Bringing games kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat. Never holding their hand and showing them the way politely.

I dream of string is an oldschool puzzle adventure game, where your quantity of string and how you use it is of the utmost importance. Help an unnamed string-based lifeform reclaim favor from his people after they kicked him out for being too short. Your quantity of string is used to solve puzzles, which ramp from very easy to fiendishly difficult.


The "Non-Violent Tail Cutting" Award
Presented by pymike

"Most Awards Given" Award
Presented by pymike

"Classic key-puzzle adventure gaming" Award
Presented by HanClinto

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Ratings (show detail)

Overall: 3.3
Fun: 3.3
Production: 2.8
Innovation: 3.8

Respondents: 32


File Uploader Date
Bugfix release - actual readme included, and more info from the gui so you can actually understand how to play.
saluk 2008/09/14 19:24
saluk 2008/09/12 08:45
The strange title screen
saluk 2008/09/12 08:45
Too much string!
saluk 2008/09/11 02:50
Playing with string
saluk 2008/09/08 07:14

Diary Entries

It begins

Ahhhhhhh! "The length of a piece of string?" I don't get it at all. Where did that theme even come from? Ok, string, that makes sense. I could see a lot of game ideas from string. Or stringy. But it can't be any old string, it has to be a piece of one. That's funny that string always comes in "pieces." I've never thought of string as "pieces" of string, but that's what they are called. Very odd. Oh, and length is important too, which makes this theme a bit specific.

Well, my plan for this is to have my crackpot team brainstorm today, design tomorrow, and then goof off the rest of the week, finally swooping in with an epic 60 hour coding session the last few days and making a game. Ok, so we should plan very small :)

Another plan is to build things iteratively. The game isn't going to rely on fancy features, but when fancy features are able to go in, that will make it better. My last game relied on a fancy feature that took the whole week to write, and no time was left to make a game. Our game before that was founded on an idea that relied on the whole game being in place to find out if the idea was good or not. So basically, we are going to make a "level1" which is as basic as it can be, but polish that up enough that just that piece could get an adequate rating. Then we add a "level2" that makes it that much better. That's my plan anyway. We'll see what happens.

I don't have a ton of time, so I don't have much hope. I have a job, am addicted to the silly warhammer mmo which is going to open beta this week, one of my other game projects has a release due in the next few days, and my other even larger game project has a release due in the next month. I am certainly a busy fellow. Keeping the scope simple is going to be essential.

Good luck everyone! The game quality was outstanding last time, I expect it to be even better this time.

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What a difference a day can make

Well, Don Blake was able to come up with a great idea, which offsets nicely the lack of idea I had. Our first day consisted of taking turns playing Warhammer beta, and doing some programming of the engine. Our idea is this: adventure/puzzle game, where your character is made of one long piece of string. In the environment you will find other pieces of string which you can attach to yourself to get a longer piece of string to solve puzzles that you run into (such as gaps you need to cross). Sometimes, you will have to reluctantly leave some string behind, by cutting it off of you again.

The basic engine is already in place, leaving us pretty much the whole week to create the levels and polish things. This is the best start we've ever had for pyweek I think. You can unwind your string, bring it to you, throw the end of it around, tie it to things, tie on new pieces of string, cut the string off, and we have a map editor that lets us edit the tiles as well as add string. Opting away from physics, instead going for the "nibbles" method of the character's string-tail, was a wise decision I think.

So far, while not quite a game yet, with no goals or real puzzles, it is a very fun prototype to just mess around with, which bodes quite well for the rest of the project.

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Time for another post!

Our game has progressed somewhat, although it feels like we are treading water after the 3 hour sprint that bestowed upon us the first bit of gameplay. The only level at the moment, is the first test level that we made, and the mechanics haven't much improved.

The good news though, is that it seems like it is getting to be more or less stable enough to continue, and we will have more time in the coming days to have a marathon of level creation. Whether the mechanics lead to interesting puzzles remains to be seen. It is still fun to play with the string though, as can be seen by this insane screenshot:

This was produced after discovering a string duplication bug. After going to a new screen, you keep the string currently attached, but your tail gets saved into the screen you left. So when you come back, you now have twice as much! I played with this bug for a while, until there was so much string the game crashed. Ah, good times.

The game basically will work as follows: As Tommy Threadbare (name to be changed), an exiled stringite from the stringdom of string (description to be changed), you take your stringy self and use your string to overcome all obstacles you are faced with. The game is not divided up into levels, instead consisting of one big map (to be created), similar to a zelda dungeon. Along the way, there will be checkpoints to help for when you mess up (because it will be possible to lose string that you need to solve a puzzle). Some of these checkpoints will be "achievement" checkpoints, which will display a "you must be this long to pass" sign, and not let you continue if you don't have the required items. These will be very frequent. In addition, there will be checkpoints that refresh your length of string and make sure it's up to snuff. These will be more rare. At any time, you can reset back to the last checkpoint. Also, when you quit the game, it will save exactly where you left off.

Puzzles include: locked doors, chasms, keys, objects that need to be dragged around or thrown across places, and various other yet to be revealed puzzles. There will also be some form of story to tie it together, making it a bit more of an adventure/puzzle game than just a puzzle game.

If there is time, graphics might be improved, but it's probable that they wont.

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Theme produce game

We spent most of the day working on levels, I did end up having to bug hunt quite a bit. There are still loose edges in that regard, but few enough that the game can be waded through. Currently the dungeon consists of about 15 rooms, although many of them are fillers and don't have much in the way of puzzles. We have more rooms planned, but found out that designing the puzzles for a puzzle game is almost as hard as solving them :) Each room takes nearly an hour to really do well on, so we still have a lot of work ahead.

Here is one of the early rooms, before things get scary:

We are having a lot of fun playing the levels we are creating, although I do have some concerns:
  • I'm not totally sure if we can ramp up the difficulty very much. It feels like we've plateaued, and anything else we try is just going to be a lot of repetitive busy work instead of an interesting puzzle to solve. On a similar but opposite note however...
  • It's hard to tell what the difficulty actually is. A demo might help, but we don't want to give it away before the end of the compo. We may include a hint guide of sorts (maybe a snapshot of the winning state of each room?), just in case we mess things up. To us, the puzzles we are making are really easy (and we are playing each other's levels, so the levels themselves are fresh to us when we test), but innately knowing the mechanics is an advantage. We could try so hard to make it difficult enough that it ends up being much too hard.
  • The controls are awkward. I think this is going to put a lot of people off and make them not really give the game enough of a chance. There are a few things that may help, such as fixing the gui so the actions displayed match a bit better with the context of the situation, and possibly combining some actions into the same command, but there's not a whole lot I could change. There are a lot of actions you can take in game. We will have a bit of a tutorial, hopefully that is enough.
  • Oh, the bugs. Is there a possibility of removing all the bugs before this thing ends? I really doubt it. The bugs could end up making someone either have to restart the game if they screw something up, or just be so frustrating to work with in certain areas that it's just no fun. Most of the time the game is a blast, but when I get myself stuck because the interface lied to me, or something didn't work how it should, it gets frustrating.

All in all, even with the concerns, I think this is the funnest game we have put together. This also marks the first time we have actually built our game from the theme, instead of taking some game idea we had and trying to make it fit the theme. We would not have come up with this idea without the theme, and the game is that much more interesting through it's use of it. I have to say, I feel a lot better about that than trying to make some other game and go, "well, we'll stick this in it, to make it fit."

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Bugs and tips, and minipostmortem

It might be a good idea to back up the "checkpoint" folder after each checkpoint in case you mess up a room and go save at a different checkpoint by accident. You can also edit the checkpoint folder (such as copying a map file from maps to checkpoint to reset the map), but it is possible to mess something up.

In the room with millions of portable bridges, if you go to the right screen there is a checkpoint at the start, so if you want to unlock the door don't go right until you manage to do so. Although the northern door may not even be necessary. I have not completed the right branch as of yet, my game partner designed that branch and it is quite difficult. The extra string found in the yellow door in that room will make the next section easier, but it is (theoretically) possible without it.

If you are unable to reattach to an object, tie/untie a string you should be able to tie, or pick up a piece of string; the problem may be solved by closing and running the game again (closing the game saves your position), or leaving the map and returning.

Avoid leaving the map when tied to a post.

I'll be posting a video walkthrough at some point in the next week. If I manage to beat the right path that is :)

I am very proud of this game. Although it falls short in many areas, it is fairly complete, and most (not all) of the bugs have been ironed out. Considering the difficulty of development, I am surprised we were able to finish. Still, there are a lot of things I'd like to do, so we will definitely be working on this game some more.

Besides the bugs and some design flaws, it is badly in need of a middle section. The difficulty goes from quite easy to quite difficult with no section to provide medium difficulty. Our decision to branch the level was good for the limited dev time, as it meant we could both freely develop maps without bumping into each other, but it left no room to balance the two sides. Both paths are difficult, but I am pretty sure the right path is harder.

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Video walkthrough for I Dream of String (parts 1 and 2)

Here is the first walkthrough video. As our game is pretty long, I will be doing these in several parts. This first one is a bit silly, all of you should be able to figure out how to get this far without the walkthrough, if you can understand the controls (and the video wouldn't help with that anyway). It was a test of capturing. Quality of part 2 is a bit better and smoother, plus there is a soundtrack, although the string can be hard to see. Hopefully it can help you if you are stuck though. Part 3 is coming later :) You'll notice that even I struggled through some parts.

Part 1
Part 2a
Part 2b

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