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Monthly Archives: June 2012

It’s never an easy job. Coming up with a name that is memorable, different enough to stand out, but  still easy to say out loud is a difficult enough task on its own, but a name must be more than that. It must describe the game. It must somehow capture the essence of the game, as if to relate the experience in only a few words.

Am I doing it right?

So, my previously-Unnamed Space Game is now titled Hysteria Star. What’s in a title, though?

Hysteria Star is a game without ties to a persistent universe. Think of it like Mario. Yeah, there are some rules to that series. Eat mushrooms, stuff happens. Things have faces… Bowser flies off in a space-boat with Princess Peach’s castle and Mario can survive in the cold vacuum of space. There is no solid story, no specific “canon” to sweat over.

To that end, Hysteria Star has very little in the way of a story to tell. This is a game where you shoot and dodge, you fly through a variety of locations and run into all manner of obstacles along the way. There is no explanation for why you’re piloting a spaceship one playthrough and a flying ice cream truck the next. Just enjoy it. There’s no canon, there’s no abundance of made-up terms to describe every little thing, there’s no intricately woven tapestry of a narrative to guide you from level to level… it’s just pick up and play. Easy, Normal, Hard, pick your weapon, buy some upgrades and get on with it!

Hysteria, in a sense, describes the game in its very best state. When the lasers and bullets and explosions are flying all over the place and you’re frantically trying to avoid it all. When you come across an unexpected new set of obstacles that throw you for a loop, or a combination of mechanics you’ve run into before are thrown at you in a new way, that’s when Hysteria Star shines.

Star, as it so happens, is a giant ball of exploding junk that’s really bright. Neat! There are a lot of those here. It IS space, after all.

 

Actually, Star is a name that represents each ship playable in the game. The Stars are the hope of the galaxy, and they’re yours to control. They are also the first ships in the known universe to have the incredible technology called Credits. When one is destroyed in combat, another will fly in from seemingly nowhere to replace it, as long as the player has at least one Credit remaining.

I’m a genius, right?

The sketches above show three of the Stars playable in Hysteria Star. Initially, only a few will be available, and more will be unlocked as you progress. Each Star has its own main weapon and special ability, making them completely unique play experiences. Again with the naming thing, I haven’t nailed down the names of these just yet. From left to right:

Freedom Star

A good all-around ship, medium speed and shields. Goals in life: being average.
Spread Shot: a straightforward and predictable laser gun, upgrades add more lasers to each shot, spreading further up and down to cover a wider area.
Energy Overload: Just because the ship is average doesn’t mean the special isn’t. This attack sends out a shockwave that destroys projectiles and damages enemy ships within a circular area, causing a chain reaction in each enemy hit that sends out another, similar shockwave. The effect gets smaller with each time it chains to a new target, but a well-placed Overload can clear a room.

Phantom Star

A very unique ship which can dematerialize and move quickly, but suffers from a low shield.
Orbital Shot: Balls of plasma powered by magical Sin Waves, harder to predict than normal lasers but cover more area. Upgrades add more shots to each burst and small, invincible drone ships which spread around the Phantom Star in a sideways V formation.
Dissipation Field: This special makes the ship transparent for a few seconds, flying right through enemy bullets, ships and even walls without taking damage. Use this to break the game! Or to avoid getting demolished. While Dissipated, shots do half damage, but when the effect either wears off or is manually turned off, you get a few seconds of multiplied damage.

Baby Star

A very small, fast, very low shield ship. Despite its small size and 1-hit kills, this ship has some of the highest concentrated damage dealing capability in the game.
Gatling Shot: Starting out as a rather normal straightforward weapon like the Freedom Star’s weapon, upgrades quickly increase the rate of fire and the damage of each shot. Fully maxed out, this ship’s spray of bullets is a waterfall of pain.
Laser Gatling: This special turns the gatling bullets into piercing lasers for a short time. While active, the ship slows down and rapidly shoots lasers across the screen instantly. This special is unique in that the upgrades to the main weapon change the special’s rate of fire as well.

Going forward, it’s nice to have a name to reference. This development really has pushed the game toward a path of its own, a unique style. There’s a lot of work ahead of me but I think Hysteria Star will be a game worthy of that effort.

I’ve decided for some arbitrary reason to make myself update every Monday. Uh.. it’s still technically Monday in my time zone. So I’m not late for my first Monday Update… that would just be sad…

Put your Fun Hats on, we’re in for a hell of a ride!

…Actually, I would have more to show by now but development is at a bit of a temporary standstill. As I’ve said before, I’m using Game Maker: Studio for this game. Well, that is, the GM: Studio Beta, which has ended. I don’t have the money yet to buy the program proper, so I can’t actually work on the game itself until I make some cash from work.

But! I don’t let that kind of minor detail stop me. 🙂 There’s still plenty to do- concepts, sprites, sounds, music… it all has to get done, so I’m taking this time to nail down some level designs and get some concepts and assets looking pretty.

There’s a lot I haven’t explained about this one yet. I think it’s a good time to play some catch-up and put down a little more detail on some important aspects of the game. Today we venture into the wild world of CONTROLS!

 

 

Since this game will be coming out on smartphone first and foremost, my goal is to make it as simple and accessible as possible.

Personally, I hate virtual buttons. There’s no tactile feedback, and they cover up parts of the screen. Well… you can’t NOT cover up a touch screen while TOUCHING it. But those buttons never move. You’re always having to cover that same spot, so when something actually needs to be seen there, you’re out of luck. My solution? You drag the ship around! You get full control over exactly how much and how fast you move, but there’s one string attached: like most shoot-em-ups, your ship doesn’t just go as fast as you feel like without grabbing some upgrades. So, when you drag on the touch screen, a silhouette of your ship appears and your ship follows it at whatever speed it can go.

There’s one other input in gameplay: you touch the screen to activate your special. Just a quick tap will unleash a devastating attack, a defensive aura, or whatever your chosen ship can do. Each one has its own unique main weapon, special ability and upgrade paths for those and more. The main weapon fires on its own, so your only worries are dodging and timing your special to deal massive damage or avoid losing credits (extra lives).

The combination of those two simple mechanics (tap and drag) means this game is highly playable without having to fuss around with finicky virtual buttons or learn complex control schemes. It also means you can play however you want to. The entire screen is your controller, so you can tap and drag anywhere you’d like. You quickly grow into a rhythm that lets you see the whole screen while you figure out your next move, and you’re never stuck covering the same spot for long enough for it to mess you up. Since there are only really two inputs, you can focus a lot more on dodging and aiming, and this means things are going to get hectic, and fast.

I’m also planning on Windows and Mac releases, and I’m a fan of game pads on smartphones, so I will be building in that second control method into all platforms. I want to make sure players have a lot of room to adjust the settings so it controls how they like.

This is the game I chose to take on after I realized my body was not ready for The Outer World. It’s less ambitious in terms of overall design, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of content and seriously hardcore challenges to overcome. The reason I chose to go ahead with this design is, there’s not really a story to it or characters or a ton of animation to do. That way I can put a focus on the game and make it fun without extensive programming knowledge or really complex stuff that’s beyond my current skill level. It’s a Gradius-style scrolling shoot-em-up tailor-made for smartphones. This means touch controls that make sense and let you focus on the important mechanics (dodge all the things) without covering stuff with your thumbs. Don’t worry, game pads will be supported for all platforms.

For this game, I’m focusing almost entirely on unique level designs and game mechanics to make it as awesome as possible. There will be plenty of content. Lots of unlockables, different modes, difficulty levels that alter level layouts for the main game, a variety of spacey ship thingies for the player to fly around in, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and certain quirks, and more.

The main platform for That One Space Game I’m Making is Android, but I am planning on bringing it to PC, and those Apple things everyone loves. iOS and Mac, specifically. (sorry, Pippin) I’m using Game Maker Studio for this one, which is handling the simpler needs of this game much better than Game Maker 8 was doing for The Outer World.

I can’t really say I have a clue about release date for this game, but I’m hoping to have it out by next summer.

 

Well, I sure picked an old one this time, didn’t I?

I started playing Suikoden 2 one after seeing all the love it gets from the rather small number of people who have played it. Apparently it didn’t do so well (which happens if you’re an RPG and come out on the same day as Final Fantasy 8) and has never seen a re-release at all, so getting it isn’t easy.

Chances are, you’re going to be a bit sad about this one because you can’t afford it.

No, really, it’s $250. For a cheap used copy. If you’re lucky. But if you’re resourceful like me, you can, uh… obtain… a copy… through um…..
Let’s just say I’m not playing it on a Playstation.

Let’s also just say I wish I had bought this and not FF8. Don’t get me wrong, FF8 isn’t bad and its music still gives me warm nostalgia waves down my back, but… this is by far the more playable game with the more awesome storyline and combat and sprite animations and over 100 recruitable characters and… damn, it’s just GOOD.

I’m about 13 hours in and hooked. Also, this game has a flying squirrel as a playable character. A FLYING SQUIRREL. How awesome is that? Not many games have flying squirrels in them, though I hope to change that some day. (props to Nintendo for having flying squirrel suits in both Pilotwings on 3DS and the previews for New Super Mario Bros U. I knew I picked a good company to be a fan of.) There’s five of them, actually, (the other 4 are bonus characters who don’t really have any backstory unlike the main 100+) and you can have a team of up to 5 party members with your main character. Anyone who knows me knows what my party is going to look like once I manage to find them. 😉

But yes, Suikoden 2, awesome RPG on the PS1. You can’t afford it but if you ask the internet they might have a solution for that.

 

 

My very first GIP! This is technically a re-post from my art site journals, but it’ll be nice to archive it here.
Today, I’ll start off with a few semi-oldies, but all goodies… pre-warning: if you don’t have Nintendo’s latest systems you will be disappointed.Xenoblade Chromicles: This is a Wii game that is unlike any other Wii game. Amazing graphics, ballgasmic sense of scale and exploration, and a story and world that grab you by the tail and defenestrate you from the 18th floor window with awesomeness, all wrapped up in gameplay that’s some of the best I’ve seen in a JRPG. I was dropping cash I practically didn’t have in order to get this game the day it came out but I’m so glad I did. You may learn eventually that I know a good number of Wii games that I would rate even above 360, PS3 and PC games. Xenoblade Chronicles might just about top that list.

Resident Evil: Revelations: I like this a lot more than the last Resident Evil on console. It’s no Resident Evil 4, but that game had a special something I don’t think Capcom will ever manage to tap into so perfectly ever again. But the mechanics are great. You might want that GIANT ADD-ON BLOCK OF DEATH for your 3DS if you pick this up, but if you’re like me and got used to PSP shooters after a few hours, you can easily manage to kick ass by aiming with the right-side buttons. My main complaint is that I can’t change aiming to the left stick, because I think moving around using ABXY would make a lot more sense. 😐
It’s kind of a horror game half the time, complete with crazy zombie girlfriends who won’t leave you alone and zombie dolphins that fuck you to death. (at least, I assume that’s what happens when my character falls into the waist-deep water under the creepy dolphin thing and splashes around for a bit) The other half of the time it’s a crazy action game, which the classic RE “tank” style movement won’t make any easier for you. Both are pretty solid and keep the other section from getting boring as things switch around. The story is actually pretty interesting so far, too. Solid game if you’re into horror, or you’re like me and you get a real laugh out of “tense” moments in these sorts of games. 🙂 There’s a multiplayer mode after you beat it, I think, but from what I’ve played I’d say it’s more of a rent than a buy.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Gonna say this right now, this game is almost worth getting a 3DS for. The dialogue is awesome, the story has some great twists so far and not only plays with your expectations, but sometimes almost TROLLS you, and the game is as hard as balls as you want it to be. You can “bet” hearts (the in-game money, which looks like heart containers… if only Link here around for this one!) to increase the difficulty or lower it, below a certain point, and you get more rewards and better stuff in general for pitting yourself against a bigger challenge. It’s kind of a mix between on-rails sections that play a bit like Starfox on steroids, and directed on-foot sections which play very similar, but have almost more of a third-person shooter aspect to them. (Gears of Sonic the Shoothog!)
This on-foot thing is taken to a whole new level in online, where you can play the awesome Light Vs Dark mode. Both teams have a life bar, which goes down when someone dies (how much it goes down is based on how good their gear is. So unlike Call of Booty, when you get better stuff, you potentially cost your team big-time for using it) and the person whose death brings it to 0 becomes that team’s overpowered Angel. The first team to lose their angel loses the match. The rules are all simple but the moment to moment gameplay is tons of fun. Really, it’s one of the best online multiplayer modes I’ve played, because not only is it tons of fun but there’s no forced progression or leaderboards to worry about. You just have fun and enjoy getting weapons and hearts to use in single player or multiplayer.

So, yes. Three awesome games. Definitely worth getting if you have the right systems.

And it’s just another day as usual.

For those of you who might not have met me, (you probably haven’t heard of me. I’m pretty underground) my real name is Max, but this is the internet so that’s boring. No, I’m a crazy raccoon thing named Bit. I’m made of imagination juice, electricity and tons of junk food. I am The Goddamn Bitcoon.

I like to make games! I also like to play them, but who has the time to do that when you’re so busy making them? I’m not your average Dew-drinking, online marathon-playing, hate speech-spouting CoD player… actually, I’m nothing like that at all. Screw those point-and-click shooters, I’m a HARDCORE gamer. I like all kinds of games on all kinds of systems and all kinds of controllers, but the best kind is the kind where I see game over screens a lot. Kind.

For so many years I’ve been doing art and character designs, creating interesting fantasy and sci-fi worlds and scenarios and imagining a world where these could actually be experienced by other, real (!) people. It wasn’t until a year or two ago that I gained the courage to actually pursue that dream. I have great ideas (says me) and I want to make something of them. The best way to do that is… well, to just do it!

My goal is to make games for gamers. Games that are reminiscent of the days before you had to have blood spilling out of every fully-rendered pore on a character’s face (wait, how does that even-) and before you had to lead the player on a movie-like trip through a better-than-real-looking world just to keep their attention. Games which focus on great gameplay and being fun, not realistic visuals and online multiplayer progression mechanics. Games which are challenging, but never force you into that until it stops being fun.

So, what can you expect to see on this blog? Mostly:

  • Updates and screenshots and concept art for my games
  • Games I’m Playing: just talking about cool games I’ve gotten into lately, sometimes new stuff, sometimes indie games, sometimes games older than you are. I’ll try not to bore you with posts about That Thing Everyone’s Playing Already. (HEY GUYS CHECK OUT THIS COOL GAME MINECRAFT *facebrick*)
  • Random stuff that has something to do with gaming, I guess?

I would say more things but I’d rather not risk making this wall of text any scarier to read. (if you hate walls, RUN, FAST. I am a dangerous person)

Keep it real. Real virtual.

 

 

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