My roles: Design, programming.
A fun game about a cloud, popular in the 3-year-old girl community.
My friends say I hate fun games, so I made a bunch of levels for this unapologetically fun game by an unapologetically fun dude named Jakub Kasztalski. The levels in question, in case these names mean anything/are otherwise interesting to you:
- Mosh Pit
- Birthday Party
- Cloudbuster Canyon
- Going to Work
- Fancy Restaurant
- Villa Del Dryspell
- Snowy Driveway
- Quiet Mountain Town
- The Cleaner
- The Cloud News Channel
- The Bowels of Mt. Dryspell
- Dust Devil Crossroads
- The Moon
- The Late Cretaceous
- Dryspell Gates
- Level 50
Plus a few that didn’t make it in. Unlike most games I’ve worked on, this one has a nice, easy elevator pitch: you play as a cloud! So you can do cloud-type stuff, like rain and snow! Hijinks ensue!
I worked part-time, 20 hours per week, averaging about a level per week for the shorter, more conceptual levels and two weeks for the bigger ones. My faves were the exploration-heavy levels like Dust Devil Crossroads and School. I ended up doing a lot of those, and most of the Dr. Dryspell levels. (I didn’t do the writing though, so if you have complaints about Dr. Dryspell’s corny rhymes, take it up with Jakub!)
The game’s DNA mostly comes down to our core systems interacting with each other in all kinds of diverse contexts alongside narrower, level-specific gameplay features.
This means that after concepting an idea for a new level, building it is mostly a matter of putting together the level design, populating the space with wettables, flammables, physics objects, etc., and programming any new, special stuff not accounted for by those systems – for example, an alien spaceship that flies away when its little green pilot is led back to it, or a bunch of gardening tools that need to be hidden under snow before grandpa finds them.
Then, we just iterate and polish until we’re happy!
When a workflow is fast-paced enough to move from jotting down a bunch of wacky ideas on Monday to “play this and tell me what you think,” on Tuesday to calling the whole level done and shippable on Friday, after a while it becomes pretty easy to pick out your favorite bits – the gags and features that make you feel proud. Maybe other people like them too, maybe nobody else in the world cares. For some reason, I really want to talk about the weathervanes.
They were made for an objective in Dust Devil Crossroads in which you had to point them all in a specific direction. So, fiddliness was the enemy and feeliness was the goal – the player should enjoy swinging them around with the tornado, and getting them pointed in the right direction shouldn’t be ambiguous or difficult. They can freely spin around ala carefully tuned/counterweighted physics, but the arrow is always drawn like a magnet toward the closest of the four cardinal directions. Jakub sprinkled a few weathervanes around the rest of the game, and I suspect he did so because he could tell how weirdly fascinated I was with them.
Making Games Should be Fun
Generally, this was a super enjoyable game to work on. I like coming up with stuff, I like building stuff from the ground up, I like close-knit collaboration, I like Jazzpunk-style sight gags and easter eggs, I like variety, I like highly tactile gameplay. A lot of those preferences really crystallized in a more meaningful way for me while I was on Rain on Your Parade. Part-time work has its drawbacks – not enough money on its own, not enough free time otherwise – and the game was definitely a stylistic departure from my usual work, as well as Jakub’s, but damned if it doesn’t feel good to see stuff like this in my notifications: