Designing world-spanning & momentum-based platforming in Sylvie Lime


This interview is a part of our Street to the IGF sequence. The IGF (Impartial Video games Pageant) goals to encourage innovation in recreation improvement and to acknowledge unbiased recreation builders advancing the medium. Yearly, Sport Developer sits down with the finalists for the IGF forward of GDC to discover the themes, design choices, and instruments behind every entry.

Sylvie Lime is a platformer that asks you to mess around with momentum, motion, and a few wild talents to get throughout its lethal hazards. And generally you are a lime.

Sylvie, the sport’s creator, took a while to talk with Sport Developer in regards to the Nuovo Award-nominated title and the way the inventive platformer was impressed by an oddball Famicom recreation and a field of citrus, the multi-game spanning concepts that might inform its diverse solid, and the way some surprising chaos got here out of including some actually mundane instruments into the platforming title.

Who’re you, and what was your position in creating Sylvie Lime?

I am Sylvie and I developed Sylvie Lime along with my pal Aria. For probably the most half, it was my undertaking, however Aria helped with some issues associated to the characters and story. The non-player characters have been type of co-designed and belong to each of us, and the setting of the story comes from one in all Aria’s works. I programmed and designed the sport, created the graphics and audio, and wrote the dialogue.

What’s your background in making video games?

I’ve been making video video games for round 20 years. I began out utilizing a instrument known as Venture FUN created by the DigiPen Institute of Expertise. It is extraordinarily troublesome to seek out any details about this instrument these days, since DigiPen reused the “Venture FUN” title for one thing else, however there’s an article about it (from the August 2002 challenge of Nintendo Energy) accessible on the Wayback Machine.

Since this instrument grew to become accessible someday round August 2002, which means I in all probability began making video games in late 2002 or early 2003. I used to be solely 11 or 12 years previous and I discovered Venture FUN form of laborious to make use of, however I managed to create a bizarre, easy recreation with it. Sadly, once I burned it to a CD, it did not run on my pal’s pc. I created about 0.5 extra video games with Venture FUN earlier than I found GameMaker in mid-2003. It was so much simpler for me to make use of, and it may make video games that ran on different folks’s computer systems. Now I’ve created 120+ video games largely utilizing totally different variations of GameMaker (however generally different instruments like Bitsy).

How did you give you the idea for Sylvie Lime?

Earlier final yr, I lived in an condo the place the kitchen and customary space have been shared with 4 different folks. I went into this space and there was a field of limes on the sofa. That is what gave me the thought of Sylvie turning right into a lime. That is how I bear in mind it, however once I take into consideration this story, it appears form of unbelievable. I do not assume it is common for folks to purchase a complete field of limes. The field undoubtedly stated “limes” on it, but it surely might need simply been an previous field that was getting used to retailer one thing else.

What improvement instruments have been used to construct your recreation?

I used GameMaker (the present/fashionable model, which was known as “GameMaker Studio 2” however is now simply known as GameMaker, which makes it complicated to inform folks which model you imply). Among the pixel artwork was accomplished within the built-in GameMaker sprite editor, however I additionally used Aseprite for lots of it, significantly for character artwork and bigger sprites. The music was made with PxTone and many of the sound results have been made with LabChirp. Some have been simply recorded with my mic and edited with Audacity.

Sylvie Lime is a platformer that provides some foolish mechanics that get gamers to consider platforming in another way. What appealed to you about discovering new methods to leap round harmful areas?

I feel I may have made a extra customary precision platformer utilizing Sylvie Lime‘s base mechanics—one thing nearer to Celeste the place you utilize the lime to navigate by means of a sequence of tight impediment programs. Nevertheless, making exploration video games with an open-ended, non-linear world design is a long-term curiosity of mine.

Shortly after I began making Sylvie Lime (when all I actually had accomplished was a take a look at room for the lime mechanic), I began enjoying the Japan-only NES recreation Atlantis no Nazo. It is a recreation that is filled with treasure chests which can be largely ineffective, obscure invisible secrets and techniques, an internet of branching paths, and unusual gadgets whose function is rarely defined. There may be an merchandise that permits you to press Up on the D-Pad to extend your rating by 3 factors. Shortly after that, by coincidence, Atlantis no Nazo appeared on a pledge drive stream for the Indiepocalypse game anthology, and I commented within the stream chat that there needs to be extra video games like Atlantis no Nazo.

Shortly after that, Andrew (the Indiepocalypse creator/curator) requested to fee a recreation from me for a future Indiepocalypse challenge, and I made a decision to make use of the fee as a chance to complete Sylvie Lime. It appeared in Issue 34. So, I feel it was Atlantis no Nazo that satisfied me to make Sylvie Lime an uncommon open-ended exploration recreation as a substitute of a linear problem gauntlet. Sylvie Lime in the end is not that very like Atlantis no Nazo, however I wished to create a recreation with the identical form of unusual vitality and magic.

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Sylvie’s lime energy turns right into a bouncy citrus that preserves momentum in neat methods. What ideas went into designing this mechanic?

I can not bear in mind when or why I began serious about this, however the fundamental thought is that, in a recreation the place you may have each horizontal acceleration and variable-height leaping, your character can transfer at totally different “angles” by coordinating your soar arc and horizontal motion appropriately. Recreating totally different angles is a ability you’ll be able to observe. I vaguely bear in mind having an thought for a recreation the place this “motion angle” is used to fireside projectiles in several instructions, however I do not assume I ever made it… Perhaps there was a recreation by another person I performed that made me take into consideration “motion angles” on this manner, however I can not bear in mind.

Anyhow, the principle thought of the lime is that you should use this angle to launch your self. One concern was that if the participant could make very small and exact changes to their motion, then there are too many various potential angles, and it turns into troublesome to recreate particular angles that is likely to be wanted for a cool trick. That is why the sport runs at 24 FPS: to scale back the quantity of precision accessible.

a pixel art house and boxes with letters

Additionally, what ideas went into the design of the foolish platforming instruments (Sylvie’s home, hammer, and so forth.)? What concepts went into creating these? How did you need them to shake up the chances for the sport’s platforming?

When developing with the gadgets, I wished to have six “lively” gadgets which have a right away impact while you press a button, six “passive” gadgets which have a relentless impact you’ll be able to toggle on and off, and 6 “quest” gadgets which can be a part of the sport’s story and do not actually affect the platforming.

I principally tried to make every merchandise within the “lively” and “passive” teams have a really totally different function. One of many “passive” gadgets (the gem) form of looks like an lively merchandise in disguise, although. It’s because its impact was modified late in improvement. The unique thought was that turning on the gem would add a lyrical observe to all of the songs. However it was too laborious to give you lyrics for all of the songs, so I had to think about one other thought.

The concepts for gadgets got here from numerous locations. For the home, I already made a recreation known as JIGGLY ZONE the place you’ll be able to place a checkpoint at any time when you’re on the bottom. I wished this recreation to have an identical quantity of freedom with checkpoint placement, however I did not wish to simply reuse the identical system, and that led to the thought the place you throw your checkpoint. I feel it was additionally slightly impressed by the PC88 recreation Dragon Slayer the place the character has a home you can push across the map.

The hammer was impressed by the hammer within the NES recreation Milon’s Secret Fortress, which reveals secret doorways hidden in sure background tiles. The snowball serves as a fundamental projectile weapon, however because of the nature of one of many storyline quests, it ended up with a sure distinctive characteristic that was wanted to make the search work. Total, I took plenty of inspirations from different video games (together with my very own previous video games) however some features have been simply improvised primarily based on what elements of Sylvie Lime I might made thus far.

Among the gadgets I did not actually take into consideration that rigorously. One of the vital highly effective gadgets, the chair, was principally designed for a joke puzzle. There is a chest you can’t open as a result of it is sitting on high of a pretend block, and you’ll solely open chests while you’re standing on (non-fake) floor. The answer is to position the chair beneath the chest.

That was the unique function of the chair, however after including it, I noticed it was truly actually helpful all around the recreation. I assumed that was cool, however then playtesters found that the chair utterly breaks about half of the boss fights, since you might simply drop a chair on the bosses to lock them in place. I did not like that, so I made the bosses work together with the chair and push it out of the way in which. You’ll be able to nonetheless form of cheese some bosses utilizing the chair, which I feel is sweet. I like having some cheese accessible, however with the ability to lock them in place and utterly stop them from attacking felt too excessive.

What drew you to point out the entire collectible instruments on the aspect of the display screen? What impact do you assume that had on the participant?

I feel this was a reasonably arbitrary resolution that spun off of the decision I selected. For some time, I used 16:9 widescreen resolutions and I’d decide a base decision that evenly divides 1920×1080 as a result of I had the impression that this was a quite common decision, and this is able to permit my recreation to scale up properly and fill the display screen utterly for anybody who makes use of this decision. Nevertheless, now I’ve a 16:10 laptop computer and I do not care anymore, so I simply select no matter decision I really feel like.

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For some cause, I went with a 4:3 decision for Sylvie Lime, in all probability as a result of I noticed some individual on Twitter say one thing like “4:3 is simply extra cozy!” and I could not get it out of my head. Nevertheless, I feel I used to be additionally into sq. video games on the time, so I made a decision to do a 1:1 decision for the sport space and use the remaining area to the suitable for a HUD. That is in all probability slightly impressed by previous pc video games which have a sq. play space and use the suitable aspect of the display screen to show numerous data, just like the aforementioned Dragon Slayer (you’ll be able to see screenshots here).

Early on, I did not know what was going to be on the HUD, and it may have been issues like a well being bar or a loss of life counter or a playtime clock, however as soon as I had a greater thought of the sport’s path, it made sense to only present the gadgets you’ve got collected there. I truly determined to point out the gadgets on the HUD earlier than I got here up with the system the place every merchandise is tied to at least one letter key. You’ll have thought it was the opposite manner round—that I listed the gadgets on the HUD so folks would not neglect what letter key they’re tied to—however that is not the case.

What occurred was that I programmed the system the place the gadgets get displayed on the HUD, after which my subsequent activity was to implement some form of “merchandise choose” characteristic that permits you to select which merchandise to make use of with the motion button, toggle gadgets which have passive results, study quest gadgets, and so forth. However this appeared actually annoying and I did not wish to do it, so I simply assigned each merchandise to a letter key.

I did not assume that a lot about what impact exhibiting the gadgets had on the participant, since exhibiting all of the gadgets on the suitable appeared regular to me, however I assume it is truly slightly unusual lately to not have a separate “stock display screen.” I’ve seen that gamers of Sylvie Lime typically neglect what instruments they’ve accessible, as a result of there are such a lot of choices. I really feel like this is able to be a good larger downside when you needed to pause and go to a separate display screen to take a look at what gadgets you may have.

Additionally, whereas it is considerably awkward to recollect the proper key corresponding to every merchandise, I feel when you needed to “equip” gadgets out of your stock, it’d truly be much more troublesome to make use of gadgets freely and to mix the powers of things. I assume this arbitrary resolution is surprisingly vital to the sport’s design and really feel.

With so many potential platforming mechanics and instruments, what ideas went into weaving platforming puzzles into the environments to make gamers put the instruments to work?

I designed virtually the entire recreation across the lime energy. Once I designed the world, many of the gadgets weren’t truly carried out but. I had some concepts for gadgets, and this influenced a couple of of the screens the place I designed one thing that is troublesome to do with the lime however could be straightforward with a selected merchandise. As soon as the gadgets have been added, I performed the sport and seen a couple of areas the place a sure merchandise made it “too straightforward,” so I adjusted the degrees a bit. However for probably the most half, I did not take into account the instruments apart from the lime when designing the degrees.

Player character and monster in cave

Lots of your puzzles attain throughout a number of screens. What ideas go into creating platforming puzzles that unfold far the world over? In getting the participant to assume past simply the display screen they’re on?

One factor that helped is that the entire world is contained in a single “room” in GameMaker phrases, which suggests I can edit your entire world without delay—it is not divided into separate elements. I additionally created an overlay for myself that reveals the display screen boundaries in order that I can see how every display screen connects and design multi-screen situations.

Perhaps I am forgetting one thing, however I can solely actually bear in mind one form of multi-screen puzzle within the recreation, which is to launch your lime at a sure place and angle (typically a flat horizontal angle) in order that it travels by means of a number of screens and finally ends up at a brand new location. There are some areas the place it is extra apparent you are able to do this than others, so I feel I wished the participant to get used to this concept after which begin serious about whether or not they can use it to make progress elsewhere.

Likewise, a few of the puzzles lengthen into the bottom in ways in which really feel such as you’re doing issues the sport would not intend (regardless that they’re clearly speculated to be potential). How did you create that feeling of discovering secrets and techniques and doing belongings you weren’t speculated to be able to?

I feel it is a direct consequence of designing many of the ranges across the lime energy reasonably than creating situations the place you are anticipated to make use of a selected merchandise. The “unintended” feeling in all probability comes from the truth that folks can see how, in idea, they might get previous the display screen with some troublesome and exact lime strikes, however as a substitute they use gadgets to make it considerably simpler.

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There are additionally some areas the place it is not likely apparent the way to do it with the lime alone, and there are a number of different options involving inventive merchandise use. When a participant finds one in all these “inventive merchandise use” options, it in all probability feels “unintended” (even when it is one thing I predicted and allowed for) as a result of there is not actually a way that the world was designed to trace in direction of that resolution. With some uncommon exceptions, the extent design typically doesn’t “information the participant” in direction of options involving gadgets as a result of every little thing was simply designed across the lime.

On the identical time, clearing the sport lime-only (and even lime-and-house-only) is clearly actually troublesome, so avoiding gadgets would not really feel “meant” both.

A part of the driving drive of the sport got here from assembly folks and serving to them. What concepts went into creating enjoyable, charming folks to satisfy and giving them attention-grabbing issues to wish assist with?

Nicely, the characters on this recreation have an odd and lengthy historical past as a result of they weren’t initially created for Sylvie Lime in any respect. The preliminary variations of the characters have been created for a detective/thriller recreation that me and Aria have been serious about however by no means made a lot progress in creating. We each actually like thriller tales however do not know the way to write one.

As observe, we considered making a mini-mystery (or possibly a sequence!) that focuses on simply 5 characters who all observe distinct archetypes: a mature, perceptive, no-nonsense detective; a cool, mysterious lady who likes teasing folks and appears to know greater than she lets on; a candy and mild lady who’s straightforward to control; her combative pal who’d do something to guard her; and a complicated lady who appears to behave with the only real function of sowing chaos and discord. These archetypes have been principally developed with the purpose of creating attention-grabbing characters for mysteries. Their personalities conflict in numerous enjoyable methods, and besides possibly for the detective, it is simple to give you motives for why they’d commit or help with against the law.

These archetypes are a bit totally different from the characters that ended up in Sylvie Lime. Because the authentic thriller recreation will in all probability by no means be made, I can reveal one of many plot twists. It seems that the characters are literally a part of a online game world, and each is being managed by an actual individual. So, there was going to be a second set of characters who could be the “gamers” of the characters from the primary set. It is this second set which developed into Sylvie Lime‘s NPCs. Principally, Sylvie Lime‘s characters have been born from serious about what sort of individual would roleplay every of the characters from the thriller recreation.

Now, the self-esteem of the story in Sylvie Lime is that the 5 NPCs you meet are a part of a pc membership, and collectively, this membership developed the sport “Sylvie Lime” they usually inserted themselves into the sport as NPCs to allow them to communicate to the participant.

So, this launched one other twist. Now as a substitute of pondering of the characters as individuals who roleplay as criminals on-line, I had to consider what they’d be like as online game builders. So, in fact, I drew on plenty of my very own experiences. A variety of the issues the characters say are simply true statements about what I did when making the sport, and plenty of the design philosophies the characters categorical correspond to my very own opinions. Among the “arguments” between characters signify issues I felt some inside battle about.

On the identical time, the characters are usually not simply mouthpieces for me or a illustration of my interior monologue. As a result of the characters began with their very own fundamental character, plenty of them ended up saying issues which can be counter to my opinions, or behaving in ways in which I would not behave. Some characters are like me, however some are extra like an individual I’d look as much as or an individual who I was like up to now.

I assume it is a good distance of claiming that my purpose was not likely to create enjoyable, charming folks to satisfy and provides them attention-grabbing issues to wish assist with, or a minimum of not in an express manner. For the thriller recreation, I approached it by making an attempt to think about characters who would have attention-grabbing interactions with one another, versus the participant, and in addition might be credibly accused of crimes. When these characters developed into the Sylvie Lime characters, every character’s character grew to become influenced by my very own in a posh style.

The guts-pounding romantic occasions that occur in Sylvie Lime are form of a mix of half-baked plot concepts from the deserted thriller recreation, and my private emotions about love and experiences with love. Finally, I feel I used to be simply counting on the hope that I’m enjoyable and charming and there are attention-grabbing issues I need assistance with.


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