TimeKeepers - Precision Pixel Platformer

The evil Dr. Lunacy has stolen all the zoo animals and scattered them throughout time! As the zoo-keeper, you undertake an adventure through different time periods and return the animals to their rightful place in the present.

TimeKeepers is a pixel platformer inspired by Ape Escape, Timesplitters and any number of other modern pixel platform games. It is currently early in development with some basic mechanics still to be finalised.

The set-up is a background for allowing varied environments and a simple but hopefully compelling story. Each time period has it’s own graphic set and hazards. I may also include a unique item that can be found and used within each period e.g. a grappling hook or similar. It’s not a Metroidvania as such because I want the player to have access to all the the time periods and play them in any order they wish. Non-linear implies certain design constraints.

Right now, some of the games basic groundwork is done and working well. Previous platformer games I’ve made were not well optimised, with the entire (big) level running all at once, most of it off-screen. This time there is a zoning system which greatly cuts down the size of area the game is handling at any one time. It also allows for scrolling areas as well as static rooms. I can lavish detail and game objects throughout the game without worrying about performance.

The Aztec time period level

The obligatory ice-age level


Short update this week as I’ve been working on lots of small fiddly things:

  • Levels are now partly auto-tiled by parsing the tilemaps. This will save a lot of tedious work later on
  • Implemented a ‘floating key’ mechanic. I’ve seen this in a few platform games. When the player collects a key, it floats along with the player until used. If the player dies, it returns to it’s original position. It feels better this way than having an invisible inventory arrangment
  • There are now signs the player can read, these serve as an optional tutorial on how to high-jump, dash etc. I may expand on this to convey other information to the player later on in the game.
  • A simple dialog system is up and running. This is a pretty standard layout of two characters taking turns to speak. The system can also trigger events in the game.

In the coming week I want to get one complete area of the game done and also get the mechanics for the beginning of the game working - a lot of the story-telling happens here and sets the scene for the whole game until near the end.

Clarence’s first encounter with Dr. Lunacy


It looks really adorable! Are you going to do a playtest?

Yes, I’ll be doing a closed beta nearer release. That’s some time away still


Ohh interesting, is there any way to join?

Not right now, it will be organised when it’s needed next year sometime. The game is currently a looong way from beta!


Work progresses on TimeKeepers, mostly grinding through content creation at this point, which looks to continue for some time.

  • Added various platformer tropes, collapsing platforms, roving automatrons etc.
  • Mechanism for finding secrets. I like hiding things in my games for the player to find
  • Added a short delay between picking up an item and actually collecting it. So jumping into a fire pit to collect a star wont work any longer
  • Tweeked the player jump/dash mechanic to allow more freedom of movement

Screenshot of the primordial time period


Nice! I see you’ve added a CRT filter of some kind?

Yes! I like them but some players don’t so you can turn it off in the settings.

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The short delay when picking up an item makes me think of rayman legends. The way you pick up coins (very nice collectible) is really interesting and you could take some inspiration from there :3

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Nearing the end of quite a slow week here, I’ve been trawling through my back catalogue searching for inspiration. I found a few things I’d like to revise and improve and stick them into the new game.

  • Started another time zone, a post-WW3 theme
  • Acid drops dripping from the ceiling (borrowed from Crystal Caverns 2)
  • Bouncing blob enemy (from The Lost Caves)
  • Large spinning on rails blade thingy added
  • Time machine graphics added to present-day area

The post-apocalyptic time zone demo-ing various hazards


That looks so cool already. My hands are itching to play this! Are you planning for a Switch release as well?

If you call this a slow week I’m really curious about your fast weeks :joy:.


This reminds me a bit of Rick Dangerous, an Indiana Jones “inspired” game on the C64 and Amiga. May be worth checking out!


Yes, I’m hoping Refold will handle console and publishing duties for Switch and PlayStation (when it’s ready)


I’m well into the grind stage of developing Timekeepers. That primarily involves designing the various stages of the game. There will be 6 time zones each with 1-3 areas and there will be 12 areas in all. These areas are quite expansive and of varying difficulty.

Deciding a target audience has be tricky as I try to make my games as widely appealing as possible. With this in mind two of the time zones are shorter and easier, two are ‘normal’ and the final two are longer and more difficult.

There will be incentives for finding secrets and 100%-ing each time zone. There is a relic hidden in each area and a second relic rewarded for collecting everything in each area, so 12 relics in all to collect. There may be a second playable character to unlock if everything is 100% though not sure about that just yet.

one of the 12 areas


Wow, that’s a massive level!


“it’s too short” is a common criticism I hear. Maybe I’m overreacting… :thinking:


I think play time is the true metric :slight_smile:


The bulk of the level design for TimeKeepers has finally been completed. This was easily the largest single part of development - still a fair way to go elsewhere.

This week I’ve been focusing on a few details, tying up loose ends and polishing some things. Awards are given for various achievements completed in the game and there is a dedicated screen to show these off. There are 18 trophies or “relics” to collect. I will be looking at unlockable content soon, which is connected to these achievements.

The storyline is currently bare-bones and not complete. This will need fleshing out and integrating into the game via a set of conversations. The game is more a platformer than a story but it’s nice for the player to have ongoing motivation for jumping over endless spike filled fire pits.

Other than that, I am steadily polishing the look and feel of the game, trying to lift it above the quality of anything I’ve developed before. The soundtrack is also ready to go in, though I’ll hold off on that until the end to keep build times swift.

part of the early game and some tutorial signs to read

the empty achievements screen - 3 awards for each world


I’d really like to play this, any chance of a beta anywhere?

Congrats on getting this part done. I know how hard it can be.