Current progress - v0.3.0
Hello and welcome, fans of old-school gaming!
Since this is the first progress report for The Adventures of Elena Temple, I'll also cover the game features implemented in the previous versions, prior to v0.3.0. Without further ado, let's dive right in.
At first, there was a vague idea and some pixel art I did for fun, like the coins, spikes, pots and snakes. When I finally decided to start the project, the only things I knew for sure were that it was going to be a platformer and that I was going to make it in Unity. Before thinking too much about the game design, I wanted to create a prototype to test out the basic mechanics, which became v0.1.0 after tweaking some things to make them feel good enough.
- player movement
- basic platforms
- coins and the ability to collect them
- spikes and dying when hitting them
- screen transitions
It was very important to me to have the kind of screen transitions that you'd find in very old games. If you purchased the game and have a Windows computer, you can try out v0.1.0 (and the other subsequent versions) for yourself. Just be careful not to go anywhere outside the first screen, except jumping to its right to reach the second screen. It's just a prototype for me to try out things, so if you start falling in the void, close the game and start it again. If you didn't buy the game, your OS isn't Windows or you just don't have the patience to try out such an early prototype, you can check out the below video to see how The Adventures of Elena Temple looked back then.
For the next version of the game, v0.1.5, I wanted to add a few more basic things, like sounds and some temporary music I created - back then I still wanted to make my own music for the game. And I wanted to implement the other core mechanic of the game, which is shooting. This was when I decided that the game was going to lean a bit more towards a puzzle platformer. I wanted shooting to be used mainly for solving puzzles and giving you a little help to overcome certain areas, not to enable you to go into a killing spree - snakes have feelings too, you know! That's why the pistol clip is limited to only two bullets, meaning you'll have to focus on getting a new clip to solve a puzzle, which can be its own challenge, depending on the type of obstacles between you and the clip.
- bullets clip you can collect to reload pistol
- blocking wall
- pillar you can walk behind
- snake that kills you if you touch it and can be killed by shooting it
- chests which can contain either a coin or a gem
- "secret" area with chests
- sounds for walking, jumping, landing, shooting, bullet impact, coin collect, clip collect, chest content collect and death
After showing the above video to some people and listening to their feedback, I decided to change the main character a bit. I replaced her Robin Hood looking hat with more of an explorer's hat, fixed her slightly tilted backwards stance and tweaked some other things here and there. This was the only change between v0.1.5 and v0.1.6. You can try out v0.1.6 if you opted into early access, if not you can check out the video below to see a comparison between the two versions of the main character.
For version 0.2.0, my main focus was to create the game's pause screen, which would include the stats GUI, the map and options to Continue, Restart and Exit the game. I decided I didn't want any GUI cluttering my play area, as at a resolution of 240x160, I need every pixel for the actual game. The amount of bullets you currently have is just one button press away, but with only two bullets maximum, it should be easy to keep track of. And the number of coins and gems collected so far is something you'd need to know only from time to time, so no point for them cluttering the screen.
The map is another key feature of the game, as you have the option to explore at your free will, in a non-linear fashion, so it was important for me to help the player not get lost and also to keep track of the locations he visited so far in his adventure. While I implemented a lot of things related to the map, including the fog and uncovering newly discovered areas, I didn't manage to include player tracking in this version. I guess I should've focused on that first, instead of secret passages - ooops, did I mean to tell you that?
- pause screen with functional Continue, Restart and Exit options
- retro transitions for the pause screen
- stats GUI in the pause screen with info about bullets, coins and gems
- map in the pause screen, showing areas you visited and shortcuts you've found
- destructible walls, shoot them to access new areas or discover secret shortcuts
- pots that can hold a coin or not, shoot them to collect their content
- bullets and snakes respawn when exiting a game screen
- new sounds for pot break, wall break and snake death
Again, if you purchased the game, you can try v0.2.0 for yourself. Or you can watch the video below. Or both, your call!
Which brings us to the early access release version, v0.3.0. I initially had a different plan for this version, for a v0.2.5 actually, but I got impulsive and started working on something I was going to do much later in development: simulating the old machines. Needless to say, this took a lot of my time. If until this point I'd have a new version every week or two, this one took me five weeks - ouch! But I'm very glad I took this decision, because, first of all, I get to launch the game in early access and I would've made a bad call doing that without the old machines, and, second of all, because I've eliminated the risk of finishing the game and all the levels and not have the time or the energy to implement the old machines at the end of the project. I'm very happy with the results and I hope you'll get the same 'days of old' vibe I get each time I run the game.
Besides the old machines, the most important thing I've worked on for this version was the level design. I've scrapped the test screens I've been using so far and I've created 8 final game screens, plus an interactive tutorial one and... well, you'll see, maybe. At this point the game actually feels the way I intended the final product to feel. Sure, I still have a good bunch of things to implement and a lot more content to add, including more than 40 new screens, lots of new game elements, music and more. But the core experience of the game is mostly in there. Which is why the game is now in early access and you have a free demo to try. The demo was a must for me, I want anyone to be able to try my game without paying anything to decide for themselves if they like it and to check if it runs ok on their computers. And, if they think it's worth it, only then spend money on it.
So, go ahead and please try the demo! The only difference for now between the demo and paid product is that in the demo you only have two old machines you can play on, the Pomo D'Or 4 and Some Toy. As I release newer versions of the game, the new content will only be available to paying customers. The demo might also be updated with some features, but in terms of content it'll remain as it is now.
- 8 final game screens
- extra screen with interactive tutorial
- something extra, if you're observant enough
- 7 old machines to play the game on - 2 in the demo
- selection screen for the old machines, with stories about the "developer" of The Adventures of Elena Temple
- game intro to the selection screen and transition towards the selected old machine
- moving platforms, jump on them to take you to places
- pressure plates, jump on them, push or shoot them to activate their mechanism; they can control walls, spikes, platforms etc.
- player tracking on the map
- new sounds for pressure plates push, mechanism movement, selection screen move, selection screen play
- final selection screen music
- final in-game music track, currently loops but will be converted to dynamic later
And that brings us up to date so far. I guess what remains to be said is what I'm working on next. Well, for version 0.3.5 I plan to include the following features, but please don't hold me accountable if I change my mind on any of them:
- 3 new screens - Dec 6th update: these are done already!
- dynamic music manager - instead of repeating the same song
- sound and music options in the pause menu
- functional help option in the pause menu
Thank you for reading this quite long post! The next ones should be shorter, as they'll cover only one version at a time. Thanks and have fun playing/making games!
Catalin Marcu / GrimTalin
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