About my KS game, Non Serviam

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Offline Sendy

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About my KS game, Non Serviam
« on: January 13, 2016, 01:09:18 »
I have no idea how many people still play Knytt Stories, but my memories of it, both playing Nifflas' stories, and creating my own one, were extremely positive.

A long time ago I posted screenshots, information and even a hand-drawn map about a huge level-in-progress called Non Serviam. Sadly, the game died in development hell, and I don't really know if I'll ever finish it. The truth is, it started out as a warmup for learning the editor, and the entire thing was just added to, slowly over time, in a stream-of-consciousness way, with no real goal apart from the idea that the player would be escaping from a prison and finding a way to free her fellow inmates by going on quests.

The game got larger and more complicated. While I'm confident I put a lot of creativity into it, from a design standpoint it is somewhat confusing, featuring a lot of open exploration, side areas, mini challenges, and extra features such as switches which changed parts of the world permanently, sections where you lose powers and have to find them again in new areas, and a very complicated layout which both the lore and layout just got so big that I couldn't handle it. Some of the platforming is also quite difficult in places (I tried to balance free exploration with challenge, and at least provide dead ends with something nice to look at or experience).

Then my life came apart somewhat, the relationship I was in went sour, I had personal troubles to work through, and the entire thing fell to the wayside. I was creating animated objects based on some of the tilesets I had permission to use, which I later found out was prohobited, which completely confounded me, and that was really the nail in the coffin. Add to that the fact that the art style was a mishmash of other people's work mashed together with my own edits, transitions and botches to get each room to flow into the next (hoping to one day be able to map out the whole thing as a continuous world).

So, what I'm thinking of doing now is just releasing what I have, flaws and lack of completeness included, and then moving on. It's totally unfinished, and I'll have to reset some stuff I put in for development purposes... so playing it might be tricky, but there are probably hours of gameplay in there which, while they might have problems, unfinished branches, poor design choices, and no conclusion to work towards, I did put a stupid amount of time into (largely because back then I spent a lot of time shut away). I think it would be a shame to let that go to waste.

All in all, it was too ambitious, and I was more interested in the escapism of creating a world, than I was actually finishing anything. I think it shows a lot about who I was then, that I was scared of finity, of wrapping it all up and coming to an end. I wanted to just create, create, create and then one day it would magically be finished. Combined with the memories it crystallized around and the unbearable size of the damn project, it just became too much to bare.

I'm also thinking of creating a new level from scratch, or maybe even finishing Non Serviam, depending on how I and others feel about it. If I were to start a new project, I would do my own art and sound/music, and I would set myself some kind of sensible size limit. If there's anything to be taken from all of this, it's never be afraid to start thinking about finishing your project even from the very beginning :)

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Offline Fubaka

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2016, 01:28:31 »
It was basically the same story with my first level, Cosmic Meltdown.

It was essentially a phoenix of my first big project which was never finished, The Deepest Dream. A level that was almost finished, but then fell apart for some reason.

My advice is to take it slow, and get some of us involved (you could request some tilesets and/or music). If you think it might get large, I also suggest entering it in the competition (link here: http://nifflas.lpchip.nl/index.php?topic=6680.0 )

Best of luck!
Where is fancy bread? In the heart or in the head?

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Offline SC

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2016, 02:27:24 »
Hey, Time Fixes Everything was released as an unfinished level and I LOVED it! :P

But honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing what you have of the level so far. It'd impact my ability to tell you whether you should finish it or move on.

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Offline Sendy

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2016, 02:37:45 »
Thanks for weighing in. I think I'll just find the files and upload them sometime in the next couple of days. I'll have to clean them up a bit, block off any voids, and reset some stuff used for testing.

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Offline Vegetal Gibber

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2016, 21:05:45 »
As someone that has left too many unfinished projects in his youth, I think I can say I feel your pain and frustration. But you're absolutely right about the "it's never too late" approach. In fact, a few months ago, I finally released a KS level I left incomplete for 5 years. It wasn't a project nearly as ambitious as yours, but I had to discard many ideas I had in mind in order to push myself to finally release it in a playable state. Despite that, I was happy with the result and for finally giving the project closure.

Hope to see your level here soon. From what I can read, it sounds like it's going to be a real treat for us KS players :D
Some KS levels by me:

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Offline Sendy

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2016, 22:52:39 »
Thanks Vegetal Gibber, and congrats on releasing the level after all that time! I tend to find it so hard to get back into old projects, especially because I tend to work messily, in a stream-of-consciousness way, with very little planning for most things.

There are screenshots in this old thread, look out for the room layout map towards the end of the thread, too:

http://nifflas.lpchip.nl/index.php?topic=2509.15

I had a playtest of the beginning of the game and I have to say, I kinda hate 2009-me. There are some huge areas I'm really proud of, custom sprites for water, shadows, and lots of snails (I have a thing about snails!), but there's also a lot of areas I just wouldn't wish on anyone. Especially near the beginning. Even though they are clever, like, the beginning is designed so that you can get the first 4 objects/powerups in any order without getting trapped. But the gameplay is HORRENDOUS in many of those rooms. Definitely going to be adding more save points and removing traps that had me raging (even though traps and escaping are the theme of the early game).

Lack of focus is also a huge problem. I'm tempted to almost lift the best sections wholesale and try and make a new game out of them, but I don't know of any tools that are completed, that would let me do this easily. There is a lot of half-finished or just plain garbage mixed in with the well-turned-out areas!

I'm really torn between starting anew with all my own graphics and sound, and trying to finish this, perhaps with community help. At the very least, I'll have the thing uploaded by the end of the week, even if some parts are horrible difficulty-wise. You can always cheat your way out of them :)

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Offline pfrangip

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2016, 04:32:13 »
Do it! Finish it/Release it!

As someone who didn't release their first level until recently after years in the works, I can say with full confidence, IT IS WORTH IT!  :)

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Offline Ultigonio

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2016, 04:47:02 »
Yeah, from personal experience, I'd say it's best to let go of your baggage and start fresh.
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Offline Sendy

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2016, 14:05:27 »
That is certainly very tempting. My level design skills are a lot better than past-me. Not so much in visual design, but in enemy placement. For example, a lot of the turret type enemies in KS spew bullets randomly, often forming clouds. So it's best to work with the environment and provide cover, especially from multiple instances of the enemy. There are quite a few "run forwards, do something skillful and hope for the best" moments because of this chaotic nature and lack of cover in some areas.

It also helps that I've been having a recurring dream set in an alternate England where most of the people are gone, and a subterranean tunnel network filled with ramshakle furniture, rotting carpets and crude homes and shops runs under and connects the entire country. Ideal fare for a Knytt Story and it's something I'd love to see fleshed out into a real thing. I'm also really big into music and sound design, so having something that can be a showcase for my music AND be a virtual world from my dreams would just be amazing. I don't do much art, but when I try I can come up OK results. I think atmosphere is more important than art quality anyway.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2016, 14:07:37 by Sendy »

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Offline Sendy

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2016, 00:59:27 »
Ok, good news! I found the absolute latest version of the level! This is the one with lots of custom object effects, things like cars moving in the distance, more lighting, lots and lots of snails hanging out in damp snaily places, custom water effects, custom lazers and guide rails for crusher objects, things that I couldn't insert on certain rooms because of tileset limitations!

It's also much bigger than I even imagined. There's a few whole new areas, and they are by far the best in the entire map. Really excited about this! I'm just going to comb over it roughly, and hope to release the demo version by Monday, which should at least be playable with hints from me and copious cheating, if a bit annoying in places if you don't like tricky platform challenges. :)

I'm really stoked about this, as some of these areas I haven't seen in a long time!

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Offline SC

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2016, 03:38:42 »
Ok, good news! I found the absolute latest version of the level! This is the one with lots of custom object effects, things like cars moving in the distance, more lighting, lots and lots of snails hanging out in damp snaily places, custom water effects, custom lazers and guide rails for crusher objects, things that I couldn't insert on certain rooms because of tileset limitations!

It's also much bigger than I even imagined. There's a few whole new areas, and they are by far the best in the entire map. Really excited about this! I'm just going to comb over it roughly, and hope to release the demo version by Monday, which should at least be playable with hints from me and copious cheating, if a bit annoying in places if you don't like tricky platform challenges. :)

I'm really stoked about this, as some of these areas I haven't seen in a long time!

GLAD TO HEAR IT! 8D Can't wait to play this snaily level!!

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Offline Sendy

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Re: About my KS game, Non Serviam
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2016, 14:40:22 »
I'm just adding more savepoints and thinning out some of the enemies. 2008-me was a dork.

Probably add more snails, too. But I don't want to get carried away. This thing has to get out the door so I can decide what to do next.