Gent Stickman Vs Evil Meat Hand: Ante Vitam (Post Mortem Sucks)


This was the most funny part for me, and perhaps the less funny part for you, so if you want details, just ask for them and I will hand draw a reply for you : )


I use my own parser tool called ParserCommander developed for a 2018 Spanish comp.

It’s a very simple to use tool written in JavaScript, with a “text in > text out” pattern (plain text or more complex JSON objects), making the task of adding all the HTML envelope around this very easy.

The main concept is the invented word SIMPREX, for a syntax made by me to use regular expressions in a simple way. Anything I need to do in the sense of programming can be done with JavaScript, manipulating all the world objects in the way you will do with any JavaScript library.

I’m very proud of this approach, as it allows me to write things very quickly and easily, without too many problems, but I suppose that every Parser creator makes the tool he wants to use : D

I have created a Word exporter to allow me to write text and commands directly in a Microsoft Word file that finally is exported to the game. That allows me an easy way to check syntax in games with a lot of text, especially in other languages, like the “Syd Fox: Scotland Yard Detective From Outer Space” project I started for this same Comp but that was finally swapped by this.

On the side of this game, one of the reviewers at Intfiction reported some problems with the speed of his connection, resulting in images shown blank or half loaded in the sequences.

This is obviously sad and although nobody else regrets this, it is something that other people with slow connections can suffer, so in the post-comp version I will try to check this to minimize the impact.

Images were generated as transparent background .png files. This would allow me the possibility of changing the game background, as one of the initial ideas was not to use white background but a crumpled notebook graph paper (that one with little blue squares we all probably have used at school). However, after asking an artist about this, I finally decided to leave the background blank, sticking to the “absolute minimalism” criteria for the game.

So .png files with transparent background are not mandatory anymore, so they can be replaced for .jpg files. In images with very little content, .png files result in smaller files than .jpg (for example 21.9Kb in .png vs 40.2Kb in JPG at level 6/10 of compression, that means less image quality). However, in images with more content, .jpg is clearly better at compression (for example 433Kb in .png vs 209Kb in JPG at level 8/10 of compression, that means quite good image quality).

One of the steps to take could be converting all or some of these graphics from .png to .jpg.

Preloading all images would be the easy way, but it must be around 15Mb and people with slow connection will anyway be punished by that.

So perhaps the solution will be to add an ugly loading spinner at the beginning of the sequences, preload just the images on it at that moment, and once loaded start the sequence, having in mind that once the image has been shown, it will by default stay in the browser’s cache so the next time it will be loaded immediately.


Making this game accessible to people with visual problems is a bit tricky. I have been working on web development that includes accessible content so there was no technical problem in this case.

The problem is that the important part of the game is I think in its drawings and translating them to text would be in fact another different game. Should I make this work, to offer a different game to people with those problems?

The speed of an animation could be also a problem for some people with other kinds of disabilities, as showing text being justified can be for other people.

I have talked throughout the document about the absence of text in response to user actions in the game, but this is not entirely true: Each user action generates text that is sent to a remote server where the user’s actions are logged.

In order to be able to understand what the user is doing at any time when reading these logs later, the system sends an identifying text of the location where the user is, the typed text, and the result of the action summarized as text (since it would be impractical to send the images or their names to find out what happened).

This text is very basic and just descriptive in the “climbs the tree” style, but this descriptive text could be elaborated further to make it more attractive to the user, and send it as alt text for images. So it is a matter of deciding if doing it will keep the game as interesting.

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I’m mainly happy with the game results, although I know that it lacks things.

Putting all these ideas down in this document has helped me to explain a little about the process of creating the game, in case it can help someone. But it has also helped me to rationalize and understand the work done, and to use these guidelines for the development of other episodes of this series, because I hope to be able to bring back Gent Stickman in future adventures.

It has been a very nice experience to participate in Parser Comp, and the high stress I felt trying to be on time with the first game, disappears when I consider other projects, as I don’t have too many expectations for the result. I can now focus on enjoying not the game but the process, with the silly ideas living behind my glasses.

Thanks to all that read this to the end. You are heroes. Thanks too to the Parser Comp organizers, and a special thought to Adam. Thanks to all that play the game now or in the future, and many thanks to last minute testers that wanted to kill me for not having the game done sooner. Thanks to the community, the English speaking one and the small ones in so many other languages who are still keeping alive the fireplace of that old hobby of typing to play.

You will never walk alone. Typing to play is the new black. Text ga ga, text goo goo, someone still loves you.



The classics:

“Comics & Sequential Art”, by Will Eisner, 1985
“Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art”, by Scott McCloud, 1993
“The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses”, by Jesse Schell, 2008

The less mainstream:

El Cómic: una dramaturgia mestiza (“The Comic: A mestizo dramaturgy”), by Carles Batlle, 2013

"Comics, Linguistics, and Visual Language: The past and future of a field, by Neil Cohn, 2012

El alma oscura del juego: Teoría y motivos recurrentes de la dificultad como estética ludoficcional ( “The dark soul of the game: Theory and recurring reasons for the difficulty as a ludofictiona aesthetic” ), by Mateo Terrasa Torres, 2021


What a great write-up! Very interesting.

Tip of the hat to you for acknowledging and referencing Michael Ende’s great wisdom.

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This is most interesting. Fascinating read.

random thoughts:

I also think compass points, even in parser games, are obsolete. Better to say “to into the hall” or “enter the tunnel”. than go north or go east. I have eliminated these from my text, but occasionally use them in outside areas to give a sense of direction. But only then, for description.

There is nothing wrong with third person players. I use this a lot. I actually find it more logical that, as the player, you are instructing the in-game persona what to do. This persona is not you, and has different abilities. And they can refuse things. Some of the oldest games used to prompt “Tell m what to do”.

finally, consider not moving to .jpg look at png8 or webp, depending on you color requirements.

Best of luck and looking forward to more Stickman!