Fool on the Hill
A Key - move left
D Key - move right
. Key - jump
Fool on the Hill is a bite-sized action platformer about a kid in a red shirt who wants nothing more than to leap into cacti. It’s loosely based on the misadventures of my younger self, wherein he’d scamper off to the hills on camping trips to find whatever buried treasure was definitely (never) hidden just over the horizon. Upon returning, his arms covered in cactus needles, his yearning for whimsical questing would be satiated through video games, and I thought it would be fun to finally realize and represent my childhood wonder through the medium that was best able to indulge it. So in Fool on the Hill, you do what you’d be doing in any other action platformer: hopping to victory.
This is my first experience developing a 2.5D game, and it almost certainly shows. The process of developing Fool on the Hill began with the controls, which continued to be tweaked right up to the very end of development. The most challenging part was preventing the character from feeling too slippery while still accomodating acceleration, since I wanted him to feel energetic and visceral to handle. I decided to cut a ledge grab maneuver partway through development since it wasn’t coming together. On more than a few occasions I had to redesign the level entirely when I realized a new way to tamper with his physics, and I’m decently satisfied with the results. I’m especially glad I was able to get him to jump higher upon holding the button, as, in my experience, that feature goes a long way in creating a sense of “oneness” between the player and avatar. I might've had the most fun with the 2D animations and background sprites (even if implementing them in Unity was a pain), and seeing them operate within a playable space. I wanted to make the world and the sword-touting kid feel expressive and alive in whatever small way I could. I think that the multidimensional approach, using 3D models alongside 2D sprites, adds a nice bit of flavor to the environment. The set-design was possibly more time consuming than anything else, as different models had to be sculpted and manually applied to every section of the level (and doubly so when certain platforms needed tuning), and though I tried to spice them up with lighting tricks, I recognize that some of the untextured models won’t cut it for many. I picked music and sound effects from MOTHER 3, EarthBound, and Metroid, since those games capture quite a bit of the wonder I was looking to bottle up in this little package. Some of the collision is a little off, the performance isn’t perfect, and there’s a lighting bug I wasn’t able to solve, but overall I feel that I accomplished my goal with this project. Here’s hoping it’s a stepping stone to better things.