Platform like it’s 1990, with an upgrade that is! Tiny Aqueous is an Action-Adventure Metroidvania Platformer that is story driven and packed with humour. With a custom art style and a jamming sound track, travel through the land of Aqueous uncovering secrets, meeting strange characters and saving the princess.
When the tiny aquatic world of Aqueous is under threat and her princess is kidnapped, only one hero can stand up and face the evil. You! Rescue the princess and restore peace to Aqueous. Find all the maidens of the kingdom to unlock your true power and save the princess before the land is consumed by darkness.
Concept / Development
I am currently the only developer working on Tiny Aqueous. This being the case, dividing my time between working on programming and working on art was quite challenging. I had to shift my focus a number of times in order to see the project to its current state. Initially I worked on programming the systems that drive the game. The game managers and player controller were a main focus early on as they had to function and feel right. The art was done closer to the end of the challenge period when I was happy with the game systems. This did not leave much time to work on artwork, however I was able to bring my ideas into the game engine with considerable speed due to the planning and framework I put in beforehand, and the tools Unity offered.
Bringing the ideas from paper to Unity I used the traditional way of hand drawing my art, I then scanned the drawings onto my hard drive and vectorised them in Inkscape. I found this was a great way to achieve a stylised art theme that fit my concept perfectly. All the art seen in the project either started as a line drawing on paper, or as a concept quickly created inside Inkscape.
Initially I started out with a drawing of the main characters which I had done a few years prior. Seeing the 2d challenge prompted my curiosity to see if I could develop my characters and create a world for them to interact with. When I first drew the characters I never planned on actually making Tiny Aqueous, but now that I have started development, I am extremely happy with the way the current project is turning out. Especially the stylised look of the art and animations.
While the main camera is in orthographic view, perspective cameras are used to provide a sense of depth to the image by creating a parallax effect. This helps add life to the scene and looks really nice when you are running through the levels.
Tools / Assets
Tiny Aqueous uses the 2D Skeletal Animation tool to bring life to the characters, the 2D Tilemap tool to map out the basic levels and Cinemachine 2D for your viewing pleasure. These tools saved me quite a bit of time in the development process. All the assets, including code, sound effects, music and art were made exclusively for this project by myself during the challenge period. The only pre-made asset used was InControl for the player input. All the art is subject to change further in the development period with more work and effort put in after the competition time frame.
With Cinemachine I was able to have a perfect platformer camera without any code. This includes smoothly following the player and bounding the camera to the level bounds to avoid the player seeing outside the level. Setting up the bounding box is simple, just create a PolyCollider 2d, and map out your bounds. Cinemachine does the rest.
2D Skeletal Animation
I was considering pixel art for the characters, however I decided on 2D skeletal animation as this would save a lot of time, and it fit in with the art style. Animating for 2D characters is the same as 3D characters, but with one less dimension to worry about. The tools Unity offers provides a seamless and quick way to animate characters and breathe life into them.
I was able to rig my character using the built in tools, and then animate them using unity's animation timeline. I had no issues with the process and I am extremely happy with the final result.
The tilemap tool on offer provides a nice and neat way to map out the maps. Using tilemaps is great as they are modular and can be used to make levels quickly. The tool on offer made my time as a designer rather nice as the levels I planned were quite extensive and manually placing each tile was not an option.