Objective: Play

My objective for this week is to have a playable prototype level ready. While this will not be an accurate representation of the final game in any way, it will:

  • include all graphical features currently made–sprites and tiles
  • show an accurate level layout, mainly using placeholder graphics
  • have accurate game physics (mainly character physics)
  • include a points system when items are collected

So far today I’ve carried on working on my initial mock-up design for the first level of Hanami. Today I’ve been really concentrating on background and decorative parts of the level, finishing off the look of the level as a whole. It gets confusing in places because I mainly used one colour, so when I get the time I’m going to use varying shades of grey to determine depth and which items you can walk in front of.

Dark Grey: Buildings
Light Grey: Inside Caves
Green: People
Pink: Sakura Blossoms
Red(ish): Red Blossoms
Blue: Water
Half-Blocks: Jump-through platforms (mainly ladders!)

If you look hard enough you can almost see how I’ve based this around the original Kanji, although admittedly it becomes very obscured…

桃色 Pink ~ Momoiro

To test out how the level plays, I reconstructed the Photoshop mock-up in Game Maker using an arrangement of solid block objects. I didn’t worry about wasting my time with large filled in areas, all I needed was a frame for the character to play on.

Apologies for the pink. I was just trying to stay topical.

For the first time I also applied my animated character sprite to the game! I worked out animation speed settings in the character preview, but keep changing my mind as she occasionally looks as though she is walking backwards in game. The pink background was actually an attempt to separate her leg colour from the background colour and show leg movement more obviously.
It’s probably important to point out a slight oversight at this point. The level design is snapped to a 16×16 grid, so some gaps between solid blocks are only 16 pixels high. When I added an extra pixel to my character height, I accidentally designed a flawed character who couldn’t fit into these spaces. Luckily with Game Maker, not all of the character has to be solid. I’ve set the character’s collision mask to allow for a non-solid edge which will not collide with solid objects!

Through a process of trial and error, I’ve settled for these settings so far. I’ve tried to keep movement slow enough to be realistic, and kept jump distances low to make obstacles less easy to avoid. As the game has only environmental obstacles, if they were too easily avoided then the game would have no element of challenge!

S_GRAVITY: 0.3 //a fairly standard gravity setting
S_RUN_ACCEL: 0.3 //a fairly slow acceleration speed
S_RUN_FRIC: 0.6 //slightly high level of friction.
S_AIR_ACCEL: 0.1 //a very low setting, attempting to avoid too much air control
S_AIR_FRIC: 5 //a very high setting, attempting to avoid too much air control
S_JUMP_SPEED: -5.5 // just high enough to reach a platform triple the height of the character
S_DJUMP_SPEED: (N/A really as I am disabling double jump)
S_MAX_H: 1.5 //a low setting, but perfect for walking pace
S_MAX_V: 4 //a decent falling speed!
S_SLOPE_SLOW (not yet tested as I don’t have any slopes!)

Unfortunately (as I am currently using Hypercam…) I can’t guarantee that the speed of this video is anything like the speed of gameplay. You will just have to trust me that the speed is not an issue!

After playing through the level a little, I realised that a lot of the platforms are too close together to act as a challenging level. I will probably add fall damage when I give the character a health bar, so calculating jump distances is vital to play. At the moment, it’s almost impossible to fall in some places, and in other it’s almost impossible to move. I will try to resolve this by spreading the level out. This video actually plays from the beginning to the end of the level, but obviously in order to collect items, the player must play through the rest of the level beneath. I’m not yet sure whether I want to stretch out the width and length of the level too, to increase play time. This may simply come with spreading out platforms.
Just as well. I still haven’t managed to pick up any tracing paper :/

Edit: I worked out that the illusion of “backwards moving legs” is caused by the similarity in foot and block colour. The problem is resolved mainly by changing the colour of the platforms.