Above The Waves

About

Above The Waves is a short point and click adventure game that tells the tale of a cute octopus with a fascination for the stars.

Above The Waves

The game was originally created in two weeks for the 2015 AdventureJam game jam, and an enhanced version is currently in development. The initial AdventureJam version of the game is available to play for free, and can be downloaded from the Downloads page.

Continue reading below for recent Above The Waves news!

Last updated: 02 Sep 2015

A New Website

Time flies! As we draw closer to being able to give the enhanced version of Above The Waves the development attention it deserves, we felt it would be good to put together a small site for the game.

Moving forward, atw.twolofbees.com will be the primary place to discover and learn more about the game, and it will be where we upload artwork, screenshots and videos of the enhanced edition when we have something to share.

For those keeping track, we had been hoping to have an early version of enhanced edition ready for previewing this month, but unfortunately, other commitments have prevented us from being able to make the progress we would have liked. Don't fear. The sea is in our hearts and Yok-yok is always on our minds.

Last updated: 02 Sep 2015

Some Thoughts From Mim

I posted some thoughts on Above The Waves over on Two Lof Bees. Go read them! Or read this excerpt! Read!

So, last month Cheese decided he was going to participate in this #Adventure Jam thing. Apparently, some groovy people on the internet (Cassie Benter & Stacy Davidson) decided to make an adventure game in 2 weeks and invited the whole world to join them in this forntight-long adventure game jam thing.

Having only recently learned that the theme for the MAICon event coming up in September was going to be 'Under the Sea,' Cheese was inspired and excited to do something sea-themed. What emerged was a cute little adventure game about an orange octopus named Yok-yok, who is scooped up from the sea by aliens. Yok-yok has to figure out how to get the spaceship going again with the help of the other sea creatures that have been collected by the aliens. Oh, and we decided to call it Above the Waves :3

Overall, it's been fun, and I only wish that Cheese and I had been actually able to devote the full fortnight to the game, rather than having our jam interrupted by silly little things like having to work, and sleep, and so on. Lots of love to everyone who's played the game (lofloflofloflof!) and to everyone who's going to check it out now that you've seen this blog post (lofloflofloflofloflof!) - we love you all, thanks so much for your support! Peace, out.

Last updated: 02 Sep 2015

Using SLUDGE To Make A Point And Click Adventure

First up, for anybody hoping for an update to Above The Waves, sorry! We’re hoping to expand the game later this year, but we’re not ready to talk about that just yet.

Instead, this post is a bit more reflective, and looks at the experiences of making a game using the SLUDGE engine. It’s an excerpt from a much longer article which dives into using SLUDGE’s tools and runs through some of Above The Waves' source code.

Picking An Engine

Any time I’m about to start a new project, I like to have a look around and see what tech there is out there that fits that project’s needs. With Above The Waves being my first proper attempt at a point and click adventure game, it was time to dive in and experiment with some new tools.

Beyond aligning with the specific needs of a project, my requirements are usually a mix of one or more of the following:

  • Must be Free Software (the power to do a meaningful permissive source release is super valuable regardless of whether it’s now or later)
  • Must be usable on Linux from a development perspective (I’ve used tools in Wine before, but I prefer to not)
  • Must be deployable to Linux, Mac and Windows (huzzah)
  • Must show some promise as a usable solution (appears "finished" enough to be functional)

For Above The Waves, I knew that I wanted something capable of providing a point and click adventure style experience. To keep the amount of tech development time down during Adventure Jam’s two week window, convenience methods and tools for common 2D adventure game style functionality (automatic nav mesh traversal, perspective scaling, sprite animation, depth handling, etc.) felt essential.

Based on previous research, I had narrowed down four engine possibilities that seemed to fit most of my requirements.

  • AGS (Artistic License)
  • Godot (MIT)
  • ScummVM (GPL)
  • SLUDGE (LGPL)

Narrowing down options here was pretty straightforward. ASG’s lack of native Linux tools made it easy to cross it off the list. Likewise, ScummVM doesn’t have much in the way of available tools either (there is a Qt based Linux compatible editor for the AGI engine, but its last code update was in 2012), and the ScummVM developers frame targeting it for new projects as "not advisable".

Godot was a serious consideration. With it being used for The Interactive Mendonça Adventures of Dog & Pizzaboy, Godot has been getting a bunch of 2D point and click adventure specific enhancements. Some of these had made their way in by the time Adventure Jam rolled around, whilst others have come into the codebase more recently. Godot’s level of complexity and learning curve looked to be steeper than SLUDGE, and with the window I had available, I decided to put Godot aside for later use.

SLUDGE seemed to map fairly well against what I was looking for - it’s LGPL licenced, runs on the three major desktop platforms, and consists of an engine (a common binary that’s the "player" for a SLUDGE data file, much as AGS or Unity might have), a spritesheet builder, a nav polygon editor and a tool for creating depth masks, and a utility for managing localisations. The engine and toolset also compile on Linux, Mac and Windows.

At the core of SLUDGE is the scripting language itself. This language is fairly straightforward, but has a number of idiosyncrasies that I’ll go into later. The SLUDGE compiler builds scripts into some kind of bytecode that the SLUDGE engine can run.

I’d been aware of SLUDGE for some time and had had some recommendations from friends, but hadn’t really had a project suitable to use as a testbed. I also have a couple of acquaintances who’ve previously used it that I felt I could nudge for assistance if I needed it. In addition to being able to look at friends’ projects (thanks Rusty!), I had access to several example projects on the SLUDGE website that looked like they would cover most of the functionality I would need if I wasn’t able to figure it out myself.

SLUDGE was originally created by Hungry Software for their own games (there’s not a lot of solid information about timeframes that I can find, but so far as I can tell, that started with Out of Order), and has since been released under open licences (the engine itself is LGPL, and the suite of editing tools is GPL).

In hindsight, I’m glad I checked out SLUDGE. It was a good opportunity to mess around with the tools, and it was enjoyably fast to put things together.

If you’re keen to read more about SLUDGE and check out some snippets of source code from Above The Waves, check out this article.

This post was originally published on Above The Waves' GameJolt profile.

Last updated: 02 Sep 2015

Linux Build Plus Some Notes

Linux builds are finally up (sorry for the wait!), meaning that all three major desktop platforms now have conveniently playable builds. Yay!

I wanted to take a moment to mention some things that might be beneficial to new players to help them appreciate the game a little better.

  • Left click will interact with objects in the world
  • Right click will expand your inventory, allowing you to use things you’ve picked up with object in the world
  • There are more than three scenes (there are 16 all up!)
  • The interaction highlight for most usable objects will disappear once a puzzle has been solved
  • The red fish is a puffer fish - they can expand from being very small to very large very quickly!
  • There’s only a generic "use" animation when interacting with stuff (with front, back, left and right variations). We had hoped to put a shrug, and "I can’t do that" type animation in, but we ran out of time
  • Don’t worry about your starfish friend. In a cutscene that didn’t make it into the game, you are reunited and everything is happy :)
  • The small orange circuit breaker has a tiny, tiny click target
  • It can be hard to tell what needs to be done in the computer core, and what the requirements of each action are

We’re planning to revist the game and flesh out some of the missing bits and pieces, but we’d like to leave the game as it is until the Adventure Jam voting process is over (click here to vote for Above The Waves if you like it, and do check out the other games as well!). For anybody who’s interested, here’s a list of stuff that we’re likely to add/improve:

  • Positive and negative animation cues for player interactions
  • Environmental audio
  • Sound cues for player interactions
  • Anmations for other sea creatures
  • Missing background art
  • Additional cutscenes
  • More detail in the final puzzle
  • Save/load support

And since it’s always nice to include a picture in a post, here’s a shot of Mim working on some art with one of our the octopus friends we have floating around our house ^_^

This post was originally published on Above The Waves' GameJolt profile.

Last updated: 02 Sep 2015

Running Late

So, it seems we’ve missed the Adventure Jam deadline!

We’re still hammering away at bringing everything together and should have something ready to upload this afternoon.

Thanks to everybody who’s shared kind words and encouragement so far. We’re nearly there :D

Below are some concept pieces and a screenshot for anybody who might not have seen them.

This post was originally published on Above The Waves' GameJolt profile.

Last updated: 02 Sep 2015

AdventureJam 2015

Hi people!

I’m teaming up with my artistic cohort and personal walrus Mim to create what we hope will be a sweet, charming tale about a wee octopus with a love for the stars.

We’re still locking down the style at this stage, but currently we’re aiming for a crisp vector look and feel, although a more sketchy/and painted style is also being considered.

We’re both tweeting a few bits of pieces of WIP stuff, so if you’re interested in watching the game evolve over the next couple of weeks, feel free to follow @ValiantCheese and @MimLofBees.

This is my first time designing a graphical point and click adventure game, and Mim’s first time at animating. I’m hoping that together we will make something memorable ^_^

This post was originally published on Above The Waves' GameJolt profile.

Last updated: 02 Sep 2015