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Spirit Witch

Edited January 26, 2023

Another of the 20 2020 games. This was a two-week jam, and the scope of the game really reflects the additional time.

You can play it by clicking the image up there, or see it on itch.io.

In retrospect, I'm really pleased with how this one turned out. With some incremental improvements to various systems, I think this could be a totally serviceable metroidvania -- one that I'd enjoy playing if somebody else had made it.

Original devlog / postmortem post

This was made for LOWREZJAM 2020. The theme suggestions were all optional (and I ignored them) but the basic requirement was to make a game at a resolution of 64x64. I didnít really have a compelling game idea going in, so I decided to do a quasi-remake of Ghost Wizard as an action game.

It occurred to me that if I just made the game happen on one big canvas, I could have a ďcameraĒ centered on the player that got projected out at 64x64. I started with a bunch of the Cy Gerber tech, so it didnít take too long to get a foundation in place. The world gets built out of tiles, but the tiles can be arbitrary sizes and donít actually need to be fixed to a grid.

I donít think that making decent pixel art is totally beyond me, but I didnít want to spend the time trying to make good sprites for this. I had been thinking about giving the player a power-up that expanded the field of view, effectively pulling the camera back to a wider view, and this gave me the idea to have the 64x64 display window not fixed to a 64x64 segment of the main playfield. This made the pixel art look a lot less sterile. I made the camera constantly wobble in and out a little bit to enhance the effect.

I initially felt like adding this weird blur to cover up my bad pixel art was a copout, but I got over it by just declaring that it was a style choice. I came to think of it like being a mediocre guitarist and making up for it up by playing really loud and with a lot of distortion.

One of these days I want to make a straight up twin stick arcade shooter, and adding the sword mechanic allowed me to get some practice for that. It also created an obligation to make a bunch of distinct enemy types, which was a fun challenge. I could probably have stood to make it quite a bit harder, but it feels like a game thatís more about exploration than execution.

I learned that most modern browsers have built-in text-to-speech, and since I figured displaying text at this resolution would be a pain in the ass (which it is) I decided to make liberal use of it. Iím happy with how it turned out -- it let me make the kind of text-heavy thing I like to make without forcing the player to read in the middle of an action game. I really like the effect of the voice slowing down and getting lower in pitch over the course of play.

The sound effects are nothing to write home about, just some bfxr-generated stuff with some reverb effects added. For the soundtrack I found an already-slow song in Youtubeís free audio library and rendered it at ľ speed. I like the effect of that -- it reminds me of the ambience of Star Control 2 a little bit.

Two weeks is too long for one of these. If I do another two week jam I think Iím just gonna pretend itís a two day jam. I canít have these things interfering with my day job for so long, and there were multiple points where this one kinda felt like a chore. There was one point where a voice in my head said ďwhen you were younger, this is the exact moment at which you would have abandoned this project.Ē If nothing else, this whole enterprise is an exercise in discipline.


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