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I guess that means I owe everyone an update. Here goes nothing!

 

The information blackout this summer has turned out to be a pretty good thing for my work, I think. It’s kept me focused on making rather than presenting, and I haven’t spent more than a few weeks at a time focusing solely on other work. I think it’s safe to say that my current project is not only at the point where Hysteria and The Outer World managed to get to, but it’s already beyond that. I have already programmed and art-ed in every major mechanic for the player character, created a useful tile system that allows me to fairly quickly create and apply a new set of tiled graphics to an area without worrying about setting the right tiles for the right spots (as they automatically set themselves to the right tile graphic based on what’s around them), coded a nice little Baby’s First NPC Dialogue System complete with branching dialogue paths and my own syntax codes to make certain actions happen when the text reaches a specific spot, and even put together a few enemies to fight, all with their own simple AI systems.

Right now, I have the foundation just about completely laid down. It’s quite playable in its current state, and even rather pretty, save for the lack of UI elements and various things I intend to sprinkle around levels. But even so, I feel like it’s too soon to show it off just yet.

This game’s mechanics are simple even for a sidescrolling action game. If you’ve played Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero, you know the kind of movement system I’m putting in place. It’s very much a modern take on an oldschool gameplay style. You have quite a few actions at your disposal, but they are all limited and balanced in their own ways, so you need to think through how you’ll go about each scenario you end up in. It’s like if you took the old NES Castlevania games, how they handled moving around and how each weapon or item you used had its own limitations, and applied that same sort of thinking to 2D Metroid game progression, where you obtain new skills and items as you progress, which open up new possibilities. Dare I say… Metroidvania?

Surely this is nothing new. It probably sounds a lot like things you’ve already played. To be fair, this IS a smaller project than those before it and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I have ideas that I’m sure will make it a very fun play, but the problem is that they mostly rely on a more finished state to show them off. I still want the ‘full reveal’ to be a surprise for everyone so I’m not really going into detail about the game until I’m really ready to lift the curtains. When that happens, I’d like to have a demo to throw out there to let you experience the first couple levels for yourself and see what I’m really on about here. Or at least have it coming soon.

With school back in session, I have less time to get work done on the game, but this has been a very productive summer and an interesting game project so far. I plan on continuing my work on the game alongside schoolwork and art commissions. I’m hoping that this will be successful and everyone likes what I’ve done!

Just a cheeky little bastard~

It seems every update takes me longer than the last to get around to… I apologize for the tardiness, I guess it’s a good thing I’m not doing monthly updates still, though. I wouldn’t have much to show this time if that were true.

 

Honestly, there’s not much to say with this one. I haven’t gotten to work on Hysteria since spring semester kicked in, and it’s really in high gear right now so I’m really wishing I had more time lately. But I did make some progress earlier in the year.

Last update, I mentioned points and combos. Well, I’ve added them in and made a few interesting changes to the usual formula.

When you destroy an enemy, the combo counter goes up by 1 and begins to fade out over 3 seconds. Once it fades completely, the combo is reset to 0. Higher combo levels, as you might expect, multiply the points you earn, but getting hit also eliminates your combo.

Now, here’s the fun part: Destroying an enemy gives you no points. The only way to gather points is to snag the little floating whatevers the enemies drop, or the bigger floating whatevers that also give you other cool stuff when you pick them up. When you grab one, you renew your combo, just like when you destroy an enemy. You’re reset back up to 3 seconds before the combo expires, but you don’t gain combo counter levels by picking them up. Just points.

What this mechanic does is adds an extra facet to the gameplay. It’s not just something more to pay attention to, but it makes it possible to design levels without a constant stream of baddies at all times, but still giving the player the chance to keep up their combos during those dry spots. It also makes things a bit more interesting. Do you grab the points now, or wait until they’re just about off the screen and see if you can get a higher multiplier on them?

 

Another few changes I’ve made, I also mentioned in the last update. I’ve simplified player health a lot, to the point where it’s feeling much more oldschool, but in a good way. I’ve also tightened up the movement a lot. Next, I think I’ll be focusing on specials, tuning up the level start and death sequences to actually reflect how the game is supposed to play, and throwing in some graphics on-screen. I need to get some simple interfaces going so it’s not just a really cheap test level.

 

So, who’s to say when I’ll be updating again… I sure hope it’s sooner rather than later, and that I’ll have a lot more to show off. Really, though, the foundation is starting to take shape. Given some better sound design (oops.. my bad) and visual assets I think I could have something I’d actually be willing to throw out there and see what people think about it. I’m still a long way from something I’m really willing to let people play, but I still think there’s a lot of life left in Hysteria Star, and I’m moving ever closer to a Hysteria I think people might really like.

Well, here’s hoping, anyway…

Laziness, thy name is Bit

Another update, another slowness thing. I have gotten some things done but again, the game itself feels nowhere closer to completion than it was before.

 

What I have done, though.. that’s interesting, right?

Well, I’ve done some work with the menus and overall style of the game’s interface, for one. Interface tends to be something I waffle about on so it’s good to have something to play around with long before I need to implement it and realize I hate how it looks.

I kind of hate how it looks already.

 

You’ll notice I’m using two different styles here. The characters are cartoony, rather silly and not very realistic, and contrast a bit with the smooth shaded and un-lined ships. I don’t think this story could possibly be told with any less cute a style. And come on… it’s ME we’re talking about.

 

Last time I updated, the game was actually in an unplayable state, where I was working on optimizing and implementing new systems and various things that will make future work on the game much quicker and easier. Well, that’s finished and now the game is back and better than before! Still very minimal, content-wise, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I can just start churning that out.

 

I still have a lot to work with to get the gameplay tuned up. Points and combos/multipliers are not yet implemented, and I’m thinking of ways that I can simplify things down a bit. I feel player health is a bit high where it is now, and that might cause the game to get more to the hectic side of things rather than the fine-tuned precision play I’m looking for, and the movement system… both button movement and how speed upgrades work, needs heavy tweaking. I could always start throwing ships and movement patterns and craziness at it and seeing what sticks but I find it very important to stick the basic mechanics in place before moving on and focusing on content.

 

And now… for the fun of it, a glitch:

Dude... you should fix that.

I posted my last screenshot what… three updates ago? Sadly I don’t have any actual new  ones but here’s one for fun from early November. (yes, the background a lot better now. See the ship select screen thing!) A little slip-up in the repetitive fire code in the drones caused them to, instead of firing a 3-shot burst over about a third of a second, fire a shot every single step. The effect was really cool, but I think it was also cool to note while this crazy wave of doom swept over the screen, destroying all in its path, Game Maker still withstood that immense blow at 720p, not dropping in framerate.

In-game HUD will be my next priority after code tweaks, getting points/combos in , and more gameplay things that will be a big deal. I really hope I can get off my fuzzy butt and just get to it, now. I’ve been faster than ever at churning out art and it’s all lately been for non-Hysteria stuff.

 

Maybe with the new year will come a new, more productive me.

 

*apocalypse*

And everyone died. The end.

Today is apparently Play Some Really Freaking Furry Games Day because both games I’m talking about are ANIMALERRIFIC. Both for very different reasons.
Let’s start with Dust: An Elysian Tail, an Xbox 360 Arcade game.

More like Dust: My Videogame Fantasy. Seriously, it’s like someone sat down and looked at all my favorite things and stuck them together: furries, cute characters, Metroidvania, beautiful flowing 2D animation, super high difficulty available. Dust had every opportunity to be a mediocre game with amateur art and a cliche storyline about some overpowered dude getting redemption for bad things and just being SUCH A BADASS I MEAN LOOK AT HIM.

But no, crazy as it sounds, this Metroidvania adventure full of fuzzy, cute things, made mostly by ONE GUY (he seriously did all the art, animation, coding (he knew nothing about programming before this. It doesn’t show at all), and putting everything together. He only got outside help for voices, writing and music,) actually has a really good story with well-written characters and it’s fun as heck to boot. Combos are so much fun to pull off, and enemies give just the right amount of warning and dish out serious hurt to make you watch out to not open yourself to attacks.

There’s one issue I have with the game, and that’s a fairly bad design decision involving these bubble things that randomly burst with deadly poison droplets all over. I’m playing on the hardest difficulty (not recommended unless you love pain like me) and made the choice to drop most of my stat points (DID I MENTION THIS ALSO HAS RPG ELEMENTS <3) into attack, purposely ignoring HP and defense, so I die in two hits at most. (seriously not recommended) Well, the problem is there’s such a short amount of warning before those things explode on you, there’s often not enough time to get out of the way, and the randomness of it can cause them to go off after 10 seconds… or 1/5th of a second. And they’re all over, so it’s not uncommon to have them all around you, rapid-firing until you’re screwed into a corner. I died a lot at those parts.
Though, during a miniboss fight I noticed they gave a lot more warning and it was actually possible to not die horribly there. I THINK they do that normally on the lower difficulties, only going bats*** crazy on you on Hardcore. That’s really the only way I can see that sort of thing getting through testing, honestly.

So, as long as you’re not a super-masochist you’ll be fine. If you are a super-masochist, you’ll probably enjoy it in some dark way anyway. (hehe…eh..) Overall, it’s a really great game regardless of the problem I ran into. I can hardly recommend it more if anything I said about it piqued your interest. Go watch some gameplay.. I won’t be going anywhere…

SO, on the subject of dying, let’s talk about an equally fuzzy game about animals!
This one features a lot of dying. Lots of eating things and if you’re like me, lots of being eaten. (I’M A TERRIBLE POMERANIAN)

Yes, it’s Tokyo Jungle, a PS3 downloadable about an animal- and plant-infested Tokyo where every furry’s favorite apocalypse scenario somehow took place. All humans died off 10 years ago but everything else is okay!

It’s an action/stealth game all about surviving in this harsh jungle-ified Tokyo. There’s a story mode which has you playing different animals and slowly telling the story of how the humans all died out as you find clues left over from civilization. Then there’s Survival mode, where you just try to last as long as you can. (and everything wants to kill you) You gain points for completing little mission objectives (usually having to do with stuff to help you survive) and lasting a long time and you find all sorts of collectibles as you explore. It’s really well done but so far I haven’t had the chance to unlock something less… prey-ish. I mean, the deer can kick a cat off a roof, and the pomeranian is the cutest rabbit-mauling machine ever, but both of them are pretty low on the food chain.

Not that I mind being low on the food chain, but it means a lot of running, and a lot of running faster than the other thing running from the thing that wants to eat you.

It’s a great mix of action and fight/flight, and already I’ve run into a LOT of interesting scenarios and one CRAZY near-death experience I’m still shocked didn’t end my poor deer’s life prematurely. There’s a great mix of mechanics at work, and I’ve only had it for a day. So far, it’s been very much worth the $15. And I’ve played two of the like-60-something animals in the game. It’s crazy how many there are, and they’re all playable. I’ve done one survival session that lasted over an hour (I think) and I still don’t have a clue what the stamina bar is for, so there’s a mechanic in play I probably don’t know a thing about yet.

From here, it looks like there’s a LOT of content to spend time on. And I just love the fact that everything is playable. Even the chicks. They’re like the popcorn chicken of the game, almost no defensive abilities, really slow movement, such a small target that they’re in a whole new low tier all their own compared to everything else. You kind of feel bad slaughtering them for food. And I just unlocked them for play!

Speaking of slaughtering for food, while the “gore” in this game is really more arcadey than realistic, it still heavily features visceral throat-biting, face-clawing, chewing on dead things, etc. You will have to abandon your brothers and sisters as a pack of wolves mauls them and you escape alone to live another day. You will be forced to tear apart cute little dogs and cats and rabbits for the sake of survival.
Tokyo Jungle is a very flatly natural sort of game, very much focused on eat-or-be-eaten. It’s almost like an action game adaptation of the nature channel. Things die, mates must be found and babies must carry on the survival of the family. Most won’t make it to see another year, and when you inevitably die you’re just some predator’s lunch. I really like that about it. Not many games really make use of the different skills of animals, and fewer still try to mimic natural selection and survival of the fittest, but it really does make a great game.

If I haven’t scared you off yet, I’d recommend checking it out. If I have, please watch the following “Tokyo Jungle” gameplay footage and tell yourself it’s all going to be okay: http://youtu.be/AD-B2NcxZDs

It also seems my Wii broke. :,(

It’s still turning on and making noise like it’s alive, but it doesn’t output anything to the TV and my Wii remotes won’t connect to it or even manually sync. I guess I’m getting a Wii U sooner than I wanted, but it may be a while yet before I can get back to Skyward Sword and Xenoblade. And The Last Story literally just came in the mail today. T_T I really hope I can get my save data and digital purchases back…

It was a good run. I waited in line for 12 hours for that Wii and paid my dues to get it. It’s been a good companion but nothing lives forever. You shall be missed…… Wii…. *taps playing in background*

 

But not all is terrible in the game world. I killed a ton of people and uh…

right. Spec Ops was also pretty disastrous.

 

Not in a bad way, though! It was an amazing game. I’m not much for war shooters because there’s no real meat to their gameplay, no way to be skilled enough to take on a challenge like a no-hit run or something. There’s challenge there, but it seems so arbitrary and out of control. There’s just not a lot to it, really. But Spec Ops: The Line took it all, from the gameplay mechanics to the story, and copy-pasted it and turned it on its head, using the same tropes and mechanics to drive home some really heavy-hitting points. You will feel terrible playing this game. You will likely grow bored of the gameplay. And it will highlight so much of what’s wrong with these modern war games, so much of the terrible things that happen under the banner of war, and so much of what should make these games laughable while showing the horrors of what it’s really like out there for a soldier.

I think for once I can say a video game has positively NAILED the kind of narrative and dialogue that is possible only within the interactive medium. This may be the closest I’ve played to a video game that digs as deep as a really good movie. You can say all you want about how Heavy Rain or Uncharted are like long movies, but this is something else entirely. It’s deep and emotional, it’s conflicted for good reason, and it involves YOU every step of the way. From making major decisions in the moment through gameplay to how the mechanics and context of the game (including you, in your chair, holding your controller, playing the game) give it depth, it’s simply brilliant. I’d hate to spoil a single moment after about an hour in… it’s a short game but one I can hardly recommend enough. If you only ever play one modern military shooter, make it Spec Ops.

Game development is a tricky business. When you start out, the goal is to plan out as much as possible before you really dive into a major effort, because the losses can be great when you really dig into asset building and coding something that turns out to be not what you eventually wanted anyway. As the game starts to form and you can actually play it, and as you get ideas from other places, you can start to question older visions of mechanics and design, so much that you reinvent how the game is going to play.

In a sense it’s inevitable. No vision is perfect on paper AND in practice. It’s important to keep sight of a more general, overall goal such as the feelings you want to drive home, the experience you want the player to have. Any time you are thinking of adding or changing the mechanics, first consider what  you’re trying to accomplish with them, and what kind of gameplay and feel you’re likely to create with that addition. With a cohesive goal backing up every decision throughout the process, you’re much more likely to end up with a game that feels solid and well-planned, even though it’s changed greatly from what you had in mind from the beginning.

Uh, don’t let that scare you, because Hysteria Star is still a shoot-em-up. It’s still tough. And it’s coming along great. Lately I’ve had some inspiring thoughts about how to handle special attacks, money collecting for powerups, how the player earns points and what upgrades can and can’t be.

It’s gonna be a great game.

First off, the flow of the game as a whole is very important to me. There are currently 4 playable ships and I plan to have many more, most of them unlockables that you get by beating the game with other ships and on higher difficulty levels. I’ve chosen to make not only multiple separate level designs for higher and lower difficulty levels, but also entire unique campaigns for every playable ship. There will be some 10 or so level types (various backgrounds and walls, enemy types, obstacles, mechanics, etc) to make use of, and each campaign may go through them in a different order, with different layouts. Enemy and obstacle placement should be designed with that ship’s capabilities in mind. Higher difficulties could specifically target a ship’s deficiencies and force the player to adapt to new play styles. There are a lot of possibilities, and the fact that each ship has its own level set made specifically for it means that balancing all the ships against each other shouldn’t be such a big concern. (in single player, anyway. Multiplayer may run under a different set of rules.)

So, the ships themselves are very different, and that’s possibly going to change in a bigger way. The core mechanics are still the same – ships auto-fire their main weapon (in touch mode only: controller/keyboard controls have a normal shoot button) and you only control movement and the ship’s special attack. I’m opening up the possibilities for specials a bit, by making them recharge over time and making it possible to have single upgrades rather than multiple levels of upgrades for two separate factors. I still plan on having a ship or two which use specials as their main form of attack, with their main weapon being… less useful, for various reasons. Another fun factor I’m adding in is combos. I love a good combo system, and I think with the right design, I can make that fun here. You rack up combos by destroying enemy ships without letting too much time pass between kills. Getting hit or waiting too long naturally resets the combo, which as you can probably guess, multiplies the points you earn and gives you a few other benefits. You may have to let enemies stay on the screen longer to keep holding out on a combo, or even use a special to grab a quick kill when you know you won’t make it in time.

But I was thinking… what use are points, aside from something to gloat about in the leaderboards? That’s when a little inspiration struck: rather than collecting item drops from enemy ships to get money to spend on upgrades between levels… points ARE money. By racking up higher points, you give yourself more to work with in buying upgrades. You can become more powerful and perhaps earn more points because of it. This also adds an extra factor to high score-seekers, though. Since you directly spend your points on upgrades, and any upgrades you have at the end of the game are refunded for 1/2 their value, AND since you get point bonuses for certain accomplishments during a level (like 100% kills or not getting hit), anyone looking to get a good score may have some tough decisions to make. More spending might get you more points from bonuses, but if you are stingy with your spending, you could earn more in the long run for your trouble. Bonuses are also given at the very end, meaning you could get rewarded for a no upgrade run.

High scores are great and the added challenge and replay value if you’re trying to top the leaderboards is potentially through the roof… but there’s still more. As you play, you unlock stuff. New ships, crazier difficulty levels, cheats, etc. Pretty basic, right? But the unlockables need to be purchased with play points after they’re unlocked, so you can use them. And you earn play points for your achievements and how well you do overall. No, this is not a real money scheme thing, but here’s how I plan to monetize this game, if I can: The game itself is free. You can do everything that’s initially unlocked, meaning 3 or 4 ships and the standard difficulty levels, and multiplayer if available. There’s nothing stopping you from grabbing high scores and earning play points and unlockables. But, you can only use those play points when you pay to unlock the “full” game. (something like $5, I imagine) So, there is literally no difference between playing the full game and the free one, with the sole exception that unlockables are for the full game only.

Best money-making scheme ever? No, probably not. But I’m not here to make money. I’m here to make games, and the best thing I can ask for is to have people enjoy them. So if free means it gets in the hands of more people, I’m all over that. Maybe if it comes to it, I can have ads pop up in the menus and when you pause the game. But if I EVER even consider letting ads stick their noses into your gameplay like Angry Birds or something, I deserve all the hate mail I get…

So, I promised screenshots last entry, and I plan on sticking to that. A word of warning: the game really isn’t in a state I want to show. This is going to look pretty No Me Gusta. Lots of mechanics are still not added and it’s very much still in a prototype phase. It looks alright, but I’m still using a lot of prototype-y stuff, placeholder sprites and such. Lots of effects still aren’t fine-tuned to what I want them to be, and plenty more simply aren’t even there yet. But here’s Hysteria Star upscaled to 1080p:

(click for full res)

Probably the most obvious thing here (aside from the placeholder tiles that are nothing like what I plan to have in my maps) is the lighting system. For whatever reason, I decided to make all the wall objects here emit their own halo of light. You can easily see the red lighting on the player ship from the enemy fire. There isn’t much light emission from player shots with the Gatling Star here, but others shoot brighter. Explosions especially have a large effect, and tend to light up everything around them. One thing I plan on changing is the size of the light halos. It’s nothing advanced like a 2D bump/normal map sort of thing, so the key to making it more believable will be in how I handle the size and emission levels from each light source.

The background is still little more than just an upscale from my 480×800 version. It looked better at that size, but not so much at 1080p. I have plans for backgrounds and tiles, though.

(image is just a mockup, not screenshots)

Before, I planned to use more of a tileset system, just making tileable sprites and having the level generator look at which ones are on corners, top, bottom, sides, etc and place the right tiles. But tiles can get very boring and repetitive, especially considering how many 32×32 sprites would fit on a 480×800 screen. I tried doing a mixture of 32×32 and 64×64 tileable sprites, but coding that to work right would get messy in a hurry. What I chose to do instead was to go with a more “painterly” look for backgrounds and sprites. No more aliasing, no more pixel details, but a lot more depth and variety. I’m still kind of learning as I go and figuring out what works and what doesn’t, but I’m pretty happy with how it looks so far, and when I factor in lighting, I think it’s going to look great in motion.

Ship sprites have made a massive transformation with this new style, too. Shading and color depth as well as overall detail (of course) have been improved vastly. The “floating” effect on the shield was initially an accident, but I’m a big fan of how it outlines the ship better while still being disconnected from the sprite itself. It also doubles as your “health %” indicator, so it ups visibility and makes for a good, quick reference on how badly you’re dying. Color is an important factor in the overall design, but that’s something I’ll go into more later on.

Also, as a follow-up to my last update, LMMS turned out to suck also, crashing more and more often as I went until I couldn’t do anything with it. After re-remaking the Hysteria theme in some 4 separate programs, I finally finished it in an awesome program called MuLab. Unlike everything before it, MuLab has actually survived through two tunes and two WIP pieces without any glitches or problems. When I have the money to throw I’ll be getting the ultimate version of that, and I can continue with more music-making. I’ll be making a Bandcamp page for music hosting, so when I have some more solid stuff I might start putting things up there.

It’s been a short summer for me, but a lot has happened. I’m moving a lot slower than I want to in getting this from prototype to something more resembling the final game. I’ll still do my best to get more work done alongside school and work now that classes have started, so hopefully my next update WON’T be coming around in November or something.

Whatever does (or doesn’t) happen, I’ll keep you all posted! :>

I don’t plan on doing a nice, big update at the moment, but it’s coming up. I definitely have been making progress in a lot of areas, and I’ve gotten back into the coding in a major way. I’ve been updating the game to look good on all screen sizes small and large, rather than just scaling up from the smartphone size when it’s played on an HD screen. I have some serious boosts in mind for the systems that can handle it, which might mean there will be some nifty graphics options to play with for those who might not have the most capable phone or computer. Still lots of placeholders all over the place, but the HD-ification is looking great in motion. Perhaps this next update will be the first time I show off screenshots!

 

Yeah, short post. But after two Mondays without updates I don’t want to leave everyone hanging with just a Games I’m Playing post. If you’re interested in 3D modeling, I have something in the works that I’ll hopefully have up on Youtube soon enough, so be ready for it!

 

Today, you finally learn about my love for puzzle games.
And awesome first person dungeon crawlers. ❤

Yes, I’m a hardcore gamer. It’s no secret that I love to die a lot. To me, getting game overs during the first dungeon/area/tutorial in a game is a really good sign that I’m going to have a good time. I always take on the highest difficulty level available, and overcoming immense challenges is one of the biggest rewards I know in gaming. Knowing this, I’m sure you would guess that my favorite genre is action, right? Lots of baddies, all willing to give their lives for the ultimate purpose of killing me? Or maybe I love shooters. Tons of targets, bullets flying all over, give me an arsenal of a dozen or so guns and let me run around and unleash hell while rockets and fireballs dart by, inches from my face? Or maybe i’m a strategist, and there’s nothing I love more than to pit my own wits and ability to think and react on the fly to an ever-changing battlefield against a nearly perfect computer foe?
Actually, no. While I love all sorts of games in almost every genre out there…

My favorite is puzzle games. (Oh… did I mention that the first sentence was spoilers? Well…..spoilers!)
There is no genre out there that gets my juices flowing (eww) more than puzzle games. (and occasionally rhythm games, but they’re a different variety of juice entirely.) When things get intense, when the action speeds up, when combos are building and my thumbs are flying as fast as the game can handle, that feeling is just amazing. I love a lot of games in the puzzle genre, but some of my favorites are the ones that really heat up. Tetris is good, but it was by far the best in Tetris DS. Meteos is my favorite puzzle game ever. (just PLAY IT. It’s awesome. Get a DS if you don’t have one, and you can get it really cheap.) Bust-A-Move is a solid one, most of the time. Lumines is a beautiful and addictive yet deceptively simple puzzler that I continue to return to… but one that I’ve been addicted to through the course of some 4 iterations I’ve played to death every time now, is the classic match-3 game, Pokemon Puzzle League, AKA Pokemon Puzzle Challenge, AKA Puzzle League (DS, it was seriously hard to go back to buttons after this one… also if you’re taking notes, almost every one of my favorite puzzle games was amazing on the DS, which is also my favorite game system. Coincidence? :P), AKA Tetris Attack.

Chances are, you’ve played it or something very much like it. Blocks slowly lift up from below and you can swap any two left and right of each other. You make them disappear by matching 3 or more like-colored blocks in a line, and any blocks without something below them will fall. You can use this to make another match after something falls, creating a “chain.”
The gameplay is very simple but the game gets intense, especially if you’re like me and your instinctual reaction to a mostly-empty screen is to hold L/R (automatically pushes up another layer of blocks onto the screen) until the screen is almost completely full. It puts you much closer to the edge of failure, but the chances for getting chains to go off and the potential to give you more time/blocks to work with to continue chains as they’re running can mean big points, or a big attack against your opponent in a versus match.

Interestingly, I’ve never played Tetris Attack before this. It’s the first iteration of the Puzzle League formula, and as a result its wrinkles are really starting to show. As someone who invested 120 hours into the Gameboy Color version (Pokemon Puzzle Challenge) and conquered every insane challenge of it and the N64 game (Pokemon Puzzle League), I knew almost immediately that a few things about the base mechanics felt a bit… off, in the SNES game.
I guess it’s to be expected of the earliest version of the series, but after the insane AI I’ve gone up against and the awesome amount of stuff to do in the newer games, completely annihilating hard mode and the unlockable “hardest” mode with no problem after spending about 1 hour with the game left me wanting more. Also, it uses passwords. PASSWORDS IN A SNES GAME. WHAT.
Okay, enough geeking out about puzzle games. It’s time for a shiny new dungeon crawler!
Legend of Grimrock. Okay, there’s not much bad I can say about this game. It’s a first person dungeon crawler, but it does some really interesting things. Movement takes place entirely on a grid. You can only move and look around one space or 90 degrees at a time. You go in with a party of four, each character standing in 1/4 of a square. Characters in the back have to use long-range weapons or magic, but they also avoid the majority of attacks simply by having two bodies in front who take all the hits. Unless you get stupid and stare at a wall while a spider chews on your mage and rogue. Which isn’t much of a viable tactic, but I won’t stop you from trying.
Combat and movement actually happens in real-time in this game. At first, I thought it was strange and unnecessary. Most games like this back in the day had turn-based movement. Why restrict actions to a grid if combat is real-time? Well, it turns out it’s actually a great combination. Your 4 characters each can do actions on a cooldown timer, taking a certain amount of time before they can act again based on what they did. They can equip items in each hand for quick access, giving you a total of 8 actions between all your party members. It’s fairly limited, but in a good way. It makes you really think how you will use skill points and who will be able to use what items/weapons. And when combat inevitably rolls around, your pre-planning plays a large part in how well you do. But almost just as cool is how important constant movement and strategy in a fight is. The restrictions of the grid become both your greatest weapon and your very quick downfall, especially playing on Hard, where you literally can’t win by standing in place and exchanging blows.
By moving just before an enemy attacks, you can avoid their attack animation. You can dodge fireballs and escape from the path of charging ogres. I can almost imagine it’s possible to beat the game without taking a single hit. Against one enemy, it’s easy to do, and you can quickly throw in attacks as the monster tries to keep up with your movements. But when more than one join in the fight, things can get awesomely hectic. You need to stay on the move to avoid getting cornered, and if you’re careless an enemy will quickly block your escape route.
But that’s just combat. The whole package is something much bigger/better. There are traps and secrets all over the place. There are puzzles and cryptic messages. There’s a lot of mystery. You will probably miss a ton of stuff on your first time going through, until you look up a FAQ and find massive areas you never even knew existed. For what it is, they really crammed a lot in there. And they definitely used every ounce of potential to be had in their level designs. There’s a lot of really good stuff, there.

Plus, an awesome little thing… your characters all have little portraits, which you can choose during character creation OR if you’re like me you can make your own and import them! 😀 I’ve been playing through with a team made up of my own OCs, and it’s just so much more fun to play that way. I love adding in that sense of personality and character interaction (I just naturally do that when I play games like this. Link has a voice and character in Link to the Past, Isaac actually interacts in ways other than “yes/no” in Golden Sun, etc, etc) to a game that otherwise doesn’t have any.

 

Also, bonus round: Guild Wars 2!
It’s amazing and my Charr is a fine piece of rogue.

That is all.

 

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.

 

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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