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Letterboxes - Jam 11


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#1 TerraFriedSheep

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 11:59 PM

Letterboxes


A game originally made in 72 hours for the 11th GMC Jam, and expanded since to provide a more imaginative experience.
 
Download Link: Latest Version (29.3 MB)

 
If you were born in the world all alone...
Having to grow in the dark on your own...
Would you just sit watching time as it burns?
Or go and explore, with a passion to learn?


Explore this world as you aim to discover your ancestry while leaving messages for those who follow you.
 
ljf6.png
 
In the dying moments of the Jam, my save system failed due to lack of memory, and the sound system didn't want to work at all. Still, the gameplay is complete, and there is a nice bonus if you can find all 10 fossils!
 
Version 3 is out now! It's as finished a product as I'm hoping to achieve for now. Please let me know if you encounter any issues with this game.
 
And finally, please be friendly :)

Edited by TerraFriedSheep, 07 December 2013 - 03:38 PM.

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#2 Hiznopellagio

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 02:24 PM

Ookay, this was way cooler than I thought it'd be (no offense)

 

I really like the graphic. Combination of cartoonish and realistic art were implemented nicely in this game. The only thing that is not my liking is, the font. It's a bit hard to read, and it kinda un-fitting for this game. But other than that, the graphic were excellent.

 

The gameplay were pretty smooth too. It's kind of mainstream with this kind of gameplay, but I found this game fun to play. I especially like the level design--you make the player have to explore around the area first before you could proceed to another area. And this adds the fun of this game.

 

It's a shame that this game has no music, but overall, I love it. I reckon that this game'll get in top 10, or at least top 20. Good job :thumbsup:


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#3 chance

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 11:30 AM

Well done. +1 :) There is a seriously nice feel to this game. The character's graphic is incredibly simple but it evokes some feeling. Maybe it's the eyes? And I really like the feel of the jumping and rolling. I could actually make the jumps without quitting in frustration. So this has a good balance between exploration and the traditional platform mechanics.

Shame about the sounds, but the game is still quite fun without them. For such a basic looking game, it provides a nice sense of exploration. It's neat how the world opens up a block at a time as the player moves around.

The only real bug I found was at the beginning with the opening screen. If I select "fossil collection" first (before starting), then return to the main menu, the PLAY doesn't work (ENTER key has no effect). So I have to quit and restart, then PLAY works fine. I tried this a few times to confirm it.

So far I've found some signposts and some fossils. I just stopped to write this, but I'll definitely continue the game and try to finish it. Great fun, and a very good Jam entry. :thumbsup: +1
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#4 TerraFriedSheep

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 10:27 PM

Ookay, this was way cooler than I thought it'd be (no offense)

 

I really like the graphic. Combination of cartoonish and realistic art were implemented nicely in this game. The only thing that is not my liking is, the font. It's a bit hard to read, and it kinda un-fitting for this game. But other than that, the graphic were excellent.

 

The gameplay were pretty smooth too. It's kind of mainstream with this kind of gameplay, but I found this game fun to play. I especially like the level design--you make the player have to explore around the area first before you could proceed to another area. And this adds the fun of this game.

 

It's a shame that this game has no music, but overall, I love it. I reckon that this game'll get in top 10, or at least top 20. Good job :thumbsup:

 

Thanks, I'm glad you liked the graphics, I was happy with them myself as I found a style and stuck with it. I did want to include more graphical eye-candy but there just wasn't time, but I think adding unique parts to different areas will help to give the exploring some more depth! It's something I'm definitely thinking of adding for a post-Jam version. I spent the majority of time designing the world as well, so thanks for appreciating it :)

 

Well done. +1 :) There is a seriously nice feel to this game. The character's graphic is incredibly simple but it evokes some feeling. Maybe it's the eyes? And I really like the feel of the jumping and rolling. I could actually make the jumps without quitting in frustration. So this has a good balance between exploration and the traditional platform mechanics.

Shame about the sounds, but the game is still quite fun without them. For such a basic looking game, it provides a nice sense of exploration. It's neat how the world opens up a block at a time as the player moves around.

The only real bug I found was at the beginning with the opening screen. If I select "fossil collection" first (before starting), then return to the main menu, the PLAY doesn't work (ENTER key has no effect). So I have to quit and restart, then PLAY works fine. I tried this a few times to confirm it.

So far I've found some signposts and some fossils. I just stopped to write this, but I'll definitely continue the game and try to finish it. Great fun, and a very good Jam entry. :thumbsup: +1

 

Thanks for your great comments! I'm glad you found the character to have some character about it, and found the movement engine easy to use. The exploration aspect I think kept the game interesting without the need for any violence as per handicap request! I expect I'd have resorted to things like the dreaded spikes etc had it not been for the handicap, so it's good that the exploration aspect has been brought to the forefront of the gameplay.

 

It seems a fair amount of people had issues with the current version of Studio when it came to sounds. Unfortunately for me the sounds were a job for the final hour, so when I stumbled across any issues there was simply no time to solve them, but I'll definitely get the sounds all done for a post-Jam release; the game is so close to being a nice finished piece that I'm keen to just finish a few little things I still have in mind.

 

It would be cool if you finished it (especially collecting the fossils, I didn't quite get the letterbox ending done) as the story is subtly finished with the full collection, but I understand it's easy for me to say. That is my biggest disappointment in that the save system ran our of memory, so that is another thing for me to sort out! Thanks again for the comments :)

 

Edit: Almost forgot to say: thanks for pointing that bug out, when the save system failed the menu had a quick make over, and that must have broken my coding (which was fairly rushed anyway ;) ). I'll get that sorted for the next version.


Edited by TerraFriedSheep, 01 August 2013 - 11:10 PM.

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#5 slayer 64

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 11:06 PM

this is a cute game. i got bored though. just runnin around collecting stuff ain't much fun for me.


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#6 TerraFriedSheep

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 05:38 PM

this is a cute game. i got bored though. just runnin around collecting stuff ain't much fun for me.

 

Thanks for playing, and also for posting a few messages; I happened to be playing it back myself when you were playing, and every now and then a new message had been posted, which was cool :)


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#7 the ch8t

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 01:33 AM

AWESOME. I used the letterbox system to advertise my own jam game :P


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#8 TerraFriedSheep

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 12:09 PM

AWESOME. I used the letterbox system to advertise my own jam game :P

 

Thanks for playing, lets hope people find your messages eh!


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#9 TerraFriedSheep

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 01:31 PM

Since the reviewing/voting period of Jam 11 has now finished, I've compiled all the feedback Letterboxes received during the Jam. Thanks to everyone who left feedback- this is a great example of why the Jam is such a good event to try out your game ideas: an abundance of feedback!
Spoiler



And while I'm posting, I promised to respond to TheUltimate's feedback:
 

This is one of my favourite Jam entries (though Im saying this every ten games or so...) because its relaxing, fun, runs smoothly, and has that very unique letterbox feature.

Not only is it very polished, but its fun too. Its rare to see something of this size and quality in the Jam. I like the cartoony graphics and the animations. I like uncovering the boxes and revealing the level. I also like how you can barely see the sides of platforms that are still hidden, which makes blind jumps slightly less blind. But for some reason, rolling has acceleration and walking/crawling doesnt. It messed up a few of my jumps.

Thanks, I'm glad you appreciate the level design- it took up the majority of my Jam time putting all those tiles in place, and visualising the bigger picture as I went along. Having played through it a few times now, I've seen places where I could make improvements, and have also slightly expanded the world slightly. As for the movement, I wanted the walking to be precise so you knew what would happen and to keep easy movement, and rolling was for a bit more speed and going through smaller gaps. There are places where you need to jump while rolling though, so thanks for letting me know some jumps were messed up. I'll have a think to see if I could improve the mechanics of the roll.
 

The exploration was the main (and best) part of the game. I really enjoyed finding new places, fossils, and mailboxes. Obviously a lot of time went into the level design. Letting players leave letters is a great idea! Its very interactive, yet discreet enough for anyone looking to just explore in solitude. Im going to replay it again to check for new messages. I liked leaving something behind for others to find and Im sure lots of others did too.

Theres no story, and thats the best and worst part of Letterboxes. The good part is youre not being forced to go anywhere, and there are no items or locked doors restricting you to certain areas at certain points of the game. The whole world is open from the beginning for you to explore and uncover. The bad part is that this leads to a lot of aimless wandering that gets boring in large doses. Retracing ones steps to find the last few letterboxes without any sort of direction isnt very fun. This will probably be less of a problem once the save system and music get put in. Then the game can be finished a little at a time.

I was really disappointed not to have time to get my save and music system working. It was so close, and I had what I thought would be a reliable system for both in place less than an hour before the end of the Jam, so when they didn't work I was forced to take them out, and I knew it would be detrimental to the game. The good news is I've got them both set up now in the version I'm working on, and they really do add a lot more to the game, and it is nice being able to save and continue and as you say the game can be completed a little at a time.
 

Visually, the game needs more variety. Exploration is the main draw of the game. Different, non-recolour tilesets for each area are a must. Only the first letterbox you find needs the instructional message, and Id love to see each distinct area have its own history that you can learn by reading the main message in each letterbox. Landmarks would be cool too; each History Letterbox could be located by the areas biggest one. Maybe some letterboxes will point you towards other letterboxes or fossils or something bigger. Itd keep the games open world while giving players some goals. Also, a map showing the areas explored, the locations of mailboxes found and which ones have new messages would be great. Since the world is so big, why not have checkpoints you can teleport between after youve found them? Itll be beneficial if (when?) you add more areas.

Overall, the game is very basic, but its going to be great once more levels and different graphics are added. As long as theres a steady stream of new players leaving messages, itll stay fresh on its own.

I absolutely agree that the more variation in the graphics I can add and having more localised areas will really improve upon the exploration. It was a balance between variation and time for the Jam, but I'm planning to work on improving the graphics when I've finished all of the gameplay area so I know exactly what I've got to play with, so to speak.

I think the history in each letterbox is a great idea, it will tell a story without imposing it upon you and I think will add a nice extra dimension to the exploring. I would tell the story through the tales of the ancestors, which will build upon the current story which is at the moment left to the graphics and the poem at the beginning.

Thanks for the thorough review, it's really appreciated!
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#10 TheUltimate

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 02:25 AM

"I'm glad you appreciate the level design- it took up the majority of my Jam time putting all those tiles in place, and visualising the bigger picture as I went along."

You should be proud, you definitely did well with the level design. Even though the only things were water and stationary ground, there was a lot of variety.

 

"There are places where you need to jump while rolling though, so thanks for letting me know some jumps were messed up. I'll have a think to see if I could improve the mechanics of the roll."

The mechanics are fine; the inconsistency of the physics threw me off more than anything else. The easiest fix would be to make both stances either have momentum or not. Something I forgot to mention was pressing Down instead of Up to get out of the roll took some time to get used to. If you change Up to that and use a separate jump key, it'd be a lot more intuitive. Not that it's too big of an issue, since it's an exploration game and not an action game.

 

"The good news is I've got them both set up now in the version I'm working on, and they really do add a lot more to the game"

Sounds nice!

 

"I would tell the story through the tales of the ancestors, which will build upon the current story which is at the moment left to the graphics and the poem at the beginning."

You know, I was wondering whether that cutscene was going to lead to something. Good to see it's relevant after all. With that can of worms open, one thing you have to do is lead up to some kind of huge discovery at the end! (Or not, as there would be nothing to do afterwards...)


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#11 TerraFriedSheep

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:57 PM

I've spent the last week or so trying to upload the latest version to YYG/GJ, but with no luck I've had to upload it to dropbox for the time being:

 

https://dl.dropboxus...terboxes_v3.exe

 

 

This version has the completed story, so I'm calling this the finished game for now, I hope you enjoy :)


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#12 TerraFriedSheep

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 04:06 PM

I've finally managed to get the latest version to upload to YYG, here's the link. Unfortunately the original game upload deleted itself in the process so any old links anywhere will no longer work, but this topic is all updated :)
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#13 TheUltimate

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 12:38 AM

Oooh, an update!

 

I'd like to point out that the backgrounds are really distracting. It's hard to break my gaze from the wildly bright patterns in order to focus on important stuff like, y'know, the foreground. I like the otherworldly abstractness, but, yeah, tone it down a bit.

 

That said, it's still a great game to play when you want to zone out and do something calm. The new music and sound effects fit perfectly, and I like the new messages. It would be nice to have a jumping/landing sound effect. I haven't found all the letterboxes or fossils, but I'm pretty sure something will happen when I do. There's also a narrow passage at the far left of the map that intrigues me. :)

 

I'm not sure how useful this feedback is for a game you finished over a month ago, but I do think it's great that you updated it. Besides, who doesn't like a free bump?


Edited by TheUltimate, 20 January 2014 - 12:41 AM.

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#14 Lolligirl

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 07:07 PM

Just wanted to drop in to say I loved this game! Looks like you've made it look even better, too, but kept the cute caterpillar at its core! ^_^


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