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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMonarch Black - Flying Butterfly Roguelikelikelike
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Author Topic: Monarch Black - Flying Butterfly Roguelikelikelike  (Read 18270 times)
mirrorfish
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« Reply #60 on: December 30, 2015, 07:02:31 PM »

OMG Another Year Is Over

It's been a busy month! I've added a bunch of new features to the game, some of which I've made animated gifs for (see below). I've got a decent workflow for making GIFs now and that's sped up the process. Sharing GIFs on Twitter has been helpful in helping more people to know the game exists and so I've tried to be more consistent with that.  Working a job, taking care of my kids and working nights on the game means that I have to prioritize key activities and lately that's been development work on the game.  The past week I've had a few days off work and so been able to really dig into development and fix and add a bunch of stuff I've wanted to for a while.


New Beam Weapons

The shooting in Monarch Black has always used physics based projectiles. This means that it's not instantaneous. You shoot, an object flies from you to the enemy and hits them, or not. I like the feeling this gives to combat although I think it makes shooting a bit more difficult. Sometimes you have to lead your enemies a bit (shoot where they are going to be) if they are far away. This also allows me to do things like homing bullets, bouncing bullets and a few other fun features that I really like.  But I've been curious what the game would feel like with raycast based weapons. Raycast shooting means that you click and an invisible ray is fired from your gun into the scene, it checks if it's hit anything and if that thing is an enemy it applies damage. The feeling this gives is that shooting is instantaneous. You click and the enemy takes damage right away.  As of now, I've added a new category of weapons, beam weapons, to allow for ray cast based shooting in addition to the existing physics based system.

Here are two GIFs of one of the beam weapons, the Arc Lightning weapon. What makes it unique is that it bounces off things that it hits and can ricochet and hit other things.







More Mutations

I've also been working on adding more mutations to the game, powerups which you can choose from between levels.  A few of these include:

Death Rockets: these give a chance to spawn a volley of rockets in random directions when you kill an enemy, here's a GIF.



Blood Lust: This gives a chance to create a shell of spikes around you when killing an enemy which damage nearby enemies. In this case it's combo-ing with Death Rockets and going a little crazy. Not sure if you'll be able to combine these in the final.



Enemy Tracking

Thanks to some feedback I got at the NYU Game Center play tests on Thursday nights I decided to try implementing a system to show you where nearby enemies are that you can't see. I'm pretty happy with how it came out. It makes the game a little more video game-y but I think it looks nice and allows me to make the game more challenging without feeling unfair. The action games I love most are hard and I'd like to get there with MB. This helps so I think it's here to stay. In the GIF below you can see the red triangle icons appear when an enemy is in range and point towards their location, growing brighter as the enemy gets closer.



That's it for now! My next goals are to keep working on the game, do a few more dev streams on Twitch which have been pretty fun so far and to try to post more regular updates.
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« Reply #61 on: January 01, 2016, 06:23:26 AM »

Just finished going through the devlog from the start and impressed with what you've done. The trailer is nicely done and gives an interesting glimpse at the gameplay. Music also works really well in setting the atmosphere and the way you've approached the procedural level layouts adds a great aesthetic. Would be happy just flying around the landscapes you're creating.

Tried the old build links but guess they're all gone now.
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #62 on: January 02, 2016, 08:53:44 AM »

Hey Franklins Ghost! Thanks so much for looking at the dev log! I'm working on a more 'informational' trailer soon, the first one is more just visuals and vibe. Glad you like the music, it's all me. I was a musician before I started gamedev. I actually have a 'just flying around mode' where you take pictures instead of killing things in there (heavily inspired by William Chyr's photography stuff in Manifold Garden). It needs to be fleshed out a little but I think it'll be a cool alternative for the players who aren't into shooting games. If you're interested to check out a build I'll be sending out another test round soon, email me at [email protected] or DM me on here, I'm always looking for feedback.

thanks!
Matt
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #63 on: January 03, 2016, 08:41:35 AM »

Added a new level: Brass City (working title). It's got a vertical orientation which is something I spent some time refactoring my level generation to achieve. Since it's a flying game I realized I don't want to just limit myself to flat / wide levels. Also I like the sense of scale that it achieves.

I've also refactored some code so I could add helper bots which shoot at enemies autonomously. Sort of like a flying sentry gun. Currently there are two types: 1 which orbits and defends you, 1 which you fire onto a surface and which acts more like a traditional sentry gun. They can be shot and killed by enemies. I'll probably work today to add one or two more types / behaviors. The stickable sentry drone is really fun to play with right now, just need to make sure it's not too overpowered. In TF2 I always played engineer and loved placing sentries so I guess that's coming out here.  Right now the drones are just faceted spheres, there'll be some better art for them later once I get them more dialed in.

Here are some GIFs:








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« Reply #64 on: January 03, 2016, 08:56:47 AM »

This is super cool! I'm obsessed with flying games. Maybe this has been suggested before bu if there is anything I would love is to be able to travel at super high speeds while dodging obstacles or better yet to race against other butterflies!
Good luck!
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #65 on: January 03, 2016, 10:18:36 AM »

Thanks Sonoshee! I love flying games too. There is a certain amount of dodging, both bullets and obstacles but the mood is more about exploration and combat than high speed flying. I do love that kind of gameplay though and would love to revisit it in a future project. Huge wipeout fan here. I actually did a prototype that's a bit like that, but at the moment just trying to get this thing done. Thanks for taking a look!
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« Reply #66 on: January 04, 2016, 12:38:44 AM »

Hey Matt, I've been following your progress on Twitter for quite some time and only today I went through your whole devlog. You've done an amazing job so far. I definitely fell in love with the style of your game. I love the environment, the lights, blooms, colours and the structures that grow in front of your eyes.
I'm not a big fan of simulation or flying games so I can't give you a decent feedback about the gameplay I've seen in the videos. On the other hand, sometimes it reminds me of all the time I spent playing Wing Commander when I was a kid Smiley

BTW if you want to share about your current GIF workflow, I'd be interested in learning about that.

Cheers and keep up with this amazing work!
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #67 on: January 06, 2016, 06:10:17 AM »

hey Tanis,

Thanks a lot! Really appreciate your checking out the game and your kind words. I've actually been meaning to write about my GIF workflow for a while and your post was a great reminder of that, so here you go!

http://www.mirrorfishmedia.com/v1/2016/01/05/promoting-your-game-with-animated-gifs/

Feel free to hit me back if you have any follow up questions.
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« Reply #68 on: January 07, 2016, 03:33:00 AM »

Hi Matt, thanks for the explanation. I have been using a different approach on Mac and I still haven't found the perfect solution. Sometimes Gifsicle gives good results but other times it's a complete mess. It's hard to keep it under 5mb at least at 20 fps and with decent colours. I'll give a shot with your setup. Too bad Adobe doesn't make an exporter to GIF on Mac as well.. or that the webp format is mot yet supported by major channels.
BTW I noticed that your post has been featured on Gamasutra earlier today Smiley
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« Reply #69 on: January 07, 2016, 08:25:09 AM »

This game looks super dope! Congrats guy who I've never met in my life!
Wink
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #70 on: January 13, 2016, 07:25:03 PM »

Heh thanks Graham Smiley   Gentleman
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« Reply #71 on: January 13, 2016, 07:45:53 PM »

hey guys,

Things are going well with the game, I'm feeling optimistic at the moment!  Coffee

I've re-factored the tutorial and made it much more linear. In some of my public playtests I found that even though my earlier design felt very straightforward and linear to me the 6 degrees of freedom aspect lead to people flying off into the clouds, getting lost, losing focus etc.  Hopefully this new, linear design will get people to learn the basic skills of the game without getting lost. I went for a tunnel shape and used the same color scheme (snowy and pale blue) from the original tutorial because I thought that aspect of the original worked. Here's a screenshot:



I also re-worked the tutorial to use trigger volumes so it shows a new prompt as you move down the corridor. This hopefully will allow people to set their own pace, some will go slower, some faster which I think is good. Before I had it tied to doing certain inputs and it wouldn't progress until they'd done them, which didn't work very well. It turns out that making a good, useful tutorial or introductory level is not easy! If you haven't done it for your own game I highly recommend you get it in there early so you can start testing it with real people. I've got a public playtest event coming up in two weeks at Playcrafting here in NYC (and Global Game Jam afterward! Which I'm actually gonna get to do this year!)  I'm hoping that this new tutorial tests better with the audience, we'll see how it goes.

In other news I've started to get a bunch more positive attention for the game which is awesome. Writing the piece that I wrote for Gamasutra seemed to gather a bunch of eyes on the game. If you haven't done that yet and have something you think might be cool to write about (mine was about making Animated GIFs) I highly recommend it. Anyone can sign up and write stuff. If you write something good it can get promoted on their front page and get a bunch of people in the biz looking at it. I had several nice people reach out after reading my piece.

Hope you're all doing well with your own projects!
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #72 on: April 08, 2016, 10:38:30 AM »

I've done a lot of new work on the game! Going to GDC for Unity was very inspiring. I saw a lot of great projects and met a lot of great people and came back with a fresh energy to work on the game, and to make big improvements. I went to a party at GameNest, a great game focused coworking space and met Daniel Cook, one of the game designers at Spry Fox. We had a great conversation about design, prototyping and iteration and I had a few minutes to show him Monarch Black. He gave me some great critical feedback (mainly that my steering was kinda sucky) and that gave me a nice kick in the pants to come back and tear out a bunch of old work and improve things.  Once I got a new steering and aiming system in I was feeling like the overall moment to moment gameplay was a little linear and stale. This lead to me doing a total overhaul on the enemy unit's AI. I actually used a model that I taught in a live training session for Unity, which you can find here. Funnily enough I had designed and taught this system (with the help of my programmer co-worker James, who is a much better coder than me) but hadn't integrated it into MB. In the process of trying to add some new behavior to my enemies I was running into the limitations of the terrible old code that was driving their behavior so I decided to rip it all out and re-do it using the state pattern / interface model from that training. I'm pleased to say that it works really well!

At GDC I went to the book release party for Derek Yu's 'Spelunky'. He read from the book and the section he read is actually one of my favorite parts of the book. He is talking about Legend of Zelda, and about how at times the game can feel indifferent to you, and how this feeling of indifference can allow the world to feel more alive, since it's not all  centered on and focused around the player.  This is in contrast to the more theme park style approach of later Zelda games in which every moment feels carefully designed to guide and entertain the player.

Part of the feeling I want to create in Monarch Black is of being in these alien, sublime environments. I don't want the player to feel like the sole, god-like entity in this environment, but instead one of many actors.  Another thing which Yu mentions in his book is the idea that in roguelike games, the player and the enemies should live by the same rules and be able to interact with things in the same or similar ways. This concept really rung true for me and lead to a lot of my thinking about refactoring the AI in Monarch Black. Now, when a sphere plant explodes and the pollen grains fly out, the player and the enemies have to scramble to collect them all, and if the enemies get there first, they'll take them from the player! This adds an amazing, dynamic moment to the game where suddenly the player has to respond to changes in the game that they may not have instigated.

Getting to this moment of the player and the enemies following similar rules and behaving required massive refactoring of the existing systems and I had to throw out a lot of old code. Happily, the new code is much cleaner and has opened up whole new sets of creative possibilities in the game that have given me a fresh burst of motivation for working on it.

I recorded a video of me playing the latest version of the game, which is full of bugs. I said I recorded the video to avoid writing a long blog post about my recent work but now apparently I've done both. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯





And because this is tigsource, have some GIFs! These are from before I went to GDC so not the latest, but still pretty recent.






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« Reply #73 on: April 08, 2016, 11:19:28 AM »

Wow, I'm blown away by the environments! The gameplay looks solid too, this would work really well in VR. Good luck!
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« Reply #74 on: April 08, 2016, 11:44:43 AM »

I've done a lot of new work on the game! Going to GDC for Unity was very inspiring. I saw a lot of great projects and met a lot of great people and came back with a fresh energy to work on the game, and to make.....


Awesome post, and I'm super jealous of all of your fun times at GDC! Keep up the hard work  Toast Right
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #75 on: April 08, 2016, 01:04:40 PM »

Thanks guys! I've been working hard on the level generation and getting the feeling right. I don't think I'll support VR for this one although I do think it's an interesting area where I'd like to do some work. I went to GDC for my day job but yeah, it was pretty cool.
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« Reply #76 on: July 07, 2016, 10:51:38 PM »

Really like the way this game's shaping up in the video! It really looks interesting and fast-paced, and I love third-person perspective in games compared to first-person.

I like the way those lasers look, and I really like the idea of the level reconfiguring itself mid-play; did you have plans to expand that (i.e. constructing buildings and areas like that), or is it just random?

The level shown in the video looks less abstract and more rooted in urban landscape (flooded apartment buildings, etc), which can be really interesting to explore. Have you thought of doing levels focused on a style like that (a single level, set in the floors of a skyscraper or something)? Or are you focusing more-so on abstract / geometric levels, and you just have one or a few "urban" levels?

I like the idea of water rising to keep the player moving, but is the goal to collect a certain amount of pollen, or does the level simply end when the water rises high enough or the goal is reached? If you've answered this before, I apologize; I must've missed it.

P.S. Many moons ago, I made a little demo that looked a bit like this, haha. Didn't get anywhere with it, though. Keep going!
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #77 on: August 06, 2016, 06:48:01 PM »

hey Solarlune! Thanks for checking out the game!

The whole abstract representational thing is a bit of a knife edge I'm walking, I really just want to do what I want visually so I don't want to feel stuck with any sense of realism. That said there are parts of the game where there are tree-like and building-like structures throughout. Mostly it's informed by the kind of spaces I want to make gameplay wise, things that feel more confined vs. open / different levels of visibility and stuff.

The level generation isn't purely random but I don't think I will do a lot of more complex generation at runtime. The placement of the cluster structures has a big impact on how the gameplay plays out, so I like having it developing and changing at run time, but the larger structures are all generated in the first pass before the level begins.

The goal of each level is to collect a set number of pollen grains, so the water rising is designed to move you along and keep you from playing too safe. Now that the enemies go after any loose pollen grains there are some cool moments emerging where a plant gets under water, starts taking damage, bursts and then the player has to rush forward to try to get the stuff before the enemies do or it sinks into the water and goes away. It feels pretty cool.

I've been really working on the unit types and AI to try to create some interesting gameplay. It's getting better.

Currently I have these unit types:

Small butterfly: can shoot, will pursue the player and shoot if he gets in range.

Kamikaze butterfly: Will chase the player, ram and explode. Serves dual purpose of being like an 'exploding barrel' in shooter games, shoot him to damage nearby enemies.

Gluebomb butterfly: similar to kamikaze but immobilizes you temporarily. Doesn't actually do damage but being slowed down opens you up to potentially a lot of damage from others.

Mantis: Stationery turret like enemy that guards plants and shoots.

Health butterfly: small, fast butterflies that drop health when killed, can't attack but flee quickly when player gets near.

Glue bomb health butterfly: drops larger health drops but spawns floating glue-mines as it runs away.

Between these different unit types and their different behavior some more interesting situations are arising. I feel like it's all getting better but it's been a slow process. I had about a two month period where I basically was feeling burnt and took a break. I'm feeling more enthusiasm now though so back on the horse.


Here are a few new GIFs:





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« Reply #78 on: August 07, 2016, 07:23:49 AM »

Looks very promising! I like the harshness of the environments vs the elegance of the butterfly.  Keep on posting! 
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mirrorfish
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« Reply #79 on: August 07, 2016, 06:06:59 PM »

Thank you! Yeah brutalist architecture is a big influence. I grew up in New York City and so never get tired of looming alien megastructures.  The butterflies are going to get a bit refined to bring them more in line with the low poly style, a bit more angular and abstracted, but I haven't gotten there yet. Most of the units are still fairly place-holderish.
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