Synapsis 2

Ready for something strange? Enter the world of David Carter. A world where nothing really makes sense and yet everything is logical. Welcome to Synapsis 2, a point and click adventure collaboration between robotJAM and myself.

This is really robotJAM’s game since I had nothing to with the first Synapsis and the concept is all his but I was very happy to be invited to work with him on this, having collaborated on a number of other point and click games in the past (The Dreamerz, Panda’s BIG Adventure, Panda’s BIGGER Adventure).

We planned out the whole game beforehand, coming up with a number of themed rooms and a bunch of puzzles to go with them. It was pretty fun getting creative on this one. Then I left robotJAM to get on with the art so that I would have something to work with when it came to doing the code. The art is definitely what stands out in this game and I hope you’ll agree that Rob did a fantastic job. That combined with the eerie music and sound effects make this a very surreal and atmospheric experience.

Code-wise the game didn’t present too many challenges so once the art was more or less in I was able to go through and hook it all up and turn it into a playable game. My favourite part is the wibbly effect on the doors (made possible thanks to a great class that I found here).

Good luck, have fun, and be sure to let me know how you get on in the comments. Oh, and if you want to play the first game then you can find it here: Synapsis

P.s. Some little known trivia: the weird looking eye in the tv in the hub room that looks around creepily is a video of robotJAM’s eye.

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The Dreamerz

The Dreamerz is another collaboration with my artist friend robotJAM. It’s another point-and-click game but there’s not a Panda in sight this time. The concept for this game was actually dreamed up (see what I did there) before we made Panda’s BIGGER Adventure. I came across a game that I really liked, The Blue Beanie, and got in touch with its creator, asking if she’d like to do a collaboration.

I put together an idea for a game that I thought would go well with her style of art. Unfortunately it didn’t work out because she was unable to commit enough time to the project but I didn’t want to just ditch it completely because I really liked the concept of the game. I considered attempting to do the art myself but luckily I decided to see if Rob wanted to get on board first. He did a far better job than I ever could have done on the art and helped shape the game into what it is now.

I think we got the formula near enough spot on with this one with a lot people saying that they thought it was the perfect length and difficulty for a Flash game which is always nice to hear. It’s not too challenging but there is enough of a challenge to keep it engaging throughout and the puzzles are all (more or less) logical. We were also lucky enough to get a great sound designer, Reade McCardell, to work on the game. He put together all the sounds which add a lot of atmosphere to the planets. Check out his band here: Fresh Cut Salads.

It has been the highest rated game I’ve made to date, getting scores over 4 stars on Kongregate and Newgrounds, a really great result. It was also reviewed very favourably by JayIsGames, a site that reviews Flash games and that has reviewed several of my games in the past.

But it’s the great comments that players leave that make the business of making Flash games so rewarding. Several players likened the game to Myst and Samorost which was just fantastic since those are great games.

There were of course a few negative comments (you can’t please everyone!), most of them being about the fact that the sound puzzle was too challenging. That was probably the bit that I was least confident about before release since I was worried that people would find it tricky but I still like it and am glad that it stayed in the game.

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Panda’s BIG Adventure

I took on board some of the comments about how people were frustrated by the fact that you couldn’t kill things in the Panda Sniper games. Rob (robotJAM) and I decided that perhaps we should go for a different style of game for the next in the Panda series and since we were both fans of point-and-click adventure games, that seemed like a logical direction to go in.

I grew up playing games like the fantastic Myst series and the Discworld point-and-click games and so was naturally inspired by these when I came to make my own games. The humour in the Panda games is quite similar to that of the Discworld games and there is at least one direct reference to them in this particular game.

The plot for this one took us quite a while to properly nail down. We liked the idea of including film references as we had started to do on the previous Panda game so for a while we considered setting it in a film studio and having Panda wander through different sets. I can’t remember why exactly we ditched that idea but we decided that we could achieve all that and more if Panda discovered a time machine. We came up with a plot that saw Panda stumbling across a time machine, promptly breaking it, and then spending the rest of the game trying to fix it so that he could get home.

It soon became clear that there was enough scope there to make two games so we split it in half, a sensible decision for two reasons. One, there really was far too much content for just one Flash game and two, we could get two sponsorship deals this way!

We also made a half-hearted attempt to inject a little replay value into the game. The trouble with this type of game is that it doesn’t really offer the player much of an incentive to play it again. We make a reasonable percentage of our income from adverts in our games so it’s in our interest to get as many plays as possible.

We included hidden critters in Panda’s BIG Adventure as a sort of extra bonus, some of which require solving mini puzzles to find. It’s hard to say what kind of effect this has had on how the game has performed, I suspect very little, but I still think that it’s a nice little addition to the game.

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