Playing with wires

Greetings people! I have great news to share! Many months have passed since the last time I uploaded something to this blog of mine. So hey, I thought “You know what? I have something to upload now!”. And so it begins the great tale of …

Yeah, I’ll stop now.

Sorry about that.

So… what I was trying to say was that I have an ongoing project that I’d like to share with you my dear readers. It’s nowhere near finished, heavens no, but I think I’m at a point where there are a sufficient amount of mechanics to get a sense of how the game works.

But let me warn you first: There’s no tutorial, no objective, no consequences and of course all the graphics are crude “programming art”. So, basically it’s just a small sandbox to play around with.

Having said that, here’s the sandbox itself:

Wires sanbox screenshot
Explosions! Wires! A protagonist! NPCs! Buttons! Blocks! Traps! A squiggly grey thingy!

Download link:

  • Download here! Sadly, it’s made with Game Maker 8.1, so it only works on windows platforms.

Controls:

  • Enter key restarts the sandbox.
  • Mouse over to select.
  • Left click + drag to operate wires (create and/or move) and to move the blue circle.
  • Right click to cancel wire operations and to delete wires themselves.

Game elements:

  • Circles represent characters. The blue circle is the one you can control and move around, while the green ones will be enemies at some point in the future (right now they don’t do much).
  • The grey blocks and the squiggly thingy are impassable walls.
  • The cylinders are buttons that can be pressed by characters.
  • The holes are actually spike traps. They don’t do much apart from being able to be activated/deactivated.
  • And finally, the wires.

Oh, the wires. Let me tell you this, if you enjoy discovering how a mechanic works, then stop reading right now and go play the damn thing.

Alright?

Good.

The wires, as you might expect, are the most important element in the sandbox. By connecting a button to a trap you can activate said trap by making the blue circle go through the button. That’s fairly simple, but then things can get more interesting. For instance, you might connect two traps in a row! Exciting, I know. But seriously, things get a little more complicated once you figure out that there’s no limitation to the wires (apart from distance … and even that has a loophole) and on top of that, characters can be connected to wires, even the blue little guy can. What happens when a character is sent a signal from a button? Well, that screenshot might give you a clue.

And that’s about it for now. I know that it doesn’t seem like much, but this simple sandbox took me quite a while to develop, certainly more than I expected (something like 6 days of work if I recall correctly).

Cheers.

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Out there

Weird Tales Magazine
Yes, this post is in fact, a little bit weird and is about weird ideas, so what better way to express this than through a picture that has the word "weird" on the title? .... yeah, I didn't have that much time to search for a more appropriate image. Sue me.

Creating games from scratch is difficult. At least that much we all know. But to make matters worse, just imagine trying to design a game in a very unorthodox way, something outside of the box, something that is not entirely based upon all the common game-making knowledge we’ve accumulated in the past 40 years. Can you imagine that? Because I barely can. And in that imaginary scenario, I see that it’s not likely for the products of that process to be of quality. Meaning that the final product will probably be less than stellar unless the designer is some kind of genius (or has spent a tremendous amount of time refining that process, but I’ll get to that later).

Now, I’m not a genius, so I’ve been refusing to do a lot of the ideas that came to my head in the past few years, just because I couldn’t think of a way to make them “work”. That is to say, work in a way that we all expect a game to work. Because at the end of the day, if the player doesn’t understand what the game is trying to do, then he’ll just label the game as being sub-par.

With all that being said, I think it’s time for me to give those strange ideas a try. Not a lot of people will like the results of those ideas, at least not at first. Most people will probably just become confused and disregard the game as if it were just a piece of broken software. But in order to produce something of quality with these ideas, I need to get my hands dirty first.

I could probably wait until someone else produces a game that is similar to what I intend to do and then proceed to learn as much as I can from that product, but that no longer seems like a feasible solution. I’m tired of waiting for other people to do similar stuff to what I’m thinking about, so I’ve decided that I shouldn’t wait any longer.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ll be making more games than I usually do or anything of the sort. Hell, right now I should be studying for the two finals I have in a few days. But what I’m saying is that … well, the next game you see from me might actually be something very weird.

And player-driven.

Image respectfully taken from here.

It’s been two years already?

domo-kun egg hatched papercraft
*Wipes tear from cheek* They grow up so fast. Wait, that's not a bird. At least I don't think it's a bird... do birds have teeth?

So… yeah, I just checked and it has been exactly two years since I started this blog, which feels kind of wrong since in internet years that’s like a century. With only 128 posts, 153 legitimate comments and 1,119 spam comments I can safely say that this blog doesn’t feel as old as it is.

Though when I look back at some of my early posts, I can’t help but cringe at how badly written they were (and when I remember how long they took me to write, I die a little inside). Of course, it was to be expected given that at the time I wasn’t so used to writing in this language. Reading? Oh hell yes, practically everything I read about this medium was in full blown english, but trust me, reading and writing are two wholly different activities. I know. From experience. I have empirical data to support that fact: In one activity you need to use the keyboard, but on the other one you don’t!

*Ahem*

Where was I? Oh, right, the two year anniversary. It’s not like I planned anything to say here, (and yes, it shows, thank you for pointing that out. Jerk.) but I think I can come up with a few things to say right now:

  • First of all, a big thank to all the readers that decided to follow this blog. Yes, both of you! I can’t express my gratitude enough, so I won’t (how’s that for the ultimate “thank you”?).
  • The game that was based on 1984 that I sort of “announced” here to be ready by march 20th… yeah, that didn’t happen. But I’m still working on it! The illustrator is having difficulties in finding the time to pour into the project but we’re getting there. Slowly, but surely.
  • The Spelunky journal series is officially cancelled unless someone asks for a new installment. I frankly can’t find the inspiration to write more about it and with no motivation whatsoever I’d prefer to just let it die than to drive it into the ground.
  • I’m continually changing my design style from game to game. Every single tentative game design document that I’ve written so far has a different approach to it, and I have to say that I find that curious. I guess that I haven’t found “my style” yet, but I think that I just design whatever sounds interesting at the time, be it from a mechanical or … philosophical point of view (sorry, I couldn’t come up with a less pretentious way to say it).
  • On top of that, I’m continuing to learn how to make games in flash using flixel, so don’t be surprised if some new little project pops up in the experiments section. Though I won’t promise anything.
  • Oh, and that reminds me, I’ve changed a few things there in that section. I didn’t realize it until a few days ago, but it turns out that rapidshare had deleted my files. Oh well, now they’re up again, fully functioning and one of the so-called experiments now has a less cringe-wrothy name.

Aaaaaand I think that’s about it. Man, it’s been a long time since I did one of these information dumps. Feels good to just clarify a bunch of things that may still be up in the air due to promises or hints I made in the last couple of months, even if nobody cares.

As always, image taken from flickr, if I just violated any copyright law, please tell me and I’ll take it out.

Vignettes

I don’t exactly feel the need to justify my absence here every time I have to take a little personal vacation from the blog, but there are times when I have a really good excuse, and yes, this is one of those times:

Dark! Flashlight! Soldier! Cavern! All of these exciting things will appear inside this game!
It's... kind of difficult to let any game shine through a single screenshot... especially when said game has a resolution of 100x100 pixels.

Basically, I’ve been so busy making videogames that I didn’t have any time whatsoever to actually post about videogames. See? You have to admit, that is a pretty good excuse.

Now, Vignettes was made in exactly 17 days for a certain contest. The rules of said contest stated that the games shall have no more than 100×100 pixels of resolution. Granted, zooming is permitted since having a window of just 100×100 pixels would be detrimental to everyone’s eyesight. Oh, and did I mention that we only had 17 days to do it? Yes? Good. Normally we would have a month or more, but this time around ADVA was pressed for time since their annually convention (EVA) is scheduled for December 4th.

Aaaand… yeah, Vignettes.  That’s the name of my entry. To put it simply, it’s an odd platformer based around a flashlight mechanic, throwing objects, and pushing crates and barrels. Yes, crates and barrels, I know, believe me, it’s on purpose. The “odd” thing about it is that [kind of a spoiler] the levels are segmented between two very different protagonists, each with it’s own setting and as the game progresses they start to relate to each other.[/end of the kind of a spoiler]

Anyway, I won’t say more than that, there’s a hell of a lot of room for interpretation and I happen to think that the “story” is not the one the designer intended to tell, but the one the player constructs with the gameplay and setting.

Wanna play it? Download it from here.

The controls are as follows:

  • Z: Jump
  • X: ???
  • Arrows: Profit!

Press the Escape key whenever you want to, you know, escape. Oh, and due to the time constraints, the game doesn’t support a save feature… but it is a fairly short game, so I suppose it’s not that big of a deal.