DaFluffyPotato • on 1st Alakajam! entry Alchemic Archer

This is a rather long post(WITH PICTURES), so please click "expand." :P

Alchemic Archer is a game about shooting blobs with potion tipped arrows(but there is a portion of one of the levels where you gotta run as fast as u can).

I was very heavily inspired by Roguelight(one of Daniel Linssen's games), although my game is still very much different.

About The Development

The main issue I ran into with the development of the game was that I pretty much made a game engine during the JAM since I hadn't finished my "engine" scripts earlier. I say "engine" because it isn't exactly a module with its various scripts and classes that work together. It's more like a bunch of random scripts that aren't bundled together. They pretty much do everything I need at this point. Making this "engine" soaked up about half of my time, which resulted in not enough time for making large open levels. These smaller levels that I ended up making due to lack of time ended up being the second biggest source of criticism. Although, for those players who spent some time to get used to the mechanics, the smaller level design didn't bother them as much as they were able to maneuver around the enemies while shooting. This game ended up being more like an early test for my engine since I didn't have too much time for dev.

The Feedback

Most of my comments are between the two extremes of: "The game is too hard since there isn't enough space to move around and it's really laggy." and the people who think the game is great.

Just a side note, the person in the first comment there was saying that the controls were "bad" because I used the Arrow Keys/ZXC layout. I got premission from @Wan later on to add the WASD/JKL layout as an option. He/she also may actually be experiencing technical difficulties unlike most people who say it's lagging. Also, it seems like(I'm not sure yet) when he/she said "physics lag" he/she was talking about how your input gets delayed if the game is running at 10FPS. I checked and he/she definitely has a way better computer than I do. I intentionally do dev on a lower end computer since that means that if it runs for me, it should run for most people. At this point, I'm pretty sure the 10FPS issue is actually on his/her end(nobody else has actually had lag like this). I'm still waiting to hear back about it though.

A lot of people ended up complaining about what they thought was lag, when it was just the camera moving at speeds less than 1 pixel a frame(which looks pretty clunky since the game is 240x160 scaled 3x). The player and everything else would move normally though, so I'm not too sure why so many people thought they were lagging. Fortunately for me, I accidentally left an option to see the current FPS if you press Q, so now people don't complain about it as much. :P

The Art

On both ends, they normally say the art was great even if they didn't like everything else. I've been working on that for 4 years, and it seems to finally be paying off. This is what art looked like year by year:

2013(I had to pull out a 10 year old computer and search for this file on it since any images of this game completely disappeared from the internet):

I didn't draw the characters for this, there were originally some really ugly characters(an alien and a robot). Unfortunately, I was unable to find those images.
Even though I couldn't find any images of the old characters, I managed to draw something like what I think it looked like:

Keep in mind, it was worse than that.
EDIT:
I FOUND IT IN OLD EMAILS!!! :D

2014:

The date on this one is a bit sketchy, because the files for it date back to the very end of 2014, but i hadn't posted about it until about 2015.
The "WUT" text and the lines were added on. It was the only pic I could find.

2015:

2016:

2017:

I know that it would've really encouraged me to see how someone's art got better over time like this, so I hope it helps someone else. :D

What I Did Wrong

As previously mentioned, I made the mistake of letting the camera move at speeds less than 1 pixel a frame, which made people think it was lagging when it would go at speeds of 0.1 pixels a second. The easy fix for this is to not let the camera speed go lower than 0.5 pixels a frame.

I should've set up the "engine" a bit more before the jam so I'd actually have more time for dev. That would've saved me from all the "the levels are too confined" comments.

I had designed the difficulty curve very poorly, which resulted in only the people who were willing to invest some time into the game fully enjoying it.

The music was somewhat questionable. I put 10-20 minutes toward it which was probably a mistake.

There was yet another issue related to level design that I made. The levels themselves didn't introduce potions properly(eg: putting the items on the ground and an enemy farther away so a player could figure out what the first potion does), so players didn't really know how they worked. This resulted in players attempting to just run through the level.

So the main issue here was that I didn't save enough time for level design, which is extremely important in a game like this.

Conclusion

This jam turned out to be more of an expirement with my "engine," so I hope to work with it in the future to make some better games. Every jam I learn a bit more about how to design games to get the players engaged and how to get them to get used to the game's mechanics even when they're complicated. Obviously, I completely failed to get the level design to train people to maneuver around enemies while shooting them. The main thing that really excited me about how this game turned out was the art. I personally think it's a pretty big step up from even my last game jam's(LD 39) art.

This is probably the right spot to put my "full playthrough" video:

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