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Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends

Created by Team Nemo

An indie game based on Winsor McCay's groundbreaking comic strip.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Latest news: awards, game progress, and release window update
about 1 month ago – Tue, Oct 25, 2022 at 10:26:17 AM

Hello dreamers! 

It's been a wild month on this end for Team Nemo, so we wanted to share some of the latest news, information, and updates from the development side. 

Latest features

This has been a big month of showcasing the game, but that hasn't held us back from keeping up our game development pace with both new features and animation going in. We've been able to more fully establish our core game loop by adding different ways that Nemo can leave Slumberland and reach his house. In our current builds, we've held this feature to when Nemo reaches some of the goal items we've placed around our level, but we'll also make it so Nemo can choose to wake up after failing during gameplay. Here's a short video of the effect: 

We're also hard at work on filling out the Forest and Ice levels, along with building the mini-map system. Our composer, Wayne Strange, has likewise been churning out new music: much of it would be too spoilery to share, but you'll hopefully be hearing more of it soon! We've also been fleshing out the plot and planning some big scenes that we think you'll all be excited about. 

Ice Palace level blockout

To help keep things moving, we're also expanding the programming portion of the team, so that we can more evenly distribute front end (stuff that you see) and back end (stuff that you don't see, but that makes everything go) work. 

Release window update

We've been getting a lot of questions about this so we wanted to update on this. When we ran the Kickstarter campaign, we targeted a pretty standard 18-month development cycle starting from the end of the Kickstarter. Usually though, a cycle like that is able to happen when team members are able to work on a game in a full-time capacity and with the current budget, that's not possible and we are maintaining our full-time jobs in addition to working on Little Nemo. While we typically keep at least 1 team member on the game more or less full-time (the game is also a piece of academic research so that affords flexibility), we've had to balance game development with full-time responsibilities, as well as life events like out-of-state moves, separate family bouts with COVID, and a number of other factors that have affected the production schedule. 

So, as it stands, we're currently targeting a Fall 2023 release of the full game. To accomplish this, we're budgeting our funding very carefully to make sure that development can continue at the constant pace it has been. While it seems like things are moving slowly, we're getting very close to having our major systems in place and will be able to make some very big content pushes in the near future. For the backers who have content in the game itself (such as cameos), you haven't missed anything! We'll also be adding that content as we finalize the levels' designs and work on those content pushes - we'll reach out accordingly to plan your appearances. 

We've also been making progress on reward items such as finalizing vendors and designs, though are prioritizing the game itself and trying to focus on getting those items to you around the time of the game's release. We've been really grateful for the patience and encouragement of our backers and fans who have written to make sure we're able to take the time to make the game according to our vision and which can hold up to Winsor McCay's original comics. 

That all being said, there's also some good news - we've been approached for development and launch opportunities from parties really excited about the game (can't announce full details yet), but we want folks to know that the schedule adjustment will help us make sure that when the game is available, it will be available on all of our target platforms simultaneously. 

No, we won't be putting horns on Flip...

We also hear there might be a Netflix Slumberland movie coming out in the near future? Obviously that will be a big day for fans of Little Nemo, so we're prepping some really special stuff for our fans and backers, so watch out for that. Just because it's not the full release doesn't mean you won't be playing the game ;-) 

Awards and showcase updates

Okay so how's the game actually turning out? We're happy to say that important people think that our game is pretty good (and not just our parents either!) Over the past month we've showcased at 3 separate events: the Cleveland Gaming Classic, the International Conference on Meaningful Play, and at the Boston Festival of Indie Games. Just being included in the latter two festivals is a big accomplishment as they attract developers from around the world. 

We're excited though to share that in addition to being a part of these events, we also took home some top honors! From the Cleveland Gaming Classic, we won the Best Art and Best in Show awards in their Indie Showcase. 

Our social media manager with the awards and uh...complementary energy drink supply...

We also took home one of the top awards at Meaningful Play with the award for Best Digital Game! This event honors games that are not only examples of great gameplay, but also which have some educational or meaningful element for the world around them. We've been really excited by the industry's positive reaction to how our game is built to introduce audiences to these important works of comics and animation history and are honored to have had the opportunity to demonstrate the work on such an important stage. 

Chris accepting the Best Digital Game award at the International Festival of Meaningful Play. He was honestly so excited that he almost froze in the middle of walking up to get the award.

So that's all for now. Again, we thank all of you for your support and enthusiasm for the game. Trust us when we say that we're putting in our best effort to bring you something truly special. Look forward to more cool updates coming in the near future as we continue to crank out content and features, and as always, pleasant dreams! 


Cheers and many thanks,


Team Nemo

Some Technical Updates
about 2 months ago – Mon, Oct 10, 2022 at 02:36:41 AM

Hi Dreamers,

It’s Ben, the programmer. If you’ve joined any of the Twitch development streams you’ve probably seen some of the new features I’ve been plugging away at. If not, drop by sometime and say hi! I try to stream every Saturday from about 9pm to midnight East coast time. I wanted to take a step back though and talk a little about the new features and tweaks I’ve been working on.

Thanks, by the way, for all the feedback we’ve been getting! We have our issue tracker set up and even if we can’t reply to everyone we see all the feedback and notes and addressing everything we can.

We’ve also been taking Nemo to conventions and it’s great to see how folks react and where some things can be improved. Speaking of that, I also put Nemo in to an arcade cabinet to take to conventions. But I’ll save that for the end.

— The Things You Don’t Notice —

Inertia:

Previously, the actors had instantaneous velocity. If you pressed left they instantaneously moved left, and when you let go, they instantaneously stopped. The idea being something closer to Mega-Man than Mario. I made some small tweaks to give the characters a few frames of speed-up and slide which gives the player control a little more weight without it feeling slippery.  It seems like a small thing, but it really helps to make moving the characters more fun.

Character Swap Direction:

We built out a few places where the intention was to swap characters mid-air to hit a grapple point with Flip or to glide with Peony. This caused some issues when using the d-pad to select the character then instantly trying to face the right direction. Now, when you’re in the air you face the last direction you were traveling in for a couple of frames to give you a chance to perform another action.

You can also get some cool princess fireball jump moves off too!

One Way Platforms (or let’s break physics):

I’m finally happy with the one way collision in the game. This was a bigger pain than I’d like to admit. I finally got a solution in place that feels pretty good and doesn’t cause unfortunate side effects with other ways we’re handling collision events.

— Behind the curtain —

Scripted events and Puppeteering:

I finally got to work on scripted events. Nemo now has a very simple scripting system that allows Dream Actors to tell other Dream Actors how to behave. One of the simplest example of a scripted event is the “go to sleep’ sequence. The bed tells nemo to:

  • find a point
  • play his walk animation until he gets to it
  • jump
  • disappear
  • tell the bed to play the sleep animation
  • fade out the scene
  • load the next scene (now the loading bed - will be the map selector)

We’ll be using the same scripting system to handle dialogs between characters and ‘puppet shows’ to handle in-game cinematic sequences. One of our next uses of this is the mosquito farm sequence. I’m looking forward to getting this moving!

The scripting system also manages things like advanced enemy spawn (I built a medusa head style enemy for this purpose), pickups, and stuff like that.

Stats:

Each player and character now has individual stats.  We can now adjust the attack power of each player and enemy, make some enemies weak to certain attacks and have the fun, occasional, critical hit.  I put some Symphony of the Night pop-up hit indicators in -- initially just for testing -- but I kind of like them.

The House and full game loop:

We finally have somewhat of a full game loop in! Upon reaching a goal you now return to the house and go back to sleep! Now that we have basic scripted sequences in we’re ready to start stitching larger sequences together. We currently have a lot of levels and platforming challenges built for each world but now we can start putting the bits together into something greater than the parts.  Still needs some work but it's starting to get there!

Customizable Controls:

Oh yeah!  We now have customizable controls!  It's not fancy at the moment, but if you're having problems or need a controller we don't support out-of-the-box you can map it!  You can remap keyboards too.  I can't force myself to play with WASD but if that's what you like, go right ahead!

— Awards and Arcade Cabinet —

Finally! I prepared the arcade cabinet for the Ohio Gaming Classic convention a couple weeks ago. It’s modified from a previous game of mine (Robo Puzzle Smash, currently on Steam. You should check it out) and was a lot of fun to build and bring. And we even won the Best Art and Best-In-Show awards!

Thanks everyone for following along! And make sure to join the Discord! If you want to join the Saturday night development streams, I stream at https://twitch.tv/pxlplz.  If there's anything in particular you'd like me to talk about on the technical side of things let me know!

Take care and talk to you soon!

- Ben

September check-in: Indie Game Showcases and development progress
3 months ago – Tue, Sep 13, 2022 at 07:18:54 PM

Hello dear backers! 

This is Chris providing a quick update on some recent developments with the game! 

Jack Frost's Palace and refined character physics

We've had a few big efforts happening on the game development side. The big push has been continued development of our back-end scripting system, which will let us build custom events quickly and easily, and refined movement capabilities for the characters. A fun note about the scripting language: Ben included elements of the original comic's archaic language in it, so we'll be defining character dialog with the appropriate amounts of "um"s! 

A snippet of sample script text.
Like many elements of the game, even our scripting language takes influence from idiosyncrasies of the original Little Nemo comics - um!
Little Nemo trying out the scripting language.

On the visual end, Adrian and I have been working on both the Mushroom Forest, which we've provided some recent images of (scroll down for a video of the new bouncy mushroom platforms!), and Jack Frost's Ice Palace. We've also refined the floating vertical wall platforms (which we internally call "floofs" because the first one was a dandelion seed object in the forest), so that we can use them in multiple environments. 

The Ice Cutters that Flip summons in the comic to dismantle Jack Frost's Palace will make an appearance in the game. They'll send ice blocks sliding towards Nemo and friends while they explore!
Is it...could it be...a fleet of floofs! One for each region, um!
An early version of the ice caves that Nemo and friends explore before reaching Jack Frost's Palace. This "shoebox" graphic lets you see the layers of artwork we use to create perspective effects.

Indie showcases

We've also got some appearances coming up. We've put together a video with some new footage to be showcased during the Duel Screens Indie Showcase later TODAY at 3 pm EST. You can watch below: 

We'll also be at the Cleveland Gaming Classic in Cleveland, OH later this month (September 24). Last year we won an award for Best Platformer at the event, so we're excited to show off the game with more characters, content, and new features! 

We'll also be at Meaningful Play at Michigan State University October 12-14. This is one of our more academic events, but the game was awarded a spot in their prestigious game showcase, and I'll be sharing a paper on the art process for the game, which I will share snippets of in a future update. 

We've also got a few entries in other shows, so we'll update with more to come! 


That's all - pleasant dreams all!


Chris and Team Nemo

Quick early-August update: t-shirt voting results and Mushroom Forest screenshots
4 months ago – Wed, Aug 10, 2022 at 09:59:42 AM

Hello Dreamers! 

We wanted to do a quick update to share the results of the recent t-shirt poll and share more shots of the Mushroom Forest level.

T-shirt voting results

First of all, thank you everyone who participated in the t-shirt voting. Even if you didn't back at a level that included one, we're looking at the potential to make shirts more widely available in the future, so your contribution has a hand in steering that process! As stated in the previous post, we're going to pick the top 2 designs to refine in the game's style, then have another voting session with those designs. 

The two designs advancing to the final voting round are: 

The "Let's go to Slumberland" design by guest artist Evan DiGiacomo

The "Let's Go to Slumberland" design

and the "Dreams and Nightmares" design by guest artist Daelyn Bever

The "Dreams and Nightmares" design

Again, we'll be refining these designs and be doing a final round of voting in the coming weeks. We'll also do another round of voting on colors, since there was a 3-way tie between some of our options. Stay tuned!

Mushroom Forest update

Post-demo, we're doing another round of major back-end feature additions (what Ben calls the "difficult and boring part" of game development) to integrate major development systems and tools into the game, namely a scripting system for putting together in-game events. In the meantime, Adrian and I have been putting together the design of the Mushroom Forest level, while our summer interns have been helping us create some NPCs for that area. Here's a bit of what we have so far!

Peony will be able to cling to moving vertical surfaces (floating walls), which in the forest will look like dandelion floofs. This is really powerful in combination with Nemo and the Princess's floating powers: we told you we wanted to do some Demon's Crest-style gameplay ;-)
We've also been having lots of fun creating challenges around the Love Bird characters.
We're not only working with influences from Winsor McCay's Nemo comics, but also blending in the work of artists who came after McCay, such as Moebius and Hayao Miyazaki. This area is based on concept art for Nausica: of the Valley of the Wind.
Character design by Sandy Rao
Character design by Daelyn Bever
Character design by Sandy Rao
Mushroom Farmer by Sandy Rao

We've also got some assets in the works for upcoming environments...

3D assets for Slumberland by Evan DiGiacomo

Finally, here's also a wireframe preview of a fun menu screen we're working on:

Level select wireframe by Evan DiGiacomo

We hope you liked this preview of the Mushroom Forest and lands beyond! We'll be building out some of the Ice Palace level next, so look forward to some chilly previews soon to get you through the hottest parts of the summer!

Until then, don't forget to follow some of the social media accounts at www.LittleNemoGame.com for the latest. 

WAIT! One more thing!

EDIT: I nearly forgot to mention - Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends is one of the official selections for the 2022 International Conference on Meaningful Play, hosted at Michigan State University. A paper outlining the artistic research that the game is part of was also accepted (a slide deck with a brief summary can be found here) This is a really prestigious honor for the game given by some industry luminaries, so we wanted to share our excitement with you all! Look for more to come as we polish the game up for the show!

Cheers and many thanks,

Chris and Team Nemo

Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends July update
4 months ago – Wed, Jul 20, 2022 at 10:24:35 PM

Hello dreamers! 

I hope everyone is having a good Summer and staying cool in this heat! 

This is one of a few planned updates this month - while we've been relatively quiet, there have been a LOT of updates on our end that we're excited to share with you!

Backer items update

While or main focus remains the game, we are working on developing some of the Backer rewards. We wanted to highlight 2 here in this update. 

The first is the Backer T-shirts (for backers at the $125 tier and above), which we need your input on! 

We've commissioned some guest artists to create sketches for potential shirt designs for you to vote on. Please go to the survey link below and vote on your top 2 favorite preliminary design sketches. The 2 most popular sketches will be refined as a single-color shirt design and we will have you vote again in the coming weeks for the final design. You will also be asked to vote on a color for the shirt!

Backer shirt voting round 1 (please note, designs are sketches and not finalized - they will be refined further)

The other update we want to share is the designs for the papercraft characters (offered at the $25 and up tiers.) These were done for us by Raúl Martínez Garrido, otherwise known as Molegato - the developer of the upcoming PS1-like game Frogun

We're still refining how the models actually fold into paper figures, but we wanted to share the designs with you!

Development updates

But hey this is a video game project right? What's going on with that? 


First of all, at the end of June, we released our first pre-alpha demos for backers at the $75 and up levels, which contained an early version of the Night Sky level focusing on the 4 playable characters and their abilities. Feedback has been super-positive so far and we've gotten some great feedback and bugs logged to our bug tracker link that will help us refine the game even further. Thank you to everyone who's participated so far!
 

A video of gameplay from the pre-alpha demo can be found below:
 

 With the Night Sky in a good place, we've moved on to a few other efforts, mainly starting the Mushroom Forest level and on the tech side - building some additional back-end game objects and tools that will help us refine gameplay and build out the game's story. Here's a small sample of some of what we have so far in the Forest: 

We hope you enjoyed the look into some of our latest stuff. We'll keep updating as we have new things to explore and talk about!

Cheers and many thanks,

Chris and Team Nemo