A downloadable game

I’m Paul Helman and this is  Horace - a platform adventure game about a small robot on a big adventure.  After over 6 years of working tirelessly on my passion project, I have released a demo and would really appreciate feedback from anyone who is willing to try out my game!

WHAT IS HORACE?

Horace is a story-driven platform game. Not story in the sense of ‘our princess is in another castle’, but an emotional storyline like you’d find in a Final Fantasy game. Cinematic cutscenes, but with little pixel guys. The ‘Digital Estate Planning’ episode of Community Season 3 inspired me to think I could make that work to make you smile.

The game stars a naive robot learning about the meaning of his life, but later trying to save the world as the story takes an apocalyptic turn. That's not in the demo, you’ll just need to trust me. 

The robot is light on his feet and responsive, in accordance with the rules laid out by the peerless Super Mario World. The first ability upgrade you encounter in the game changes the way you have to think about traversal, testing your brain as much as your twitch skills. This, and the storytelling, set Horace apart.

WHAT AM I GETTING?

The first half of this demo is the first hour (or so) of the game I plan to release. The storytelling is heavier here than later in the game, because there’s a few threads to set in motion. You’ll also get a look at the house from later in the game where it gets more branched and Metroidvania-y. (We really need a better name for that).

WHEN IS THE FINISHED GAME OUT?

It feels like we're about at Alpha now, and perhaps naively I'm thinking Spring 2019?

If you like the look of Horace, please rate the game and tell someone about it - word of mouth is SOOOO important.  To shout at ME directly, I'm on Twitter (sporadically) @horacedev

Install instructions

Unless I've made a huge mistake, it should all just unfurl like magic from the installer file. 

Download

Download
Horace_Demo_Final.exe 905 MB

Development log

Comments

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I've played your demo and wish to give some feedback :3

First of all, I want to acknowledge that Horace is a touching heartwarming experience, a human story of inhuman form of life. Great artstyle with careful attention to details.

1. I liked the flow of game pace and it's well-timed changes: those two rapid-time events (saving the girl from a dangerous tide and helping the mushroom-intoxicated exhibitionist to jump back into reality and NOT into certain death), both preceded by really slow-paced effortless activities really boiled my blood with some sweet adrenaline. I don't know why it worked that way, but it clicked well, I felt I was obligated to hurry even if I was not in any danger IRL. A great level of immersion simply by masterful use of pace change.

2. I really wish there was a countdown UI element with that 1,000,000 things to clean goal, even if for the sake of a joke. I see that you're trying to exclude any unnecessary UI from a game but I've felt as that'd be a really great meter of self-determinated progress. Since the main character is a robot I see no harm in making some simple UI for that matter. Going 999,999,999 then 999,999,998 then 999,999,997, etc each time the thing is collected. I've felt like that'd be a great display of "higher meaning of life", given to Horace by old man. An ironic and cheerful dichotomy of Horace always acknowledging, remembering and counting down his "higher goal" of cleaning 1,000,000 things and  in fact acting by his kind heart, helping people in need this exact moment just because he feels like it's the right thing to do, nobody had ever gave him a task to do so.

3. I think that animation of things being collected interferes with player's perception of some dangers in some areas. There was a scene in a barn, in one of the last doors, dead end one, where it had me realise this. Some collectable things are big enough already (there's a car in a barn, and bunch of bicycles), and they get even bigger being collected. And what really messes the whole picture is that they get big and blank white, which is bad for that certain area since there's electricity sparks, and yep, the're mostly white as well. Not exact match, of course, but in rapid movement, I see no real difference, and I could easily miss out the spark in that big white collectable object. Which I did a couple of times. My eye was trained rapidly to recognize sparkling bright object as a threat in this game, but when everything around is bright and white - nothing really is.

4. Oh, yeah, returning to that "the mushroom-intoxicated exhibitionist" event, there's a place player has to use ducking in order to avoid electricity sparks, and as I recognize (I could be wrong, if I am - just forget this point) that was the first time the player has to use ducking in the game ever. Yes, you've had an ability to do so earlier, but it was never shown before that you can avoid dangers with that move. Player simply had no need to do so, there was no situation that was resolved by it before. Tbh, Horace's height tricked me into believing that move will not work out and i simply didn't even try this. I tried this on the second time of course and it worked, but I had lost some immersive moment of fast-paced action, since I had to stop and experiment a little. I think it's nice to show the player the basic tools to survive at least once before he has to actually perform them in fast-paced ingame event. (If I really missed out that moment in tutorial - shame on me).

5. There's one jump I've felt as "controversial". Yeah, I'm talking about that part when Horace's getting his gravity boots and player's supposed to learn how to use them. And then player almost instantly meets that diagonal jump from one corner to another, which was not easy to perform for me, I've had to use a bunch of tries. I think that jump itself is a great find, but simply deserves to be in a better place, maybe some tiny secret or extra area rather than in tutorial for gravity boots, it's not that easy to perform. (Don't be mean, I know I'm bad at platformers :D)

P. S. I'm looking forward for your game, will definitely wait for it's release. Great job, dude!

P. S. S. I am trying to become something of game artist myself in similar genre, but I can't figure out which way did you manage to create such beautiful cutscenes. Have you created 'em inside Unity? I simply can't comprehend how, already asked you out on twitter for help, if you wish to share some wisdom on that topic I'd be very grateful.

Wow, that's some very detailed feedback! Firstly, thank you for playing the demo and and sending across your thoughts.

I'm glad you appreciated the change of pace in the storyline and felt truly immersed in the experience. There will be plenty more times in the full game where you will experience this so lots to look forward to.

I have been working on updating the UI too for the full game so hopefully these changes to the junk collection numbers will help keep players like yourself motivated throughout the game.

I will also have another look at the junk collection animations. Of course, there are times when a lot is going on on screen so want to make sure this is as intuitive for players as possible.

I have already made some improvements to the tutorial to better illustrate the controls so this is definitely coming.

And I'm not sure which jump you found 'controversial' but now that you have overcome it, it will stand you in good stead for the rest of the game! ;)

With regards to cut scenes, I animated my sprites in Promotion and then used flash to push them around the screen, drop in SFX, etc. Hope that helps with your project.

wow!!!

I've just done some of this game
is that "42" in the restaurant is a kind of respects to H2G2??

Holy mackerel this looks awesome

Thank you :)

Hi, just thought I'd leave this here. :)

First impressions: WOOOAHHHH!!!! 

ROBOT FAMILY MAN


Thanks for your video Blis! It's great to see how much you are connecting with the story and can't wait to see your other videos for Horace.

Horace is adorable! I'm a little worried about the fate of his 'family' but of course I want to see the full release. Lovely graphics and music and good controls. Keep up the good dev work! :)

(+1)

Thanks for the video! Interesting to see people playing in a way I never intended. In the room with with the moving paintings it's MUCH easier if instead of trying to jump across the room you try to fall down the room. 

When playtesting, I did actually go through the paintings room jumping. It wasn't easy so yeah.. I'll take your advice when I play again. :) 

(+1)

That was incredibly good. Some of the things I really enjoyed include the way you personified the robot, the cutscenes in between, and the character development of Heather. You've also got me really curious as to what happened to the robot in that long interim in the middle, but I guess that will have to stay a mystery for now. And with the amount of gameplay you put in, it puts a lot of other demos I've seen to shame. I'm looking forward to reviewing this game (I'll put it on my list and keep you posted!)

A few suggestions for things you might want to incorporate:

*More difficulty modes?  Some of the later levels took me a few (hundred) times to pass. I had to take a break in the middle, actually. Maybe there could be an "easy" difficulty with more checkpoints? Similarly, you could add a "hardcore" mode to complete the ENTIRE game without any deaths. Too challenging for me personally, but some people enjoy that sort of thing! Maybe skip the tutorial-type levels and make it unlockable after completing the normal one first.

*For the chain-climbing part, I may have missed it but I don't think we were ever told how to do so explicitly? It did take a while to figure out that I was to use the up arrow key to climb up but I did get it.

*Voice acting? Are you planning on recording an actual voice for the robot/other characters? What would seem really cool is if you could start off as the automated computer-type recording and gradually transition to a full human voice as our robot friend "grows up." I don't know if that's feasible, just an idea.

I also commend you for sticking to a project for five years - that can't be easy. Has it been an off-and-on thing, or have you worked on any other projects? In the event you have other games I'm sure those would be fun to play as well. The only sad thing about this is that somehow no one has commented yet...but I hope more people discover it soon! So in conclusion, the answer to your question is no, you're most definitely are not wasting your time with this endeavor. Given how long you've worked on it so far, I will be eagerly awaiting seeing the finished game!

(1 edit)

Hi there, thanks so much for being the first commenter!

The rooms after the 'fast forward' are part of the end game. I wondered if the difficulty was going to be too much when juxtaposed against the tutorial/intro, but I didn't want to show the other game locations *just* yet. The final game will have a concept of 'shields' to give you a bit more leeway with failure on the tougher rooms. 

Chain climbing - you're right. The tutorial for that part was a casualty of cutting two parts of the game together.

This has been my sole project for the five years. A *ton* of time goes into the story cinematics. It's already taken at least two years longer than I thought, but might as well try and do it properly. 

Thanks again! Comments like this really give me a boost :D