Astrochimp: Ditched in Space (Early WIP for Steam)

Richard Sneyd

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In Astrochimp: Ditched in Space You are a chimpanzee astronaut (astrochimp) who is unexpectedly marooned and left for dead by the rest of his crew after an undisclosed incident occurred back at base camp on a mysterious comet hurtling through space, which is rich in rare and valuable ores, but which was assumed by Expedion Corp. to have been completely devoid of all forms of life... The first development clip is now up:  https://youtu.be/OeLbOKe6h-U

Visual Style/Theme

We're going for an eerie, yet vivid and cartoonish art style with a painterly twist. As you can see I'm using a navy-purplish color scheme to convey a vague sense of jeopardy and foreboding. The landscape, especially at the start of the game, is cold, harsh and barren, yet not without it's beauty. this is how the game is looking at present:
Gameplay

Having been left behind (or, ditched) on comet 471P, with only your spacesuit and a handy little anti-gravity ray gun (provided by Expedion Corp. for the transport of your extremely high mass cargo) you must find a way to traverse this unforgiving terrain, spanning over 60 levels all of which are packed with unique environments and challenges, using your short-burst jetpack and and the anti-gravity ray gun you got from Expedion Corp. Oh, and think you're alone up there? That's nice...

More coming on this soon, in the meantime, please follow us here and help us make this the best game it can be!

Richard Sneyd

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  • Posts: 187
I've tightened up the gameplay over the past week, and defined a basic narrative, it's feeling more like an actual game someone would probably want to play at this point, though I'll need your feedback to gauge that more accurately. Anyway, yesterday I searched gameplay GIFs, having seen how many of you were using them as an effective means of showcasing gameplay and new developments, and after some digging, found gifcam, which is completely awesome by the way.
Anyway, here's my first gameplay gif, hope you like, but please tell me what you like/what you don't, I'm still very early in the development cycle and feedback is the food of champions:

rrzl

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A good start.

Just a little critic :
The overall could use a bit more contrast. Currently it looks a little flat.
Since you make most of the environment 2 color tone, maybe you can make the cursor changes color (highlighted) when its on something that can be interacted, it'll put a sense of direction to the player and save them some frustrating moments ("Is this thing pushable, or just a prop?").

Richard Sneyd

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Quote
The overall could use a bit more contrast
Thanks for the feedback rrzl, you have a point about the contrast, I'm experimenting with this in Photoshop at the moment to see what I can do to improve it without jeapordizing the atmosphere/tone of the visual.
Quote
maybe you can make the cursor changes color (highlighted) when its on something that can be interacted, it'll put a sense of direction to the player and save them some frustrating moments ("Is this thing pushable, or just a prop?").
I'm trying to decide what color would be best for this. I may use an animation of some kind on the crosshair to indicate when an object can be interacted with physically, instead of a color change, if changing color has an adverse effect on the visual.

Bombini

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Hey,

this reminds me a bit of this game:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfE9jYvay7k

Some thoughts:
+1 on what rrzl said. I am not sure if its fun to instantly die when you touch the spikes (especially if there are difficult to see) but this depends on the game style you are aiming for.  The black rocks could hide a lot of nice secrets btw.

Cheers!

Richard Sneyd

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Hey,
Quote
this reminds me a bit of this game:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfE9jYvay7k
I hadn't heard of that game before  Bombini, thanks for the share, it looks good. Might be useful for inspiration! Someone else mentioned that it's a bit like Rochard as well, in terms of the mechanics involved, don't know if you've played that.

I've adjusted the contrast in the environment art, this first gif shows the change in contrast between the one in my last post:


and this second one demonstrates a little more gameplay in a level I was working on today:
(having trouble uploading this gif to my hosting service, will fix soon)

Richard Sneyd

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I've made further improvements to the contrast, and varied the lighting some more based on the usual assumption that the primary light source is coming from the top left. I've also tweaked the gameplay a little more, to cut back on any potentially frustrating elements, like dying to easily when you slightly touch off spikes etc
Quote
maybe you can make the cursor changes color (highlighted) when its on something that can be interacted, it'll put a sense of direction to the player and save them some frustrating moments ("Is this thing pushable, or just a prop?").
I've come up with what I think is a simple visual solution for this problem, using a change of animation when the crosshair is over a moveable object, let me know what you think:

and here is the second gameplay gif that I had trouble uploading last time, showcasing a different level:


All thoughts are invited and appreciated, thanks a million!


Richard Sneyd

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  • Posts: 187
I've spend some time improving the visuals of the game over the past few days, was hoping for some feedback on the color scheme, tone, atmosphere etc if you have a second, this is how one of the levels is looking as of now (The Stencyl website clips the image, you'll have to look at it in a new tab to see the full thing):


More gameplay gifs and updates coming soon!

rrzl

  • Posts: 243
I still feel it looks a bit flat. It needs to 'pop-out' a bit more.

Hope you don't mind, I did a quick rough touch-up on the image. Much easier to explain.
(the top is the original the bottom is the modified version) :



Notice the modified version looks much easier to tell what's what?
Another thing, the original image, flying enemy and the wall/ground spike doesn't look threatening because it looks too blended with the surrounding, hard to see. An easy fix, is to make it more clearer with a  better highlights and contrast.

"A ghost is not scary if you cannot see it."

Usually when doing the art and the level design I do a mock-up or a concept first with all the assets, in PS until I'm satisfied, only then I rearrange it again in Stencyl. I find it a much faster workflow, I can alter all the relevant assets in one go.

Something I always do to check my work is, zooming it out all the way to 33%-25%, in color and black & white. I will keep working on it until I can easily differentiate between the background, mid-ground, foreground, and things I want the player to focus on.



Notice in the original image, the ground next to the main character and the middle flying spike looks like they are merged into the background?

Just my 2 cents. Hope it helps, or at least spark a bit of idea.

Richard Sneyd

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  • Posts: 187
I still feel it looks a bit flat. It needs to 'pop-out' a bit more.

Thanks for your 2 cents rzzl! There was some useful feedback in there, I've enhanced the contrast and made a few further tweaks based in part on your recommendations (I've always been shy about high contrast for some reason, but I need to get over that):


Richard Sneyd

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  • Posts: 187
I've been working on some promotional imagery, which I've learned from past pojects is just as important as the game itself if you want it to get noticed, here are a few:


Richard Sneyd

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  • Posts: 187
I've put together an updated animated gif to demonstrate how the game is progressing visually and in terms of the game mechanics:

Once again, I welcome all suggestions and feedback, it's much appreciated!

Thanks!
Richard

Richard Sneyd

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  • Posts: 187
I finally got Fraps working on my computer (though it halved the frame-rate, so this jumps a bit at points), here is the first development clip: https://youtu.be/OeLbOKe6h-U

mdotedot

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Hello Richard,

Just hopped in to say that I really like how you are going forward with your game.
I can feel your passion in the way you are making your posts!
I always love to see game journals.

Good job and I will be watching along !

Best regards from
M.E.
Hanging out in the Chat:  http://www.stencyl.com/chat/

Proud member of the League of Idiotic Stencylers! Doing things in Stencyl that probably shouldn't be done.