[Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai

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Offline Lucinda

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[Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« on: July 08, 2023, 12:53:59 »
Presenting my third level for Knytt Stories, eight months in the making. This graphics-focused open world adventure was intended to be in the style of my first level, Shalev, but with a sentimental story. It evolved into a massive sound and tileset feast with many people contributing work, including some legit musicians I respect very much.

The story concerns the character from Knytt Nano in her first full-length adventure. I named her Alexandra as it's a name that works both in America (my country) and Sweden (no explanation required). She’s a college student who has recently been dumped by her best friend, Adam. She then finds a portal into a surreal dreamscape. While inside, she and other knytts deal with traumatic memories about death, illness, and heartbreak. It might be over the top, but I'm kinda new to storytelling through games, so whatever!

Have fun! And thank you all for being my friends and supporting my level creations over the past year. I didn't think I would ever make another level for Knytt Stories after Shalev, but here I am.

Version 2:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N6m9X44C-pNud-Cq2nJpXp1PuT2KU0Kv/view?usp=sharing

Duplicate link from archive:
https://knyttlevels.com/levels/Lucinda%20-%20Iasthai%20v2.knytt.bin

Version 2 fixes some small bugs like wallswims and makes it slightly easier/more fair with things like extra saves. I also added a way for a wallswim to turn into a major speedrunning skip, with the aim of tempting DonDoli and Gliperal.

Also, disclaimer: I made some sprites out of Niffcommunity people and put them in the game, but for the most part they're not meant to literally be them. Imagine it's like me using your physical likeness to tell my own story! Now I just seem like a jerk, oops.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2023, 19:07:59 by Lucinda »
Rome wasn't built in a day.

Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2023, 01:40:40 »
This is a really good level. Well-designed, and the story's pretty intriguing.

I especially loved that big house. There was just something wonderful about discovering new areas there, and figuring out where every door lead to.

I also really appreciate all the minor details you added in, like that ball creature moving from one picture frame to another, or how you could faintly hear the gate in Duvall opening from inside the building.

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Offline Pie_Sniper

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Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2023, 21:29:54 »
Iasthai is an excellent level and well worth your time. It is distinctive both for its grounded setting and its treatment of heavy thematic material—pain, loss, illness, recovery.

Something Iasthai has in spades is vibes. Careful attention was paid to the packaging (icon, info screen, fonts, cutscenes), setting the stage for a diverse and venerable library of tilesets, thoughtfully curated soundtrack, and interesting screen compositions. Notably, the interiors are consistently top shelf (Lucinda's inner Sims player is on display here).

The writing is another highlight. Iasthai somehow manages to flit seamlessly between comedic exchanges with quirky characters and solemn meditations on pain. The narrative is nonlinear, even labyrinthine, and this structure lends itself well to the subject at hand: healing is rarely a lucid or linear process. I'm reminded of John Green's musing in Turtles All the Way Down that "in some ways pain is the opposite of language." Iasthai's honest prose finds a chink in that barrier of incommunicability, admitting a brief glimpse into others' inner worlds.

If I had to find something to criticize, some outdoor areas don't live up to the standard of polish I came to expect from this level. The challenges didn't add much to the experience for me; I think I would have preferred it to be easier, resting on the strength of its writing and environments, or for challenges to be employed more judiciously to advance the story.

In my book, Iasthai is an instant classic that pushes the storytelling boundaries of the Knytt canon. I look forward to your future work.

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Offline Polana

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Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2023, 00:15:15 »
There were levels that were more like movie, levels that were like some entirely different game, levels that could have been sci-fi or fantasy stories and even one poem level (that I know about) but there haven't been yet level that was so personal and felt like a real literary short story so much. I'm with Pie Sniper on challenges though, if it have been purely environmental it might be more fitting. However this doesn't mean I don't like it, I actually like it a lot.

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Offline Purple Ink

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Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2023, 07:19:55 »
Great level! I kind of agree with the others, though. I feel the challenges didn't add much to the game but I can understand putting things in so the player doesn't get bored. I really like the big house with so much to explore. It felt kind of maze-y. :)

So about the story. I can see the very personal touch this level has based on your post in the "How I Met Juni" thread. Telling such a personal story in this way takes true craftsmanship. The story of the level "progressed" smoothly and "expectedly". I say expectedly because I kind of knew where it was going after the intro and first few screens (again because of the post). I don't know if anyone else felt that way. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who don't read that thread so won't know the personal connection you have to this level but the story shines through anyway. It's a testament to perseverance through adversity that many can relate to, though probably not in the same way.  It's special to me because of my own health issues. Also, I sort of did something kind of similar in Advena: telling a personal story. Again, really great stuff. I can say I'm looking forward to the next Lucinda level. :)
« Last Edit: July 12, 2023, 07:53:39 by Purple Ink »

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Offline pacifishi

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Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2023, 22:20:47 »
Wow, this was an emotional rollercoaster! The atmosphere and sound design are top notch. As someone who wasn't aware of the backstory, I can confirm that the story shines through quite well.

Personally, I liked the addition of the challenges, though I can see why others would prefer a purely environmental style.

Random thoughts: So happy that you incorporated a map, the dialogue from the students was hilarious (my personal favorite is cutthroat med. student), and the song 'I Never Said I was Frightened of Dying' gave me big 'Born Slippy' by Underworld vibes. When I eventually reach 'L' in my quest to rate every level, Iasthai is already keyed in as 'A = Must Play'


Thank you for sharing such a personal and touching story.

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Offline Lucinda

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Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2023, 08:28:13 »
Thank you everyone for taking the time to play and reply. It was for sure a risk for me to put some of these things out there but it feels dare I say healing to see people connect with it. It's been hard for me to talk about these topics in real life, people often react poorly, but I'm seeing here that fiction and gaming is a good way to engage with the topic. I hope with time I can play KS levels inspired by peoples' real lives as well.

It's interesting to see you all say that the challenges interfere with the purpose of the level. That's certainly something to think about for my next project. I suppose I put them in to keep the player interested/feeling stimulated, with the exception of the house, which is supposed to represent misery and rumination etc etc.

I should give some credit where it's due: the moving painting was completely from the mind of plural, and the gate opening sound was my idea, but Lit Knob put it together. This was definitely a collaborative effort, at some point I began to see myself as the "director" of the level rather than the "author."

I'm not sure how a drone song sounds much like Born Slippy, but I love Underworld, so I'll give that a pass. Also, pacifishi, I love your level ratings and I hope you rate every level.
Rome wasn't built in a day.

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Offline SC

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Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2023, 18:51:35 »
This was a really nice level! I am mostly in agreement with the other posters here though in that the level could have easily gone with less enemy-based challenges and it would have been just as good, IMO. I'll even be honest and say that I did ran into a few problems near the beginning of the level that almost turned me off of it, but I am really glad I stuck until the end.


It's weird -- I think this is one of the few narrative levels I've played where I feel the earlier bits are actually harder than the later ones. It's funny. But hey, nothing that can't be fixed with a patch or two! :P Great work, Lucinda, and I can't wait to see what else you've got for us.

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Offline Lucinda

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Re: [Challenge] [Large] [Very Hard] [KS+] Iasthai
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2023, 07:09:21 »
What detailed feedback, SC! I really appreciate that. I will be making a patch soon, after all the "post-release beta testers" tell me their opinions. And yes, the artist that made that song very much intended for it to be a "disintegration loop." I love it.

Also, I've already gotten started on my fourth solo level :)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2023, 07:16:45 by Lucinda »
Rome wasn't built in a day.