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.

Is Gonna Catcha the reincarnation of an actual arcade game? More news at 11.

I was just googling for some images of tranquilizer guns, so that I can design Pohena’s more fantastic version of the same arm, when I came across footage of an arcade game called Tranquilizer Gun, made by Sega in 1980.  I don’t know about you, but I the gameplay looked a bit familiar:

Maybe Pohena was a wild game hunter in a past life.  I guess I was much more spot-on than I thought when I decided to make an 80s-arcade-style maze game.  😛

Of course, I didn’t pull the stun-capture-cage game mechanic of Gonna Catcha out of thin air.  It was actually inspired from the game Out to Lunch, a platformer made by Mindscape in 1993 for the Game Boy and SNES and later ported to the Amiga a year later.  You played as a chef who had to round up his escaped ingredients:

I’ll have an update on the progress of the game up in the next few days (I hope).

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

New Gonna Catcha info page

I created a a new and improved game description page here, to replace the old, outdated blog post describing the game.  You can also reach it by clicking on “Project Gonna Catcha” on the bar above this post.

This way, it’s easier for me to keep it up to date and for readers to find it.  🙂
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Let’s look at level design (sorta) and the 鬼. Er, I mean GUI.

This post will be a bit brief, as the things I’ve done with Gonna Catcha are rather simple and better expressed in a series of images.
The first thing was to the grid resolution for the game’s levels.  The old 16 x 16 cell size made the test levels feel small and their designs limiting:
Not that I actually tried designing them.  I mean, putting
Internet speak into a level’s design is SOOOOO gauche.

So I reduced the cell size to 8 x 8, allowing me to cram more details, hallways, twists and turns into a single level:

This might be a little overboard.
Feeling… lonely?
The second thing are some proposed changes to the user interface at the top of the screen:
Possible new user interface.

The addition of a round timer below the round counter.  To my knowledge, all arcade games have a way for it to reliably to bring itself to a game over state, in case the player(s) abandon the machine mid-game.  That way, it wouldn’t waste precious quarter-sucking time.  For many arcade games this comes naturally, by having enemies that persistently chase and/or attack the player(s) until all lives are lost. For games that don’t have that guarantee (Gonna Catcha included), a round timer is used to make sure the game ends.

Also, if the either the number of lives remaining or number of spirits in-hand exceed five, then that counter will switch to a digital counter:


Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.