This post was last updated
Oct 12, 2015 and may
be out of date
Platform Pixels is a mobile-first 2D platformer meant to be simple, easy to learn, yet extremely difficult. If this is your first time hearing about it, check out the Update 1 post to find out more information.
The Beta Program
This is the first post I’ve written about the Platform Pixels beta program. The goal of the program is to publish a post (like this one) alongside every new beta release. Each post will cover what’s new in the release and go into detail about certain aspects of the development process including interesting solutions to problems, implementation details, marketing, distribution, and even pie-in-the-sky ideas for the future.
If you want early access to the game itself, you can join the Google+ Beta Community to install the app, or you can just follow the progress here on my site. The beta is only available to Android users right now, but I plan on opening it up to other platforms as it stabilizes. If you really want to see support for other platforms, feel free to reach out and bump the invisible priority counter in my head.
At this stage, the beta is more of a demo than anything, and may change drastically between updates. My intention is to get early-stage feedback on things like controls, difficulty, playability, other high-level aspects that you have feedback on.
Release Details (5 Items)
As mentioned above, Beta 1 is pretty much a demo. The basic mechanics and controls are fairly polished, but the level progression and UI are pretty bad still. Here are a few of the major things you’ll find in Beta 1.
Beta 1 includes 16 hand-built levels, ranging from easy to difficult. The first few levels are meant to introduce the player to the different mechanics and, as the levels progress, combine the mechanics to make longer and more difficult levels.
DEEP DIVE! How a level is defined
Right now (under the hood) each level is represented by two PNG images. The first image tells the game what to draw on the screen (visually), and the second image tells the game information about things on the level. Here is an example.
The image on the left is what the player sees, and the image on the right defines metadata about each square on the level. This is what the colors on the right mean.
Purple: Player’s start position
Green: Level finish
This is a huge benefit of keeping the game simple. I have no need for a level editor because I can use any image editing program I want to generate these. This also makes the possibility of user-submitted levels much more achievable (hint hint).
There are a few coins placed in each level that can be collected. You can collect them if you want, but right now they don’t count towards anything. Look forward to a later update where coins will play a larger role in game progression.
3. Player Trail
As you play through a level, the platforms that you touch will slowly change color. It won’t be uncommon for a level to take 10 or 20 tries to complete, so the trail provides a visual indicator for where you’ve been before and how you got there.
NOTE: You might notice that the blocks start blending in with the background and become invisible. This was not intentional but it might be an interesting mechanic to frustrate the player even more.
4. Level Selection Menu
If you press the back button during a level, you will be taken to the level selection screen. Right now, the purpose of this screen is for easy level switching during development, but will probably be completely different once the game is closer to release.
5. Google Play Games
Beta 1 includes code to connect to Google Play games. Right now, it will prompt you to sign in every time you launch the game (until you sign in), but it isn’t currently used for anything yet. I have a task to make Play Games optional but that won’t be out until a future beta.
This week I began working on a tool to procedurally generate levels. I was getting tired of generating levels by hand (it’s a lot of work!) so this would free up some of my time to focus on other things. It’s going to be a lot more work up front, but it will make content creation in the future much easier.
I’ll probably do a few separate posts on the level generation details so stay tuned for that.
Until then, thanks for reading and enjoy the beta!