Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Jellyfish Archipelago


I've been releasing games as an adult since 2013 -- that means last year marked a full decade of me being a game developer. Gardens of Vextro was the last release of 2022 and the 25th game I've been a part of. I couldn't imagine a more pleasing and fitting finale to a decade of work.

Sometime soon I want to write an in-depth retrospective talking about the last decade and what making games has meant to me. In the meantime, here's a post on Game 26, the start of Decade Two: Jellyfish Archipelago.

I wrote a lot about Love2D in my post about Beach Balls. I'm still having an absolute blast with it. I'm feeling more and more comfy with it all the time, and I think soon making games in it will come just as quickly to me as with Game Maker. If you're also exhausted with your game dev tools getting locked behind miserable subscription models or having goddam military contracts, I can't recommend Love2D enough. 

I worked entirely with light-weight free and open source software to make Jellyfish Archipelago, with only assets I made myself, and there's a freedom and joy to that I've never known before making action games. The tools I used on this project are Love2D, ZeroBrane Studio, Piskel, Bosca Ceoil, OGMO, DarkAudacity, and Git.

This one was a big jump in complexity from Beach Balls. There are discrete levels built out of tiled art -- I had to figure out how to set up Ogmo and connect the JSON level files it generates to Love2D using rxi's small JSON library. I implemented collision code with solid walls in an all-code environment, and fixed several weird resulting edge-case errors. Mostly I'm slowly figuring out how to handle scene and object management myself instead of relying on Game Maker to do it for me. It's definitely difficult, and the code's a mess, but I'm learning a lot quickly by releasing small projects like this. Doing actual camera scrolling is the next challenge -- I'd like to make a shmup or a platformer next.

Many thanks to Sylvie for hosting Sylvie's Jam #1 and prompting me to make this game. I started out trying to follow the jam theme more closely, but as I figured out what parts of the game I liked I drifted further and further away. I also wound up super-late (not that I've ever submitted to a jam on time before). Be sure to check out the other submissions! And check out Sylvie's work too. Her stuff is extremely special and unique and I've admired it from afar for a long time. It's been very fun chatting and participating in her events. I like to think this game carries some of the good energy and lessons I've picked up from her games in the past year.

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