Here comes a new challenger, and another one.

In my previous post, I talked about a test play of Gonna Catcha; when I played as Donum, chasing down fleeing Bashful Spirits (left) while evading pursuing Vengeful Spirits (right) provided a decent challenge, but when I played as Pohena, things became far too easy. What can I do to try and fix this?  Why not just swap their behaviours?

Today, I introduce to you two new spirit types:  Bothersome Spirits (left), who follow Pohena around and get in her way (increasing the chances of friendly fire), and Anxious Spirits (right), who, fearing what punishments await them if they’re caught, flee from Pohena.
Also, the addition of these two spirits also rounds out the rogues gallery pretty well:
I added the two new spirits to the latest build of Gonna Catcha, along with some changes to the spirits’ movement code to make them spread out more and less likely to move together in groups.  This is the result:
Pohena rounds now feel a bit more challenging, but they still lack a certain something.  I think the good spirits need to be even more detrimental to Pohena’s goal than just taking points away in order to make her levels more interesting.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

This thing doesn’t have Free Play yet. Got any quarters?

Alright, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. …Okay, some of you. …Okay, mostly me.

Here’s a video update of Gonna Catcha, showing the game in it’s current glory:

After playtesting the game for a bit, I’ve come to realize that the Pohena rounds are too easy.

Chasing around the fleeing Bashful Spirits (above left) while avoiding Vengeful Spirits (above right) provides a good challenge in Donum rounds, however the behaviours of the same two spirits make Pohena rounds a breeze. Bashful Spirits generally stay out of your way, reducing chances of friendly fire, while Vengeful Spirits home in on Pohena like lambs to the slaughter.  I haven’t put in the Hungry and Vagrant Ghosts in the game yet, but I don’t imagine them making Pohena rounds that much more difficult (they are designed more to be nuisances than threats).  In light of this, I made have to add additional types of spirits, one for good and one for evil, to balance out the gameplay.

Find out on the next exciting episode of Dragonba-  err, I mean Quadolor Dev Blog.

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Adventures in Downtown Toronto, full of games and excitement

Woo! New colour scheme!

This past weekend, my formerly-TOJam team, “Robots Mashing Keyboards”, and I met to discuss our formerly-TOJam project, That Which Binds Us.  We officially have started the project and are now writing down everything we need to do to make this game come into fruition.  Here is the premise of our game:

“Oh no! I forgot to feed my dog and the store is closing in just five minutes!”

In this game, the player must walk their very hungry and impatient dog to the pet store to get some food before it starves.  The task is not a simple one as many distractions stand between you and the store.

Once we get more details hammered out, I’ll make a proper info page on the project just like I did with Gonna Catcha.

In other news, I also went to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) on Saturday with my friends, the other members of “Robots Mashing Keyboards”.  The event was hosted in multiple locations far apart from one another, so we decided to go to the one nearest to us, Bento Miso.  It was hosting the Bit Bazaar on that day, where a whole bunch of indie game devs were showcasing their works with playable demos and selling special copies of their games and other merchandise.

I got to (very briefly) talk with Christine Love, creator of Digital: A Love Story and Analogue: A Hate Story.  I bought a set of postcard prints featuring the two main characters from Analogue, *Hyun-ae and *Mute, from her, because I just like the game THAAAAAAAT much. 🙂

Some of the other games that caught my attention were:

  • Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime by Asteroid Base – a 2-player co-op game were both players operate a spaceship to defeat enemies and rescue planets from invasions.  The control consoles for each of the ship’s systems (turrets, shield, thruster and laser) are spread throughout the ship, so the players must navigate through the ship’s corridors and ladders to switch between them.
  • TBRS [Turn Based Rhythm Shooter] – “Part bullet hell, part music game”, TBRS has the player and enemy try to shoot each other in turns.  First, the enemy will attempt shoot the player using various bullet patterns in rhythm, which the player must avoid, and generate a sequence of button presses (L, R or L+R).  Next, the player must match that sequence in order to shoot back at the enemy. The player must also move into the proper position so that their shots don’t miss (which varies depending on the weapon used).
  • Super T.I.M.E. Force by Capybara Games – A run-and-gun game (like Contra) featuring a squad of different playable characters, each with their own unique abilities.  Like in Braid, if you die, you must rewind back to a previous time in order to continue playing.  Your past attempts will aid you subsequent attempts to progress through the level and you can even save them from death to get lives back.
And some of the games my friends were interested in were:
All in all, it was an inspiring day.

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Time really flies you’re eagerly awaiting something.

I haven’t been working on Gonna Catcha as much this past week, mostly because I was distracted by the Toronto Game Jam that is happening next weekend: coming up with ideas and eagerly awaiting the confirmation email.  Today, I received note that my team was still on the waiting list of participants (they received ~100 more registrations than spots available).  Here’s hoping that additional spots will become available in the coming week.

I’ve been working on some ideas for the theme music for the TOJam project, this is what I have so far:

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

The last thing I was working on for Gonna Catcha was the pathfinding for the Vengeful (left) and Bashful (right) spirits.

As described in this post, Vengeful spirits move toward the position of the player while Bashful spirits move away from the player.  For the former, GameMaker has built-in functions for grid-based pathfinding.  “This will make my job a whole lot easier”, or so I thought. *DUN DUN DUUUUN*
It turned out that the grid-based pathfinding system makes some assumptions on how you’ve setup you sprites, objects and levels (the wording in the documentation does hint to this).  To get the best results, you’ll need to design your game to accommodate the pathfinding system.  Unfortunately, Gonna Catcha is not one of those games.  It bows down to no one.

Below are some screenshots of different test cases with the pathfinding system.  I varied different attributes such as grid cell size and sprite origins.  The paths the Vengeful spirit takes are drawn in white (click to expand):
One of the major issues that I saw in the tests was that the Vengeful spirit sprites were overlapping the walls as they moved through the maze.  This is because the pathfinding algorithm doesn’t take the size or origin of the sprite into account when finding the optimal path.  I did manage to find a combination of sprite settings and cell size that eliminated the overlap (in the bottom-right image), the latter happened to be the old 16×16 cells that I previously abandoned for stifling my creativity.  
There were other nit-picky things that didn’t make the built-in pathfinding system suitable for Gonna Catcha, so I ended up coding my own.  It’s not as sophisticated as the built-in system, but it gets the job done.  In addition, it solved the problem of coming up with a pathfinding algorithm for the fleeing Bashful spirits (which GameMaker doesn’t have natively).  All I did was invert the Vengeful spirits’ algorithm.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

We have some Items on the agenda that we must discuss. [Updated: 9/3/2013]

UPDATE 9/3/2013 – The content of this post has been promoted to a full-fledged page here.

As promised in the previous post, I will be talking about the items and power-ups that will be in Gonna Catcha.

Double Shot

Allows the player to have two shots on-screen at a time.

Long Shot

Extends the range of the player’s shots.


Gives the player an additional hit point.


Causes all spirits and ghosts to stop temporarily.

Bonus Items

Grants the player extra points.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

That’s it, you’re going on my Enemies List! [Updated 7/13/2013]

UPDATE 7/13/2013 – The content of this post has been promoted to a full-fledged page here.
Original post:
It’s Pohena’s birthday today!  To celebrate, I’ve made a list of the enemies and whatnot that will be in Gonna Catcha along with some descriptions.
I have settled on six different NPC types for the game, which I decided to sketch up in GraphicsGale (vectors coming soon).  There is a small chance that I will add a few more in the future, but for now, six spirits seems sufficient.
Six spirits seems sufficient.

Six spirits seems sufficient.
Six spirits seems sufficient.

That’s makes a good tongue twister.

Left: Spirit.  Right: Sprite.
Know the difference.  It could save your life.

List of NPCs

Good Spirits

Wandering Spirit

Your standard happy-go-lucky spirit.  They’re so content that they seem to forget that they need to be somewhere.  They move around the level aimlessly; Donum should have little trouble collecting them.  They do no harm to Pohena, but she must take care to not accidentally shoot them.

Bashful Spirit

These spirits are still a little shaken at the news of their deaths and actively try to avoid the player.  As such, these spirits pose little annoyance to Pohena, but Donum needs chase them down in order to catch them.

Evil Spirits

Straying Spirit

Your standard troublemaking spirit.  Like their good counterparts, they move around aimlessly.  However, they are harmful to touch.  They’re spirits Donum won’t want to bump into in a dark alley.  Pohena must shoot them first before collecting them.

Vengeful Spirit

These angry spirits will do anything to avoid capture, even if it means chasing down and attacking the player. Made up of a significant amount of fighting spirit, they take multiple shots to stun or subdue.  These spirits will keep Donum constantly on his toes and Pohena must remain vigilant so she doesn’t get overwhelmed.


(a.k.a. “hungry ghosts“)
This is a new enemy class.  They are harmful to touch and take multiple shots to stun, but they do not need to and cannot be captured as they are beings and not spirits.  They mainly serve as a nuisance to the player.

Hungry Ghost

In a futile battle against hunger and thirst, these ghosts will eat anything they find, whether it be food or items. Donum and Pohena need to be quick on their feet if they want those items.
(Note:  I’ll be describing the items in a future post.)

Vagrant Ghost

These ghosts hate the outdoors.  Everywhere seems to be either too hot or too cold, never just right.  Hence, they try to seek shelter anywhere they can, even if it’s already occupied.  Good spirits don’t like sharing space with these guys, so they’ll flee if one of them makes it into the shelter.  Similarly, if one of them opens the door to the jail, the evil spirits inside will be more than happy to escape.  Donum and Pohena must boot the Vagrant Ghost out the shelter or jail before they can put the spirits back in.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.