Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - merrak

Pages: 1 2 3 4
Journals / Merrak's Non-Isometric Adventures -- Planar Programming
« on: April 27, 2020, 10:06:10 pm »
Towers of Vallas is done!... and has been for a little while now. I'm not ready to release it yet, but I am ready to move on to another project.

I started a full-color isometric "Vallas game". While I got the programming side of things down pretty well, artwork and level design proved to be a significant hurdle. I started tinkering with my entry from Stencyl Jam 18 and realized that it was refreshing to have new challenges. It's easier to think about levels in 2D space than 3D--and certainly it is easier to draw artwork for 2D.

I began expanding on the Stencyl Jam game... mostly for practice at first. I like the direction it's going now, and it's still fun to work on. Enemy AI is my most significant programming challenge. The remaining challenges are mostly design related--an area I'd like more experience in. It's good to have some personal goals for a project--"what would you like to learn?"

I do want to make another game in this series. I introduced a cast of characters in Towers of Vallas. While this game would be a prequel, I can still add to the story. I don't like the title: "Thief of Vallas". It's a working title for now.

One potential problem I thought about--would it make sense to have a mix of 2D and 2.5D/3D games in the same series? I don't think that, in of itself, is a problem. There are plenty of examples of series that went from 2D to 3D: Mario, Sonic, GTA... some with better results than others. Those that lost their unique characteristics met with less favorable reviews, which brings up the next question--what makes a "Vallas game" just that? Besides the graphical dimensions, what do the games in the series have in common?

So far there are two completed games: Towers of Vallas and Temple of Idosra. Idosra may not end up being canon, though... at least, not as exactly presented. Reworking that one has been on the to-do list for a while. That makes Towers the only completed game, although there were several incarnations of Thief of Vallas going all the way back to my very first Stencyl game.

Here's the working list:

  • Action Adventure. This genre has been a consistent staple. Towers is the most slow-paced.
  • RPG Elements. All of the games, except Idosra, had some form of experience points and other RPG elements. I've purposefully omitted exp-grinding, though. There is a finite number of experience points in the game, and the player usually needs to clear an area just once to get what they need to progress.
  • Speedrun. The player is rewarded for moving fast: a higher score, spare resources, or some combination was the reward.
  • Books. Reading has always been the main avenue to advance the player character.
  • MUD Elements. A nod to text-based MMORPGs from the 90's. The usual RPG fare is there: individual character statistics, lots of skills to learn and character abilities to acquire. Many aspects of the game rules come from one MUD in particular... one I ran back at the turn of the century... including...
  • Style Points and Rogue Rating. Small bonuses at the end of the level (like the Smash Bros. "Special Bonus") and a rank assigned. The ranks have always been P (perfect), S, A, B, C, D. The perfect rating has always been 800. If you're a bit older and from the US, then you know the significance of the number.
  • Secrets. Lots of secret areas to find. Towers has tons of them!

All of the "Vallas games" have been a nod to some past computer system. I have a Gameboy-inspired game, an 8-bit inspired game, but no DOS game. DOS was the system I grew up with, too! So my "new game" will use the default 256-color VGA 13h palette.

Here is a short video play-through of the first level. It's not finalized, though. In particular, some of the graphics will be redone. There are some tiles I'd like to redraw. I definitely will redraw the enemies. All of the enemies are using their original sprites from the Stencyl Jam 18 game. They should all be bigger than Marika--not smaller.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

Getting a prefect rating is tough. One feature that was oddly satisfying to implement was the "Cool!" bonus that appears when you collect several gems in a row. There's a story behind that (of course!). I still remember in the instructions for Commander Keen 4 there was a line about how some of the candy collectibles were arranged so you can get them all "in one cool jump". I spent many hours in my childhood trying to figure out how to get extra points by collecting all of the jawbreakers at once. Of course, that feature wasn't programmed in. But now I have it in my game!

Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Reset World
« on: April 05, 2020, 02:15:52 pm »
R e s e t   W o r l d

Here is my entry for Stencyl Jam 19. The working title was "Reset World". I ended up liking the title so I kept it. It's a simple game--actually a variation of "Abelian", my first ever Ludum Dare entry. The premise is the same: get to the other end of the screen and hit the switch to reset the level. I think the ideal fits better into the "reset" theme than it did "entire level on one screen".

Each level is procedurally generated. I've been extremely busy at work, so my main criteria for my game was scalability. I wanted it to be easy to get something playable, then easy to expand. In the end, I have 4 different worlds (forest, plains, island, industry), each with 4 possible 'gimmicks', 3 to 5 variations in landscape each, and 3 possibilities for 'general' enemies. I'd say there's at least 20 or so variations on levels that feel fundamentally different.

This was the first game where I made my own background music from scratch. My usual go-to tool is Abundant-Music. This time I used BeepBox.

Overall I'm happy with the outcome. I would've liked to have added more, but I think I used the time I had about as well as I could've.

Chit-Chat / Some of My Resources
« on: March 28, 2020, 10:19:00 pm »
Hi everyone.. here are some of my resources I've published... could be useful for the StencylJam!

Simple Isometric Graphics:,48336.msg267852.html#msg267852


Artificial Intelligence:,45313.0.html

Behaviors (mostly for platforming games. Includes AI):

T h i e f   o f   V a l l a s

(Windows coming soon...)

Thief of Vallas is my entry for Stencyl Jam 18. It's a remake of the very first game I made with Stencyl (back in 2013!)

The game was the first appearance of Marika, from Temple of Idosra and Towers of Vallas. At the time, I didn't have a backstory. The game was an offshoot of another project, but that's a story for another day.

Marika wasn't a thief, and until the GB Jam, there wasn't a "Vallas". I have a backstory in mind now, so this game would fit into the timeline after my GBJam game (Towers of Vallas). I'd like to come back to it at some point. I should finish the isometric game first, but this one was fun to work on. I'll get around to writing a postmortem soon.

I gave Marika her original appearance, but not much else from the original game really fits the new "canon". The original game had ghosts and skeletons. I did keep the brick-and-stone architecture, though.

The full game would probably have 6 - 8 levels. I just made one--the tower level--because it best fits the theme.

Outside Assets used:
Music -- DST (
Platforming behaviors pack --

Extensions / MOVED: game modes
« on: August 03, 2018, 10:18:00 pm »

Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Oregon Trail: Hot Pursuit
« on: April 22, 2018, 07:39:21 pm »
O r e g o n   T r a i l  :  H o t   P u r s u i t

Oregon Trail: Hot Pursuit takes you back to a time when pioneers strapped rockets to their oxen and jet across the open frontier. Youngsters will learn all about “American history” in this new take on the under-appreciated edutainment/racing genres! Seven glorious colors and Apple ][ 280 x 200 resolution. Oregon Trail: Hot Pursuit is a learning experience your children will be sure to never forget.

This is my entry for Ludum Dare 41 (Compo). Of all my entries, this was probably the most fun to make... mainly for all of the opportunities to just be silly. I tried to stick close to the version I remember best--the Apple ][ version. So I used the Apple color palette and resolution. I didn't go as far as to create the color artifacts--so it's not quite right. But it's close enough for me.

Chit-Chat / Stencyl Starting Behaviors Kit
« on: February 18, 2018, 10:31:54 pm »
Recently I was asked to put together a short class at my town's library on creating a video game for the local teens. While I was making resources for it, I thought they would be worth sharing outside the presentation--so I started a resources website:

While the standard kit behaviors tend to be highly customizable, these behaviors are kept as simple as possible. I don't see why they couldn't be used in a full game, but they're really meant to be learning tools or 'starting points' for more complicated scripts.

I'm not done with the site yet. While I tried to minimize dependencies, some were unavoidable. Unfortunately, as of now the dependencies aren't noted. I did include a sample game that shows how the behaviors work together.

Suggestions, requests, etc. welcome!

Chit-Chat / Nanowrimo
« on: November 04, 2017, 10:10:00 pm »
Anyone participating in Nanowrimo this year? (If you've never heard of it, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November) I haven't done it in a long time, but I did win last time I participated  8) My wife is trying it for the first time and so I joined her. I write everything in TeX, so I won't get a word count until I convert to plain text at the end of the month. So far I'm about twenty pages in. I'm trying something new and writing a science fiction novel. World-building is a bit more challenging than I thought it'd be.

Chit-Chat / LOWREZJAM 2017
« on: July 26, 2017, 08:24:48 pm »
They're hosting another one! Make a game that is 64 x 64 pixels resolution. Anyone thinking about jumping in?  It'd be neat to see some Stencyl entries.

When: August 1st - August 17th
Voting: August 18th - August 24th

Stencyl Jam 17 / Snowflake
« on: December 18, 2016, 06:58:46 pm »
S n o w f l a k e

"Snowflake" is a puzzle game inspired by Tetris and the Rubik's Cube. Create snowflakes by placing and rotating colorful ice crystals.

Game play is simple! You have about fifteen seconds to place a crystal on a node in the playfield. You can then rotate it and any other crystal in play. Try to get three branches of the same color touching the same node.

Snowflake is better suited as a mobile game, so this is an early release web version. Touchscreen controls are more natural than mouse-based controls, but it'll work for now.

T e m p l e   o f   I d o s r a

In this chapter of her adventures, Marika, the Thief of Vallas, finds herself locked in a temple plagued by mechanical monsters. Your objective is to help guide Marika through the temple. Find and destroy the monster engine, then make your escape!

It is rumored that the temple is filled with great treasures. Can you find all six? Bear in mind that the monster engine is slowly winding up. You will have one hour to find it and destroy it.

Along the way, you will encounter many beasts and traps. Can you find a way to conquer them all?

Original Post
I've been thinking about putting that isometric engine to use and making a real game with it, since all I have to show for it right now are demos and prototypes. I've had bad experiences trying complicated games in Ludum Dare--but maybe 10 days would be enough to get something fun working.

I had an idea for something like with a haunted house theme with a ghost chasing the player... a bit like Elemental Castle Adventure, but with more bugs in the code and worse graphics. I took some time to draw up some "concept art":

I think it'd be fun to work on, but things already aren't looking good for me finishing on time. Next week will be busy at work, and I might lose this weekend to the hurricane currently targeting the US east coast. On the plus side, I have a clearer idea of what I want to do right out the gate, which isn't often the case with LDs.

Ask a Question / Multiple Monitor Mystery
« on: July 25, 2016, 09:07:36 pm »
Lately I tried running my desktop build of a game in full screen (scale to fit) and encountered strange behavior. I have two monitors hooked up to the same video card. The game properly fills only one monitor, but stretches into the space the second monitor would be in. This cuts off the entire right half of the game. I usually put the fun stuff on the left half, but it still looks weird.

I'm running Linux. Have any Windows/Mac users with multiple monitors ran into this problem? At this point I'm not sure if this is a Stencyl issue, a Linux issue, or the fault of the person behind the keyboard.

Some specifics to my particular setup:
2 video cards (GTX 970 Strix), 4 monitors and 2 monitors per card. Each pair of monitors makes up one X screen. Using latest nvidia drivers. Xinerama is disabled.

Extensions / Fast XML Parsing -- Beta Release 1
« on: July 10, 2016, 11:16:58 pm »
Fast XML Parsing

This is an implementation of the Fast API for parsing XML files. This extension provides blocks that handle package and variable declarations, so that all you need to supply are the names of your attributes and nodes. This is particularly useful if you want to use XML files to handle external data (such as from external editors, e.g. Tiled). I don't see any reason why you couldn't parse HTML files, either... in case you wanted to write a web browser or pull data from the web.

The extension can be downloaded here (.zip)here (.tar.gz), or from my site (.zip or .tar.gz).

Please see my site for documentation, sample projects, old versions, etc.

Note: XML formatting errors in your data files will likely cause crashes or unexpected behaviors. This extension provides no error checking. Please validate your XML files are formatted correctly. See for a helpful validation widget.

Also of note: How to Install and Update an Extension.

Version History

2016-07-11:  (Beta Release 1) Initial release.

Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Snake Break (Post Mortem Version)
« on: July 06, 2016, 06:26:47 pm »
S n a k e   B r e a k !

"Snake Break!" was my Mini Ludum Dare 67 entry. It's been sitting in my projects folder for a while. So, today I updated it and put the finishing touches on the game. I'd appreciate any feedback on it before I package it up and send it to the App Store and Google Play.

How to play:
Left/Right to move the bat
P pause; M mute

As you break bricks, the snake following your ball grows longer. The longer your snake is, the more points you'll score. However, if the ball collides with the snake, the ball will fall! Catch the ball to return it to play. Can you unlock all 30 levels?

Edit: Added link to game :P

Extensions / Simple Isometric Graphics Library -- Alpha Release 1
« on: July 05, 2016, 07:23:37 pm »
Simple Isometric Graphics Library

"Simple Isometric Graphics Library" provides some additional blocks for rendering and manipulating simple 3D geometric solids in an isometric perspective. It allows for full 3D motion.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

Alpha Release Notes: This version is functional, but does not include all the features I had originally planned. Future revisions will include a larger selection of solids that can be accessed via block form. However, the two current solids (pyramids and rectangular solids) can be joined to form more complex structures. See the documentation for notes on rendering order, assembly of complex structures, etc.


The extension can be downloaded here (.zip)here (.tar.gz), or from my site (.zip or .tar.gz).

Please see my site for documentation, sample projects, old versions, etc.

Also of note: How to Install and Update an Extension.

Version History

2016-07-05:  (Alpha Release 1) Initial release allows two types of solids, rectangular solids and pyramids, to be manipulated with blocks. It allows for manipulating more general solids using direct function calls (e.g. in code mode).

Pages: 1 2 3 4