The Librarian Witch

Luyren

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  • Posts: 1855
Play on GameJolt.

A librarian, who is also a witch, must go after an overdue book.

I used "Spooky" as a setting theme mixed with some other ideas I had in the past. Due to the frenetic manner in which I developed this game for the last 8 days nearly non-stop, a lot of things that I experienced recently found their way into the game in some form, specially in the soundtrack. It was quite a journey and a cool experience.

Let me know what you think, and enjoy the game.

Post-mortem
To whomever it might interest, I will tell here how this game came to be, and what stuff ended up influencing me.

-The Plot
The idea of a librarian as a protagonist came a couple of years ago, when I was taking a Music Research & Bibliography for my master's degree in music performance. One day I had to pretty much hunt for books in the university library, and I've never been to a big library before. The idea of a character who has to go to great lengths to get a book felt interesting, like making a common, day to day event be something extraordinary. I guess my admiration for the movies from the Studio Ghibli have some part in this idea, much how like magical and whimsical things happen in movies such as Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo.

The idea I kept in the back of my mind was of a librarian actually venturing inside the library to find powerful magic books for visitors. But several ideas for The Librarian Witch came on a whim, and most of them from a "this would be kind of funny" thought, so I decided to go a step further and go the comic/silly route for this game, as the ending sequence can attest, for as short as it may be.

-The Style/Genre
My favorite game genres are metroidvanias and action side scroller games. A lot of people will say how they love Cave Story, and I am one of them, but another game from Daisuke Amaya had me hooked for the past two months: Kero Blaster.  In it you are a frog who works for a company that fixes teleportation devices, and makes the adventure like a normal, 9 to 5 job, just as a part of life. In case you want an analysis/commentary of the game, James Howell made two videos on it about both normal and hard modes of the game, which have different stories. So at the minimum, the act of having an adventure as "just another monday work" is similar.

Musically, I was mostly just writing whatever came into my mind, and I just welcomed the influences from whatever I decided to listen to while working. The week of the game jam the orchestra I work in had a series of concerts every morning in schools around the region, so I'd improvise on the violin while waiting for the concert to begin, write it down on my phone and compose properly when I got home. The early game pieces were more based on these improvisations and on the mood I wanted to convey, trying to go for a "halloween" vibe. On tuesday or wednesday I was listening to swedish news, and one of the news was that Lina Nyberg got a prize or something. She is a jazz singer I never heard before, and I simply loved her style once I started listening to it. That's why the late-game tracks are more jazzy/rhythmic.

The title theme came to my mind actually as an anime-opening style melody, way faster than what I ended up making. I wanted to do this faster version for the credits, but time was running short, so I had to cut it.

On a side note, I also listened to ABBA while working... I hate that I love their songs, the lyrics are a huge contrast to the feel and rhythm of the songs.

-Development
Until last friday I wasn't sure I was going to participate, but on saturday morning I had to buy a new shoulder rest for my violin and wanted to try a new model, so I ordered it from the USA. Given the state of Brazilian economy, that turned to be a bit too expensive, so I decided that to join in after that. To be honest that is just an excuse, I was more thrilled with the idea of working and making a game on my own than anything else. I mean, I was one of the early access beta testers before Stencyl 1.0 and I rarely made games! I've been until now mostly coding things to ease development, but rarely did anything with it, so that was a good excuse as any to create something.

(This section might have game spoilers, so go and play it before reading further.)

I went all out on ideas as soon as I started, and decided to adapt as things progressed. Originally, the sequence of stages was Library, Forest, Graveyard, a Bus and the Castle. The bus section would be a shout out to the train section in Kero Blaster, and would be a sort of enemy rush on top of the bus. The castle music was originally meant for this section.

On the first day, I did all the animations for the witch (who still is unnamed by the way). She would originally have a staff or rod to cast magic, and she would find staff/rod upgrades to increase damage. It wasn't an essential, so I postponed it and never did it. I also did most of the enemies and enemy drops first, before doing any level design. I also did her three main attacks on the first day: the fireball, the ice shards and the boulder.  Since she doesn't aim up or down, Ice and Boulder were meant to be her anti-air attacks. Since you get double jump before the castle, it was suppose to be more focused on vertical combat, but I forgot to do that in the rush: I finish the whole last area on day before the deadline, including designing and creating the last boss. Oddly enough, while testing, I found that using the ice and boulder in close range are extremely effective.

Those were all the attacks she had access to until yesterday 4 horas before the dead line: I gave her one of the final boss skills and a fireball variant at the last minute, to justify the money you get in-game. I tried to also include the other magic the final boss uses, but I was too tired to do that. Summoning magic was also an idea, but would be too much work given I had other priorities.

Since I have a lot of code, but never actually put it to use, I found several bugs that needed thorough work to find and fix, some times taking hours to find the root of the problem. The AI and cutscenes were problematic at the beginning, but went easier as I fixed more bugs. On saturday alone I managed to do the intro cutscene and ending sequences with way less problems, compared to spending nearly a whole day working on only the first boss AI/cutscene.

Balancing damage, money earned, item price and boss health was nearly non-existent, and the final boss was surprisingly way more difficult than I anticipated. Luckily his pattern is simple, but I had a nerve-wrecking battle. It was mostly decided on gut feeling, and I had one friend test  the game near the end to give some pointers. Said friend also did the title text, and did the sprite work for the ghost in the beginning of the game.

Speaking of the ghost, various characters have names that are not mentioned in-game, courtesy again of my friend. He name dropped some things out of nowhere: the intro ghost is called Spoopy, and he is the boss of the library. He has a powerful form that can put anyone to shame. The giant raven is called Richard, and he would have a more important role as well: the witch would miss the bus to the castle, and he would give her a ride, leading to the top-of-the-bus-enemy-rush. The final boss, the wizard king, is also called Leonel the Pastries King, and is referred as such in the code. I also created Richard the Raven before even doing the library.

As for enemies, I wanted to have more skeleton types, wearing armor and weapons even, but had to cut it. A more active zombie was also planned, but had the same fate.

A thing that I don't know if a lot of players will notice: the magic missiles that the final boss shoots at you can damage him. It is possible to manipulate them to hit him.

-Conclusion
As with much of my decisions in life, I went with a crazy idea just because, see what happens. In hindsight, had I made a game entirely on the library and made it spookier, might have been better and more polished. But I am happy with the the amount of work/content I put in, and for having completed something. It was a great experience, despite the all nighter I had to do to meet the deadline.

Huge thanks for the Stencyl team and for those who had the idea and organized the Game Jam. Thank you for reading and for playing my game.

« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 07:21:05 am by Luyren »
I have my Stencyl behaviors and resource packs available here: https://luyren.itch.io/

Donni11

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  • Posts: 2182
Cool Game! Nice way to use the theme :) !
Peace

Luyren

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  • Posts: 1855
I've updated the game with bug fixes, some slight changes, and a new game +, unlocked after you beat the game once, with a different character and new final boss.

Play it here.

EDIT: Had to issue another updated because of an overlooked issue, sorry if anyone lost their progress in the process.

« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 07:30:15 pm by Luyren »
I have my Stencyl behaviors and resource packs available here: https://luyren.itch.io/