Time Stone Available for Download!

Play the award-winning adventure game by Scared Square Games. Available to play right here on Scared Square Games for free! More »

Play Procedrill

Play Procedrill: a randomly generated roguelike drill-em-up. Drill stuff, find diamonds, don\\\'t die in an explosion. Made for #gbjam 4 More »

The Temple of ADVENTURE!

The Temple of ADVENTURE is a first person exploration game set in an ancient mysterious Temple. More »

 

Introducing: Splodey Vaders

I’m back! After an almost 6 month hiatus from game development after the birth of my daughter, I’m now slaving away over a laptop to try and scramble a game together.

 

Splodey Vaders Logo

 

gameplay_v007

But wait, what happened to Subtraddition and Gravity Box?

Those games are on hold at the moment. I decided that as my time to develop games is limited, I’d rather produce short polished experiences than longer ones that I never complete. Who knows, maybe in a few months time, I’ll announce another new game, while Splodey Vaders remains unfinished, but for now I think the experience is small enough for me to manage it’s production. Which brings me on to what Splodey Vaders is about.

What is Splodey Vaders about?

Splodey Vaders is kind of a mix between Space Invaders and Asteroids. I teach game design to college learners and one day I was teaching the fundamentals of scripting in Game Maker. As the students were building on the basic Space Invader forumla they had learnt, I was doing the same thing. I started by making the Invaders explode when hit by a bullet and I thought “maybe you should have to avoid the debris from the explosion” and the basic premise for Splodey Vaders was born.

Splodey Vaders is an Arcade Shooter. Shoot the Vaders that appear from the top of the screen, but also avoid the chunks of blown-up Vader that appear after they explode upon death.

Key Information

This game will be released on PC and Android at some point this year.

The game will be free for android, but will contain banner adverts.

After Subtraddition and Procedrill, I’ve grown fond of the gameboy style four colour-palette, so I’ve adopted the same idea for Splodey Vaders.

Where is it at

Here’s a look back on what I’ve done so far:

This is how the game looked in very early prototype stages

Here’s another Vine of my baby daughter playing the game. Spoiler: she did better than me!

Later revisions saw improvements to the artwork, basic particle systems, score multipliers, menu’s, etc:

You can actually see the games current To-Do list on Trello, if you were wondering about that sort of thing. https://trello.com/b/jTalmHfR/splodey-vaders 

What’s Next?

I’m hoping to show the game off at a local game dev event in April, so between now and then I want to polish the game to a stage where it looks professional to the public eye. So, which me luck!

Baby News

You may recall a couple of months ago when I posted this which hinted at the fact that me and my wife were having a baby. Well, our daughter, Lottie, was born on Sunday 20th September.

Lottie

What does this mean for Scared Square Games? Well, it probably means that you won’t be seeing a lot from me in the near future. I’ll be far too busy changing nappies and not sleeping to make games. So don’t expect to see anything here for a while, no need to watch this space. Thank you for playing my games and reading my articles, it’s nice to know I have a small following and I hope you’ll excuse me for choosing to spend time with my wife and daughter than developing any more games. For now, at least.

Procedrill

This post is REALLY late! I made this game for GBJam 4 back in August. The jam required developers to create a game in a week using only 4 colours and conforming to the original Game Boy resolution.

Made for #gbjam 4. Procedrill is a randomly generated roguelike drill-em-up. Drill stuff, find diamonds, don’t die in an explosion. The music for the game was produced by RushJet1 (who made music for PewDiePie the game).

HOW TO PLAY:

You play as a greedy dwarf who just wants to drill for diamonds. Drill rocks to break them or use bombs to cause explosions. Each floor of the cave is randomly generated and gets progressively larger. There are other things in the caves, but you’ll have to find those out for yourself.


DOWNLOAD AND PLAY ON GAMEJOLT

CONTROLS:

Arrow Keys - Move
- Drill
- Drop Bomb
F - Toggle Fullscreen
- Restart Game
Esc - Exit Game

CREDITS:

Stuart Lilford (@Stuart_Lilford) – Developer
RushJet1 (@RushJet1) – Music

Subtraddition Update #02: Should I retain the Gameboy inspired colour palette?

Most of the changes made to Subtraddition over the past few weeks have been aesthetic. I’ve redesigned the first world layout and spent a lot of time playing around with pixels to make it look nice. As I’ve said before, I’m no artist (I’m no programmer either) so trying out different designs for tiles sets was pretty challenging. This is what the game looks like now:

NightSky

This screenshot is by far the best looking screenshot I have taken of the game so far. The bridge alone went through 3 iterations before it got to its current look and I’m quite pleased with how the game is coming along visually.

But there’s something I’m worrying about internally. Mainly: Should I retain the Gameboy inspired colour palette? I initially went with this style as I wanted to practice using only 4 colours and the Gameboy palette seemed like a good place to start. I always intended on keeping this palette, but lately I’ve been asking myself questions like “Should I allow the game its own identity rather than piggybacking on something already known” to more absurd ponderings such as “If I ever wanted to port this game to a console, would publishers want to avoid the game as it has associations with Nintendo?”

Strangely enough, Just as I was about to write this update I posted the above screenshot on Twitter and someone responded with “I love the atmosphere the color palette creates (Gameboy-inspired? Nice!). So the game is already getting people liking it due to how it looks.

I sort of feel in my gut that I should probably just keep the colour palette I’ve been using as there are commercial games out there which use these colours and the game is looking good, but I’d like to open it up.

A note on worlds

I mentioned ‘worlds’ earlier, so let me explain how levels are structured in Subtraddition. You start in the Start Zone which will mainly exist to teach the player the basics of the game. From here you navigate to the Hub Zone which contains all doors leading to the game’s main worlds. There are 3 worlds and within each world there are 5 rooms/levels which contain a core game collectable. Each room/level will be it’s own unique challenge to complete, but if the player finds themselves struggling they can exit and try out one of the others and come back later. There are 15 unique room/levels in total and I will probably try to include some sort of final level as the games climax, but I’ve not thought that far ahead.

Enemy Sprite Update

I’d like to do a post about the different enemy types that are found in Subtraddition (they’re not traditional enemies. They’re not alive or anything. Mostly just objects that can kills you) but for now, I’ll just show off some updates sprites. First is a weird fire breathing head thing. Before the update it was just a brown square that fired red squares (and no I don’t mean the Russian vodka), now they conform to the colour palette and the fireballs are even slightly animated. This GIF would have looked better if the other sprites were updated, but still.

FireFaces

Next is the thwomp block. Before the update, these were just red squares with a scary face drawn on them. Anyone recognise the new sprite from somewhere?

Thwomp_Blocks

How about that screenshake! Screenshake is something I’ve added into the game to make it feel as though there’s a lot more going on in the game world than there actually is. I was inspired by this talk aptly named talk “The Art of Screenshake” from Jan Willem Nijman of Vlambeer. Worth a watch for some ideas on how to help your game better connect with players.

There are lots of other visual updates I’d love to tell you about, but I’m hoping to write something about how I created some of the tile sets within the game and I’ll cover a lot of it in that. I also implemented some parallax scrolling into the game which makes the game look and feel a lot better.

What’s next?

My current to do list contains a few more aesthetic changes including finally adding a door into the game (currently you walk into a big white rectangle) and creating some decorative background and foreground tiles to make the levels less boring. After that I’ll mostly be fine tuning the start level and Level 1, so that I can hopefully send the game out to people to try out.

Subtraddition Update #01: New tiles & checkpoints

It’s not been long since I introduced Subtraddition, but I’ve updated a few things since that I’d like to share. Firstly, a new tile set. The area is supposed to look like a mossy cave. I’d like to do a post on how I created the tileset at some point in the future.

Sub_Tilesin_Large

Next I finally updated the sprite for the checkpoint instead of it looking like a horrible pink box (see above GIF). The idea is that the sphere is a resurrection stone and when you die you are resurrected at the shrine. The GIF below only shows the shrines being activated and not put into practice.

Subtraddition_Checkpoints

I mainly started working on the visuals for the game because I was generating level designs and it was becoming very time consuming and I felt that my brain needed a break from it. I updated the images for the tiles in the  first area, the block that you can move around and the spikes (these feature a lot in the game). Now that the checkpoint doesn’t look so much like a hideous pink obelisk I think I will get back to getting the level layout completed for the rest of the game.

 

Introducing: Subtraddition

I’m making a game! I started working on it just after Christmas I think? Anyway I was toying around with the idea of making a puzzle platformer and then I started working  on a prototype and now I’m going to be making it into a full game.

This is the core mechanic of the game:

 Subtraddition

The game is being made with Game Maker: Studio.

Hang on, I thought you were making a game called Gravity Square or something?

Gravity Box is currently on Hiatus at the moment. For some reason as we got closer to Christmas I started to lose interest in working on it and ultimately stopped all together. This isn’t to say I don’t want to make the game at all… I’m just more motivated to work on this puzzle platformer game. Plus I’ve since learned a lot about game development that I can use to create a better version of Gravity Box than the one that I was working on.

So what’s so special about this new game?

With Subtraddition I actually made a small prototype last year before I started working on Gravity Box. The prototype saw you placing blocks to help you navigate the level and as I worked on it more, the more I began thinking up puzzle/level designs for the game. I was also really inspired by playing Fez around that time and loved the sense of exploration that the game made you feel as a player. I also began to think about old platformers I used to play as a kid that I loved like Banjo-Kazooie and Jak and Daxter. Essentially, Subtraddition caught the attention of my imagination more than Gravity Box ever did and I think that’s why I’m running with it instead.

skecthbook]

What is it about?

The core mechanic as shown above, is that it’s a 2D puzzle platformer in which you can remove and place certain blocks within the level in order to allow you to use them as platforms and reach new levels. They’ll also do other stuff like protect you from damage, reach new heights and jump across distances you would otherwise be unable to reach.

The game is also about exploration. You start of in a starter level, which leads into a hub world with multiple levels and multiple puzzles to solve and a butt-tonne of secrets.

Subtraddition Key Features

4 COLOURS – I’m doing the art for the game and as I’ve said previously I’m not that great at art. I mean, I do okay… I get by. So I felt that limiting myself to only 4 colours would mean that I had less chance of making it look shit than if I made a colourful mess with a bunch of colours. I’m also working to quite a small resolution, so I’m practicing my pixel art with this game. I find that it helps to give yourself restrictions/limitations as otherwise you can overscope.

SECRETS – After my recent playthroughs of Fez, I loved how the game is filled to the brim with secrets. Although my game won’t be anywhere near the scope of Fez, I still like the idea of including little hidden secrets that will reward the player for exploration. Which brings me on to my next point:

EXPLORATION – As I mention above, one of the things I love about video games is exploration. It unfortunately means that it takes me a lot longer than it should to complete games. I mentioned to someone the other day that it took 6 hours to complete Gone Home and they were all like “SIX HOURS :O … You can beat the game in 10 minutes!” But I like to take it slow and explore every nook and cranny of the world. I was the same with Bioshock Infinite. I’d spend ages just wandering about looking at stuff and this is something I’d like players to want to do in Subtraddition even though I suppose it largely depends on the type of player.

Where is it at?

Subtraddition is coming along nicely. I’ve almost completed the level designs for 2 out of the 3 worlds that the game will contain. I’m currently working on updating the graphics for the game and implementing tile sets into levels. Navigation works, the character movement works, the block removal/placement works and there are a few levels to run around in with puzzles and platforming to complete. I have no idea how long the game is going to take, but I’m using every spare minute I get before the big life-changing event happens. September is my deadline! More updates soon.

In other news…

A couple of our games are being placed on Indie Game Stand’s Free Games section. You can find Time Stone HERE and Entrapment will be on there soon.

You might have seen the recent ” game” announcement and yes, it was an over-elaborate metaphor for me and my wife having a baby! It’s our first child, so I’m going to have a lot to learn about becoming a father. It also means that my hobby game dev stuff will most likely be taking a lengthy break come September.

BONUS ART TEST FOR SUBTRADDITION DUDE:

B-YaRXWIgAAA8HI B-ZEvhiIcAA448Y

I went with number 12.

New “game” announcement

GrandTheftExpectingLarge

I’m pleased to announce that me and my wife are working on a new game due to release in September 2015. We’ve been working collaboratively on the new title and it will have been in development for approximately 9 months upon release. It’s a co-op survival horror game in which you have to endure sleepless nights and constant nappy changes. It’s a 3 player game and we’re eagerly awaiting player 3 to join us  :)

The 8 lessons I learned from making a Twine game with less than 300 words

RPG-ish_Logo_GameJolt

Lesson #01: Keep an eye-out for cool jams

Twiny Jam – Make a Twine game in under 300 words.

I read the Tweet and was immediately intrigued. I’ve always wanted to take part in a game jam and although I’d made attempts in the past, they’d always been unsuccessful. I’d also always wanted to make a Twine game, having read about the tool and even played a few games made with it. 300 words wasn’t a lot either and I think this is what ultimately led me to take part in this Jam. The 300 word limit made creating this game unintimidating as I felt it could probably be done in a few hours. On top of all of this it was Easter weekend and my wife was working long shifts, so I’d be in the house alone, free to jam for a couple of days.

Lesson #02: Try something new

I set to work, firstly learning the toolset. From what I could tell, twine has 2 versions, the older desktop version and a newer in-browser version. I opted for the desktop version as a part of me didn’t trust using the in-browser version to save my progress. Twine is a great bit of kit, easy to pick up and simple to use. Plus there are a bunch of helpful tutorials and resources online.  Once I had a handle on Twine I started brainstorming ideas for a game.

Lesson #03: Don’t settle on the first idea you think of

My first idea drew inspiration from my time working in a call centre trying to sell PAT Testing. The game would be a series of dialogue options that would lead the player to make a sale or the person on the end of the phone would say nasty thing to you and hang up. When they hung up, the player would *sigh* and make another call. The game would be an endless loop just like my days in that call centre. Call after call after call. Every call would go one of a number of ways and the game would reflect that with only the slimmest chance of making a sale. I quickly ran over the 300 word count for this game with dialogue options, I would have to think of something else.

Lesson #04: Be inspired by the work of others

I started playing some of the existing Twiny Jam entries and played one where you were in a tiny dungeon and you had to give a kettle to a dragon before you could win. This got me thinking about creating a miniature role playing game and my mind drifted to past RPGs that I’ve played. Games like Golden Sun, Final Fantasy and Pokémon sprung to mind and I found myself thinking about that place I had always gotten to when playing RPG games: Wandering around some cave grinding to Level Up. I thought about how this mechanic (although it’s more of a side effect really) was present in a lot of RPGs that I has played. I thought about how even though killing low level enemies to gain XP sounds intrinsically boring, there is an element of fun to it, it’s almost therapeutic. This is what I decided to make my game about.

Lesson #05: Be prepared to drastically downsize your game

Initially entitled ‘Every RPG Ever’ the idea was that you started in a village and progressed through grasslands, mountains and eventually a dark castle to reach a boss at the end. The different locations would have increasingly difficult enemies, forcing you to level up by grinding against lower level enemies. You would have bare minimum dialogue and battle options, but enough to feel like an RPG. After implementing the first area into the game, I realised that I would have to cut a lot of planned content in order to land within the 300 word limit. Initial plans to include numerous items that increased HP, armour that increased DEF and weapons that increased ATK, multiple areas and a boss that had 3 final forms where all scrapped and the game was now a mere third of the original scope. I instead I chose to focus on making the game appear non-repetitive.

Lesson #06: Randomness is your friend

I included a lot of random elements to the game. Whether you find treasure, nothing or an enemy while exploring, the type of enemy you encounter, should it be a Rat (Oblivion), Spider (Skyrim) or Boar (A reference to that South Park episode Make love not Warcraft), the damage dealt by an enemy as well as enemy HP, the number of XP and currency found at the end of a fight are all randomised between a certain range. This allowed the game to at least feel different for every playthrough, while still having the player doing essentially the same thing.

Lesson #07: It’s never too late to research

After a quick google to see if the working title would clash with anything existing I came across an infographic entitled ‘Every RPG Ever’. It’s a pretty accurate representation of RPG games (my experience at least) and I even took a few things from it such as having an inn that replenishes all HP, having to go on a quest for a Questitem and I even managed to fit a plot twist in there, all in under 300 words. Because of the infographic I decided to change the name and went through a number of name ideas including Micro-RPG, Mini-RPG, Twiny-RPG, RPGrind, but eventually settled on RPG-ish as the game isn’t quite there in terms of a full scale RPG.

Lesson #06: Seriously, you’re going to cut a bunch of stuff from that initial idea

In regards to the word count, I went through the game quite a few times to cull any superfluous words where the space could be used by a more useful word. I also looked for any repeated sections which could be avoided by using the same passage within Twine and referencing it from another passage. The stats shown within the game for example, display before a fight, after a fight, when you level up, etc. but each section merely references the ‘stats’ passage, so this kept the word count down.

Lesson #07: Think of ways to quick polish your game

One important aspect for me when making this game was to make sure it didn’t just look like a default Twine game. I had seen some really cool examples of games made with Twine and although I knew I didn’t have a lot of time, I focused on trying to get the game as far away from the default template as possible. I used the Final Fantasy menu system as a base and found a suitable font, replaced the cursor icon and even learned some CSS to get that Final Fantasy blue gradient colour. Sound was also an important factor when distancing the game from other twine-made games. I didn’t make the music, but found some very good RPG-ish sounding things on Newgrounds by some talented people who are credited on the game’s pages.

Lesson #08: Be prepared for criticism (but also nice things)

I made the game across 3 days in chunks of a few hours at a time and submitted the finished result to itch.io and Game Jolt. I didn’t expect an adoring reaction from the indie game community, but I figured someone from some corner of the internet may appreciate it. When I checked the pages the next day, I found the odd comment stating that the game wasn’t for them and a couple of people had rated the game 2/5. I must admit it was a little disheartening. It sounds ridiculous really, I mean, I only spent a few hours on the game and knew it wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, but there’s still a part of you that gets a little upset when players don’t enjoy your game. Later I found someone comment on how impressed they were with the game given the limitations and they enjoyed the random aspects. The comments on the games Jam page were really supportive, discussing how a lot had been done to say it was made with Twine, which I’m really happy with.

Summary

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. I had never taken part in a Jam before, never used Twine, never used CSS, and never made a game that was playable in a browser. It might be far from perfect, but I’m proud of what I accomplished in such a short space of time.

The reason I think that I was successful in finishing a game for this Jam comes down to the limitations. Knowing that I only had 300 words made it easier to cut things from the game and reduce the development workload.

You can play RPG-ish over on Game Jolt or itch.io.

RPG-ish

RPG-ish_Logo_GameJolt

Over the weekend I took part in a Game Jam called Twiny Jam, where you had to submit a Twine game using less than 300 words. This was my first time using Twine and the first time I successfully finished a game for a Game Jam. Although the end result is pretty basic, I’m happy with it considering the limitations and time constraints.

RPG-ish is a Micro Text RPG which takes inspiration from the Final Fantasy series. Try to be at least Level 5 before fighting The Dark Lord and stock up on plenty of potions.

Or play it over on Game Jolt!

I’ll probably right something about the development of the game soon, but for now give it a try!

Happy New Year from Scared Square Games

2014

In 2014 Scared Square Games re-released Entrapment which went pretty good. Entrapment Managed to get 5720 plays on Game Jolt, 1441 on scaredsquare.com, but only 87 on itch.io. Giving it a total of  7000+ downloads. Compared to Time Stone’s 2500 total downloads, Entrapment was downloaded by more than double the amount. This will always be strange to me, as I feel that Time Stone is the better game. Better story, better puzzles, better characters, better graphics, better everything and yet Entrapment has more downloads? I did find a Let’s Play of Entrapment by Cinnamon ToastKen which received over 150,00 views which may have helped, but I just wish I knew the true reason for this.

After Entrapment was released, the only other thing I did last year was start work on Gravity Box. I’m happy with the direction that Gravity Box is going in and I hope that it really turns out to be a good game for people to play.

Other  than that I’ve been going through a lot of stuff personally. We moved into a new house at the start of 2014, which we’ve been redecorating and that’s been taking up big chunks of time.  I’ve also started a new job where I was promoted to a position with additional responsibilities, which requires a lot of hours spent on stuff from home and takes up a lot of brain space. In addition to this there have been some other things which I’d rather not talk about on here, but suffice it to say, 2014 has been a busy year. This explains why I’ve been so quite lately towards the back end of the year, but don’t worry, I haven’t gone anywhere and am still slowly working on things, they just may take a little longer.

2015

I thought that the start of this new year would be a good time to look at the  goals I laid out for Scared Square Games in the first ever post and see if I’ve managed to achieve them:

RELEASE TIME STONE [CHECK] Time Stone was released in late 2013.

RELEASE OTHER ADVENTURE GAME THAT WE’RE WORKING ON [NOPE] I felt this game, although it had some good puzzles, ultimately had a boring story and so I’ve decided to drop this for now.

RE-RELEASE SOME OLDER STUFF [CHECK] Maze Defender and Entrapment were both re-released

MAKE A COMMERCIAL GAME [NOPE] Well, at least, not yet. I am looking to turn Gravity Box into a commercial game, even if it’s only for a few quid, so I’m still working on this one.

TOUCHSCREENS! [NOPE] Not even close to this one. That being said, Gravity Box was designed to work with touch devices, so maybe eventually?

Not as bad as I thought…

But I’ve still got a lot of work to do, so here’s my New Years Resolutions for Scared Square Games in 2015:

RELEASE GRAVITY BOX

Not sure when this will happen, but I’d like to release Gravity Box this year, so this means I need to pull my finger out and get cracking on with it!

RELEASE AT LEAST ONE SMALL GAME FOR FREE

I’d like to continue to release smaller freeware games as I enjoy making them and I have a few in mind that I’d like to develop over the next year.

TAKE PART IN A GAME JAM

As you may  recall, I failed miserably at Ludum Dare in 2014, so this year I’d like to take part in and submit a game for a game jam.

 

That’s it, and that last one is really more of a bonus resolution. I don’t want to give myself too much to try and do if the hectic busyness of the last few months is anything to go by. Maybe I’ll find myself in a quiet period and I’ll be able to post more regularly, but until then, have a great 2015!