Wow!/Bring Out Your Ghosts Jam notes/Wick Editor discussion

I thought I was just going to devote this post to a brief discussion of this game's development and software for the optional jam notes, but first I just need to say wow at how many people played this game. I never would have imagined this game would have accumulated so over 300 views in just 2 days (400+ now that I am finally finishing this 2 weeks later). Thank you so much to everyone who played this game :)

Anyway, this was the first escape game I ever started to make, with development starting a full year before I made my first ever published game, Frozen Key and starting the game had been a very exciting move for me. While I had been experimenting with softwares like the visual novel software Ren'py, the text adventure software Quest, and Wolf RPG Editor, what I really wanted to try making was a point and click game, but I had no idea what to use or even just what to Google to find the right software.

Then I ended up finding Wick Editor. I can't remember if it was the result of Googling software for point and click games or if I had seen it mentioned on Newgrounds, since they had briefly been promoting it as a free HTML based alternative to Flash and even had a jam devoted to it. I tried it, but the best tutorial I found on how to make an interactive game with Wick just showed you how to set up buttons to move between frames. If I wanted to make an escape game, I would need to create collectable items and an inventory to store them in.

So I set the software aside for about 6 months before checking it out again and googling how to make an inventory. To my surprise, I found a template with an inventory. It was very basic with just three frames/"rooms" and a collectable "circle" in each frame, but it was my first step in finally being able to create a point and click escape game. So thank you so much to Nick on the Wick Editor forums for making this and all my future Wick Editor based escape games possible!

When I pulled up "Escape Poorly Drawn Clubhouse" for Bring Out Your Ghosts Jam, it was 99.9% done. The only changes I made were changing the BGM, drawing an outline around the mirror and changing the intro and outro message from generic escape game messages to jokes on the clubhouse being poorly drawn. For this to work, I also changed the ending image from some blobby trees to a nicely drawn, yet cartoonish landscape, so it would fit the joke of the outside being better drawn.

While this post is a celebration of my time with Wick Editor, it is also a bit of a postmortem. While Wick helped me create many awesome games, it also had some drawbacks, especially in regards to audio control and I have been finding GDevelop to be a more practical software for me. Unless I find another old Wick game on my PC I think is worth finishing, this will probably be my last game created fully in Wick Editor, though at this point I do still use it for drawing assets.

I'm going to finish up this post with some pros and cons of Wick Editor:

  • Pro: Ability to draw and animate assets directly into the editor.  Even has a curve smoothing feature so your random squiggles come out a lot neater than they might otherwise (my main reason I still use it to draw some of my assets).
  • Con: Not much in the way of default assets.
  • Pro: Code is in Javascript so games can be exported as HTML as well as videos, GIFs or just a zip folder of individual PNGs. Code also has many features making it possible to code an object to follow your mouse, move an animated character with the arrow buttons, display and modify text, etc..
  • Con: Code can sometimes be a bit clunky, but that might be a result of trying to be Flash-like. 
  • Pro: Allows tweens and a lot of control over looping animations.
  • Major con: While you can tell an animation to play or stop at any point, there is basically no control over audio beyond "Play sound" and "Stop all sounds".  I had to "trick" the game into looping the BGM by making the music note a "clip" with two separate frames the exact same length as the audio, setting each frame to play the music and setting the whole musical note clip to loop. That is why my games tend to have a "permanent mute button warning," because there is no way to restart the loop hack once the sound is stopped.
  • Additional con: There is a built in text entry box, but if you use it, you must delete it before going to the next frame otherwise you will be stuck with a "phantom textbox" on your screen the rest of the game, even after stopping the editor. The only way to get rid of it is to completely refresh your browser.

Well, congratulations to anyone who finished this long rambling post and thank you :)

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