Untitled action platformer about slicing robots in half with a fire sword

Discussion in 'Work in Progress' started by sitebender, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    ATTENTION GETTING IMAGE

    [​IMG]

    This is an untitled game about slicing robots in half with a fire sword.

    It's been in production 2 months. There's just not much to show as the game is full of placeholder art outside of these screenshots for now, but the little details will get done. Things like conveyor belts, magnets, and a variety of tilesets still need to have art.

    This game is more about the feel. How it feels to run, jump off walls up a chamber and hang off the ledge of a moving platform while a giant robot looks down at you ready to punch you. How it feels to slash that and any robot in half with sparks, pieces and explosions flying.

    Levels will dive you under water, launch you through the air, propel you through tunnels, send you falling down shafts, and let you face off against dangerous robots in a challenging, but fun experience.

    The screenshots should speak for themselves

    SIZZLE REEL


    WHAT THE GAME ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE

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    MORE SCREENSHOTS

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    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  2. Deadly Serious Media

    Deadly Serious Media Member

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    Love it! Looks like it has a good feel to it and I can't wait to see more!
     
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  3. ckelsallpixels

    ckelsallpixels Member

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    I love the attention to detail you've already got at this stage, like what you've got happening with the clouds. All the animations are very smooth and the art style's nice and clean - what to expect as you polish the game is a more varied tileset, much as you've done a good job of breaking its monotony with some foliage. Kudos to your artist, they've done a fantastic job overall, especially the background!

    Looking forward to see more later down the line! :)
     
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  4. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    the game mechanics looks EXCELLENT! You said you're using placeholder graphics so I wont comment on the visuals ....yet!
     
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  5. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Thanks for all the feedback. I'm hoping there will be more tile sets in the next few months to make the stages look different, even if they have a lot of different mechanics like magnets, turbines, water, secrets and other challenges good to go. While there's nothing new to show art wise at this moment, since the artist is working on a pub hub, I figured I'd show off some other stuff that was made a month or so ago.

    Patrollers are a weak enemy, they patrol areas. They're not out to harm you, that's just a coincidence. After all, if you were to get hit by a rolling robot, it would probably hurt. So they're an obstacle, but you can still destroy them as you wish, but these happy helpers react when one of their comrades is slaughtered by some jerk with a fire sword:

    ORIGINAL:

    [​IMG]

    ALMOST 2 MONTHS LATER:

    Something must have changed with the compression quality. Anyway... new HUD, new checkpoints, new transporters, new player animations.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  6. DavideMiccolis

    DavideMiccolis Member

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    wow!
     
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  7. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Nothing fresh to show, other than I spent a few days adding bloom. It's quite a burden on the game as the surface_reset() takes a large majority of the processing power despite a low resolution.

    No new level this week as tweaking level six took a while and there's just not enough new content to make a seventh level, even if there's a huge to do list to make 3 or 4 cool levels from level mechanics that haven't been added yet.

    This image below has a lot of things going in it. Bloom, wall jumps, explosive barrels, ledge clings, slicing boxes.

    Is it too much bloom?

    [​IMG]
     
  8. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    EXPLOSIVE ALLEY

    Finished making a seventh demo level called Explosive Alley and it's full of explosive barrels to destroy blocks, hover mines that explode a second later, and rocket blocks that blast off into the air. Here's the grand crescendo moment of the level, a wall jumping speed segment up a destructible wall full of hover mines. It's probably a bit too brutal for a keyboard to make it into whatever final game we make out of this. Since these are just 4 minute levels to demonstrate mechanics, the other areas are much more easy and safe.

    [​IMG]

    Other than that, our main character has all new animations. She carries the sword higher when she runs and she has a dazzling new yellow belt that I'm certain you noticed despite all the yellow sparks and debris exploding everywhere.

    NEW FOES

    There are thankfully new enemies to keep these demo levels rocking with a variety of danger. After having the same six types of foes, these new foes are a welcome addition. Two of those six enemies were cannons and turrets, which do help the gameplay since the player can deflect their projectiles and these projectiles can damage foes and flip switches Another cool new addition is the electrified enemy setting. In the past there were a few foes that were electrified meaning when you attack them, you get hurt. Now there's a setting to make any enemy electrified or not. It should be very useful.

    DIALOG BOXES... LOTS OF DIALOG BOXES

    Since there's been surprising interest from publishers we've heard of, it's probably time to get the game into an easier to understand state. Having some of my friends go through this game as they've gone through my previous games, they've been confused at certain sections, so I've added letter blocks to help the process, but that's hardly a solution like actual dialog boxes are. There are three types, ones that spring open when you go over or below them, others that open when you touch them, and the final type where you press and hold up to read it. There's no actual graphic beyond a colored box to represent these dialog box triggers.
     
  9. Gravityhamster48

    Gravityhamster48 Member

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    It's... so... pretty!!!!!!!! Everything looks like it has such an impact to it! Did you make all that pixel art yourself? It's simply gorgeous!... and I thought mine was pretty decent. XD
     
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  10. Bentley

    Bentley Member

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    WOW. Amazing job. I just love everything: the art, the gameplay, the effects. Incredible.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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  11. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Thanks. There is a dedicated artist. Your art is dazzling.

    You can view more art here: https://twitter.com/pixelangell

    Or follow the game's progress here: https://twitter.com/DrinkingNails
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
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  12. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    [​IMG]

    More art, retouched art. More enemy sprites so new enemies will be coming. Doors and checkpoints have grander art. Same environment theme.

    I did the weekly inventory of levels, where I force myself to play through all 7 demo levels to see if it still feels good despite getting longer. The entire game still feels good, with the exception of the first two levels which are a bit more basic, vacant (lacking enemies) and let players get a feel for everything. They don't really show off some of the level mechanics or combat that well compared to other levels. I will change them as the demo levels get touched up to add more flash to the early parts of the game.

    Levels constantly get tweaked and now the visuals are getting tweaked, there are more background walls to give areas some texture. Secrets get added here and there.

    KEEP IT A SECRET

    There are now secret levels and secret exits that take the player to those levels. Not that there are secret levels yet. At the moment, all levels are played in succession, but there are now normal exits which will jump the player ahead by 2 levels, thus skipping any secret level between them. Beyond those secrets, I've been adding segments made for Twitter to be secret segments of demo levels. It's a good way to flesh out the levels, even if some of them takes me 4 minutes to speed run and that's already enough time.

    COMBAT SPAWNS

    Combat has been getting tweaked and there's not that much combat in these demo levels. To experiment with breaking up the fact that these levels are like 90% traversal, enemy rooms have been added. These rooms flood with enemies that teleport in. Flood as in a maximum of six foes as I'm not a monster. There's one room in particular that could make its own mini game as giant robots fall from the ceiling faster and faster. The room maxes out at 12 robots, since you're supposed to win and not go infinitely. In the future, I can imagine each of these demo levels getting their own enemy room with different types of foes.

    Flashes of white for damage and low health are getting tweaked to be quicker so the player doesn't literally get lost among all the white flashes. Excessive explosions that cover the player now dim to not obscure the star of the game. This goes back to the old shmup rule of "the player can never be obstructed."
     
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  13. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Most of the week was tweaks and ensuring that things run well enough to get all the way through. Thanks to someone on the forum for helping with the shader. I'd point out your name, but you might get a flood of other requests for aide. The bloom is still a bit much, but it will all get tweaked in time. At least now it runs at 60 fps rather than 30 or 60 depending on how the game feels.

    [​IMG]


    Now that the game has secret courses, I've been dumping some of the Twitter demonstrations into secret levels. I feel like a lot of them are too difficult and elaborate to be in the mainstream trails of the game, but they're perfect to stumble upon.

    HERMITURRETS


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    Well... they shoot and they're metal hermit crabs. Hermiturrets are the most complex foe in the game, which isn't saying much, because several of the enemies are quite basic, but more versatile. While they're still a work in progress, these metal crabs shoot four bullets before walking again. When you approach them from the front, they retreat to their shells where they're invulnerable. If they're ever in the air, which is rare, they will retreat as well until their shell hits the ground. The only way to defeat them is attacking from behind, but when they take damage, they hide in their shell once their stun animation is triggered. So you need to kill them before they retreat, otherwise it consumes more time, because they won't come out of their shell until you're far enough away.

    Since these hermiturrets fire vertical bullets, there's a new way to deflect the bullets, in different directions. Originally, all projectiles could get sword deflected back where they came from, but this doesn't make sense with vertical projectiles as you're facing left or right when you hit them. You can still leap into the air and down slash them to send them back down. Every bullet deflected goes faster and can affect objects like barrels. Foes can shoot through barrels as it's not shooting through, it's shooting by or past. Barrels are more cover objects for foes to give the player a tougher terrain to navigate. With that said, projectiles can still hit switches to make for some interesting game play.
     
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  14. Cpaz

    Cpaz Member

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    Holy crap, I love the sprite work here! It looks smooth to play too. I'll be keeping tabs on this one!
     
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  15. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    excellent work
    Wow...really excellent work!
    You are putting in so much thought into all of this! :O Very inspiring!
     
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  16. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    I am happy to be an inspiration.

    I wanted a mechanical turtle that could launch things at an arc out of its shell and didn't have to move. What I got was a metal hermit crab that can really only launch things upward judging from the chimney cannon. That's another idea... chimney smoke coming out of it. Anyway, even a bit restricted to crawling and shooting, it's still a useful enemy as there was nothing really that shot upward. I'd like to have them hang from the ceiling too, but I spent enough time on it yesterday.

    The crab has a hurt animation, but the big question is how do you hurt something that hides in a shell and why it hides in its shell and so many more things to think about when I hear "here's your crab." So it's the artist going above and beyond. On the plus side, hermit crabs fit in less space than turtles would have.

    Crabs were a 6+ hour process that I mostly programmed to have something fresh to show off for Twitter. That 6+ hours even with a lot of stuff done in the parent object and copy + pasting from the hulker, turrets, and patroller enemies.

    If anyone else needs a closer look at the crabs:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  17. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    Very cool stuff.

    Speaking of crustaceans...did you know there's a species called the "pistol shrimp" that creates a "sonic boom" by using nothing but its claw? It actually uses it to attack prey!

    Maybe this video might inspire you for another crustacean enemy design? :D



    If the robot crab can only launch things upwards, then maybe his friend, the robot shrimp shoots sonic blasts directly towards the player? Just a thought!
     
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  18. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    We will keep the pistol shrimp in mind as an enemy. I have a few ideas for it myself. In the meantime, I'm getting caught up with what the artist has given me.

    TUMBLERS

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    These fun new foes are replacements for an older, more basic, day one sort of enemy. The tumbler picks up speed and chases after the player so in the long run, they will catch up. They cannot be destroyed, instead, they can only be knocked back where they are stunned for half a second. It's tricky to even hit them as they bounce, but jumping and then attacking will work wonders. When you think your safe standing atop a higher ledge, they can climb, even if it takes them half a second to adapt to the new height. When a player leaves the screen after activating them, they stay active, so the player cannot truly outrun them. Nor can the player dodge them and send them out of the room as now enemies will not leave the room.

    Tumblers have already made previous levels more fun and dangerous, just by replacing earlier versions, which was a mini, electrified leaper that would fill enemy pits.

    DOZENS OF TWEAKS

    Beyond that, updates have been sparse and it's been mostly tweaking and enhancing what's already there to experiment.
    - Easy pogo, jump and hold down (can be toggled in the settings and doesn't work for projectiles)
    - Base no wall jump (if you're at the base of a wall, you won't wall jump)
    - Ledge, no grab jump (if you're almost at the top of a ledge, instead of waiting to ledge grab then jump, you can just jump)
    - Slash dash (hold forward and attack, it will drive your forward with your slash)
    - Hulker punch is faster and suddenly they're far more threatening
    - Slower than a pixel (everything still moves in pixels, but now things can move every X frames to give the illusion of slower movement)
    - Enemies cannot leave the room (it was still cool seeing stray foes come with the player)
    - Fun seeking hover mines have a longer range to get set off and a smaller explosion radius. Fixed the look of the damage representation.
    - Patrollers no longer shock when angry as they're just a simple fodder enemy, but thanks to shock squares, any foe can become electrified.
    - Checkpoints take 3 hits to ignite (which is more satisfying, while costing time)
    - Player's speed increase is thankfully back to normal so it doesn't look like running on ice for a split second

    Even these tweaks need tweaking, but this is all I can remember off the top of my head.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  19. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    [​IMG]

    DAZZLE TO DIFFICULTY

    With Twitter, I've tried to dazzle and show off with some challenging mini courses. I assume people react better to seeing lively movement and an overwhelming difficulty overcome. I've been dumping videos of specially made challenges into a secret demonstration level. Since these are more challenging areas finding their way into the game, it's time to add difficulty levels to enemies and collectables. For the time being it's easy and under or hard difficulty and up. This way easy can have more collectables for health and well placed enemies to open secret areas, while hard can have more enemies and it too can have enemies that open secret areas.

    For example, the last .gif of the tumblers and hover mines, the hover mines will only appear on harder difficulties. It's a simple and easy system like the shock squares and power squares that change properties. This should make for a more all inclusive challenge system so everyone can have fun doing the same routes rather than getting forced into easy routes, which sees less of the game.

    To explain difficulties more, the higher the difficulty, the more damage you take when getting hit, like all my previous games. It also determines your lives, but there are currently infinite lives. It's a simple system that gets more complex with the difficulty properties for enemies.

    THERE ARE NO DOORS ONLY TRANSPORTERS

    We got the ball rolling on a grander experience to get from point A to point B. With this being a science fiction game with a lot of open air space, doors are now transporters. Even the previous iteration of doors was more like a futuristic frame of hovering rocks that almost looked like an abstract door. Now when you get near a teleporter, it will rise, almost as if a trap. The rings hover and will shut down when the player leaves the area.

    Also added is a small up arrow emoticon that pops out above the player's head when the player can use the transporter. You have to be standing atop rather than next to it or something. The transporter has a platform, so now the player has the ability to traverse slopes, even if the transporter platform is the only slope. Oh and signs that force the player to hold up to interact with also have the up arrow pop.

    HOVER BALLOON PLATFORMS

    There are plenty of hover platforms throughout the game that do numerous things, but now there's a more narrow hover balloon. Objects like the player and enemies can stand on these balloons and they'll gently float down. Leaving the platform will let them raise again to their starting point.

    VERSIONS OF ENEMIES

    For the sake of diversity, there are more versions of enemies with different looks to them that behave differently. There are two tumblers, one tumbles everywhere. The other has weight so it travels along the ground before tumbling. Hermiturrets also have sprinkler versions that shower projectiles that have a weight to them so they come down. Beyond that, any foe can be electrified, giving it a defense to shock the player and now there is an explosion on death property. Enemies can have one or the other if they have one. These new dangers are marked by outlines around them at least for now. Electrified enemies have electricity around them, but that's more difficult to see than outlines.

    ENOUGH CONTENT FOR A NEW DEMO LEVEL

    For all the new enemies and new level mechanics added to the game, a new level has been churned out. I think we're up to 8 demo levels and 2 extra test levels for testing. This new level features tumblers, hermiturrets (sprinkler and standard), and balloon platforms. You'd be amazed what a 4+ minute level you can get out of those three elements with others. It is the biggest level and you get a choice of 3 sections to tackle. If you die in any of these segments, you respawn at the choice of three.

    These three sections were from Twitter that are more challenging, so you pick your poison. The routes cover speed, endurance, and agility. Speed is outrunning tumblers. Agility is facing a gauntlet of jumps both to attack and dodge foes. Endurance is destroying a landscape full of hermiturrets.

    With eight demo levels this brings the game to 25 - 30 minutes to speed run through it. Seems like the weekly level has now turned into every 2 weeks as this project enters its third month.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  20. JackTurbo

    JackTurbo Member

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    Killing it!

    Everytime I look at this project theres more to be impressed by.
     
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  21. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    TWITTER

    Once upon a time, years ago, a grander game developer once told me "your game will fail, you can't even get 1,000 followers on Twitter."

    Rather than discuss what was done with the game the past few days, I'd like to discuss promotion via Twitter. It's been an interesting month, because I gained 300 Twitter followers, 200 in the past 2 weeks, 20 in the past 24 hours. The ball is rolling. After trying out so many projects between shmups and platformers, nothing ever gained followers and comments like this. I went 2 years since my most liked tweet of 200 likes and now I had a tweet hit 500 likes, which is saying something for an account that was at 400 followers before it. While Twitter isn't the end all be all and it seems to be only developers rather than players, it's a good place to get feedback and learn what to keep and what to cut.

    Over the years, I've only used .gifs as I thought that was all Twitter took, but no they take .mp4s so you can dump in 30 second videos. Just keep in mind that you need to captivate people in like two seconds or less, unless people know you and you have credibility.

    WHAT WORKS BEST (FOR US)

    I discovered that for us, it works best to tweet out Saturday for #screenshotsaturday and Wednesday as those two days a week seem far enough away that one tweet won't cannibalize the other tweet as they compete for placement. At some point throughout the years, I'd tweet daily and I've tried daily tweets with this game, but when one tweet strikes it big, the next one will utterly fail unless it has that 2+ day gap between them.

    Beyond that, it's best to ask a question and heap on the craziness. At least for us. It feels like the more things we pack in, the further the tweet goes. Chances are, this is the first time someone will see your game, even if it's your thousandth tweet about the game. Tweets with single enemies and gambits of the single enemy don't feel like they go as far as a post full of a variety of enemies and mechanics. Having a lot of action helps. Explosions or dazzlement in the first two seconds probably help people stop and look at your video.

    At the other end of the spectrum, other game developers have done interviews and speeches saying Twitter is useless noise and not actual promotion. It's a good place to make connections as that's were this game received interest from bigger publishers. One wants to fund us for art and music to expedite the process rather than just publish the game.

    A SYMPHONY OF COMPOSERS

    Throughout the years, every time a tweet goes to 100 likes, it seems like a composer would offer their services. Some of these composers felt legitimately interested in the games, but since this game tends to get 100+ likes there have been a lot of composers that feel like sheer spam. Just sending me a link to their work with no statement on what they can do for the project. Amazingly this project has been offered a free song from several composers and some compose great video game music, while others might be great musicians and compose songs that fit into the background and fit the style, they just don't stand out as good music for video games. With so many offers for a free song, it makes me wonder if a lot of smaller game soundtracks just consist of donated songs. The logistics of copyrights and contracts to use music must be staggering for games that have music from 10 - 30 artists.

    Music and sound have always been last for me. It makes sense to have a game, before you go paying for music and dealing with if you can use a song or if the composer actually made the song. In the meantime, there are always royalty free music packs in a variety of shapes, sizes, and genres.

    ADVICE FOR COMPOSERS TRYING TO FIND A GAME TO COMPOSE FOR

    With this game, it seems like some composers will dump their demo reel into the tweet itself, and I assure you a week later, I'll never be able to find that demo reel again. It's just buried. It's best to message the Twitter. It's far easier to dig through messages than it is to dig through each and every tweet.

    Make a playlist of all your hottest songs rather than throwing entire album soundtracks at the game. Oh but wait, go one step further! Make a five minute track filled with 20 second snippets of your greatest work. I think this is perhaps the greatest ease of use for anyone that comes into your portfolio and wants to listen. Like a highlight reel. It's efficient and these composers are just piling up as I'm sure they pile up for any game that's going places. Full songs are for your fans, and if someone likes your sizzle reel, they'll listen to your other songs to soak in more of your work.

    Thanks! Not just killing it, but killing it in half.
     
  22. debleb

    debleb Member

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    I really like how this game is looking! What platforms will it be releasing on? I might give it a shot.
     
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  23. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    We haven't given it much thought. We're just flattered anyone would ask us if it's being released on platforms and consoles (in other posts).
     
  24. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    THE ROBORONIN AKA THE SLASHER

    [​IMG]

    Most of last week was spent on promoting the game and the long climb to get the untitled game noticed. There was still enough time to fit in a new foe. The slasher is something different to diversify the foes. Attack it from the front, and you will get hit. Attack it from above and you will get hit. Instead, the tactic is to leap over and either keep running or slash it's spine if you want them dead. There are situations in the game where you'll have to kill all the enemies to open a gate. Since jumping over them and running away seems too easy, they will jump every 2 seconds and they will attack in the air to swat you back down.

    The animation with these roboronins is too subtle to truly be noticed among the chaos of all that happens on screen. They squat down, wiggle their fingers and their tunics sway. They will even stand up if you move away from them as they ease up their guard.

    With that said, they do stand and wait for bullets like idiots when these are the only foes that should be deflecting bullets to the player. That's a tweak for the future. Adding these and other enemies to the past 8+ demo levels should increase the combat even if the focus of the demo levels was to demonstrate level mechanics.

    The real downfall of this one minute area is the fact that I never slash killed any of these roboronins for their death animations. That and the fact these specific sections to demonstrate the new foe takes a few hours, but as long as we're climbing the ladder of promotion it's all worth it. These small sections of level are also good for programming, as I discover all sorts of little issues I would have never thought of.

    You get to see several ways to motivate the player in this section. Being chased by a tumbler, since they are undefeatable and can even survive explosions. Having the player forced to leap over the slashers only to land where hover mines will detonate keeps the player moving.

    CORPSE FOUNTAIN

    We all love seeing glitches and problems. Here you go, a corpse fountain:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  25. mikix

    mikix Member

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    Hey @sitebender. Really interesting post. I joined twitter at the end of May but starting tweeting one week ago. I got 4 followers, but lost 2 of which I have never written to or know at all.

    So, how does this funding work from a publisher? Does he get a percentage of the revenue? I got an e-mail but it appeared in my spam folder, of someone who was interested in funding Warhead, my first game. But since it appeared in the spam folder I ignored it. I thought that this was just someone who wants to hack me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  26. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    With Twitter, it seems like there are plenty of third party systems that follow most everyone hoping to a get a follow back and if you don't follow within 3 days they unfollow. Someone's Twitter profile bluntly warns people "follow for follow." Some even have systems that when you do follow, they spam you an automated letter sending you to whatever it is they have to shill whether its a Youtube channel or a way to give them money or buy them coffee.

    As for funding from a publisher, any publisher gets a percentage of the revenue, but it all depends on what the contact says. I've heard of situations where publishers wanted you to pay them a flat fee to get published, which seems odd. In my recent case, I've talked back and forth with their representative, but wanting funding for a project this early seems like asking for trouble. Same with paying a composer. On the plus side, it's a publisher we've all probably heard of before, so that felt good, but it's something that I should double check to verify they are who they say they are by emailing the actual company to see if the same person I'm talking with on Twitter is the one who will answer the emails. There are so many similar games out there from grander publishers that we seem late to the party, so maybe these publishers want to jump on the trend.

    More publishers in the modern era want a finished product rather than to fund games. In your case, if the company has a website or a presence, you can visit that website and ask them if they truly sent an email or if it's a spoof. There are a lot of shady people out there. Plus, you'll probably want a lawyer to look over any contracts before you sign them and amend the contracts in your favor.

    In the past, I had a publisher that paid me an advance when the game was done. So they didn't fund it, I just got cash when I gave them the finished or nearly finished product. Since that was an advance, they withheld my cut, until I met that threshold of the advance. It was a $1,000 advance and my cut of the game was $4,000 in the long run over 3 - 6 months. There are some stories out there of publishers that gave an advance to fund the game and the game just never made enough money beyond the advance, but at least the game was funded through advances.

    I've had one lesser publisher flat out disappear as a company. Their website is gone, their email is gone, their Twitter is gone and they haven't logged onto Steam since these things disappeared. While that publisher had a ton of shovelware and lesser games published for them, they didn't seem like they'd disappear.

    If you or anyone else out there wants a publisher, go with the one that can help you with their reach and promotion. If you're small and at the same level of fame... don't go with them. A lot of horror stories I read specify there are publishers that just take a cut without actually doing anything to promote the game. Then there are other horror stories about how the publisher funding the game owns the game, the IP, and forces the developer to do things that may impact things. Like microtransactions, changing the look of the protagonist. While this can be seen as an awful corruption, some publishers are big enough to have market research on the genre to know exactly what people want, while others just want money whether they're big or small.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
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  27. Geoff Jones

    Geoff Jones Member

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    Looks awesome! I have a title idea in mind "Slicing robots in half with a fire sword"
     
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  28. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    BULLET TENNIS WITH ROBORONINS

    I also paid the Roboronin slasher a visit. As mentioned in the edited last update, they can now deflect projectiles just as the player can. When they deflect, they move forward for better or worse. Pit in front of them? Jump in! It's part of a different thinking sort of element to out think enemies rather than engage them. It's either you falling in the pit from taking damage or them falling in a pit.

    [​IMG]

    ANOTHER NEW LEVEL


    With another four segments for Twitter done, it's been 2 weeks, so a new level was stitched together and finalized. These levels designed from what I post on Twitter are devoid of new level mechanics, but the levels stand out because of the new foes. Instead of giving the player a choice of which section to go through to cut down on difficulty and level time, I was fine with forcing players to go through the entire thing as an obviously tough and action packed level. It makes this level six minutes long for me, but it's a lot of fun, since I had to dazzle Twitter, there's a lot of different things, ideas and mechanics going on.

    Running through the weekly play through, it was around 45 minutes to get through everything. According to the best times, the ball park is around 35 minutes.

    FOCUS ON THE PROTAGONIST

    A lot of the initial art focus was on the protagonist as there are dozens of little animations that get little tweaks like adding a yellow belt and what not. This week had a focus on grander art for the protagonist while I chipped away at adding more enemies. The game finally has a spawn animation and in a way I can argue it's a bit much, but in another way it gets noticed:

    [​IMG]

    The artist can do so much more than pixel art, and here's a quick sketch of the protagonist.

    [​IMG]

    SRiHWaFS is a catchy name. Even abbreviated, it rolls off the tongue. Actually, the artist and I pitch names back and forth. Mine are comically terrible, his are probably taken.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
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  29. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    [​IMG]

    THE TWITTER


    This past weekend on Twitter was good and surprisingly keeps getting better for a small time project. With Cherry's new spawn animation we were able to both garner 100 new followers in 24 hours including some bigger Twitter accounts. It's all very encouraging after so many years of having under the radar games to getting noticed. Some were not keen on the new spawn animation as it's an explosion followed by Cherry landing, raising, and snapping her figures to reignite her flame blade. One can argue that played in reverse it makes for an incredible death animation.

    As much as you'd think incredible pixel art would be enough dazzle, other effects were added into the game to give just that animation more impact. She sparks when her fingers snap, the sprite flashes white when you're finally given control, the animation itself destroys any projectile or enemy that touches it, the screen shakes, the controller rumbles both from the initial explosion and her finger snaps. Oh and the camera starts zoomed in on her, before quickly zooming out.

    DYNAMIC ZOOM

    I opened with Twitter to talk about the zoom that's added. It's something that the artist wanted maybe a month ago. A tighter zoom on the screen so you feel the combat more. The one thing that would better show off a 3 second animation would be having the camera zoomed in on it since you can't move anyway.

    My initial game engine everything is just on a single surface as is. That was just more efficient to program in. It would be a giant undertaking at this point to make a system to zoom in and out, even if my previous games had that function to end levels. With that said, how giant of an undertaking is programming for this game? Seems easier than raising a barn. It took about eight hours and still needs work to smooth out issues.

    Since so many people on Twitter want this game to happen, I made the zoom function happen to enhance the presentation.

    Zooming in was a logistical issue as the game has to zoom in on the player, rather than zoom in on the center of the screen. This prevents hidden edges of a screen.

    The zoom system utterly destroyed a lot of other things. It destroyed the two menu systems since they drew to the application_surface rather than their own surface. It destroyed the HUD as that too would zoom in, but now it has its own surface. It destroyed smooth panning from room to room. It destroyed the view scale and placement of a lot of things. Most of these issues have been quelled for the most part. There are still some glaring issues, such as a jerky animation going from room to room and the game isn't drawn to the entire full screen.

    With the zoom functioning, different sections of level can feel different just by zooming in and out. A simple hallway can have a tight zoom to make it feel bigger. The death animation zooms in, the course clear zooms in for a brief moment. It adds a bit more emphasis on things. A new object for zoom control was added so when you touch them, the camera will zoom to where it should be.

    A lot of other effects were put into the game such as Gaussian blur in the background beneath the menus when the game is paused. The bloom now only affects the game screen rather than the HUD and menus. Those menus were awful to read with bloom. Perhaps less bloom for the menu would still give it bloom while making it legible.

    We're still discussing making the game zoom in on enemy kills.
     
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  30. CreativeJon90

    CreativeJon90 Member

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    Amazing update.
    Yeah I feel a lot of indie devs suffer from the whole not enough support on twitter stuff, but its great seeing that despite that we still keep perusing our goals and try our hardest to make the games we make happen. I love reading about updates like this, it gives us a look at the thought process of adding new features.

    Again amazing job on the new update post! Look forward to seeing and reading more!
     
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  31. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    It has been a dull week in terms of having flashy new things to show. The artist has worked out a mock up of a more finalized look for the menu:

    [​IMG]

    KEY REBINDS

    So before replacing the original menu, I may as well show it off with key rebinds!

    [​IMG]

    I have made quite a few games now with key rebinds and it's always a few hour process. In this case, four hours. There's all sorts of logistics that go into it, such as preventing the player from key doubling (Q cannot be both attack and jump!) along with the annoyance of key codes vs text. Luckily with this project and previous projects, I allowed for variables that hold keys, this saves a lot of time when setting up key rebinding to a 3 month old project. To prevent accidental key rebinds, I force the player to hold a key for half a second. There is also no way to back out of setting a key. That's a whole new bag of worms if you let a player out of a change key via back button or push escape. What if someone wants escape to be the key? What if there's a menu item? So at least for the moment there is no way to go back. You can always set the key to the same key.

    In previous games, I allowed the player to double bind keys, but the player was forced to stay in the menu until that was fixed. The problem with that is what happens if a player binds Q to the up key and the down key? There are all sorts of ways to soft lock the player into being unable to proceed, so it's best to refuse a double key. I personally find it a bit annoying to be refused a key.

    DUAL KEYS TWO KEYS FOR EVERYTHING

    While I'm here, I should add that it's good to have dual keys for one thing. Such as to move left, have A or the left arrow key. Not everyone wants the same configurations and it's nice to have variety. If a person feels more at home with their right hand controlling the movement or their left hand controlling the movement. It should be mentioned that German keyboards tend to have Y and Z transposed, so it could be best to avoid Z X and keep it X C for the default if not Z and Y X. Some people argue P is the best pause, while others say it's escape. This is of course if you don't have key binds or a game that requires an entire keyboard of hot keys. I still recommend a controller for most action games or platformers, but not everyone has a controller.

    ALWAYS HAVE MOVING MENUS

    Since this is a title screen menu without an actual title screen, a few weeks ago, I added the background silhouettes to add something special. Other than that, the pause menu adds a Gaussian blur to the game. You can see a lot of color and movement in this generic menu. It's a video game, people should see movement. Hence the video. Screenshots will always look subtly different. Players can tell there's something going on and the game isn't frozen.

    WARN THE PLAYER

    In the photo above, you can also see that there is a default controls option if anyone needs it, and it's always best to warn a player they're about to do anything drastic such as deleting a file, exiting a level, or reset things. You can also see the little warning make an appearance at the bottom. Not so much a warning as a notification. It's very subtle as it fits in with the notification system such as you've taken a screenshot. Since there is white text already at the base of the existing menu, a semitransparent background was added, but it probably needs to be less transparent to truly hide the white beneath. Perhaps a true warning would be front and center and in this case it should be more prominent, so that's a detail to be added at a later time. Warnings and notifications can be two different things.

    WHAT I CAN LEARN FROM MY OWN MENU GIF

    Watching your own material is good for noticing what it's missing. In this instance, I can see there's a need for visual feedback that the player is pushing a key and how long the player needs to hold that key before it's locked in. the warning should be brought front and center. There needs to be key indications for the bottom of the menu rather than empty boxes. Oh and the .gif compression seems to drop a few frames as it's not as lively outside of .mp4 or playing the game, but I can't post the .mp4s here.

    I like this default menu too much to let it go, so I'm sealing it off to keep the code and in the future, once something better is added, it will be replaced.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  32. IndianaBones

    IndianaBones Member

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    Great point and one I hadn't considered before, it really makes your menu look polished and fun to use, and as you mentioned, let's the player know the game is still responding.
     
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  33. Apapappa

    Apapappa Member

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    Gonna have to chime in and say that I definitely agree with this.
    I actually just added some extra movement for certain menu parts in my game thanks to this, so thanks for the reminder. ;)
     
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  34. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    MORE HUD OPTIONS

    [​IMG]

    Without a lot of time this past week or in general, I wedged in some quicker things like HUD options. The player can now select the HUD to be normal, compact, or off. There is also an option for HUD transparency and the HUD will now fade out and in if the player is ever behind it. I can understand why similar games take a vertical approach to their HUDs as it's a lot less likely something will be coming from vertically rather than horizontally.

    Beyond that, the notifications now have more flair and will jump into existence. They transition between white to aqua color and back to grab the player's attention rather than being subtle and going unnoticed.

    TALKING ABOUT TWITTER

    Since there's nothing else going on, I may as well talk about what's going on with Twitter. I still manage to get around 100 followers per week. The posts seem to average 250 likes while the worst do a mere 140 likes, which is still far better than my other posts that were lucky to get 25 likes. That could be from almost 900 followers, but it's like the more followers I get, those likes still stay the average. I was able to score 500 likes on a post before I had 500 followers.

    I bring up Twitter, because it was a slow week, with nothing dazzling to show off, so I showed off the dazzling stuff in game... again. I am keeping to my "post every Wednesday and Saturday" mentality. I quickly discovered it's not about having fresh things to show to keep people occupied when I'm at this small of a level, it's about gaining new followers. As always, I made a fresh level segment and showed it off via Twitter to net 40 more followers for Wednesday and then 40 more for yesterday's post. I'd consider that a success as the followers are growing, even if there wasn't anything new to show off. It's about getting found. I felt like there would be diminishing returns since this is all the same environment, even if the segments of level are different, but no. Wednesday managed to get 300+ likes, which is still average, but on the good spectrum.

    KEYWORDS AND HASHTAGS

    People find us via the magic keywords I assume. We go for #pixelart #indiedev #gamedev, which in a way means that we're only showing off this stuff to other people making video games. So I started including #indiegame which seems to net a lot more non game devs, non artists, non composers. Just normal players and streamers. According to a few Twitter stats lately it seems like #indiegame gets used more than #indiedev.

    We discussed having our own hashtag and giving our nameless game a temporary name for the hashtag so people can better find everything about the game, but chances are with us being so small, our own hashtag doesn't matter at this point and we need to keep harvesting the more common tags. Plus, I'm sure most of the traffic comes from being retweeted by larger Twitter accounts that found us via the typical keywords and hashtags. Also remember, when you get popular (anywhere) pay it forward to the next little project you believe in.

    WHAT WORKS FOR THEM VS WHAT WORKS FOR US

    I stick with the Wednesday and Saturday posting mentality even after discussing with some friends who work for companies with their own social media divisions, they tell me to tweet 1 - 5x a day. There are articles that say to post 5 - 20x times a day, which to me sounds like spam or excessive tweeting. I assume with excessive tweeting, it will all blur and blend together to the point where nothing has an impact.

    I see bigger publishers publishers and gaming news sites getting 10 - 100 likes per post for 10k - 100k followers. You would think with that many followers they'd get 1k likes for everything, but many just post so much since they have so much to talk about. Then again bigger names are doing a lot of things so maybe fans only care about one thing they do and not the other 20 things they juggle. Perhaps people followed these companies and personalities years ago and no longer visit Twitter. Oh and not everyone has to click like; view and go. There are still major tweets that get 1k - 10k likes, but those are months in between.

    Then again, with this logic, posting once a week may have a bigger impact. Twitter might want people coming back several times a day to read tweets from your favorite things and people. I tried the once a day method and it didn't garner me as much as twice a week.

    Also, to break down some numbers, it seems like for every 10 views of a .mp4 I get a like and I get 1 retweet for every 4 likes. The first hour always seems to be the most profitable in terms of likes and retweets. Oh and after 24 hours tweets die with the exception of a few. Sure there are a few stragglers that will like things during the week, like 5 likes for the next 7 days, but that's it. Comments are utterly random and it helps to ask a question or at the very least say something funny.

    THANK YOU AND NO THANKS ( THE TWITTER LEGEND )

    We are both happy to get every sort of feedback we receive and we're both thankful that people care. So between the artist and I on our Twitter accounts, we have both thanked many people... but last year there was some Twitter scare about people getting banned or shadow banned for saying Thank You. We have yet to be banned for saying it or shadow banned (where you're never told you're banned), but perhaps that has been corrected or it never was a problem in the first place like a chain letter.

    LEVELS FROM TWITTER

    As always, Twitter likes are not the end all be all, but it's good to gauge interest and get quick feedback. Chances are with the Twitter posts of tough segments, I'm making people feel the game is more challenging and spectacular than it really is and that will hurt in the long run.

    Running so low on time this week, I was unable to stitch a level from the last 4 segments, so now this next level will have 5 or more segments from Twitter. It's just getting monotonous, because there's a similar structure to most Twitter segments and so having so many levels with these same structures probably isn't good to play through, even if these are just demo levels to show off mechanics, there's just no new mechanics for these levels, so why bother turning these segments into a level? They will still be tweaked and added somewhere into the game. I just don't look forward to having another challenging 5 segments into a game that already has 10+ challenging segments.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
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  35. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    you have an excellent project in the works. IMHO, the twirly ornamental design of the new HUD is taking up too much space to the point that its cluttering up the screen a bit.

    I liked the earlier version of the HUD. It's decorative while being subtle. And it still looks cool without feeling overdone.

    hujdss.jpg
     
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  36. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    I have to agree with you there. Less is more when there's so much possible action on screen. Even turning it off seems fair as the player will blink and have other warning signs when low on health. I can probably add the previous HUD back into the game as a setting.
     
  37. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

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    You could always have the HUD fade in if the player is idle for any amount of time and fade back out once the action starts back up. That way its out of the way but still there if the player needs it.
     
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  38. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    THE START OF THE PAUSE MENU

    [​IMG]

    There's still a lot of work to go, but this is a good benchmark. When the menu is called, the white outline bites in like teeth and the background fades black to a certain degree. The arrow jumps right, the text changes color and the tattoos on the buttons move when the button is highlighted. Even the background bar has a shine that scrolls up.

    One of the greatest hurdles was finding a way around the surface transparency issue where any alpha between 100% and 0% would destroy anything previously drawn beneath it such as the blue bars in this case. Instead of a traditional fade from white to invisible, I went for a 90s style dithering where it's either 100% opaque or 100% transparent. This solved a lot of headaches with the limitations for surface transparency. The other tricky part was getting the tattoos to scroll within the confines of the buttons. So a mask was used in a surface for the buttons.

    As mentioned before it's still a work in progress since it needs the buttons on the right side. The small font needs its own font to look less garbled. Even the big font looks a bit garbled as it has different sizes for whatever reason. It would probably look better if the pointer jumped from item to item rather than just disappearing and reappearing on the new item.

    The sad part is that this is just the pause menu. The positive is that the typical menu still looks good even if it's less colorful. All other menus of the game use the original menu system.

    Hopefully someone out there likes the new blue menu.



    I pondered the logistics of that and maybe for the hidden / off version of the HUD it would be better. It might get distracting depending on how long standing still takes to make it visible again.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  39. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    PAUSE MENU PART 2

    [​IMG]

    I am back to cover the pause menu again, in this version, the pointing cursor bobs up and down rather than moving left and right. The cursor is also animated and has a hand gun for lack of a better term when confirmed. From there the menu items slide in, but the chosen item sticks around and flashes red. It looks far better outside of this .gif as there look to be many frames missing from the animation.

    Menu items grow as their selected, the fonts are spaced closer. The button itself and the yellow are shifting color tones from yellow to off yellow and navy to not navy. You'll also see a right side button with room for more. Those right buttons work, but they need more dazzle that the left menu has. The left and right direction works to highlight that nearly forgotten item on the right.

    When the game comes into the pause, the teeth clamp in faster and the screen fades to black quicker. There's now movement among the blue bars. The teeth grind slowly to one direction while they cause snow flurries and sparkles.

    I should mention that all these menus are still the same instance, but the menu items and their placement change when it looks like you're going from one menu to the next. In fact, with this menu and the majority of my games, the title screen is part of this menu, but in a different section. When you pause it goes to the pause section. When you start the game, it goes to the default section which happens to be the title screen. This is to prevent redundancies of having what is currently 2 dozen menus and sub menus.

    Since it is all the same instance, it was quite a process to make the menu have a confirmation butter before the next menu loaded, just because I've always been a fan of quick menus that go A to B rather than A to B to C. The menu locks your ability to do anything when it loads and then when it transitions to the next menu. This has been a step in the correct direction, even if it might be on the border of too much. Work still needs to be done, but this is where it's at. I am also left wondering how it would look if the teeth were black.
     
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  40. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    @sitebender Nice stuff as usual. Your menu design reminds of me the visuals from the Street Fighter Alpha games.

    I dont know if you've finalized the menu, but I'd like to point out a thing: there are way too many moving elements in your pause screen -- the scrolling "Pause" ribbon, the snowflake, the white dither bands on the top & bottom and the twirly design on the buttons.

    Also, if you're highlighting the selected option with a color, then maybe enlarging them may be unnecessary.

    Right now, it feels like your screen is shouting..."HEY CHECK THIS OUT...."...."FALLING SNOWFLAKES"..."PAAAAUSE!!! PAAAAUSE"...."SETTINGS!"!!!

    Your previous design, where only "Resume" is in a larger button is easier on the eyes. It also represents a hierarchy of information, in the sense, resuming the game is visually depicted as a higher priority than going to "settings" and "how to play".
     
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  41. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Like all your feedback, it's noted. I made some of the effects more subtle and turned off others to get closer to a feel without giving it all up, which is perhaps best anyway. The big menu items are too big and most people can agree with that. It throws things off. Instead the drop shadows have been made smaller and instead of pulsing yellow to off yellow it's now off yellow to orange. Each menu item launches itself into view independently so there's a bit of variety to their speed whether they come in perfectly placed or have to back pedal into place. The player HUD is now in the background of the menu even if I can understand the need to have it front and center, it's just one more thing to distract the player.

    In the past 4 hours, I came up with more menu transition effects that should enhance the product:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  42. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    PAUSE PART 3

    [​IMG]

    The new pause menu has a few expanded features and visual enhancements. The menu items aren't as tall, but they are wider to fit all the text. Without the excessive height of the selected menu, I feel it keeps everything in tact better without having to look too far for the next item like the previous versions. The non highlighted menu item text is slightly to the left to better fit the longer words. The cursor pushes forward into the menu item before it hand guns itself back out.

    Perhaps the grandest feature of them all that will seem like a glitch is the fact that when you return from the pause menu, you start in slow motion and quickly work back up to full speed. Having the game come back into slow motion forced a lot of variables to get changed to remain consistent with the frames rather than how many frames in a second.

    FOR THOSE KEEPING SCORE

    This means the pause menu starts by sliding in the left buttons independently at a random increase of speed. Any that go beyond what they should will slowly pull back into place. The blue ribbons fall and slide in while the paused indication slowly scrolls. Meanwhile, the white teeth bite down on the screen and show a snow flurry with occasional sparkles while the screen has a Gaussian blur that fades to black. Menu items change when selected to a larger version, the font changes color and alignment while a tattoo pattern scrolls across the back and the button itself pulsates between different colors. Once something is clicked on, the pointer goes in, turns into a hand gun, and shoots the menu item forward while the pointer recoils backward. The selected menu item will blink between a standard and a red highlight to indicate that yes you've clicked it. This is done while the other menu items are sliding away at independent speeds and the teeth open as the screen fades in from black to reveal the old style menu which needs its own paragraph on the minute things that it's doing. After the game resumes there is a few seconds of slow motion that gets faster before the game returns to 60 frames per second.

    Well that paragraph is certainly a mouthful for a simple menu that's full of details.

    On an earlier post, I showed off a mock-up, but here is the final mock-up headed into the menu:

    [​IMG]
     
  43. JackTurbo

    JackTurbo Member

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    The rate and the quality that you guys are applying polish is really impressive. That menu looks great!

    I've been playing with time dilation for better game feel recently and it's a real pain to implement retrospectively.
     
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  44. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Thanks for the compliment.

    I had everything bound to room_speed. Enemies shoot? room_speed. Physics? room_speed. It has always been a crutch. So my version of time manipulation involves room_speed, but if I thought about it more I can probably find something better that would let each object have its own time and speed.

    Hindsight is... all I needed was rs = 60 as that's the amount of frames per second. So every place I had room_speed needed to be changed with rs. Easy, just tedious. Then change the room_speed with a hidden timer that comes out of the pause menu. At some point there was a big unpause countdown. It's still there, but now it's hidden and only for a second as the game brings itself up to speed.

    There's also hit pause that can be toggled. The hit pause is its own state to freeze everything for X seconds. Now that I can do time manipulation, it opens up all sorts of possibilities.
     
  45. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    THE LITTLE THINGS

    [​IMG]

    More sprites have been added to the game so it's time to show them off. A lot of little details have been added to the game, things like conveyor belts, dancing spikes, the one way platforms and drop through one way platforms all have sprites, so they were given more attention over the past week. Even after posting the original one minute video on Twitter, people still found other issues that I have enhanced for the video above. Watching this video, I can still spot tweaks that need to be made, such as when breakable objects land, they too should create the puffs of dust.

    Conveyor belts have worked since the second week, but as of yesterday they now push down in a basic way. Over time other issues accumulated such as the player's landing animation and run stop animation would get stuck on conveyor belts causing the player to stand still. Someone suggested the top of the conveyor belts dip and it was easy enough to make a prototype of that look, even if it will take a while to make them truly dip beyond having a modified sprite.

    When enemies fall into spikes, they die and would constantly bounce as they explode. Now they hit the spikes and stick without any death bounces. The sprite for the spikes changed and they have more of a crawling effect to draw your attention to the danger. Originally the spike animations were far slower, but thanks to feedback from Twitter, they move faster and they're far more dangerous looking. Barrels now explode on impact of spikes, just as enemies do. You can see that barrels still have the default breakable object splits.

    The big boxes always had sprites that were smaller, but stapled onto big white objects. When a box would land on the player or an enemy, the boxes would never burst into pieces as they should, but now they do and the big boxes in general burst into a lot more pieces.

    While I'm talking about little tweaks, the bloom has been toned down a lot and what you see above is the new, subtle bloom. I'd rather have it overblown to make it look different and dreamy, but this is a good compromise for a feature that doesn't always blend well with bright pixel art.

    Walking on top of barrels or breakable objects in general has been fixed. The player could always walk on them, albeit a bit glitchy looking. Enemies could only walk left, but never right on them. That's been fixed and the cause was the fact every object is falling, even when it's not. That's gravity for you.

    CHEAT CODES

    To keep the little tweak train rolling, the cheat codes tweak the game in little ways. I've thrown in my cheat code console to make the game easier to test. It's a basic console that lets you type in cheats. By you I mean me. A lot of my games have the same console. The console is nice to instantly have full health, wipe the enemies, toggle between having enemies and not having enemies. Anything is possible, as long as its programmed in.

    Beyond those standard cheats, there are other quirky codes for testing, because someone on Twitter commented that they lose sight of the player amidst all the explosions. So now there are codes to give the player an outline, change the explosions to be less of a spectacle, and even a method to change the color of the sky. It is easier to put in these cheat toggles than make it happen through the settings. If the more players need these things, they'll be added into the ever growing list of settings. It might get to the point where there needs to be categories in the settings menu.

    SPAWNERS

    I don't think that I've ever shown off spawners specifically. Spawners have existed since the second or third week. They will infinitely spawn any object such as enemies, collectables, and platforms. It is as simple as putting an enemy or platform onto a spawner, which will then put the enemy into holding where it goes unseen. Then the spawner uses that object as a template to spawn a clone every X seconds. Spawners can be tied to what I call strength squares that have strengths 1 - 10. In this case, the 1 - 10 are the amount of seconds between spawns. In the video above, the majority of enemies drop from the sky every 3 seconds, while the last enemy that drops into the vertical shaft is spawned every 4 seconds. The barrels get dropped in every second.

    There are various spawner types, some allow for an enemy to be spawned after its killed. Spawners also trigger a repeat sequence of ten or so seconds when you first enter a room. That way a room with platform spawners already has the platforms active and ready for the player rather than having to wait.

    For sanity reasons the enemy spawners are a bit subdued. They can still infinitely spawn, but they only allow X enemies in the room or screen. This prevents dozens of enemies from clumping together into an unstopable force. Having conveyor belts and enemy spawners has always been an interesting combination and in the game there are a variety of large scale rooms that turn into mazes of moving foes and moving platforms.

    For those wondering about platforms, spawners will send a platform going in its projected direction. When a platform goes too far out of the room it disappears. So anything too far above and poof it's gone. The player or anything on it drops.

    1K TWITTER FOLLOWERS

    You set your goals, you meet your goals. I am happy to report that I hit 1K followers over the weekend. It's an even bigger deal when I was stuck at around 200 followers for a full year. Apparently this genre and style blend well together to get attention and followers. I appreciate every follow that I get, and I'm always aware that Twitter followers are not the end all, be all, but it's a perfect place to start for quick feedback when you ask questions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
    pixeltroid and IndianaBones like this.
  46. sitebender

    sitebender Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Posts:
    813
    SIZZLE REEL



    UP TO 11 DEMO LEVELS


    With all the level scraps from showing off on Twitter, I took the 10 segments and divided them into two levels. The first felt scrap level felt obvious with a vertical theme called "Everclimb" and the second"Conveyor Central" poured the new conveyor belt segments into it. I worked on Conveyor Central's 5 segments first and let me point out that to test these level segments, I make a hub of five transporters to quickly take me to each segment. Then the smoothing process happens. Constantly playing each segment and smoothing out the issues.

    CONVEYOR CENTRAL

    [​IMG]

    Once I have something that's enjoyable in one form or another, I speed run each and establish how long it takes me to quickly get through each segment. In the case of Conveyor Central it was 7 minutes, which is long for any level to be a speed run. If it takes me 7 minutes, it can take a first time player 21. I cut it down to four segments and then dumped that fifth segment into a third scrap level to be dealt with later. This reduced the time to 5 minutes and I added conveyor belts to segments that didn't have any. This gives the level more cohesion to the theme that this is testing out the conveyor belts.

    Other demo levels in the game also have conveyor belts and they're some of the grandest segments with wide open spaces, enemies falling from the sky, and switches that control the flow of the conveyor belts. They are actually more fun and less of a challenge than these segments made for Twitter. That's why at the end of forging these four segments into a level, I made this a secret level. It's more challenging and less fun, even if it's far less of a pain than it originally was. Its hardly a success story and needs improvement. After the segments were done, I added some rest zones where the player can stop, rest, and hit a checkpoint if they want. Checkpoints are optional and I try to put them slightly out of the way where you'll spend at least a few seconds extra to hit them. The earlier demo levels have abundant checkpoints front and center that can easily be hit.

    EVERCLIMB

    [​IMG]

    Everclimb was the next level to get focus. It already felt good, but climbing vertical levels is always a greater task for the player. A lot of the Twitter dazzle came from a lot of enemies, so I removed a lot of enemies for the easy mode. Oh and I should mention that there is no longer an easy difficulty, just a normal difficulty. It was confusing testers that medium was pretty hard and they didn't want to play easy since they felt it would be easy.

    Back to the level itself, there are plenty of horizontal segments the player can run through to enjoy the speed and thrill of simple jumping on moving platforms. When the five segments were soothed out and streamlined, it came to a whopping 8 minutes, which again is way too much for a speed run. Two of the segments felt out of place for a level named Everclimb, so it was easy to cut and thrown into the third scrap level. With the level under five minutes, I added some rest spots with checkpoints and included a rest spot half way up the final vertical segment for players who explore or notice the doorway to the right.

    The second scrap level was forged into something enjoyable, even if half of it involved climbing. It was far more fun than the low points of Conveyor Central. I suppose it's more fun to run and climb than it is to wait on conveyor belts while killing enemies and giant boxes.

    SECRET SCRAP SEGMENTS?

    There's still one last scrap level to assemble into something enjoyable and cohesive. The game doesn't really need more demo levels as there haven't been new mechanics to keep the game fresh. So I might just add these three segments into the other levels as secret areas. This will help give a special feeling to grander secret areas even if players might feel let down when there's nothing special at the end.

    A FULL PLAY THROUGH

    I highly recommend every week or two that any developer get forced to replay their entire game. Oh and you have to record it and watch it again to get refreshed of issues and how things look. It's easy to find a glitch or issue and work on it right away, but if you do that for each when they happen, the workflow seems like a lot less flow. Playing the entirety of a game probably doesn't work for longer games that are 40 - 100+ hours of course.

    Replaying everything helps to know what should be added and more importantly what should be cut. During my last play through it had quite a lot of new bugs. What you know to work on one level might not work on another level. A new issue for me is with the camera zoomed in close for some areas, simple, safe jumps can turn into blind jumps so there needs to be incentive or some sign of safety below. It's easy to just add a platform a bit lower to let the player know it's safe.

    Off the top of my head, here are some glitched things fixed:
    - Enemies go to sleep when far enough off screen, which caused an issue where enemies would hang in the air and you could see their feet.
    - Lots of conveyor belts caused a slow down.
    - Conveyor belt seams were glitched like entire conveyors that were the right edge of the conveyor belt instead of left, center, right.
    - Missing elements like guides that tell platforms to speed up or slow down.
    - Areas that were too far to jump, but that's why there's a debug for a mega jump for situations like this.
    - Some secret areas had visible seams or plants hanging out from beneath them.
    - Leaving a room and returning within a second kept the enemies and respawned new ones (been a problem for a while)

    Having to play through 60 minutes of the game again, I cut some things that didn't feel good. This game is all about the feel of things. You would think that I'll get better at playing my own game so many times, but it's more about feeling when my joy to play starts to sag and finding redundancies. I have constructed a lot of new segments for Twitter and they all start to feel the same, so I'll tweak them and cut out redundant parts and replace them with something more creative. It trades a bit of intensity for interesting areas that feel fresh. It's tough feeling fresh playing a game for a full hour that has a single environment. Also finding places that feel cramped and opening them up to breathe to be more enjoyable.

    [​IMG]

    SEEMS LIKE A SIZZLE REEL

    After my glitch filled 60 minute play through, I played the game again the next day once the glitches were fixed and it was a far smoother, less glitchy play through. The second play through shaved 10 minutes off the entire thing. With the second play through, I took the recorded footage and turned it into a 2 minute sizzle reel to show off how high octane the game can be. The game still has mundane moments, but the action and craziness will really show it off as a spectacle that's fun to watch and play. The sizzle reel started off this post, because it's a doozy and I don't think anyone will read this far.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019 at 3:20 PM
  47. sitebender

    sitebender Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Posts:
    813
    RECORDING DEMOS

    Demo is a funny word, demonstration can mean so many things for video games. In this case, here's a feature no one asked for... the ability to record and play demos. Thanks to the cheat console, I added "record" to start recording a demo of the level you're on and "playback" to watch that recording. On top of that, a player can save a demo to file and play a demo. Playing a demo will take the player or watcher to the correct map and start the replay of the level.

    Even if the game may look like it has random elements, nothing is random beyond inconsequential visuals. Everything that seems random is calculated and dependent on something. Usually a global timer that's always ticking away. Other times there is a storage variable for collectables. Enemies usually erupt in four collectables, but every fifth or so enemy that's defeated will have eight collectables.

    I bring up the lack of randomness to mention the fact that the demo only records the player's movement. The enemies and platforms are still living on their own as if a human was playing the game rather than a recording.

    Since the demo only records the player's key presses rather than enemy locations, it lacks a rewind feature or anything special. Holding the action button (or key) for a second will let a player play.

    This was more of a frill out of boredom as I wait for certain art to be completed for things that will be revealed later.

    Here is a demonstration of a replay of a demo:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019 at 3:34 PM
    Red Phantom likes this.
  48. sitebender

    sitebender Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Posts:
    813
    HANG TIME

    [​IMG]

    There are now specific objects the player can hang from to make gameplay more dynamic. There hasn't been a new level mechanic in a long time and it's worth adding these areas to shorter previous demo maps.

    To hang on there, all it takes is jumping on and when you're moving down the hang happens. From there you can jump up or double tap down to drop off. You can also hold down and press jump to drop off. The down and jump method felt clunky, but the double tap to drop could lead to accidents. Not that there's any reason to hold down while hanging, but accidents happen depending on the D-pad. You can also attack while hanging and the game has specific solid objects to hang from, there is just no art for these objects.
    Another part of the fun to hanging beneath the platforms is the player retains their smooth speed and it doesn't slow down the gameplay, momentum, and joy.

    The thought of walking on top of these railings has crossed my mind, but I feel like that would just ruin the need for this mechanic. Specific platforms can always be made to both hang from and walk on top of.

    I should also point out that the cheat console is able to spawn a series of these platforms to hang from. Cheat console makes testing everything far easier and efficient. I recommend everyone add one to their game.

    UPHILL TWITTER

    While I'm here, I should also talk about after hitting 1,000 Twitter followers it's gotten a bit more uphill. The things I post end up getting our low end of likes which is 130, which is still far better than I was doing last year. The interesting thing is that even with more followers, we're still getting the same amount of likes. More importantly there just aren't as many followers. What used to be 100 new followers a week has turned into 20 - 40. Not quite a complaint so much as a reality that the sponge is squeezing dry and its probably time to get some more environments.

    Our likes seem to truly live on other accounts with big amounts of followers who aren't following that many others retweeting the posts.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019 at 10:16 AM

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