Final Thoughts: Sunken Treasure

Nov 3

Sunken Treasure has come a long way since my first prototype back in July.

Early Development
The development of this game took much longer than the others. The main cause for the delay (in addition to me just being too busy to work on it) was that once I built the initial prototypes I could tell that the game was too simple to be any fun.

Some early prototypes and thoughts about the game can be found in these older posts:
Sunken Treasure Prototype
Sunken Treasure Progress

Initially I had planned to make the game on a static screen (not scrolling). This meant that the ocean floor was really shallow, and the game was not challenging enough. I experimented with quite a few alterations to the gameplay to fix this. Most centered around the idea of giving the user the chance to take on more risk (staying in the water with the fish longer) in exchange for a greater reward (more points). I was really trying to avoid adding scrolling to the game, because I knew that it would be a big undertaking.

The problem with implementing scrolling is that you can’t just have the whole game screen scroll up and down. If I were to do this, Flash would have to keep track of all the fish every frame, update their position horizontally, and then move every single thing on the screen up or down to scroll. It’s too much for Flash to do all this without slowing down considerably. The solution is to program a system that keeps track of where the graphics should be and loads them and unloads them depending on whether or not they should be on the screen or not.

I ended up using Strille’s Scrolling Demo as a basis for my scrolling system. Each of the fish in Sunken Treasure is a ‘tile’ that gets loaded just before it is to appear on screen and unloaded just after it scrolls off screen.

Creature Sketches

Another time-consuming aspect of this game was creating all the art. It was challenging for me to draw believable animals. It was very clear that I would not be able to animate the stingray or octopus using tweening, so I had to draw several frames of each to get a smooth animation.

Animation Frames

I wanted the diver to be kind of abstract and cartoony, but I got a lot of negative reactions to the first design for the character. I changed him slightly to make him a little more recognizable.


Sound Design
The soundtrack for Sunken Treasure was created in GarageBand. I’m very pleased with how the music came out. Earlier versions had quirkier music, but after I added the deep scrolling to the game I felt like it needed something a little more mysterious and adventurous.

In an earlier post I claimed that I was going to be developing Sunken Treasure to work on the PSP. While I would absolutely love to be able to play it on PSP, there is just no way that the game will ever run smoothly on a PSP.
Not to worry though, I have another game in mind for the PSP…

Sunken Treasure turned out to be my most ambitious game project so far (well, unless you count Battle Pods). I’m happy with the final product though, and I’m glad I spent the extra time to make the game good, rather than releasing something I knew wasn’t good enough or giving up on the project altogether.

Play Sunken Treasure