One Last Thing…

I released my newest text adventure game last night (and submitted it to the Adventuron game jam, making it four Adventuron jams in a row for which I have managed to cobble together a game!). I’ve put a lot of work into this one over the last month, so I’m really pleased that it’s all finished and out there in the world at last.

One Last Thing...
Adventuron version.

The main reason that this game required quite a bit of extra work was that I accepted the optional jam challenge of porting the Adventuron game to Spectrum +3 and Spectrum Next using DAAD Ready (I talked about this process at length in the video I linked to in my Barry Basic post the other day). The DAAD conversion process works really well, but there are a few things that come up slightly differently in the Spectrum port and so they needed to be tweaked and refined to make sure that they worked in the same way across the versions. There’s still a bit of improvement that could be made to the ported versions, but I’m happy enough with them for now.

One Last Thing...
Spectrum Next version.

I also made two sets of graphics – one for the Adventuron and Spectrum Next versions, and one Spectrum-compatible set for the Spectrum +3 version. The Spectrum-compatible graphics were a lot of fun to make, but I’m going to need a lot more practice in that style before I do another +3 port! The Adventuron/Next graphics, meanwhile, are probably my favourites that I’ve made yet – I used the hept32 palette suggested in the jam rules, rather than just picking random colours like I usually do, and I think it’s made everything look a lot nicer and more pulled-together.

One Last Thing...
Spectrum +3 version.

For the actual game and story, I tried to keep everything fairly short and simple, as I knew there wouldn’t be much memory space when porting to Spectrum +3 (as it happened, I did have to sacrifice one graphical change in a location on the +3 version because the original amount of graphics was too much for the conversion!). I decided on my setting (a single five-room building) for this reason, but I ended up making a short prequel* to the game I originally planned out, as the first game plan was getting a bit too big.**

* It’s also a sequel to my first game from last year, The Cave of Hoarding. It’s complicated.
** This always happens. The only time I actually made the game that I originally planned (Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor), it ended up being 10,000 lines of code and required a lot of all-nighters in the week leading up to the jam deadline. At least it means I’ve got a lot of semi-finished games that I can work on in my own time!

After making a fairly contained game (albeit with a lot of interesting complications), I am quite keen to do a project with a big, sprawling map again. However, I am going to take a few days (at least) off from game creation – apart from anything else, I want to play all the other jam entries now!

Goblin Quest

I have just released Goblin Quest, my latest text adventure game created using the Adventuron system. It’s the first game I’ve finished that wasn’t released as an entry for a game jam.

Goblin Quest
A location in Goblin Quest.

Goblin Quest was my first design for the most recent Adventuron game jam, which focused on treasure hunt style games with limited text. As such, it mostly follows the rules of that jam – other than the intro and endgame, the responses are limited to six words. However, there are some cutscenes with line after line of six-word responses, which probably stretch the rules a bit! It was for this reason that I decided halfway through the treasure hunt jam to go with a different game design, as I didn’t feel that these multi-line exposition sequences were really within the spirit of the jam rules.

I have also added graphics to this game – graphics weren’t allowed in the treasure hunt jam, although I did release an updated graphical version of my jam entry, Goblin Decathlon, after the fact. For Goblin Quest, I used a different style of graphics from my previous games – rather than creating basic pixel art from scratch, I went analogue and drew the graphics with paper and pencil before transferring them to the computer and editing from there. I’ve talked about my graphics creation process in a previous post; while I do find it a challenge due to not being very artistic, it’s become one of the most enjoyable parts of game design for me. I also find that graphics make navigating text adventures a lot easier – I’m prone to getting a bit lost when every room looks like a couple of lines of text.

I’ve been working on Goblin Quest on and off since I finished the graphical version of Goblin Decathlon, and am thrilled that I’ve managed to get it finished and released this weekend – just in time, as there’s a new Adventuron jam starting on Wednesday, and so I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into a brand new project!

You can play Goblin Quest here.

Graphics for the artistically-challenged graphical text adventure creator

I’m creating graphics for my adventure games this week, and because I’m currently working on three different adventure games (set vaguely in the same universe), I’m also working on three different types of graphics!

Goblin Decathlon
One of the many goblin officials you meet while trying to win all the gold medals in Goblin Decathlon.

For a graphical update to Goblin Decathlon, my most recent Adventuron jam entry game, I’m currently creating some basic graphics in the same style as I used for Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor back in October for the Hallowe’en jam. This style – which I think (and others have kindly commented on occasion) is quite cute – is very basic pixel art, with flat colours and marginally fleshed-out stick figures – nothing complicated at all – and, unfortunately, represents the limits of what I can currently create from scratch using pixels. I hope to improve my skills in this area, but I’ve got a long way to go.

Hallowe'en: Night of the Misty Manor
In Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor, Mr Campbell is in charge of all the party snacks. How are you going to distract him so you can grab one?

For one of my unreleased games – the game idea I was originally intending to create for the most recent jam – I’m taking a different approach and drawing the graphics with paper and pencil. Once I’ve finished that part of the process, I’ll scan them in and finalise the artwork using GIMP (my preferred digital editing software). At the moment I’m planning to keep it black and white for a stylised effect… but I may succumb to the temptation of colouring in during the cleanup process. We’ll see!

Artwork in progress
This wizard is a central figure in my current series of games, but right now he’s still a very basic pencil sketch.

For my other unreleased game (which is a huge project – I started it for NaNoWriMo last year and am currently working on it again for Camp NaNoWriMo, but I don’t expect it’ll be ready to release until at least the end of 2020), I’m going back to where I started when I had to create last-minute graphics for my first jam entry, The Cave of Hoarding. For that game, I made photo collages and then pixelised them – it was very rough and ready, but I had very little time (in that jam, I spent two weeks working on one game and then had to switch to a different smaller project in the last forty-eight hours when I realised it would be impossible to finish the first on time!) and zero experience of creating pixel art. I’ve been experimenting further since then with pixelised photographs, working on editing and filtering them to make them look more like drawings than photos, and I’m feeling more confident that I can create something nice for this project.

The Cave of Hoarding
One of the jam conditions for the first Adventuron jam was that certain locations had to be used, including ‘the side of a beautiful lake’. For my attempt at this graphic in The Cave of Hoarding, I used some old holiday snaps to make a photo collage of a lake and some trees, then heavily pixelised it and indexed the colours. I’m not sure how ‘beautiful’ it is, but it was probably the best graphic I made for my first jam attempt!

I’ve never been much of an artist, but creating graphics to go with my games has probably been one of the most enjoyable challenges in making adventure games over the last few months. It’s an area in which I have definite room for improvement!