Scarygirl has launched
Its finally time! The Scarygirl project has been in the works for about 2 years, in production for about a year and a half, and in my nightmares for quite a while. So, we are slightly excited to see it out in the wild… and not on our todo lists
We have been surprised by the reaction so far, 200,000+ plays in the last 3 days. We’ve had to upgrade servers twice, and are rapidly making some fixes to bugs and improvements to gameplay.
As a bit of background, the project is based on the concepts and designs of Nathan Jurevicius. He is a comic artist from Melbourne, Australia, but living in Toronto. The character Scarygirl has had quite a journey over the last 10 years, but is finding her feet in this online game (Funded by Film Victoria & Passion Pictures), soon to be released graphic novels, and an upcoming feature film. We had the opportunity to work on the project due to our friend Suren at Renmotion, and his contact with Nathan.
The project has stretched our skills and through its arduous process, we’ve learned a lot about planning, designing and developing a game. TouchMyPixel is only two people (Tarwin & myself) so the project was a huge workload. We have a background in Flash development, design, and smaller advertising style games, but not a larger scale game of any sort. Scarygirl, in its essence was only planned to be a 9 month project (sorry Sophie), but I think, in our excitement of making a “proper game”, not what people generally see a flash game to be, we overshot the timeline a little. We tried to give the game a depth which most Flash games don’t have, as it seems most flash games are focussed on being small, fun snippets of a game. We wanted to produce a full experince. I think everyone on the project felt this way, and wanted to push themselves and the project.
The game is quite artwork driven, which is obviously one of the major requirements (being to promote Nathan’s artwork). This challenged us with the task of designing a world which would well reflect Nathan’s irregular style while keeping farmiliar game mechanics. We spent a lot of time finding ways to faithfully display his artwork. For instance, we wanted the character to be able to walk over irregular surfaces, surfaces we could quickly mockup in Flash to match to the artwork as needed.
Our first stage was conceptualizing what each level would entail (or even if there were “levels”). Nathan had given us a basic ideas for some levels, and a pre-release of the graphic novel for story reference. Then it was up to use to sketch out some levels. We wanted to incorporate adventure game elements to highten the journey aspect, but also keep with traditional platform style gameplay. From sketches of characters, we would decide how they would fit into the world and react to the player. After producing mock levels without artwork (see non-graphical demo), we handed over level designs to Nathan to have them beautified. At this stage we often had NO IDEA what a level would look like, which gave us the joy and sometimes suprise when we finally saw what a level really looked like; we may have just drawn a small brown patch for tree which would come back as a beautiful peice of art. This was wierd, and made level design hard, as we really didnt have much of a concept of what we were designing, or more to the point were worried that our concepts was wrong.
Progression of level design: 1. sketch 2. level in Flash 3. artwork overlay 4. final product
After getting the graphics and adding them to levels, we found that the game ran at about 1FPS. Which was a slight issue. This brought us to the stage of optimizing, refactoring, and rebuilding all of the levels to work with graphics. In the end all of the level graphics are pre-cached as tiles of bitmaps (starting as vector to save download), as the level might be up to 20,000 x 20,000 pixel in some cases. The bitmaps then have effects such as noise and glows applied to more closely replicate what Nathan is currently doing with his art. Some levels such as the peninsula (Escapade) have multiple levels of background and foreground. We then started adding the animated characters and enemies and found they too slowed the game to a carwl. So all of the animations needed to have each frame pre-cached as well, and kept in a frame cache in memory. Every sprite then works off the same frame information. With all of this caching some levels started to take up to 600mb of memory… which was the next issue. After overcoming the many trials of technically getting the game working, gameplay testing and debugging proceeded for about five months.
As i stated earlier, we’ve learned a lot about planning and developing a game, and think we’ll fair a little better in the future. As for Scarygirl, a standalone version might be on the horizon. We’d also love to look at other platforms too, such as iPhone; not sure if i want to learn Objective C too quickly though.
Well its good to see it released. We are still be making some notable tweaks, and are taking users comments into account, so the job still isn’t over yet, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Tony – TouchMyPixel
This entry was posted on Saturday, April 18th, 2009 at 7:39 pm and is filed under Flash, Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
April 19th, 2009 at 7:33 am
Congrats on the game! Looking great and it plays lovely!
May 5th, 2009 at 12:43 pm
You have done a great job of making a game that looks and feels nothing like the 1,001 of other Flash games out there. Truly splendid – hoping to see the story continued (or at least wrapped up somehow!) Stan
February 16th, 2010 at 6:18 am
Hey Tony, hey Tarwin,
i just wanted to say, that scarygirl is the most beautiful flash game i have even seen.
i designed some flashgames by my own too, but when i saw the first teaser railer on Vimeo i nearly cried
right now im doing two flash jumpnruns, one as a job and one as a lectureship workshop at fh-düsseldorf.
i just found your blog, thanks that you share your experiences with the development.
best wishes from germany, max (mexer) fiedler
ps: i would love to work with you guys one time