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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsVertex - Action/Exploration Platformer
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Author Topic: Vertex - Action/Exploration Platformer  (Read 27335 times)
Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #60 on: August 15, 2014, 10:21:22 AM »

Hello all!

Since I haven't posted in months, I thought I should share some more stuff here. There's a lot of cool stuff happening in development, and I'm getting a lot closer to finishing this game. In the meantime, more screen shots:

One of my last posts was about Seltona, and in that post I promised a screen shot of the place. Here's what it looks like on the outside:



I've been dissatisfied with parts of the Master Tower as of late, so I went back and remade a lot of it. First I remade the big machine boss with the three red orbs at the beginning of the tower:



I also revamped the Master Tower tileset and backgrounds, as well as redoing the level design entirely:



I've also been working on a whole host of graphical effects for a particular set of abilities. They've been in development since last December, actually, but I haven't wanted to show any of them yet. Here's a tiny little preview of one of them:



It's kind of hard to see what's going on there in a still screen shot, but the diamond prism spins around the player in a 3d-looking way, and it's done using nothing but triangles. I've been thinking about making some more technical posts about the programming side of development, and I thought this diamond prism would be a good candidate for such a thing.

Hope you all are doing well!
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Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #61 on: August 17, 2014, 07:39:10 PM »

Re-did my font! Inspiration for this one came from a game I saw in the devlogs forum called Fallow. Go give it a look if you haven't already!

Most notable things about the new font: proportional spacing, and lower tails of certain lower-case letters (like 'y').

New font:

« Last Edit: August 20, 2014, 06:38:19 PM by iMoose » Logged

Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #62 on: August 20, 2014, 03:43:27 PM »

Spent the last few days working on a new pause screen/inventory UI. Game Maker crashed once while I was working and I nearly lost 2 hours of progress.

Still some things to iron out, and I need to make the map functional, but it's already loads better than the first pause screen.

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clockwrk_routine
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« Reply #63 on: August 20, 2014, 04:52:32 PM »

that is one sic menu
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Loren Schmidt
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« Reply #64 on: August 21, 2014, 10:45:25 AM »

I like the item ring in the menu! I also really like the big worm. It looks like it would animate quite nicely (those connector segments are brilliant, by the way).

It looks like this is coming along well, and you seem to have a good head for little cosmetic details. I'm looking forward to it!
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joseph ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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« Reply #65 on: August 21, 2014, 10:47:21 AM »

Sick ill menu. You're doing a really good job capturing that ~retro~ feel in a way most games only dream of.
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AegarPyke
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« Reply #66 on: August 21, 2014, 11:27:46 AM »

Absolutely adore the vibrant colors and art style! Looks like an interesting take on the platformer genre, too. Wish you good luck with it. Smiley
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The Geartower: Indie game design, development, and deconstruction
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« Reply #67 on: August 21, 2014, 12:38:29 PM »

Thanks everyone! Really appreciate the positive feedback.

Some new things coming up hopefully soon: I'm about ready to remake the introduction so that it's not just a bunch of text with a few pictures. Getting some new ideas for that which should be cool. I also have some other scenes and items in the making, as well as a new ice/metal dungeon.

I've been thinking about the exploration aspect of this game. In the past I've found that having levels with lots of places to explore ends up getting a lot of people lost. I try to remedy this with landmarks, but they can only do so much. In general, do you like having big levels with lots to explore and the possibility of getting lost, or refined levels with some extra little things here and there and a clear path for where you need to go next?
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Blink
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« Reply #68 on: August 23, 2014, 11:01:30 AM »

It really just depends on the gameplay. Are you making a persistent world, or a story driven game? One will take priority over the other in most cases, and if you can define that, you can define the gameplay. DKC was full of secrets but had straight linear levels. Skyrim is also full of secrets, and sometimes you forget there is a story. Tongue Do you want the player to make their own story, or follow yours?

Super Metroid is a great balance. Whole chunks of the game that are entirely optional, but *most* of it is pushing you towards the end of the story, even though you use free exploration to get there. I would suggest this approach for Vertex. It worked well for Cave Story too. Just make sure it's clear where to go in order to make the story progress, and then have whole extra segments that you could have made DLC, but put it in the main game and you'll satisfy both crowds (imo). And yes that's a lot of work, so you absolutely should not do it since it's beyond any scope you want Tongue but at the same time... it really is the style you're looking for here.
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« Reply #69 on: August 23, 2014, 12:52:34 PM »

Just make sure it's clear where to go in order to make the story progress, and then have whole extra segments that you could have made DLC, but put it in the main game

This! This is what I want as a player of the game. Well put, sir.
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Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #70 on: August 24, 2014, 12:33:03 AM »

It really just depends on the gameplay. Are you making a persistent world, or a story driven game? One will take priority over the other in most cases, and if you can define that, you can define the gameplay. DKC was full of secrets but had straight linear levels. Skyrim is also full of secrets, and sometimes you forget there is a story. Tongue Do you want the player to make their own story, or follow yours?

Super Metroid is a great balance. Whole chunks of the game that are entirely optional, but *most* of it is pushing you towards the end of the story, even though you use free exploration to get there. I would suggest this approach for Vertex. It worked well for Cave Story too. Just make sure it's clear where to go in order to make the story progress, and then have whole extra segments that you could have made DLC, but put it in the main game and you'll satisfy both crowds (imo). And yes that's a lot of work, so you absolutely should not do it since it's beyond any scope you want Tongue but at the same time... it really is the style you're looking for here.

Awesome, thanks for the detailed feedback. I hope most people feel this way, because that's mostly how I've been designing the game anyway—story-driven, with lots of secrets along the way, some small and some quite large. There will be quite a few hidden layers to the story as well in some secrets.

In other news, I've been taking the idea of redesigning my characters' sprites to heart. I'll give a bigger update about that tomorrow, but after a lot of work in that department I'm starting to think that maybe the direction I started going isn't right for this game—in which case, the characters would be touched up and drawn better, but kept in their current styles and proportions. Again, more on that tomorrow.
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Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #71 on: August 24, 2014, 05:12:23 PM »

So I mentioned new character sprites in my last post. My aim with these new ones was to go more in line with Graham's crits from a long time ago:

My biggest 2 criticisms are with the characters:
  1. They don't pop in the visuals.
  2. They don't animate.

The world has a lot of feeling. The attacks have a lot of feeling. But while in motion the characters are relatively static. If you watch Mario move around it is very visceral. He gives a particular impression when running, fast running, ducking, turning, sliding, jumping. Each action has a personality. It's also very easy to identify him on the screen.

In your game it's more like I have this dot that I impress my own ideas onto. The game would be fun anyway, but I think there's more potential there. Looking at what you've already done I'm just saying this because I'm sure you have the experience to make the change without too much trouble.

[...]

I'm taking a look at your most recent screenshot, which is lovely by the way. The most powerful elements are the boss, the lava, and the cave environment. The last place my attention goes is the character. She may as well be background visually. All the other elements speak to their purpose in a loud voice. Her role in the scene is completely overshadowed. Just look at it and note where all your feelings come from.

Maybe you want the emphasis on the world? Like the character is supposed to be this little weak thing. I'll just give a counter to this whether it's the case or not.

There's a big difference between something that stands out as being weak, and something that is a nothing or doesn't invoke emotion. A little personality I immediately relate to, then feel an over-powering world around, is very different than a powerful world and a blank personality.

Before I say anything else, I'll show what I've got so far. Lira is the only one who's had any work right now:



Test demo gif of her moving around (with a bow):



Screen shot in context of Vertex:



Probably one of the first things you'll notice is that she's no longer a square—I changed her dimensions to be more, well, human. I thought this would help me make her into a more expressive character, as well as easier to make lively animations out of. This turned out to be true, I think, but it could end up having major consequences on the current build of the game. After all, the last four and a half years of this game's development have been based on the player being a 16x16 box, and so a taller character may throw some things off. It's nothing I can't deal with, but I'm still not sure I'm going in the right direction with this.

So in other words, some feedback about this new character design would be really helpful! I think it looks good, but it still feels somewhat wrong to me, and I can't tell if it's because this new design isn't right or if it's just because I'm so used to the old design.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2014, 05:20:11 PM by iMoose » Logged

Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #72 on: August 28, 2014, 07:26:39 PM »

More progress on characters! Got a new Lira and a new Edgar. These ones are hardly bigger than the old size, so they still fit through all the gaps that they used to, yet they're big enough to have far more personality.

Gasp! Edgar has purple hair now. Not sure if that will stay.



*smek*



« Last Edit: July 08, 2016, 10:48:45 PM by iMoose » Logged

Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #73 on: August 29, 2014, 12:37:21 PM »

Vertex parade!

« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 03:39:31 PM by iMoose » Logged

Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #74 on: September 03, 2014, 04:13:07 PM »

New characters are adding a lot of flavor to the visuals so far. I've also made the characters' sprites reflect what weapon they have equipped (e.g. if Edgar has the claw gloves on, you see green gloves on his hands in-game).

Reworking the laboratory with a new tile set now:
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Blink
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« Reply #75 on: September 16, 2014, 06:06:25 PM »

New characters look awesome, love the enhanced animation. Still could probably use some work but looks WAY better now. Smiley
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« Reply #76 on: September 16, 2014, 07:51:33 PM »

Love the look of this game so much.
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Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #77 on: July 07, 2015, 06:53:21 PM »

Hi all! Thought I'd give an update here since it's been such a long time. I didn't have any time to work on Vertex except during the breaks between quarters (school is buuuuusy), but! Summer has arrived, and it brought with it the promise of more time to game dev

I've got a minor setback, though: the computer that I've been using for the last 4 years is close to uttering its final breaths (and has really been falling apart for years), so I finally got myself a new one. Which is great, except that when I went to install Game Maker 7 on it, I found out that you can no longer activate the pro version of earlier versions, so instead I have to upgrade to Game Maker Studio. So my fingers are crossed in hopes that porting all the code isn't going to be a huge nightmare, and that the extensions that I'm using will still be compatible. This is something I've never done before, so I'm not sure what to expect exactly... but we're talking about 5 years' worth of code. Around 150 scripts, 2000 objects, 900 rooms...

So yeah. That's the current state of things. I hope to have some more content to post someday soon!
« Last Edit: July 07, 2015, 08:27:27 PM by iMoose » Logged

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« Reply #78 on: July 29, 2015, 11:18:25 PM »

Update time! I contacted the folks at YoYo Games, and they were very understanding and helpful. As a result, I can keep working with Game Maker 7 without the headache of porting all my code! In light of this, I've begun working on Vertex some more. Here are some of the fruits of my recent labors.

The theme of this post is the Red Desert. It's not a mandatory level, but is in fact somewhat hidden and full of goodies and extra story nuggets. I spent the last few days working on a large bird enemy who flies overhead, dives to attack, and spits fireballs:





I ran into an interesting issue while programming these birds' movements. Unlike ground enemies, I can't control the range of the birds' movements just by having them detect walls and floors unless I place physical walls around them--but sometimes I want them to just roam a small part of the sky without putting walls up to confine them. So some of the birds fly freely without boundaries, while others have set "home" areas that I give them when I create a level. The birds with homes will stay in their designated area while flying idly. Upon seeing the player, they will dive to attack (as normal), possibly bringing them outside their set boundaries. If this happens, they will simply fly back inside their boundaries; however, because they are allowed to leave their homes while attacking, the player can sometimes lure them into places where they can no longer simply fly straight back home. If a bird has trouble getting back to its designated area after being lured somewhere (i.e. runs into a wall), it stops trying to follow the confines of its set boundaries and begins flying freely; however, it stores its original boundaries in its memory, and if it ever finds itself within these boundaries again, it resumes its original behavior.

Here's a short video showcasing a number of new things: the new desert enemies and music, the new menu, the new player sprites, and a glimpse of one of the medallions, which I've shown very little of so far:

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Benjamus_Prime
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« Reply #79 on: July 31, 2015, 11:54:49 AM »

Here's an idea that I've been mulling over for a long time and finally decided to implement. The Fire Serpent's Temple is a particularly long and difficult level, and whenever I've gone to playtest it (or watched other people playtest it) I've thought that players could get a little tired of it before reaching the end. They could also easily run out of items, making the level much harder. So I added a system of checkpoint-like warps inside the temple: one is located near the entrance, and then several are scattered throughout the temple. When you use one inside the temple, it brings you back out to the entrance room; when you use the one at the entrance room, it brings you back to the last one you used from inside the temple, so you can pick up where you left off.



In order to make the movement of the white dots that fly out of the shrine smooth, I wanted to use sine and cosine curves to determine their position. I decided to try doing this by controlling their speed and direction, rather than directly modifying their coordinates. I first came up with the functions that I would have used to define their distance from a point; then, to determine their speed, I took the derivatives of these functions. I like to use Desmos Graphing Calculator to visualize these functions before trying them out in my code:



The vertical orange lines denote points in time when the white dots change their behavior. The speed is first determined by the red curve; then, after the first orange line, their speed is determined by the blue curve, whose amplitude is based on the distance between the white dot and the player at the time of this switch; then finally, the dots disappear when they reach the player.
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