Zep's Dreamland Demo 3
Ultio

Hey everyone. Here I am again, posting yet ANOTHER thread for my puzzle game. Well, obviously from the title of this thread, you can tell it's got a name. Yep, it's called "Zep's Dreamland". :)

Anyways, there's a new version of the game out (test version 3) to be exact. I've fixed up a lot of bugs, played around with the levels - and removed some (thus requiring me to add some), and most of all: it has the new graphics included. Now everything looks spiffy diffy, and a lot of things are animated, too. I tweaked the controls also. Now you can quickly tap left or right to turn Zep around while standing still on the same tile. You guys requested it -> you got it!

Alright, so since I've finally got a name for it, the game has also been added to the depot, so there won't be any direct links to the download of the game from here. Go ahead and grab it at the depot page: Zep's Dreamland.

As usual, I would like any of your comments, suggestions, critiques. I have implemented a working teleporting system and the ability to have those blue blocks pre-built into a map. Both of these features are unavailable in this demo at this time. Look for them in a bit. They'll be included once I've got some more levels layed out. On the note of levels, the demo only has a total of ten levels, just like before. Beat the 10th level and you'll be zapped back to the first level. These 10 levels represent one "world": the forest world. :)

I've also included the option to save/load your progress, and a nifty title screen and all that jazz.

Again, thanks for your time!

23yrold3yrold

Downloading now. Screenshots kinda remind me of Super Mario Bros. 2 :)

I suppose it goes without saying that a level editor is a must? ;)

Ultio

Editor will be released upon completion, yes. And it's very easy to use :)

23yrold3yrold

Whoa, impressive. Were the graphics done by JP? I love the animation for the blocks when they appear/disappear; I just sat there making and destroying them for a while ;D It's harder too, I got stuck on one much like one I beat in the last demo (mind you, I didn't spend very long on it). Much better now that you can turn with a button tap. BTW, in your editor I want to be able to use my own tile graphics! I'd almost be inspired to whip up some for another theme (snow, urban, volcano, whatever) if you need them. The KQ team haven't asked for any new graphics yet, so I'm bored :P

I'm looking forward to those new gameplay elements, like removing blocks instead of making them. This game is cool 8-)

EDIT: Beat it again ;D Excellent choice, using the end theme from Chrono Trigger ("So Far Away"?); it fits the game perfectly. Finish it!

Steve Terry

sweet dude... that is a very nice demo, nice graphics, gameplay, and music. Too bad I have an EXAM tomorrow... just spent all my study time playing your game :P too bad it's addictive. I beat it though, some puzzles were tough, but I managed them, oddly though it got progressively harder, then all teh sudden the levels went to extremely easy, then it repeated... oh well though I love the game. The only things I can see you doing is making more levels and a story line, then it will be complete :)

Fladimir da Gorf

Awww... really, really nice puzzle game indeed :) I'm just playing it and in the beginning of each level I hope that this one isn't the last (the exact opposite that I feel when playing some of the commerencial games... :P )

Ultio

Hey guys. Thanks for the awesome comments. I'm glad you like it. :)!

Now to answer some questions/comments.

Quote:

23yrold: Were the graphics done by JP?

Yes. Johan has taken over the whole graphical part of the game. As for little things like whipping up a title screen, and altering some other animations he has done I have contributed a little bit to the art, but he's mostly done everything.

Quote:

23yrold: BTW, in your editor I want to be able to use my own tile graphics!

As long as you know how to use grabber, you can add your own tiles easily. The editor has support for a "growing" tile datafile: that is, if you add tiles to the datafile, the editor will compensate and allow you to use those new tiles. Changing the tiles for the block creation/deletion is a little more difficult, but that can still be done with ease as well! So, once the full game is out - if you feel like making the game represent your OWN world and have the time to make your own graphics, it would be a simple task! :)

Also, as for your wanting to do some graphics -- I'm not completely opposed to it. The only problem I see is the fact that your art might not play nice with Johan's art. If they end up in the same playful/cartoonish style, then it's a possiblity. If you have the time and don't care about the fact that I may say "no" to your graphics, go ahead by all means. I would never turn down help!

Quote:

Steve: The only things I can see you doing is making more levels and a story line, then it will be complete

Well, more levels, of course. There will also be more than just more levels - there will be new elements, like as I said: teleporting and having to remove blocks that are already placed on the map. I also have some other ideas.

Quote:

Garga: I'm just playing it and in the beginning of each level I hope that this one isn't the last

Well, I'm glad to know that you kept on hoping for more. This is a good sign! :)

All in all, thanks for the awesome comments. I'm surprised to see that I didn't receive anything negative this time! Does this mean that you're all happy? I mean, seriously, didn't anyone find any flaws or any bugs? ;D

A lot of people comment on the music. I made sure to mention in the readme file that the music is not mine. I did not make it (nor did Johan). It's all just music from existing video-games and/or free domain stuff. I guess maybe you're commenting on how it fits the theme of the game? Either way, I just wanted to set it straight that I am not the creator of the music - so save that credit for the people who actually made it! :)

23yrold3yrold
Quote:

Johan has taken over the whole graphical part of the game ... The only problem I see is the fact that your art might not play nice with Johan's art.

Cool; I was just mentioning in case you needed it. If JP is willing to do it all, I guess you don't ;)
goes back to learning Bresenham's Circle algorithm

Richard Phipps

This is really really good.

It has a wonderful abstract feel to it with JP's gfx and the superb music. I got stuck though (I'm not a puzzler!)

A few things I'd suggest:

As well as adding a few more gameplay elements, I think the clouds would look a bit better if they were scrolling a little slower and if you had more animated tiles that would look good too.

Keep the surreal high in the sky feel!! :D

Paul Pridham

Some thing I'd like to see more in games... a "real-time" sunrise, sunset, moonrise, etc.! Just for the atmosphere... I think it would be perfect in a mellow puzzle game like this as well. An old C64 game called Forbidden Forest does something like this, and it just adds an extra dimension to the "feel" of the game.

Ultio

That would be kind of weird, actually. :) In theory I think that would be kind of hard to attain. I mean, sure, I could have this sprite of the sun rising or falling in accordance with whatever time it was - but the effect this would have on the other tiles would be nothing. It would seem kind of out of place if the tiles didn't get darker as the sun went down, etc. You know what I mean? It would be a pain to draw and implement if you wanted the sun's rising/setting to affect how everything looked.

23yrold3yrold

Not at all; I think it's a great idea. All you'd need to do is darken/lighten the palette a bit, yes?

Ultio

That is the problem -> there's no pallete usage! :)

23yrold3yrold

It's not 8-bit? Then you need FBlend, my friend! 8-)

Richard Phipps

Not 8-bit?

That would explain why I never got more than 25fps then! :D

Paul Pridham

Dude, that game doesn't need more than 8-bit graphics... IMO, you're shooting yourself in the foot by using a higher colour depth. You'll get higher frame rates and all the palette tricks you could want if you switch. Making a nice sunset/moonrise thing like I mentioned would be a breeze!

Speaking of breeze... once you have the moving sun (;)) maybe some blowing leaves or flowing waterfalls would be spiffy.

Ultio

I just kept it at a higher depth because if I was going to be doing all the graphics, it sure wouldn't be using palletes. ;)

I've never tried using palletes before, to tell you the truth. I never wanted to have to deal with them. It's possible I could change it to 8-bit, but the game runs fine at about 30fps, imo.

Marcello

GO HIGH COLOR WOOOO!!! DOWN WITH CHEESEY DOS COMPUTERS!

;0

Marcello

23yrold3yrold

I get 45 fps. Totally playable; no need for 8-bit. Though you may want to consider porting it to 8-bit when it's finished for people with low-end (read: crappy) computers. And the sunset stuff is still a cool idea 8-)

Richard Phipps

Hey!

My computer's just fine low-end it is! ;)

UNLESS you are going to use more than 256 colours than please use 8-bit. It will be much nicer for everyone with no visisble difference.

If you are going to use HI-colour graphics then fair enough use 15/16 bit.

:)

Paul Pridham

That's basically the point... unless you need high-colour, it's just needless overhead to draw with it compared to 8-bit. 45fps is OK, but 100 is nicer. 8-bit isn't hard at all to use, in fact you can auto-convert your high-colour images when you load them easily enough. If you make a screenshot or mock-up with all of your various graphics on it, you can reduce it to 8-bit to get a usable palette.

Ultio

hey. You never know. I might add some special effects that use tons of dazzling colors. ;) Actually, I'm planning on adding some sorts of special effects, I just don't know how many colors they'll use.

As for higher color depths, the highest I have ever used is 15/16, which is what it is using at the moment.

kazzmir

i didnt bother to read most of the other posts in this thread, but who did the music for the game? its really very nice. maybe whoever wrote that could help me make music with my game?

23yrold3yrold

Music's ripped off. Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong, etc.

Don't make too many special effects; it'll ruin the charm :) Nice subtle stuff like the sunrise idea is cool.

Marcello

You could have realtime water falls and stuff :)

Or maybe a space level set with flaming meteors blazing past...

anyway btw 23 is it just me or are your beards getting smaller?

Marcello

23yrold3yrold

Nah; that's just how it ended up on that particular picture (Violence Man, for whoever cares). Heh; my avatar kinda matches yours now :P

On-topic: the space level idea is a good one! Ultio; you writing this stuff down? ;)

Ultio

I still have my spacey levels. I have those scrolling multi-colored stars. Remember the first demo!? That scrolling background is still there. I just didn't use it in any of the test levels yet ;)

I also updated the demo version to 3.1 from 3. Big update, huh? Well, it just adds a nice little options menu for everyone to play around with. It lets you set the volumes for sound and music. I also made a big fix to the teleporting system, but that won't be noticeable until I make some more levels available to the public. :)

Inphernic

45fps is OK, but 100 is nicer.

I get 107. It's not nice. It starts to chop. :)

Ultio

Chopping? When are you chopping? :(

I might convert over to 8bit, if it's really easy. We'll see what happens. I'll have to go over it with jp.

Zaphos

Although I can see going to 8-bit ... why bother doing it now? Why not just wait until the project's done, and you know for sure that you aren't going to use the high-col? I mean, seems kinda pointless to limit yourself midway through development.

That is, unless you plan to use palette fx to do the sunrise stuff ... in that case just ignore me, and go 8bit!

Ultio

Again, like I said. Converting can only be done after I've talked to Johan. I'm pretty sure he's been doing everything straight from a nice pallete, but I don't know if he's strayed from that on any of the new tiles. ;)

As for doing it right now, that probably won't happen. More important is getting the core gameplay elements finished and flesh out some more levels. Converting to 8-bit can be done later on, since if everything is already nice and ready to be used with a pallete (again, assuming that Johan is still doing it this way) it wouldn't be too tough. Just some changes of code - I hope :)

Kloks

Hi Ultio.
Good work, but is it natural to restart the whole game when I want to start a new game (clear ? :-/)

Ultio

Kloks, you know, I have never really thought of this. I figured since it's a puzzle game, most likely users wouldn't want to just start the entire game over while in the middle of a current game, so I just had the "Resume" option take the place of the "New Game" option. Maybe I should create a system where it allows for both New Game AND resume?

I'm pretty sure this is what you're asking. Let me know what you think (not just you, everyone in general.) Would you like to see both options after you have started a game: New Game + Resume, or just Resume after a game has been started?

Thought never crossed my mind actually... ;D

miran

You could encrypt the savegame file. With the format you have now it's just too easy to cheat :)

paranoima

Wow.. I like the big change from Demo 2 to Demo 3 :) Johan is doing a fantastic job with the graphics. :D I only had a chance to play the first 3-4 levels, but I plan on copying this to a disk and finishing the demo at home.. This is another project I'm going to keep a closer eye on. :D

Keep up the great job on this nice puzzler.

[Edit]
Hey, is there a way to play it in a windowed mode? At work I have a multimonitor display, and it causes problems playing anything in Allegro fullscreen.

Ultio
Quote:

You could encrypt the savegame file. With the format you have now it's just too easy to cheat

This is something I will probably look into in the future, ie. when the game is finished.

I know right now it's very easy to cheat, heh. I didn't want to complicate the whole saving/loading process by using encryption when starting. It's something I can add in later. And you shouldn't cheat. You're only cheating yourself out of the delight of knowing you've beaten a hard level! :)

Quote:

Hey, is there a way to play it in a windowed mode? At work I have a multimonitor display, and it causes problems playing anything in Allegro fullscreen.

Paranoima, I'll definitely take this into consideration for the next demo release. As of right now, demo 3/3.1 do not allow the option to use a windowed mode. I'll most likely add this into the options menu for the release of the next demo! If it's not added into the options menu I'll just make a editable config file, or something of the sort!

And Johan is doing an awesome job on the graphics. I wish I was as skilled at the style he uses in his tiles and backgrounds. I'm sure practice would help me get there, but I don't have that much time to practice stuff like art. Hopefully I can make time sooner or later.

Thanks for the comments, and keep checking. I've been working on some new levels that present the teleporting! :)

Kloks

In fact, I think rather begin a stage at his beginning, if I completely block Zep in this stage for example.

An Ly

Very nice!!! A few positives which were forgotten by the forum goers:

1) No lives. Woohoo! Good move. You don't need lives in a puzzler.
2) Simple non clutter gfx. The worst thing is to not see how a level is done due to clutter.
3) Simple theme/idea... complicated levels.
4) Save game! Plus who would cheat? Really?

Negatives:

1) Control. Stiff, unresponsive. But still playable.
2) Poor learning curve, esp near end (but hey its a demo right?)
3) Is there an undo?

Keep going! I haven't seen a really good puzzler here in yonks :) Oh, and if you need help with level design, I think I may be able to help you out.

Cheers.

amarillion

Good job! I played it to the end and it was much harder than last time. Nice graphics too.

Ultio
Quote:

In fact, I think rather begin a stage at his beginning, if I completely block Zep in this stage for example.

Kloks, there is an option to restart the level from the beginning, if you mess up. Hit 'r', which stands for restart. This is stated in the readme under the controls section.

An Ly, thanks for the nice comments, and also for the "negatives". It is from these negatives that I get feedback on that I can make the game better and more fun overall for everyone.

As for the control being stiff, there isn't much in terms of allowing you to move "not-on-the-grid". It would be too much hassle to determine exacly what tile Zep would be on if he wasn't "snapped" to the grid. Also, it would be a big problem using the creation/deletion of blocks. This is why zep moves tile by tile. I've tried to make the controls as best as possible, but some things are just hard to do. Please, expand on this if you can. I'd like to know what you would like to see for better player control. Any ideas are helpful. A tip I received in an earlier thread was to allow the option to turn Zep around with the tap of a direction and not force the player to hold up/down while hitting the opposite direction. This has been taken care of - as you probably have noticed.

As for the learning curve, you're right. It is just a demo. I realize that level 8, which seems to give many people difficulty, is much harder in difficulty than the last level, level 10. Some reordering needs to be done, obviously. :) Look for that in the final version!

As for the undo, there isn't one. I know it is such a pain to have to restart the level and build your way across this big gap after you've accidentally fallen into a hole. I'm still thinking about implementing an undo, and just how many levels of "undo" you should be able to perform. It wouldn't be extremely hard to do - I've just not visited it yet.

Also, as for your level design offer - save them for building your own levels. I am going to release the level editor with the game. I am hoping to implement a feature where you can play level "packs" - level sets created by other users. If I can get it implemented and working nice and neat, I would love to have anyone who thinks they can make some intuitive levels create a level pack. I would love to release multiple packs with the final version. I still have to see whether I can create such a system, however. (How many times can one person say "as for" ;D)

AnLy - if you would like to get more in touch with me about level design and such, just send me an email and we can talk about it. The address is in the readme, or on the site :)

amarillion, I'm glad to see you like this version, too! I'm also glad to see you think the difficulty has increased. It gets tough making hard levels using only the single element that is available in the demo so far. Look forward to cooler features!

Thanks for the interest/comments/suggestions. All your replies really help in making this game better! ;D

Matthew Leverton

Regarding an undo function ... I think the game is better without one. Unless, it's limited (ie, you cannot undo 3000 moves).

The reason why, is part of a puzzle game is the frustration factor. :) If you can just rumble along and then undo stupid moves, you may be more apt to solve by brute force. Not allowing the user to undo all his moves makes him think a little bit more before just doing something.

This is really a personal preference ... and obviously a user isn't forced to undo turns - but we don't always have self control. ;)

Ultio

This is true, and I lean more towards this preference. As for making tons of undo moves, I probably would not allow that. I was thinking more along the lines of one or two.

It's just highly aggrivating, frustrating, and annoying when you accidentally hit left when you mean to press up, and fall in a hole and have to re-do the whole level over again. And by this time, you've already forgotten how to complete the level!

I belive an undo would be perfect in this situation, but then again, it's still up for debate. I probably won't get working on an undo until most levels have been completed, and the game is almost ready to be labeled as "finished".

Marcello

I agree, 1 or 2 undos would really be very nice... it so pisses me off when I restart a level in a puzzle game about 6 times due to speeding up cause I'm getting frusterated...

Quote:

I wish I was as skilled

grr it's "were" not "was"! I'm dumb!

Marcello

23yrold3yrold
Quote:

As for the undo, there isn't one.

There is to an extent. If you create a block and change your mind, you can "uncreate" it easily. I always liked Lolo; if you screwed up, there was a suicide button so you could start over ;D ZD is fine as is; forget about formal undo functionality IMO.

Ultio

Marcello, sorry. Let me go get my grammar book. heh. ::)

Hm. So begins the debate about undo, or no undo. I guess this is going to be one of those things where I can't make everyone happy. Shucks. ;D

Thanks for the input, guys, even though you contradict eachother. It's alright. :) As usual, comment and suggetsions are always welcome!

Paul Pridham

Well... if the levels took half an hour to complete, then I could see how some might want undos, or checkpoints, etc... but, I don't think Zep's needs it, personally. Practice makes perfect. ;)

An Ly

As for the undo. A puzzler is about the thinking aspect. An undo function (or any function in a puzzler) should be there to either:

1) Make it more brainy (rather than action-y)
2) Make it less frustrating

Unlimited undos would make it less brainy. Not a good idea IMHO. However, an undo of some sort would help number 2.

Movement. Yup, "on the grid" movement is a good idea and well implemented, making the game structured and neat. What I meant by "stiff controls" is that when you quickly tap a direction, Zep wouldn't move. But if you hold it down for a touch longer, then he goes. Which is a little strange, esp when you want to move one step over, you'd have to time it just right. Just a tweak on the controls so that you could tap and go would help.

Also, if you move a bit then decide "nonono!!" and want to go back, you'd have to wait for zep to get to the next cell in the grid before he/she can walk back. Perhaps a way to make Zep more responsive in this situation would help the accidental suicides over the cliff problem.

Keep going, I konw this game will be great.

Ultio

As for the turning like you mentioned: you'd be disappointed if there was no "quick-tap" turn-around-in-place.

This was a major problem in the first demos, as people were falling off of everything. There was a big overall consensus that this problem really needed to be fixed: hence the quick tap which turns you around.

As for creating some kind of way to stop him mid tile, I'm not really sure if it's totally possible. Since the game fully depends on Zep starting/ending on a grid tile before being allowed to do another move it might be really hard to code this in. It doesn't seem like something too terribly annoying, though.

If you play the game enough, like I have, you really get used to the controls and hardly, if ever, fall off of anything unintentionally. I mean, you have to think about it. In most games control schemes can be kind of wacky - but after playing for a while you become a pro at it. ;)

I'm a pro because of all the debugging! And if you really want to see what it's like to have Zep move, even with a quick-tap, download the first test demo from my website. It doesn't contain the quick-tapping feature. You will notice how much more annoying it really is :)

Paul Pridham

I think that An Ly's point is that if you decide to move in the direction that Zep is already facing, then the quick-tap should be disabled... he should move automatically. Quick-tap should only be used for turning around.

I also agree that being able to change your movement in between tiles would make the control feel much more responsive and fluid... Zep can can still be made to come to rest on the grid when he stops moving.

Ultio

This is true, Zep can be made to stop on the grid - but it would take a lot of work on my part. I kind of put the system together in a slightly hackish way to allow for Zep to keep moving even if you let go of the keys, and to also keep showing the animation. I might be able to get it to work. I just need to reverse the timing process and have it determine what point it was already at before you hit the walk back button. This brings me to forsee a problem though: walking back and fourth over and over in between tiles might get kind of wacky. I don't know. I'll have to try that out. Again, like it was being said - if you're careful and don't go mashing buttons you should be fine. And like I have said - I don't have that many problems falling off ledges. And, I did fix the problem where a movement would be carried over to the next map possibly causing some havoc.

I see what you mean about the quick-tap being disabled when you're already facing the direction you want to go. I'll see what I can do about that. It's a possibility.

An Ly

Yup, Paul is spot on with what I was trying to say. You'll need to be able to turn around on teh spot but a more fluid control system would help too. Although I do agree that you have to get movement speed, etc just right to decrease movement errors.

If you're having trouble with the fliud movement mixed with strict grid guidelines, check out Blocks (not meant to be a plug, sorry!).

Ultio

Although I can't really delve to deep into the problem at this point in time during the week, I'm definitely going to try to tackle it this weekend. College eats up too much time. What a pain. I wish I could just work on games all day. ;D

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