Saturday, June 2, 2007

Latest crop of sweet prototypes (with source!)

Update (6/6/07)
Ezin has made the source to his delightful Flash-based prototype available. If you want a jump start on how tile layout and shadows work, this is a great starting place. Thanks, Ezin!

Folks have been busy! The PlanetCute prototypes got off to a great start last week and there is still some great work being done with the SpaceCute concept. I count 11 glorious links to check out and analyze. If I missed any, let me know. Big kudos to everyone who has participated so far.

Think of these as inspiration for your next iteration. The challenge goes on. Each example here was done in a few stolen hours over the course of a week or two, so the challenge has proven itself to be quite feasible. For those with little time, I find it heartening to realize that the real trick to making a game is simple. Consciously set aside a few hours each week and create something.

As promised, here they are...

Sokoban, baby
Kev over at built this wonderfully polished sokoban game that add the additional madness of height to the puzzle. I still can't get by level 2, but the first level had me grinning. :-)

Platform madness
Prisselle created an adorable platformer

My Game Builder: Web-based game editor
The creative team over at Jolly Good Idea is using PlanetCute tiles in their amazingly extensive online game building tool. This is a great example of Flex in action. It was created by one programmer in his spare time over the course of half a year. There is a full on pixel editor, mapping tool and system of setting up basic game mechanics.

Quarry game
Brwn 2.0 (aka Ahad L. Amdani) posted a game of his that used a similar stacking mechanic. It is a good source of inspiration and shows how stacking can be combined with cute little semi-autonomous agents.
PlanetCute in 3D!
n.n. listened to the feedback about the perspective and height and wondered what the game would be like in full 3D. I can't wait to see where this goes.

Terrain effects and patterns in GodCute
Ezin is closing in on getting the core mechanic working. He has the terrain moving up and running. The shadow system is in place. He's added a wonderful set of terrain rules that result in grass growing over exposed dirt and stones sinking into water.

The first case of pattern matching is working, but there is no reward or feedback system for completing patterns. Enjoyment level is low. I'd recommend adding a scoring system temporarily to encourage the player to have a reason for completing patterns.
Shadows and vertical tile movement in GodCute
Corsix extended his wonderful little editor to include some of the concept of moving tiles around. He also implemented the shadow system to great effect. In particular, we see the inclusion tiles moving up and down independent of the grid. This is an effect that I suspect can be quite useful as we move forward in the prototyping. Just because the tiles are blocks doesn't mean that all mechanics need to take place on a grid.

Corsix also improved on his map generation algorithm to create smoother, more visually appealing maps.

Phage: Game demo
Matt came up with an interesting variation on Every Extend. He says "The object of Bacteriophage is to kill as many bacteria with each available Phage as you can. You begin with 10 Phages. Simply move your Phage to the place of your choice on the screen, preferably near large numbers of bacteria, and left-click to blow it up. Right click to randomize the field for better shot looks. Your phage will detonate and expand for a brief time before vanishing, killing any bacteria that overlap or come too near it. You get increasing numbers of phages as bonuses for "fighting off" a series of bacterial infections each 5 levels, so use your phages wisely."

Why shadows matter (and first prototype!)
Bjoernke started things off with this great demonstration of how hard it is to correctly interpet height when the shadows tiles aren't used.
Perspective is confusing
Hunty came to a similar conclusion with his Flash-based demo. He raises the very interesting point that perhaps the perspective is inherently flawed. This point spawns some good discussion and leads to improved shadows, better map generation and how the limitations of the perspective can be used to benefit the game.

SpaceCute lives! And Thrives!
And last, but certainly not least, Scooter over at produced a very polished SpaceCute prototype. Love the stars and the bounciness when you hit something.
Till the next crop...
Wow. You are all amazingly creative and productive. Remember however, this is just the beginning. Once the basic engines are up and running, that is when the real fun begins. I'm looking forward to seeing more experiments with the basic mechanics of the game. The core activitity of moving blocks is remarkably enjoyable by itself. Now is the time to wrap a game around that. Just ask the following questions:
  • What does the player do?
  • What is the feedback (reward or punishment) for doing that action?
  • How do they use the skills, resources or tools gained from successfully mastering the action to do something new or better?
Never stop prototyping.


  1. Looks all very impressive. The PlanetCute tileset is one of the best I have ever seen.

  2. Hi

    Just a warning: As you see the screenshot I made is within a "temp" folder, and might get deleted whenever the fancy gets me... Maybe you want to link to a copy on your own server?

  3. Hi Dan,

    I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now, and I think it is fantastic. I'm looking forward to contributing to the prototyping in the future, but for now I'm in the middle of crunch.

    Thanks a lot for making the beautiful graphics freely available!

  4. Ok, but what's with the pic of the piano thing?

  5. It's a prototype music system called the Looperdooper. You can find out more about it here:

    I was looking for a picture that summed up the term 'prototype'. :-)

    take care

  6. Hello Dan,

    First, thanks for these tiles and these cute characters - you definitely deserves a big hug from the whole community (and I speak, at least, for the community).

    I hope that many great guys will use your work to create fun and amazing games. As you know, most of the time, programmers are searching for cool graphics to use in their games - it's so cool to find some great graphics here. Thanks a lot for your work!

  7. Yoohoo!,

    I've made the first "half-functional" prototype for CuteGod. Here's a screenshot of it, and here's the source code in Python, half-decently documented. It still lacks the pattern detection so it can be a basic game, but it can be easily implemented this week.

  8. I've made a prototype that uses the SpaceCute graphics, but it doesn't use the original design... at all.


    Check out and let me know what you think. Total hours spent on it is about 13 so far.

  9. Forgot to mention the keys and stuff;

    Movement: Arrow Keys
    Fire Star: Space
    Activate Shield: Control

  10. My second iteration of GodCute:

    Ramps are added to the world now (which cause a few issues with the selector and with shadows), as are some CutePeons. The CutePeons walk around the map, but the only way for them to go up or down is via ramps, so place your ramps carefully. CutePeons pick a target block that they want to get to, and then find a path to that block. If you pick up the block in front of them, then they'll recalculate the path to their target, which can mean turning around. Likewise, if by moving a block, there is a shorter path from where they are to where they want to get to, they'll take that path. If you want to play cruel God, you can pick up and put down blocks in front of them and watch them walk back and forth - muhahaha. Personally I find it fun to manipulate the terrain so that peons can reach every cell, then watching them for a bit, or being an evil God and making them walk back and forth.

    Mouse: Selects blocks, peons
    Mouse left click: Pick up / put down terrain
    Mouse right click: Accept the wish of the selected peon (wishes cannot currently be fulfilled though)
    Keyboard arrows: Move around the map
    Tab button: Lock view onto a peon

  11. Have you seen the world building aspect of "Band of Bugs" - it reminded me immediately of PlanetCute:
    Band of bugs

  12. I've been working on my game I posted of earlier, the one that was inspired by some of the information in this blog.

    Well, here's a new test version (may need balancing) with some of the 'Cute graphics incorporated.

    Also my site may contain more info:

    Balance and suggestion tips are welcome. Kudos on all your projects as well.

  13. A little late to the party maybe, but I've been working on a CuteGod prototype as well.

    I've finally gotten around to packaging something for people to download and mess around with.

    Details and downloads are here:

    Feedback is more than welcome (the more the better)!

  14. First, sorry for the shameless plug.

    By the way, I'd like to tell you that I'm building a XNA sprite management tutorial series on my blog (in French, sorry for non-French speakers - although they can still try to babelfish the text), and I'm using your cute tiles and sprites as a resource.

    So thank again for these :)

  15. here's yet another basic prototype. Shadows coming (tomorrow). Small map, one npc, one pattern. Click the NPC to get the pattern and go nuts.

    Why is it so basic? This is another experiment with programming games in javascript/DHTML. Note the fancy zoom action using +/- or your mouse scroll..

    Much more to come so keep watch.. including source code and the caveats/pitfalls a cross-browser DHTML game programmer faces.

  16. Just posting to note that I aten't dead, and neither is my prototype. Been busier than expected, but this week I'm taking a break and spending part of that break to work on it.

    I finally got around to implementing a fairly quick-and-dirty particle system in my engine; this will be awfully useful esp. for billboarding the little people. Right now I'm still at the pick-and-place-tiles stage; I plan to do a couple of refinements to the tile movement (right now they just "pop" to and fro rather than being smoothly drawn up or falling down smoothly) before releasing a first-cut prototype.

    Yeah, this isn't all that prototype-ey. Would have gone a lot faster if I wasn't making the engine on a just-in-time basis. :P

    latest development stuff

  17. While I would love to take credit for actively contributing to Lost Garden or in inspiring folks in any fashion, I can't help but wonder when, if ever, I've had a chance to work the PlanetCute graphics or develop a Quarry game.

    I thank you for thinking of me, Danc, but I hope you can give the proper credit where its due in whomever actually submitted it. While I realize it was in early June you mentioned this, I didn't see it until just recently.

    Good luck finding him or her!