Category: Weekly Updates
Well, finally, Clarence's Big Chance is done and released, which is a relief. I've just got to add some little things to it now and I need to wait a few days, then I'll upload it to other sites like Newgrounds, and here.
It's interesting looking at the comments; I didn't realise how stupidly cruel the whole game was until I saw them. o_O
It's a peculiar effect, that; Mario jumps around on koopas and goombas and such without any hint of mercy or remorse, yet he's a hero; Clarence, however, in jumping in the same way on the heads of pet dogs and cats and his own parents, makes him an utter, heartless monster!!1
It's one of the things I wanted to do with the game; show how amusingly absurd platformers tend to be, by putting one in a real-world setting.
The game hasn't done as well as I might have hoped, but I suppose it's done better than I *expected*. I expected fewer people to 'get it', and I expected more negative comments than I got on Kongregate.
However, its score wasn't high enough to place it highly in any contests, and it may never get badges due to lack of interest. Oh well.
Now that it's no longer on the front page of Kongregate, it's unlikely to get many more views there.
As a project, I think that it went fairly well. I finished it in around two to three months, which is faster than many other projects I've done in the past, and fairly good considering that it was my first proper AS3 project (after giving up on Chimaera).
Since it was my first AS3 project, though, there were some technical aspects of it that I'd do differently if I were to make another platformer. I made it with the intention of making its engine reusable for other games, but chances are I'll do another platformer engine based on what I've learned at some point, as I do intend to make more platformers.
It was interesting doing a completely silly idea for a change, without worrying about some kind of deep, emotional plot. But as a result, my interest in the game was less than it could have been; I didn't have some emotional bond with it and during late development, it felt like the joke was wearing thin and getting old... I don't know if it's something I'd do again - basing a game on a silly idea my girlfriend and I came up with one day - at least not any time soon.
It's interesting how a lot of the comments said that the game was *too long*... This means that I can get away with releasing shorter games, if I get them sponsored anyway.
I've also taken note of the parts that people have had problems with - like the bit in the Internet History bit with disappearing blocks, and not being able to find Clarence's pants - so I'll learn from those comments and know what kind of obstacles not to do in future.
So all in all, I achieved what I wanted to with it, and it performed as well as I felt it should have. I never meant to make loads of money for it or to top the charts; just to play around for my own amusement and get used to learning AS3.
I've been thinking more about 'fig coins', and 'keys' for my games, and stuff.... Wondering about what exactly would be considered worth paying for, and what wouldn't be. Specifically in regards to Alora Fane.
I originally planned it in 'parts', sort of, but never really intended them to be released separately or anything.
There's something I'm doing with the game that I did with MARDEK, too. I seem to like focusing on different points of a protagonist's life, so as to give the feeling that you know them better than you might if you only saw them as an adult.
As such, Alora Fane covers around seven different parts in the early life of the protagonist, Thymus, starting with him as 'a child' and then eventually focusing on different time periods about a year apart, with him eventually being around the age of 20.
The world around him - and the characters he shares his life with - all change as he does, so each time time passes, new dungeons are available and other characters' relationships with him change (in terms of plot events, rather than some kind of sim-like relationship meter).
However, like with MARDEK Chapter 1, I didn't think it'd be too interesting playing as him as a little boy, so the segments that deal with his very early life are short indeed.
The first 'chapter' would introduce him, and the main supporting characters who are the same age as he is, as well as explaining the setting in general terms. He'd go into a single dungeon, then the chapter would end afterwards. It'd probably be about as long as chapter 1 of MARDEK.
In the second chapter, he'd be a year or two older; still a child rather than an adult (though with a somewhat different appearance to show he's going through a transitional stage between child and adult).
In my current plans, this chapter wouldn't be very long either... It only has two dungeons in it.
The third chapter, however, is the first look you get of his adult form; he's about 16 or 17, and has a sprite that he'll continue to have for the next few years/chapters. This is the main 'meat' of the plot, it seems (or at least of the dungeon romps), and as such there are four or five dungeons here.
Chapter four would have two dungeons, then an event which would end up 'splitting the game in half', so to speak.
Chapter five would have two dungeons again, but you'd have been to one of these in chapter two and you'd be doing it again for plot-related reasons...
Chapter six is as big as chapter three since the game has a sort of 'symmetry' to it; it would have four or five dungeons.
There were originally going to be two further chapters, or another chapter and an epilogue, but each is short enough that I could probably just combine them.
There'd be one dungeon, another optional dungeon, the 'final confrontation' (there's always one of those), and another bit which would be an epilogue of sorts, where you can walk around and talk to people and find out some answers about various plot stuff that'd happened up until that point.
Seven isn't a nice number to me... I like even numbers. However, I suppose it's a lucky, magical number, and the number of colours in a rainbow, so hmm...
Since I've been talking about the fig coins system, I've been wanting to charge a number of coins for each chapter of Alora Fane.
But as you can see, perhaps, from my brief descriptions there, I'm not sure whether some chapters would be worth charging money for, since they aren't very long (dungeons might take maybe half an hour), and I certainly couldn't charge the same amount for them all since they're so variable in size.
I could split the game into two instead, since there definitely is that event in the middle that would make this easy. I'd make the first chapter free to play so then you could see what the game's like, then I'd have the other two big chapters, each of which would include more than one year of Thymus's life...
That'd give you more value for money - each chapter might be between MARDEK 2 and 3 in length, approximately - but it would also mean considerably longer times between releases of each part... probably.
OR I suppose I could release 'key packs'; two for the game. So I'd release each of the short chapters one-by-one, but charge only twice as if there were only two. It's a combination of the two ideas, and it'd mean faster releases, but it'd mean less money for me, and it'd mean that you'd have to buy the keys while trusting that I'd release what I said I would at some point, since you wouldn't be able to play all of your purchase immediately... So hmm.
A part of me would love to milk as much money as I could out of it, but I'd never feel right selling something that I didn't feel was worth selling...
As for prices, maybe I'd go as low as 100 coins per chapter if I released each one individually, or something like 300 or 500 for each 'key pack' or big chapter... I'm not sure.
Another project that I've been thinking about and feeling surprisingly eager to work on is Raider!!1
Oh, how people love Raider. People keep begging me to work on it since they love it so much... instead of complaining whenever I even bring it up, and surely groaning and wondering why on Earth I stick with it!
I'm not sure why I keep coming back to Raider in all its forms, like a dog returning to its vomit.
Maybe I just have some kind of connection to the flat character of Arkus Zei, the setting of it all... Maybe I just don't like feeling that the five-part plot of the pixelated versions was never finished.
I did start working on a new version of Raider recently, and released some early prototypes where you could wall jump, run, and that sort of stuff which made the game largely more fun to play. There was another version, too, where you could fly around in your ship in this big grid of space, between worlds, and each world had a 'node map' with five or six small, distinct levels.
I'd like to return to Raider as a paid game, possibly, and I have ideas for how I'd want to do it. I'd essentially make it a cross between a platformer and an RPG, or something like Zelda maybe.
Originally I meant for there to be a huge grid of space where you flew around in a top-down view in your ship; each grid square was a screen in size, and the whole grid was something like 8x8 or 10x10 of these screens... Rather large.
I had hopes also of having 'ship battles' and stuff; buying ship parts to fight off enemy pirates or the 'space police'.
Each of the five 'zones' with their main levels would be a distinct entity that you'd fly towards and then enter, but you'd also be able to fly around to find shops, places to talk with NPCs, hidden treasure, or individual levels that took place on planetoids, moons or asteroids.
I'd still want to retain some of these features, but not necessarily all of them.
Instead, I'd have each of the five episodes - and I'd like to do five, sticking with the same plot of Arkus and Echelle and stuff, but starting again from the beginning and improving plot and characterisation stuff while perhaps adding other characters and just generally trying to make it more interesting - set in its own region of space; there'd still be the flying around on a grid, but instead the whole region of space might be 3x3 or 4x4 screens.
You'd have the main 'zone' somewhere in the middle, and when entering it you'd be able to move between the five or six levels it had to offer, but at some points, you might find that a level has an impassable obstacle for which you need a special key or tool to bypass.
At this point, you'd need to get back in your ship and fly around a bit, exploring, either looking for what you need in shops (and trying to collect enough money to buy it), or finding small shipwrecks to loot, or small asteroids you could explore to find what you need.
For example, in the first episode, you'd travel around the haunted ship that Arkus had found, but on one level you might find that your way is blocked by ghosts, and the only way to get past without dying is to find a special weapon that can actually harm ghosts.
So you'd fly around in your ship, and hear from some person at a shop or space-bar that there was an ancient ruin at coordinates 2,1,16,5, so then you'd go there and search, discovering an asteroid... which you'd go down to, explore as an individual level, and at the end you'd win your prize; a blaster that could defeat ghosts.
You'd go back to the 'main dungeon' and try the level again, finding that you could progress further.
I personally find this concept appealing, to work on and to play, but I don't know how much appeal it has to anyone else.
Chances are if I charged coins for each chapter, it wouldn't be many; 100 or 200 at something. If I even go through with this at all.
Though this post is humongous enough as it is, I just want to briefly mention something else I've been working on.
A while ago, I mentioned that I was doing another MARDEK 'Piano Collections' album thing. While the first one's sales didn't exactly make me a millionaire, a few people did indeed buy it, and I still seem to get a sale or two every week. So I think that making more albums is a way to make some money, at least.
I'm also interested in composing the things from an artistic point of view, so it's not all about business.
Rather than focusing on music from chapter 2 (like the first one focused on chapter 1), I'm focusing on 'character themes' from all the chapters combined.
I've come up with two different albums, which I'll make separately. The first will contain the themes of:
6. Lone Wolf
While the second will contain:
2. Siren Song
3. Nature's Maiden
I've covered most of the character themes here, but I've omitted a small number of them since either I'm not particularly interested in them myself, or I feel they won't be very easy to adapt for the piano.
Not that any of these are easy to adapt... I knew basically nothing about chord theory, basic harmonics, when composing these pieces originally, but now that I DO know about that stuff, I can see the dissonance in them and it's hard to get around it without changing the tune too much.
I've done Emela's Theme now, so I'll try to do the others in the next few days or weeks.
I always seem to make these news posts much, much longer than they have any real business being! Sorry for rambling so long!
I think I've covered everything that I am working on at the moment, though.
I should try using Twitter more often to report my progress as it happens...