New Project: HiddenStar

Tim McDowell launches himself into making a game about a little robot and a strange alien.

Since early Summer I’ve been working on a new project. The concept is to create a new game based on the Knytt Stories source which will use the Knytt Stories level editor for design. Anyone will be able to create and share their own content for the game. Though this approach gives me a good head-start in programming, there’s still plenty of programming to do, not to mention the gargantuan task of creating all the graphics and sounds. Thankfully, I am receiving help with music.

To make Hidden Star stand in its own right, I’ve reworked many of the key elements of game-play. The first notable change is the view. The camera tracks the player through large zones while the viewing area has shrunk. This has allowed the addition of parallax scrolling backgrounds. The smaller view necessitated cutting back on the player character’s speed, which brings me to the second big difference: platforming mechanics. There are two playable characters each with their own move sets. The fast little robot can’t climb sheer walls; but he can duck, crawl, and grab ledges. The large and strange alien can climb some surfaces, glide through the air, and swim through the water. Additionally each character has special ways they can interact with the environment, and receives different reactions from its inhabitants.

The video below has the robot showing off his moves to some uninterested humanoids. I’ve a long way to go in this endeavor, but I think I’ve made a good start of it.

Through the Swamp

A pit stop between adventures becomes a bit of an adventure itself. Follow Juni as she traverses a swamp in search of refreshment.

A pit stop between adventures becomes a bit of an adventure itself. Follow Juni as she traverses a swamp in search of refreshment.

A long time ago I made several Knytt Stories tilesets for an aspiring level designer. One of these was a swamp based on Fredrik Andersson’s Thin Forest tileset. Through the Swamp was conceived as a nice way of releasing these graphics. And though it certainly is that, Through the Swamp has managed to become a charming level that can stand proudly among my best work. It’s available in 2 versions. The mono version is for those with low bandwidth.

Download Through the Swamp 15.1 MB

Download Through the Swamp (Mono) 9.4 MB

Requires Knytt Stories and Knytt Stories + to play.

Updating for Mobile Compatability

Updating site functionality for mobile devises and disabling comments.

It’s high time I updated this old site for mobile compatibility. The Easiest way to do that is to update my WordPress theme to the latest model. Alas, now I’ll have to rewrite my personal child-theme. In the meantime the site will look a little awkward since the theme doesn’t know what to do with my in-post divisions.

I’m also disabling comments. I don’t moderate this site often enough to give anyone timely responses. If I see a need, I’ll find a way to let you contact me.

Walkthrough: Shipwrecked

A guide to my Knytt Stories level Shipwrecked.

Download the text version


001.) Day 1

010.) Day 2

011.) Day 3

100.) Day 4

101.) Day 5

110.) Day 5 Bonus Dungeon

111.) Missables and Lore

001.) Day 1

Coming to grips

~ The first thing you need to know is that whenever you see “>>” in a text window, that means there is more to read. Press down to read more. Also, this level uses animated cutscenes, which in actuality are part of the level. You’ll know one when you see one. Sometimes the scenes advance on their own, but sometimes you’ll need to press down to advance. The level starts with one such scene. Upon waking up, Juni should head left, deeper into the island.

Scavenging for food

~ After entering the jungle there’s only one way to go. Juni will have to pass by the “Fruit” into the next screen and come back to it by the higher route. After gorging herself she can head deeper into the Jungle, but some stupid Toast is sitting in just the wrong place. Might as well go back to the beach.

Passing out again

~ It hasn’t been a long day, but in her weakened state Juni can’t keep her eyes open. Then again, that fruit might have been poisonous! I wonder if she’ll live through the night.

010.) Day 2

Scavenging supplies

~ A big smoky fire can be seen for miles, so Juni’s going to build one. This is going to be one exhaustive day. She’ll need 4 pieces of wood, 1 lump of magnesium, and 1 red crab. Once the 5 inanimate objects have been found in any order, Crab will automatically meet Juni at the beach. He’s smarter than he looks.

The first piece

~ Just inside the Jungle, Juni spies a piece of wood down below. Now is a good time to note that Juni can jump right after running off a ledge! How she does this is a complete mystery to Knytt scientists. At any rate it comes in handy jumping up and out of this ditch.

Caves and Mushrooms

~ That annoying Toast has moved to where he will surely be a pain in the butt later, but at least Juni can access the cave now. Inside she finds these awesome mushrooms which she can use like trampolines. Down in the lower part of the cave she can choose to go left or right. Heading right leads to a lump of magnesium. Any novice can light a fire with magnesium and a steel blade. Fortunately, the diet of Knytt crabs is high in iron and their claws are as sharp as sabers. After collecting the lump, Juni takes the left path leading to another part of the Jungle.

In the valley

~ While heading across the valley Juni notes a piece of wood up on a platform with a palm growing out of it. In the small cave area to the left Juni can make her way to even higher platforms. Coming back across the valley by the high route Juni falls down where the tree is and collects another piece of wood.

The purple spider

~ Yes, Juni needs wood this badly. She must face that crazy fast monster. First she’ll need to draw it out by dropping down into its line of sight. Then she’ll quickly jump up and over that platform in the middle. In the next clearing there had better be a piece of wood!

The last piece

~ Going back to the high way through the valley, Juni makes her way into the upper portion of the first cave system. Some wood managed to get all the way in here and onto a high ledge. Grabbing it, Juni continues right being sure not to fall down into the lower part of the cave system. Back out on the beach side of the cave, Juni heads for the beach and builds a fire with a little help.

011.) Day 3

Seeking shelter

~ Of course it’s raining. Juni wakes in the wet sand. Her white dress clings cold and wet to her figure. Crab politely averts his eyes as Juni dashes by. The first dry spot is taken by that Toast. “Are you KIDDING ME!?” Juni thinks. A quick look around the cave entrance proves the windy threshold is the best spot to ride out the storm. Exhausted and chilled to the bone, Juni curls up on the even colder stone and falls asleep.

Seeking rescue

~ The storm passes and Juni wakes. She hears the buzz of a plane engine! She must dash to the open beach and wave frantically if she has any hope of being spotted! After failing, she spends the rest of the evening cursing her fate, blaming Crab, and re-soaking her dress in tears. Crab, being a stalwart friend, silently take the abuse as the shore takes the pounding of the surf. Long after Juni passes out, a wretched bundle in the sand, crab stands by and stares into the sea. His feelings are hurt, but he knows she needs him now more than ever.

100.) Day 4

You’re not alone

~ Upon waking the next morning, Juni catches a glimpse of someone dashing into the undergrowth. They dropped a piece of fruit in their haste. This nourishment gives Juni the strength to jump higher. She chases after the interloper, catching another glimpse of him near the cave entrance. She uses her new jumping ability to scale the mountain (It’s a good thing she didn’t need to go into the cave, because guess who is blocking the way? And, guess who else isn’t in the mood for somebody’s shenanigans today?)

New heights

~ Upon clearing the jungle canopy, Juni notices for the first time that the top of the mountain appears to be carved or built up into something geometric. There’s another cave entrance here and she discovers some very interesting things inside.

New hope

~ Juni, her head swimming with thoughts, rushes back to the beach to share the news with Crab! Tomorrow is going to be a very exciting day!

101.) Day 5

Lucky break

~ The intruder is back and that shell that’s been sitting there all along suddenly looks like a good weapon.

Night falls

~ The Coconut or whatever gives Juni the strength to climb. She checks with Skully –who’s been obsessively building sand castles all day– and then she says farewell to Crab in case she doesn’t make it back. Wait a second! Crab’s not here! Juni realizes 2 things. First, the tide is low. Second, this is the first time she’s been awake at low tide with her better jumping ability. She takes the risk and leaps out to sea. Surprise! There’s a small shoal out here with Crab and a weird detector thingy on it! Juni now heads into the jungle.


~ Heading into the lower cave system, Juni sees that Toast blocking yet another path. She finally tells him off. On her way out she notices one of the walls has an eye carved into it. Noting this for later, she heads out and up to the cave where she spoke to the captives.

Pirate’s den

~ Above the mine Juni enters a huge castle. 2 screens left of the little elevator she finds a big one. Climbing up from here reveals the cells the prisoners are held in at night. She’ll need 4 keys to open all the cells and depending on which order she finds them in she can experience different conversations with the prisoners. First, she’ll head back down and over to the left. It appears to be a dead end, but on careful inspection Juni finds a hidden passage in the ceiling.

Yellow key

~ Heading right a ways and down, Juni finds herself back in the valley. Apparently the castle roofs the whole valley, and somehow it escaped Juni’s notice! The small mountain on the left side of the valley acts as a support pillar. The yellow key is found in the fortifications in that pillar. Juni returns to the main part of the castle.

Blue key

~ On the far right side of the castle, still on the first floor, Juni can sneak past the guard and slide down the exterior of the castle. In a shaft carved by a waterfall Juni finds a key. To get back into the Castle she must drop down the exterior of the mountain and take the mine entrance again. It’s OK. Juni loves triangle jumps.

Purple key

~ At the center of the castle is a large stairwell. About halfway up Juni finds a passage leading to a throne room. The thrones are not there, but a key protected by a guard is. There’s nothing she can do from this side. However, if she can find her way around to the other side, there’s another shell for her to throw.

Red key

~ In the top left corner of the castle Juni can see an opening to the roof, but she can’t reach it. The dungeon elevator is right there, all she has to do is raise it and use it as a platform. Once on the roof she discovers extensive construction. “How big are they going to make this thing?” She thinks. The red key is up here, and she finds a way to it.

Prisoner escape

~ Having all the keys, Juni drops down into the cell block and triggers the standard ending.

110.) Day 5 Bonus Dungeon

Purple spider redux

~ Juni makes her way to the valley beneath the castle. Then she heads over to the purple spider. The detector indicates that something is there, but Spikers prevent her from using the trick she used before. With a little skill and a lot of bravery she runs headlong toward the spider jumping into that little niche in the tunnel Just before it reaches her. It passes below, and she runs swiftly to the other side. Beyond here she finds a mysterious eye.

Tunnel vision

~ This weird eye looks just like the engraving she saw in the cave by the Toast. Once she reaches that location she finds she can pass through the solid rock! Following, the caves a bit she sees another eye symbol at the back of the ledge where the magnesium had been. After passing through this wall Juni realizes she’s in for a trying ordeal and she wont be able to turn back. She proceeds.

Skeleton keys

~ While confronting the challenges in this maze of tunnels, Juni finds several grey keys which disappear after one use.

Two fates

~ In the end there is an unexpected find. If Juni walks up to it she’ll get the bonus ending and the Toast will laugh at her on day 6. If Juni chooses to attack it with that throw-able shell, she’ll get the bonus bonus ending which is truly the best one.

111.) Missables and Lore

Day 5

~ The detector is out in the sea at night. (The walkthrough points this out.)
~ Go back to Crab with the detector to thank him.
~ Go back to the beach with the eye power to see that Skully is missing.
~ The hidden scene with Skully in the castle. (The walkthrough points this out.)
~ Go to the beach with the eye after the hidden scene to lament Skully’s fate.
~ Visit the Toast a second time and Juni will name him a jerk.
~ The dialogue of the bonus bonus ending changes slightly if you see the hidden scene.

The legend of Castle Island

~ Once upon a time there was a prosperous island kingdom. The king and queen after trying for many years finally had a baby boy, the heir to the throne. Their joy did not last long. The baby became deathly ill. The court doctors could do nothing.

~ The king knew from secret poems a way he might save his son. Through an arcane ritual he summoned the eye of Golanu who carries souls away. The royal treasure vaults were offered in exchange for one wish, to protect his son forever with eternal life. The lidless eye stared for a moment, then vanished with the treasure. The wish had been granted.

~ The child died days later, but no one seemed to notice. Everyone one in the Kingdom went about their business of fortifying the castle and the island. They didn’t bother to eat or drink or sleep, but they never died. Even when their flesh rotted from their skeletons they went on protecting the child. When construction resources ran thin some threw themselves into the bricks to strengthen it with their bones. Others set out to capture foreign sailors and force them to work until the curse took hold.

~ To this day only a rare few have seen the spectacular castle and lived to tell of it. No one has ever set foot on the island and escaped.

Egomassive Fan Game

I spend way too much time on the Nifflas Support Forum and I have way more stars than anyone else. As I approached the 100 star threshold some of the other heavily starred members decided to make a KS level in my honor.

Although most areas of the game used graphics I have made in the past, some designers made their own graphics.

The Coins of KS+ were graphically overridden to appear as Stars.

Look closely. The lamp post and other details resemble my icon.

Over at the Nifflas Support Forum there is a karma system. When members make a good post other members can thank them by giving them what is known as a hidden star. Well, I spend way too much time on that forum and I have way more stars than anyone else. As I approached the 100 star threshold some of the other heavily starred members decided to make a Knytt Stories level in my honor.

Being a collaborative effort the level consists of several stitched-together areas, each representing a contributor. You will find little immersion here. Cutting humor, fun challenges, and pretty graphics are the call of the day. Being a tribute level to me, you’ll find that most areas include my graphics. More importantly the level was built for Knytt Stories Plus, a KS mod I made. The designers used many of the features special to KS+ to create unique challenges and effects. Foremost of these is the use of collectibles. Your main task as a player is to explore the world searching for 100 stars and 10 golden creatures.

Download For egomassive 8.2 MB

Requires Knytt Stories + to play.

Spoilers be here so you may want to stop reading if you haven’t played the level yet. There are many inside jokes in this level that casual members of the Knytt Stories community may not get. I will endeavor to explain some of them. Firstly, there is a KS creature that looks like a slice of toast. In all my KS levels I include “Toasts” which give out silly facts. I have an unfinished level, The Tree of Knowledge, which I have been working on for way too long. “Zen Taco” is a reference to an old forum member “TheAlmightyZenTaco”. “Poka” is a partial of “Pokapola”, a softdrink found in the KS level Too much Soda. There is an obscure reference to this. There is some Dutch text in one section, it’s supposed to be unintelligible to most players and therein lies the humor. Finally there is some ingenuous animosity towards me for having so many more stars than the common rabble.