Monthly Blog Post: Feb 2022
Welcome to my first monthly blog post! Let’s begin:
Blog Post Format
Last time, I laid out a particular format for these blog posts. In particular, I promised a “short essay” about video games and their development, followed by status updates and recommendations. The more I thought about it, though, the less appealing it sounded. Combining essays and status updates seems like a marriage of inconvenience; Why not just put them into separate posts?
So, I’m going to change the format. Basically, these blog posts won’t have a format, other than being “a collection of things that I want to say but are too small to justify being their own blog posts.”
Making the Level Maker
In January, I focused on creating the ending area for N Step Steve: Part 2. I could discuss that in detail, but… I kinda want to keep things a surprise. So, I’ll instead talk about what I focused on this month, which was the level editor.
I procrastinated on implementing the level editor for a while, but I was able to make tremendous progress in just one month. Here’s what the editor looks like:
And yes, this is running as a native (x86) Windows application. The final product is a game you run in a browser, of course, but I make and run Windows builds during most of development, since they’re faster and easier to work with.
One of the biggest challenges will be generating level codes that are short enough to be tolerable. To help with this, level codes will make use of many Unicode characters. I spent a long time trying to read Unicode characters from console input, to no avail. Ugh. It was a whole ordeal. After a few hours, I gave up on Windows’ console and decided to read input from a file. That worked much better!
Of course, it’s worth reiterating that the level editor in the “real” game will be hosted in a web browser. I might talk more about how that will work later.
Super quick design advice
I’m thinking about writing a blog post about movement systems in grid based puzzle games. That might take a while, but here’s a quick piece of advice:
If you’re making a grid based puzzle game, make the inputs fast and responsive. A typical level takes dozens (if not hundreds) of inputs to complete, and many players will want to input them pretty fast.
For example: I recorded myself playing through A Monster’s Expedition, playing the game as I normally would. After analyzing a segment of that playthrough, I found that, at one point, I was inputting moves at an average rate of 5 moves a second. Hopefully, that gives you an idea of the kind of speed that experienced puzzle solvers can operate at (though I’m not sure how fast I am relative to everyone else.)
Here’s the section where I highlight things that I like.
- I just mentioned A Monster’s Expedition (By Draknek & Friends) in the above section. It’s good.
- You Make a Mean Move Counter by MisshapenSmiley is a funny game. It’s basically one giant in-joke, but even if you don’t understand the “Thinky Co.” references, its comedic gameplay makes it worthwhile.
- This silly meme video (cw: slight cartoonish violence) is something that lives in my head rent free. I know this isn’t some clever game or insightful writeup, but I never said that this “Cool Links” section would exclusively consist of highbrow content, did I? In fact, I think I’ll put a silly meme in every “Cool Links” section from here on out.
I’m done writing. Bye.