Renee G.

Individual Game Sketch

Individual Game Sketch

Cat Castle: A Ghost Story

(personal interactive game)

This game is dedicated to my dearest boys – Virgil and Valentine.

 I have always had this random worry: what will happen to my cats if, for some reason, I can’t take care of them anymore? Although this is probably an overly pessimistic and unrealistic thought, I know for a fact that there are lots of homeless cats suffering in this world. Therefore, I wanted to create this utopian universe for cats and cat lovers like myself. In this universe, cats left alone in this world will be brought into the Cat Castle. Anyone who loves cats (whether had cats before or not) will come here to look after the cats when they become a ghost. However, ghosts won’t stay at the castle forever. Eventually, they will go to heaven… It’s a story both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I have combined this story with my personal experience of taking care of my own cats – Virgil and Valentine. As I was outlining the mechanics and dynamics of this game, I realized that cats really don’t ask for much; being able to spend quality time together is the most precious thing for my cats and me.

 

Storyline

1

  • I accidentally died for some mysterious reason and left my cats, Virgil and Valentine, alone in the world
  • I wake up as a ghost in front of a castle with a cat sitting in front of me.
  • The cat is trying to lead me into the castle. As I still look confused, the cat starts talking to me… The one talking to me right now is Nemo, the housekeeper of the castle. Only Nemo has the ability to communicate with me.
  • I follow the cat into the castle and saw lots of cats. Awww… they are all so cute. Among the cats, I see Virgil and Valentine (the number/name of the pet(s) was set by the player before the game starts)! I can’t believe that I get to see them again… but it seems that they can’t see me since I’m a ghost…
  • According to Nemo, in order to get to heaven, I need to stay temporarily in the cat castle and look after the cats. These cats are all here because they are left alone in the world for some reason. As I am taking care of the cats, I could gain tokens by completing various tasks. As soon as I have gained enough tokens, I will leave the castle and go to heaven. The next ghost will take my place and look after the cats.

 

4 Main Tasks

Note: To simplify the tasks, the player will not perform most of the tasks for each cat in the room (except for Task#4). Instead, the cat will perform as one (i.e., the hunger level indicates the overall hunger level of all cats). Thus, the player is feeding all the cats each time she/he/they fills the cat bowl with food. The same rule applies to Task#1,2,3.

2

 

Task#1: Feed the cats.

Cat food is available for purchase in the shop.

Simply place cat food in the bowl and feed. Pay attention to the ‘Hunger’ bar to see how hungry the cats are. It is suggested to feed them when the bar turns orange or red. Tap (for mobile users) /click (for pc users) the cat bowl to fill it with cat food. Each tap/click fills the bowl with 1 portion of cat food. Be aware that the bowl cannot hold more than 2 portions of cat food.

 

3 Stages of Hunger

Green – full and happy, no need to feed

Orange – a little hungry. Needs 1 portion of cat food for the bar to turn green. (orange –> green, the player gains 5 tokens)

Red – extremely hungry. Needs 2 portions of cat food for the bar to turn green. If the bar stays red for more than 1 day, the player will lose ­­­3 tokens every day after the first day until the bar turns yellow or green again. (red –> orange, the player gains 5 tokens; red–>green, the player gains 10 tokens)

 

 

Task#2: Let the cats play.

The player can purchase cat furniture/toys from the shop. Each toy/furniture can only be used once per day. The room can have a maximum of 3 toys/pieces of furniture at the same time. Each interaction will add 5-10 tokens, depending on the item. The player can add/remove the toy/furniture by accessing the ‘Storage’. Every item has a life span of 7 days and will be automatically removed from the Storage by then. The player thus will have to repurchase items from the shop.

 

 

Task#3: Clean out cat litter.

Use the ‘shovel’ to clean the littler. Keep an eye on the litter. If the litter stays dirty for more than 1 day, the player will lose 5 tokens every day after the first day until the litter becomes clean again.

 

Task#4: Keep the cats warm.

Simply put a blanket over the sleeping cat by tapping/clicking on the sleeping cat (no purchase needed). This task does not affect the ‘Token to Heaven’ bar. The player will perform this task purely out of her/his/their will.

 

Catnip Planting

(Catnip is an uncountable noun. Here the number of Catnip is only used to indicate quantity.)

3

In this game, money is not the currency; in Cat Castle, the player will plant and harvest catnip in the Catnip Garden and will be able to exchange catnip for other items in the shop. The supply of catnip seeds is unlimited. There are 16 slots available for planting the seeds. The player will only need to water the plant once. After 2 hours, the watered catnip will be ready for harvest. Without water, the catnip will take 4 hours to mature. The player can plant and harvest as much catnip as they like. There is no quantity limitation. 

 

Objective: Fill up the ‘Token to Heaven’ Bar and ascend to heaven (reach 10,000 tokens in total), as the next ghost (also a cat lover) will take your place. At the time, your own cat/cats will finally see you, and you will have the chance to say goodbye …

4

 

Aesthetics

Cat Castle: A Ghost Story engages several aesthetics of game design, including sensation, fantasy and challenge. This game is designed for people who want to experience taking care of cats. The storyline is specifically designed to emphasize the player’s sense of engagement – making the player believe that they are the ‘ghost’ who are emotionally attached to and responsible for the cats. Even though there is one objective for this game: gaining enough tokens to heaven. However, not every task is tied with token gain/loss, for example, task#4 is completely optional, the player only performs this task if they want to. For those who want to spend more time with the cats, it is possible to slow down the token-gaining process by performing token-losing tasks intentionally. Rather than encouraging the player to complete the ultimate goal as soon as possible, this game aims to provide realistic, heart-warming and therapeutic interactions between the player and the cats.

Game-Developing Engine

From my previous game-engine-learning experience, I believe GameMaker Studio2 (GMS2) is a proper tool for developing my sketch of Cat Castle: A Ghost Story into a playable version. While I am a beginner in game design and have never learned to code before, GMS2 should be fairly easy for me as it provides the ‘Drag-N-Drop’ option that involves minimum coding. Comparing to the other engine that I learned about – Twine – GMS2 offers more flexibility in visual design. For this game, graphic design is a significant part, for it makes the game visually appealing to the players; consequently, players are more likely to become emotionally attached to the game. I will be able to design my assets in pixel-style.  If this game ever progresses beyond a sketch, I will have to develop a detailed design of the ‘Shop’ by asking ‘what furniture/ toys are to be sold there?’, ‘How much catnip does each cost?’, ‘How many tokens to be earned from interacting with each item?’, etc. Also, I’d like to explore more on creating movements of the cat figures/sprites so that the game plays more realistic. For an interactive game like this, audio effects are also essential for making it sense-pleasant. I would like to challenge myself to create original theme music for this game.

Posted: February 3rd, 2021
Categories: Uncategorized
Tags:
Comments: No Comments.

Game Engine Research

GameMaker Studio 2 (GMS2)

I personally had zero experience with game engine/ game design prior to GMS2, therefore I’m not able to evaluate GMS2 based on comparison with other game engines. This review is entirely based on my (very) limited experience creating a simple game using GMS2 with the aid of online tutorials.

Overview

GMS2 is a great game engine for pros as well as self-learners/beginners. Its well-designed interfaces allow users to easily create and organize assets with. There are a lot of supporting resources for game makers and gamers, both in software and on YoYo Games’ official website. The Marketplace exists as a community space for resource sharing and game publishing. It not only is a great learning centre but also a possible starting point for the development of emerging/independent game designers.

There are limitations. So far, I have seen many games produced using GMS2 during my research online, most of which are pixel games. I assume GMS2 is genre-specific and probably not an ideal engine for those who want to create games that have high-resolution images. However, this does not prevent game designers from expressing amazing concepts and ideas using GMS2. Users can still create various types of games such as action games, adventure games, role-playing games, puzzle games, Simulation games and so on.

Picture1.jpg

GameMakerStudio (GMS2)

Download:

  • Quick download
  • Offers free trial for 30 days. You will need to register a YoYo account first with your email, username and password. It was a fairly quick registration. You’ll need that later to access the software as well
  • Works on both windows and mac systems.
  • Follow the steps and install the downloaded package. Took less than 1 min to install on my mac. Mono Framework will be automatically installed when you are first signing into the GMS2. It took me 2 minutes to install.

 

Tutorial:

You need your YOYO account info to sign in. As soon as I signed in, I realized that I knew nothing about game making… Luckily there is a ‘Tutorial’ icon on the start page. The tutorials there are mainly non-video ones that walk you through the interfaces and functions. It is quite informative and convenient to refer to whenever you got questions.

Besides the ones in the software, you can also find tutorials on their official website. I recommend accessing tutorials through their website because there are more options including written tutorials and video tutorials. Some tutorials are provided by YoYo Official; others are created by independent content creators. Both can be very useful for learning GMS2 as well as game making. Videos are rated as beginner or intermediate for users to choose accordingly.

As someone with zero experience, I decided to follow My First Game – DnD – Space Rocks (Part 1- Part 5). This series of tutorials caught my eye because the game looks very retro, similar to the one that I used to play on my grandpa’s cellphone (long before smartphones were born!). It is great that each video is around 13 to 15 minutes long. I always get overwhelmed watching long tutorials because I would easily forget lots of things by the end.

I learned in Part 1 about the three essential elements in game making, which are sprite, object and room. When creating a new game project, we can choose from DnD Drag And Drop (using visual scripting language) and GML – GameMaker Language (using coding language).  I chose to continue with DnD version of the tutorial since DnD might be easier for those who don’t have coding experiences. For viewers who want to learn more about DnD and GML, the video creator also provides an insightful comparison of the two in the comment. I appreciate that the creator explained everything in a simple and straightforward way, which makes the tutorials a lot more beginner-friendly.  The tutorial went on quite fast. I found it easier to play the tutorial on my tablet while working on my laptop so that I could follow step-by-step without constantly pausing and switching screens. Also, the video creator was operating GMS2 on windows, keep in mind that the interfaces are slightly different (but mostly identical) on mac.

Part 2 to Part 5 of the tutorial focus on making the Space Rocks game step by step. So far, I have watched and followed part 2. In part 2, I was able to set up all the objects needed and create movements for each of them. When you create your sprites, you will be able to create images for them. It was similar to how you create images with photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. As simple as I made my sprite, I imagine you can also make it quite detailed and fancy.

Picture3.jpg

Everything went extremely smoothly, but I realize that was because all correct statistics and pre-sets were given to us by the creator. Events are important because they create corresponding actions that you want for your games. Creating the right events on your own can be a lot more difficult if you are not familiar with the functions. That also reminds me that game design is never a linear process, there are always stats to experiment with and bugs to fix. Even when I was following step by step, I could forget to switch sprite and ended up resetting the size of the canvas three times for the same sprite… but that was just me lol, might not happen to you:) Even though I don’t necessarily know what functions/values to type in myself, the video explains the logic behind every input. It helps me learn about some of the basic functions and values involved in this simple game. So next time I will be having some sense of how to achieve the effects I want using those functions. By the end of Part 2, I have a moveable ship (the arrow) and various floating asteroids.

steroid.png

I haven’t been able to finish the tutorial series, but Part3 to Part 5 will introduce attacking & collisions, lives & effects, effects & polish. By the end of part 5, you will be able to accomplish your very first game!

 

Software-Using Experience

One thing I really like about this game engine is that the layout is clean and organized. For example, Under Create Asset, there are both words and graphics indicating what you are going to create with each button. Designs like that create less confusion than just words.

Picture5.jpg

As your game design progresses, there will be more open windows in your workspace, and it might start to seem like a lot. However, everything is organized under Asset Browser where you can either look for the one you want by category or type in its name and search for it.

Picture6.jpg

There are two buttons that I found convenient: Run and Debug (located on the top menu bar). Run button is for testing your game at every stage; Debug button is for finding out the errors. Because GMS2 is the first game engine I get to learn about, I am not sure if every other game engine has the same functions. I can imagine they can be quite useful, especially in more complex game designs.

You can also access YoYo Marketplace from the top menu, which will lead you to open a webpage https://marketplace.yoyogames.com/ where you will find tons of purchasable resources including colour effects, templates, tools, scripts and so on. You can also purchase and play games that are designed by other GMS2 users. The idea of forming a community within the marketplace is good for learning as a beginner as well as developing as a game designer.

Overall, GameMaker Studio 2 is a user-friendly, genre-specific game engine that has a well-designed user interface and some helpful features. I will continue learning it and hopefully be able to make my own game one day.

Posted: January 28th, 2021
Categories: DIGF6018
Tags:
Comments: No Comments.
© 2021 Renee G..  Provided by WPMU DEV -The WordPress Experts. Hosted by OCAD University Blogs.

Use of this service is governed by the IT Acceptable Use and Web Technologies policies.
Privacy Notice: It is possible for your name, e-mail address, and/or student/staff/faculty UserID to be publicly revealed if you choose to use OCAD University Blogs.