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Liquid Metal King Slime
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Level design writer's block (Star Jellies) 
 PostMon Oct 12, 2020 3:25 pm
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So I came up with with what i think is a pretty solid tech demo of a game I cam calling "Star Jellies"

https://www.slimesalad.com/forum/viewgame.php?p=138583



However I got totally bogged down on level design. I ran out of inspiration.

Can I get some feedback on the levels so far, on the gameplay mechanic, and on where people think I should go next?
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostMon Oct 12, 2020 5:15 pm
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I'll do a gameplay video of it a little later and comment as I play. Sometimes that generates ideas.
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Liquid Metal King Slime
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 PostMon Oct 12, 2020 7:00 pm
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First, this game made my day. I love cameos!

The game is like if pikman was crossed with star dew valley.

I was confused about what the challenge aspect would be until I saw them eating the chickens.
Having you prevent them from eating things was pretty interesting.
When the map opened up on the last level, I thought there might be enemies or something.
Being able to block off the jellies with the hay bales was interesting, maybe you have to prevent them from walking into lava, or a dragon's mouth?

If you mean you're not sure about the narrative aspect of the levels. I think exploring caves might be fun. Mining, fighting monsters, disarming or avoiding traps, collecting treasure before the jellies eat it!
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostMon Oct 12, 2020 9:15 pm
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The last level felt like the game was really opening up. Managing the slimes across a larger world map, rather than just in the 4 local screens on the farm. This brought up the thought of larger-scale projects or puzzles. Whether that would be collecting a lot of wood to build a shed, doing some massive fetch quest across the whole map, or something nothing like either of those. That's the impression I get of where the game was going next. I could even see the first 10 levels being something of an extended tutorial, and after that, the game becomes more or less open-world. You could put arbitrary blockades in certain areas to require certain accomplishments before accessing the areas.

Another thing I see is the potential for resource management. You already have systems established for cutting wood: slimes will go wherever they find a tree. There's a system for planting crops. Perhaps a next step that involves growing trees and harvesting crops?

This is just spitballing, but different seeds could plant different crops. Rare seeds could be hidden as rewards for solving puzzles. There could be a seed that grows a chicken! Maybe a golden chicken that lays golden eggs that can be sold to someone?
Ps. I love my wife
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostMon Oct 12, 2020 11:31 pm
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Okay, I had a chance to play the game and record my impressions. Overall, I think it's cool, once I figured out what I was supposed to do.

My main takeaway is that there isn't enough for the player to do to make it feel like his actions matter much. I'd set it up so that the player has to interact a bit more. I'm thinking you could require the player to "program" the jellies to do a certain task before they become automated. The video talks about that idea more in-depth.

I also talk about expanding the farming concept to include silos, mowing the grass, creating hay bales, upgrading tools, requiring upgrades for performing tasks or speeding them up, and so on.

What I didn't talk about, because I thought of it after I started processing the video, is that you could also create the jellies (or some of them) to work like Pikmin, where certain items may "power them up," so that you might have fire jellies, ice jellies, dirt jellies, water jellies, etc. depending on what they eat. This could also open the door to new kinds of terrain.

But, that's the snapshot view. Here's the gameplay video that goes more in-depth.


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Liquid Metal King Slime
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 PostSat Oct 17, 2020 6:39 pm
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I appreciate all the feedback.

I guess when I started, I wanted a small simple game that I could finish in a short amount of time, but it is seeming unlikely that I can do that with this game.

Scripting new behaviors for new items was enormously fun, but I was just not enjoying the map design at all.

For now, I'll set it aside, and come back if inspiration strikes.

Also, the scripts are included, if anybody wants to use them for their own thing, they are totally welcome to.
Chemical Slime
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OHR House 
 PostSun Oct 18, 2020 10:57 pm
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this is... AMAZING
do want

I love this so far and can see it being a good Farming-sim... Harvest Moon meets OHR House
or even an RTS!

here's some things i would do.

random names for jellies and colour. letters for names are a bit confusing

a basic HUD or menu with some details like time, jellies, goal(s) etc., that the player can look at to feel important

The player needs to be taught (in roughly this order)
- they can pick up things and put them down. This could be the first actions of the game to ensure they master this.
- you can gather items, use tools and accomplish tasks! main gameplay concepts.
- jellies can do all this too! the player would observe them anyway, but might be confused about their agency
- jellies will mostly do things on their own, but it will be faster if you help or corral them in various ways
... ex. using bales
... ex. whistle
... ex. putting tool or item in their hands directly
- jellies like chicken and won't stop flipping eating it.
... stop eating my chicken
- some tasks like fire might be made more important if the fire e.g, spreads, or there is some cost.
... ex. maybe you run a restaurant and you can serve meals Smile with penalties to your pay etc.,
... ex. maybe you sell flowers
- there are variety of objectives and resources. They intersect to form complex goals.

first, teach the player they can pick things up and put them down, with a simple task.
ex. firewood. cook/feed. water/fire. dig/plant.

expand upon this by introducing the jellies. it should be done fairly soon if not immediately. the jellies are the interesting part and you dont want players to think its about shlepping around a farm by yourself..

you could combine the two, for example, have the player pick up a key (item) to release the jellies ready for work in the beginning. Or solve a few tasks to get additional jellies

they should learn to roughly control the jellies, and be shown the processes of each task/job.

the aim of these scenarios FORCES or ENCOURAGES the player to learn their abilities and the rules of the game, so that they will know everything they need to know in order to play


second, provide impetus to player. such as a time constraint, or scoring.
this impetus FORCES or ENCOURAGES the player to use their abilities well.
ex. maybe hostile forces and you need wood to build walls, and/or fire to scare them away.
- the player might need to protect themselves or their property.
ex. jellies could be limited in amount, durability, ability or whatever... the player might need to protect them
ex. non-respawning resources requiring player to expand. 4X style things.
ex. it might be a nuisance for jellies to chop down all the trees, if the trees provide a natural wall (... whatever that implies for jellies/player/NPCs)

the player will also come up with their own (internally motivated) tasks without your help, like "chase jellies" "stack wood" "cut trees" or "preserve chicken".
If jellies make a cute sound when squashed, you bet players will be chasing them like cuccos.
Another example. I see trees as precious and beautiful and useful etc.,. I would be distraught if the jellies chopped em all up.
Same for water and plants. If there were buckets of water, or random tools and plants strewn around, i would want to gather them up to reduce clutter, organise my tools/items etc., and make things look nice.

Whether there are (strong) consequences will affect how they (players) see the game.


For areas. I'd love to see forest. thickets. wilderness. waterfront. meadow. cave/mountaintop and stuff like that.
A world to explore and derive purpose, novelty, and seek out new things.

Maybe a city/town area, Not sure how you'd map it out though.
Other people's dwellings, a world to live in and get context from.

Some places where water runs, like river or stream, or emerging from dense vegetation onto an expanse of ocean, things like that might be more effective with the camera system
"Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters:
united with reason, is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels."
Chemical Slime
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 PostSun Oct 18, 2020 11:27 pm
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starjelly0004.gif
idk why they are ignoring the chickens rn
starjelly0002.gif
this camera :)
starjelly0000.gif
maybe jellies should randomly squish each other when they are surrounded?
i have a lot of thoughts on this.

however it is rather difficult to verbalise, and i'm still trying to understand the scripts.

it could make a fantastic game!


OK enough of that. Time for random disorganised thoughts!

don't worry i'm sure it'll help Smile

I'm kind of surprised you placed mushroom zones by hand and not by script.
Similarly that the jellies don't seem to have an avoidance/movement zone?
Figuring out where player can/can't go, and jelly can/can't go, and making some gameplay out of it seems nice. Ex. mushroom patches stop jellies. Fire stops player.

they get trapped in 1/2 tiles corridors
they also block when trying to move to each others position.
- how about some randomised pauses?
- how about looking for another empty square to move to temporarily?
I see there's already a script for this? but when there's a lot of them they can get grid-locked
- they could squash each other when surrounded.

you can't step on the edge of the screen, but they can Sad

jellies continue eating/take chicken from your hands even when they are squashed. STOP EATING MY CHICKEN
they'll eat the chicken out of your hands... QUIT EATING MY CHICKEN

talk and put item are the same button (use)? jellies keep moving during textboxes. player can accidentally trigger NPCs

you can't see jellies coming off-screen. transitions can be really horrible

you can't manually do (every) tasks?

plating chicken... you can plate other things at the same time XDs
I accidentally put a hay bale on the plate and the chicken on top and won. well that was my seat anyway.


shoo away/gather towards player/disperse crowd
- an effect opposite of whistle
- ... maybe i missed where it says you can whistle? oops nvm
- when they are crowded/blocking each other. intervention in the affairs of jelly
Players will enjoy abusing the jelly AI...
don't ask why... they just enjoy watching the jelly unable to escape after being trapped by a bale, or chasing jellies to squash them...

would be nice to be able to hold down whistle rather than press it.
- e.g, player doesnt know how often to press whistle.
- how long it lasts.
- what its range is.
- how many jellies are affected.
- e.g, does it work on jellies on the next "screen"?
You need a special map to teach the intricacies of whistling mechanics
Ex. a few jellies on a mostly open map, and they have to be rounded up into a pen.
When there are a lot of jellies in a cramped space, the player can't see what's happening well, and doesn't know what they are doing/why they are pathing.
Maybe have an exclamation or question mark appear above jellies when stuff happens.

after testing it out a bit, i see that they move to the spot they last heard you whistle from(?), and not e.g, towards the player themselves.
Players will figure this out if they really want to.

I see that they try to move in a conga line. maybe the player could lead them?

actually, maybe you could repurpose this whistle to command a jelly to move to somewhere, like a task, item or area.

force jelly to drop item. LET GO OF MY CHICKEN

requests. petition. auto-fulfill. prioritise tasks.
order. command. manual assignment... although this doesn't fit with the AI system perhaps?

even if you can't command the jellies, the player should be able to control their access to tools! like making them inaccessible somehow... indirect control of behaviour.

maybe a guard dog or whatever on paths to block jellies...
a guard slime? scarecrow? build walls?
it could block jelly paths in a 3x3 area centred on it.

HUD: time. goal. jellies. hand
- If the player had life/energy and a reason to avoid fire or seek chicken. (examples)
- Score or Time if applicable.. or a scrolling/ticker with the current goal
- How many jellies there are total. a list of them (e.g, collapsible)
- where the jellies are relative to the player position. e.g, off-screen
- visual indicator for jelly states... e.g, above the jelly
- Item in hand slot.
- other slots of the player, if it were implemented

jellies variety. colour. name. personality? J I G G L E
- they all look the same and act the same
- even just palette swaps would be neat
player will come up with their own meanings and ideas about what each jelly is like, even if they are all the exact same. or you could do a pacman ghosts type thing

hands. inventory. slot.
- freely give what is in your hands to jelly
- put in bag or inventory. another hand slot?
- restrict jelly from taking from your hands. FORBID. Hold it above your head so the jellies can't reach maybe XD
- throw item Smile maybe you can break stuff? like pots or barrels? players love smashing crap
- swap current item with one on the ground. do-se-do
- way to prefer which item to grab, when there is more than 1 item. i can think of a few ways.

context sensitive commands...
- list of underfoot items. maybe in a pop-up/pane, and keys corresponding to each so you can get whichever you like
- list of nearby jellies. so you can manage them or view their state. probably too much for this game
- list of nearby objects/items/tasks.
(things could be colour-coded. it could be expandable/collapsible)
(Players don't necessarily want to scan the screen when things are moving around all the time... maybe just me, but when jellies are hauling stuff around, I can't keep track of it... especially the way the screen scrolls)
"Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters:
united with reason, is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels."
Red Slime
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 PostFri Oct 23, 2020 2:52 am
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why do the star jellies follow your commands (more or less), what's in it for them

what do they desire in life, are they trapped on the earth and want to return to the stars, do they want to make the land their own, are they just visiting

how do they communicate with each other, do they have a way to communicate with other creatures

are they using the player to provide them with a supply of roast chicken

can they learn magic, and then proceed to break free from the player's grasp

can they use the player for their own purposes, to turn the earth into one giant chicken farm
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