Game: Scattered Song

Scattered Song is my first game of 2013, and it’s my January game for One Game a Month. It’s also also the first game in a long while that I have made entirely by myself.

It is a 2D adventure puzzle game. To me, it has an old-school Pokemon and Zelda vibe.

You can play here:

I knew I was going to have a lot of free time this month, so I didn’t need to impose as many restrictions on myself as I usually need to.

Design

I managed to get most of the game’s functionality finished in time to have a couple weeks for level and general game design. This was the longest I’ve ever had to design things, other than initial brainstorming and quick, on-the-fly decisions.

I wanted to keep explicit tutorials to a minimum, and I was able to do so, having only the movement and shooting controls displayed outright. Anything else the player needs to learn is taught through level design, through puzzle-like drawings (similar to what Braid does), and (hopefully) through intuition.

I also wanted the player to be able to choose how they want to play, to as much of an extent as this simple game allows. Each level can be completed using arrows or without using arrows. For the most part, the game is much more difficult without arrows. Later in development, this gave me the idea of making an optional “Hard Mode”, where you have to play without arrows.

“Speedrun Mode” came about when I fixed a bug that I found interesting. It had to do with teleporters, and you were able to get to areas earlier than you should, skipping large parts of the level. It was rather silly, but I decided to keep some non-gamebreaking glitches such as this, and include them in a separate “speedrun mode”. I threw in a timer and time record system, and it was done. You can even do Speedrun Mode and Hard Mode combined, with a different set of record times.

Music & Audio

I wrote all of the music in the game. You can listen to or download the soundtrack here (pay what you want, no minimum): Scattered Song Soundtrack

The idea for collecting pieces of a song came pretty shortly after I created the orb and pedestal graphics. Each part had to be sparse and not make a whole lot of sense by itself, while also feeling complete when they were all together.

The music in each level came rather late in development. Things felt uncomfortably empty, so I decided to add something to fill the void. I wanted to keep them as rhythmic and non-melodic as possible, so that the home world had all the harmony, and truly felt like a relaxing home area.

I used Cakewalk Sonar X2 and PreSonus Studio One 2 as my DAWs. Most of the tracks are comprised of instruments from Native Instruments Kontakt, with Absynth, FM8, and Massive making up the rest.

Most sound effects are panned according to the player’s position on the X axis, relative to the center of the screen. I also set the volume of certain sounds according to the player’s distance from the source of the sound. I decided that these two techniques combined, with the camera angle taken into consideration, was the most natural-feeling audio solution.

Almost all of the sound effects were acquired from Freesound.org, a great resource. I tweaked them slightly to fit my needs.

Tech

I used FlashDevelopFlashpunk, and Ogmo Editor to make this game, all of which are free, open-source, and 100% awesome. If you have never used Ogmo, you absolutely need to check it out. My friend Jake made some sweet classes to connect Flashpunk and Ogmo. I used Inkscape and Photoshop for graphics.

If you’d like to view the source code, check out the project repository here: Scattered Song Repository

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This game was great fun to work on, and I am proud of it. I hope you enjoy playing it, and I would love to hear feedback. Drop me an email, a tweet, a comment, or whatever else.

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3 thoughts on “Game: Scattered Song

  1. live.retridemption says:

    Hiya there.

    I came across your blog and thought I’d check out your game that you posted about. I played it for about 10 minutes or so. At the start, I didn’t really know what to do other than move around. The thought bubbles are a brilliant idea. It was the only thing that saved me from wandering around aimlessly.

    One issue that came up almost immediately was when I tried to shoot arrows with the left mouse click. Somehow, I had accidentally hit number 2 and when I hit the left mouse click, nothing happened. I was stuck for about a minute or two (and was on the verge of giving up) before I figured out what I had done. A possible solution for this is the ring you have around the active abilities on the bar (I saw you had a faint one there and that’s what tipped me off) could be made a little more obvious.

    After that, I got the arrows + fire working and got the “ball” into the pillar. I tried some of the other areas and I found the moving boulders one to be really fun. Some of the timing on them are tricky and I had a hard time getting some, and ended up giving up on the really fast one (I think that’s the third or fourth boulder along in the area east of the starting area). I thought that maybe I needed another ability to try and get past it.

    The wind area (north of the starting area) I found to be a little tricky too. At first I didn’t realise what was making my character move, but again, it was because of the faintness of the graphics that I didn’t realise it. Perhaps make them a little more obvious as well?

    The portal room was fun as well, though at one stage, I had no idea where my character had ported to and was looking around the screen for a while trying to find the poor guy. He was so small so I must have kept overlooking him.

    Other than those things mentioned above, everything else was good. The moving around was fluid. The zone changes were quick. It was easy to tell what the tiles were (water, ice, sand, mud) and their properties. The sound was good too. It was what tipped me off about the wind area.

    Definitely a game that has potential if you wanted to work on it more.

    • chjolo says:

      Hello, and thank you very much for playing and for your feedback!

      Level design is something I’m very new to. This was the first game I’ve made where I had time to actually focus on level design.

      The issue with the HUD is something I’m aware of. The problem is that you can use the number keys OR the mouse wheel to change the selected slot. You probably accidentally scrolled that (I’ve done it a lot). I agree, I should make the highlight for it more noticeable. Perhaps I should take out the mouse wheel scrolling as well.

      It sounds like you may have missed the fact that you can get other kinds of arrows. You do this by shooting an arrow through a pedestal that already has its orb in it. There is a thought bubble for this, but a few other people (that I know of) have still missed it.

      Each level is possible with or without the arrows.

      For the wind level, it did not previously have the graphics for the wind. It used to be invisible, with only the wind blowing sound as a hint. I feel as though what I have now, with the wind having some kind of visualization, is in a good place, difficulty-wise.

      I’ve wanted to add some kind of flash to indicate where you teleported to, because I know it can be hard to see where you wound up. Unfortunately, because of time crunch, I was not able to get that and a few other things in before I needed to stop development.

      This game was fun to make and I’m pleased with it, but I will probably not be going back into it again. It was meant to be made in only a month, and I need to move on to my next projects (and schoolwork :X).
      The only way I would come back to this game is if I was doing some kind of event or game jam where I had to “revisit” or “remaster” an old project. I guess I’d also come back to it if it blew up and thousands of people liked it and wanted an update/expansion. 😛

      Thank you for your kind words and for the time you gave to my game 🙂

  2. […] I are both participating in OneGameAMonth, and have each released a few games this year already; Scattered Song, Humphrey’s Tiny Adventure: Remastered, and Must’ve been Rats, a game jam project with […]

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