Going Mad: An Adventure into Developing Adventure Games

So, while it would be easy to just explain that I’m part of a two-man design house called Wonderland Fiasco, and while we were working on something, we then got sidetracked to work on something else, I’d instead like to point out that we’re waiting for a few environments and some models to be done, so… we took a quick detour.

I don’t have tons of information about it that I can share, but, basically, side projects can be very helpful in working on your main game, even if they slow you way down and ultimately end up causing you to be less productive. We’re learning about stuff we can use for one project while working on another, and… neither one of us are very good at staying focused. We like… spreading out.

Here’s the actual game we’re really hardcore working on, but, as evidenced by the video below, it’s nowhere near ready to even talk about. It’s at that stage where things are still ultimately open and feels really wild and awesome, and that’s the best feeling in the world.

^ This up here? Yeah, it’s still in development.

However… we know, as well most of you gamedevs know, that building games starts out in this glorious feel-good phase and doesn’t stay there. Well, while we’re waiting for a couple of people to get some stuff together, (we’re pretty lax about trying to slam this thing out, we wanna explore.) we decided to work on a secondary project that we think will be much faster to build, with some ideas that we knew we wouldn’t be using in Shadar.

The theory of making things as kind of a joke.

This is Kat Sune, spelled sorta like Kitsune, and kinda looking like a kitsune mask, but it’s a cat, so… that’s why Kat Sune. Anyway, this is some total weeb shit, and we think that’s hilarious, so, we wanted to explore what we could do in that sort of world.
Literally everything we came up with started with this character, from making a three dimensional game where you could fly on rockets, to spring jumps, it all comes from the basis of the character, which is really interesting, because the character is literally all we have. There’s no story, there’s no real idea of what’s going on. It’s a thicc girl in a cat-themed hot pink spacesuit.

We determined quickly we wanted sorta an adventure type game, and, Plague immediately designed a rocket for her to sit on. We thought about the speeder level in Battletoads as a viable option, or, some sort of world where that would be an acceptable form of transportation, and, we moved into theorycrafting what sort of world would these characters inhabit. This got to be kind of a hassle – we went from Super Sentai team, to pop stars, to pop stars in a Sentai team, to a couple of girls in weird space suits running around a planet.

 

Again, there were no solid mechanics at this point. We have a character who lives in a world that is completely undefined. After that, we just… started going after mechanics. We figure, there’s no way to really build a world and a game without having good mechanics. We wanted to define them first.
So, we knew it was an adventure game, and we needed controls. We wanted to keep it really simple. Scope is your biggest killer on small independent projects. If you’ve ever said, “Yes, I want to make a…” and it ends in anything other than “pong clone” you’re probably going to work a lot harder than you’d imagine you would. Heck, getting AI that doesn’t absolutely suck in pong is kinda a lot of work, even.

Plague slapped together a little wiggle dance for an idle animation, and then we needed something for the character to do. We wanted to put together two buttons – I think we started with… some Crash Bandicoot stuff. It was… jump and spin? Anyway, we needed an animation to break the boxes. So, spin is kind of ubiquitous… everybody knows Crash, so… we ended up with a giant hammer – it’s kind of… weeb, so, it works.

We decided about here that we liked the simple, low-effort level design of Splatoon! No, that’s not an insult. The game’s designed with basic hallway and room layouts that would be frustratingly unbearable in almost any game, but… because there are no real walls, it feels spacious and open, and that makes it fun. We’ll flesh this out later in the article, but it’s important to share that we knew at this point where we were going as far as the way levels were designed.
Because we had a jump and a hammer, and, now a mechanic where we could smash boxes, we thought… what else can you do with a hammer? And we naturally progressed into hitting things and changing the way the layout was set up. Now we had switches. Switches operated by hammers, then switches operated by standing on them, then switches operated by boxes being slid on them… (which, was caused by building boxes that you couldn’t smash, but, you’d push forward… those are still glitchy as all hell, and they won’t push switches, but, we have ideas for them to.)

This is a glitch, but, it’s kinda fun, too.

Basically… we’ve put all of this nonsense together in less than a week. Everything is still glitchy, but, we have ideas for levels, a kind of… theme for the world. A spring jump! Which… is like… Super Mario 64 inspired jump, then jump a second time right when you land, but, even that’s still kinda glitchy…
We knew we needed enemies… but, again, this is two guys slapping together some nonsense. Animation is NOT something we want to spend a bunch of time on. We just want some juicy idle animations and very limited gameplay animation without freaking out ourselves by laying in too deep on mechanics or anything. We just… want to build something fun and simple. We built a rabbit somewhere in here, and, she’s going to be in a few pictures coming up.
So… we ended up with a noodle, with suction cups on it. It’s like a tentacle, but, it’s a… slug? I don’t know. It exists. It’ll probably slap you. We don’t even know yet.

Enemies, and why we need 3.

So, your general video game logic is that more enemies are better. I mean, if you’re just killing the same enemy over and over, the game’s boring, right?
I propose that is nonsense! I mean, once you have a variation of sorts. We decided 3 was our variation. We coulda done it with 1, to be honest, but, 3 is a much more fun number.
Noodle guy is your regular… sorta difficult enemy, he’s the middle of the road. We determined that he exists, is beatable, and is dangerous.
We needed to put together a fodder enemy, your… Mario Goomba, if you will. So… a dinosaur with no arms. Basically, a meat tube on legs with a mouth. That’s adorable. And… a bully. Something that is bigger than you and is definitely “dangerous”
Of course, at this point in our game building process… we’re not even sure what we’re doing as far as enemies as threats. Can they kill you? Knock you down? What’s the end state? Do they make you start a level over? There’s no tried and true answer to these questions. Just theories.
At the moment, we think we’re going with… enemies that can’t kill you. I mean, they can, but, not in traditional methods. Earlier, I mentioned that we looked at Splatoon! and realized that the game has a very nice open level layout that is… basic as fuuuck but it’s done in a way that tricks people into being okay with it. This super linear format is not only acceptable, but, it actually makes it easier to figure out what sort of experience your player is going to get playing through the level and the game. Anyway, I’m digressing – the enemies can’t kill you normally. We determined that… maybe the bullies pushed you, because, we were calling them bullies, and, that’s kind of a unique way for them to interact with you. So… if they shove you off an edge, you fall to your death.
Bada boom, we came up with a way to make enemies dangerous and still not really have them kill you.
We thought back to having two characters. A good way to make this game feel great would be playing it with your friends. Couch co-op is fine, we’re not trying to redesign action-platform gaming here, and, the game’s scope is currently small enough that building an entire vehicle to play online with your friends that will likely lag and be sort of disappointing is not something we want to do. (I’m looking at you, Double Dragon Neon!)

We’re trying to avoid disappointing. Just liquid fun.

Space Bun freak dances like there’s nobody watching at a high school dance.

So, adding a second character is neat, but… how does difficulty increase with a second character? Remember the end state we were working with? Where enemies shove you off the edge? Well, inspiration struck again, and… we basically stole the Donkey Kong Country method of having your second character “tag in” when you get hurt. In our case, when you get knocked off the map. When you’re playing multiplayer, the Juicy Pair are both on the screen at the same time, so… if one of you falls to your doom, there’s nobody to replace them.
It’s like a built in difficulty for being multiplayer!
Things like that are where we’re trying to build from… taking mechanics and ideas from past games, and changing them, working from outside our chosen genre, bringing pieces or elements of other genres or games into our own. There’s nothing wrong with taking something that works, and seeing if you can plug it into what you’re working on.
This game started out as kind of a jokey project about building something that neither of us were particularly fond of. I’m not exactly certain where it’s going, but, I’m personally advocating for a little more chaos in game design. Sometimes art is messy. You don’t need to have everything planned, but… you definitely need it scoped.
Once you understand what you can do, you can build from there.

 

We’re not sure what we’re calling it or anything, but, we’re gonna have more information on it eventually. If you want to sign up for email alerts or whatever, go ahead and fill out the form in the thing below. Y’know, where all the information goes.
Here’s a big picture of the whole cast (thus far). It’s a gif, because we’re fancy game devs now.
Caio for now!

Stay updated on this game we’re working on! Click HERE!

and guys, please, if you like it, or, wanna know anything about it, let us know! Share it with your friends!

Last time we threw together a game, we wrote about it too. 

Thanks again!

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