Tallowmere 2
Work in progress. Subject to change. More fun than you can shake a kitten at.
Tallowmere 2

Lady Tallowmere has begun expanding her empire.

Tallowmere 2 is an upcoming 2D dungeon platformer game, currently in its early stages, being developed by Chris McFarland in Auckland, New Zealand.

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Blog Post

Tallowmere II development begins

10 January 2016  •  Chris McFarland
I've recently begun working on a sequel to Tallowmere, tentatively titled Tallowmere II. There's a couple of longer names up my sleeve, but I'm not ready to reveal the full name yet.

In any case, Lady Tallowmere and her kittens and friends will be returning for a bigger adventure.

While the original Tallowmere was (and still is) fun, its scope is rather small. There's not that many enemies, there's not that many weapons, there's not that many bosses, there's only one room skin, and most enemies are rather stiff.

Originally, I wanted to add in lots more, but hit some demotivational snags because I was using UnityScript at the time. Plus, I had no idea what I was doing and was possibly in over my head.

Tallowmere's code wasn't great in places; it was the first game I'd ever made, it wasn't always smooth sailing, but I've learned so much from making it.

Despite these shortcomings, people love the game. Tallowmere has sold over 10,000 copies so far across all platforms. 93% positive user rating on Steam. 4.5/5 on iOS and Android.

My original plan was to add new content to Tallowmere here and there post-launch, just to keep things fresh. I did this a little bit, added a Spiked Club and a couple new enemies. But not all reception was great for these new additions. Suddenly, the game that people had paid for had changed. They didn't ask for this. So I became reluctant to create new things. All the while too, I knew my code base wasn't great, and I felt limited about what I could do.

Planning is nothing more than an educational guess, after all. Sometimes plans don't go how you expect. Things come up. But life goes on. You learn from the experience so you can make yet another plan!

Slightly wiser

After launching Tallowmere on Steam in March 2015, I spent the majority of 2015 prototyping new game ideas, all the while using C#. Although no prototypes ever went very far (a couple weeks on each at most), I was able to fine-tune my coding structures and skills. Things felt more logical and cleaner. It was a breath of fresh air to code new things more cleanly, even if I didn't stick with them. Reiterating over base code structures has been a great learning experience, and I've been able to strengthen my methods.

I tried my hand at developing number puzzles, boardgames, grid turn-based strategy, 3D dungeons, people simulators... And while what I was crafting was technically sound and playable, the fun just wasn't there.

What's fun for me? Tallowmere is where the fun is. There is something about jumping on a 2D plane and defying gravity illogically that just puts a smile on my face. So on the back of all these small prototypes, recently I went full-circle and started up on another 2D platformer project. And in a roundabout way, creating a sequel to Tallowmere feels like the right thing to do.

My players want more, more, more, and developing fresh under a better codebase without fear of breaking things sounds like paradise.

The sequel

Tallowmere's core gameplay is fun: infinite jumping, shield blocking, random rooms, shiny loot, and preventing death. I've also come to realise that Tallowmere feels great because it sounds great; the chiptune sound effects that I add to every little weapon, collision, and action really bring the dungeon to life. Particle effects are everywhere. The gameplay is tight and responsive. Things look, sound, and feel juicy. Plus the blood. Gotta have the blood.

So what will Tallowmere II have? Development is still in its early days, but so far:
  • All creatures now shrink and stretch, making them look much more lively.
  • Melee attack animations actually exist now. Attacks are still very quick (you can still spam your attack button), but there's a quick animation now to make it look life-like.
  • Weapon trails; a blurring effect behind a blade as it swings.
  • On-screen action bar for visible weapon slotting.
  • Rooms now have different themes.
  • Rooms don't all look like they are made out of blocks. I imagine some of my themes will still use blocks, but I'm moving away from that.
  • Art is still pixel-looking. Still making it look charming though!

Internally, all creatures now share the same movement logic and code. My code classes are much more modularised now, which will help speed things up immensely.

Game design

Tallowmere II will still be combat-heavy. I know that combat really needs to be a lot more varied than before. The game needs to have lots of different weapon and enemy mechanics, with lots of modifiers for both.

My game design philosophy for Tallowmere was: if a game has a fun mechanic, I should probably have that mechanic too. Fun is fun. This sequel will keep the same premise.

If you were setting out to design a new car from scratch, would you purposely omit certain features that other current modern cars have, thus making your car inferior from the start? Probably not, unless you had a very good reason to.

My game design inspirations draw from mechanics that exist in other games because they're fun. And if you're trying to make a fun game, omitting a fun game design mechanic sounds like you're purposely limiting yourself. I want to include all the things, for real this time.

So here's to kicking off my development for Tallowmere II. I'm sure it will take up over a year of my time, but will be worth it.

If you've supported me with my original Tallowmere development, thank you! And if you're just joining me now with the start of Tallowmere II, I thank you as well.

‒ Chris