June 2019: New Game – Starstruck!

Game releases are always awkward for me.

I’ve been working a couple years straight on “Do-Gooders” and have been relatively tight-lipped about it since I’m more productive when I’m quiet. But then a two-week gamejam happens, I decide to participate, and suddenly my anxiety flares up now that I have to talk about my game two weeks sooner than normal. So here goes! Aaaaahhhh!

Welcome to Starstruck, a love story among the stars, complete with butt-crunches and doggos.

Click here to go straight to the GameJolt page and download it!

So this was an idea I got last year while reading to my son. He was really into the solar system for a while, and I started thinking up a game idea that centered around being a constellation who visits planets and uses them to solve puzzles. I was going to back-burner the idea for after DG, but once I started writing the design doc, I realized the whole thing could probably be done in the span of a two-week game jam. So I put it on hold and have been planning it out until now.

And this is definitely one of the nerdier things I’ve made. I had to learn the relative positions of the stars, and terminology like “asterism” just to get the dialogue right. And did you know Uranus used to be called “George”?

Anyway, here’s a few design notes I had along the way:

  • The plot was largely inspired by Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”/”Twelfth Night”, but gradually turned into Disney’s “Aladdin” for reasons unknown.

  • Drawing the planets and stuff only took a couple episodes of “Doctor Who” to finish (I measure time in TV episodes.) The stars surprisingly took three episodes because they had to be accurate for the story to work. So drawing dots are not always a time-saver.
  • The game’s real time-saver is Bootes’ three-frame run cycle. Because the characters all share the same fashion style, I only needed to switch out the upper bodies to make characters run around. Four eps of Doctor Who, done.
  • The game’s super-energy/time suck was the head panels and in-game sprites. That was a whole season’s worth of episodes. Fortunately, the talking heads helped cut down time while implementing dialogue, so I may switch to this “Wadjet Eye” style for future projects.
  • Programming and testing killed me. Can’t even watch “Doctor Who” when I’m doing technical stuff. Have to save Jodie Whittaker for when I get back on DG.
  • I’m never doing a “choose your own secret identity” thing again because that triples testing time. 😛
  • On the bright side, the “star pops” became my favourite thing of this project, and I will re-use particle pops like those in all future projects because of all the animation they save me.
  • The UI and dialogue system in this game is ripped directly out of “Do-Gooders”. This is sort of an early testing ground because I want to see how well the system works for other people.
  • Professor Wilbo Wonderbee is a completely original character, and any resemblance to real-life celebrity astronomers is entirely coincidental.

    And that’s that for now. I’ll update the game as bug reports come in, but I may not do another GameJam for a long time. It was fun spearheading a jam project for once, but the time constraints don’t work with my schedule, despite my family’s wonderful support. If I get another two-week idea, it’ll be made on my own time. And maybe I’ll get more games out that way.

    Future updates for “Do-Gooders” are still on the way. Here’s a screen-grab of what I’ve been working on throughout May-June.

    June 22 2019 03:09 am | Stuff I Made, Video Games

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