• Hey! Guest! The 39th GMC Jam will take place between November 26th, 12:00 UTC and November 30th, 12:00 UTC. Why not join in! Click here to find out more!

Under the Ivy - Souls'ian exploration platformer [DEMO]

D

davoid

Guest
Hey guys,

This is an exploration based platformer we started working on in June. Now with an actual name based on a Kate Bush song, ha ha.

Explore a vast, hostile, interconnected world. Find items to boost your abilities. Build your character to tackle the challenges ahead.



Demo consists of 3 areas, 30 different items, and two modes: regular, and randomized (a veteran mode where all items are shuffled). Demo is about an hour of gameplay if you speed run it for 100% map and don't die.

Gif

Very much in an alpha state currently. Still working on assets like backgrounds and such.

Sprite help courtesy of the amazing Sovryn, from here on the gamemaker forums!

Gif

Map Spoiler

Here is the alpha demo:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4O3nuK8rsIoLUZEWklmODR6NG8

Windows only. Keyboard or controller supported.

Press Enter or Start button to view your map and options.

Please let us know what you think so far!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

RangerX

Member
Ok, now you're taping right into my style.
And we making the same type of games it seems. I'll be able to share some thoughts and feedback with you.
 
D

davoid

Guest
Ok, now you're taping right into my style.
And we making the same type of games it seems. I'll be able to share some thoughts and feedback with you.
Ha, yea, I think we both have an appreciation of large interconnected exploration driven platformers. You've helped me a few times get my head around the game maker engine, especially regarding text-resolution stuff so, thanks!
 

RangerX

Member
You have a really cool project going on here. Here's my feedback in a deconstructed way...

- I love your menus, simple effective, simple. Nice font in the game too.
- Music is nice an relaxing. Kinda work with the floaty feel of the game character (if that's what you intend)
- Speaking of which, the jump feels floaty. But I like it anyways with the nice sprite animation and so far it seems to fit the pace of the game.
- Shop/save tree. I like :)
- It would be more intuitive to use the "drop through" to drop from a ladder. Right now pressing jump while pressing jump looks glitchy because the character seems to enter its jump state for like a couple of frames. Same when you climb up and jump (jumping in ladders could be nice too since we at it --- although it might make so players are jumping all the time to climb)
- The game doesn't pause when I alt+tab
- I find it redundant that I have to engage an interaction with an NPC (talk) and then choose talk. Same for reading eveything and choosing "goodbye". If its only a character I can talk with and not choose other actions, I should be talking right when I press up since there's not point choosing which action I want to do.
- I love the fact those blue things are staying where you died. Although at some point I died a bit farther from the tree and I lost it. Would be cool to always be able to go get it or if its a timer making it disappear, there might be a balancing question going on here.
- Would be nice to have some "are you sure" type of message when we press ESC.
- I feel the Aether shots might need to be a tad stronger. There's no point using it instead of the bow really. I know you gonna have other types of ennemies later but my advice would be to have ennemies that are directly tackling each of the player's abilities. Right now its better to slash everything. Its strong, fast and never fails. But imagine an ennemi with a plate where my sword could do nothing but my bow would place an arrow riiight on his face. Imagine a ennemi that is very strong against physical attacks but when I shoot him an Aether ball, it dies a painful death. Different ennemies basically giving a +value to all the different character's abilities.

This is a really good start. Oddly enough am dying alot but I don't feel the game's fault. It's mine. Your buddy on the graphics is super good, keep up. And I don't know if you're responsible for the music but you're already setting a mood. I would lie to tell you I feel the game is original (and it doesn't necessarily have to be) but I feel right at home. Am curious about the story that will have and if there will be bosses?
 
D

davoid

Guest
Hey! Thanks for the feedback!

I'll look into the drop through for ladders.

NPC's can sell you things as well, so, if they just have a dialogue option, I'll just auto-go to the talk option. Good call.

I'll look into pausing on alt-tab.

The aether shots scale with your magic stat. Items, if they scale with a stat, will say so in their description.

Re-leveling: If your little Aether counter in the top left is blue, you have enough saved up to buy a level, and should maybe consider heading back to a tree to buy a level.

Most spells and items scale with a stat. Magic spells tend to scale FAR faster than strength does (which dictates melee and arrow damage, alongside working with some passive items you can find), but magic spells tend to scale far faster in terms of damage, with the drawback that they have limited uses until you have to go back to a tree to refresh them.

I think around magic level 3 - 4'ish, aether shots start one or two shotting the tree guys, whereas around there with strength, you're still taking 3 or so melee hits to take them down.

If you die, and check your map (enter or start button), you can see where your Aether drop is on the map, ha ha. I should really explain this stuff more in the tutorial. It's pretty important to try and get it back if it was a lot, because spending that is how you level up and buy stuff from NPC's!

There will be bosses, and side quests. We actually have some bosses in the design phase.

The game will reward speed runs by allowing you to go right to the last boss, skipping everything else, but you'll be a low level, and for every other boss undefeated, the last boss will have new terrifying tricks up their sleeve, making them extremely difficult.

Enemies actually do have resistances and weaknesses, either to physical or magic attacks. I might push that feature more. Some of the later enemies you can encounter use it a lot more.

I'll def be designing enemies to counter either magic or physical builds, but because we decided early on that no item should be necessary to beat the game, they'll just be a hard nerf more than a hard counter. We wanted the player to be able to beat the game at level 1, with no items, if they so chose. This let us make the randomized mode as well.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

ReidDC

Member
looks very promising! excellent animations and graphical design going on here, good atmosphere and such.
also nice music! adds a ton to the experience. Love to see more of this, please keep it up!
 
D

davoid

Guest
The animations are by Sovryn. His work is fantastic!

Stuff I've added since this post:

Descriptions of stats on level up screen:



Logs which float in poisonous pools which sink as the player stands on them, as well as traps on the ceiling which periodically release drops of poison:



Ghosts in the barrows which are invisible in the light, encouraging the player to destroy torches and unequip their torch. Also, spike traps that periodically rise from the floor.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

RangerX

Member
I like this buddy. You seem to be in control of your design. This is often the promise of a good game!
(the game is already awesome)
 
D

davoid

Guest
Ha ha, thank you!

I just have very very defined design goals, and I am strict about keeping the scope manageable, less we never finish. I hope to have it done by next June.

I do software design as a day job, and too often I've seen projects die under the weight of their own ambition and lack of disciplined scope creep management.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

RangerX

Member
Ha ha, thank you!

I just have very very defined design goals, and I am strict about keeping the scope manageable, less we never finish. I hope to have it done by next June.

I do software design as a day job, and too often I've seen projects die under the weight of their own ambition and lack of disciplined scope creep management.
Here we go! That's why your project/design looks collected and coherent. At least am sure it helps. I do have a level design degree and been working in software development for like 6 years, I've seen so many things failing or crawling under the weight of poor organisation and planning. Keep up the good work!
 
D

davoid

Guest
Ha ha, yes. And game design is basically an obsession of mine, so a good month or two was spend on making the controls and main mechanics all feel good, then the rest of the game has been designed to complement those.
 
D

davoid

Guest

In progress updates of the Treants (the tree guys at the start).

Also, I've updated the build to nerf their damage a bit, as we found many players had trouble getting past Tanglebrush.

Am adding popups describing the options while resting at trees.

Edit: done
 
Last edited by a moderator:
D

davoid

Guest


build updated with optimized dark layer in the barrows, a chunkier hud for health and stamina, and a small stam bar that appears above your head when stamina is either empty or refilling
 
D

davoid

Guest
Further small updates addressing some things RangerX brought up:

"- I find it redundant that I have to engage an interaction with an NPC (talk) and then choose talk. Same for reading eveything and choosing "goodbye". If its only a character I can talk with and not choose other actions, I should be talking right when I press up since there's not point choosing which action I want to do."
If NPC's only have a talk option, it just goes straight to talk option. If the NPC has more options, it goes to the interaction menu.

"- Would be nice to have some "are you sure" type of message when we press ESC."
Have set ESC to act the same as start. A confirmation prompt is brought up before you can quit to menu.

"- I feel the Aether shots might need to be a tad stronger. There's no point using it instead of the bow really. "
Have buffed the base damage of aether shots to be better than arrows right from the start, without levels in either magic or strength.

I'll tackle the ladder issue sometime this week. My plan is relatively simple. If holding up or down on ladder and you jump, it'll just drop you as it does now, but it'll have a short cool down before you can grab the ladder again.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
D

davoid

Guest
Have updated with the ladder fix (just gives a short cool down before the ladder can be grabbed again), the mini-stambar hud is displayed while using stam as well, and a mini-hp bar is displayed if taking damage/healing/gaining back hp through means other than the standard heal.

Kinda makes me wonder if the main UI bars are a bit redundant with the hud pop ups? I'll have to see what feels right...
 

FROGANUS

Member
looks impressive from what i can see.
really cool enemies and combat so far.
also i dig the circular lighting effect.
want to try when i get a moment.
 

RangerX

Member
Have updated with the ladder fix (just gives a short cool down before the ladder can be grabbed again), the mini-stambar hud is displayed while using stam as well, and a mini-hp bar is displayed if taking damage/healing/gaining back hp through means other than the standard heal.

Kinda makes me wonder if the main UI bars are a bit redundant with the hud pop ups? I'll have to see what feels right...
I personally am of the "display only if necessary" mentality regarding UI and HUD. (that's also why my HUD is dynamic in The Life Ruby)
 
D

davoid

Guest
Yea, I was thinking about doing that, but seeing hp at all times is kinda important regarding the players decision to press ahead or turn back and spend their aether/refill their heals and spells.

I should explain that mechanic more thoroughly: Going back to a tree refills all your items back to max uses, and of course allows you to spend your aether on leveling up or buying heals over your max if you need them. However, all enemies respawn when you visit a tree (or die), so the cost is making the route you were taking hostile once more.

Def still need to do a lot of polishing on the UI though. Internally, have chosen to reduce the stam bar back to being more discrete while leaving the hp bar chunky.

And thank you all for all the feedback! It means a lot to us!

Has anyone who has been trying it out gotten to any other areas? How do you feel about the general map design so far? We wanted the game to feel challenging, and to reward the player in incremental progress.

If you die, you drop all the aether you are carrying. You can retrieve it, but the game will only keep the last drop you had, so, if you die before having retrieved your aether, it is replaced with your last drop. This sets up that Souls'ian risk/reward balance between progression and risk.

It is possible to get 100% map by exploring all the available rooms, but this includes secret rooms. Currently the only way to find those outside of dumb luck hitting walls is to play a randomized game and hope you get the "reveal secrets" passive item somewhere, because it's currently not an item you can get in the regular game. We'll be updating secrets with very subtle tells.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
D

davoid

Guest
I want to make a full walkthrough of it at some point. Is most the game theorically accessible??
About 1/4 of the game is accessible. It's all still under design as well. We're mostly testing different areas, there is a miniboss of sorts you can find in the swamp. But we're looking to have 7 different regions to explore in the final.

We're mostly trying to get every system down and working so we can just expand to that when we're ready.

One fun challenge run our main testers try to do is getting 100% map, no deaths, at character level 1.

Basically, by 100% map, we're calculating that based on accessible rooms.

Edit: have updated with small UI updates, and am displaying your currently selected item over your head when you switch item slots.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
D

davoid

Guest
Basically, the main game design we've been looking at is allowing the player a lot of freedom in exploring where they want, in what order they want (you can go to the barrows straight off, for example, but it's tough getting there and the enemies are unforgiving if you lack items and levels), and instead of metroidvania style Item == Necessary to Access X room, we've instead implemented that gate and lever system to let you open shortcuts and unlock various routes between areas.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DaMuffin

Member
I've played the game for about an hour, and I loved it. I was definitely getting a dark souls'y vibe especially when I had to fight the tree archers and spearmen grouped together.

A few questions:
Are you going to add customizable controls? I really liked the option to have different presets, but they all felt awkward to me (though that's probably because I'm used to a specific layout when I play with a keyboard)

Are you going to add ammo to the bow? While the Aether shot is cool, but at base level magic, it's damage pales in comparison to the bow.

Will you be adding additional melee attacks or weapons? It'd be cool if you did. :p It's not necessary though.

Great work! Keep on keepin on!
 
D

davoid

Guest
Hey! I may add customizeable controls in the future, but for now we'll probably stick with the presets. It's one of those "If I have time near the end of development, I'll put the logic in for it, but we need to focus on content right now" things. I have good infastructure to support it, it's more the front end logic like "ensure the user can't set up keys that are used for hardline functions, ensure user can't double up on keys on the keyboard and controller to essentially cheat", etc

The bow has infinite ammo, but the spells you find are much more damaging and many have different versatile uses (some pass through walls, or some transform enemies when they hit them, some give you extra hits you can take before you lose hp, for example), as well as scale better against later enemies.

I think, because we find everyone says "magic is kinda useless" because the first spell they typically find is that one, I'm going to do a few things: switch out that spell with one that isn't interchangeable with arrows, and sell the aether shot at the nearby npc and give it a handful more charges to compensate it's initial investment cost.

We are actually in the design phase for different weapons the player can equip and switch their sword out for.

Thanks! Did you ever find any of the exits out of Tanglebrush?

Edit: Updated build with some slight tweaks to which items you get and where you find them in the regular game mode. This should be more interesting than just finding the aether shot.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DaMuffin

Member
I found two (I think), one was sealed off behind a gate and nearby was another that was blocked by a "no entry" sign. I'll try to get around to playing the new build today.
 
D

davoid

Guest
Ah yea, the "no entry" signs indicate areas we're still building.

However, it's a long weekend here in Canada this weekend, so I'll be working to expand the map.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
D

davoid

Guest
Small update, more or less behind the scenes stuff:

Internally, whenever we'd add major new features that broke the save files, we'd just ask testers to delete their save file.

This would be... not good, so I've updated the game to parse save file versions and determine if a save is compatible with the current version of the game.

Current version of the game should be 0.1.91
 

JacobV

Member
Really enjoying the art and gameplay so far - I think you could have something really great here. My main gripe so far is more in terms of level design. A lot of times, I thought I was backtracking because the rooms looked essentially identical, which threw off my sense of direction and made it really difficult to remember where I was going and where I had been. My suggestion would be to work on some of the room layouts, to make them more distinctive, and to add environmental objects like structures, rocks, trees, etc to let them know where they are. Besides that, great job so far and I'm definitely watching this one.
 
D

davoid

Guest
Thanks for the feedback!

I've been working on redoing some of the map and redoing things like the water for optimization purposes. We kinda wanted to wait a bit until we had much more of the map before updating the demo.

I'll look into this. I think having a few more tilesets per area will help, and definitely adding environmental details and objects will help a lot as well to give the player more distinction in rooms.

If you press enter or start btn, btw, it brings up your map.
 

JacobV

Member
Ah, I had no idea there even was a map; that's likely why I got lost so badly. I probably should've checked that first! Still, I think general distinctiveness in the rooms would still be a benefit.
 
D

davoid

Guest
Yea, for sure!

Right now they're all pretty similar, differentiated by enemies. It'll be a lot better when we start decorating stuff and adding more visual distinction.

But yea, the map is a big deal in navigating.
 
D

davoid

Guest
I'm... alive?!

I'm alive!

I profusely apologize for just disappearing for months. Work and life caught up with me (company merger, new job, etc) and I just couldn't find the time to do any development on this.

I've re-opened the game files, and I've tweaked the build linked in the OP. Re-balanced stuff, made the game significantly easier.

I'll start developing more areas and assets very soon, hopefully. Sorry for the dead air here.
 

RangerX

Member
We still following. Good to see you're alive!
That's the poison of developing a game in our free time. This happened to be me too and I almost didn't touch mine during holiday times.
 
D

davoid

Guest
I also got back into playing some games a bit. Some stuff has given me a broader perspective on things and designs I'd like to incorporate, or be more open to.

Where the original design emphasized brutal combat, I'd like to push for more exploration and puzzles again. Couldn't put down BotW for like, 80 hours, and I realized I just loved exploring it. Was one of the reasons I dialed the difficulty down a lot in the early game in the current build.
 
Top