Yesterday I published Krowbar, which is an atmospheric top-down adventure game. Since it's still under judgement I thought I'd promote it here and write a bit about the process of creating it.
This is a gif of what the final game looks like and looks, I think, are the most unique thing the game has going for it. It's a product of 16ish hours of prototyping and initially it just begun as a set of sketches that I was doing while trying to break out of my creative block.
This is the original sketch that I did. I really liked the way things ended up looking, especially the transmission poles!
When drawing this stuff I was highly inspired by Ojiro's Nium and Milkbarlad's expereince that is CHUMBO.ZONE (yo milkbarjack why is this game, sorry experience, not on NG?). I think that's clear to see espeically in the character design :))
Anyhow, both of these games feature fake 3d that is created via sprite stacking so esentially creating a "hamburger" to make it seem like it's 3d. I really, really like this effect, however as opposed to Ojiro and the great milkbarlads my brain is too small to comprehend something like that and I wanted to make this in a day or two anyway. Lucky for tho, Construct 3, while a 2d game-engine, features the ability to move things towards the camera on the Z axis. I did a small trick where I moved the Z position of the object based on where it is on the screen. The closer it is to the bottom part of the screen, the higher up the Z axis it will be, making it seem closer.
Here is a gif with the effect exaggerated:
The fact that things jiggle around a little and that it adds visual noise into otherwise simple, static 2d sprites just adds extra vibe to the game in my opinion and I love it.
I wanted to make this a complete experience that I can upload to newgrounds to break my creative block so I needed to add gameplay to it because I spent around 7 hours just working on the art while having nothing to show for the gameplay.
I couldn't really think of any unique gameplay for the game, something that would make it "better" than any other top-down adventure game. I'm sure there is space in the genre to innovate, however I couldn't think of anything that I could add quickly and make fun gameplay out of. But then it hit me, if the unique part of my game is the art and the world, then I need to give the player a reason to explore this world. I decided to go for a very simple "find the thing that activates the exit" design while trying to add a bit of combat as an obstacle.
But if the game is focused on exploration I didn't think that combat should be hard. I tried to combine auto-aiming with a boomerang-esq mechanic to make something that is interesting yet easy to play. I wouldn't say that ended up being super interesting but it throws a bit of a wrench into what is expected.
Around this time is when Magran, joined me to help out with the art. He had some nice ideas for enemies and a cool way to end the game. He worked on some wonderful art while I struggled to actually design a level, he also found a great "lore" reasoning for limiting the world, you are stuck in some cloud world, and obviously you can't walk on clouds. This added a ton to the atmosphere and it was a nice excuse for making the world closed off without having to create a ton of world assets that would limit player's movement. I messaged Soren begging him to make me a song for the game, we threw in the assets, i struggeled to make the level fun, and around 6 am, we had this prototype of a game that you can play here ;)
Here is one of the last aseprite sheets we had, I think it just looks neat. Now go play the game and rate it 😡