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Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:51 pm

Another batch of sprites done!

Image

My jumping sprite is in place, along with rounded corners on the terrain. I also set it up such that it chooses the block type dynamically, and I don't have to fuss around with like six different dirt entities.

Image

And here's the falling sprite. Took a bit of work, but I even solved how to get it to reset to the standing sprite when the player lands. I'm pretty pleased with how much I've learned on this project; looking forward to applying it again to future projects.
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:56 am

This will probably be my last update before release. Music is done and in place, all sprites but two are done, level is done. Many many bugs have been gooshed. I think the point at which I decided this project really was going well was when I started encountering bugs and knowing exactly what part of the code was the problem and exactly how to fix it. :-)

The game currently has two known bugs (both very stubborn) and just needs two more sprites and beginning / ending screens. If all goes well, it should be done tomorrow.
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences

Postby Darien » Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:11 am

I lied; one more pre-release update. Game is now 100% complete and bug-free to the best of my judgment. The only thing that remains is for me to write some intro text for it. I will launch tomorrow.
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Darien » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:45 pm

And we're done! You can play the game here. It's a good thing I waited to launch until today, because I came up with a brilliant solution to a sound issue I'd been having, and also found one tiny little bug still in need of smooshing. I'd suggest playing the game before reading any farther; what follows will be a detailed deconstruction replete with spoilers.

So what was that all about, anyway?

The idea was to use the juxtaposition of cute and bouncy with depressing and gory as a means of satirising the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of collectivist concepts of justice. At the beginning, we're told that the greater good demands that an evil be inflicted on the Grumplins, and this is no different from many video games. But then the actual consequences of Rabbit's actions become disturbingly clear. Through the course of the game, Rabbit's mental state deteriorates as he's forced to deal with what he's done, and this manifests itself in a four-step shift in sprite from upright and happy to haggard and suicidal. The music also shifts to reflect these changes, and the pickups Rabbit collects become darker and darker (first carrot juice, then stomach medicine, then rum, and finally poison). By the end of the game, the Grumplins are terrified of Rabbit -- in their eyes, a homicidal maniac -- and Rabbit is left a broken man, shuffling slowly around the level until, one way or another, he takes his own life.

What went right?

-- The choice of platform was perfect. FlashPunk is indeed as easy to use as people claim; I'd never so much as touched Flash development before starting this project, and was able to make what I consider a pretty solid game.

-- I made a simple concept at the beginning of the project, and I stuck to it. I resisted the urge to add lots of bells and whistles, and never suffered from the dreaded feature creep. The game as it ended up is very similar to what I had in my initial document. Thanks to this focus, I was actually able to complete it inside the pageant window.

-- The game concept itself is, I think, a strong one. Notwithstanding that I used it to make a weird little art game, I think there's some definite gameplay here, and I look forward to developing it into more of a proper game and less of a one-off artistic statement.

-- Deadline. Holy hell was it helpful to me to have a hard deadline. I couldn't just slowly bonk away at the sprites like I was inclined to, because I'd never be done in time. The deadline was a major reason why I was focused enough to get this finished.

-- I still love my background. Sorry, but I do.

What went wrong?

-- The art, mostly. I wanted to do all the sprites myself for this project -- and, from a learning perspective, I'm glad I did -- but my sense of form is simply weak. It's balanced out to some extent by my sense of colour, but I don't think the sprites do as good a job of selling the concept as I wanted them to. Rabbit in particular should have been larger -- in retrospect, 48px tall isn't visible enough for the changes to be as obvious as I wanted. But by the time I realised that, I was in too deep to remake everything at a new size.

-- The music changes aren't quite what I wanted, but I couldn't figure out any way to get FlashPunk to start playing a sound at a specified internal time; I really wanted the shifting music perfectly in sync, but I had to settle for a crossfade. Still works pretty well to my mind, but not 100% what I had planned.

-- No sound effects. I originally intended to include at least jumping and hitting sounds, along with a wind sound to play in the background after the music stops, but I discovered (rather late in the day) that public domain sound effects are horrible garbage. Ultimately, I decided the game was better with no sound effects than it would have been with the things I was able to find.

-- No loading screen. That would be a nice thing to have, wouldn't it? I'm not sure how to make one, though. Something to learn for the next project. :-)

Where do we go from here?

As I said above, I think I have a pretty solid game here underneath all the artsy hand-wringing. So while this project itself is in what I consider a complete state, I intend to take the core of it -- the play mechanics, the art, the music -- and build an actual proper platform game around them. With, like, winning and stuff. I like the stamina mechanic quite a lot -- not only does it provide incentive to get involved with the mobs instead of just dodging them, it also creates interesting situations where the player really needs a pickup, and so needs to prevent a mob from walking off into a pit. Also I like the concept of mobs as resources to be managed rather than merely obstacles to avoid.

So that's it! I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me; I'll do my best to answer them. I think I even have a good enough understanding of what all I did that I'll be able to. :-)
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Darien
 
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Ardbob » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:03 am

I tried it out for a bit and it was fun, but every time I died the music would stack on the last track so by the time I'd died five times it was a cluster of music each a second or two ahead of another. T_T
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Darien » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:16 am

Oh, holy shit. Ever introduce a huge, deal-breaker bug right before you ship? Yeah, I've done that. Thanks for the catch, Ardbob -- fixed version is uploading right now.
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Ardbob » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:33 am

Since it seems like you're planning to improve this project over time, I'll give my thoughts:

1. I felt like I should have been able to attack while in midair, but I wasn't able to. I suppose it's not necessary and may make the game a little easier, but it feels like it would be an improvement.
2. I also felt like it would have been funner if the platforms were all just very slightly lower. The reason for this is because at the level you placed most of them, in order to get on one of them I would have walk directly next to it underneath and jump then move slightly over. It would feel much nicer and smoother if I was able to jump as I'm running and still be able to make it onto the platform. Some could say that it's supposed to be a challenge, but I think it's more of a hassle than a challenge. Know what I mean?

All that said, I still liked the game!
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Abel Toy » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:24 am

The game is really nice, but runs slow on my computer :(
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Darien » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:49 pm

Thanks for your feedback, guys! I'm glad you found a few things to like about it, anyhow.

Oh, one thing I wanted to append to my post-mortem:

Sources of Inspiration

This game was inspired by the following things:

-- Zaratustra's Eversion, another cutesy platformer that gets progressively darker.

-- Our own Terry Cavanagh's Don't Look Back, which has the same sort of ending I was attempting to emulate.

-- This Brawl in the Family strip, which inspired me to think about the hordes of mobs in a platform game as actual living beings rather than just obstacles.
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Darien » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:48 pm

Rolpege: Okay, I've done some optimisation and uploaded a new version. Probably won't help much (since I didn't do much), but maybe things will be a bit smoother for you.
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Abel Toy » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:02 pm

WOW! Now it runs really fast! :D
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Location: Girona, Catalunya

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby jonbro » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:11 pm

It seems like a cool idea, I liked the music and controls getting slightly sloppier everytime I died, however I wasn't able to make it that far in. I think the idea about lowering the platforms or possibly making the jump higher is a really good one, it would help a ton for poor players like me.
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Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Stephen L (inactive) » Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:28 pm

Darien, hey -

Assembling a zip archive of all the entries for posterity, mind if I go and toss the whole page ( http://www.perfectlydarien.com/consequences/ ) into it?

Also, I haven't been able to get that far into it. I guess it's not that important how far in I get, based on what's going on, though?
Stephen L (inactive)
 

Re: Justice Pageant -- Unintended Consequences [Done!]

Postby Darien » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:18 pm

Stephen --

I don't mind at all. Toss in what you will.

And you are correct; it's not important how much progress you actually make through the level -- it's super super hard on purpose. It is possible to get to the "end," but nothing special happens if you do.
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