PogoGirl Devlog #13: The Tools of Pogo
A game has many facets, and developing a game is like climbing a range of different mountains simultaneously. I’ve worked on several different things in the past few weeks—water effects, powerups, HUD elements—but there is one major aspect of the game that I haven’t touched in quite a while.
Yeah, sometimes you get caught up in all the coding and designing and pixel arting that you forget about other major parts of the game. Now to be fair to myself, I didn’t exactly forget about making levels, I just didn’t want to. Not because I dislike making levels; quite the opposite, in fact. But rather because my setup wasn’t really up to snuff.
You see, I’m making my levels in Tiled. Here’s what that looked like so far:
All those boxes are entities. Which entities, you ask? I don’t know. The greenish ones are gems, I can tell you that much. I don’t remember the other ones.
And that’s the problem. Making levels like that isn’t fun. It’s also hard.
This isn’t Tiled’s fault, obviously. You can set it up to actually use sprites/tiles for entities…I just never really knew about that until now. You see, I hacked together a system for Magnet Man Adventures to import Tiled levels in my game, and then I never really touched it again. And working like this was fine for games like [Speer], which had non-scrolling levels. But making big platformer levels with abstract boxes just doesn’t work.
So I spent a couple days on reworking the entire system. And now building a level looks like this:
Changing it to this wasn’t as easy as you might think. I ran into lots of issues due to my old setup. First, I had trouble with paths, as Tiled uses relative paths, which didn’t gel well with the way I had my project folder set up. Then, I had a lot of trouble figuring out the alignment/origins of entities. Things I’d place on the ground would suddenly spawn a tile higher in the game; or sometimes lower. No idea why.
Eventually I managed to sort it all out however, and now I can get back to making levels again! I’m happy about that, as I enjoy making levels. This just goes to show that having the right tools (properly set up) can vastly improve your quality of life. It’s self-care for gamedev nerds.
So if you’re struggling and wasting time with one of your tools or toolchains: Take a day to go over it, see what could be improved, then improve it. It might seem annoying, and implementing a cool feature in your game is definitely more fun, but you will thank yourself afterwards. I certainly did.
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Last time I mentioned that I was doing levels for Go! Go! PogoGirl and that I changed my Tiled setup to make the process easier. Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve now made all levels in the game! While I do enjoy making levels quite a lot, it’s a very tricky thing to get right. Good level design is an art. And while I don’t consider myself an artist in that regard (or any other regard, actually), I thought I’d share my process of building the levels for Go!
Powerups are a staple of video gaming, and platformers had some of the best around. Sonic’s elemental shields, Mario’s mushroom, Kid Chameleon’s transforming helmets…there’s a lot of good stuff in there. It seemed obvious to put powerups into Go! Go! PogoGirl as well, but for a long time, I wasn’t quite sure what to put in. Powerups need to enhance and support the gameplay; you can’t just throw in anything you want.
Gamedev includes a lot of fun activities, such as messing with physics, making lasers go pew and making stuff explode. However, there is also a lot of dry stuff that you have to take care of. And I’m taking care of that stuff right now, because…well, because I’ll have to eventually! First of all, I’ve modified the menus a bit. So far I’ve been using my own solution to create menus, and while it was a bit hacky, it worked pretty well.