Jezzak - Apocalyptic Jezzball, Barrack, Qik Style Area Capture Game

Jezzak is a spiritual successor to area capture games like Jezzball and Barrack ( Which were themselves spiritual successors to Qix ) with a bit of apocalyptic flare. It is an homage to 90's shareware games complete with a cheesy, irrelevant story, episodic content, and low frame-rate animations.

Objective

The goal of Jezzarrak is to maximize your score by building walls across an arena and isolating bouncing balls while a timer ticks down. In order to complete a level you must capture over 80% of the arena. Enemies behavior and random power-ups vary across levels creating unique challenges. Players continually must make risk vs reward calculations to determine if the risk of losing lives is worth potential point gains.

Status

Episode 1 early beta. Most of the mechanics are in place. Focus is on level balancing. I am hoping to release between 4-5 episodes with between 10-20 levels per episode. Each episode will have its own boss level.

Current Release

For community review, a beta demo including a truncated version of the first episode illustrating most of the power ups, enemies, and play mechanics. Any feedback on things like bugs, difficulty, playability, ect. would be greatly appreciated.

JEZZAK-Beta-v0-1-2.pdx.zip

Known Issues

Level 11 lags a bit.
Occasionally balls can jump out of the playfield.
On level 11 sometimes situations can be created where areas don't isolate correctly.

Play Videos

slowUp

aFoldInSpaceTime

bringTheChaos

thatsNotAMoonPreview

11 Likes

Good game, it seem very easy to start. hope it has a windows version

1 Like

If I get around to it I might port it over to Löve 2d which is also LUA, update the art to 16bit and call it "Super Jezzak". Then it could be released on PC.

Check out Playbit - a framework for creating cross-platform Playdate games

3 Likes

Thanks, I certainly will.

Cool! I used to be addicted to a weird iPhone Qixalike called Dr. Awesome. Neat mechanic for making the lines!

Dr. Awesome was... awesome!

Like Qix meets Phoenix Wright meets Trauma Center.

Fun fact: back in 2003 I interviewed Randy Pfeiffer - the creator of Qix - who explained how the game was designed (in the jacuzzi with his wife) and where the name came from (his car license plate was "JUS4QIX" at the time - how rock and roll)
https://blog.gingerbeardman.com/2003/07/22/jus4qix-the-story-of-a-classic-arcade-video-game/

2 Likes

Maybe bigger, bolder fonts, and bolder/darker sprites (not bigger!) would be useful? Especially in less than bright lighting? 1-pixel lines can get lost easily.

(The backdrop art is cool, and the thin lines there seem perfect, to not distract from the gameplay elements.)

1 Like

Thanks for the feedback. The visibility of the sprites is definitely one of the trickier parts. Especially the ones that cross both the light and dark version of the background.

1 Like

Maybe you can draw them with Xor? But, I think it's a tough battle. I personally would go for a less busy look.

I played with XOR a bit and didn't like the results. Kinda looked like active camouflage. I was thinking of trying a XOR outline of 1 our 2 pixels to see if it makes a difference. Ultimately I think we will need to do another pass on the backgrounds to make them a little less busy and make some of the sprites bolder as Adam suggested.

I was having trouble making my selection box super visible on a very busy grid view, and I ended up with: include big areas of solid black, AND big areas of solid white. One of the two will always show up!

("Big" is relative. But fine details didn't help.)

I also added some motion (simple blinking in my case) to draw the eye, and all your sprites already have that! (The ones that move across the screen have motion built in.)

Thinking out lout about the backgrounds... you could try adding a 50% checker fade to the existing art and see if that looked good? SIngle pixel lines are preserved by that (though diagonals might need to shift).

More shades of grey would help break up the black and white.

If the background had more grey then the white balls will stand out more.

I'd hesitate to make the balls grey because they'll flash to some degree, whether you bake in the dither or use a mask.

Based on feedback I made some graphical tweaks to improve sprite visibility. Changes as follows.

  • Increased radius of ball and power up sprites by 1 px. Additional pixels were used to add thicker borders.
  • For sprites that cross both light and dark portions of the play field I added an additional white border to improve visibility over dark portions.
  • Unified coloring a bit so all capturable balls and power ups are primarily white, claimable balls are balls are primarily black.
  • Added idle inverted blink to player's ship to help the player find it again if they look away.
  • Added inverted blink to power ups to make it more obvious where they are on the play field.

Personally I think the changes make a big difference though I stare at theses sprites so much I see them in my dreams so I am probably not the best judge. There are still some opportunities for improvements in the backgrounds and making some of the lines thicker on enemies like the seeker missiles so they stand out more.

Here are some gifs highlighting the changes and a link to a graphics demo build if anyone else has a moment and would be able to share their feedback on the update.

Build: JEZZAK-Graphics-Demo-1.1.3.pdx.zip

graphicsTest-military

graphicsTest-city

graphicsTest-whiteHouse

graphicsTest-military-busy

graphicsTest-city-busy

graphicsTest-whiteHouse-busy

2 Likes

It's an improvement. Did you experiment with fading/dithering the background as suggested by AdamsImmersive?

No, it is still on my list though.

The difference shows! The new balls are very nice.

I also suspect that visually tracking your avatar will be easier than GIFs can show: it's YOU, you're controlling it, you're looking at it constantly, so theoretically you're not going to lose it very easily. (I'd playtest now but my PD isn't on the WiFi where I am.)

1 Like

BTW I like how the HUD changes sides, and only when you get close—so it never needs to jump back and forth too quickly.

A permanent HUD makes good sense sometimes, but it always feels like a waste of limited screen space.

1 Like