This months experimental gameplay project was all about making games for Sifteo Cubes. So far I’ve released 2 prototypes, Peong and Twisteo which gave me a good sense of how to leverage the cubes unique capabilities. For my final concept I wanted to really push the limits of what was possible and take it to the next level. Maybe I went a little overboard but honestly I was just having too much fun.
My game is tentatively called Squaresville, its an open world adventure game with platforming and puzzle mechanics. I love epic pixel platformers like Knytt Stories, Fez, and Cave Story and for this project those games are my primary inspiration. While pixel art was a stylistic choice for those games, in my case it’s a hard restriction. The real hook of game is that the world is composed into screens which can be rotated in any configuration to allow the player to progress and access new areas. For this prototype I’ve only polished about 10 screens but the world it’s loading is actually 24×24 screens which should make for quite an epic adventure. With compression and some other tricks it could go even larger. The engine supports both a foreground and background layer, each can contain up to 256 tiles and there could be texture swaps for other areas for added variety. As a demonstration of just how large of a world this game supports here’s a screen cap from the editor of the entire world so far. The tiny area in the center is where the gameplay for the demo takes place.
When I first started working with Sifteo I found it’s graphical abilities extremely lacking but since then I’ve discovered that it can be fairly capable if used correctly. The majority of the objects on screen are using the foreground layer like the coins, bounce pads, water, etc. There’s still plenty of room in the tile sheet for more pickups or obstacles, I’m using less then half the space. The only real sprite being used is the player which leaves 7 more sprites for enemies, npcs or effects, though in practice I will probably stay under 4. It would be a challenge but I think 3 enemies per screen is enough to craft a game around, especially one like this which is more puzzle driven.
There’s also a custom level editor which makes the level design not only fast but also fun. It’s a variant of the Frank Engine editor, something I’ve been working on for years, so it’s already well polished. The level editor is actually a fully featured game engine itself which would make it fairly simple to port this game to PC, if I can find a way to translate the game mechanics. I uploaded the editor so people can check it out, there’s a help button in the lower right that displays the basic controls. There are still a few more improvements I’d like to make but it’s a quality editor that I’ve already used to make many games.
What I’ve produced so far is hopefully a solid proof of concept with strong enough tech to back it up. I would love to explore and see where it takes me. The art is a little rough right now and the main character is completely placeholder but I think it has potential to look killer. I’m also interested in adding depth to the world via NPC interaction to create a story. More then anything though I’m anxious to see how the game feels on actual hardware.
Aside from this project I may consider licensing my engine/editor to developers interested in creating Sifteo games. This engine would work for many different types of games like a top down Zelda style adventure or even multiplayer games like Bomberman and Bubble Bobble.
- Squaresville - Download the latest version here.
- Sifteo Edit – The level editor used to make this game.
How to Play
- Connect cubes together to form the world around the player. Currently up to 6 cubes are supported though the game is still playable with only 3.
- Tilt any of the cubes left or right to move the player.
- Tilt a cube up or tap to jump.
- Stand over save points to activate them and you will respawn there when you die.
- Shake the cube your player is on to restart from the last checkpoint if you get stuck.
- The coins don’t do anything and you have infinite lives but there is a clear end to the demo if you can get to it.