General => General Discussion => Topic started by: AdamAtomic on September 06, 2008, 01:40:32 am

Title: Gravity Hook!
Post by: AdamAtomic on September 06, 2008, 01:40:32 am
Hey guys, I'm basically gonna copy-paste my post from TIGForums because I spent a long time writing it and it says everything I want to say and hear, so...yeah, here it is!


Click here to play Gravity Hook (http://adamatomic.com/gravity/)

Move the mouse to highlight "nodes".
Click to grapple onto a node.
If you run into an active node you die.
Press 'X' to quit the game, and register your hi score (if you made it into the top 10)

(http://adamatomic.com/gravity/screenshot2.gif)      (http://adamatomic.com/gravity/screenshot3.gif)

I had a few days space in my schedule, so I made a remake of a cool prototype that Arne made a while back called "Gravity Key."  In Gravity Key you used the keyboard keys to climb to the top of the level by "grappling" using a gravity function.  Because it uses gravity, the closer you get to a node, the faster you go.  However (IMO this is the crowning touch in Arne's design) if you get TOO close to the node...you DIE.

It was a really great mechanic, but having to use the keyboard made it....difficult.  So with Arne's permission I made my own gravity grapple game, only powered by mouse clickan.

It's pretty much finished at this point, I just need to get Arne to put up a proper page for Gravity Key that I can link to, reset the high scores so Ptoing no longer dominates 7 out of the top 10 spots :P, and make the md5 key for high score submission a little harder to guess.

I made Gravity Hook using my Flixel framework for AS3 (coming soon!), the Flex Builder plugin for Eclipse, Photoshop 7, Pro Motion 5, SFXR, and Audacity.  Total dev time was around 5 days I think.

I had two goals for this project.  One was to make a skill-based game a la Thrustburst, where there was no lock-and-key progress, just becoming more badass via experience.

The other was to make something that was intentionally and I hope evocatively abstract.  I have been thinking a lot about the games I played and loved when I was younger, and I think the fact that they were FORCED to be abstract by low-powered hardware had a huge impact on me, and what I got out of the experience of playing a game back then is very, very different from what I get out of most new games.  I always loved how Super Metroid told the important part of the story with the title screen graphic, and HATED how Metroid Prime let you scan anything you want just to stuff the screen full of bullshit nobody cares about.

I think Cave Story is a notable recent exception, as is Fez to some extent, and Rescue the Beagles, and Knytt too.  I don't know that I succeeded in the way that those games did, but I tried to only put in things that would trigger the player's imagination, rather than prescribe or overly detail things for them.  This is a new approach for me but it feels more honest or pure or something than force-feeding MY story and MY characters down the player's throat.

Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Souly on September 06, 2008, 02:23:15 am
this game is awesome.
And quite addicting. 750 is as high as I've gotten so far.
I probably suck at it.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Naso on September 06, 2008, 02:46:59 am
Had a very fun time playing this, nice concept and extremely well design, cant be believe it only took you 5 days to make, grate job. I would love to this on the iPhone, make your self some money. :y: My highest is 433.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: chriskot on September 06, 2008, 02:48:35 am
It's true. This game is so many kinds of awesome.

My brother Nik's high score: 401m.
My high score: 628m.

I'll definitely be playing more of this later.

...On a side note, I never understood how people could dislike the scanning in Metroid Prime. You can explore as much or little as you like and there's no such thing as too deep a world. How can extra optional content be annoying? There's so much to explore if you scan everything and there's never so much stuff that you'll lock onto the wrong thing by accident. I actually preferred that story telling method to straight-up telling you at the beginning just like every other game (no disrespect intended toward Super Metroid, since it is still one of the best games ever).
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: AdamAtomic on September 06, 2008, 03:31:04 am
Thanks guys!

chriskot - I actually agree with in theory, and I think in the first Prime game the scanner was actually used reasonably well some of the time!  I think overall it still hurts the game though, at least for me.  I am slowly realizing that I really, really loved inventing my own backstory and details and biology for the creatures.  I don't think that the scanner itself is necessarily a detrimental gimmick, but when its full of descriptive sci-fi fluff I feel like it is just totally wasted.  I'm gonna try and come up with a couple of examples to maybe illustrate where I'm coming from.  Let's say you are in Metroid Prime and you scan a spikey creature with some odd behavior, and you want to know more about it:

Option #1:
"A spike-bearing Calinthrops, from planet Exelon VII.  Scientists have observed it moving in circles for no reason.  Dangerous to touch, recommend shooting from a distance."

Option #2:
"Calinthrops, from Exelon VII.  Scientists are unsure why they evolved spikes, was it to defend their territory, or to attract mates?  Cross-reference with species Zaximon."

Now, I have a beef with "scan percentage" being tracked, but I'm willing to admit that its my own OCD tendencies that make that particular design trait annoying.  However, all the Prime games do a LOT of Option #1.  And what does option #1 really tell you?  Nothing you couldn't learn on your own by watching and interacting with the creature yourself, or using simple deduction by GLANCING at the creature.

Option #2, while providing information and backstory (and thus not being abstract anymore) is I think a more attractive option, because it encourages you to interact with the game in a way other than deciding what to kill next.  You can go look up the other species, compare its behavior to the Calinthrops, then decide if it is maybe a Defense thing or a Mating thing, or MAYBE you think they use their spikes for something else entirely.

I dunno, I don't want to get ranty about it.  I guess it all boils down to I feel like there is a layer of interactivity that has slowly disappeared from games over the last 5 or 10 years, for better or for worse.  Between gameFAQs and forced tutorials and higher-res graphics there is no room to inject your own ideas and preconceptions into the play experience (at least there is much less).  I think the scanner is a remarkably specific or apt example of this gradual change.

Another way to think about this process (because its a very real process, regardless of whether my opinions about video game evolution are accurate or useful) is when you think about reading a novel.  Novels are not really interactive - you can't change or manipulate the content in any direct way.  But the content is very much colored by your perception and life experience when you actually take it in.  Novels succeed amazingly at this (the well-written ones anyways) because they are almost as abstract as you can get.  They're just words!  So again, for anecdotal comparison:

"The bartender was nervous because two large men were approaching the bar."

"The bartender fidgeted with the glass as the two large men approached the bar."

The second sentence to me is much more interesting or pleasant to read because rather than spoonfeed me the character's emotions, I can infer them by "observing" his actions.

Ok I better stop now, this is getting to be a mighty long post!  Basically, I am in love with the idea of letting the player infer their own beautiful things when they play games, and I tried to let them do that with this game.  That's all!
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Darien on September 06, 2008, 04:00:08 am
This is really hard, but kinda neat.

I find the warning flash completely useless, though.  By the time I see it, it's too late.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Larwick on September 06, 2008, 04:45:39 am
That's definitely neat. I completely failed though, i feel sorry for the guy, blowing up so many times. I am tired though. Will try again tomorrow. I think it's amazing you created this so fast, seems like such an original concept to me aswel.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: chriskot on September 06, 2008, 04:54:13 am
Alright. I can sympathize with that. Personally, I loved scanning every last little symbol, creature, and item in all of the games, but to each his own, I suppose. I just found it to be a neat way to add extra plot and hint information in a nice little package, especially when the scans are well written (yeah, I read every last one too). Also, I found it awesome how one little scan in the second-last room of the final game instantly ties up most of the loose ends in the trilogy.

Anyway, back on topic, I'm getting better at this game. My new high score is 949. Now my next goal is to break 1000.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: QuickSilva on September 06, 2008, 07:05:13 am
This is really cool Adam and it looks swell too. It reminds me a lot of the levels in Super Mario Galaxy where you have to pull yourself along through space only that was in 3D of course ;)

Game play feels nice\intuitive and very well executed. Good job!

Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Souly on September 06, 2008, 07:20:12 am
Is it just me or do you get a boost by releasing right at the alert?
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Xion on September 06, 2008, 07:36:18 am
As Adam said, you speed up as you get closer to the node, so by releasing when closest, you subsequently release when fastest.

My high score is around 1300, I think...yeah, I think it was 1396.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Rosse on September 06, 2008, 08:42:37 am
Aww, that's not fair. I said to myself, I'm going to post here when I get at least 1000m and now, bOOm, exactly 1000m... now I want more.

I think you definitely achieved some oldskool feel in me. The last game I bought was Zelda Twilight Princess for Wii and the only good thing about it was, that I bought the NES Zelda for Virtual Console which I played more often than the new-gen crap. So I virtually played no games since 1 year or so for more than a few minutes. And your small game made me play it for 1 or more hour now and I'm going to continue playing it when I wrote that post :) Apart from the indie-scenes I'm not very interested in games and even in the scene itself I don't play many because of my mac. This online-game really makes my heart jump!
Additionally that game is the first which makes me to want to break the highscore. Normaly I played game just for the sake of it. But now I want into the highscore... damn you ptoing!

The game mechanics are very interesting. This simple game allows a bunch of different ways of playing with nothing more than a robot, grapplinghook and some nodes... awesome! You could play the fast and dangerous way (small or big distances with high risk of collision) or slow (small distances with small risk or collision) or maximised swinging and so on. It's totally up to the the player and the game doesn't force you to something.

[edit] I wonder how your node-algorithm works. Is it completely random, just lesser nodes the higher you are or something more complex (like keeping an overall distance between nodes)?

What's that framework you talked about? This pixelperfect (flashgame?) makes my coderfinges itch. I coded two small games (with Blitzbasic 1 (http://www.blitzforum.de/showcase/96/),2 (http://www.blitzforum.de/showcase/158)) and now seeing this want me to make one again. Do you have some information somewhere on the net or would you like to talk about it here?

Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: tocky on September 06, 2008, 08:46:28 am
This is an excellent spiderman game.

Sometimes the node selection seems wrong, I feel like maybe it ought to choose the nearest node I'm lined up with vertically, and maybe horizontally, if there is one.

It gets hard to keep track of how high you are with glancing about, and there's this sense that it doen't matter how high you get because it's all the same. So I feel like there needs to be more progress markers, even simple ones like shifts in the colours or music every x00 meters, where x is something like 3-6.

There's a pretty complex skill progression to it, which is commendable. I felt like I was constantly discovering different ways to move about, and that's really cool.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: AdamAtomic on September 06, 2008, 10:57:19 am
Thanks guys I'm glad you like it!

tocky: Yeah I wanted to have the background change to something unique every 100m or so but I just got straightup lazy :P  it was going to be a lot of work, so I opted for something simpler, and frankly less good.

rosse: I've been developing a pixel framework for Flash for doing these game sketches.  It has online high score support, state manager, sprites, arrays, buttons, scrolling, a few other thingies.  It uses primarily bitmapdata objects and bypasses the whole normal flash displaylist and memory mgmt stuff to get decent running speeds and support per-pixel zoom effect.  I am hoping to put out an at least mediocre-ly documented version maybe at the end of the month?  It's a nice setup, I was able to do the first prototype of this game in maybe 3 or 4 hours I think, with support for online scores, main menu, and all basic gameplay.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: PypeBros on September 06, 2008, 11:36:48 am
nicely put. It would have cost me all my coins if it was an arcade game ! ...
Would you mind if i use those pictures to blog this ?

*edit* : blogged ^_^ (http://sylvainhb.blogspot.com/search/label/game)
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: AdamAtomic on September 06, 2008, 06:56:14 pm
nope knock yourself out man :)  thanks!
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Sherman Gill on September 06, 2008, 07:42:57 pm
1600 first try :D.

Anyway, awesome, Adam, it's quite fun now that it's shiny and makes noise :-*.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Conzeit on September 06, 2008, 09:55:00 pm
Damn o_o. Eh...I mean AWESOME! XD

I have that gravity game idea lurking in the back of my head like anyone else....and this works better than I could imagine mine to  :ouch: I'm afraid I've become a bit too spoiled to play it...I want like upgrades and stuff once I'm high enough so that my hook has more reach and such....c.c but I know this is solid gameplay.

What I REALLY dont like is the fact that everything is so impersonal. Why are you simply a BALL? make it a spider that freaks out when you're too close to the mines....and the mines...the idea of them expanding when you latch on to them is nice...I would make it more extreme with spikes coming out and such....maybe give them character as well...but that's really your choice...
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Rosse on September 07, 2008, 06:27:38 am
I don't agree with the idea of more features. This game is like tetris. You have a startpoint and some boundaries (rules). That's everything and nothing changes while you play. Or do you wish (when playing tetris), that the higher you get, the more features you should obtain? Positive Things like bombs, lives or earthquake which creates automaticly a gab for the damn "I" block? Negative things like enemies, or misshaped blocks which don't align (think of a triangle)? Or the other way around... imagine tetris starts just with the "o" block, nothing more. The further you play, the more different tiles you obtain, like "I" or "T" or even "Z"!!!11
I like this game because it works just as tetris. Everything which is possible can you do from the start on. No cheap tricks to keep the player motivated because the basic gamedesign lacks in depth or fun.

About the push personality. I disagree here too. You have a startscreen which tells you everything you have to know. The rest is imagination. Maybe you have a booklet which tells a story (or a small comic book like yar's revenge). The yellow robot works perfect ingame. It's easily recognizable and the nodes works perfect for what they are. I especially like the "height-marks". They come from time to time and between them the background it's dark. In my head this creates a very interesting, creepy hole.
Of course, you could make a perfect spiderman game out of this engine. The background would be a skyscraper. The nodes were enemies in windows (when you come to close to them, they use their knive and stab you, so look out!). You (spiderman) shoot your spider web against them and try to reach the roof, where your beloved girl waits (kidnapped from a villain). The highscore is the time you have to rescue her... and the best, you don't even have to make big changes in the engine... whee, new license-game! (which would make more fun than the real ones, tho) - sorry about the ranting.

Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Xion on September 07, 2008, 06:34:31 am
Why are you simply a BALL?
you're piloting the yellow robot in the title screen.
Adam, in the main menu, tracks A and B are exactly the same.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: huZba on September 07, 2008, 08:11:09 am
I got a bit over 1000m... It's really fun and hard to drop once you start. One thing that bothers me a bit is the warning which is nothing but a visual impairment when you're close to danger. It's really bad when you have a lot of horizontal speed and want to orbit around a mine real close and you can't see anything due to the red bar blocking you. Maybe change it so that there's a red thing at the edges of the screen rather than in the play area.

Other thing is the horizontal speed. It feels a bit different from vertical speed and not just because of the gravity. Like there's a slight braking on horizontal movement.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: AdamAtomic on September 08, 2008, 05:46:10 am
Thanks for the feedback guys!  Rosse especially, that is very much the impression I hoped people would get from the game!  warms my cockles...

Xion - yeah I actually just got the B music track tonight, I'll be uploading it soon :D  fixes for C and some high score screen music too...

Huzba - hehe the warning blocking out the center of the screen was definitely intentional, but its also...kind of mean.  An edge effect is definitely a better design, I will see what I can do toward that.  In the in-game movement there is both horizontal and vertical drag, and lots of special casey stuff...so horizontal movement is definitely a little different from vertical.  Use it to your advantage!

Thanks again for playing the game, and I'm glad you guys are enjoying it, makes me feel good!
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Frychiko on September 08, 2008, 06:08:33 am
Heh, I enjoyed this! I would be perfect for a mini-game on the ds.

Online highscore's would be nice!
Oh and I agree about the warning image, it seems superfluous.

Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Xion on September 08, 2008, 06:45:32 am
So, I was just playing, and I hadn't been able to get very high lately (only around 500 my last dozen or so times). Normally I just zoom up as far as possible. But this time, I caught a little snag around 200m - I slungshot around a node and went flying towards the bottom of the screen. Normally, I'd just give up and let myself fly off the bottom, but, I dunno, this time I felt lucky. I grabbed at a distant node, and it slowed my descent, but not enough to save me. So I grabbed at another, nearer node, just at the bottom of the playing-field, and it swung me around once, my yellow bot just barely brushing the bottom of the screen. I didn't have enough speed to make it to the next highest node, so I grabbed it and swung around again, popping just high enough to get the next one. I hung there for a second, unsure of whether it would pull me or not. It did. I flew up another hundred meters or so, and once again began a quick ascent, diving from node to node with virtually no loss of speed. Of course I slowed down eventually, and it happened at two nodes that were conspicuously distant from one another. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get to that next minething. Like, I'd grab at it, but it wouldn't even slow me down. I'd try again, and same thing - no luck. After about seven tries to jump from the low node to the high, I finally mistimed it and hit the mine. Fortunately, though, I finally broke my low-streak, as my new height was 1231 - my personal second best. It may not be highscore worthy, but I'm quite proud of the recovery I made early on. Just a reminder that even when all hope seems lost, you mustn't give up. You mustn't give in. Reach for the forbidden, and soar to new heights.


Also, I think this game is about desires and aspirations. You must constantly set new goals for yourself or the ones you settle for will be your downfall. We mustn't settle for anything for then we will merely stagnate in our ways and become victims of mediocrity. Yet we must set goals nonetheless, and we must reach them, as near as we can and to the best of our ability, or else we merely stay grounded to the known, and the safe, and the never hope for anything more.
This is made evident not only in the actual gameplay, but also in the game's design - your personal best lies at the top of the screen, where you desire to be. It is not the all-time high of some other faceless three-character being thousands of miles away, one that we know we will never reach. Some absurd number. it is your personal best, indicating that you have done it before, and you can do it again. And if it can be done again, it can be done better. Seeing the number motivates us. And yet, when we choose to quit and return, we find the number - "my number" - gone, wiped away as though it never were. Thus we are forced not to settle even for our own all-time highs, but only the recent ones. We must constantly re-assess our abilities, and set a fresh goal with every beginning.
We are not kings. We are not gods. We are all mere civilians, deep beneath the ground. But only those few diligent and brave enough to set goals, to reach those goals, and to surpass those goals with newer and greater aspirations - only those who wonder how deep they really are - will ever actually find out.




I like this game. Great game, Adam. I like it. :y:

edit: Also, to anyone who says it's too hard, try playing with a tablet. That's not a challenge, it's a suggestion.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: ptoing on September 08, 2008, 07:16:53 am
Online highscore's would be nice!

There is online hiscores, only that atm you need to get past 2200m and a bit more to get in :B
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: AdamAtomic on September 08, 2008, 07:42:34 am
Yes, and I'm resetting them tonight or tomorrow  ::)
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: ptoing on September 08, 2008, 08:06:00 am
I shall return to former glory!
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: PypeBros on September 08, 2008, 08:54:36 am
suggestion for the high-score art:
hand-written heights on a wall (toilet wall) with the hook shining, hidden behind movable bricks with a note saying "can you get higher ?" ...

it would make it not about just one civilian wondering "how deep are we", turning it into a sort of urban legend "there is a hook that can let you reach the upper world"

*edit* just noticed that it would go against your will :
The other was to make something that was intentionally and I hope evocatively abstract.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Indigo on September 08, 2008, 09:17:48 am
eh... my high score is 1685 at the moment.  I'm absolutely loving the game.  So much balance within such a simple concept.  I'll gather my thoughts later and post it.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Froli on September 08, 2008, 03:27:42 pm
Only got around 900+ points. It's a game I keep coming back, really great job.

Maybe you can also add an interesting picture on the background if you pass every 500 or 1000 points. Something you can look forward to as a  reward. Then again, that would probably distract the player and get himself killed :crazy:
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Helm on September 08, 2008, 06:07:04 pm
Maybe you can also add an interesting picture on the background if you pass every 500 or 1000 points.

first thing that came to mind was a series of stripping girls *sigh*
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Froli on September 08, 2008, 06:18:40 pm
Whattt?? Stripping girls  :lol: That would totally kill the player! I'm thinking of characters that are famous for their climbing and swinging abilities. Like Spiderman, ninja five-0, batman, bionic commando and at the top is a picture of smiling helm. Just silhouettes so there would be no legal problems.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Feron on September 08, 2008, 06:34:06 pm
how about some floating powerups.... shield, stronger rope, longer rope, jetpack.... where there effects last a minute or something..

ps.... this is awesome.  ;D
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: TomF on September 08, 2008, 08:02:55 pm
Just wanted to say this is really cool! I love simple concepts like this in games. :)

Although I suck at this just like I sucked at Thrustburt.  :(
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: AdamAtomic on September 10, 2008, 05:03:43 am

> Flixel API - Overhauled to be framerate independent, same on all browsers
> Flixel API - Added FPS counter to console
> Flixel API - Fixed bug with console text not appearing after X lines
> Flixel API - Simplifed preloader setup
> Flixel API - Added lots of global access to important game components
> Flixel API - High score input can optionally display instructions
> Completely redid player motion
> Click to skip intro fade
> First node is not always centered
> New flash frame for better mouse tracking
> Added sounds, music, and better formatting to the high score display and entry screens
> Fixed buggy behavior if player quit while exploding
> Changed warning popup
> new 'max climb' marker
> massaged node algo
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Dusty on September 10, 2008, 05:12:04 am
Curious question... why did you disable the ability to lower the quality?
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Cow on September 10, 2008, 05:56:17 pm
> First node is not always centered
I don't know why you changed this, I kind of preferred it the other way.

But yes I've been playing this a lot, it's a fantastic little minigame. I got ~1600 once, back in the day.
Title: Re: Gravity Hook!
Post by: Squiggly_P on September 16, 2008, 04:08:28 am
I want Flixel.  The game is fun, too.  The best I could do was barely over 1000.  I thought "hey, I'll go see if I'm on the high score list" since it took me all night to get 1000.

No.  8000+ scores!?  I thought I had too much free time o_0.