Free Death Brigade [Top down shooter]

S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
(UPDATE: the game is in its final state at this point with a beginning and an end. I won't be adding any future updates to it other than small bug fixes and balance tweaks. Hope you decide to check it out as feedback is still appreciated :) )

Hey, so I'm making a top down shooter somewhat inspired by NES-era games (Ikari warriors, Guerilla warfare). I'm new to making games so after abandoning several platformer attempts I decided this would be a simpler approach to learning the stuff I need.

Even though it's mainly a learning thing for me I hope the game ends up at least being playable, so I thought I'd post it online and get some feedback on it.

( Patch notes and updates in posts below)
http://gamejolt.com/games/death-brigade/211998
The gameplay is pretty self explanatory if you have experience with top down shooters.
WASD to move
Mouse to aim
LMB to shoot
RMB to throw nades




 
Last edited by a moderator:
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
Added a flamethrower to the mix that will be put to good use in level 2 ;)
Otherwise ironed out many smaller bugs like the UI messing up between rooms and some depth problems.
I'll put out these fixes along with a more complete second level some time this week.


flamethrower.png
 
G

Gerald Tyler

Guest
Hey there! Thanks for the demo

Right away I died to the two guys on the bridge. After seeing them multiple times I've gotten it down where you have to inch JUST close enough to throw your grenade at their cover. Other than that, for a player facing them the first time it's a bit of an unfair death. Where they move at normal speed and get into a situation they can't win as you cannot dodge the bullets on that narrow bridge. Maybe introduce the sandbag mechanic to them in a less hostile area? Or give the grenades a bit more range. The window between "I'm close enough to grenade the sandbags" and "I'm too close now they're shooting at me and I can't possibly dodge because I'm on a bridge with no room" is a bit narrow.

Please destroy all bullet objects when the player dies. The bridge enemies would kill me, then I'd respawn and immediately have to dodge their previously fired bullets before I get killed again since enemy bullets pass through walls and are aimed aright at the spawn point. (This only occurs if you're hugging the left side of the bridge though in case you were wanting to recreate it)

Before the boss room, maybe have a section where enemies are trapped behind the stone pillars, so the player HAS to destroy the stone pillars to progress, but in doing so the player is introduced to the concept that the stone pillars cause damage, and aren't simply destructible environment like I originally thought they were.

When introducing the boss please include a health meter. When the boss spawned in I was shooting at it, yet nothing happened. So I figured it must be a friendly NPC that I had to talk to. Walked up to it, and was instant killed. So a nice health meter which appears on the bottom of the screen will tell the player "Yes, even though I'm not letting you damage me currently, I am definitely a boss so you should keep your distance" A creepy sound effect when the boss enters would also do the trick, and of course ideally the music would switch to boss battle music.

For the boss battle, please respawn the stone pillars. Currently if the player messes up a single tower they may not be able to finish the boss.

Should be aware that the player is able to shoot things well off screen. Can kill tanks before you can even see them, and can accidentally shoot the hostage(?) before you ever see them. You may decide to keep it like this, but have to make sure the player isn't destroying anything they need before they can even see it.

Changing the camera view would be nice. You're moving forward (Up) but about 60% of what is displayed on screen is behind you (Down). Why? What good is that 60% of unused (Because there's never any enemies behind you, you've already killed them) screen real estate doing the player? Flip it where the 60% is in front of the player so that they can see what's ahead of them and have time to prepare.

I'm a bit uncertain on what type of style you're going for. Some games might deliberately have the player being weak, such as a zombie survival game. You move slow, ammo is scarce, low health, etc. In other games you're more of a empowered hero character where you're moving fast, dodging in and out of a bullet hell, and you're just supposed to be a hero who slaughters everything. In your game, I'm able to literally destroy tanks just by shooting them a few times, yet I die in a single shot to anything. It's like this weird middle ground. Yes I've got infinite ammo, but I've got limited grenades, and there are some enemies (Like the two across the bridge) that you literally HAVE to use your grenades on to kill them. So I guess just decide on which style you're really aiming for rather than having it in between. Not saying it's impossible to have it in between, but it would be very hard to pull off.

Rather than 3 lives where the player dies in one hit, consider switching to a single life where you have 3 hearts and invincibility frames for a second after taking damage, and have a few health power ups in the level. Then place 2 checkpoints through the levels where players can respawn at full health. I think that's much more player friendly than it is now. Unless you're going for the top down shooter version of I wanna be the guy, your game should avoid being an exercise in frustration.

Introduce a risk vs reward mechanic. Currently the first order optimal strategy is to inch up, fire in all directions in front of you in case an enemy happens to be there, and repeat. I'm sure that's not the experience you're wanting to craft for your players though. There's just no reason for the player to deviate from the safe strategy, especially since you die in a single hit and can't really see what's in front of you.

Best of luck to you, cheers =)
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
Hey there! Thanks for the demo

Right away I died to the two guys on the bridge. After seeing them multiple times I've gotten it down where you have to inch JUST close enough to throw your grenade at their cover. Other than that, for a player facing them the first time it's a bit of an unfair death. Where they move at normal speed and get into a situation they can't win as you cannot dodge the bullets on that narrow bridge. Maybe introduce the sandbag mechanic to them in a less hostile area? Or give the grenades a bit more range. The window between "I'm close enough to grenade the sandbags" and "I'm too close now they're shooting at me and I can't possibly dodge because I'm on a bridge with no room" is a bit narrow.

Please destroy all bullet objects when the player dies. The bridge enemies would kill me, then I'd respawn and immediately have to dodge their previously fired bullets before I get killed again since enemy bullets pass through walls and are aimed aright at the spawn point. (This only occurs if you're hugging the left side of the bridge though in case you were wanting to recreate it)

Before the boss room, maybe have a section where enemies are trapped behind the stone pillars, so the player HAS to destroy the stone pillars to progress, but in doing so the player is introduced to the concept that the stone pillars cause damage, and aren't simply destructible environment like I originally thought they were.

When introducing the boss please include a health meter. When the boss spawned in I was shooting at it, yet nothing happened. So I figured it must be a friendly NPC that I had to talk to. Walked up to it, and was instant killed. So a nice health meter which appears on the bottom of the screen will tell the player "Yes, even though I'm not letting you damage me currently, I am definitely a boss so you should keep your distance" A creepy sound effect when the boss enters would also do the trick, and of course ideally the music would switch to boss battle music.

For the boss battle, please respawn the stone pillars. Currently if the player messes up a single tower they may not be able to finish the boss.

Should be aware that the player is able to shoot things well off screen. Can kill tanks before you can even see them, and can accidentally shoot the hostage(?) before you ever see them. You may decide to keep it like this, but have to make sure the player isn't destroying anything they need before they can even see it.

Changing the camera view would be nice. You're moving forward (Up) but about 60% of what is displayed on screen is behind you (Down). Why? What good is that 60% of unused (Because there's never any enemies behind you, you've already killed them) screen real estate doing the player? Flip it where the 60% is in front of the player so that they can see what's ahead of them and have time to prepare.

I'm a bit uncertain on what type of style you're going for. Some games might deliberately have the player being weak, such as a zombie survival game. You move slow, ammo is scarce, low health, etc. In other games you're more of a empowered hero character where you're moving fast, dodging in and out of a bullet hell, and you're just supposed to be a hero who slaughters everything. In your game, I'm able to literally destroy tanks just by shooting them a few times, yet I die in a single shot to anything. It's like this weird middle ground. Yes I've got infinite ammo, but I've got limited grenades, and there are some enemies (Like the two across the bridge) that you literally HAVE to use your grenades on to kill them. So I guess just decide on which style you're really aiming for rather than having it in between. Not saying it's impossible to have it in between, but it would be very hard to pull off.

Rather than 3 lives where the player dies in one hit, consider switching to a single life where you have 3 hearts and invincibility frames for a second after taking damage, and have a few health power ups in the level. Then place 2 checkpoints through the levels where players can respawn at full health. I think that's much more player friendly than it is now. Unless you're going for the top down shooter version of I wanna be the guy, your game should avoid being an exercise in frustration.

Introduce a risk vs reward mechanic. Currently the first order optimal strategy is to inch up, fire in all directions in front of you in case an enemy happens to be there, and repeat. I'm sure that's not the experience you're wanting to craft for your players though. There's just no reason for the player to deviate from the safe strategy, especially since you die in a single hit and can't really see what's in front of you.

Best of luck to you, cheers =)

Ey man and thanks for the well thought out criticism. I'll try to dissect it by listing my thoughts on the stuff you brought up:

- I've gotten a lot of feedback on incoming bullets not being removed on death, rest assured that they will despawn on death. Sucks being killed a few seconds after leaving the "safe spawn zone" by a lingering bullet.

- The 1st boss is definitely WIP. I'll look into a healthbar but he feels incomplete on a more fundamental level atm. Players die on him a couple of times and he seems brutal, then you figure out the pillar mechanic and he's too easy. I'm not opposed to players dying a few times while discovering mechanics so additional hints on top of the external pillar that's already there is unlikely to be added. I will be upping his difficulty though, and I've given it some thought: I'll be adding some enemy spawners for his second (chase) and third (fall) phase so you have some additional problems to deal with. The pillars will definitely be respawnable once I've upped the general difficulty of the fight, right now the limited ammount of pillars is the only difficulty there is really.

-You also bring up a more theoretical point about the gameplay being in some middle ground at the moment. I'll try to sort out my thoughts on this: I want the gameplay to be a healthy mix between cautious and fast paced, with a good dose of trial and error needed to progress. You're supposed to be able to dish out a lot of damage, but so does your enemies. It definitely doesn't fulfill this ideal in its current state, inching along, as you mention is too OP right now. As you maybe noticed the tank shoots at you just before you get them on screen, made to partly counteract this gameplay style, but it's not enough. I also want to add that the potential of accidentally killing hostages is also there to mechanically lessen the appeal of this style. I'm currently working on a sniper unit that will shoot from very long ranges (twice - 1/5 of the screen) and kill you easily unless you're behind some kind of cover. The lock-on sound and reload (downtime) sound will be obvious so you know when to hide and when to progress. I think this is a partial answer to the "inching along" style of play. But we'll have to see. I definitely agree with you that there are some fundamental issues to the gameplay.

Anyway, I hope I answered some of your thoughts on this. And I'm really glad you took the time to get into the nitty gritty of the game :)

EDIT: Oh btw you should check out the newest build when you get the time. I've added a flamethrower to the second level with extremely good spread and rate of fire, but short range. So it encourages a more rushed style of play. I think it fits nicely as a partial solution to some of the problems you've brought up. There's no combat scenario for it so far but you get to try it out and get a feel for it.
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
UPDATE: I've recently wrapped up level 2 and started working on the fundamentals of level 3 (art assets and behaviour of new enemies). It will be situated in a remote mountain location which gives me the freedom to create a snow/mountain level that I've been wanting to do for the sake of variety. As seen in the image below I've also begun working on a sniper enemy which is still very much WIP but I feel it will take the gameplay to a new level in terms of pacing.

My current workload revolves around making a snow particle system, polishing the sniper enemy and reworking the 1st boss a bit. Once that's done I'll roll out another update on Gamejolt.

PS. thanks to everyone that has checked out the game so far :)
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
0.4.0

Reworked 1st boss:
- Shortened boss downtime after tripping on destroyed pillars
- Added turrets in the upper right and upper left corners that will fire consistently at the player
throughout the fight
- Made pillars respawnable due to the general increase in difficulty for the fight

New level:
- Added a "tutorial" segment to ease the initial experience with the game.

New enemy:
- The sniper enemy is nearly done and can be seen in level 3, my aim is to discourage overly cautious play.

Smaller fixes:
- Repositioned checkpoints in the first level
- Added some missing audio to the transition screen between level 1 and 2,
also made it skippable with the space key
- Some fixes to bullets "lingering" after death, leading to "unfair" scenarios when spawning. Still WIP

Art:
- Changed depth of some objects to improve gamefeel
- Recolored/reworked the tank and its gunner to fit level 3 (winter level)
- Reworked the standard infantry enemies to fit level 3
- Added snow particles for level 3
- Finished up the final "victory" screen, a bit ahead of myself there but I felt inspired.


Check out this video for a preview of the snow particles in play, really happy with how level 3 is turning out :) :
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
So I've been working a lot on the game and haven't posted half of it here on this thread to avoid constantly bumping it.
I'm very stoked about its current state as a decent chunk of content is beginning to take form and there's so much more to come.
Anyway, here's the most recent changelog to give you guys some indication of where things are headed.

1st boss:
- Destroying pillars no longer reward score due to the potential of exploits.

2nd boss:
- Added a new area at the end of level 4 where you face off against the second boss. Still WIP

Code:
- Reworked the view system in the game to make it compatible with monitors other than HD ones. This has resulted in a smaller view
for all monitors, which is subject to change. The good news is that the views are now universal so when I do tweak them it will be so much easier on my end.
- Fixed a bug where certain fonts would change their style when location messages were being displayed.
- New helicopter enemy is added in. Can be seen in

Graphical:
- Did some work on the GUI to fit the new view system, it should now display similarly across all monitors.
It gave me the opportunity to tweak its size and positioning and its now in a state I feel more comfortable with.


Sound:
- Added a simple powerup sound from burning people and huts to reflect the score increase.
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
Hey, just letting people know that the project is still kicking. Just released a hotfix over on Gamejolt :)
http://gamejolt.com/games/death-brigade/211998

- Shortened the timer that reverts snow tiles to their not-stepped-on state
- Increased the volume of snow being stepped on
- Centered the origin of some objects that were causing problems
- Added a sound for swapping between weapons
 

mariospants

Member
Wow, great feedback you gave him, Gerald, I'm definitely going to ask you to test my game ;-)

I just played it, here are my impressions:

  • music is perfect, don't know where you got it, but if you made the music yourself, kudos
  • you really need to destroy bullets after a safe distance, got a lot of cheap deaths because of it
  • I know you're channeling the ever-awesome "Rambo"/'Nam thing, but the "coolie hats" on the enemies might be considered insensitive, just saying
  • when moving diagonally, you should allow the player to "skim" along walls, it feels odd to come to a complete stop, especially since the walls don't offer any protection
  • totally agree that the player should be in the lower quadrant (or at least third) of the bottom of the screen... the first tank was killed off-screen, which kind of was a let-down as I wanted to see if I was actually hitting it and wanted to watch it die. Fighting in the open with the tank wasn't a possibility given the constraint of the level design and sheer fire power of the tank!
  • LOVE the truck that picks you up at the end, can you make it drive away after it picks you up?
  • many enemies come flying in so fast that it's a twich reflex to kill them, but 90% of the time even though you can be quick enough to kill them, their bullet kills you, too.
  • after "Game Over" (love that the picture of "dead dad" also has the cigarette dangling out of his mouth) how do you continue and play again?

Anyway, super-fast, addictive in that "gotta try it one more time" vein, really fun!
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
Wow, great feedback you gave him, Gerald, I'm definitely going to ask you to test my game ;-)

I just played it, here are my impressions:

  • music is perfect, don't know where you got it, but if you made the music yourself, kudos
  • you really need to destroy bullets after a safe distance, got a lot of cheap deaths because of it
  • I know you're channeling the ever-awesome "Rambo"/'Nam thing, but the "coolie hats" on the enemies might be considered insensitive, just saying
  • when moving diagonally, you should allow the player to "skim" along walls, it feels odd to come to a complete stop, especially since the walls don't offer any protection
  • totally agree that the player should be in the lower quadrant (or at least third) of the bottom of the screen... the first tank was killed off-screen, which kind of was a let-down as I wanted to see if I was actually hitting it and wanted to watch it die. Fighting in the open with the tank wasn't a possibility given the constraint of the level design and sheer fire power of the tank!
  • LOVE the truck that picks you up at the end, can you make it drive away after it picks you up?
  • many enemies come flying in so fast that it's a twich reflex to kill them, but 90% of the time even though you can be quick enough to kill them, their bullet kills you, too.
  • after "Game Over" (love that the picture of "dead dad" also has the cigarette dangling out of his mouth) how do you continue and play again?

Anyway, super-fast, addictive in that "gotta try it one more time" vein, really fun!
Hey man :) Your feedback is very much appreciated as well. It's honestly so much fun to have people caring enough about something you made to take time off their day and comment on it. Also supervaluable from a dev standpoint, especially when the feedback is on point like yours.

- So the music is made by Moose (@moose_tunes on twitter) which I've had onboard for the project since fall 2016. He's super talented and have been in line with the vision of the game from day one, so big up to Moose!

- Your point about bullets are 100% true and definitely on my to-do-list. So the last change I did to them was despawning them after death due to Gerald's feedback, but the fact that their range has no limits is a problem I'm aware of.

- Okay so let's talk about the "touchy subject" of the Vietcong-style hats. I'd like to get it out there that while at times borrowing heavily, this game doesn't aim to represent a real life conflict, and to the extent that it does it's seen through the glasses of a stereotypical, hostile, Americanized view. There was a real tendency in video games and culture more generally during the cold war to frame certain conflicts in a simplified and, looking back on it, a very grotesque way. I've drawn inspiration from old school shooters that has these issues in their core (NAM-1975 for example), and while I respect many of these games in a strict gameplay sense they are completely lobotomized culturally.

My intention has been to take the brutal undertones of these early NES and Neo Geo military shooters and put them in overdrive to highlight how crazy they are from a human standpoint. Death Brigade puts you in this very chauvinistic and ultraviolent setting typical for these games, and then amps it up throughout the missions to the point where you start questioning WTF you're being told to do in it. That's my initial intention at least. I want to stress that I'm not glorifying the cultural content of these games but trying (maybe failing) to deliver a satiric retrospect on this genre of games.

- I'll look into the possibility of moving diagonally while near a wall. Really good point!

- Hah, I'll have to try and satisfy your need to watch things die. No, but I agree that the camera is off currently and displays things you don't need on-screen while not showing the things you want to see. Being worked on!

- Thanks man :) The truck is definitely WIP with regards to sound, and also movement.

- So my best tip on this would be to constantly move, the bullet moves to where you were when it was fired. So landing that twitch kill while instantly dodging in a direction is a decently secure way to avoid the deadly deaths of Death Brigade! *sigh..

- Currently you have to shut down the client after a game over and then boot the game up anew. It's not optimal and you can rest assured that a restart button is being added :) As a temporary fix you can use the F1-F4 keys to swap between levels, which I'm using for dev purposes. Pressing F1(for the tutorial stage) or F2(for the first stage) would let you do a hacky restart atm.

Thanks for taking your time to write this. Really helps me get a fresh perspective on the game :)
 

mariospants

Member
- Currently you have to shut down the client after a game over and then boot the game up anew. It's not optimal and you can rest assured that a restart button is being added :) As a temporary fix you can use the F1-F4 keys to swap between levels, which I'm using for dev purposes. Pressing F1(for the tutorial stage) or F2(for the first stage) would let you do a hacky restart atm.

Thanks for taking your time to write this. Really helps me get a fresh perspective on the game :)
My pleasure! (really, playing your game was fun) and thanks for the cheats, even though I eventually made my way thru via blood, sweat, and memorization.
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
My pleasure! (really, playing your game was fun) and thanks for the cheats, even though I eventually made my way thru via blood, sweat, and memorization.
Hah well congrats man, it's pretty brutal at points so that's no small feat :)
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
Hey so this is the first major update in a while and I’m very happy to share it with you :) We all have periods where working on something is harder, and I definitely had my fair share this past month.

I have not taken it too hard though as finishing this project is a given for me, and small bumps in the road are expected. Now that my creative juices are flowing again I’m much more appreciative of my inspiration and the fact that I’m having fun making games again.

I’d like to thank everyone who played the game despite the slowed update frequency, and of course those of you who have given awesome feedback :)

Cheers!
Spiritualatombomb

  • Added a brand new soundtrack by Moose for the snow levels, really loving it!
  • Made a new enemy. With fast, heat-seeking missiles he will be very deadly. (Found in the second snow level)
  • Added multiple new sounds all over to improve gamefeel.
  • Finished large sections of the second snow level
  • Several smaller bug fixes like enemies not turning correctly
  • Added a timer for most bullets in the game that will destroy them after a short while, lessening the potential for unfair deaths
  • Started work on the third boss of the game, the artwork can be seen at the end of the second snow level

http://gamejolt.com/games/death-brigade/211998
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
Bossfights and guns (0.8.5)

Changelog:
  • Added a new boss for the second snow level
  • Added an exit from level 4, accessed through a cave
  • Previously the text displaying lives and highscore were white no matter what level the player was in.
    This caused problems in the snow levels where large parts of the screen would be white also.
    The text is now displayed in "teal" when in the snow levels to counteract this. The current setup will also make it easy to change the text-color for upcoming levels to,
    for example, fit them thematically.
  • Changed player bullet speed (subject to change)
  • Changed the player bullet sprite
  • Fixed several minor bugs connected to the weapon swapping system
  • Fixed a bug where the snow theme would keep playing in the game over room
  • Added the option to restart on death screen
  • The transition between being killed and respawning went by almost unnoticed so I added a clear sound to indicate the player dying (WIP)
 

Pfap

Member
Just downloaded and played it on a whim, so I have to send a quick shout out! I liked it, however I didn't play enough to really offer any constructive criticism, but it controlled really smoothly. I initially thought maybe a 5 hits and then you die type health system would be more fun, but the whole one hit death and restart is kind cool more of a learning based mechanic.
 
S

spiritualatombomb

Guest
Just downloaded and played it on a whim, so I have to send a quick shout out! I liked it, however I didn't play enough to really offer any constructive criticism, but it controlled really smoothly. I initially thought maybe a 5 hits and then you die type health system would be more fun, but the whole one hit death and restart is kind cool more of a learning based mechanic.
Thanks for the positive feedback and im glad you came to appreciate its intrinsic masochism!
 
Top