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Sketchwhale
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« on: May 09, 2021, 03:28:33 AM »

.
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The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit
.
.
.
.

What kind of game is it?

You control a girl. She fights rabbit-like spirits.
They keep coming until you win the level somehow.
When you kill enemies, they drop power-ups or stuff to craft new spells.
Battles are turn-based.


The spells, systems, and enemy behaviour, lend themselves to a lot of interesting choices, but it isn't really a strategy game.
Maybe on par with a JRPG, but there is no leveling or character outfitting. Nor is there really a plot. There's a setting, and a bunch of levels.

Initial part of the game, a college campus.

How far along is it?

"Pretty far" seems a bit undescriptive.
I design, draw, and program, but I also work with another guy who coded all the complex stuff.
Work is only done in the evenings though, after the kids are asleep.

Most of the systems are working, and most of the enemies and spells are working now.
Stuff left? A lot of art is missing, levels need to be implemented.
Saving isn't implemented, and music is missing.

Baalianargh. A Deep One.

What is it for?

It runs on Windows, MacOS, and Debian, so I guess those.
I want to sell it, but at the same time, it seems like the market is so stuffed I might as well release it for free.

Tools! I love tools. What do you use?

Me too! We use Love2D to make it, and both me and main coder buddy use Vim or Neovim to write code.
I paint the art in Aseprite.
I'm not sure what tools my musician buddy uses. I'll ask him one day.

Why this Devlog?

I thought I should try to document this game I've been working on, and maybe be a bit social on a platform that has room for intelligent discourse.

I've been working on this thing since before I could really program, and it's changed a lot over the years. Originally it was called 'Sodagirl'. For a long time afterwards it was 'Oricana'. Most recently I'm thinking of calling it 'The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit'.

Being in development for so long, I have a lot of thoughts and sketches I'm thinking of posting here.

Can I try it?

Yes! I need input on various stuff, and the fun-levels of other stuff. Finding bugs isn't really important right now :D just send me a PM, and I'll send you a build

Updates & Writings


« Last Edit: April 04, 2022, 09:03:12 AM by Sketchwhale » Logged
ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2021, 10:05:36 AM »

Looks real interesting! I'll definitely have my eye on this one.
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2021, 01:58:34 AM »

Looks real interesting! I'll definitely have my eye on this one.
Do that :D it's fun, I promise
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2021, 04:23:20 AM »

'The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit' really is a mouthful. On the other hand, it's like 'The Girl Who Leapt Through Time', which in Japanese was 'Toki wo kakeru shoujo'. I guess people might have called that Kakeru Shoujo or KaKeJo for short? This game would be 'Usagi wo keru shoujo', so KeruShoujo (or Usagi Shoujo?)?

I've been trying to make the KeruShoujo "completable". It's been a lot of systems and levels that all work together, but aren't really stringed together for a single experience.

Well last night I finally got it, so that you can enter levels, get the prerequisite materials to go to the next boss, fight the boss, go to the next world stage, repeat, until all is completed. Having a template end-screen and some sort of "well done" isn't there yet though.

I was speaking of systems, and over the years that I've been working on the game, that's really become where my heart truly lies. Eventually I want to talk about the iterative process I've gone through, but for now, maybe I should just describe the various systems as they are:

Systems or Gameplay Ideals

You target enemies and the using various moves on them. The most basic move is your kick called 'Somatic Fold'. In this sense, it's a normal, old-school JRPG battle. To make the game interesting, there are several ideas working together:

1. Enemies are also tools
2. Dealing damage isn't the end goal
3. Mid-battle mini-crafting
4. Others

Enemies are Also Tools

They aren't complex AIs, but I've tried to design a small selection of enemies that each have 1 or 2 interesting mechanics behind them, that work together. The 'Shield Ear' for example, will use 'Overprotect' to steal some stuff from your inventory and immediately convert it into Shield points for you. It's nice to be protected, but you probably needed that 'Aether Bark' for something else.

Dealing Damage is not the End Goal

Two games inspired me here: I love the items you acquire in old zelda games. How they work for both combat, and exploration. I do have some criticisms, but what's important is that they generally are really cool. There's also a mobile/steam game called Auro by Dinofarm Games, and the abilities you acquire there are few, but very well thought-out.

KeruShoujo isn't an adventure game like Zelda, but thoughtfulness of Zelda tools still should be considered. Plus, I want this game to be relatively relaxing, so some moves are gonna be fairly fun but overpowered, like 'Collapse Arcana', which is cheap, can only be used once per player round, and will immediately obliterate any single enemy, including whatever stuff it might have been holding. That last part is the downside :D


Mid-battle Mini-crafting

Here's the thing: Some levels you get moves. And in some levels, they aren't yet there, so you will have to 'Fold' them using your magical powers, and ingredients you collect from enemies you've annihilated. Some moves you only need to Fold once per battle, and some are consumable, like the 'Cynnes Lime' which will up your attack power for one round.

Funny thing, last year I played 'The Last of Us' (Part I), and it does the same thing. I loved it! It was a very nice feeling to see another game had that system of mid-battle crafting, and knowing then that it was actually fun.

Other

You get three action points per round, called 'Oridama'. Some moves cost 1 Oridama, some more. Some levels have repeatedly spawning enemies (maybe more than one per round). Enemies can drop a single item, or two, where the latter is secret. Fortunately you can preview which items are on their way, though you cannot tell which enemies will carry them (although, maybe some carefully observing players can spot some sub-systems here as well). Enemies can stand on 5 different spots, and if a spot is already occupied when a new enemy is about to appear... Boom. Maybe you can use that to your advantage as well.

So all in all, it's not exactly emergent gameplay, but with all the different combinations, I still think just these few enemies and moves with these systems, can provide a varied and interesting experience.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 09:03:53 AM by Sketchwhale » Logged
JobLeonard
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2021, 10:54:39 AM »

The title definitely caught my attention, so that's a good sign! Cheesy

EDIT: game itself looks interesting too
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2021, 04:17:35 AM »

The title definitely caught my attention, so that's a good sign! Cheesy

EDIT: game itself looks interesting too

Great to hear:) another title in runninng was 'Little Girl Rabbit Murder'.
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2021, 09:20:21 AM »

I'll say the title made me click on the link. I think it's genius. It's got built-in clickbait. "Why would a girl kick a rabbit? What consequences would ensue?" are questions my mind asks.
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2021, 11:15:56 AM »

Oh Well. Friends are Helpful!

I had such a good time letting (forcing) a friend playtest KeruShoujo, that I had to talk about it here. His observations were so helpful and eloquent, and his understanding of what I wanted to achieve so spot-on, that I could immediately (the next evening) act on all his suggestions. Today, two days later, he tried it again with these suggestions, and immediately helped solve a UI issue I had had for so long.

The first observation was so obvious and interesting. Holding down tab (or PS4 controller's square-button) would show information on currently selected move. Yet when you changed enemy target or chose the next move in the inventory, this would interrupt the showing of information, requiring you to press the button again. This was so obviously annoying, and yet I had never noticed, cause I sure don't need this extra layer of information when testing the game. I already KNOW what each move does. This was key to so many improvements. He would play with tab held down constantly. I made sure this wasn't interrupted. He made a lot of other suggestions like that.

When I came today, I mentioned how I was annoyed with the showing of drops. As can be the previous screenshot gifs, I used to indicate drops in boxes below the enemy, or in boxes below the small ponds showing upcoming enemies. It took up a lot of screen space (which is precious in a 426 by 240 game) and certain visual elements would unintentionally overlap. My friend had previously indicated that he didn't actually need the drop info on whichever enemy was currently selected. His suggestion was, and I can't fathom why I hadn't tried this previously, to just make the carrier transparent, and show the drop exactly on top of the carrier, when you hold down the info button. It works. It works so well it almost made me angry.


The other reason I'm so surprised I haven't myself thought of this solution, was that a) I had thought of doing it like this, but not exactly like this, for so long, and b) that one of my favourite games ever Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, a where this exact approach, is the key to success. I even wrote a rather long article on its spiritual sequel/philosophical contemporary, Grindstone, which does the same thing!

I'll say the title made me click on the link. I think it's genius. It's got built-in clickbait. "Why would a girl kick a rabbit? What consequences would ensue?" are questions my mind asks.

Hah! I had not considered it as provocative, but I might be too close to the elephant. Hopefully it was also a bit interesting beyond the title.
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2021, 03:03:26 PM »

Second and Third Children

Design discussions tend to get heated with my girlfriend, and so it's been a while since I asked to playtest Kerushoujo for me. I thought I had it at a state where she would be able to disregard the various shortcomings and focus on what was there. Alas, that is not how she interacts with WIP stuff. Those Chinese moms, amirite?

It was for the better. I ended up with a list of 16-17 improvements and bugs to implement and fix. Then yesterday I got another buddy to play it, and I found a third kind of playtester. He wildly presses every button in rapid succession to elicit unintentional responses, and he sure found a few.

So yes bunch of great improvements and none them translate into a decent gif. Fortunately, KeruShoujo's actual coder is coming over on monday, and at the same time my girlfriend has asked to help out planning and designing new battle background art hopefully there'll be a decent visual payoff next week.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2021, 12:28:25 AM »

I dunno, my Chinese mom is pretty chill. Then again, she was born in the Netherlands so maybe her Dutch brutal honesty cancelled out the Chinese brutal honesty or something Cheesy

But sounds like you got some tough love! Looks like it will be worth it though Smiley
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2021, 06:09:12 AM »

I dunno, my Chinese mom is pretty chill. Then again, she was born in the Netherlands so maybe her Dutch brutal honesty cancelled out the Chinese brutal honesty or something Cheesy

But sounds like you got some tough love! Looks like it will be worth it though Smiley

I wasn't aware Dutch brutal honesty was a thing. I once met a Dutch fellow of some southeast asian heritage, and, based on his and his father's behaviour, I thought the things he would say were a result of mixing brutal honest asian culture with mild autism or Asperger's. Please don't tell me "that's just how we're like" :D

In any case, yeah, tough love beats insincere praise.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2021, 08:30:40 AM »

I can neither confirm nor deny...
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2021, 10:29:01 AM »

Gawd I Wish I Was Rich

So this week wasn't quite as filled with many incremental improvements, but yesterday we did get our saving system implemented in fairly rudimentary way. Or rather, it seems to be what is needed, but like, it hasn't been tested completely yet. Mr. Programmer (I should ask him if he's okay that I blog about him with his name) implemented it such that you start a game, make progress, and saving would happen automatically between levels. I then asked him, well how do you start a new save file and he goes "why would want to do that?" I swear sometimes I'm working with Karl Pilkington. I jest. My buddy here is a fucking genius.

Meanwhile, I've been spending the week researching styles and perspectives for drawing backgrounds. I've never been one to paint backgrounds, landscapes or whatever, and now I suffer for it. There are many cool things I would like for this game, but with no money to hire one of the seemingly endsless (and endlessly talented) pixel artists on Twitter, I must toil in the pixel mines, slaving away at something that makes me barf, but is at least somewhat acceptable. Here's a sketch. Or it's done. Or I dunno. I'm terrible. Leave me to slither in my own filth.

« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 02:42:18 PM by Sketchwhale » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2021, 01:07:56 PM »

Great to hear:) another title in runninng was 'Little Girl Rabbit Murder'.

That made me laugh out loud! This is a dark, adorable and fascinating game setup. Love the art.

Also appreciate that you're doing this with the kids asleep. It's late here and sleep-fighting #2 demonchild downstairs is demanding more food.
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2021, 04:09:39 AM »

That made me laugh out loud! This is a dark, adorable and fascinating game setup. Love the art.

That's a lot of praise, man. I'm blushing.

Also appreciate that you're doing this with the kids asleep. It's late here and sleep-fighting #2 demonchild downstairs is demanding more food.

That 1 or 2 hours after they pass out is the ultimate fire under my ass to get stuff done. Good luck with Imsoniagolge, the Sleep Eater.
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2021, 12:31:18 PM »

What to Fight For

Alright, it didn’t feel like there would be a lot of progress. I took at trip with my son to see family. This was wonderful, but didn’t get anything done on the trip (except play Final Fantasy VII with that fan translation. So good)

Then yesterday I couldn’t help contemplate a design problem I had been mulling over many times before, yet again. It’s the problem of what is going to be a levels win condition.

See, KeruShoujo is fairly deterministic in the levels where you do not yet interact with all the systems. This means, that to simply “kill all enemies to win” is ( at least to me as the designer )  quickly very boring. And so, over the years, I’ve tried out many ideas ( most in my head ) to what would be more interesting. This often involves comparing to other games.

Some games simply ask you to kill. The thrill of interacting with the game, makes this acceptable in many. Ironically even a complex game like Starcraft, simply wants you to kill. The strategies and tactics don’t concern themselves with a unique objective dictated by the game.

Many games ask you to gather points of some sort, either to have more than an opponent when the game ends, or to reach some winning threshold. A great example is from that game I mentioned in my initial post, Auro. It asks you to keep a kill combo going to get increasingly more points as you succeed.

There are games that ask you to survive, like Tetris or Puyo Puyo. Into the Breach uses this for a genre that normally asks you to kill, and it is brilliant.

And then there are games that ask you to reach destinations. Whether it is a racing game, or an adventure game pointing you to a location.

EDIT: I forgot to add this, cause I'm not really sure where to place it, but Chess deserves its own mention. While not actually that thrilling to execute (IMO, of course), putting an opponent into a checkmate position is a really unique mechanic, since it's not really killing. Is it like a wrestling move? Oh and the game prevents you from doing it on your own, it's simply not a legal move (right? maybe I'm not well-enough versed in Chess rules). I actually find it perhaps the most elegant aspect of chess. Point systems can seem sort of separate from the rest of a game, and the clock in Chess is especially an inelegant solution to the problem of moving the game ahead. The checkmate position is entirely a part of the internal mechanics of movement in chess. Okay that was larger edit.

Much like these latter ones, I think KeruShoujo is served well by changing requirements depending on the level. Some levels need you to kill specific things, maybe even in specific ways, others need you to gather and hold onto items dropped by enemies.

We already had a system in place to handle these objectives, but I gotta admit I accused my coder buddy of working for Big Callback, cause the way he had implemented that system made me wanna tear my hair out (and if there’s one good aspect to this pandemic, it is that it has made me realise I have FANTASTIC hair). So I spent the last two evenings reimplementing it in way that was general and versatile enough to handle the various objectives I could think of (kill 3 enemies, kill 1 of this type, 2 of this type, gather n numbers of this ingredient, craft this spell, regain this much health), and seeing it working is really nice.

About 2 years ago, I had come up with this system, that two of the items the enemies could drop were unique, in that they were “catalysts” for crafting. Either one would work, but the good kind had no side-effects, while the more common one, caused unique level-dependent side-effects. The problem was, to win the level, you needed 5 of the good catalysts. I liked this system, but I also came to realise it was too complex on many fronts.

Nevertheless, the idea of collecting special items, and then having the conundrum of whether to keep them to move closer to victory, or spent them to improve yourself, was still a decent idea. This simpler version still fits with the other systems of the game, and primarily requires that I design levels such that the problem of whether to slow down your progress or take the chance and hurry towards the goal, becomes the real problem. Hopefully I’m right.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2021, 04:47:58 AM by Sketchwhale » Logged
JobLeonard
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« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2021, 01:06:01 AM »

I'm pretty tired of simplistic murderscapes too, so it's nice to read that you're exploring alternative win conditions! Smiley

Also, come to think of it, a title like "The Girl Who Kicked A Rabbit" sounds more like the game is about provoking rabbits than necessarily kill them.

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(and if there’s one good aspect to this pandemic, it is that it has made me realise I have FANTASTIC hair)
Hahaaa, same here! I never knew how fabs my hair was until recently
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2021, 05:33:51 AM »

I'm pretty tired of simplistic murderscapes too, so it's nice to read that you're exploring alternative win conditions! Smiley

I must admit, if the gameplay affords it, I like the kill-kill-murder goal to be the end goal. Like, Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics and their offspring, have plenty of aspects of to consider before you even achieve murder, that (while perhaps interesting) a more unique goal isn't necessary. It might also not quite fit with the story: "All these goon-punks want to blood-bedazzle us! We better activate that blue circle and achieve Omega Synchronizity-gauss!" okay nevermind, that sounds incredible.

Hahaaa, same here! I never knew how fabs my hair was until recently

I've a little lodge for you to join
« Last Edit: June 02, 2021, 09:35:03 AM by Sketchwhale » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2021, 10:55:04 AM »

Bit longer between updates this time. Life, you know. Still, lots of time to work on the floor. Literally. I lie on the floor in the kids bedroom, waiting for them to fall asleep, and work on KeruShoujo. Bad for the back, good for progress.

Did a lot of work on making various UI stuff more elegant, but after I had another friend play the game (he played for an hour and a half, woohoo!) I had a lot of confirmations of what levels worked (most seemed to help him understand what I wanted him to understand).

The most important progress though, was that I finally got started on one of the bosses I’d been planning:

Baalianargh



This spirit is what I’ve called a Deep One. I still call her that, but I’m not sure it has any meaning anymore.

Playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy VII Remake these last few months helped a lot with ideas for bosses.

The first idea I had was from XIV, where the bosses can get really complicated once you get to higher difficulties (Motherfucking Odin on Extreme!). I imagined a boss that switches between two modes, and you have to infuse yourself with the opposite element of the boss’s current mode to cause damage (“She’s dark, you go light”). The trick is to acquire the item that makes you light or dark. Naturally, Baalinargh is supposed to have behaviour that reflects the two modes (I’m thinking she heals others when light, and herself when dark? Something like that).

Second idea was from those delicious FFVII Remake boss fights. Again, nothing original (that could be Keru Shoujo’s tagline). Multiple stages. As Baalianargh takes damage, she’ll enter new stages. So that light/dark thing could be the second stage, and then when she is down to ⅓ health, she enters her rampage mode. No more healing, no more elemental resistance, just lots of beatings.

I’ve implemented it all, and, well, it seems fun. Of course, I’ll need some people to test it, but it sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?


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« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2021, 11:49:25 AM »

I like the visuals a lot, this seem like a perfect fit for nintendo switch
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