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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsRuins of Atlantis [Riddle-focused metroidvania]
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dspencer
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« on: September 15, 2019, 12:35:22 PM »

Ruins of Atlantis
The metroidvania where what you know is more important than what you have.

Play as Aria as you search for your explorer Grandfather, who disappeared seeking Atlantis. Now, his tracks lead you to the underground ruins of the once great city, still inhabited by the strange and often mischievous spirits and fairies that lived there. Can you solve their riddles, avoid their traps, and find your missing Grandfather?





Run around and explore an interconnected world!


Solve puzzles! Play music! Wow!


Fight difficult bosses!

Ok wait what, give me an overview!

Ruins of Atlantis is a metroidvania-style game with a focus on exploration, puzzle solving, and thinking through your actions. Inspiration obviously draws heavily from La-Mulana (I && II), Environmental Station Alpha, Hollow Knight, but also puzzle games like The Witness and Baba is You, and more goofy toned games like Banjo-Tooie, earthbound, and Undertale. As you explore the game, you'll gather powerups, as in a standard metroidvania. You'll find a ranged attack, a broken camera, heart pieces, just to name a couple of things. The most interesting, though, is the magic flute - using this item, you can play music songs to solve riddles, cast spells, activate machines, and more. You'll need to understand how the world is connected, and understand how the areas you're exploring fit into the history of the Atlantean people, in order to find your way through.

The puzzles in this game are planned to skew quite difficult. They are the real meat of why people would want to play this game in particular, and I want to make sure they make you feel smart when you solve them, so they can't be too easy. That being said, I want to make sure that the game is always fair. The clues and solutions might be far apart from one another, but I don't want people to look up puzzles, see the solution, and then feel like "oh, I would never have gotten that." - that's the worst thing in the world for a puzzle game.

Whenever I look back on Ocarina of Time, I always wish that the ocarina was used in a more creative way. Anytime you got a song in that game, it was just like getting an item - you couldn't use it until you learned it (even if you know the notes!) and it was always taught as one thing. Even though it was caused differently, they were always just dressed up keys. But I thought what if you learned bits of songs? Or if you could change notes to change the effects (note: Majoras Mask did a little of this)
of your songs? I'm hoping to explore as many puzzles+riddles as I can think of using this mechanic.
Who all is working on this?

At this point, everything in the game is being done by me - Design/Programming/Pixel Art/Music. If people are excited about it, and I line up a publisher, eventually, I might see about contracting out some of my weaker areas (art).

Wow that sounds like a lot!
Yup, it is Smiley

Even music???
Yeah! Here's a sneak peak: The Cathedral of the Stars, Shop Theme, Boss Theme

When can I play this juicy piece of work?

I've been working on this since early 2019, and I'm Aiming for a release sometime in 2020, but unclear when, specifically.

BUT WAIT!
A demo is coming along really soon! I've got the major riddles and map layouts in place to play from the start of the game to the first boss. You'll need to explore 4 of the early areas of the game, learn a couple of songs on the flute, and find a handful of pieces of equipment. So keep an eye here if you are interested in trying that out, when it's ready!
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 11:10:46 AM by dspencer » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2019, 12:43:36 PM »

That all sounds pretty neat. I'll be keeping an eye on this one.
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2019, 12:09:06 PM »

This seems quite interesting--the "riddle" element in particular! ^_^

If I may ask, however, how important is musical ability in this? Is the player expected to be able to replicate notes by ear, etc.?
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2019, 01:33:11 PM »

Thank you for the kind words!

The "music" mechanic won't require any musical ability. Essentially, they'll be used as passwords - so you might have to put together a longer song together, or figure out what notes to play from the background, but you won't have to think about it musically. Though I do imagine at some point I might require the player to play something they hear.. but if I do that, I'll make sure to test it and ensure it can be done by even the tone deaf.


Hopefully, this small puzzle will show how I'm thinking about songs! This is the first puzzle you'll encounter when you get the flute (you will actually see it a couple of rooms before the flute itself!) and is a simple simon-says: play the song that is played in the background.

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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2019, 09:39:05 AM »

Ah, I see--thank you for clarifying! ^_^

If you do add a piece to be played by ear, please make it an optional one (and clearly indicated to be optional).

Will players be able to hear the prompts at will, so that they can write down the sequences--or is it intended to be a memory game?
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2019, 03:45:30 PM »

Yeah, understood! It's already a fairly niche concept, so I'm not rushing to make it unplayable for non-musical folks Smiley

In terms of the puzzles, it's largely going to be like La-Mulana - so you might need to go to a specific place to see a clue. It'll be available to see the clue, if you go to the right place, and you're welcome/encouraged to write down stuff on your own... Additionally, there'll be hint taking systems in game - you'll be able to mark rooms on your map, and an early item you find allows you to take photos in-game.
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2019, 09:27:53 AM »

Aah, that's encouraging then! ^_^

I'll confess that I haven't played La Mulana. ^^; However, what your description reminds me of is the old adventure game LOOM (at least in how it treats musical inputs)--something that I'm rather glad to read! (LOOM being one of my favourite games. ^_^)

The annotatable-map and photo systems sound really neat! ^_^
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2019, 09:36:37 AM »

reminds me of is the old adventure game LOOM
Yup, that's the right idea  Coffee

Sept 20 Devlog Update
This week has been filled with a lot of small changes. While none are overwhelmingly thrilling on their own, lots of progress is being made Smiley Lets take a look at some highlights!

New pause music!
Check it out on soundcloud, or check out the theme for the upcoming Cathedral of the Stars area.

Lots of UI Improvements
Instead of boring rectangles for textbox, pause menu, and song display, I've gone and made some slightly less boring rectangles! Wowee!

Wow, you can see who wrote which message just by looking at the text box! How useful and thematic!


Pardon the bad framerate from recording this gif on my laptop, but playing a song now looks a lot better! Plus, you can't hear it on a gif, but it's playing back the song for you Wink

Upcoming work
The next big push involves enemies and the first real boss. The upcoming week is probably going to be largely filled with pixel art work... I've begun working on the first bosses sprites, but I'm not feeling satisfied with them yet. Otherwise, I'm just polishing up the world, trying to make it look more lived in.

In the next week I'm also hoping to write up a blurb on the backstory for the game! Why are you exploring? Who is this Grandpa who seems to be driving the plot? How does Atlantis exist? All these questions and more answered....

Ok, back to work!
-Danny
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2019, 10:08:11 AM »

That seems like decent progress, to me! The new text-boxes look good, I think, and I like the music to which you linked. ^_^

Yup, that's the right idea  Coffee

That's enthusing to read! ^_^
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2019, 11:08:04 AM »

Sept 23 Devlog Update
Wasn't expecting to have an update so soon, but here we are! What's new since last time?

First Boss
Spent the last few days working on the first boss (located at the end of the upcoming demo) - spent a bunch of time spriting, and while it's not the most flawless work, it'll pass! Put that into the game, coded up some behaviors, and the Golem is now functioning as you might expect a golem to do!


The boss cycles through all of his available moves in a random order, before starting over.

Some of the animations/timings need work (particularly his landing animation feels a bit delayed) and I want to rework his laser/shockwave hitboxes a bit, but the idea is there! So we can move onto the next things....

Music!
We've added a couple of tracks to the game - a goofy shop theme (inspired by the shop music in OoT) and a more serious Boss Battle Theme. These will probably be updated a bunch in the future, but this at least will act as a suitable placeholder for the time being!

Game world
Spent some time re-organizing the game world. Now, to complete the demo, the areas you'll need to go to are a bit more spread out, and non-linear. Should give a better idea of what I want to do with the rest of the game. Unfortunately, don't have much concrete to show for this... But you'll see soon enough Smiley

See you next time!
-Danny
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2019, 12:11:50 PM »

Sept 28 Devlog Update
Alright, what have we been up to in the last week or so? Let's dive in!

Enemies
Over the last week I spent a bunch of time working on new enemies. I think I'm starting to get the hang of making idle animations! Filled up a spritesheet with a bunch of 4-12 frame animations for enemies, and then started to slot them in. You can see some of the newcomers here:


Golem, Wisp (might be reflavored - I don't think this sprite seems dangerous enough to scan well), Walking Ghost, Piranha Plant, and Deadly Mushrooms.

Story
In trying to get everything wrapped up for the demo, I am eventually realizing that I need a bit of a more concrete story in place! To that end, I started working on the story + interest arcs for the game. To do that, we need to start with the basics...

What is Ruins of Atlantis really about? When I set out to make this game, I wanted to make a game that captured a certain experience I had had in metroidvanias like Hollow Knight, Super Metroid, and La-Mulana - really open ended + non-linear, self-guided exploration, in a gated map. Unlike  in open world games, which can be truely open-ended, a metroidvania has gated progression. Thus, part of the enjoyment, for me, comes from improving my mental model of the world. When I get a powerup, it's fun to think through all my open deadends and think about if that's now an open door. Many games have a couple of real riddles in them, or puzzles like in zelda dungeons, but La-Mulana leaned a bit more on it.

So then, what is the game about? The game is about Exploration, finding puzzles, and then figuring out how to get past them. Notably, the idea is that you think through the puzzles... So, when setting up our story, we want to tell the player that they need to think things through. We also have a unique(ish) mechanic - our music system, so we need that to be introduced in a way the player will remember.

This all ties together, then, to give us a great framework for the game structure - Start the game, with the quest of finding your grandpa. When you find him, he'll escalate things, and give you the real quest for the game, in addition to the powerup to play music - this is our most important mechanic, so its very good that the most important person to our story (other than the player) is the one to give it to you. On your way down, you'll see lots of places where you can use it - sometimes they'll be clear that it's something musical, sometimes it won't be. When you get the flute, you instantly have a few different places you can use it to get upgrades, heart containers, or progress to new areas of the map. So they'll learn that sometimes, you need to wait to solve puzzles, that the flute can be used to open doors and such, and that sometimes there'll be multiple valid ways to progress, and sometimes you need to go back to old places. Nice!

So, I set that up, and blocked off side passages. As far as the demo goes, I'm structuring it as 3 major "paths" - each of which has a few segments split by powerups. Sometimes you'll need earlier powerups from other paths to continue - for instance, there'll be an item in the Lake area that you can only get once you've found the Freeze Water spell, but that's found on the Library/Halls of History path. So you'll want to be progressing in many directions at once Smiley

Other Stuff
A few other random things were added:


  • New Glyphs for song notes. Now it'll be clear that it's talking about music (and not just directions) while still matching up to directional arrows pretty well.
  • Additionally, added a "command" system into the textbox controller, so you can have it react to printing text. This is used to play audio for note glyphs when they show up in the textbox.
  • A new spell - Freze Water! Casting this spell will cause any water in the current room to freeze, and thus turn into standard level geometry. This is available as a song, so once you get the flute, and know how to, you can cast it whenever! I still need to soup up the visuals for it - maybe a shimmer accross the screen and a visual note on the water itself while it's active.

A demonstration of 1) Going underwater 2) Casting the spell 3) walking on water! Plus you get to see me pickup a useless item Smiley



Alright, that's all for today! Till next time.
-Danny
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2019, 09:12:08 AM »

That sounds like an interesting progression that you have in mind! ^_^

If I may, I'm inclined to suggest conveying direction in the shapes of your glyphs, as well as the location and colour of the spots within them: that might make them easier to read, especially for people who have difficulty with colour. I also feel that that the yellow spots don't read quite as easily against white as do the other colour-combinations that you're using--but that might be less an issue at full screen-size.
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2019, 10:12:41 AM »

If I may, I'm inclined to suggest conveying direction in the shapes of your glyphs, as well as the location and colour of the spots within them.

Yep this was actually my intent, but clearly it doesn't come off correctly. Thank you for pointing this out!
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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2019, 04:11:49 PM »

Tried to consolidate my pixel art palette across the game. It didn't really go super well, but you can see what I came up with:
left column are original screenshots, (if a bit outdated) and middle and right column show updated color schemes. There's maybe some stuff to salvage from the middle one but it generally didnt' come uout super well.... the one on the right seems a bit better? Used a bigger palette. Gonna try one more different palettes (which has a bit more brown, which I've been lacking in the other ones) so hopefully that'd help.

If any pixel art people have advice on this, I'd appreciate it :D





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« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2019, 08:29:59 AM »

I don't have specific feedback on the palettes, save to say that I do in general like the right-hand column a bit more than the left or centre ones. So, I think that an improvement has been made, at the least. ^_^

Yep this was actually my intent, but clearly it doesn't come off correctly. Thank you for pointing this out!

Fair enough, and it's my pleasure, respectively. ^_^

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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2019, 10:48:16 PM »

I really love the monster designs! Keep it up  Hand Thumbs Up Left

Side note, do you happen to have an email for contact or what would be the best way?
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