My game, Petal Crash!!

Petal Crash, the game I've spent the past year and a half on, is coming out in just a few days!!

https://twitter.com/PetalCrash/status/1312084731849142272?s=20

I hope everyone gives it a try and likes it! I was heavily inspired by 90s Japanese arcade puzzle games - I came up with the idea for the base mechanics after I went on a puzzle game binge, trying to find lots of different arcade puzzlers I'd never tried before. I think this would be a good place to chronicle Petal Crash's development history, and provide some insight into the process and a lot of the decisions I made while fleshing out the game design!

At the time I came up with Petal Crash, I wasn't completely set on what my next game project would be, and I was working on a project inspired by the 1990 arcade Rampart, intended to expand on and iterate on the design a bit - but I was having a little trouble sussing out what mechanics to add and what to take away. I've since had more ideas for it and would like to revisit the project sometime.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/7La8tFb.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/7La8tFb.gif[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=https://i.imgur.com/fnKhmIO.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/fnKhmIO.gif[/IMG][/URL]

The idea for the base mechanics of Petal Crash - a sliding puzzle with color-matching, where blocks burst and fling adjacent blocks away - came to me while I was going to bed one night, April 18th, 2019. I made a quick note of my ideas and decided to prototype it the next day to see if it was anything. The following morning, I quickly threw together this:

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/nGbk9Df.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/nGbk9Df.gif[/IMG][/URL]

This sloppy prototype ran on action game-style movement and collision code and had no way of generating new blocks, but I found myself constantly restarting it, rearranging the tiles and seeing how long I could make a chain with every board I was given. Even in this early stage, it got its hooks into my puzzle brain, and I quickly decided that this would be the basis of my next project. I searched and searched for any other puzzle game that worked this way, but as far as I could tell, it was original - so I decided to keep it locked down and secret until I could present a nearly-finished version. I may have been a bit paranoid about some mobile game company copying the mechanics before it was done. Ultimately, though, I think being able to present it in a polished state helped it make a good impression.

I'll keep updating this thread with more development tidbits, and in the meantime, I'd be happy to answer any questions anyone has about the game! I really hope people enjoy it when it comes out!!

I don‘t know if that’s what you were going for but I like the GBA flavor of the aesthetics, wishlisting on Steam to help a bit!

Really, really darn excited that this is finally coming out in 4 days!

What was the main reason for picking that snazzy GBC/NGPC aesthetic? Because boy howdy, it looks so nice and pretty!

@BoredmanDA#7326 Thank you so much!! The GBC look was actually a purely pragmatic choice, rather than any fondness for the GBC aesthetic in particular - I'll get to that more in depth later in the thread!

looks cool I'm going to play it, gracias

I‘ve been smitten by this project’s aesthetic and presentation and have kept a keen eye on the project since day one! But I've noticed not too much has been revealed about its soundtrack, barring the fact you got Michael Staple on board (which is AWESOME). For us avid listeners out there, what should we expect from the OST?

@benjistring#7331 The OST is VERY GOOD!! There's a lot of really wonderful and memorable melodies, and each character has an associated stage theme. There are 21 tracks in total!

We went with a Gameboy chip style to match the GBC aesthetic, but pure GB chip music can feel really grating after listening to it for a while - to make the music sound a little bit fuller, we decided to add in a couple of extra sample channels on top of the GB chip's four channels. It wound up with a really nice chippy feel, and the addition of some synth chords, flutes, and strings here and there really give it a unique character without being incongruous with the aesthetic.

@FlutterSprite#7332 Thanks so much for the reply! Really looking forward to this!

What the heck, how did you go from Rampart to Puzzler?? I wanna see this Rampart-inspired game too!!!

@Personasama#7335 I still have lots of ideas for the Rampart style game, so once things settle down with Petal Crash a bit I‘m probably going to get back to prototyping it! Right now, my ideas for it involve taking out Rampart’s phases altogether, with real-time switching between building and attacking depending on where your cursor is - I think it could wind up with some real frantic energy.

There was a lot to Petal Crash that got me really excited during that reveal trailer! The music, the aesthetic, the characters, but especially the gameplay! Puzzle games is a genre I love but often don‘t play enough of. I’ll either enjoy a game for its competitiveness (Puyo, Tetris, Panel de Pon), or because its a nice relaxing puzzle game to get my mind working (can't think of examples but I guess mobile puzzle games?). What made you decide to try and incorporate a VS and a Puzzle mode for Petal Crash? From the looks of it, both modes look incredibly fleshed out that it will cater to almost every puzzle fan out there.

@CodePhoenix#7338 Thank you so much for all the kind words!!

I love versus puzzlers myself, so getting in a strong versus mode was a very high priority. To be honest, I don't actually tend to enjoy puzzle modes in action puzzle games too much, but I know there are people who do enjoy them, and I felt that Petal Crash's mechanics and gameplay style lent itself well to a mode with pre-made puzzles - I actually made a pretty rudimentary puzzle editor that I shared with some friends to test the puzzle mode with, and people ended up having a lot of fun making puzzles and sharing them with each other to solve, which made me put more focus on the puzzle mode and player-facing puzzle editor than I might have otherwise.

As to why I decided to include all these different modes - well, to be honest, I was just doing what a lot of the arcade puzzle games I enjoyed did! I had a lot of good examples to follow.

this looks cool! I'll buy it!

Thanks for posting this! Looks very cool!!

Time for more!!

After I got the initial prototype working and found that it had potential, my next task was to make a more solidly coded version of the mechanics. While the first prototype had blocks as individual objects and used movement and collision code, this next prototype stored all the data about the playfield's state, and visualized it with a tilemap.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/mWiNr37.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/mWiNr37.gif[/IMG][/URL]

The way I did it isn't the most efficient way, but HEY I never said I was a real coder anyhow. You can see here that when the blocks activate, they're numbered - at this stage I was already thinking about some edge case scenarios where I might want the distance from the impact factored in.

While in this stage, I actually got a method in to make the blocks scroll smoothly, which worked most of the time - I'd end up taking this back out once I settled more on the game's aesthetic.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/oKuMfL8.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/oKuMfL8.gif[/IMG][/URL]

Not long after this, I started to think more seriously about the puzzle game's theming - I knew I wanted it to be a puzzler with characters in it, and take inspiration from the various Japanese arcade puzzlers from the 90s that I'm so fond of. Something I noticed that many of those games had in common was that their characters were all themed - Magical Drop had characters based on Tarot cards, the fairies in Panel de Pon all were associated with an element, etc. - and I ended up landing on the idea of theming the game and characters after flowers, since it was a theme I didn't think had been covered yet.

These puzzle games also tend to have a very pastel aesthetic to them and a really toy-like look and feel, which cemented the idea of the game pieces being little blocks in the shape of flowers.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/PGROP30.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/PGROP30.gif[/IMG][/URL]

You can see here that this is when I started experimenting with the method by which new blocks would appear. It was a really tricky challenge to try to come up with some way I could convey how many steps it would take before a new block spawned, especially when the spawn markers could get covered up. I ended up with something a lot simpler in the final game.

Next post, I'll talk more about Petal Crash's aesthetic inspirations and how I wound up with the GBC look!

Definitely enjoying this, please do keep it up! (no rush though)

Time for another post!!

At this stage in development, I'm going to go into a lot about my decisions regarding Petal Crash's aesthetics, but before I can do that, I need to talk about another game first: Taito's 1997 breakout-style versus puzzler, Puchi Carat.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/yetLstE.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/yetLstE.png[/IMG][/URL]
(Images from [Ragey's Puchi Carat page](http://randomhoohaas.flyingomelette.com/shr/puchi/).)

When I went through my arcade puzzler deep-dive, this was the game I became fixated on the most. Not necessarily because of its gameplay - which is fun, but not really mind-blowingly great - but because of its look, its music, and its abnormally well fleshed out characters and story.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/9COeUOD.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/9COeUOD.png[/IMG][/URL][URL=https://i.imgur.com/YcgR3oh.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/YcgR3oh.png[/IMG][/URL]

Despite being essentially a versus Breakout game that any modern game dev could likely clone in an afternoon, Puchi Carat features an enormous cast of over a dozen characters, all fully animated and dripping with personality - and they all have incredibly detailed backstories, oftentimes interconnected with each other and with the setting's history. It's a story about broken families, science versus magic, and the struggle to find love and happiness in a world ruled by the ambitious and powerful.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/Cv9jg0x.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/Cv9jg0x.png[/IMG][/URL][URL=https://i.imgur.com/kVk6URv.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/kVk6URv.png[/IMG][/URL]

Part of what pushed me into my puzzle game deep-dive was that I needed some distraction from my own woes about the lukewarm reception of Grapple Force Rena, my last project which took me about five years to make - while it was reviewed favorably and adored by some, it failed to find a wide audience. When I discovered Puchi Carat and read so much about its detailed lore and appealing characters, I could tell that an enormous amount of love and care was put into the project - and also quickly discovered that it had ALSO failed to find a wide audience. I scoured the Internet to find any trace of what might exist of a Puchi Carat fandom, to see people engage with this fascinating world and cast that seemed so ripe for exploration, but found next to nothing other than Ragey's Puchi Carat page, which was mostly a catalog of all the game's official materials. The game's limited release and poor English translation probably didn't help matters, but it didn't seem to make a big impact in its home region either.

I got kind of messed up about it! Seeing a project with so much love and care put into it by its developers wind up completely looked over - I was already in kind of a vulnerable place in that regard, so it hit me pretty hard.

I'd continue to look back to Puchi Carat as a source of inspiration throughout the project - the theming of the characters and the 'gather the magic artifacts to make a wish' premise were both directly inspired by Puchi Carat, for example. I sort of felt like I wanted to carry forward the spirit of this game that had so much love put into it but still wound up near-forgotten. An unexpected way it inspired me, however, was in the decision to make Petal Crash resemble a Game Boy Color game.

I'd just finished Grapple Force Rena a few months ago at this point, and having to create assets for the game was often enormous bottleneck in my productivity, since I'd chosen such a high resolution and high fidelity aesthetic (by comparison to Petal Crash's). What I really wanted for Petal Crash was to make it look like a 16-bit or early 32-bit era 2D arcade game:

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/KoEy8qp.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/KoEy8qp.png[/IMG][/URL][URL=https://i.imgur.com/A6UV2Vk.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/A6UV2Vk.png[/IMG][/URL]

I knew, however, if I wanted to make a game with this level of production value by myself, it'd take an enormous amount of time and effort - and then probably not even look very good, in the end! I have some talent as a pixel artist, but color, rendering, and shading aren't my strong suits, and neither are detailed backgrounds.

What came to my rescue, yet again, was inspiration from Puchi Carat. See, Puchi Carat has an arcade version that looks like this:

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/Dk1bsMH.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/Dk1bsMH.png[/IMG][/URL]

...but it also has a Game Boy Color version, with the same gameplay and almost all the same content, that looks like this:

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/AkLUcEd.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/AkLUcEd.png[/IMG][/URL]

Now that, I could do! Why spend my effort making it look like a mediocre arcade game when I could spend my effort making it look like a really advanced Game Boy Color game instead? It was an incredibly good decision in the end - not only did it end up with a unique and memorable look, but by pushing up against the limitations of the aesthetic, it wound up being a very good-looking game in its own right, too. Anyone who plays both Petal Crash and the GBC version of Puchi Carat will be able to recognize the heavy influence of Puchi Carat's look in Petal Crash's DNA. I don't intend to make a secret of where my inspiration came from - in fact, I even thank the staff of Puchi Carat in Petal Crash's credits!

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/uTZlxCG.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/uTZlxCG.png[/IMG][/URL]

Once I made the decision to go with a GBC look, I quickly started to scale down the size of my prototype, and wound up taking out the smooth block scrolling - from here, the game started to develop much more rapidly.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/0lvgJCr.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/0lvgJCr.gif[/IMG][/URL]

This post wound up pretty long, so I'll go more into the aesthetics of Petal Crash in the next post, including going into a lot of detail about the character sprites - stay tuned!!

Really enjoying these posts. Good luck with the launch!

Don't have much to add besides some more well wishes! I just added it to my wish list. Best of luck with launch!

looking forward to playing this tmrw