Some time ago, a mysterious link was added to my site's sidebar to feed search engines, but I never got around to explain what the deal was with that link.
Well, it turns out that I've been semi-secretly working on a certain retro-style platformer game, Frogatto, along with other people from the Battle for Wesnoth Project. My work in Frogatto is almost exclusively in the level design area, although I've also done some minor object coding.
There are two things that attracted me to Frogatto:
Firstly, I have wanted since around 2006 to create a sidescrolling platformer engine of my own — that project, codenamed “Mesiga”, unfortunately, finally died around the end of last year after several years with no significant progress and no content to work with. But then, I stumbled upon Frogatto per David White (a.k.a. Sirp)'s recommendation during a talk about writing text parsers in C++, around 2008. I didn't pay much attention to Frogatto back then, but near December last year I started testing Frogatto mainly using it as a test case for the Mesa 7.7 DRI drivers for ATI R600-based chipsets. Around February some Wesnoth developers (including me) reported a Mesa issue affecting Frogatto which got quickly solved.
Secondly, Frogatto's level editor ease of use impressed me, although I don't have a lot of experience with tile-based game level editors in the first place — mainly with Wesnoth's map editor, a few fan-made editors for Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons, and TED5, the editor originally used for creating the levels in Commander Keen: Goodbye Galaxy! and Rise of the Triad. The nicest feature offered by Frogatto's editor is being able to place objects and set their parameters (unlike in Wesnoth), and actually preview some of their behavior without leaving the editor.
The editor is so flexible due to its usage of objects and automatic tiling that I instantly fell in love with it and made three levels of my own, reported bugs with some objects' behavior, and got invited to take part in the level design when there were only three or four forest area levels and only three quarters of the seaside level set done.
We have been working hard into bringing the first release of the game to completion and so far things are looking very well. In fact, the level set is rather complete now and most of the work remaining to be done is polishing what's finished and tying some loose knots in the art department.
The game engine itself is free software (in the “freedom” sense), but the game's content is not. See our About page for details. Frogatto runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X as long as OpenGL support works. Naturally, you'll need drivers which support hardware-accelerated rendering for the best experience. Note that despite Frogatto using OpenGL interfaces for rendering, it's entirely 2D in terms of gameplay and graphics.
Frogatto will also be available as a paid AppStore application for iPhone and iPad once it's released, which means that you'll be able to waste your time playing as a frog no matter where you are at the moment!
If you are curious about which mainline levels were designed by me, here's a list:
- Water adventure (superseded by Rock-a-Fort)
- Water adventure 2 (superseded by Flooded Caverns)
- Downhill from Here (later known as Downhill after a major edit by me)
- Rock-a-Fort and its small cave sub-level
- Flooded Caverns
- Fan House and its small sub-level (neither are connected to the main levelset yet)
Forest area (world2)
- Twisted Trees
- Peaceful Pond (to be removed from the main levelset unless I change my mind)
- Autumn Town (to be removed from the main levelset, at least for the first release)
- Eerie Arbor
- Bon Bosque (both versions)
Cave area/Limestone caverns (world3)
(Notably, I've designed all of the levels in this set. There are other cave levels around that are not part of this set which were designed by other people. Still, some cave levels may need to be cut from the first release to avoid monotony, etc.)
- Rocky Roots
- Caverns of holes
- Underground river
- Darkness Central
- Bombing Fools
- Hidden Depths
- Watery Alley
- Plagued Mine
- Bug Mining
- Fast Lane
- Hanging Platforms (formerly known as Plagued Mine, otherwise unrelated to the current level of the same name)
- The ancient secret (codename — may need to be removed from the first release but it's a WIP intended to be a secret level removed now)
Dungeon levels/Milgram's Fortress (world4)
(The only mainline levels here that weren't designed by me are Sirp's, “Dungeon Blocks,” and Jetrel's, which are Milgram's Throne Room prelude, main level and epilogue level.)
- Killer Bunnies
- Burning Stone
- Dark Corridor (codenamed Doomy Dooms of Doom)
- Dungeon Crawling
It's been an amazing 5-month work which has almost been halted by a great earthquake and a broken power adapter (twice). Admittedly, I had to abandon IftU to get more work done in less time, but I think it's a fair trade since Wesnoth campaign maintenance has slowly become a sucky job due to the always changing conventions with every mainline development cycle.
I couldn't finish my own platformer engine as I wanted, but instead I found this awesome opportunity to design nice levels inspired by my favorite platformers of the DOS gaming era (Commander Keen and Jazz Jackrabbit), this time with a heavy focus in fun, yet reasonably challenging gameplay and ambient design thanks to Jetrel (also Wesnoth's Art Director) and Neorice's (also a Wesnoth artist) awesome art and Sirp's brilliantly designed engine. The main background music used in the seaside levels is also remarkably sweet, provided by Rain, another Wesnoth musician who has provided such epic themes as “Suspense” and “Knalgan Theme” to the strategy game.
We'll need lots of testing to make sure the final product's quality is what we've been aiming for and that nothing's been broken or messed up during development. It's a highly recommended game for retro-freaks like me.