Thursday, November 24, 2016

Super Lovely Planet - An Introduction

Not too long ago, before it was given its new alias, Super Lovely Planet was known in some circles as Lovely Planet Adventure. The word “Adventure” was suitable for the experience I was trying to deliver at the time. A lot of things changed and playtesting showed the adventure aspect of the game was the least exciting of everything it had on offer. I wrote about this previously before this game was revealed. Now that the secret is out, I thought I’d give some context to that article so it makes more sense.

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Throwback to the first game I was hoping to return to the original format of the five worlds each with its own unique set of enemies, mechanics and setting. It worked straightforwardly with Lovely Planet, so part of me was expecting it would translate well for this game too. I was excited to reimagine the City, Village and Forest areas once more.

The twist I was hoping to pull off was a Dark Souls-esque progression system where players would unlock new areas by enabling a central checkpoint making parts of the world more accessible. This mechanic saw parts of almost every level being watered down to deliver less of the platforming challenges and more exploration. Navigation was a big part of the game, exploration was encouraged and getting lost was part of the experience.

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A Checkpoint
I put a lot of effort into that aspect hoping it would eventually take shape but a few annoyances never loosened their grip on the whole experience. Players would get lost, which was partly intentional but it wasn’t the least bit enjoyable. Everything looked samey, different locations didn’t pop out with a unique visual style and all of my attempts at signposting different areas with landmarks proved ineffective.

Apart from all that, the gameplay was at its best when players were taking on platforming challenges with enemies and obstacles carefully arranged to calculated perfection. While it was extremely rewarding to unravel hidden secrets on some unattended corner of the map, the moment to moment gameplay was lacking the tension of tight platforming.

Open Level with No Platforming
Everything in the game that wasn’t delivering on that quality platforming experience was eventually cut out. Quite a lot of content, levels and even mechanics were removed. It was a sudden transition that took place almost overnight and a lot of work was discarded. A better game was born in the process. I quickly spliced a new level and increased the game speed by almost two hundred percent. One playthrough of that stage and I knew what game I had to make. That is when I renamed the project to Super Lovely Planet.

I like to think that parts of Lovely Planet Adventure eventually found a new home in the cracks of this game. Secrets still hide in the most obscure corners of the world and NPCs drop riddles that bring you closer to those secrets. Vague dialogue gives context to the abstract world design and with it, a little bit of personality to the Buddies that wait for you to come along and humor them with conversation.


There’s lots of new stuff. I’m excited to share more about the game soon.