Two adventure games for fans of lowres pixel art

I figure the bunch of talented artists playing GrandMasterPixel may occasionally read this blog, so I thought I’d highlight two pretty cool pixel art games I discovered (between dealing with GMP support requests, feedback, suggestions and bugfixes).

First up: The Maze of Madness (2.0), by Phil Hassey. This is one part text-based choose-your-own-adventure and one part pixel art. Players themselves build the world, by creating ‘locations’ which consist of a pixel art image and a series of actions or exits. It also has inventory, where you draw the objecs ! I can remember when this game first started, with just the original Maze, but since then Phil has expanded things to enable people to make completely new mazes too. It can all get a bit crazy and psychedelic, but it’s worth a look.

The Maze of MADNESS (at the beach)

Second, and more recently released – PlayPen, by Farbs. Similar in many ways to The Maze of Madness, but with higher resolution images and ‘hotspots’ for navigation between locations rather than simple text links. Pretty cool that it has been based on the MediaWiki codebase too – it could basically be used to create Pixel-pedia. There is even a Tumblr blog of the Best of PlayPen. This make me think I should probably do something like a “Best of GrandMasterPixel” tumbelog highlighting the best pics in GMP, but I’m hoping the the rankings pages will mostly fulfill that role once I overhaul them to include more than just best of all-time overall rankings.

PlayPen (looking at the cactus)

Both these games are really designed for desktop browsers, and while they kinda sorta work on the Android browser to play the adventures they won’t work very well if you want to contribute content by drawing. I’d stick with the desktop browser if you are checking ’em out.


Woo hoo ! GrandMasterPixel beta available on the Android Market.

I decided I needed to avoid losing momentum on GrandMasterPixel … so I’ve pushed through to ‘beta’ and made it available on the Android Market. I hope the server backend doesn’t melt (actually it’s hosted on Google App Engine, so I think it will be just fine .. but some optimization wouldn’t hurt :) ). Thanks to the small number of users who played the game during the alpha phase – you’ve drawn some cool little pics !

Download GrandMasterPixel (beta) from the Android Market

GMP_market_qrcode

Arena_002


New title screen for GrandMasterPixel on Android

So after making some mockups, I decided to go ahead with the idea of making a title screen for GrandMasterPixel. I’m not a big fan of superfluous title screens, but this one contains some useful information and navigation buttons so it earns it’s pixels.

GMP new title screen
Also, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, to the people who have been play testing. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to try out the game, even though it is still evolving & a little unpolished at this stage. While I’ve only been given a little bit of feedback so far (* nods to @kelseyhigham *), I’ve seen the pics that a few of you have submitted when I’ve been playing myself. It’s been a great encouragement to keeping banging away at making GrandMasterPixel more playable.
Next on the list is implementing ‘notifications’, so you can easily see when one of your pics has been defeated, or if you have levelled up. And then some optimization of the Arena judging interface, which I don’t think is snappy enough. And then more types of Rankings lists (daily, weekly, all time etc). And then … and then … and then. Lots more to do !

Also, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, to the people who have been play testing. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to try out the game, even though it is still evolving and a little unpolished at this stage. While I’ve only been given a little bit of feedback so far (nods to @kelseyhigham), I’ve seen (and judged *mwahhahaha*) the pics that a few of you have submitted when I’ve been playing the game myself. It’s been a great encouragement to keeping banging away at making GrandMasterPixel more playable as a social game. I’ve released a new version (1.0.6), and if everything is working as planned. existing users should get an update notification on their mobile device.

Next on the list is implementing ‘notifications’, so you can easily see when one of your pics has been defeated, or if you have levelled up. And then some optimization of the Arena judging interface, which I don’t think is quite snappy enough. And then more types of Rankings lists (daily, weekly, all time etc). And then … and then … and then. Lots more to do !


Unveiling my uber-secrect Android game : GrandMasterPixel

For the last few months I’ve been spending some time developing a game for the Android mobile platform. Up until now, I’ve just eluded to it as my ‘uber-secret Android project’, but it’s time to let the cat out of the proverbial bag.

Introducing …. (drum roll please) … GrandMasterPixel !

GrandMasterPixel is essentially a low-res pixelart competition, with light combat RPG elements.

GrandMasterPixel Arena screenshot (Android emulator)

GrandMasterPixel Arena screenshot (Android emulator)


The basic gameplay is as follows:

  • Draw a pic. Make it look good. Submit the pic to the Arena – this costs ‘submission credits’.
  • Judge some battles in the Arena between other artists pics by touching the one you think should win – judging one battle costs one ‘judging token’, and earns you one ‘submission credit’.
  • ‘Judging credits’ recharge over time, so if you run out, just come back later.
  • Pics have ‘hitpoints’. Losing a battle loses the pic hitpoints – when the pics hitpoints reach zero, that pic is dead and can no longer battle.
  • Artists (that’s you) begin with only limited colors in their palette. You earn more colors based on (a) the number of pics you have submitted (‘leveling up’) and (b) how successful your pics have been in battle (eg, ‘achievements’ earned based on the number of wins before dying).
GrandMasterPixel drawing mode screenshot

GrandMasterPixel drawing mode screenshot - me drawing an 8-bit Mario-like guy, with blue skin since that's all the colours I have at this level.

The idea behind this system is that players need to use all their creativity to make interesting pics, even with limited colors. Credits to submit new pics are only earned by judging, and judging is rate limited – this means players should be encouraged put some effort into each pic they submit, since submissions are a somewhat limited resource. In the current design, only half the colors are accessible based on number of submissions (eg, quantity) – the other half can only be earned by submitting pics that are successful in battle (‘quality’, as subjectively judged by other players).

I think some interesting dynamics may emerge here, but I’d rather not speculate too much before letting a bunch of players loose with the game.

Check it out and give me some feedback on FriendFeed, or tweet me @OMGWTFGAMES ! Download a time-limited alpha version of GrandMasterPixel for Android with this link. Or scan the QR code below with the Barcode Scanner app using your phone. In order to install it, you will need to allow applications from “Unknown sources” under the Settings->Applications menu.

GrandMasterPixel direct download QR code

There are still lots of features left to implement to make it more game-y, and a few bugs to swat, but I’ve spent a surprising amount of time developing and polishing this little game so far already, so I thought it was time to put something out there and get some feedback.

In future posts I may detail some of the lessons I’ve learned about developing Android applications, social games on Google App Engine and some general game design issues I’ve come up against in this project.


Belated Ludum Dare #14 “entry”

Well, it’s not an official entry, since it’s way too late. You can see what I was trying to achieve here and here. Essentially, I was attempting to entertain myself in the boring parts of a plane flight from Rome to Melbourne, via Hong Kong, by making my Ludum Dare entry. Various problems, mainly to do with finding working laptop power, prevented me from submitting it by the deadline.

Compactor LD14 Screenshot

This is the product of about two laptop battery charges (~2.5 hours), and one hour to polish, fix the odd bug and package .. so in total it’s about a ~6 hour game. It’s based on the garbage compactor scene from a particular space opera that had it’s heyday in the late 70’s and early 80’s. You could imagine it was one of the ideas that was considered, then discarded, before the early arcade developers went “Nah, we should do a 3D X-Wing game with vector graphics. That would be much cooler”.

You are the (inexplicably) green hero. You play with the arrow keys. You move bits of junk (grey) such that you can jam the compactor before it crushes you. Some bits of junk (white), are too large to move. There is only one level and no sound.

Play it here (Java applet, requires the Java plugin that you most likely already have installed).