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Flopulus Official Thread
Posted: 16 November 2012 05:45 PM
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Project Lead: Drew Skillman

Flopulus is a destruction based platformer where you must escape a massive industrial Factory using your powers of inflation and deflation.  Because absolutely everything in the Factory, including Flopulus, is completely physics driven, you can think of him as your very own floppy muscle through which you push, squeeze, jump, and navigate the world.  Crawl underneath a box and then inflate to launch it into the air.  Or deflate, then quickly inflate to launch yourself into the air.  Slipping off that conveyer belt?  Deflate and you’ll spread yourself across it and hang on. 

Although your origin is mysterious, the Factory is filled with other crates that have your picture on them.  Could these be your brothers and sisters, and what will be their fate!?  Free them by knocking them off ledges, pushing them into hydraulic pistons, or using any other clever solutions you can dream up.

As you learn more about the Factory and its sinister purpose, take solace that through clever manipulation of its machines, you can demolish it section by section for POINTS as you make your escape!

flopulus.com

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Posted: 16 November 2012 06:07 PM
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I uploaded the “proof of concept” demo I made for you guys to check out!  It’s just a sandbox environment for flopping around and trying to nail down what types of physics and destruction puzzles will be the most fun. 

There’s a fancy version: Fancy Demo
And a fast version for those on older machines or laptops: Fast Demo

Also - after posting my original video it became clear that I focused a bit too much on flopping around and not enough on the actual story behind the game.  Here’s a super rough early pitch video that does a better job of explaining that:

Pitch Video
   
try_playing_large.jpg

[ Edited: 23 November 2012 12:07 AM by DF Drew ]
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Posted: 19 November 2012 05:29 PM
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Very interesting demo. I think it really sells the idea.
I think, so far the biggest problem are the controls. It’s fairly dificult to get the blob to do what you want it to do (if you are using a keyboard). I wonder how it would play if it were to use a 3rd person perspective and controls similar to Psychonauts. That could also help to identify with the blob and give a whole different outlook on the puzzles.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 05:30 PM
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That demo is awesome!

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Posted: 19 November 2012 05:41 PM
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Hey Dimitri - thanks for the feedback!  I agree the keyboard is not ideal for moving Flopulus around.  When i was messing with it I was using an XBOX controller (which should work if you have one plugged in), and that felt much better. The analog input is a good match for the “analog” physics of Flopulus as he’s moving around.  Your idea about a 3rd person follow camera would be really fun to try. If it’s successful I’ll upload a version for you to check out.

Also - thanks Tim!!

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Posted: 19 November 2012 07:09 PM
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Glad I could be of help.
I just looked at the project “Primordial Slime” and it has striking similarities to yours. I think the main difference is that Primordial Slime is designed for touch devices and I would imagine their gameplay to be based on a sort of sling-shot mechanic.
I don’t know about and I don’t want to upset any internal team-dynamics, but this seems like an opportunity to combine the two ideas. Maybe there’s two characters: One who behaves like yours, and the other who does a sling-shot-thing.

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XP Sorry, I shouldn’t be meddling. XD

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Posted: 19 November 2012 07:18 PM
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I get good vibes from this pitch! Reminds me of World of Goo, probably because of the eyes on the ooze, and also because you destroy a factory, which might have also happened in some levels of World of Goo (there was an allmighty corporation at least). Of course, gameplay is rather different, save for the stretchy physics, here you go for a platformer, which is awesome! I love a good platformer. Too bad they’re so rare on the PC, especially the 3D kind! So, I’d love another one. smile

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Posted: 19 November 2012 10:28 PM
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Hm, the demo was interesting, but it was a little tough/annoying to control the blob. What kind of challenges would the player face in the game, is there anything other than environment destruction to solve the puzzles?

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Posted: 19 November 2012 11:24 PM
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I feel that many of the other proposals havent really considered gameplay at all yet. This has the most promise to be genuinely entertaining gameplay wise, so I’m really disappointed with the current results.

One has to wonder if the vote totals would be different if they weren’t displayed. People tend to vote for only the top picks when vote totals are available. Perhaps next time they should be kept hidden so that the hive-mind effect doesn’t allow early voters to essentially lock in a top 6 early

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Posted: 20 November 2012 05:25 AM
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I can only agree with bradsh. Gameplay should always be considered first.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 11:13 AM
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Thanks for the great feedback you guys!  And also for checking out the demo :D

@Dimitri - we actually did talk about fusing our ideas.  We realized a few days before launch that we had independently come up with soft body blob games.  I think if either of our projects were picked we would join forces since we’ve both been thinking those puzzles for a while.

@BigZ - I didn’t put this stuff in the pitch, but here are a few other design details:
- You do have crates of your other blobs that you have to free.  These would primarily be solved via destruction puzzles where you use the environment, machines, and any physics in the area to break them free.  As an example you might need to break into the control room for an area, manipulate the controls, and finally reverse the right conveyor belts to break the crates free.

- I’d also like to have Quality Assurance Robots patrolling the area and scanning for problems in the Factory.  So there’d be the added tension of trying to avoid getting spotted by those guys.

- And finally your biggest challenge is staying alive and escaping!  That will involve surviving the perils of the factory, while also making your way to the end of each level. 

Also Marble Madness was one of the big inspirations, and that’s why I don’t entirely dislike the fact that Flopulus can be a bit tricky to pilot around.  A lot of the gameplay is built on the challenge of learning how he moves around and eventually mastering his movement.

@bradsh Thanks I’m glad you see the promise in it!!  Playing with Flopulus in the test level convinced me that it could be a really fun experience - it was definitely a game conceived out of those early gameplay experiments.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 03:38 PM
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This reminds me of Gish.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 07:02 PM
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Yup - that came up a lot when I was brainstorming ideas.  The biggest difference I’d call out is the fully 3D physics and world, the setting, and an emphasis on destruction.  I think done right this game could have a lot of the fun of wrecking stuff like Angry Birds, but a lot more agency then simply flinging a bird and seeing what happens.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 07:07 PM
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i really liked the demo, played it for a while. i’d imagine it to work perfectly as a xbox arcade game grin

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Posted: 20 November 2012 09:44 PM
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Just wanted to say that demo is amazing! The blob physics are great.  My favorite part is his eyes bugging out, lol.

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Posted: 21 November 2012 01:53 PM
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Hey thanks AdventureDude and Lyke!  I really appreciate it smile  I had a lot of fun trying to get him to make really weird expressions as he was rolling around.  In case you’re curious, this was a physics test I did that was the inspiration for it originally: http://flopulus.com/inspiration/

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Posted: 22 November 2012 03:56 AM
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The other pitch video drop box link doesn’t work at the moment.

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Posted: 22 November 2012 04:58 AM
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Hey, joined the forum to tell you I love the idea of Flopulus! Having now played the demo I definitely would like such a game. I think it controls fine with a keyboard. I also think it could use a “speed up / dash” key because the blob tends to slow down a lot.

If the camera is always fixed, you could use the mouse as an alternate, analog control method - the further the pointer moved from the centre of the screen, the faster the blob goes in that direction. It would need a simple HUD element to show how far the pointer is in any direction. (if you’ve played Freelancer, the spaceship game, it has something similar. See the arrows and reticule in this pic Freelancer.jpg )

It would be cool if you add collectibles all over the level - you know, gold coins or whatever. And some would be in harder to reach places, requiring crouch-jumps (deflate-inflates) and having higher value. Every x amount of coins would let the blob do one “explosive inflate” on demand.

Question, what happens to Flopulus as a project if it doesn’t make it in Amnesia Fortnight?

[ Edited: 22 November 2012 05:03 AM by Bassem ]
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Posted: 22 November 2012 09:30 AM
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Maybe the blobs are used in crazy (and probably completely nonsensical) machines. And you have to figure out ways to systimatically destroy those machines. If the destruction is based on physics (preventing cogs from moving, putting weight on tubes, etc) and you have sufficient ways to interact with objects and there are sufficient objects around you, you could find all sorts of creative approaches to deal with the problem at hand… Would be quite the design challenge and potentially very innovative.

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Posted: 23 November 2012 12:18 AM
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@Nulian - thanks for the heads up on the broken link.  Fixed now.

@Bassem - Hey I really appreciate that freelancer pic!  I did experiment with some mouse based analog movement and you’re right, I think it does have promise.  One of the tricky parts I ran into is that it can be hard to “zero” out the movement since you have to get the cursor back near the center of the screen.  I can see the little reticle in your freelancer pic though - something visual like that seems like it could do the trick.  Intriguingly, I also found that it works really well if moving the mouse in any direction “rolls” flopulus around.  It feels very physical that way - BUT the problem is that you run your hand off the mousepad and then have to lift it up, which is of course a deal breaker.

Earlier in the thread Dmitri mentioned trying out a third person follow camera - it’s interesting to think of how that might impact the controls too.  Although I do like the “marble madness” inspired perspective that’s in there currently.

And I’m absolutely in agreement with your suggestion about collectibles littered absolutely everywhere.  That would let me introduce a nice element of time attack where players who have mastered the physics of his movement could challenge each other to collect everything as fast as possible.  It seems like there’s all kinds of different approaches one could take to a level to get everything as quickly as possible - almost like mastering a level in the original tony hawk, where you can pick and master your favorite route.

So far I’ve been thinking of the Flopulus crates as the collectibles, I like the idea of having to break them open to make it a little more challenging than just a normal pickup you have to touch.  A combination of both would probably work well too.

If it doesn’t make the cut I think it’s shelved - likely forever! <gulp>  So at this point I’m just learning what I can from the process and your guys feedback is the best part!  That way I can evaluate what was working and what I could do differently next time, so thanks!!!

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Posted: 23 November 2012 12:34 AM
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@Dimitri

YES!  That’s exactly what I’d like to do - complex machines that are completely physics driven.  The goal would be to create a physics driven world, and the fact that flopulus himself is completely physical means there could be all kinds of different ways to stop the machines, saving your floppy bro’s.  Some of them might have elegantly authored solutions - i.e. Knock off the crate, that releases the pulley, that drops a big chunk of metal into the conveyor belt, jamming it up.

But others could be more emergent - build a tower of blocks to get inside the conveyor belt, and just start knocking gears off of it until the whole thing grinds to a halt.  Not a super slick solution, but the building blocks are there for you to do anything you want with them.

The more I think about it - the more I really like to conceptualize flopulus as the simplest, fully physical “muscle” that you could put in a game.  In the not too distant future we could easily have complex characters who are made out of these types of “muscle” simulations, but for now we only really have the horsepower for one.  it’s still awesome though so let’s make a game about it!  That’s my thinking at least smile

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Posted: 23 November 2012 01:03 AM
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You know, it’s too bad this isn’t doing really well in the voting, as it has a great demo that shows the game could really work (though I wish I was using a controller instead of a keyboard). I love the pitches of some of the other games, but I really don’t know if they could be successfully made, especially in two weeks. I wonder how many people are checking out the forums, as it’d be great if on the voting page there was a link to try out the game.

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Posted: 23 November 2012 02:28 PM
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Yeah - i do think that a link to try out the game would have been a big help.  I did a new version of the trailer with that link way up front and center, but i wasn’t able to get my old video swapped out with it.  I did manage to get the humble bundle guys to add a link to the demo, but it’s in super small text at the bottom of the pitch page.  I don’t think anyone would notice it. 

It’s certainly interesting to learn that most people appear much more moved by a high concept than by a gameplay prototype.  Gonna definitely remember that for next time. smile

And yeah - so much better with the controller!  That way it’s a game that’s entirely analog all the way from the controller to game.  I think that’s really cool.  Most games would require jump logic like “if player presses B, add upward velocity to the player”.  This game is just, “connect the player directly to the blob physics through the controller, and we’ll see what they’re able to make happen”.

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Posted: 23 November 2012 03:19 PM
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I do think your right the video in this post would have probably gotten you a bit more votes. It is a really nice concept for a game exploring through a factory destroying stuff getting to the end.

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Posted: 23 November 2012 09:46 PM
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I wasn’t sure until I tried the video. Pretty fun.

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Posted: 24 November 2012 01:20 PM
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No matter how the voting goes, I hope this still gets made.

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