DevBlog 01 – Design Decisions to Prototype

Early concept for the title screen.

You are Jack, a raunchy possessed ventriloquist dummy. You’ve come home after a pretty gnarly bender only to find your family of hilarious eccentrics have been drugged and kidnapped. Based on the cartoon Meat the Carvers, it is up to you fight your way through your house, neighborhood, and many other prime locations from the show to rescue Deloris, Eve, Victor and Damien from other hilarious characters.


Title Screen / Main Menu

Now that the potential Steam sales pitch is out of the way, lets get to the nitty gritty. Thus far we have the idea for the game fleshed out and we’re ready to start developing the prototype phase. I have the intro video (shown above) and the title screen (also pictured above) already implemented with buttons for New Game, Resume Game, Options and Quit, you know, the buttons you’d expect from a game. Also I’ve implemented Level Select and Unlocked Cinematics buttons which aren’t going to do anything until much later down the line but they are definitely features we want included upon release. As of right now the New Game function and the Quit function are the only buttons that are programmed to do anything, and this will likely remain the case until the next phase of the project.

Character Models / Sprites

Next thing that I’m working on is getting the characters set up and ready to animate. It’s been kind of a wonky road trying to get some of these characters implemented but I think I’ve finally got it down to where I can start doing actual animations to look much closer to how the show runs and feels.

This is just bad…

As you can see, Trevor has some kinks. Some new methods were used in splicing Cindy from both the artist and myself and the animations on my end still don’t look perfect, but it’s certainly something I can work with (granted I still gotta do something with the hair cropping the neck…).

Oh look, the menu in action plus the Cindy model being animated!

Moving Forward

So before I can get this prototype finished, there are a few things that I need to get working on.

  • House – I need to get sprites / assets cut so that I can start making objects for the house scenes. This is probably the first thing that really needs to get done. I thought of the idea on doing other things like combat scripts and / or working on the UI, but I think the sooner I get at least one scene of the level complete so I have a workable area, the faster I’ll be able to progress into other systems. I’ve gotten some assets to get me started from the artist, so I need to start splicing objects and reconstructing the sets into the game world.
  • UI Elements – This is something that’s pretty high on the list of things that need to start getting worked on, and to be honest I haven’t even thought about how I want this to look. I want the artistic design of the game to closely favor the artistic design of the show itself, so the UI will certainly be minimal and match the humor / look of the show. I’ll need to make some blueprints and move on from there.
  • Combat System / Items / Item Upgrades? – After I get some assets for Jack, it’ll be important to start getting his combat / controls programmed. The prototype will have both keyboard and gamepad support and the controls should have a very basic 2D hack’n’slash feel to them. In the first level, Jack will start off with his knife and find a dart gun later in the first level. Once we’re past the prototype stage I’d like to create upgrades for these 2 weapons as well. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have at least one upgrade for each as hidden items within the level as well, I’ll just have to balance the AI accordingly. As for attacks, each weapon will just have one attack each, so a stabbing and a shooting animation will need to be made. There will be a scarcity of ammo so the knife will definitely be the players main attack while the dart gun will be used to stun enemies for certain strategies. This is just the basic premise obviously and in later versions it’s definitely a consideration to expand heavily on this, including combos and some pretty brutal animations (Juniors kill animations are coming to mind).
  • Enemy AI – The goal for level one is for there to only be a very small amount of enemy types. I’ll likely use the Trevor / Cindy models for this purpose until it’s decided who / what are going to be enemies for each level. 2 is probably enough types of enemies for the first level (not including the boss fight of course). These minor enemies won’t necessarily be named and I’ll probably change the color of the clothes / hair to make them more anonymous as these characters will probably be used to a greater effect later on in development.
    • I’m considering the male character as a mostly melee character, and will be looking to fit him with a torch and pitchfork. I think it’s best that the level one version I just program in a few pitchfork attacks, one going straight forward in a stabbing motion and a choreographed slash that you’ll have to dodge. Logic needs to be introduced where the animations are picked at random and are on a timer so you have X amount of time to move in for the kill. Later levels I think it would be fun to reintroduce this mob type with the torch and have an extra attack where he throws a torch leaving a small area of the map that you can’t stand in for a few seconds, giving a small additional challenge.
    • The female character I’m considering more of a ranged character with Jack’s trusty dart gun as her weapon of choice. I need to program 2 attacks, one being a straight forward dart that you need to dodge under and the other where she aims in a 45-135 degree angle and shoots several darts at once that you have to move out of the way from by either moving closer or out of range. The logic that needs to be created here should state that if player is so many pixels in range of the object, use a certain attack that way if the player is trying to range this mob she’ll do the big attack and if the player is moving into melee she’ll do the standard shoot forward attack so that the goal is to either move in slowly and stab her to death or to kill her at range while avoiding a raining barrage of roofie darts.
  • Level Design / Puzzles – The house is in my opinion the most iconic set piece of the show and I think the goal should definitely be to experience as much of the house as possible. By design, the level should have enemies scattered throughout and if it’s any indication by the enemy AI notes, that should present somewhat of a challenge. The boss fights will present their own unique challenges which I’ll address in a minute, but the level itself will have their own unique puzzles to make those boss fights more interesting. For the prototype, we’re only releasing one level so we want to make it count which is also why I think the house is the best place to start. Each level / location the player will have to navigate and find the puzzle, which will be in hidden locations that I’m considering leaving little hints to make it a bit easier (via sound cues, character dialogue, maybe even an item that you can pick up, etc). I’m thinking, just as an example, that the puzzle for the first level be a Lament Configuration reference, and once you complete it you’ll recover one of Jack’s infamous roofie darts. Collecting the darts will allow you to stun the boss long enough to free the captive family member who will help you in some way against the bosses.
  • Boss Fight – So after completing the puzzles, you should pick up an item that references the character you’re trying to save. At first I figured that the first level wouldn’t have a character as the priest is intimately connected to Jack in the show, I really need something to show how this system works for the prototype so this will be where we save Eve I’m thinking, but further into development the plan to save one of the main family members at this stage could drastically change to make the actual game pacing better.
    • Boss Fight A (Hidden item not collected) – I’ll need to program some logic and abilities for the first boss, the priest. He should have magical attacks, like shooting a beam of light straight forward that you have to crouch underneath or maybe even have like a broken table that you can find cover behind. Also, he should be able to put up some kind of ward that makes him invulnerable to damage so the trick behind the fight is to shoot him with a dart while he’s casting the ward and stun him and then attack, rinse and repeat a few times. Whenever you attack the priest, he’ll do a quick animation where he reacts to the stab and then starts throwing random objects at you that will break when you dodge them and give you more darts. This is mostly so that if you miss somehow you aren’t in a situation where it’s easier to just die so you can start over and it also gives another mechanic to deal with. Upon getting the bosses health down, we start a kill animation. I’m thinking that the priest falls down to his knees, and then Jack grabs a Pineapple, shoves it up his ass, and then slits his throat. Then an animation where Jack frees Eve and game over screen. Fun stuff.

      How do you feel about the priest throwing holy water? Like it could just be a vial that breaks. I was just thinking of as an attack. I’m thinking he is in like Exorcist mode as an attacker. Maybe during your charging up, spell thing it is just him saying the power of christ compels you shit while holding a cross – Daniel
    • Boss Fight B (Hidden item collected) – Upon entering the room, Jack shoots the priest and frees Eve. During this version, the priest will still fire off the light attacks that you have to dodge. When he goes to cast his ward, however, Eve will jump on his back, distracting him. This is where you rush in to get an attack in. The priest should still flail around to show the hit was successful but not throw stuff at you. Once the boss is down, a little bit of a different animation will play where the priest falls to his knees, Jack still shoves the pineapple up his ass, but then Eve comes over and rips the pineapple out and shoves it down the priests throat, killing him. Blood and shit spraying all over the place. If that doesn’t get the attention of some people…not sure what will.


So that’s where I am, and where I need to go to get this prototype finished. This should give you a pretty detailed outline of what needs to be done to complete the prototype. There’s a lot of hours in cutscene animation and actual gameplay coding to be done. The next devblog will be posted in a few weeks, but those should be much shorter. In the future I’ll be outlining what I’ve done, changes I’ve made, what needs to be done before the next stage of development, etc.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *