SuperMonkeySnake
test

vgtv test , well it is a test

vgtv test 2

Great Levels vs Horrible levels

I have bought a Playstation Vita. Actually I traded my 3DS for a vita. So far, I have been playing Rayman on it. Some other titles, but Rayman mostly. It is Fuckings great!

The online store of the vita offers some psp titles that have been made vita compatible. One of them is a Super Monkey Ball game. I had Super Monkey Ball on gamecube, and it is one of my all time favourite games. It has such high regard with me, that it is a game I want to emulate, or be heavily inspired from. This should not come as a surprise as the tentative name for the game I’m working on is “Super monkey Snake”. And so far there is no monkeys in my game ;)

In Rayman, levels are populated with the usual platform elements. Enemies you can jump on, enemies you can’t jump on, avoidable areas like spiky stuff, chasms, platforms and pick-ups, stuff to collect.

Now, I have never been a fan of hiding stuff or having lots of collectable shit. Running around searching for 99 pieces of a jiggsaw puzzle hidden away in some gamefaqs-described corner of the game, does not sound like fun, it sounds like OCD.

The great thing about how Rayman makes this work, the way it makes me want to 100% a level, is that it’s often very visible, very easy to see the alternative routes of a level. It’s not up to you to search forever. To get 100% and get everything, you just have to play the level in a riskier/harder way. You have to wall jump between spiky death traps to grab that nice gold coin, you have to really time your platform jumps to reach some special place with bonus items.. Or you can choose not to, and just run through the level without getting the 100%, and then going back to it at a later time.

The levels never feel random, and they look seriously awesome.

NOW

CONTRAST THIS

TO THE UNFORTUNATELY HORRIBLE

SUPER MONKEY BALL ADVENTURES :( :( :( :(

I bought super monkey ball adventures for the vita, originally released on PSP.

I was really looking forward to playing monkey ball again.
First I entered the adventure mode. That was a mistake, and I quickly managed to exit after a long pointless cutscene about monkey shit.

But they had ruined challange mode as well. I had to play the easiest levels to unlock the others. No problem. However, after playing the easiest levels I got so angry at the game. The level design is completelly bollocks. The spike in difficulty between the levels, is very very random. The controls feel wrong. A good example is level 2 or something. The first level is easy to solve, just push forward, but level 2 requires you to drop from platform to platform, and pull it all off with more luck than skill. Another of the easy levels, seems to be easy, just go forward and up some hills. The problem, is that without speed build-up , you don’t have enough speed to go uphill.

IT JUST FEELS SO WRONG!!!

I cry myself to sleep and wish they would just release a good version of Super Monkey Ball 1 on the vita, or PSN , xbox live, or similar.

And the vita, damn, it would be a good platform for Super Monkey Snake. I hope Sony opens it up for small developers.

Sexy curves and hills be damned!

When you’re doing a 48-hour prototype, there’s often one thing that you’ll struggle with and spend hours trying to do, but that you end up having to cut. You feel ashamed that you can’t get it working the way you want, you remember the math lectures in school, and damn yourself that you didn’t pay more attention. For me, this was curves, hills and the sliding of the snake.

I had spent a good amount of time getting the input and steering of the snake to feel tight. I was quite happy with the way it controlled, except for one thing. The curvatures of the hill didn’t really affect the snake. You could push it up a 30 degree hill and it would not feel any force slide it down. It would roll as if the hill was flat.

The main issue I struggled with, was getting the direction of the slope. When you move things around, you move them in a direction. This I call the sloper vector. My collision framework ( unity3D ), was giving me the collision impact between the slope/hill and the snake. The information I had at hand, was not the slope vector, but rather the normal of the slope hill.

At the game jam, I had a lot different attempts at getting this vector, but they all failed spectaculary. In the end I just said “fuck it” , and concentrated on other parts of the game. I was defeated by the damn hill!

BUT I WANT SEXY CURVES
to affect gameplay

So the first thing I wanted to fix when I came back to the snake, was his damn problem with hills.  I was lucky with a forum search, to find this thread.

Now all I had to do, was to define the exact behaviour I wanted.

This is what I have ended up with.

The slope vector, will affect both the velocity of the snake, and the balance.

If the snake vector is paralell to the slope vector, it will only affect the velocity of the snake. If the snake vector is 90 deg to the slope, it will only affect the balance. Anywhere inbetween, it will be a mix between the two.  

The idea, is to use this to make hills feels somewhat natural, but also as a game design tool, where I can use the slope to very accurately affect the challenge of the game.

I have quite a bit of playtesting, variable tweaking and perfection left on the hills, but now I’m at least heading for a summit! 

And now, a video of the current result!

The initial game

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1579676/smsnakeWeb/smsnakeWeb.html

Here is the initial game, Super Monkey Snake, made for the global game jam late january.

It needs a ps3 controller to be playable, even though you can steer it with the mouse and wasd, but that’s nearly impossible.

My next step is to fine tune the physics so they are just want I want them to be.

The home studio, where magic hopefully will be made