Hi! I'm
Bret Hudson
I'm a Minnesota-based software/web developer who makes indie games in his free time. Check out my works!

Tincan 2 and the Seven Deadly Sins

November 11th, 2012 marked the release of Tincan 2, a sequel that some would claim never needed to happen. After some distance from the project, I myself have fallen into that group. Lately I've felt like I've wanted to reflect and write about what it was that made the game such a mess. Plus, when making a deal with the devil to write about it is the only thing that guaranteed your return to the mortal plane, you kind of have to.

Let me explain.

Some Secrets Are Best Left Buried

Two weeks ago I wanted to show a friend the secret stage that lays hidden in Tincan 2 over Google Hangouts. As we chatted about life, I racked up hundreds of deaths, until eventually he decided to call it a night. I continued on, until I finally managed to unlock it.

I heard someone enter the Google Hangout. It wasn't my friend.

It was the Dark Lord.

That was the last thing I remember before spending an eternity in Hell, playing Tincan 2 on Lucifer's pristine 2003 Dell Dimension 4600 Home desktop.

A Chance at Redemption

Since revisiting that time is too painful for me, I'm going to skip to the part that explains why we're here. Satan told me, after beating the entire game 666 times without a single death, that he would reverse my insanity, take away my new mastery of Tincan, and return me to Earth if I could complete some tasks for him.

Satan instructed me that I had committed the Seven Deadly Sins, which is a large part of why the git repository stopped working. One part of the deal was to write about what I had done wrong, so no other mortal would unleash such an evil upon the world. Only Satan is to hold that power.

Listen closely, friend, so you can avoid a similar fate.

The Seven Deadly Sins

1: Not listening to feedback

This was my first mistake. Upon finishing Tincan 2, I didn't want to hear any feedback or criticisms from my peers. I received a lot of feedback that could have been used to make the game better, but my 16 year old self insisted that the game was perfect the way it is, and that I was ready to ship.

If you want to get some pointers on playtesting, Nathan Ranney posted a fantastic article recently on the topic.

One of the people who gave me advice went on to create a very well received indie platformer you've probably played. That advice was about the difficulty curve.

2: Terrible difficulty curve

Tincan 2 suffered from an insanely steep difficulty curve, with Stage 2 turning the difficulty to 11 right out of the gate. Without properly balancing the game and adding more introductory levels before getting to the harder stages, the game really wasn't a fair challenge.

Many of the stages also have a lack of checkpoints, requiring players to lose progress and redo massive spans of the level (or the entire level, in the case of Stage 6) when they slip up and make a mistake.

3: Slippery physics

Speaking of slipping up, the game has some incredibly slippery physics, making the character, Tincan, hard to control. Combine this with pixel perfect jumps (literally pixel perfect), and you have a recipe for disaster.

This video shows how hard it can be to get into holes, both vertically and especially horizontally. The game does not assist the player at all when trying to perform these actions.

4: Random timers on spikes

You read that correctly.

The moving spikes… were all random timers… meaning each time it slide or leapt… it would do so again a random interval…

I… I don't have much more to say here.

5: That one Stage 5 jump

Don't do this.

6: Screen jitter on jumps

There are a few instances in the game where you can land on a launch pad and get propelled onto the screen above, but once you fall back down, the camera jumps back for a split second, before returning to the screen above. This can also be done on some normal jumps, which is really hard on the eyes.

7: No WASD

Apparently Satan has really bad repetitive stress injury in his right hand, which he claims is from eons of playing the original Doom with no mouse, instead using the arrow keys to move the view, but we all know he was actually playing the highly addictive Marble Blast Gold. Because of his injury, it's crucial to make sure every platformer allows WASD movement when it's such an easy addition.

The Rest of the Deal

If only the deal was as simple as writing this blog post. You'll want to check back in this Wednesday to see what else the Dark Lord put me up to.