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. :-)