The 100-Meter Splash

My fifteenth game is now complete! The 100-Meter Splash is my thirteenth #onegameamonth game. Wait, what? Thirteen months? I thought I was done! Am I crazy?! Apparently.

The theme this month was “Splash,” so of course I used it. Gotta get those bonus points if I’m ever going to beat Richard. Of course, I won’t ever be able to beat him if he never stops. I need to have a word with him about that. That’s right: I kept going with #onegameamonth entirely because Richard wouldn’t quit while he was ahead (so that I could then get ahead). So I guess the plan now is to keep doing this for another year. Sigh. I’m tired already. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, though. If I manage to complete two solid years of this, I will likely move into first place on the #1GAM high score board. So that will be cool. Of course, I’ll probably be an empty husk of a person by then. Anyway…

The game this month combines a slightly indirect physics-based control scheme with a pressing need for precision. I suspect this will not be a popular choice. If you thought Who Says You Can’t Go to Space on a Hydrojet Pack? was hard, you’ll likely feel the same way about this one. Also, the character’s hit box isn’t really clear; this is because it changes based on your size. Because I know this can be confusing, I will reward those of you who read my posts by teaching you a secret feature: hit the H key to toggle “hitbox draw mode.” This should make it easier to predict if you’re going to collide with something. One more thing: the game also has the slight problem of there being no real victory condition. You technically win every time you play, even if you never touch the controls. Because I know this makes victory hollow, though, I’ve added a couple of subtly different “secret” endings for those of you who want to test your skills. I will now proceed to spoil those secret endings. If you manage to finish in under three minutes, you get a Glorious Victory. And the truly persistent among you can earn an Ultimate Victory by finishing in under two minutes. It can be done, I promise.

Oh, and for those who need to know: energy orbs increase your speed by 15 speed units, and beach balls decrease it by 10. And now you know. I think that’s everything. Everyone play the game and come post your best times in the comments!

8 thoughts on “The 100-Meter Splash”

  1. It amazes me how the concept of “2D fish game where you eat good, dodge bad” still has potential for innovation. This game has certainly delivered!

    Being able to change buoyancy at will creates such an interesting dynamic; whenever I had to go down, I had to compromise a tad to make sure my hitbox was large enough to collect an orb. Conversely, going up made me much more likely to hit beach balls. The asymmetry of vertical travel creates a bit of well appreciated variety.

    I /hate/ to be the guy that feels the need to point out that there are no sounds effects or music, and while they would be nice, it doesn’t detract from my experience very much.

    [ Reviewers note: I had to rewrite this section, because I originally wrote it while attempting the ‘Ultimate Victory’. It was nothing too bad, I was just being a tad over-critical. :Þ ]

    I have a newfound distaste for beach balls.

    Jumping upwards to get speed spheres is quite a challenge. In the beginning, you must have a very sharp angle, which makes it easy to hit the top beach ball on the way up or down. As you speed up, the angle changes, creating an even greater challenge; you can never get used to the jumps, because the required method is constantly changing, albeit ever so slightly and gradually.

    I don’t quite understand the very bottom of the screen. At a visually undefined point, it pushes you upwards. The number of beach balls I’ve run collided with due to these odd physics is embarrassing, not to mention the energy orbs I’ve missed.

    At one point in my play through, there were 4 orbs in a row at the bottom, spread across the last 20 meters. Due to my insane speed and the odd physics of the bottom, I missed them all and instead hit a beach ball.

    My time on that run was 2:01:48.

    At least the lack of music allowed me to put on some serene melodies in the background, which I certainly needed to keep my sanity.

    DESPITE all those paragraphs I wrote about this game’s frustrations, it truly is enjoyable! It’s a new spin on a common trope, which in itself is very respectable. I was addicted to getting a good time, which I finally got. I messed up a few times in the run, but I managed 1:59:59. I… I played this game a little too much xÞ

    If you can get people obsessed with your game, you’re definitely doing something right 🙂

    (Also, sorry for this huge wall of text)

    1. Thanks! Glad you… liked it?

      Honestly, this is not my best game. In general, if you want to know how badly I did making a game, just check to see how many important game details I had to explain in the post. I did not spend the whole month working on this one, and I tried to rush it out the door a couple days early to get some rest before next month (and partly because I forgot August has 31 days). In my hurry, I wound up neglecting some things, and sound was one of them. Like you, though, I usually just play some happy tunes in another tab before I start racing.

      As for the bottom of the screen, that’s an interesting issue. I find that borders are something many games still have a bit of a problem with. The big AAA games have had those awkward “invisible walls” for years. Lately, they’ve started doing a thing where the barriers are still invisible but now the player character says, “I don’t want to go that way” and walks back over the line. That’s meant to be less immersion-breaking, I think, but it doesn’t work at all.

      I had a similar problem here. I didn’t want the player to be able to drift off the bottom of the screen, but I couldn’t find a good way to prevent it. If you just stop sinking when you go all the way down, it results in the player being able to “fly” in a straight line along the bottom. In a game that’s all about balancing buoyancy and inertia in a constant bobbing motion, that felt incredibly wrong. The inexplicable upward force was the best fix I could come up with, and it’s still not very good. But I think it preserves the “feel” of the game better than any other solution.

      Congratulations on your Ultimate Victory! I kind of wish I’d done something more with those special endings (like actually mentioned them in the game), but the game is already so challenging; it seemed almost unfair to dangle such a brutal goal in front of everyone. As you found out, finishing in under two minutes is something only the most determined (and obsessive) players could accomplish. Glad you stuck with it!

      1. A bit of behind-the-scenes trivia: I said this wasn’t my best game (and that’s true), but it does have one distinction. This game holds my current record for craziest sprite sheet:

        Video game art: it’s no game.

  2. My first time through this game, I came in over 4 1/2 minutes. Needless to say, I didn’t bother to record the exact time. I felt improvement was basically unavoidable. A couple of plays later, my best is 2:28:87. Glorious, but not Ultimate. Not yet…

    1. By now, I’m sure you’ve discovered that the distance between 2:28 and 2:00 is much greater than the distance between 2:28 and 4:30 (in terms of difficulty, anyway).

      For what it’s worth, I consider the Glorious Victory to be “beating the game,” and the Ultimate Victory is like a 100% completion.

  3. Finally managed it. 1:58:86.
    Ultimate victory is won or lost in the first 20m.

    Hit box size being tied to your buoyancy was a good touch. Jumping for air bubbles when you’re going fast is fun, but early on it’s… just sad. Like watching a chubby kid try to dunk.

    1. Congratulations! I don’t think you can really say that the Ultimate Victory is won in the first 20m, but it can definitely be lost there.

      “Air bubbles,” huh? I like it. Yeah, if the first orb is in the air, I just restart. It’s possible even at that speed, but it’s not really worth it. Better to quit and get a decent start. Of course, once you’re going really fast, the doom is to get two “air bubbles” in a row. That can be downright impossible. So yeah, procedural generation continues to be an iffy way to do things.

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