Friday, January 20, 2012

Pigs Can Fly Sequel

At the start of this new year, I knew that I wanted to make a physics-puzzle game. I created some prototypes, but ultimately I chose to create a sequel for Pigs Can Fly instead. Already I have created 20 levels, so I am confident that 30 more will be finished soon. There is a great chance that everything will be finished and released by the end of February! The original was an exclusively sponsored Flash version that got over 15 million plays, so I am confident that this one will do well.

For this project, experience has taught me to design almost everything before working on the art. Here is a screenshot of one of the latest levels...

As you can see, there are are now six colors/cursors to use. The square boxes can be destroyed simply by clicking on them with its corresponding cursor based on color, and the green circles constantly spin in a particular direction. Of course none of this this is represented, but these new features will be clear and obvious once I spend a couple days on an art pass. In other levels I have introduced "dead regions" where cursors cannot interact with anything and it has opened up many level design possibilities.

It may not seem like it, but designing levels for these 2D games actually is very time consuming. It takes a lot of trial and error, and I have come up with the best levels by randomly placing objects until I see something that can be refined. It is similar to the challenges that writers and painters face when it comes to creating great composition. Fortunately it is a skill that can be improved through many hours of effort.

The bunny defense game will be continued immediately after finishing this sequel. All the features are finished, so it just needs some careful balancing and additional audio.

For what it's worth, here is an in-game screenshot of one of the prototypes from earlier this month. It functions just like Crayon Physics, but features chalk and strings.

And here is a different prototype that involved bouncing droplets into a flower vase using platforms, balloons, and umbrellas. Actually it played well, so I may come back to it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone! I'd like to start this year by saying that the current Easter-themed game for Flash, iOS, and Android is in its beta stage. Though experience has taught me not to rush things.. I will need about one week in the coming months to balance and finish loose ends before I request play-testing. That way I can experience the project as an almost new experience and see flaws more easily. In the meantime, here are the opening comic panels for playing the story mode:

There are seven weapons and half a dozen specialty items. Along with three boss fights and many different enemies to be faced in four scenarios. There is an endless mode that unlocks everything so the player can compete for high-scores in a survival based showdown. The only real outstanding issue is adjusting the balance. Licensed audio and music, art, and feature implementation is all finished.

Yes, there is a cute bunny companion who can be hired to help protect the magical eggs.

Anyways, porting to iPad and Kindle Fire is fine, but may not play well on smaller devices. Memory usage is also a concern because the game now has over three hundred art assets. Most of these can be put into large sprite sheets, but then there are 70 audio files on top of it all. It is what it is.

While all of it is on the back burner, I have started a brand new project.

It was going to be a "find difference" game, where the objective is to find five differences between two similar photographs. Afterall, what could go wrong? GIMP is very capable free software to "Photoshop" many photos with the clone stamp tool, but actually the licensing of the photos themselves deterred me from continuing the project. I deem the usage of free-to-use photos in a game like this to be unwise, because either the quality is not there, or the coypright and licensing agreements are sketchy. For royalty-free photos, the cost is about two dollars for personal use, and over a hundred dollars for commercial use.. for each one! I would need at least a hundred, so investing over $10,000 in a project like is would not be a good idea at this time.

For what it's worth, this is a prototype using some watermarked placeholder art. There are no differences in the two images ;)

A Pigs Can Fly sequel was planned, but while thinking of new levels a better idea crossed my mind.

I am a fan of games like Crayon Physics and Magic Pen where you can draw lines and shapes that turn into physical objects. I have spent yesterday prototyping my own and it works very well. It is the kind of the game that is easy to understand, and easy to develop in pieces because most of the work is in creating the levels. Having the game update live with new levels created by the community is also a possibility, but we will see.

Here is a screenshot of some static blue boxes, and my own green convex boxes drawn in the game itself. They behave as physical objects as expected.

By no means will this be a clone of either game. I have some ideas that may work really well and help innovate the genre. This is going to be a great project as it will require me to focus on design and the fun factor over everything else.