Gruniożerca 2

Gruniożerca 2
by on (#212827)
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Download
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(Includes basic English and Polish Manuals as well NesDev Comp. version of ROM)

Pronunciation
/ˈgru.ni.oʊˈʐɛr.t͡sa/

Overview
Gruniożerca 2 is a puzzle-platformer for the NES developed by Łukasz Kur & myself between November 2017 and January of 2018.

In it, you control Grunio, pet and guinea pig mascot of arhn.eu, on a quest to find his owner, gaming personality Dark Archon, who has gotten lost in the depths of their overly complex cellar.

Luckily, Grunio’s chew toys have been strewn all throughout the house, the cellar being no exception. So, help this piggie place blocks, swing squeaky hammers, push stools, press switches, collect keys, devour carrots, leap, climb, teeter, and tumble his way through 24 dark, dingy, and drab basement doors.

Objectives
  • Collect keys to open doors.
  • Consume a carrot before leaving each room.

Guinea Pig Controls:
Control Grunio Directly
Left / Right: Move Grunio
Down: (while in front of a switch) Press Switch
A: Jump
B: Enter Cavyvision
Start: Pause

Cavyvision Controls:
The World Through Heightened Guinea Pig Senses
D-Pad: Move Cursor
A: Place or Use Toy
B: Exit Cavyvision
Select: Cycle through Toys

Play Tips
  • Take control of the stool: Jump to get past it, or push it against a wall and jump into it to make it bounce back.
  • Keep a satiated guinea pig: To see the full ending, complete the game with all 24 carrots.
  • Stuck? There's neither penalty nor shame in restarting a puzzle from the pause menu.

Background
We initially began development on this for the Gramytatywnie annual charity event (for which Emunes.PL produced three physical copies of a special version of the game). With permission from the folks at arhn.eu, we decided the NesDev Competition seemed like the best opportunity for digitally releasing it.

We hope you enjoy.

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Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#212828)
Story leak: contains an adorable protagonist.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#212880)
That is very true. :)

OP updated.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213059)
I really like this game! It's really cute and I love the mechanic of having to strategically place down level pieces to get where you want to go.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213069)
Thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying it. When Łukasz came to me with the game idea, the block-placing mechanic was the core of what he had in mind. It made for some interesting challenges in puzzle design, as we tried to find a good balance between the number of possible solutions each puzzle has.

Anyway, OP updated with download link (of the comp. version) if anyone needs it.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213071)
This game's really cool! It might be my favorite of this year.

I can't get past the functional shelving level though. It doesn't seem like I can do anything on that level.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213073)
What a compliment. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

That stage is my attempt to force the player to learn how to get a stool off a wall. Jump straight into the stool, it'll bounce off the wall.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213077)
Download link updated with some art assets. I figured they could be helpful to have for folks playing on a Raspberry Pi or through some arcade front-end or whatnot.

Current Download Contents:
  • ROM (Nesdev Version)
  • Manual (English)
  • Manual (Polish)
  • Cover Art (English)
  • Cover Art (Polish)
  • Icon (In case I'm not the only person who creates shortcut links to ROMs and associates custom icons with them)
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213089)
This is the entry I played the most so far, very cool! The presentation is spot on, and the puzzle platforming is pretty fun!
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213108)
Quote:
We hope you enjoy.


I certainly did!

A lot of things i like here. Let me list the most significant ones to me:

-Extremely charming graphics and animation anyone should be able to enjoy, young or old.
-Moreover, the animation informs the player what Grunio is able to do.
-Good use of pastels
-Proof that a good idea can make a good game. If this game had just placeholder block graphics (which isn't to say they don't contribute because they most certainly do!), it'd still be able to be fun on its mechanical merits.
-Great music, and it's not just because it's a song. It creates an interesting contrast between its action packed, adventurous air, and the existential stipulations of a guinea pig (especially a pet one having a trip through the house).
-Personally, i'm not too great at puzzlers, but they're almost always enjoyable. So is this one. So it's great that it has a short password system for someone like me who'd like to do a few levels here and there.


Some nitpicks and ideas:
-I feel exiting the level should be the players' option. This is trivial in almost all levels, but there was one (#11) where i touched the door and lost my chance going for the carrot permanently for that session. I recognize that introducing such a choice poses the a new problem to the designer: how to make a voluntary level depth-axis exit an intuitive experience on a d-pad in a 2d platformer? So i'm not too convinced of my own nitpick unless there's a good solution on how to do it.

-Sort of to mitigate the above "problem" with loss of agency in a few corner cases: How about being able to revisit earlier levels from the level screen? Keep track of what carrots are collected and that might interesting. Also helps against difficulty spikes getting certain carrots. The player doesn't need to feel compelled staying on the level until the carrot is gotten this way.

-The cavyvision interface could be a bit more "tolerant" of varying user input methods. For example:
--Pressing start (which does nothing at the moment) could confirm and exit, just like A. This helps when playing in an emulator via keyboard especially, but would matter less with a NES pad in hand.
--EDIT: Or, alternately, and maybe even better, start could access the "restart menu", even while you're in cavyvision. I find that it is while inside this mode that i figure out if i need to restart or not, most of the time.
--Maybe, holding b (which at least i did intuitively) when entering cavyvision could allow the d-pad to two-way select the item. Releasing b and you get to select where to place it.


Also... Nov 2017 - Jan 2018?! :shock: That has got to be the quickest complete-feeling homebrew to this date. How did you manage that?

EDIT2: It failed to comment on this tiny miny detail when we exchanged tips & tricks last time: The animation for the haulm of the carrot could perhaps benefit if it was delayed a bit more as to be more of a reaction to the movement of the carrot itself.

Ie: Carrot is forced upwards - haulm bends in response (not quite simultaneously) to this movement. Carrot is forced to stop. Haulm moves toward an unstrained position; maybe overshooting it. But carrot is dragged downards around this mark, so the haulm is stretched out in consequent response.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213159)
GUINEA PIIIIIIIIG!!!

My greatest weakness!
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#213938)
This was totally my favorite this year. The only things I noticed as off:
- sometimes when walking over the line of two placed blocks side by side, Grunio started the edge teetering, even though it wasn't an edge
- can't press down after a fall, you have to move left/right before the switches accept a down press
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214175)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
-Extremely charming graphics and animation anyone should be able to enjoy, young or old.
-Moreover, the animation informs the player what Grunio is able to do.
-Good use of pastels
-Personally, i'm not too great at puzzlers, but they're almost always enjoyable. So is this one. So it's great that it has a short password system for someone like me who'd like to do a few levels here and there.


Thanks. Since we didn't have any enemies or other characters during gameplay, I wanted to go a little Prince of Persia with the player animation. Something that'd be enjoyable to watch and would show personality. I'm glad you found it successful.

As for colors, we tried a few different visual themes early on. Having a nearly all black protagonist brought with it challenges, especially with the setting (being a basement).

Image
Grunio's particular fur pattern made showing clarity and contrast with the background particularly challenging.

So, the light color palette came about from necessity. Initially, the blocks had no particular theme. They were just gameplay blocks (maybe bricks, I don't recall). While doing my initial guinea pig research for the project, I noticed a lot of their chew toys are similar to those for birds, very brightly colored, so having colorful blocks became a goal. That, along with the cute player animations, I hoped would make for some interesting contrast with the setting.

As for the password system (just 4 numbers), it's carried over from our last project, and is pretty much inspired from Bubble Bobble: a short, simple system that only controls starting point.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
-Proof that a good idea can make a good game. If this game had just placeholder block graphics (which isn't to say they don't contribute because they most certainly do!), it'd still be able to be fun on its mechanical merits.
-Great music, and it's not just because it's a song. It creates an interesting contrast between its action packed, adventurous air, and the existential stipulations of a guinea pig (especially a pet one having a trip through the house).


Lukasz had the main gameplay mechanic ready when he contacted me, so credit to him for that. Also, the main music selections were mostly his as well. When he proposed the title screen and main gameplay track, I knew we had something special going, so I'm really glad that contrast is noticed and appreciated. Also, it should go without saying, we're lucky that such high quality music as Shiru's is available for use.

Anyway, was finally sitting down to respond to these points, but it's bed time. Will continue responding tomorrow. Thanks again for such detailed feedback.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214236)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
Some nitpicks and ideas:
-I feel exiting the level should be the players' option. This is trivial in almost all levels, but there was one (#11) where i touched the door and lost my chance going for the carrot permanently for that session. I recognize that introducing such a choice poses the a new problem to the designer: how to make a voluntary level depth-axis exit an intuitive experience on a d-pad in a 2d platformer? So i'm not too convinced of my own nitpick unless there's a good solution on how to do it.

-Sort of to mitigate the above "problem" with loss of agency in a few corner cases: How about being able to revisit earlier levels from the level screen? Keep track of what carrots are collected and that might interesting. Also helps against difficulty spikes getting certain carrots. The player doesn't need to feel compelled staying on the level until the carrot is gotten this way.

We had discussed using UP to open the door (and end the stage), and ultimately decided that requiring the player to get the key(s) and carrots in a specific order would be an intentional design choice. In one stage late in the game, it's very intentional, as a key is in easy reach right away, but the player must pass the door later to get the carrot (forcing the player to resist the urge to get the key, our twist on the key-grabbing mechanic.

...but I think you're right in that allowing the player to re-enter stages to acquire carrots would be a better solution. Punishing the player by forcing them to restart to get the full ending is too strong. Likewise, I could have designed a very early stage that forces the player to learn the mechanic.
Quote:
-The cavyvision interface could be a bit more "tolerant" of varying user input methods. For example:
--Pressing start (which does nothing at the moment) could confirm and exit, just like A. This helps when playing in an emulator via keyboard especially, but would matter less with a NES pad in hand.
--EDIT: Or, alternately, and maybe even better, start could access the "restart menu", even while you're in cavyvision. I find that it is while inside this mode that i figure out if i need to restart or not, most of the time.
--Maybe, holding b (which at least i did intuitively) when entering cavyvision could allow the d-pad to two-way select the item. Releasing b and you get to select where to place it.

We had a lot of discussion on button assignment. I think we might allow some of the unused buttons to duplicate some of the functions of others when we update the game.

Quote:
Also... Nov 2017 - Jan 2018?! :shock: That has got to be the quickest complete-feeling homebrew to this date. How did you manage that?

Basically, we cut a lot of stuff very early in development: a 2-player (alternating) mode, a second guinea pig, reflex-necessary mechanics, some animations (walking out the door for instance), a second half to the game, more ways to die (water, spikes, lasers, etc.). We had a lot of discussion early on as to what we wanted the game to be and what we didn't, and then removed everything that we felt didn't directly strengthen the core concept.
calima wrote:
This was totally my favorite this year. The only things I noticed as off:
- sometimes when walking over the line of two placed blocks side by side, Grunio started the edge teetering, even though it wasn't an edge
- can't press down after a fall, you have to move left/right before the switches accept a down press

We have an updated version with some bugfixes in it that we'll release for the cart. Nothing major so far, but we can probably get those things looked into.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214245)
I think the teleporter was a reflex-needing mechanic? I had to try it dozens of times before I could get the jump timing right, to get Grunio up to the top right.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214267)
calima wrote:
I think the teleporter was a reflex-needing mechanic? I had to try it dozens of times before I could get the jump timing right, to get Grunio up to the top right.

It shouldn't be. Any time you need to jump into a portal, success is based on position, not timing. There are a few instances when you can place blocks while falling, but all can also be handled by placing blocks before, IIRC.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214318)
Huh, the only way I could make it was if I managed to jump twice, the second jump on the exact moment you touch the teleporter, leading you to essentially jump again when you teleport out.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214319)
Momentum carries through the teleporter, so position jumping from should be the only determining factor, although I admit that we don't communicate that clearly in the game.

I'm just not sure if it's better to forcibly teach the portal leap earlier in a simple puzzle (allowing the player to solve the later puzzle more easily) or keep it relatively unrevealed , to increase the sense of success once it's figured out later (although there is a high likelihood players discover it on their own in the first stage with a portal due to the player's starting position).

After some early feedback, I was previously in the former camp and was planning to alter stage layout to achieve it, but a recent video longplay showed someone someone figuring it out, and I now think it's worth keeping in as is, as the feeling of accomplishment shown definitely wouldn't have been as strong if he'd done so in a simpler, more obvious puzzle earlier.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214341)
I like this...

I have one unimportant gripe: I find it surprising to be able to place a block on top of Grunio and thus lose the level. (poor smooshy pigger)
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214378)
@Lidnariq
Thanks. Yeah, surprising is kind of what we going for there. Maybe a little fun for folks to try and see if they can catch all of the different death dialogues.

I know it's a bit late, but if anyone didn't have a chance to finish, and wanted to see the ending, you can watch it here:
https://youtu.be/O9zFSLvBfmQ (or check it out for yourself in the FCEUX savestate attached):

There's also a password list if you wanted to see stages past wherever you stopped.

The ending text references the opening quote for Stage 12, seen in this screenshot:
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214397)
Awesome game! Nice graphics, catchy music and I really like good puzzle games.

I loved the Polish subtitles too. My Polish reading is quite weak TBH, but it's rare to see a NES game with Polish language, so I'm taking this opportunity to practice :)

One thing I did find annoying so far: On one of the levels I accidentally hit the door when I was intending to still grab the carrot. It would be nice if the door only activated on a certain keypress to avoid accidental loss of carrots.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#214795)
Thanks, Bananmos.

Since judging seems to be over (or nearly at least), we posted an updated version. Ultimately, we decided on only minor updates (better transitions between player states mostly, as well as removing the bug causing the occasional black screen crash). We discussed it but opted against altering input or adding the ability to re-enter stages, justifying the latter by the game's relatively short length and the desire to keep passwords simple (and the former by wanting to focus on our next project). If the Action 53 carts allow saving of progress, I think that'd be the ideal time to add the ability to go back and get carrots.

Download link in OP is updated (full revision list in download), but you can download below too:
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Download
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#215085)
Finally got around to playing this, I really liked the main character's sprite! The puzzle mechanics worked really well too. My only "complaint" is that I found myself accidentally placing blocks when I meant to cancel. This would've been a major annoyance if there were a lives system, but it was only a minor annoyance the way it is. Well done!
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#215410)
This was a fun game, mostly.

[li][*]I'll get al the carrots!
[*]Crud, it froze, I didn't write down my pwd.
[*]Restart, then, writing down pwds.
[*]OK, exited without getting carrot accidentally. I can enter pwd, though…
[*]but now I'm on levl 9 with 0 carrots? that sucks.
[/li]
(~5 more freezes omitted)

The combination of freezes (observed: on death, on restart, on level entry: so, probably level entry/load code) and passwords not saving carrots, and also the doors taking you out instantly but trying to redo with password removing your carrot progress, were both quite unhappy experiences. It then froze again at level 5 once I'd learned how to get all carrots (having gotten bad ending in process), so I had to restart again…which was just the frustration cherry on top.

There were also a few times the music got bugged when going to the map screen.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#215413)
I'm really sorry for the frustrations, but thank you for bearing through them to play the game through to the end.

The crashes (add occasional BGM errors you noticed) were being caused at BGM changes (and unfortunately didn't show up during the last couple of weeks of testing, so it was a disappointment when reports of them starting showing up after)

However, we've so far managed to get them worked out in the latest version, so if anyone notices any errors in Rev.1, we would appreciate a head's up so we can look into it again.

Also, considering they're the top complaint, we'll reconsider doing something about tracking carrot progression and minimizing consequences for exiting without a carrot.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#215415)
Pushing A+Start kills the game.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#215418)
We'll that's definitely a report-worthy bug. Just managed to trigger it myself as well. Difficult to get the timing just right to trigger it, but definitely happens. Thanks for letting us know. We'll add it to the list of things to correct.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#215436)
More in line of a feature request than bug, but perhaps consider having switches trigger if down is held and you're in the right area? The change of state being unidirectional per-switch seems adequate for preventing retriggers, and this would make the required jump-pulls of switches much easier.

edit: I forgot to mention that many of the unrevised-version crashes did not recover on Reset, but remained frozen. So…yeah.

(ed2: short reset; long reset still got back to PowerPak menu)

ed3: the little gif of the Game Pak going into/out of the sleeve/box is adorable.

p.s. the manual has a typo(both languages): "PowerPack" should be PowerPak.
Re: Gruniożerca 2
by on (#215855)
Thanks, we'll fix that manual typo. I try to maintain accuracy when it comes to branded usage, but had actually never even noticed that one (that means I've mistyped it often in the past as well).

Anyway, a little feature on the game / series (in Polish):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfRApV7KoRI