Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Big Three-O

Here it is, Build 30!

Unfortunately I don't have a huge update for this nice, big round number - just some minor gameplay changes.
  • Score is back! You get points for moving in general;
  • Plus 1000 points anytime you pick up a star with your feet;
  • Plus 1000 points for every second remaining on the clock when you finish the level.
  • Speaking of the clock, it's now level-based not stage-based. You get a set number of seconds to collect all the stars.
  • You get a base alotment of 5 seconds per star to beat the level with starting at level 20.
  • Before level 20 you get around 15 seconds per star and it slowly dwindles down as you move through the levels.
I'm not really a big fan of the points system, but it adds a level of replayability that the game otherwise lacks. Even finding out the best possible score on Level 1 is pretty fun!

I'll be looking to make a high score table in the near future. That'll add some excitement too.

What level can you get to? Do you think the later levels should allow more than 5 seconds per star? It gets fairly stressful after a while.


  1. All it needs now is a little longevity thought. People will probably get bored without something to aim for, a storyline, a boss star, something.
    Maybe purchasable upgrades for your squid? (speed, regen maybe, spin speed or handling, wings, et cetera)

    If the game were released in it's current state, I don't think it would last very long. The graphics make it look like it was made by a child (sorry!) and the average player probably wouldn't know or appreciate the complex physics that seem so trivial at first glance.

  2. 16.14!

    I like the graphics! A lot! :)

    Until I figured out that level N has N stars, it wasn't clear to me how many stars I had to grab in my remaining time. Even knowing that, I must do some subtraction to figure it out.

    It might be worth trying a different time-limit scheme. You get, say 30 seconds at the beginning of the level, and 10 seconds are added for each star you grab. (The 30 and 10 should also change with level.) The advantage of this scheme is that you know you only need to get 1 star before time runs out, because you'll get more time then. It's like the old-school arcade racecar games where you got more time for completing a lap before time runs out.

    Another idea involves eliminating the damage, and just having Mr Grumpy get in your way. He's a big enough pain just being there, and it might be good to eliminate a whole complex system (the damage system) that the player can't really understand because he's not given enough information about how it works. Mr Grumpy could be replaced by all sorts of benign fish and driftwood and other things (space cucumbers?) that obstruct your path but don't hurt you. They could even move around in cool ways. Just an idea!

  3. I think it depends what you are going for--are you looking to just complete a first flash game, or are you trying to create an internet sensation (a la FantasticContraption)?
    If the later, then I think the game still has to develop something unique as far as gameplay goes--right now it doesn't feel too different. I don't have any good ideas: perhaps switch the gameplay so the user is responsible for moving the planets? hmmm

  4. @Rob: One of the last few builds had a distinct timer for each star - the timer was randomized, but it came with a few problems. Occasionally you would get 5 seconds to get to the next star, and it would be ludicrously far away and literally impossible to get to. That's not something I want players to run into.

    On the other hand, 5 seconds is enough time for me to get anywhere 90% of the time. So extending that out to 6-8 seconds is out of the question in terms of increasing difficulty on the gameplay.

    I tried implementing a "every star you pick up gives you +5 seconds" system, but since I get most stars in 2-3 seconds I end up beating every level with over 60 seconds left on the clock, so that didn't work out too well either.

    My compromise for all of these was to make one unified timer for the entire level - the overall timer is 4-5 seconds per star, but it balances out in the end when I miss a star once or twice and when I grab 4 stars in 3 seconds.

    I think the only other possible solution is to star you off with 10 seconds as a "buffer" and have the clock add on 3 seconds or so every time you pick up a star. Since 4 seconds per star seems about average for a "perfect" player, you would never get ahead of the game - just delaying your death. I can try that one out and see how it plays.

    As for eliminating damage - You don't have health or anything like that. But the part-destruction - that could be taken out at this point I suppose. It doesn't serve much purpose except to give the screen a little bit of eye candy, and it does detract from the cute factor of the game.

    I really do like smashing the squid on things, but smashing him in this environment just doesn't work. :) Maybe a different game can focus on dashing your squid on the rocks or something. :)

    And yes - Mr Grumpy the Space Urchin will have his graphics spruced up and he will have a few friends join him in the arena. :)

    @Ryan: I am indeed just trying to "get the game out," not looking to achieve some incredible experience :) If the game is reasonably well received I'll look into making a sequel. This project is just to prove I can do something somewhat successful - mostly to myself ;)