Thinking up Cuadrado's Trials

I got notice of this jam a cool 10 days after it started. Every time I see a game jam, I barely have time to participate in it. I’m still pretty busy with quite a few obligations for this one. However, this month feels like my best chance in a long while so I had to go for it.

I love playing platformers and JRPGs, I haven’t made JRPGs before so I decided to make a platformer!

Choosing a framework

I got introduced to through their amazing Godot course. While Godot docs are amazing by themselves,’s videos really made it click for me. I’m still going through the platformer chapter of the course, so I wouldn’t have a lot of time to make anything if I were to complete the course first.

That’s why I stuck with Phaser. It’s open source like Godot, and also easy to learn with a basic understanding of JavaScript. Even workflow wise, I can easily see myself building prototypes in Phaser and doing the actual development in Godot which comes with a more opinionated structure I like to work with.

So… what game am I making?

It took a while for me to be happy with a platformer using the time theme. I’m late to playing Zelda BotW (I love it so much I stopped playing so I can actually focus on other things). In that game, the player has a device with a “stasis” feature that stops time for an object or enemy for a short while.

Taking that gameplay mechanic, the first idea I was comofortable with would then have the player reaching the exit under a time limt, with the ability to stop time for enemies/world objects.

After a random conversion with my partner that somehow brought up the Wonder Twins, I got inspired to make Escape Boy. Escape Boy does what you think he does, escapes. Here’s how far I got with his running animation.

Escape boy running

Working towards Escape Boy (it’s honestly still in my game idea list), I spent a solid 5 days getting it up and running. I setup my Phaser development environment, created a level with Tiled Map Editor and got a first level that takes about a minute to traverse without obstacles:

Escape Boy first level

I’ve opted to do all the art by myself as part of this jam. I’m pretty new to it and I’m in need of more practice with regards to drawing human figures. I also figured that the stasis mechanic I wanted would be a bit hard to create. Not just the coding unknowns, but quite a few animations and enemies to make it worthwhile. 15 days isn’t a lot when you got jobs and other commitments!

So I reduced the scope a bit, no stasis mechanics for this jam entry. However, I wanted a better looking game. If I’m not going to immediately become amazing at pixel humans for a while, maybe I shouldn’t draw a human? Here’s this cute little robot instead:

Cuadrado moving

His name is Cuadrado because I’m practising Spanish once more. He was made in a similar style to another game character I created for the Arduboy, The Social Distance Game.

Since I’m working with a robot, I first wanted the environments to have a metallic theme. The first iteration looked like this:

First environments for Cuadrado’s Trials

Better than Escape Boy, but I wasn’t feeling it at all. It then hit me, the character is all vibrant and cute, so why is the world so drab? I should make the world a bit more vibrant as well.

Here’s what I’m working with now:

New Cuadrado tiles

A bright blue tile makes up the core platforms. The exit door is surrounded by orange platforms. The moving platforms have different colours as well, an easy way to know which direction you’re going.

The cool part about this switch was that it didn’t take long to do. The core platform mechanics and integration with the Tilemaps + Phaser were already there from my work with Escape Boy. So the time lost was really in the graphic department, and I’m convinced the improvements were worth it.

Next steps

Right now I’m figuring how to streamline my moving platforms so I can create more levels quickly. I also need to add the battery level, and maybe a power down animation. It’s a tight schedule but I’d love to get some sounds in as well! Can’t forget the title screen either :-).

I’m enjoying this process a lot, so wish me luck as I aim to finish the jam strong

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May 22, 2020

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