Author: Josep Valls

Implementation Update for 2nd Iteration

Changelog for the latest build:


  • Preamble comic
  • Better explosions
  • Better barrier
  • Stats UI Icons
  • UI indicators of the forces applied (angle and gravity; missing force scaling)
  • Robot-change head color to yellow
  • Animations for the boy (throw, hit, sidestep)
  • Removed the treehouse and added apples instead
  • Wind



  • Skip tutorial button
  • Shorter tutorial
  • Fast forward button
  • Reset level button (for when you get stuck)
  • Discrete movement to 8 discrete radii sections (for now it works on top of the regular movement with the keys Z and C)
  • Control for the initial impulse angle of the throw (throwing straight down, or up, etc.)
  • New levels, tweaked to make the new mechanics of the wall and angle more relevant and balancing the difficulty
  • Tweaked the collision box for the robot


  • Once level cleared, no need to click continue twice

Internal changes:

  • The format of the script for specifying the tutorial and levels has changed! Specifically, the instuction for setting up a level now takes the following parameters:
    • # level
    • # hit points allowed
    • # of regular apples
    • # of sticky apples
    • # of rotten apples
    • type of the default apple (0,1,2)
    • # of bots
    • # of boats
    • # of cars
    • # of tanks



Scripted Tutorial and Level Editor

Instead of a complex set of rules and conditions for the tutorial, the game now uses a scripting system that allows us to precisely define and modify the tutorial and any levels we want to add.

The game loads a script from a plain text, tab separated file that can be edited with any text editor. Since it’s tab separated, it can also be copied to a spreadsheet (Excel or Google Docs) and edited very easily. Each line of the script is a command and has 4 fields:

  1. The command
  2. Any parameters required by the command (optional)
  3. A terminating condition (optional)
  4. A delay (optional)

The script interpreter will read a line from the script file and execute the given command with any parameters specified. Then, it checks for the terminating condition (if any) and waits until it’s valid. Then it launches a timer delay (if any) and moves the script pointer to the next line in the script file.

The commands (with it’s parameters, all required, separated by spaces) currently available are:

  • nothing: do nothing (usually for waiting for some compound termination condition)
  • text: displays a text in the text box
    • string: the text to display in the text box
  • reset: removes all enemies, apples and traps from the environment (used when restarting a level)
  • enable: enables game mechanics (used for the tutorial).

    • numeric: what element to enable (both in the gameplay and UI elements) where:
      • 0: all disabled
      • 1: enables firing projectiles
      • 2, 3: enables projectile types
      • 4: enables force and mass control (parabolic arc)
      • 5: enables rotation and camera movement
      • 6: enables the statistics box and general gameplay
  • setup: sets up the next level or tutorial section by setting the level counter, number of enemies, projectiles and lives given
    • numeric: level identifier
    • numeric: enemies that may be spawned before completing the level (99 for the tutorial)
    • numeric: number of total projectiles allowed
    • numeric: number of regular projectiles
    • numeric: number of sticky projectiles
    • numeric: number of frictionless trap projectiles
    • numeric: the default apple that is given to the player (which may not be able to change it in the early parts of the tutorial)
      • 0: regular projectiles
      • 1: sticky projectiles
      • 2: frictionless trap projectiles
    • numeric: number of lives or hits allowed
  • spawn: spawns a new enemy
    • numeric: the type of enemy, where:
      • 0: the bot
      • 1: the boat
      • 2: the car
      • 3: the tank
    • float 0.0-1.0: the radial location  for spawning*
      • 0.0: east
      • 0.25: north
      • 0.5: west
      • 0.75: south
    • float 0.0-1.0: the distance for spawning*
      • 0.0: right next to the player home section
      • 0.5: half way, about 45 units from the center
      • 1.0: the bush area perimeter, about 80 units from the center
    • boolean 0 or 1: wether the enemy is moving or not
    • string: enemy identifier for the tutorial and terminating conditions
    • boolean 0 or 1: wether the enemy is highlighted with a special marker
  • startwave: sets up a player turn for a level
    • numeric: level identifier

About the terminating conditions: There are several terminating conditions that can be used in the script to wait for events to happen before proceeding. Currently there we implemented the following:

  • win-ENEMYID: when an enemy with a specified identifier reaches the top
  • kill-ENEMYID: when the player kills an enemy with specified identifier
  • pop-apple: when a projectile is destroyed by a tank
  • splash: when a frictionless trap has been set
  • shoot-TYPE: when a projectile of the specified type is shot
  • endwave-LEVELID: when a level is finished successfully (# of enemies killed+enemies won is equal to # of enemies spawned)

*For reference:

2014-03-03 19.17.50

Let’s look at the script used by the tutorial and the first level:

reset 0 0
enable 0 0
text Welcome to Little Newton, a Team Serious game. 1
text Let’s learn how to play. 1
spawn 2 0.85 0.25 1 car1 1 0
text Did you notice that? That is a member of the Evil League of Toys trying to distract you! win-car1 1
text The toys will attempt to climb your hill; if they reach the top you will lose a life. 1
enable 1 0
setup 0 99 1 0 0 0 99 0
spawn 2 0.75 0.65 0 car2 1 0
text Let’s try to fight those evil toys. Press Space to fire an apple. kill-car2 1
text Perfect! 1
setup 0 99 99 0 0 0 99 0
spawn 3 0.75 0.65 0 tank1 1 0
text What’s that? Try shooting it with an apple! pop-apple 0
text The apple didn’t work because the enemy was too heavy to be knocked over. Let’s try something else… 1
enable 2 0
setup 0 99 1 1 1 2 99 0
text Let’s use a different kind of apple. splash 1
text This created a low friction zone; let’s see how it affects an incoming toy tank. 0
spawn 3 0.75 0.50 1 tank2 1 kill-tank2 0
text Did you see that? Amazing! The toy tank slipped because of the low friction zone you made! 1
setup 0 99 0 0 0 2 99 0
enable 0 0
spawn 1 0.75 0.65 1 boat1 1 0
text Another enemy? win-boat1 0
text What was that? It seems that the little surface contact of the boat did not slip… 1
enable 2 0
setup 0 99 0 1 0 1 99 0
text Time to test another apple type! shoot-1 0
spawn 1 0.75 0.65 1 boat2 1 kill-boat2 0
reset 0
setup 0 99 99 0 0 0 99 0
text Game on! 0
spawn 0 0.75 0.4 0 bot1 1 0
spawn 0 0.75 0.25 0 bot2 1 0
spawn 0 0.75 0.6 0 bot3 1 0
text What is this? A new type of enemy? When does this stop? 1
enable 4 0
text This will be tricky. You have to hit them in the head. Try adjusting your power! kill-bot1 0
nothing kill-bot2 0
nothing kill-bot3 0
text Great work! And now for the real deal! 1
reset 5 0
enable 5 0
setup 0 99 99 0 0 0 99 0
spawn 2 0.85 0.66 0 car3 1 0
spawn 2 0.75 0.66 0 car4 0 0
spawn 2 0.65 0.66 0 car5 1 0
text Use the arrows to move around and the mouse to change the camera angle. kill-car3 0
nothing kill-car4 0
nothing kill-car5 0
text Fantastic! 1
reset 0 0
enable 6 0
text One last thing: look at the stats to see how many enemies, apples and hits there are total. 1
text And now, let’s play! 1
text Wave 1 0
reset 6 0
setup 1 6 3 3 3 0 99 0
spawn 2 0.0 1.0 1 car 0 0
spawn 2 0.5 1.0 1 car 0 0
spawn 2 0.75 1.0 1 car 0 0
startwave 0
spawn 2 0.0 1.0 1 car 0 3
spawn 2 0.5 1.0 1 car 0 3
spawn 2 0.75 1.0 1 car 0 3
nothing endwave-1 0

Game Ideas

  1. Add a tutorial level to lay out the elements more clearly, keeping the game an action game as it is right now. See the entry below (Level design) for some more specifics.
  2. Add elements beside projectiles and enemies, namely obstacles. The obstacles will both deter (by blocking) or aid (by providing cover) the enemies and projectiles in different situations.
  3. Make the game a turn based, puzzle game instead of an action game.
    1. Present complicated puzzles with a specific configuration of incoming enemies and a limited amount of projectiles and other props the player can use that require the player to carefully think before executing a move.
    2. New elements will be presented independently and will be required to solve some basic puzzle. Once several elements have been introduced, a new puzzle will require the combination of several of the elements in order to achieve a solution.
    3. Giving the players more time to think their moves will enhance the learning experience although it may decrease the dramatic tension of the pressure caused by the incoming enemies.
    4. Reference games: The Incredible Machine; Contraption Maker
  4. About the role of the AI:
    Currently the AI only takes care of orientating moving enemies in order for them to climb to the top of the hill. Later, some ideas for the role of the AI will be:

    1. Crowd control: make sure enemies do not interfere with one another.
    2. Path finding: once there are obstacles on the way up hill, find paths for the enemies to reach the top.
    3. Puzzle planning: find obstacle and enemy placements that make for interesting puzzles.

Level design

After the second iteration we decided to work towards a level design that includes a tutorial. Notes from the Tech+Production meeting:


  • tutorial

add visual cues pointing to the new elements in the UI, like pointing arrows or red circles.
1) regular enemy, regular apple, just space unlock
a) a toy car hits you, screen with some text, progress.
b) a toy car appears along with some text and space is unlock. when car is hit, progress.
2) types of enemies and apples, show only the apple types
a) a tank appears, prompt to hit it, not works
b) unlock splash apple
c) wait for apple to be fired and tank to slide down, progress.
d) a boat appears, prompt to create a puddle, not works, talks about low contact surface
e) unlock sticky apple.
f) wait for boat to hit sticky apple, slide down, progress.
3) the arc, show the boxes, unlimited shots
a) 3 robots appear at different distances, prompt for hit with regular apple and one is hit.
b) prompt to press escape and tweak with force and mass
c) wait until the 3 robots are hit, progress
4) the rotation, unlimited shots
a) 7 stationary enemies appear at different positions, text to hit them
b) unlock rotation, wait for the enemies to be hit, progress
c) 7 stationary moving appear at different positions, text to hit them
d) wait until hit (player has unlimited lives here) and progress
5) explain the stats and limits
a) text, now it’s limited or we have to recharge…

  • first level
    • cars from everywhere + tanks from one side*
    • the one side may have several possible spawn points
  • second level
    • cars from everywhere + tanks, boats from one side
  • third level
    • cars from everywhere + tanks, boats, robots from one side
  • forth and so on…
    • continuous stream of enemies with increasing frequency

things to tweak while we playtest:

  • lives:
    • 10 lives too much? less lives and easier?
    • once a level is lost, restart the current level or start with the first level
  • enemies:
    • how often are they spawned, how many enemies total, how many hits per enemy?
    • add visual indicator when they are hit and become inactive (sliding down) before exploding into a particle cloud.
  • apples:
    • unlimited? limited? recharge time or limited quanity?
    • disappear after impact, different countdowns of disappear for each apple
  • frictionless splash:
    • disappear after a while, decay? limit the number