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This game concept was initially suggested by @Anemone and refined into the following pitch by a group of community members. For more details on that, see this thread!

To see current development progress and participate, visti the The Lost Dev Team subforum!

The Lost Dev Team is a single player puzzle platformer similar to The Lost Vikings or The Cave. Players take on the role of three game developers trying to escape a series of game prototypes. Each character has two or three unique special abilities that together can be used to avoid enemies, unlock new areas and reach hidden items. For instance, the musician could blow a horn to blast a character over a gap, the programmer could "hack" locked doors, or the artist could add a ladder leading to a new area or remove one to prevent an enemy from descending. Vote for The Lost Dev Team and help these poor developers find a way home!

Presented by @Jenni

 

The Lost Dev Team is a puzzle platformer inspired by games such as The Lost Vikings, The Cave and the Aaaaah! Real Monsters! game. Players take control and guide three game developers who find themselves trapped within a collection of game prototypes. Each character has a small number of unique skills that together, allow the group to traverse obstacles, solve puzzles and avoid or defeat enemies in order to get to the end of the level. Each character should have at least one "solo skill" and at least one "cooperative skill" that provides benefit to the other two characters.

With The Lost Dev Team's levels representing different game prototypes, aesthetic consistency isn't important, though a shared, tile based approach to level creation could speed up level design. Level layouts and puzzles will need to be tailored around combinations of specific character abilties, so character designs will need to be settled on early to reduce the amount of "breakage" existing levels will suffer as they're tuned.

 

Concept art by @lightsoda @Jenni and @Cheeseness

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@Anemone also wrote some detailed notes on the concept, its influences, and appraoches to design:

Quote

GENERAL CONCEPT / INSPIRATION:

 

The general inspiration for the idea comes from the old The Lost Vikings games and their element of being a "teamwork simulator" for a single player. The basic idea is that you have a team of three characters. These three characters are controlled separately by swapping between them. Each character has its own set of 2 or 3 things it can do especially well that the others on the team cannot do very well. In the lost vikings, there were differences in each character's jump skill (you might draw a comparison here to Super Mario 2), their movement speed, their ability to attack/defend, and so on. Their skill sets are designed in such a way that each team member can not only do 1 or 2 things the others cannot (or not well), but also can do 1 or 2 things to sort of augment the others' skills. For example, maybe one character has the ability to hold a shield above his head, making himself a human platform for the other characters, which is a skill he alone possesses. And so on with the rest of the team, each character having at least one "solo skill" that is a thing he or she alone can do and at least one "cooperative skill" that allows him/her to boost or augment the other team members in some unique way.

 

The primary gameplay, then, is a traversal puzzle. How do you get this entire team composed of three different people with three different skill sets from A to B. Sometimes they will have to split the party so that the experts can accomplish something only they can do, and sometimes they will need to converge the party to make use of their cooperation. (In a way, it's sort of like complex sokobon. All of these characters have to be moved to the goal to win, but the levels are designed to make it difficult or unclear how it is possible for all three team members to make it there.)

 

For the lost dev team, it might be fun to explore this concept as a team of three lost game developers, where their skill sets are somewhat related to their unique role on the dev team instead of what kind of viking they are. Maybe it's a team comprised of Sound Person, Art Person, and Programmer Person. Or maybe it's three other roles. We'll see what ideas we can think up.

 

As for the game world, it could go one of two ways. Either it is a complete fantasy where the dev team wakes up in a fantasy world (e.g. maybe the world is a series of their own game pitches). But it could also be a "real world" fantasy, where the developers get kidnapped by aliens while at a convention (or some other amusing scenario). The game would be cartoony and humorous in tone, of course.

 

EXPANDED IDEAS / CONCEPTS / INSPIRATIONS:

 

There are a handful of other games that were inspired by or are similar to The Lost Vikings in some way or another. These could also be looked to for ideas or inspiration. Some of these games include (but are not limited to):

 

MANIAC MANSION / THE CAVE: Both games are developed by Ron Gilbert and both games put you in control of a team of characters, each with unique talents, that you can swap between. However, there are differences. For example, The Cave puts much more emphasis on individual characters exploring their own stories and puts less emphasis on levels designed in a way that intensely tests inter-character cooperation in the same way The Lost Vikings does.

 

TRINE: A game where you control three characters, each with their own unique ability sets. The difference is that this game essentially only has you controlling one character (that can switch between three different forms) whereas The Lost Vikings has you control all three characters separately. So to get from A to B, you would have to individually move each character from A to B. Trine just lumps them all into one basket. Trine also puts much more emphasis on action, platforming, and combat, whereas the original Lost Vikings, much like The Cave, was more focused on traversal/puzzles (albeit with some light combat bits).

 

Aaaaaah! Real Monsters! (SNES): Now here is an interesting one. This game was similar to Trine in that you moved all three characters as a single character, but the other two characters you weren't controlling would follow the controlled character. This game interestingly incorporated an idea that The Lost Vikings, Trine, and The Cave did not, which is to give each character a "trine skill" that requires all three team members to be present. In Real Monsters, for example, these were: (1) Ickis' trine skill = all three party members hold hands and "crack the whip" to launch themselves an especially long distance; (2) Oblina's trine skill = all three party members stack themselves into a totem with Oblina at the top, allowing her to reach an especially high platform and then pull the rest of the party up; (3) Krum's trine skill = ickis uses oblina like a golf club to whack one of krum's eyeballs far across the level (passing through walls), allowing the team to recon what lies ahead or on the opposite side of doors, etc.

 

OTHER POSSIBLE IDEAS / IMPROVEMENTS:

 

While controlling each party member separately is fine most of the time in a game like The Lost Vikings, it can potentially feel annoying to the player when they just have to walk all three members of the team across ten feet of flat ground with no obstacles. It might be a good idea to allow each team member to use some kind of "rally" or "follow" command that makes the other team members automatically rally to the current position if there is nothing stopping them from doing so.

 

The Lost Vikings and most of the games cited that are similar to it are some kind of 2D sidescrolling puzzle platformer. But if the team can think of a way to do a top-down Zelda style version of the concept that is equally fun, then that is not outside the realm of possibility!

 

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Another good inspirational game for this would be Gobliiins. Each level was one screen where an objective had to be met (get past an enemy, give a wizard a treasure, etc.). Each character had a unique ability (One could pick up and use items, the fighter could punch objects, the wizard could cast magic), which had to be used on the interactive elements of the scene to complete it.

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Much respect for the Aaaaaah! Real Monsters! influence. 

This sounds like a fun little game. Great job to everyone involved so far. 

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I will be very surprised if more than 1 or 2 people knows anything about the Aaaaaah! Real Monsters game. xD

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22 minutes ago, Anemone said:

I will be very surprised if more than 1 or 2 people knows anything about the Aaaaaah! Real Monsters game. xD

I have to admit that I was more of a fan of the Rocko's Modern Life SNES game, but I rented all of those Nickelodeon games from Blockbuster back in the day (how's that for a sentence to make me feel old). 

 

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I loved (and still do) Rocko's Modern Life but wasn't a big fan of the game because it was just ONE HUGE ESCORT MISSION

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@Anemone, I like the thought you put into your pitch and I believe it's a concept that is also well suited for open collaboration like Amnesia Adventure. I leaned towards the latter because it would be a more point and click gameplay, but I really do appreciate your references to games as a potential launching off points for inspiration. A very recent loose example of the collaboration dynamic (though not with different abilities split between characters) is Snipperclips. That one has some pretty cool puzzles past the first world.

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No problem, @VideoGameScrapBook. If you hang around the community enough, you'll soon realize that the place is bursting at the seams with point-and-click adventure fans, so pitching an adventure game around here is, to say the least, hardly unpopular. ;-)

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As we lead up toward the end of voting that will decide the "main" community project, it'd be good to get some discussion on nailing down what kind of shape this project might take. Ultimately the group that put together the community pitches will be making decisions on what engine to use and so forth (so that we don't get bogged down in that stuff when we kick the doors open and allow everyone to start contributing), but we'd definitely like to inform those decisions with perspectives and opinions from the broader community, so discussion is super welcome!

I think the key things to try to identify first are going to be what kind of character abilities are worth investigating (this is likely to involve some example puzzle use-cases), since they're the core gameplay that the rest of the game is anchored around. I think there's probably also some value in thinking about whether or not a common level editor should be used (eg: a tile based editor would help speed up level creation/design and make sure that levels are built from elements that match the characters' abilities).

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Is this where  we volunteer to work on a game? or does that only apply to the winner? I don't have much experience, but would love to learn the basics--even if its a very rudimentary game like this, or pongball, I'd love to be a part of this :)

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4 minutes ago, Don Grant said:

Is this where  we volunteer to work on a game? or does that only apply to the winner? I don't have much experience, but would love to learn the basics--even if its a very rudimentary game like this, or pongball, I'd love to be a part of this :)

We'll be letting people know how they can get involved with the main project as we get closer to the 12th. Keep an eye out!

 

As we get closer to wrapping up the voting period, I wanted to share a few extra snippets. Here are two title panels I made for The Lost Dev Team's pitch video before handing it off to @Jenni to expand upon/finish off, and my super rough storyboards for the pitch video. I was considering keeping character visuals as simple silhouettes for the pitch (while still including @lightsoda's lovely character concepts) and focusing more on the visual story/comedy. The mischievousness of the musician character in the pitch arose from not quite having the right kind of space for another sad/upset face in the monitor.

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Voting is over. Pongball has been selected as the primary community project! Thanks for helping us pick, everyone! We'll have some posts up later today with some more information on how things are going to work from here. Development will kick off on the 12th!

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