:28 PM »

Thank you! I think the proportions that I will ultimately settle with will be similar to Zelda LTTP and Bomberman. Something that provides a solid amount of content while also being very clearly visible for what the objects are.
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2019, 08:04:10 PM »

Added faces to the nomerads and took away the face of the player character. The nomerads express a randomly picked emotion every time they are bounced against. They are fun little buddies! I also have been doing a lot of pontificating on what I want the characters to look like, and I think I'm going to settle on an abstract alien type of face. They are all going to be inspired by Marvel's Celestials, and I'm going to find a way to make them emote as a design challenge. I may change my mind one day though, we'll see. I think it mostly depends on when/if I get an artist that will have other/better ideas. This is supposed to be a somewhat strange mystery land, after all!



This weekend I'm also giving a talk on systemic game design at the Boston Festival of Indie Games: Learns & Talks event. If you're in the area, stop on by! My talk is at 10am on Saturday. For those of you that might not have heard of systemic game design, this video is a great primer:

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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2019, 08:58:32 AM »

So I've been going back and forth on design decisions to make manufacturing fun and engaging to where it doesn't get repetitive or stale after a while. Currently, the model is of the elements being refined and combinedtm so that you can build the different elements as you need them. But after playtesting it, I found it got really repetitive after a while and I didn't want that to be the main mode of getting materials.

So I am going to try and take a different approach and am going to attempt something like Infinifactory, where you are combining the resources to be different shapes. It's hard to illustrate in writing, so I'll throw together a prototype tonight and will upload a gif to explain it. It will basically be you firing the resource bubbles at a collecting "atom", which will then cause the bubble to stick to it and turn into a bond. Picture Bust-A-Move but not hexes. Once the element's shape is completed, it will succeed and then you can build that element with the other (repetitive) method of production. I'm hoping that it will shake up the variety of the progress. If the method of production ends up being easier, I may actually combine the two methods to have you build molecules with different atoms that have been previously discovered.

Basically the progress will go like this: build the atomic shape of the element to learn it > build multiples of that element through refinement and combinement(?) > satisfy quest goals for the town. I sure hope this is as fun as I suspect it may be!
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2019, 06:54:21 PM »

Update: it was a very good idea. This block puzzle (a puppy!) was a lot of fun to try and figure out. I think I'm going to pursue this avenue of design further.

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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2019, 08:39:31 PM »

I've been doing a lot of scribbling and thinking about how I want the exploration to work, in terms of how to make it interesting. Originally, my design was that I would have the player just redirect the bubble resources towards a fog generator thing to knock it out. That is interesting for a little bit, but I theorize that it will wear thin not before long. Especially if there is nothing else interesting done to the production line.

So today I banged out designs in a notebook for ways to make eliminating the fog generators (the little orange doughnut looking thing in the gif above) more interesting, and I think I have a good set of ideas. It basically involves various types of fog generators that all do tactically different things when they are interacted with. For example; ones that build up walls when they are hit, ones that have to be hit multiple times, ones that have to be all hit at once in a group, ones that actively move away from your bubble shots, ones that destroy your nomerads when the bubble hits them, ones that split up when hit, ones that have numerous clones around them that have to be destroyed first, and so on. Basically each type challenges the player to not just produce a conveyor line to knock them out, but they have to get somewhat creative on how to assure that goal. It won't be anything TOO tedious (I hope), but it will at least shake up some variety in there. I'll build them out this week and will test them out, and I'll post about them here as well. I think it could be the thing that will make exploration stimulating. The game won't really have too many treasures to find since the gameplay is intended to revolve around the player skill with puzzle-solving, so at least the traversal to explore the map will be interesting in and of itself.
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2019, 08:59:00 PM »

Here's an example of one of the splitter fog generator spirits. You have to hit it, then hit it twice more on either side (depending on which direction you initially hit it on to get it done totally.

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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2019, 08:43:47 AM »

I really really like the sound of this! Simple mechanics combining to make super interesting puzzles. I'm very interested to see how you flesh out the "open-world" part of the setting.

Quote
pastoral and adventurous feel with a lot of charm
Quote
want to make someone else's comfort game
I am so 100% about this! I love these goals, and it looks like you're accomplishing them in a unique way.

I'm very much enjoying your design musings too. Great work so far! Definitely following Smiley
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2019, 03:09:20 PM »

Thanks!

The plan to flesh out the open world part of it is basically to make it somewhat of a mix between Zelda and The Witness. I want the player to be able to explore out and not have any, or many, hindrances, to exploring other than the player's skill, but also still have a semblance of progression. I also want it very compact so it doesn't feel like I'm just filling space with nothing. Once I start building out the environmental puzzles that may change, but I want to keep the scope relatively small in the meantime so I can actually finish this thing, haha. If by chance I get lucky and someone wants to publish it and I can afford an art budget, I'll probably make it a much bigger (read: areawise) game.
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DantronLesotho
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« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2019, 09:38:04 PM »

Built in new splitter objects that will make construction a little easier to control. This one splits a bubble off to the side as well as lets one continue in its direction. Pretty proud of it!

I'm still working on more varied versions of the fog generator "enemies" that will take more than just hitting them directly to eliminate. Once I have more of those set I'll post an update.

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