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Cart [#46170#] | Copy | Code | 2017-11-11 | Link
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Dylan Burke is finishing the job his father failed to complete on LV-426. He must be stopped.

Explore planets and collect 12 alien eggs before Burke can get to them.

Sound and headphones are recommended for the best experience

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Player manual. Complete with hints and tips!
http://slides.com/morningtoast/alien-harvest-manual#/

Browser gamepad support is availble through Itch.io:
http://morningtoast.itch.io/alien-harvest

Keyboard controls

  • Arrows, Move character
  • Z, Map / Continue
  • X, Use weapon

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What people are saying...

"I nearly jumped outta my seat when it chased me..." - @liquidream

"Yeah, headphones are a must" - @enargy

"Hats off to you for bringing that element into your games. Brilliant." - @beetleinthebox

"The game is cool!" - @pineconegraphic

"That's some cute manual action!" - @rtrntospielburg

"You’ve found a really nice style in this one." - @johanpeitz

"Are you still making that damn game?" - @barneysangels

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This game has been a long time coming. I started it back in June and worked on it for about a month. Then I hit a wall and got distracted by other stuff...it sat on the shelf. I came back to it after a couple months and finally finished it up. Very happy I did.

The idea got seeded when I read an article in Retro Gamer about the Sega SG-1000 and the game "Girl's Garden". In it you're a girl that has to collect flowers while avoiding bears to keep her boyfriend happy. Somehow that got me thinking about applying that model to an Aliens motif...and I had just so happened to find a spritesheet rip of Rebelstar from the ZX Spectrum that had alien characters in it. I took those and started designing around that.

Prior to this, most of my Pico-8 games have been arcade shooters, so making a maze/map game was new to me (especially one with a story). It was nice to try something different and I learned a lot. I'm not sure I'll try to make another one...while rewarding, this experience was exhausting. I'll just have to spread out my efforts when it comes to this genre.

What I think made the most difference with this game was that I came back to it after some time away. It felt good coming back to something that was a) half done and b) still familiar enough code to dive back into without a lot of re-learning. Plus I could look at it with fresh eyes to determine if it was worth finishing. It held up well and I was motivated to get it done.

But man...the last 10% of development is killer. For one, I hadn't quite figured out the last act and then when I did, Pico-8 compression limits came around and tried to crush my dreams. To combat that, I simply started over...kinda. I opened a blank cart and copied over code chunks one-by-one, inspecting and refactoring each one as I went. I had to trim some design fat but in the end that had little impact on the gameplay and that's what matters. All that effort paid off and I got in under the limits with a solid game.

Since this game has an actual ending, I kept playing and I kept failing to win. Usually that's a sign of the balance being off but this time it was just a good solid challenge. By design or by luck, the game trade-offs worked out wonderfully. The game isn't easy but not too difficult. It never feels overly unfair and has some wonderful emotional impact as well. Even with insider knowledge, it took me quite a while to win but only after plenty of "just one more time" moments.

Thanks to everyone that helped along the way, whether on Twitter on here in the forum...all of it made a difference.

Please see the manual for more credits, acknowledgements and original source material

Super thanks to @pineconegraphic for the character animations
Awesome thanks to @gnarcade_vgm for the original music

Some lessons learned:

  • Use shorter variable names
  • Using the pair() loop is better than the all() loop
  • Large arrays are bad
  • Story text is troublesome, as are long strings in general
  • Code comments seem to count toward compression limits, remove them
  • I need to figure out how to get more use out of tile maps
  • I need to learn more about memory functions
  • Pathfinding is difficult and taxing
  • Aliens chasing you is terrifying, even when they're 16x16 sprites

Please report any crashes you experience.

If you have any questions about how this game was made or what was used, please don't hesitate to ask.

P#45162 2017-10-12 21:46

::

Oh boy, that's fun. Really like the art style.

P#45165 2017-10-13 00:10

::

Great stuff - was able to get MUCH further with the tweaks you made.
Then I stupidly died coz I got confused between the Map/Fire keys! D'Oh!

I especially love the manual, looks great and explains everything so well.
(Also - yay, I'm in it! :D )
May have to do one of those someday!

Congrats of finishing it - I'm sure it'll be very popular! :D

P#45166 2017-10-13 01:00

::

@Liquidream - Thanks for all the help. Your feedback went a long way. I'm glad I finished it too! I'm one that starts many things but finishes very few. I'm proud of the game and hope everyone has fun with it.

On the dev side of things, I'd love to learn how to be more efficient with my tiles for games like this. One reason I ran into trouble was I have a giant array with all the wall tiles (bushes) and drawing them, rather than using a map.

I didn't use a map because I wanted a large-ish quantity of layouts to choose from when generating the level. I mean, it clearly works but I'm sure there's a better way to get the same result that won't max out memory.

P#45176 2017-10-13 10:42

::

Great work on this! Excited to check this out on a big screen -- I'll let you know how it plays on rpi.

Very cool that you were inspired by Girl's Garden. FYI if you haven't tried it yet, it's one of the handful of SG-1000 games that are worth playing (outside of just historical interest/curiosity).

I think I said this before, but I really like that you did a manual.

P.s. Thanks for the shoutout!

P#45178 2017-10-13 13:47

::

Updated to v1.1

Adjusted the normal mode balance a bit. All time limits tweaked in favor of the player, as well as only needing 12 eggs to finish instead of 20. This will hopefully make for a quicker payoff for new players.

Terror Mode achievement unlock now increases difficulty all around...more eggs, longer times, faster aliens.

P#45280 2017-10-16 21:44

::

@morningtoast: I like the update! This game has a pretty harsh penalty for failure (1 hit --> complete restart) so lowering the requirements makes that sting less without being too easy.

P#45284 2017-10-17 10:08

::

This was a case of being too close to the project for too long. I picked 20 to start because it was a nice round number...as I made/played, it seemed okay. But once it was brought up that the grind was well...a grind...made me think about how much the average/newish person will be playing before they get a payoff.

Collecting 12 eggs is more obtainable for sure, and much quicker at that. You'll still be doing quite a few playthroughs before you get to the end, it's still a tricky run to get there.

Now I just wish the reward was a little more spectacular. Since I was up against limits, I really skimped on the victory scene.

As far as the 1-hit kill...that ain't changing :) That game doesn't that long to run through.

P#45290 2017-10-17 12:39

::

Ignore this. Why does this thread now appear way down in the list? Weird.

Hmmm...that fixed it. I deleted a post I made a few rows up and it reset the date on the thread so it sunk off the page. Small forum bug, me thinks.

P#45291 2017-10-17 12:51

::

I didn't get very far my first few tries. I think that I will be playing this on a saturday morning for sure!! So fun. Very good old school feel. As always great games Morningtoast. An inspiration for sure.

P#45293 2017-10-17 15:25

::

way cool!

P#45298 2017-10-17 18:43

::

@rahrahrah - Thanks, glad you enjoyed and will give it another shot. It's not an easy game...but not crazy hard either. After a few die-n-tries, you'll be golden.

@borden - And thanks also :) Hope it's fun

P#45299 2017-10-17 19:48

:: Bug: Unreachable corner

Some times, the map generator will wall off a corner with bushes. This isn't so bad during the egg hunting levels since the player can just get more eggs the next level. It is bad if one of the bombs for the last level is there, leading to a no-win game.

P#45335 2017-10-19 01:26

::

Good catch, thanks. I'll run through the map layouts again and try to make sure there's a hole.

I knew this was a possibility but seemed to rarely happen so I didn't spend the tokens to check each placement.

I'm not solutioning the maps at all because it's not really a maze. My solution instead was to just make sure each screen had enough holes to always allow a way out.

P#45344 2017-10-19 21:03

::

I don't have much to say about this game. It looks very good (zx vibes), it's pleasant, well designed, thanks, I like it much!

P#45361 2017-10-20 15:02

::

An egg hatched right when I was picking it up! You get some nice tense moments in this game so good job on getting the atmosphere right.

One thing I would improve is the collision with wall tiles as you can get stuck on them easily but I understand that it is trying to emulate the feel of old ZX games so I'll let you off ;)

P#45410 2017-10-23 07:05

::

Well...I wasn't trying to emulate the ZX with anything more than the art style. The collision issue isn't something I planned (or even wanted) but couldn't figure out how to resolve it.

I reduced the collision box for walls several times over development to a point where I was okay with it. Can you still get caught? Yes, but it's not so bad to ruin the whole thing...and after a few times, you can account for it better (which is like old retro games, I suppose).

I'd love for it to just slow the player down when they clip a wall corner or or something...just didn't have the brain power to figure that out. It's probably something obvious that I just didn't see mid-stream.

Maybe using circles for collision detection instead of squares would help? Hmmmm...but that math might choke things...now you have me thinking again :)

P#45414 2017-10-23 12:25

::

Sorry! I wasn't comlpaining!

Could it be that both the players x and y velocity gets set to 0 in the event of a collision (or the players x and y values get set to something) instead of just setting the players x velocity to zero with left and right collisions etc. ?

I usually run into that problem when doing collisions.

EDIT:
I believe it may be this bit in your code:

if not blocked(p_x,p_y, p_dx,p_dy, {y=6,x=6,w=4,h=4}) then
                p_x+=p_dx
                p_y+=p_dy
end

I think what's happening is it's checking for a collision, and if there is, the players velocity is not added to their position. Don't feel that you need to re-write you game now but I hope this helps!

P#45423 2017-10-23 15:30

::

Yeah...I know exactly why it's happening, and it's just like you found. If path is blocked, player stops. There is no velocity for the player as-is, which I guess could be part of the solution.

I'll see what I can redo when I get there. I'm working on squashing some other bugs and adding a few new things right now.

P#45431 2017-10-23 21:44

::

Updated to v1.3

  • New title screen menu
  • Added new achievements (see manual for details)
  • More map layouts with some new sprites
  • Fixed lots of little bugs and one big bug

This should be it for a while. I'm happy I got in the last few features I hadn't initially. It took a lot of refactoring and renaming of variables to get everything under the limits, but it's all there. Please report any bugs you may find. I'm only going to squash major issues at this point. I need a break!

Thanks for playing. And remember, the mostly come at night...mostly...

P#45471 2017-10-25 21:21

::

So I lied...here's v1.4

Found one more big bug in alien chase routines. Also added an achievement for finishing the game in Terror Mode.

P#45487 2017-10-26 22:23

::

I really like this game. Solid aesthetics, perfect sound fx, and palpable tension as one explores the jungle. Heads above the fold.

P#45784 2017-11-01 19:58

::

Thanks, glad you're having fun with it. And hope you try to unlock all the achievements while you do :)

P#45805 2017-11-02 09:53

::

Updated to 1.5 which includes some more fixes, most notably a bug where when collecting an opening egg the facehugger would still spawn. Also fixed minor achievement display bug.

P#45950 2017-11-06 23:04

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