Release 0.39: The lobby

The latest release of RPG Playground is now available online. I introduced a “Lobby” where you can see your games, the top games and the latest shared games.

When you share your own game, you will not be taken to the forum anymore. Your game will be instantly shared inside the RPG Playground lobby. Unfortunately comments are not available yet.

For this reason, I removed the “Play” page on this website, that used to list all top games. But this list wasn’t kept up to date. The current list is automated, so I don’t have to do anything anymore :).

There are some other nice features, such as remembering your login. To get a list of all of them, take a look at the last column of our Trello roadmap.

Check it out on https://rpgplayground.com

Release 0.38: Better screenplay wizard

The RPG Playground team brings you another cool update! This time, the screenplay wizard is extended, so it’s first of all easier to use, and secondly, includes all advanced actions in an easy to use manner. It also includes some extra explanation for each action.

There are some other improvements too, such as the weird coordinate system for walking (which was relative to the actor position), is now an absolute position on the tilemap. The action now uses Actor walks towards … instead of Actor walks to …

Next to that, the selection of Actors has become more user friendly. In most modes, you can just click on an Actor and it will take you to the properties. The cursor will also give an indication that you can click on the actor. All ways to make your experience more user friendly.

So go on, try the new version at https://rpgplayground.com, and start building your story with the easy & advanced screenplays!

Kind regards,

deWiTTERS

Release 0.36: Music and ambient sounds

Time to add music and ambient sounds to your games!

RPG Playground now includes various songs and a diverse set of ambient background sounds, to improve the atmosphere of your games. Go to the first tab on the project pane, and there you can select which ambient sounds and music to play for each level.

You can also change what’s played with advanced screenplays.

Enjoy! And I’m looking forward to the first games that feature these music and sounds 🙂

Help us build the official tutorial game!

New users of RPG Playground are greeted with an empty level. If they want, they can first see a YouTube tutorial video. But afterwards, they end up in this empty project.

However, FierceLiger03 gave me this great idea to start inside a tutorial game. A new user could:

  1. learn how to use RPG Playground by following the adventure, in a fun and easy way.
  2. get an instant glimpse of the cool stuff you can do in RPG Playground.

Therefore, I now want RPG Playground to start with such a tutorial game, to help new users get started.

I could make this myself. But a lot of you have way better level design and storytelling skill than me. So I thought about organizing a competition for this :).

Since a full tutorial is a really big project, I want it to be built as an Exquisite Corpse (thanks EBMCGames / The Dungeon Master for this idea :)), where each small part will be a separate competition. This means that I will:

  1. First do a competition for the 1st part of the tutorial.
  2. A winner will be selected.
  3. This small tutorial will end up at the start of RPG Playground, and every new user can follow it.
  4. A second competition will be done to extend the tutorial, based on the winning entry of the previous competition.

This way we can already have something in the short run, and create a really cool tutorial in the long run.

Some things to consider about this tutorial:

  1. Don’t give the player too much freedom. Make it a guided tour where you don’t get lost.
  2. Start really easy, with the most basic thing possible. Screenplay actions are already really advanced, and should be in later tutorial levels.
  3. Show some cool RPG Playground features early on, so that new users are excited to make their own game.

So without further ado, here is the first contest to make the tutorial game: http://rpgplayground.com/forums/topic/the-challenge-of-the-beginner-tutorial/. The winning tutorial will get played by every new RPG Playground user!

Release 0.35: More screenplay actions

The new version of RPG Playground is online. A bunch of new screenplay actions were added, giving your games way more options. But remark that these new actions are for advanced users only. Therefore they are not added to the “add action” wizard yet. So first make sure you understand the basics of screenplays before using these new actions. A full reference can be found here.

Player can choose options

You can let the player pick out of a list of answers, and change the game accordingly.

thief gives choices for "So give me that ring, or die!"
in case "Sure"
    hero says "Here is the ring."
    hero loses token "ring"
in case "Never!"
    thief says "Then I'll fight you for it!"
in case "Isn't there something else you want?"
    thief says "Maybe a hug? A thief's life is pretty rough you know."
    hero says "Of course... *gives hug to thief*"
    thief says "Thank you, I really needed that. And HA, I stole your ring!"
    hero loses token "ring"
    hero says "Wait what???"

Give the hero a sword

You can enable or disable certain actor components. This can be handy to give or take away the hero sword, or whatever component you want to influence.

if hero swing weapon ability is active
    mom says "I hope that sword comes handy"
else
    mom says "It's time you learned how to fight. Here is your fathers sword, make sure you don't lose it"
    hero swing weapon ability becomes active
    hero health becomes active
    hero says "Thanks mom!"

Hide or show actors

By disabling actors, you can hide them from the game. Some users had a workaround for this by redrawing a whole level, but that is fortunately not necessary anymore.

gandalf says "I have a spell that can help us get rid of these foul creatures.  GUL EST KURU!"
enemy1 becomes inactive
enemy2 becomes inactive

Manipulate health & other properties

You can manipulate health values, and max health values. This way you could upgrade your hero’s max health when he gets a certain item.

merchant says "A fine choice young girl, this leather vest will protect you from evil creatures"
hero health max increases with 10
hero says "*you drink the potion, but suddenly your head starts spinning*"
hero health value decreases with 5
witch says "Haha, you are so naive"

Show quest or goal info text

At the top right of the screen, you can set any text you want.

interface info text becomes "Talk to the mayor"

Store any number, such as gold or karma

The hero can store any number you want, and you can test on this number. Handy for storing things such as gold, karma, or any other number you can think of.

if hero number of "gold" >= 5
    merchant says "Of course you can buy this!"
    hero number of "gold" decreases with 5
    merchant says "Here you go."
else
    merchant says "Sorry, but this item costs 5 gold pieces. Come back when you have the money"

Turn based combat?

Now that we have player choices and health manipulation, I wonder if anyone is able to make some basic turn-based combat out of this :).

Compose your own action game with RPG Playground

In the latest update of RPG Playground, you can include action combat in your game.

Your main hero can wield a sword and fight monsters. Even the toddler knows how to handle this sharp piece of steel. Nobody is “too young” to save the world!

Look at the animation below how easy it is to set up fighting. Drop a few enemies in your world, and your game is ready to go.

 

Read more…

Share some thoughts with you

Hi gals and guys,

I want to share something with you. I’ve been working on RPG Playground for quite some time now, but I finally feel that the puzzle pieces are starting to fall into place. Unfortunately those pieces are mostly behind the scenes now, and you will only see the benefits of it later.

But I can tell you this: I’m now more sure than ever that I found a super easy way for anyone to make complex games. It’s way better than anything else out there.

This year, most of the new features will be rolled out, and you will get the idea of what I’m talking about. I updated the roadmap accordingly. But like I said, it’s really hard to go into detail and explain what’s coming, I would much rather show you.

That was all I have to say. So I hope you stay with me to experience all the cool features that are coming this year!

Kind regards,

Koen.

Research: Making a ‘juicy’ game

RPG Playground is currently at the stage where the games needs to get ‘juicy‘. I’m implementing action based combat, which means the game needs to feel right and should be fun to play. It also needs to look really good, and give nice feedback to the players. Sometimes games developers also call this polish.

So how to achieve all this? Well, let’s find out!

I know that I’m not the best at making juicy games, so I definitely need to look into this. But the good news is that I don’t have to be great at it. I just need to provide you with the proper tools to make your game as juicy as you want it.

There are some nice resources available on the web that explain the juiciness of a game. So let’s take a closer look.

Juice it or lose it

A talk by Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho, which you can watch on YouTube. They show a simple breakout game and make it more juicy. A must see!

Takeaways:

  1. Add color
  2. Use tweening (=interbetweening) or easing functions in animations
  3. Squeeze and Stretch. On events, make things a bit bigger or smaller to show the impact. You can also make things wobble (on bounce)
  4. Sound
  5. Music
  6. You can’t have too many particles in your game. Smoke, shattering, draw trail
  7. Screenshake to show impact
  8. Add eyes and smile to everything! Make it respond to its environment. Eyes track things, make them blink, use mouth emotions.
  9. Add more action (more balls).
  10. Environment reacts on music rhythm
  11. Flash the screen

The github page of this game contains some nice reference material.

Don’t Juice It or Lose It

To counter the previous video, Folmer Kelly thinks that approach has value, but also significant weaknesses. He gave a talk at the GDC Europe Independent Games Summit in which he countered the “Juice It Or Lose It” philosophy of design by suggesting that, while adding polish makes a game feel more alive, we’re possibly losing a level of immersion.

  1. Polish is
    1. Visual feedback
    2. Immersion
    3. Context
    4. Make player believe in the world you created
  2. Examples of (too much) polish:
    1. Platformers kicking up dust. Sprites emit dust particles while walking. But can ruin immersion, when the particles don’t match the environment.
    2. Tweening hard elements. Everything needs to feel like that material that it is. Rocks shouldn’t wobble for example.
    3. Gradients and dynamic lighting on pixel art or limited palette games.
    4. Shadows in the sky. For example when the player jumps but takes the shadow along.
    5. Juice for the sake of juice. It can distract the player from the main goal. Consider the context in which you are using it.
  3. Why does it matter?
    1. Details are the part of the world you create
    2. Details are the part of the story you tell
    3. Details deserve our attention. Polish should not come last, but should be part of your core experience.

I fully agree with the talk that he gave. All juicy effects should align with the game, it should empower it more. It shouldn’t distract or try to make a game which it is not.

The Art of Screenshake

Another talk, this time of Vlambeer’s Jan Willem Nijman, on how to make games feel more fun.

The 30 points taken from a reddit post:

  1. Basic Animations & Sounds (audio is half the movie, so it’s pretty important for games too)
  2. Lower Enemy HP (the game is about x, so don’t make x tedious)
  3. Higher Rate of Fire (the game is about x so add more x)
  4. More Enemies (more stuff to x at)
  5. Bigger Bullets (more prominent x-related thing)
  6. Muzzle Flash (accentuate doing x with flourishes)
  7. Faster Bullets (find the funnest timing for x)
  8. Less Accuracy (some chaos is fun, and it can affect how challenging x is)
  9. Impact Effects (don’t let things simply disappear – show/imply what happens to them)
  10. Hit Animation (let the player know that they’re doing x properly)
  11. Enemy Knockback (allow the player to create “breathing room” by doing x properly)
  12. Permanence (don’t let things simply disappear, also show progress from doing x)
  13. Camera Lerp (smoother cameras are less jarring and they make the character feel more in-motion)
  14. Camera Position (make your camera setup focus on and enhance the experience of x)
  15. Screen Shake (just do it, it’s fun & dynamic & easy)
  16. Player Knockback [I think he means player recoil] (make the player experience x by how it affects their character & gameplay, also give players a reason to not always do x – because that’s why the player does it instead of it being automatic)
  17. Sleep (add micro pauses to convey the drama of doing x well)
  18. Gun Delay (make the character and its props look like they have weight/momentum when moving)
  19. Gun Kick (add recoil to things that would have it – like firing guns)
  20. Strafing (let the character/player be more dynamic by making sure the controls don’t constrain x)
  21. More Permanence (it’s cool when little details don’t disappear, it also lets the player see where they’ve been and what they’ve done – it can create short-term nostalgia)
  22. More Bass (sounds should have lots of depth and feel appropriate for the source, good audio can also raise player interest)
  23. Super Machinegun (try ridiculous variations on how x works/performs, it makes the action more action-y)
  24. Random Explosions! (explosions all the time can get boring, but who doesn’t like occasional, unpredictable ones? Warning: if they affect gameplay, you’ll need to balance the unpredictability)
  25. More Enemies (because you added gameplay that makes it feel like there’s not enough to x at)
  26. Even Higher Rate of Fire (because you added more stuff to x at)
  27. Even Higher Rate of Camera Kick [Add Camera Kick] (make your screen shake direction/intensity work well for what’s causing it)
  28. Bigger Explosions (seriously, who doesn’t like explosions? exaggerate them!)
  29. Even More Permanence (you get the idea, just make sure things either don’t disappear, or show HOW they disappear)
  30. Meaning (allow they player to win or lose, and guide them towards forming an opinion on what it means to do one or the other)

Other resources

Secrets of Game Feel and Juice Video: Double down on your game feel: Shooter game should emphasize shooting

Juicy: a useful game design term?: Also check out the comments

Shoot things & feel good: An article on juicy shooting

Juiciness in Citizen Science Computer Games: Analysis of a Prototypical Game

Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation

Conclusion

To conclude, some ideas to make RPG Playground more juicy or more polished. Remark that I really want to make the game more immersive, and not more distracting.

  1. Pure visuals should be more beautiful
  2. In animation
    1. Add birds that fly away when you enter
    2. Level transitions could be animated
    3. Drop gold coins when killing enemies
    4. Little sparkles when taking a pickup
    5. Screen shake on big impacts
    6. Tiny pause when hitting or shooting enemies, or on kill.
    7. Enemy knockback

What are your thoughts of adding polish to your games in RPG Playgound? Just leave a comment below.

Release 0.32: Enemies attack

The new release of RPG Playground is online, containing a first raw version of combat. Currently all enemies will attack you, and they can be killed.

  1. You can kill enemies by swinging your sword with the SPACEBAR, ‘C’ or CTRL key.
  2. Enemies will attack you.
  3. Your hero can get hurt, but cannot die yet.

When an enemy dies, it will disappear. But in edit mode it appears again so you can edit the properties. Restart your game when you want to make them alive again.

Next up:

  1. Your hero has health with a visual health meter
  2. Your hero can die and the game will then be restarted
  3. Your hero can pick up health potions

After that I will add sounds and make the overall experience way better.

The share dialog also changed: Now you can use our web page to post your game to the forum. After that I will put it on the play page.

So go over to http://rpgplayground.com and test out some enemy combat!