Creating MAD PHYSICIST: Interview BOOOM! Participant MAD PHYSICIST
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
This artical is from Gcores.com
Mad Physicist Team
RATTAR - Program
GANAH - Produce/Plan/Level Design
PlayGround - Program/Sound Effect
Roku - Plan/Level Design/Music
TimeChaser - Plan/Level Design
Hustree - Visual Art
M! - Visual Art
RATTAR: The beginning of the whole thing was that I saw Gcores' event on Weibo (A Twitter-ish Chinese SNS), then I retwitted it to GANAH said "really want to join". We decided to participate immediately, formed the original PEANUX. GANAH went to grab more hands to prepare the game making.
TimeChaser: It's not proud to say that this was my first time to join a game dev project, also the first time to participate Game Jam. It was late when I saw the promotion of BOOOM!. I was uneasy during the time of finding team mates. I was in the lack of experience and also had no specialties. I decided to go solo if I couldn't find any one to tag along. Luckily, PEANUX that I contacted firstly accepted me with no hesitation! I was in charge of some levels' design during dev. Weirdly, they did not ask me to program. Happy to be the lazy one.
RATTAR: 7 guys grouped unconsciously. 2 planners, 3 programmers and 2 visual artists, I was so happy that I thought I could loaf on the job. But then, I don't know why, TC transfered from programmer to planner and PlayGround had a day time job. So the loafing part did not happen. I didn't even have the time to play Monster Hunter: World.
Roku: I've been working in a game company as intern planner recently. But I think this is the first time for me to actually be a part of game dev.
M!: This experience was a half way marathon. It was late when I saw the promotion of BOOOM!, but it got me right away. The team up time past while I was in between of "oh I really wan to make games" and "no team no time no expericence... so maybe not this time".
Then I saw the theme. It triggered my desire. I found the orgnizer recrew section through the event announcement section and picked a random team with pics and text info. I thought if no one wants me then I'm going to Beijing to be audience. With one whole week of suffering from both daily work and the idea of "no one is gonnna take me", just before giving up, PEANUX responded.... That, my man, was fate.
TimeChaser: Brain storm meetings in the first a few days were wonderful memories, every one placed a lot of magnificent thoughts.
RATTAR: Our brain strom time was extremly stormy. We spent days in a row to argue about ideas. 3 ideas and thoughts a day in average. We can look at one here simplely: the player will be alowed to draw lines, then switch him/herself to black or white. Lines be come a circle can alow the whoe region to switch color. That was the idea. The goal was switched from "to turn all the screen to black" to "to turn certain percentage of the screen to black" to "make the Yin Yang balanced" and even some crazy modified versions jumped out. In short, the "lines to frames" idea just bacame the image below, every body figured out that the game had became a happy and pure painting program.
Roku: From idea placing to oral fight to project down sizing to oral fight again then to final vote, the progress went on for one whole damn week. At last, game "style shoot to blast" won. It was our original idea.
GANAH: Finally, we voted for a "shoot to blast" game that used physics relics as the core. Players can control different physics relics and to switch them to 2 different modes. For example, temperature relic can be switched to cold or hot. Switching relics and the mode of relics fits the theme of SHIFT. Then, because of the limit of D.E.O.T.'s buttons, players can't move and aim at the same time, so we changed the game style to Celda-ish "chop to blast". Based on physics relics, I wrote the game story through night.
Roku: After telling the team their parts, we officially started the dev progress. We designed skills and battle. According to the limits of time and hard/soft ware, comlicated designs were all off the table, just kept the original freatures that GANAH designed.
Afrer decided the game is about strategy not combat, we used the swtichting of relics to be the core of level design. We chose 3 relics to do prototype level design, and tried to expand the relics' effect through prototype level. We also ajusted relics' acctual functions according the needs of level design.
To enrich levels, we added elite enemies. In the ingenious RATTAR's hands, they once became the core of whole game. I just want to say that a mature design is from iteration in practice, instantaneous ideas would only effectt the cost of trial and error to some extent. Many awesome ideas would jump out during practice, you'd have to catch them.
Then we finished 3 normal levels and 1 final boss level successfully, and we love our boss level very much.
At boss level, the Truth that the player carries is not the more the better any more. Player can lose some Truth by hurting boss's phased HP. Truth is toxic, dude! Some times, conviction of truth can lead you away from truth itself. There are lot of stereotypes in the world, shift every once a while would keep you sharp.
TimeChaser: To be honest, although I had read a lot of articles and books about level design, but when put to practice, things are quite different. I was lost at the beginning, I did not know how to put so many elements together, didn't even know how to use the theories I read before to guide myself.
The turning point was, I tried to give every level design a theme. Like, the tutorial level is prison break, it naturally leads the disgn to "use gravity to grab the key and open the cell". In fact, the original design of this level was much more difficult than this one, but I had to make it much easier so the player can adapt quicker. But the hint and tutor is still not perfect.
The following level is about surviving the Big Eyes' laser shooting and dealing with other monsters and appliances. The fun fact was, it was from a bug. A Big Eye in the downer room was activated by a upper room which was far far way, so we got a Big Eye shooting you but you can no nothing about it. And I found it was really cooooool, so it is the main theme now.
M!: Joined half way, I came in as the designer of four human characters! I tried to draw physics students, surprisingl nice? Moving part was a pain, from the original man-wepon seprate to comined after that, I changed a lot ideas and tried a lot effects. Changing was painful but also useful! Sculpture was happy. Team mates helped a lot. HOOYA for them!
PlayGround: Because of the limits of TIC-80, its whole codes can't be more than 65536 characters. The most impressed thing was, at one night, RATTAR and I were change the format of codes. I'd coded for years, it was the first time I had to save coding space because the characters were too many! I did some things that a programer would never do: delete all the comments, delete some parts' indentation, shorter some name of variates, do not wrap lines if unnecessary....... I want to work next day, and I was like, wait a minute, why so many codes here? Why give the compelete name to this variate? Do I need to delete some comments?
RATTAR: It was my first time deal with TIC-80. There was a limit of codes' amount, it was horrible. I thought I would not reach the limit at the beginning, then I started to delete indentation, change format, change names of variates, things that were crazy for me.
In the plan, there was another phase for the final boss, but I reached the limit of codes' amount, so it was gone. Also in the plan, Calvin can change terrains, would pour butter or water to disturb you; Galileo would dorp iron balls and feathers at the same, and only feathers can be slowed down so you can us time relic to creat a gap. They were nice ideas, but we had to cut them loose.
And we prepared hidden walls and 3 collections to unlock a hidden ending, we had to also let them go.
Although the limits of TIC-80 was painful, but I felt domination during the prograss of coding which I never felt before. Hand-wrote logics alowed me to understand what exactly I was doing, pix level predicate was also accurate. Of couse I spent time argue with others about why lava should be untouchable, why 2-grid door was too narrow for me, but I wrote the codes, I could write as I want even if I could win the argument.
But I can still see some magical bugs, no, features, like you can break through the red doors, just need to pay a little cost.
GANAH: The whole story looks like physicists guiding students to march forward the path of truth. Science is the light tower that leads the future of man kind. Physicists give relics to player so player can use them to expel the monsters of ignorance. But after expeled all the monsters of ignorance, the final barrier standing between player and the truth is not Azathoth， The Blind Idiot God, but those senior physicist which the player admires. Because the truth is nothing but a dream of Azathoth. So, the core of this story is agnosticism, as strong as the Cthulhu Mythos.
If player could beat the physicist successfully, then the player would return to be an ordinary student. But if took too much damage from the physicist, the player would turn into Azathoth, and the world would end, "only Azathoth lives upon this world". So, the final battle is more like the physicist tring to sacrifice the student, to summon an evil god.
There is no HP in the game, only the Truth. When taking damage from the monsters of ignorance, the Truth will go down; After receiving the Fruit of Truth, the Truth will go up. And, when player taking damage from the physicist, the Truth go up not down, because teachings from physicist bring wisdom not ignorance. In our original settings, player would not die. When Truth is too low, like 0 or negative, player would turn into the monster of ignorance. No skill could be used during that situation. Player would need to find the Fruit of Truth to go back to mankind. When the Truth is over the top, player would become Azathoth. Because humans are too small to find out the real truth of the world. Even if we could find so called "the truth", it also could be nothing but chaos and ignorance.