Wonderland Game
THE MIDNIGHT POST * December 2007
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The Making of
Wonderland Adventures
..........,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,....... (Part 2)

Click here to read Part 1 in this series.

Prototyping

After the initial graphics engine and control method were established, we started putting together a first playable prototype of Wonderland Adventures. Prototypes are typically completed very quickly and can be an invaluable tool to determine how much fun a game might be. Often a prototype simply leads a developer to abandon a game concept altogether (and we hope to bring you some of these playable prototype games in future editions of the Midnight Post), but it is always better (and far less painful) to end a project earlier if it is not likely to result in a successful game.

The Wonderland Adventures game prototype was completed in time for the 2006 Game Developerís Conference, in part to also receive some feedback from other developers and potential publishing partners. While the game clearly looked interesting enough to continue our work on it, the prototype also had some very definite drawbacks, although they did not become apparent as such for some time.

A Bump in the Road

One of these hidden pitfalls was the fact that the game was not tile-based but pixel-precise. You could manoeuver Stinky and Co. anywhere and anyhow on the playing field, rather than being bound to an underlying grid (as was the case in previous Wonderland games). This was certainly fun for certain game situations, such as action-based puzzles. However, not having a tile-base turned into a logical nightmare when trying to combine different puzzle elements. In fact, the game was beginning to develop an identity crisis: part of it played like an action-platformer (minus the jumping) while part of it played like classic Wonderland. This combination did not present a coherent whole and was simply not as fun to play as previous Wonderland games.

So, we made the painful decision to ditch the pixel-precise elements (and much of the code that went along with them) and return the game to a purely tile-based system in an effort to re-focus the game structure. While it is always hard to throw out parts of a game, we had definitely made the right decision. The gameís essence was now clearly laid out, and the game started to once again be fun to play.

We have included the first playable prototype of Wonderland Adventures in this issue. You can download and extract the zip file by clicking here. Comparing this version to the final Wonderland Adventures game (click here to play it, if you havenít already), youíll immediately notice both similarities and big differences in how it plays. In fact, if you explore the prototype carefully, youíll even find a magical glove power that did not make it into the final Wonderland Adventures game (but might well make an appearance in future games).

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