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Work in Progress / Flow - 2D Action Platformer

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ShellfishGames
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Posted: 7th Feb 2013 01:10 Edited at: 17th Mar 2013 20:06
Hi.

Flow Motion is a 2D action platformer I've been working on for round about two months now using DBPro. My initial aim was to create a fast-paced game that allows the player to reach a "flow" state easily (hence the name, obviously) by providing different tools, including but not limited to sprinting, jumping, climbing and a grappling hook (the easy to learn but hard to master kind of thing).
The gameplay is somewhat similar to that of N+ or Super Meat Boy, but hopefully different enough to justify the game's existence.

The visual style is pretty minimalistic, but I'd prefer to keep it that way.








I'm quite satisfied with the current state although the background sprite, player animation and a few other things still leave room for improvement.

Currently there are about 40 levels available to play. However, most of them are rather short and all of them can be finished in less than a minute. Playing through all the levels takes me about 15 minutes, but I guess somebody who's never played the game before would need anything between 45 minutes and 3 hours.



Most of the game is already finished, there are some minor issues regarding the menu, a few bugs here and there, some assets and effects that need to be redone etc. - still, it's perfectly playable and I'd like to find a few testers who are willing to take the time to not only play through the first campaign of the game (consisting of 11 levels that are meant to teach the player the required mechanics) and provide feedback but also to send me the automatically generated replay-files of their playthroughs to help me improve the level design. It would be really helpful if some of you guys would be willing to do that.

When it comes to the future of the game, I'm planning to include a multiplayer mode. Despite my 10 years of game development experience I've actually never done this before, so it will be quite a challenge to say the least. But I'm pretty positive that it will work out, and will be worth it. According to my optimistic and not too relatable time plan (I have no idea how long implementing a working multiplayer mode will take, after all..) the game might be finished in about two months. After that it will be released as freeware/donationware.


Your feedback is highly appreciated, so feel free to tell me what you think.
I will upload a playable version of the game within the next few days.

Thanks for your interest!

seppgirty
FPSC Developer
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Posted: 8th Feb 2013 01:11
looks fun. simple and clean. i would offer to beta test for you but i'm not the best guy for that.

gamer, lover, filmmaker
The_Quay
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Posted: 8th Feb 2013 09:39
Reminds me alot of N+, Awesome and simple! Would love to give it a bash, is it finished?

- Quay
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 8th Feb 2013 10:19
Thanks guys!

What do you mean seppgirty? I'm sure you are the best guy for that.

I still have to fix a few things, but I will make sure to upload the game until Sunday.
29 games
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Posted: 9th Feb 2013 19:06
This looks like a lot of fun. Looking forward to the demo.

one of these days I'll come up with a better signature
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 10th Feb 2013 16:18
Thanks 29 games.


The current version is attached as RAR-file. If necessary I can upload it as ZIP as well.

To run the game, you have to...

1. unpack the archive (important!)
2. run flow.exe in the game directory
3. create a new profile
4. pick a campaign on the left side (preferably the one called Campaign)
5. click on the first level (the only one being unlocked) to play it

Given that you unpacked the game initially, your progress in the campaigns is being saved as part of your profile.

By default the game runs in a resolution of 1280x800 fullscreen (which cannot be changed yet without recompiling), I hope that's not a problem for you. Otherwise I'll make sure the resolution is read from an ini-file instead of it being hardcoded.

Previous play testers had a few problems in level 4 of the first campaign (utilizing the grappling hook) and got frustrated rather quickly. I hope this is not the case anymore with the edited level - otherwise I apologize in advance for any possible inconveniences.

Note that several keys, such as ~ and Return, are bound to certain functions that are not meant to be in the actual game and merely exist for the purpose of simplifying the development process. Unless you want to go "behind the scenes", simply try not to press those buttons in the first place.

And now have fun playing, I'm looking forward to your feedback!

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29 games
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Posted: 11th Feb 2013 22:51 Edited at: 11th Feb 2013 22:53
I really liked this. I managed to play through the campaign and started on the challenges and expert levels. Here are my thoughts:

At first I found the controls, especially the grappling hook, a little unintuitive but I got used to it pretty quickly.

Level 11 of the campaign: give the hint about double jump velocity influencing how high you can jump at the start. I ended up cheating by climbing high enough to hit the reset point and then pressing R.

A visual cue that the player can double jump would be helpful. You do this for the grappling hook and the grenade so it would be nice if you had something for the double jump instead of letting the player find out through trial and error.

Level 1 expert: get rid of the very first set of spikes to give the player time to get their bearings. You can do this in a later level but I felt having it right at the start was just annoying and that's when I stopped playing.

I think the animation for when the player is running could be improved, it sort of looks like their mincing they way through the level. I think it just needs the legs to be spread further apart (stop sniggering at the back).

I found that when you grapple a door then destroy the door with a grenade the grappled is still attached, even though the door is no longer there. I don't know whether this is intentional or not but it seemed wrong.

Apart from all of the above I thought the game was excellent. You were absolutely right in saying that the more familliar your are with the levels the quicker you get through them, which is understandable. I liked the way the player could look around the level, it was a nice touch so that I didn't feel like I was making leaps of faith. I also like the way the background and foreground scrolled at different rates, again it was just a nice touch. I actually thought the back ground was pretty decent in a minimalist sort of way. It didn't distract from playing the game. The music was also good and suited the game. Will you be using this in the final version?

One last thing, I started doing the challenges but got stuck on the very first one. I couldn't get past the first yellow wall. Can you give me a hint how to get past it? Assuming it's possible.

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ShellfishGames
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Posted: 12th Feb 2013 00:03
Very nice, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the game.

Quote: "Level 11 of the campaign: give the hint about double jump velocity influencing how high you can jump at the start."


You're absolutely right. But not only that, I think I need a better way to communicate this effect to the player in the first place. The textual hint certainly is not the best solution.

Quote: "Level 1 expert: get rid of the very first set of spikes to give the player time to get their bearings. You can do this in a later level but I felt having it right at the start was just annoying and that's when I stopped playing"


Good point. As opposed to the Challenge-maps I wanted to make sure that expert levels are not only hard to beat in a certain time, but that they are hard to beat in general. But it's a tough task to do that without making the whole experience too frustrating. Still, your solution might already do the job here.

I also agree on the player's running animation. It does look rather odd.
The grappling hook staying when a block is destroyed is indeed a bug, or rather the consequence of the bug's solution not being implemented yet.

The music will probably stay, unless maybe somebody is able and willing to compose something suitable of similar quality - but I might keep the old music just as well.

Quote: "One last thing, I started doing the challenges but got stuck on the very first one. I couldn't get past the first yellow wall. Can you give me a hint how to get past it? Assuming it's possible."


Ahh, yes... it is indeed possible, it's sort of similar to the double jump thing. You have to run against the wall and press the jump button twice as fast as possible, which results in the player jumping higher than usual. My bad, I never really questioned that level.
Phaelax
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Posted: 12th Feb 2013 07:27
Quote: "Reminds me alot of N+"

I had the same thought.

A very interesting game. Downloading now.

It was fun at first, got to the 2nd challenge then quit out of extreme frustration. The line would constantly drop me for no apparent reason after it connected.

"You're not going crazy. You're going sane in a crazy world!" ~Tick
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 12th Feb 2013 08:44
Quote: "got to the 2nd challenge then quit out of extreme frustration. The line would constantly drop me for no apparent reason after it connected."


That indeed does sound frustrating. I have no idea what might have happened there - would it be possible to send me the replay-file? Or alternatively a screenshot of the place in the level where that happened.

To be honest I didn't put much thought into the Challenge-campaign - well, I did when designing the individual levels, but not with respect to their difficulty for other players. So it's actually no surprise that you encounter problems there. But as long as you were able to finish the first campaign frustration-free (which seems to be the case for the most part?), I'm good with that. I guess I will work on the remaining bugs and the two other campaigns next.

Thanks for your feedback!
Phaelax
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Posted: 12th Feb 2013 18:26
It seemed to happen in different places, but I think most often in spots where I was falling faster. So I don't know if it's an issue of my movement speed when I throw the line out or what.

Btw, is the spacekey suppose to throw me in a direction really far? Or is that just in to help testing?

"You're not going crazy. You're going sane in a crazy world!" ~Tick
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 14th Feb 2013 13:34
Quote: "but I think most often in spots where I was falling faster. So I don't know if it's an issue of my movement speed when I throw the line out or what."


I'm pretty clueless. Is it possible that you accidentally hit the S-key, which resulted in the player letting go of the line?

Quote: "Btw, is the spacekey suppose to throw me in a direction really far? Or is that just in to help testing?"


Oh, right. Actually initially it was meant to become a feature, just as double jumping, but I realized that it lacked the necessary "flow-characteristics", hence I decided to leave it out. But forgot to actually remove it from the game.
seppgirty
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Posted: 16th Feb 2013 18:09
i did try flow and it is fun and addicting. really nice job.

I found the single blocks a little hard to move on because he slides so much. But i guess that's part of the challenge. lol

just wondering if there is a way to change the controls? i found my fingers getting tied up when running and jumping. i used the space key jump but seemed to make him jump over everything the w jump is what got me. i like using A and D to move. maybe a mouse click to jump?

Anyway, great job so far. keep it up.

gamer, lover, filmmaker
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 16th Feb 2013 20:56
Thank you!

You're right about the single blocks, and you're not the first one having problems there. I tried to make that a bit easier by introducing the "walk"-feature (when pressing CTRL... I'm not even sure if that's explained somewhere in the game right now ), but having to press a button while trying to hit those small blocks doesn't exactly make things easier, so that's not an ideal solution. Maybe I will change the gameplay a bit, or just leave out those blocks from the first part of the game.

Controls cannot be changed yet, but that's a good idea. In the newest version I'm using an ini-file to define screen resolution and a few other things, so I might just as well use an ini-file to define the key arrangement.



As a minor general update: Throughout the last couple of days I mainly worked on internal stuff, particularly improvements of the replay files. Although I'm using this feature for testing purposes right now, those replays will play a major role in the game since the replay of each new highscore will be saved automatically, which allows you to play a level while seeing the highscore's "ghost" at the same time.
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2013 17:45 Edited at: 6th Mar 2013 18:57
The "ghost" feature mentioned in the last post is now implemented. When playing a level that you've beaten before, the highscore's replay will be drawn to give you live feedback while playing on whether there's still a chance to improve your best time or not.



Furthermore it is possible to manually view the replay of every entry of the highscore table...



... by pressing 'View', which leads to an interactive replay-player that allows you to, well, watch the replay.




I will do my best to improve the Challenges campaign throughout the next few days and try to upload the new version until Sunday.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Update: I attached the new version to this post. It contains all the features mentioned above, as well as a few bug fixes and an improved Challenges campaign (although it's probably still too hard overall - but at least the first few levels should be OK now. Hopefully.). The Expert campaign is still the same though. Note that if you can't beat a level for some reason, you can always switch to the Full Access-profile in the main menu, which has all levels of the three campaigns unlocked.

Changing the key configuration is possible using the keys.ini file. It should be pretty self-explanatory. Also, you can change the screen resolution by applying different values in the settings.txt file.


I uploaded a new video demonstrating a few of the new features and a couple of Challenge levels.




As always, thank you for your interest and feel free to tell me what you think!

Shellfish Games

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ShellfishGames
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Posted: 13th Mar 2013 19:41 Edited at: 13th Mar 2013 19:42








To add a bit more variety to the game I added a Survival Mode. The idea is pretty simple: Stay alive as long as you can. Naturally this wouldn't be all that challenging in the original game, so I started by adding missiles that follow the player and are lethal if they manage to hit him. Admittedly this has been done in N+ as well, but still it adds quite a lot here.

I've got two new videos, the first one simply demonstrates the missiles in a traditional race level:



The second video shows the actual Survival Mode. Right now it would be possible to simply find a spot where you are safe from the rockets and stay there for an arbitrary time. However, I'm going to add a few new gameplay elements during the next days, forcing the player to constantly stay in motion which is what the game is about to begin with.




I'm looking forward to your thoughts and comments.

- Shellfish Games


Sorry for triple-posting by the way, but given that the previous post is more than two weeks old, I thought it was kind of justified.

CodeMonkey
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Posted: 14th Mar 2013 03:52
Excuse the pun; the flow of the gameplay and mechanics in this looks great! I have't played it yet, might download tomorrow if I have the time, but from the screenshots and video you seem to have everything working really nicely. I like the addition of the rockets too.

I do actually like the graphical style as it is but I think some nice artwork would really make this game stand out for the mobile market. I'd buy this if I had an iPhone, and weren't broke Keep it up mate!
Chris Tate
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Posted: 14th Mar 2013 10:45
Sonic team should hire you.

Looks good, I like the puzzle aspect of the game flow. I would have liked a larger more recognizable and inspiring looking character, and the levels run a bit short under 30 seconds which seems to make it look repetitive and monotonous but that's just my narrow opinion, others might like that.

Quote: "Sorry for triple-posting by the way, but given that the previous post is more than two weeks old, I thought it was kind of justified."


It's good to keep us updated, each post discusses something different; keeps things organized into sub-topics; I only just realized you made a new post.

29 games
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Posted: 15th Mar 2013 11:38
I haven't had a chance to play the new demo (just downloaded it) but I like the rockets.

I also like the idea of the survival mode. One of my concerns about games like this is the longevity, if I play through it once will I bother playing through it again? But a survival mode is something that I can come back to and play around with.

I'll write more once I've had a chance to play the demo.

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ShellfishGames
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Posted: 15th Mar 2013 18:14
Quote: "Excuse the pun; the flow of the gameplay and mechanics in this looks great!"


That's hardly a pun considering that this is the exact reason why the word "flow" is in the title.

Quote: "some nice artwork would really make this game stand out for the mobile market."


Well, since I've developed it with DBPro it only works on Windows. Also I'm not too sure how the controls could be realized on a mobile device. So I guess it will stay "PC-exclusive" for the time being.


@Chris the character is indeed a little bland. I'm lacking a concrete idea of how to change him right now, but the sprite will be replaced sooner or later.


Quote: "One of my concerns about games like this is the longevity, if I play through it once will I bother playing through it again? But a survival mode is something that I can come back to and play around with."


Definitely. A more elaborate reward- and unlock-system might be helpful as well. Right now, every time you beat a level for the first time the following one is unlocked. I guess awarding the player medals depending on his performance is a good way to keep the motivation up, as well as unlocks that are tied to the time he needs to finish a race level/survives in a survival level.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Small update: I enabled different color themes depending on which campaign you play, added a little time pressure to the survival mode and implemented the possibility to "hijack" missiles:



If you hit them with your rope the missile begins following the mouse around and allows you to reach high places you wouldn't get to otherwise. There are already two new levels introducing those new mechanics in the main campaign.

In case anybody is willing to play test the Survival Mode I'd gladly upload it. Otherwise I'll work on a few other things first.

- Shellfish Games

Quel
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Posted: 16th Mar 2013 11:06
I would say it's professional, if the timer wouldn't tell me 0:22:3

-Mental Hybrid: A unique heavy story based shoot'em ~40% (primary project)
-CoreFleet: An underground commander unit based RTS (canned) ~15%
Quel
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Posted: 16th Mar 2013 11:39
Discovered a little bug, powerful enough explosions (many mines layed in creator mode) can jump me through walls.

-Mental Hybrid: A unique heavy story based shoot'em ~40% (primary project)
-CoreFleet: An underground commander unit based RTS (canned) ~15%
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 17th Mar 2013 20:20
Quote: "I would say it's professional, if the timer wouldn't tell me 0:22:3"


It does look kind of weird. But what's the right version to display the time? I'm really not sure, especially since that probably differs between countries. I changed it to 0:22.3 now.

And you're right about the explosions, that happened to me rather often throughout the last few days due to some rather extensive rocket related testing. I'm going to sort that out for the next release.

By the way I implemented the medal system mentioned in the last post:



The highest medal earned in each level is also displayed in the main menu (see first post).

And I went a little Dr Strangelove on the Survival mode...



That's it for now. Overall I'm quite satisfied with how things are turning out.

Cheers!

Quel
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Posted: 17th Mar 2013 23:12
Wouldn't it be 0:22:09 ?

Or now that i see those times next to the medals, 0:22:090...
ShellfishGames
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Posted: 12th Jul 2013 18:20
After wasting way too much time with other things I finally was able to finish the game, fix all the remaining bugs (except the explosions can kick you through thin walls thing, as I just now realized.. meh), polish a few things and compile it all into a beautiful 20MB sized package.

Here's the release trailer:




Since I don't plan to work on it any further (apart from additional levels and a few bug fixes, possibly) I created a thread on the Program Announcement board: Link

Thanks for your input everybody! You're all mentioned as testers in the credits section of the game.

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