Petro Panic

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Petro Panic is a forced side-scrolling game I developed for ITP_280 (VideoGame Production). I worked with fellow CS Games student Isaac Steele to create four levels of Petro Panic using the Game Maker program from YoYoGames.

Story: You play as a sea turtle named Ted, minding your own business and going about your turtley things when BAM! there’s an explosion from a nearby oil rig. As the oil spills and begins to engulf your home, you have to swim away from the spill, avoiding rocks and other underwater hazards in a quest for clean waters. On your way, you begin to find coral that you can choose to pick up or leave behind. At the end of the game, your score is determined by how much coral you picked up, and the game’s ending is determined by that score. The game can produce at least four distinct endings.

Gameplay: Tthe game is a forced scrolling level game. As Ted swims along through the sea, the oil behind him from the spill advances, moving at a constant speed towards Ted. Although Ted can outrun the oil spill, if the oil catches up to him he will die and the player will have to restart the level. During each level the player can collect coral pieces, which are out of the way (to make the game a little harder for those who want to collect all the pieces). Because of this, there are two main ways to play; for completion and collection. More coral pieces collected will result in a better ending, giving the player incentive to find all the pieces. The different endings also contribute to replay value.

During the project Isaac and I focused heavily on balancing and pacing. We didn’t include a “How to Play” screen or tutorial, but instead introduced gameplay to the player during the game. We thought in this way we would make learning new concepts fun and interactive. Also, because the two of us have very different ideas for level design it was difficult for us to make the pacing of the game feel smooth instead of suddenly difficult. We received great feedback for the game and noticed that each player played the game a bit differently. The more daring completionists wanted to collect all the coral, whereas the more cautious players focuse on moving as far away from the impending oil as possible. People also loved dolphin jumping, which they did not expect.

You can download and play the GameMaker executable here.

All art and code in-game is original and property of Katie Powell and Isaac Steele. The main menu music is “Meditation on Tranquility” from the play Metamorphoses, and the in-game music is “The Flood Plain”, an OCRemix of the Big Blue theme from F-Zero.

(Spring 2011)