[SA Game Jam 2018] Derelict

SA Game Jam 2018
48hr entry

Derelict is a procedurally generated twin stick shooter. Each wave you survive the the game, a new randomly generated condition will be added to the game, these can range from "When you step on a red button, become invulnerable for 5 seconds" to "When you kill an enemy, spawn a bomb" etc.

Play online at: https://vfqd.itch.io/derelict





- Unity & Pyxel Edit


- Sam Alfred - dev, art
- Nic Cheng - dev

Audio by zircon


  • I'm getting an error on the linked page, but from the gifs it looks like a great effort. Bombs, explosions, screen-shake all the escalation you need right there! I think that the premise of shifting random conditions for a twin-stick shooter is pretty neat, will check back again for a working build.
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • Excellent, really polished game! I enjoyed it!

    The only comment that I could possibly give you is that the UI showing you how many aliens you've killed actually looks like an alien in the game play - this is a bit confusing. Perhaps if you pushed it into the corner of the screen with an opacity it would work better?
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • @LauraSeal Thanks for the kind words and feedback, that's a good point :)

    @Pomb Thanks! The build seems to be working for me so let me know if you still have an issue
  • This game was a joy to play. The twin-stick shooter mixed with the retro style and awesome soundtrack really stood out and the increasing enemy count really presented a challenge in higher levels. I also really liked the idea of new abilities triggering after each wave. Good job!
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • Liked this a lot. Good art and liked how the game evolved as you progress through the waves. Good job.
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • Wow, this was great!

    Played a couple of times. Greatly enjoyed both sessions. Things got kinda ridiculous in awesome, combination-driven ways. A *little* more polish on handling (and maybe adjusting the pace of earlier levels, or bringing enemies out when you're hunting down the last one) could really round off an already well-polished jam experience. Nice!
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • Wonderful game. I really enjoyed playing this.
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • edited
    Great game! I went into the game without reading the instructions, and was immediately confused by what I should be doing. But going out to read the instructions and coming back made me understand that things can do nothing. I think for the ease of getting into the game, it might be a good idea to not have buttons until they have actions assigned to them.

    The procedural stacking of things really made everything quite interesting. A lot of the game would work really a lot better if we can see which triggers are firing - not big like every new one that comes up, but more subtle things. Like when a trigger happens, display the result on-screen. Perhaps even a pause menu that brings up all the accumulated conditions grouped into the same triggers.

    Other than that the rest of my complaints would all be about feedback - enemies that look like they're taking hits like when you yourself flashing when taking hits (and barrels). Letting me know that healing can only go up to 10 (but I had life at over 10 for a bit, not sure why).

    There's a minor bug with the shooting - if you change direction of shooting the first shot goes in the previous direction.

    Really captured the spirit of the theme and a great game overall! :)
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • Played this for quite a while! Really enjoyed it. I just couldn't read the white text instructions that overlays on the world. The text disappears. I am also confused as to what the colored buttons on the floor do? I think the game will benefit from a small narrative in the beginning, just to answer the how, what and why. Overall, great game!
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • I would also heavily emphasis the feedback of your game to give it the extra edge in conveying the overall zaniness of the interactions that emerge from the game-play. I really dig how you chose to handle the concept and just looking at the screenshots/gifs the game is immediately interesting or fun to play and I think captures the essence of your game.

    What i would warn you about however, is that pure randomness can be problematic in terms of pacing. Having something like the player shoot bombs after the first wave could detract heavily from your experience for example. Maybe you've thought of it or implemented this idea but creating a tier of possibilities that players can unlock and then having these tiers lock or unlock based on the player's progress could work.

    It also would have been nice to see some enemy advancement rather than just number increases. Challenging the way we have to interact or interpret ways of dealing with the enemy would also provide some good gameplay progression in terms of difficulty and mastery of the player mechanics.

    I would be very proud of this entry. It achieves some really unique, satisfyingly crazy moments. and gameplay. The constant updating of the game state through the method of trigger and action is both interesting to watch unfold and engage with. Well done!
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • This is a cool game. I like that it also has a Binding of Isaac feel to it.

    The music in the background is rocking... fuck yeah.. The controls were easy to get a feel for. The pixel art in the background is nicely executed, and the characters are cute.
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • Wow, that's a lot of feedback, thanks everyone. Yeah, the point about feedback is really good @Tuism and @Sigh_Leeeee, Whether thats enemies leaving persistent bodies when they die, to having some way of representing triggers firing would have been great, we just ran out of time. If we take this game any further, I definitely think we need to work of making what's going on more apparent to the player, and giving them a better understanding of what their actions are doing.

    As for the pacing, and the potential of a whole bunch of randomness either making or breaking the player experience, that was sort of intentional due to our constraints. We certainly discussed having some sort of tiering system for the trigger/actions, categorising them as good or bad etc, but we didn't have time. And we thought that it would be better to focus on creating the *possibility* of really awesome, emergent gameplay instead of something potentially more boring with better balance.

    The controls were a little buggy, so sorry about that peeps, thanks for letting us know. I definitely agree with you about the narrative framing @KleinM but again, time :( @Nandrew I actually tried to implement the enemy tracking system, but at 11pm with very little sleep, the maths around mapping world coordinates to intelligent screen indicators with appropriate rotations was a little beyond me. @Stygian65, @luigi_weo I'm super glad you liked the art, I only started doing pixel art a year ago so I still get really happy when someone enjoys it.

    And thanks to everyone else who played the game, it's very heartening to hear you enjoyed it :D
  • I'd actually be really interested to hear if you have any ideas @Tuism and @Sigh_Leeeee of how we could visually represent trigger/action pairs. We thought about it for quite a long time but couldn't come up with anything that seemed feasible in the time limit. A slay the spire type collection of icons across the top of the screen could work, but would that be triggers? Or would it be actions? Would we need a different icon for each trigger action pair?
  • I think a trigger/result icon pair could be interesting, but given the wide gamut of stuff I'd say like a console-style thing running off to the side might be a thing? And that it becomes active when triggers happen (and there's a history). And fades out (and either fades out slower or it has to be more legible than what it is now, perhaps with a more solid colour background).
  • Tuism said:
    I think a trigger/result icon pair could be interesting, but given the wide gamut of stuff I'd say like a console-style thing running off to the side might be a thing? And that it becomes active when triggers happen (and there's a history). And fades out (and either fades out slower or it has to be more legible than what it is now, perhaps with a more solid colour background).
    Hmm, I like the console idea. Yeah, at the very least our current text should have had a border.

  • This feels and plays like a complete game! The sound-track is spot on. I like how you got around scope creep time limits by not having to design multiple levels by allowing for waves to spawn in. Really love the art and the overall feel of what you have managed to accomplish in so little time. I might just go search for my controller and give this one another whirl.

    Pew pew pew :D
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • There's also the format of the sentence - the current "trigger: x condition: y" format was a bit confusing, if you can do something like "[effect] from [trigger]" that would read better. If you can separate the two by colour that'd probably be even better :)
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • @Tusim Both very valid points :) thanks for such great feedback
  • This was great, and integrated the theme really well. I liked how your shooting angles are limited where the enemies' aren't, and the modifiers had nice variety. I had kind of a weird moment where I could heal on a trigger, but also spawn an additional enemy when taking damage, which seemed to allow me to get an infinite kill score without escalating the difficulty.

    I found the shooting controls a bit sticky sometimes, where I'd press a direction but still be shooting in my previous direction. I also sometimes had an effect trigger without my seeing what happened. I assume that an enemy triggered the effect, but some kind of visual or audio feedback to show me that it happened would've been helpful.

    Overall a very polished experience, and fun to play! Congrats!
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • edited
    I think this is a brilliant idea. Like Baba Is You meets Binding of Isaac. Or playing Nuclear Throne while the game itself plays Nomic.

    I'd say the negatives about the entry are in the level of polish. That the bullets and bombs spawned by events seem to be invisible... or invisible most of the time? That when you spawn a crate and a ring of bullets at the same time there is zero visual to indicate what's going on (as the two things destroy each other in a very loud non-event). That when you spawn a crate by walking it sort of blocks one side, sometimes in front of you, sometimes behind. And the shooting felt a tiny bit sticky as was already mentioned...

    But I mention these because it's a 48hour entry, and I'm sure given another day a lot of that could be fixed.

    I LOVE the ruleset of the game. In the runs I've played of it I've had a truly spectacular variation. From a gift of a run where everytime an enemy died my firerate increased and at the same time I got to shoot bombs (until moving reduced my firerate and I had to kill enemies point blank). To a run where I could heal myself by pressing red buttons, then getting hit spawned bullets, then getting hit meant those bullets were a cluster of bombs surrounding me.

    I think the game can produce rules that seem unfair, though less often than I'd expect given the apparently random nature. It makes me think that if the game were taken further that the player have some control over the randomness or some ways to dealing with particularly abhorrent rule additions. Like how in deck building the cards dealt are random, but the player gets to choose the pool of cards. Or how in Rogue-likes like Risk Of Rain and Nuclear Throne the player chooses between a small selection of upgrades that are first randomly chosen by the game. What I mean is, giving the player some feeling of control, some feeling that when things go wrong they could at least have affected a different outcome, but obviously without sacrificing the sublime experience of learning to deal with yet another inconvenient/absurd/unexpected rule change.

    I think the action-gameplay fundamentals could be more interesting, but I think that focusing on getting the rules producing interesting results was exactly the right call for this prototype. It shows a TON of promise.
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • Loved the twin-stick shooter content. The retro style with soundtrack is amazing and love how challenging and difficult it gets each time! Love the abilities you get as well.
    Thanked by 1vfqd
  • @EvanGreenwood Thanks so much for such an in-depth review. I'm glad you saw what we were trying to do by focusing of the rule engine rather than super polished gameplay :D I'd really like to streamline to rule generation somehow, we were musing about having rule 'buckets' where the odds of different combinations showing up were weighted based on how fair or unfair those interactions were. But I think if we took the idea further, some player involvement in the direction of rule system would definitely be necessary. Perhaps at the end of a round choosing from 3 'positive' rules, then at the end of the next round, from 3 'negative' where you need to maximise the impact of the former and minimise that of the latter. The advantage of this approach being that in some cases, you just have to make the best of a bad situation.

    As for the bugs, I discovered recently that probably the most game-breaking bug is that the in-game restart doesn't seem to reset to rules correctly which results in weird behaviour, and enemies disappearing and some generally odd stuff. I certainly agree that the twin stick shooter element wasn't as strong as it could have been, and the stickiness of the shooting is irritating. Maybe once the judging is over I'll do a little clean up of the prototype, regardless of whether I take it further or not :)
    Thanked by 1EvanGreenwood
  • edited
    Another thing that might be a positive side effect of having some player involvement in determining/manipulating rules is that currently it is easy to miss what the rules are. I've noticed with a couple other people I've seen playing that they missed the **incredibly important** level cleared new additional rule text and subsequently didn't know what was going on.

    I've found myself a little uncertain what rules were actually in effect after I've received a dozen or more rules, like when one button has three different effects on it, and I've generally just marked that button as being "not worth pressing" and then a 4th rule which is very useful gets added to it and I'm unable to calculate exactly what will happen when I trigger it (and it may even be difficult to infer what's happening, if there are multiple rules on the same axis triggering)

    I had a run yesterday where killing an enemy did several things, one of which made enemy bullets slower, nearly every rule made bullets and firing and movement either faster or slower, so I got many levels in, without a lot of challenge, sort of playing in slow motion bullet time, searching for the rule that would eventually defeat me. Early on I got a rule where explosions made enemies, which instantly killed them, then eventually I got a rule where enemies dying made bombs, which of course in this system meant game over.

    The sound stopped working, and the game crawled to a halt, and after a bit of amusement I had to suicide.

  • edited
    btw. If you want to see some of us play the game badly, and offer up entirely incite-less commentary, here's a video from a few days ago (the Derelict section is at the end):

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