GIRakaCHEEZER

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Tess


[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/hhd5Her.png[/IMG]


(here is a link to a short video trailer)


Tess is a platformer run-and-gun game.  It follows the story of Tess, an odd little girl who had a bad day.


You run and you shoot and you can pick up exp to increase your total number of hearts.


This game was made in Java so it should work on Windows, Mac, and Linux.


Download (v1.0.0.9)


Playable in the following languages:


English


French  (Français)


Korean  (한국어)


Japanese  (日本語)


Spanish  (Español)


Chinese (中文)


Portuguese (Português Brasileiro)


Features:


# Original Soundtrack


# Character Art from happyhyoo


# Jump and Shoot Gameplay


# Cast of strange characters who wear masks


How to run the game:


1) Extract the zip to its own folder.


2) Be sure that you have the latest version of Java installed for you computer.  You can download the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) here:  https://www.java.com/en/download/


3) Double click the file "Tess (RUN ME).jar".  It should open automatically.


Default Keyboard Controls:


(these can be changed from the Escape menu)


Up, Down, Left, Right:     Arrow keys


Jump/OK:                     Z


Shoot/Cancel:               X


Investigate:                  Spacebar


Switch Weapon Left:      A


Switch Weapon Right:    S


Escape Menu:               Escape Key (immutable)


Toggle Full Screen:        F11 (immutable)


Gamepad Controls:


Up, Down, Left, Right: Left analog stick/D-pad


Jump/OK: A button / button 0


Shoot/Cancel: X button / button 2


Investigate: Y button / button 3


Switch Weapon Left: Left button / button 4


Switch Weapon Right: Right button / button 5


Escape Menu: Start button / button 7


Please make sure you have the Gamepad plugged in before starting Tess if you want to play with the Gamepad.


Feedback is appreciated, since it will help me improve the game going forward from here.


More screenshots in the spoiler below.

[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/KUTGF1C.png[/IMG]


[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/hWotBEb.png[/IMG]


[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/PSGUzPt.png[/IMG]
 
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Geoff Moore

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This looks fun, and weird/cute is always good! I really like the music in the trailer. I'll be sure to check it out shortly. :)
 

Silvestre

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I have just finished playing Tess, and I have to say I liked it a lot.

The platformer shooter style reminded me a lot of Cave Story, I guess you were inspired by it.

The progression flowed nicely and the story was intriguing. I love the art style and character design. 

Good job on making the game GirakaCHEEZER!

I hope to see more games about Tess, or the world she lives in.
 

GIRakaCHEEZER

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This looks fun, and weird/cute is always good! I really like the music in the trailer. I'll be sure to check it out shortly. :)
Thanks! If you do get a chance to play it, please do leave some feedback in the thread once you're done.

I have just finished playing Tess, and I have to say I liked it a lot.


The platformer shooter style reminded me a lot of Cave Story, I guess you were inspired by it.


The progression flowed nicely and the story was intriguing. I love the art style and character design. 


Good job on making the game GirakaCHEEZER!


I hope to see more games about Tess, or the world she lives in.
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm planning on expanding the game later (probably making it at least 4x as long as it currently is), but my character artist is going to be busy with school for a few months so development might be put on hold for awhile.


Also, here's a new transition effect I coded for the engine that might be used later in the game:


[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/ABxM8Y4.gif[/IMG]


Edit: Tess is on RMN now too!
 
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GIRakaCHEEZER

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[IMG]http://38.media.tumblr.com/a8c6049af75ffc4e6c5801dbef70dbda/tumblr_nan52cTitv1rjfwgto1_1280.png[/IMG]


I'm working on the next patch for this game, but it won't have anything new in content. I'm working to consolidate all of the different translations of Tess into 1 game, so you can just pick the language you want to play in instead of having to download the specific language version. Also I've optimized the graphics engine a bit for less slowdown on slower computers or laptops.
 

Cinnamon

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Any ETA on the patch? :D
 

GIRakaCHEEZER

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Any ETA on the patch? :D
Tonight. It's now been released.


Ver 1.0.0.6 (August 29, 2014)


+Graphics Engine optimized further, should be faster


+All languages are now in one download, can select language from options menu


+You can press keys to skip text scrolling now


Here's the link to it. The links in the OP have also been updated.
 

Ylzor

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So, I finished your game before the Secret Santa (and before the update), but I actually had no idea what to say about it. I liked it, but there's nothing that made me feel like I should go here and tell you about it, whether it's a good or bad thing.

To be honest the only thing that annoyed me was the controls that seemed a bit weird. There's something about the jumps that you can't control that well, I don't really know how to explain it. Maybe I was just anticipating a gameplay closer to Cave Story (for some reason the art and exp system made me think of it).

I liked the simple art, the music was pretty cool and some gameplay mechanics were nice. I liked the part where you can use the big guys to jump on higher platforms, but I got stuck on this part. I think (it's been a few weeks now) I shot a big guy under a platform and couldn't go through anymore, or something like that.

The story was nice, I liked it (but I don't really want to talk more about it to avoid spoils :p ). Overall I really liked the game, there's really nothing horribly wrong that you should change about it. Maybe tweak the jumps a bit. Other than that, nothing comes to mind, really. For the record, I played the game with a controller using Xpadder and it worked well!
 

GIRakaCHEEZER

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So, I finished your game before the Secret Santa (and before the update), but I actually had no idea what to say about it. I liked it, but there's nothing that made me feel like I should go here and tell you about it, whether it's a good or bad thing.


To be honest the only thing that annoyed me was the controls that seemed a bit weird. There's something about the jumps that you can't control that well, I don't really know how to explain it. Maybe I was just anticipating a gameplay closer to Cave Story (for some reason the art and exp system made me think of it).


I liked the simple art, the music was pretty cool and some gameplay mechanics were nice. I liked the part where you can use the big guys to jump on higher platforms, but I got stuck on this part. I think (it's been a few weeks now) I shot a big guy under a platform and couldn't go through anymore, or something like that.


The story was nice, I liked it (but I don't really want to talk more about it to avoid spoils :p ). Overall I really liked the game, there's really nothing horribly wrong that you should change about it. Maybe tweak the jumps a bit. Other than that, nothing comes to mind, really. For the record, I played the game with a controller using Xpadder and it worked well!
Tweaking/perfecting the platforming physics has been a concern in Tess for awhile now, which I've been working a bit to address. Thanks for the feedback though!


-----


Ver 1.0.0.7 (September 20, 2014)


+Added Portuguese (Português Brasileiro) translation


+Laser beam no longer "droops" when standing on entities


+Gravity slightly reduced for Tess, should make jumping easier a bit (more air-time)


+Flyers in Shanty Town have been slightly nerfed to make easier to kill and slightly less aggressive


+Nerfed the hammers in the final boss, no longer 1hit KO (still do a lot of damage though)


+Jump made more responsive/no longer has 1 frame delay


+Fixed a minor bug that occurred when switching between languages


+Translated key names for "UP", "DOWN", "SHIFT", "SPACEBAR", etc


+Migrated game input from KeyListener to Key Bindings


+Fixed sound and music engine to work if master gain controls aren't supported


+Also fixed the music player to use a larger buffer size for transfering data to the audio line (it was using a 4 byte buffer before, I don't know why)


Download links in the OP are up to date.
 

_Shadow_

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One of the greatest games of the competition in my opinion.

It is in personal top 25!
 

nio kasgami

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I just finished test and I loved the art who remind me old pixel art! 

the style is quite little messy but this is seem so much cute and awesome ! 

the story is interesting and you not ''know'' the end you are like HUH !? 

but 

the command make me a little have hurt in the finger they are not well adapt for play comfortable xD maybe a option for changing command will be cool? 

also the voice can get repeatly xD...

the boss was hell hard to beat god dammit XD! 

I loved the atmosphere and I hope this will have a somewhat "sequel" of it
 

GIRakaCHEEZER

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One of the greatest games of the competition in my opinion.


It is in personal top 25!
Thank you!

but 


the command make me a little have hurt in the finger they are not well adapt for play comfortable xD maybe a option for changing command will be cool?
The keys can be changed via the Escape menu, as it says in the OP (and in the readme included with the game).


But I'm glad you enjoyed it! There will most likely be a sequel made, given its warm reception.
 

nio kasgami

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Thank you!

The keys can be changed via the Escape menu, as it says in the OP (and in the readme included with the game).

But I'm glad you enjoyed it! There will most likely be a sequel made, given its warm reception.
HAA D: .....I thinked it was a predifined command and I can't change it xD
 

GIRakaCHEEZER

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[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/EWmreK7.gif[/IMG]


Tess version 1.0.0.8 released!


You can grab the new version here.


Finally finished putting together this patch.


Achievements have been added to the game now, and are compatible with GameJolt/sync up with GameJolt. Also, “Mirror Mode” was added, which unlocks when you get 5 achievements.


Full details of this release here.
 

Wavelength

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For me, Tess was a game that really stood out for its unique concept and atmosphere, and pretty much other element of the game held up well, making for a good play experience.

Presentation and Ambience

The whole thing feels very surreal in a Little Nemo sort of way.  It's a combination of mysterious, cute, disturbing, and psychadelic.  The "what happened" from yesterday is intentionally obscured, everyone is acting withdrawn and melancholy, this little girl is running around in a monochrome world shooting globs and plants for reasons unexplained, the music sounds like I'm on some sort of mellow acid trip... it's all just very surreal.  You did an extremely good job creating the atmosphere and making it stick.  Speaking of surreal, I just did a double-take the first time I saw the "Milly face smashed" graphic.  Then I laughed, then I did another double-take.

I liked the presentation, on the whole.  Given how simple the graphics were, they had a ton of style.

Control

The camera felt smooth and never became an obstacle.  I liked having the key binding options, but it's something that doesn't feel particularly comfortable on a keyboard.  For me, it was very difficult to have one hand trying to do any two of these three: shoot, move, jump.  I died several times because I hit the wrong button, which is always frustrating.  Is there any way to change the direction you're shooting?  I feel like that's a badly-needed feature - it was very annoying to constantly have to jump up and down while shooting to hit enemies that were, for example, one tile above you.

With that being said, it was very smart to give the player little "trial areas" to play around with mechanics, such as the black things with sad faces that become pink physical objects once you kill them.  It lets the player figure out the mechanic before they need to use it to solve an obstacle.  You also gave the player a decent amount of time at the beginning to figure out jumping and movement.

Game Mechanics

I thought the mechanics, aside from my problems with the basic controls, were very well done, and a strong point of Tess.  Each new area brought a few clever twists to the basic gameplay, making every stage memorable and most of them fun.

The snow rabbits that shot spikes when they died seemed to be a difficult but fair mechanic - very clever.  I wasn't a fan of the static enemies, on the other hand, which took a lot of hits and slowed down the action.

I LOVED the very cool screen-wrap mechanic in the tower!  It's unnatural, in a cool way, to try to view the screen and think "where do I jump down this gap to come out the top".  At some locations (see screenshot for an example), though, I thought I'd be able to use this mechanic, and all of a sudden wasn't (e.g. I'd hit the top wall and not be able to wrap under).

The final boss had some cool patterns and was relatively challenging.  It took me about seven tries to beat.

15461144202_d9736b0a93_o.png


On the End of the Story

I'm torn about the reveal before the final boss.  It gives the whole thing an intriguing but disturbing, aura.  Personally I don't prefer that to bizarre, off-kilter charm that resonated from the game before it was painted in this more ominous light, and it's hard to get that more innocent feeling back once I know what it was all about.  What you did here, you did well, but part of me wishes you had gone for something less nightmarish and more just outright bizarre.

The ending was left very ambiguous, because it cuts off pretty quickly and it's told from the point of view of Tess, who's an unreliable narrator.  I assume it's something you want the player to interpret on their own, but I'd love to know what your interpretation is, of what happened to Tess and Milly during and after the ending.

A couple suggestions

If you expand the game, especially if you can manage to tighten up the jumping mechanics a little, I think one thing Tess could really benefit from is a sense of speed.  This would make it a lot more exciting - either have some of the easier-to-figure-out levels run on a timer, or have their screens scroll so that the player constantly needs to run, gun, and make progress through the level.

Another nice thing would be a couple extra guns (or other weapons).  I assume you ran out of time and wanted to add more, because you included two different buttons to cycle through a grand total of (unless I missed something) two weapons.  One suggestion - a bomb that you can lay, exploding a few seconds later to do massive damage to enemies caught in a small blast radius.  Or how about a "rocket gun" that you can fire downward after jumping to either blast an enemy below you or get a little extra height on your jump (or both)!

Programming

From what you said on your site it looks like you made Tess pretty much from scratch.  I'm frankly amazed you were able to code this all in Java in 30 days!  That's pretty freaking impressive, given how admirably decent it all looked and felt.

I also appreciated the (OPEN ME / RUN ME) notes on the files, and it's amazing how lightweight the game is at 9MB.

I never experienced in slowdown or crashes.  I also didn't notice any bugs, typo's, or glitches whatsoever, so nice job with that.

Overall

A really admirable game coded from scratch in a month, with a lot of good game design mechanics and a well-done, bizarre atmosphere.  Definitely one of the better non-RPGs in the contest, and I think it would make a good play for most.

Thank you for this game!
 
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GIRakaCHEEZER

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Thanks for the review! I do have some questions about some of the comments you made though.

Control


For me, it was very difficult to have one hand trying to do any two of these three: shoot, move, jump.  I died several times because I hit the wrong button, which is always frustrating.  Is there any way to change the direction you're shooting?  I feel like that's a badly-needed feature - it was very annoying to constantly have to jump up and down while shooting to hit enemies that were, for example, one tile above you.
Did you play the entire game with only 1 hand? I normally play with 2 hands myself, one for the arrow keys/movement and one for the jump and shoot buttons. Also the need to jump and shoot at the same time is a challenge that was built into the gameplay since it's supposed to be a basic skill one should pick up in the game. It's perhaps easier though if you hold down the shoot key instead of pressing it repeatedly.

I LOVED the very cool screen-wrap mechanic in the tower! It's unnatural, in a cool way, to try to view the screen and think "where do I jump down this gap to come out the top". At some locations (see screenshot for an example), though, I thought I'd be able to use this mechanic, and all of a sudden wasn't (e.g. I'd hit the top wall and not be able to wrap under).


[IMG]https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3929/15461144202_d9736b0a93_o.png[/IMG]
If you look at the screenshot you posted though, I think it's pretty obvious that Tess shouldn't be able to jump up through there if you look at both the top and the bottom of the screen, since that ice block is directly above Tess and blocking her path. This part here specifically was designed with the idea in mind that it would force the player to look at the bottom part of the screen to see where they could jump up.

Another nice thing would be a couple extra guns (or other weapons). I assume you ran out of time and wanted to add more, because you included two different buttons to cycle through a grand total of (unless I missed something) two weapons.
There is one other weapon in the game that can be found, but it's somewhat hidden (it's not too hard to find though, from what I've seen in LPs). I actually designed all the weapons rather early on in development, since they were pretty simple to design and test.

I also appreciated the (OPEN ME / RUN ME) notes on the files, and it's amazing how lightweight the game is at 9MB.


I never experienced in slowdown or crashes. I also didn't notice any bugs, typo's, or glitches whatsoever, so nice job with that.
File size is an important thing to me (especially after downloading and playing so many 100+ mb rpg entries in this contest), but it's actually not that hard to keep it small, especially with a game with minimalistic graphics like this. And the game has been optimized a bit since the initial contest release to try and make it so that it could run on most machines (I normally test performance on my laptop with the power setting set to "Power saver", which sort of chokes the max CPU available to the computer).


Anyways, thank you for your very detailed feedback!
 

Wavelength

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Did you play the entire game with only 1 hand? I normally play with 2 hands myself, one for the arrow keys/movement and one for the jump and shoot buttons. Also the need to jump and shoot at the same time is a challenge that was built into the gameplay since it's supposed to be a basic skill one should pick up in the game. It's perhaps easier though if you hold down the shoot key instead of pressing it repeatedly.
No, I used two hands.  What I was saying was that I couldn't ever create a good configuration, using the keyboard, to have the shoot and jump buttons on the same hand.  I liked using SPACEBAR for one since it's big, but ALT wasn't allowed for the other and nothing else aligns well.  I think I ended up using X and V, but I did die several times because I screwed up a button hit.

This isn't anything that's your fault, and it would be much better when played with a gamepad, but I thought you should know, as the designer, that it could be rough for a player who hasn't been playing for hours.  The only thing I can think of that might make it better is to allow more than one button to be bound to an action (so I could assign, for example, four different buttons to 'shoot').

If you look at the screenshot you posted though, I think it's pretty obvious that Tess shouldn't be able to jump up through there if you look at both the top and the bottom of the screen, since that ice block is directly above Tess and blocking her path. This part here specifically was designed with the idea in mind that it would force the player to look at the bottom part of the screen to see where they could jump up.
This is obvious when looking at the screenshot and lining up the positions of the wall above and the platforms below.  It was less obvious when, with one heart remaining, I tried to jump the wall (which I was able to in several other places), only to come down on the ice shard and be forced to restart the level.  It struck me as one of the very rare places in your game that felt player-unfriendly, poor design.

There is one other weapon in the game that can be found, but it's somewhat hidden (it's not too hard to find though, from what I've seen in LPs). I actually designed all the weapons rather early on in development, since they were pretty simple to design and test.
The one that I did get was the "spread shot".  Wish I could have seen the other one, too!

Anyways, thank you for your very detailed feedback!
You're welcome!  I hope to see your game get the love that it deserves from adoring audiences everywhere. :)
 

GIRakaCHEEZER

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Bugfix for Tess ver 1.0.0.9


There was a major memory leak in how the game was trying to detect if the player had a gamepad connected in the last release that would most likely bring the player's computer to a grinding halt if they weren't using a gamepad.


The download's been updated to fix this. Please re-download the game if you've downloaded ver 1.0.0.9 prior to reading this notice.


(Also the korean readme was updated)
 

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So I just finished Tess, and I enjoyed it!  The graphics and music work well together, and made the game feel completely different than any of the other games I've played from the contest.  The fact that a lot of the story was left unsaid was interesting and made me think about what could have happened to Tess the day before.  I'm not sure if I liked the ending or not, but it did make me think, which I'm guessing is what you were going for.

Gameplay-wise, the controls worked well.  I did have some issues with jumping, but that problem was probably located between the monitor and the chair.  I liked how you worked the small practice areas in whenever you introduced a new mechanic.  The three weapons to choose from were all different, but I found that when I found a new weapon I would just use it and ignore the older weapons.  I second Wavelength's suggestion about adding other weapons that have new features.

Overall I liked playing Tess, and I'm really impressed with what you were able to do in a month.  Great job!
 

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