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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsOP90 - Arcade-Action MASSIVE BLOGPOST
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Wyeth
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« on: May 28, 2015, 07:50:40 AM »



UPDATING EVERY WEEKEND - UPDATING EVERY WEEKEND - UPDATING EVERY WEEKEND

JUMP TO LAST LOG UPDATE

YOU CAN PLAY RIGHT NOW

Good day,
over the last few months we have been developing "OP90" a fun little game about shooting robots with energy weaponry. It is mainly inspired by oldschool SHMUPs like Galaga.

What started out as a semi-educational game quickly became a pretty straight-forward arcade shooter. We couldn't work out how to merge the educational qualities with the arcade-style gameplay, so we decided to take it out.

We are developing using Unity as a 2-man-team with a freelancer for sounds.

We just came back from Digital Dragons in Krakow (Poland) where we showed the game. We were also showing it at A MAZE 2015 in Berlin (Germany). So maybe some of you have seen us there.


A few screenshots:










Comments are very welcome, let me know what you think. We are planning on having a free demo version on GameJolt very soon!
I will try to update this from time to time, but I will definitely check back for comments.

Get in touch:

If you are interested enough you can follow us on Twitter, we post there at least 2 times a week about our daily game dev business.
We also maintain a Facebook Page.
There is also an official DevBlog with a mailing list if you are interested in that sorta thing.

We are on Playfield:



We are also on SlideDB:




- Wyeth
 
« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 12:25:54 PM by Wyeth » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2015, 07:51:37 AM »

Here is a small update on the history of some of the sprites. I wanted to show a bit how my process was and write about why we made certain design decisions.

I will start with the player sprite (the train/later on marble). Here is a overview of the major updates the player sprite had over time.


THE PLAYER

We started out with the idea that the player character remotely controls a train provided by the "RCPS" - the company tasked with defending the last remnants of humanity against an onslaught of robotic enemies.
The player character is comparable to a private drone pilot. He is sitting somewhere miles away and presses buttons to blow stuff up.

We wanted the enemies to be reminiscent of old fashioned computer hardware. This is why they are so big and bulky. The "Charges" on its back where originally much more like old fashioned transistors, as you might find in super-old computers. The weapon seen in the first iteration of the player sprite was supposed to shoot out positive or negative ions causing a critical error in the enemy and make the old hardware blow up.

All of this was pretty hard to communicate... so we ditched it. The next iteration was the train with the ridiculous "wings" on the side. I don't really remember what we were thinking about that. The weapon thats seen on the side was also way too small for the bulky/noisy player sprite.

We quickly slimmed it down and created the third iteration. I personally really like the look of this one. We stuck with this one for a while, albeit we were noticing distinct problems in playtests (such as the player sprite being too noisy and hard to read). Another problem was that the "train on rails" doesn't easily communicate that you can tilt the device to move up and down.

We moved on to a "marble-style" player sprite that more intuitively works with the tilting mechanics. It's also pretty simple and not as noisy as the previous iterations.




THE WEAPON

This is actually already the second iteration of the weapon concept in general. Before this we had a completely different weapons system using 4 weapons. After lots of testing we moved 2 weapons out into external features (Drones) that you interact with rather than having them "build in".
The first and second picture were an experiment if it makes sense to move away from the "one weapon that transforms into several weapons" concept and instead use two clearly distinguished weapons.
After some testing we realized that it's not really helpful to the player to see the weapons on screen. We made the interface to activate the weapons much clearer after this and returned to the transformer-weapon.


I hope this was kinda interesting to some people. I will provide more insights like this into our work and thought processes in the future.

I will leave you with a small GIF of a drone blowing up:


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Wyeth
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2015, 11:29:49 PM »

Another week another DevLog update. Trying to update this every week or so.

Vernissage

So this week we have been to the bavarian game vernissage - well one of us did (andrey, the coder). You can read more about it and see some shots over at http://www.op90game.com/



Player trying out OP90 on an IPad-Mini


Demo & Challenge Levels

We are wrapping up our demo version soon. Challenge levels and ratings have been allready implemented (we plan on having about 4 normal levels and 4 challenge levels for the demo). There are still 2 challenge levels to make (and they will be REALLY challenging).



Challenge level will be a [!] on the map

About challenge levels: Each normal level will have a "challenge version". You unlock these levels by getting a perfect score (3 lifes) in one of the normal levels after clearing all levels in an area. In the challenge levels you only get 1 life and increased difficulty in the wave itself. It's more something for the players who really want a challenge. We hope this adds a bunch of replayability especially for better players.


Intro

One thing I have been working on for a while is the intro to the game. We want to put more emphasis on the player actually being an external person in a control room. This the reason we want a high-security door to be visible in the intro, which opens up and reveals the control panel behind it. The player steps in and becomes locked into the terminal.







So thats it for the week. If you have any feedback or suggestions feel free to post them here.
- Wyeth
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2015, 01:10:07 AM »

What I really like about this design is that it's doing something new within the theme of the shmup. Looking at the screenshots first, it didn't really click as 'one of those games', which is good, because I'm super-bored of shooting spaceships in space. Shooting robots by remote-controlled drone, that's immediately a more interesting theme. I'm hoping there'll be all sorts of upgrades to the weapons?
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 10:50:19 PM »

Hey Thanks for the kind words Dizzy.
I am a huge SHMUP fan, always have been. It was exactly the plan to do something in the vein of SHMUP but make it thematically more interesting. We will also try to get a bit more story in there. It's pretty different actually playing the thing with the "Ridiculous Fishing" like tilting control (maybe not obvious).

About upgrades... well we are still thinking about the upgrades. The system didn't allow many upgrades before, we since moved on from that design to a system that definitely WOULD allow loadouts and power ups. A hindrance is that you need specific weapons to hit specific targets (with the right color) - making the whole thing a bit more complicated. Balance kinda hinges on the laser being a very powerful weapon long range, but rather inaccurate (since it causes splash damage) and the cannon being very powerful close range (but be bad long range due to the spread). I think this will get a lot clearer once we open up the beta in a few weeks hopefully and you can simply play it for yourself.
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2015, 11:57:52 AM »

I like the color mechanic! Any plans for a power up that lets you switch the color of the enemies? Are you going to stick to 2 colors, or will you add more? If you had at least 3 colors, you could have enemies whose color is a combination of two basic colors Smiley (for example brown enemies need to be hit with the red and green weapons, whereas purple enemies need to be hit with the red and blue weapons, and so on...)

Ah anyway I'm just rambling, the game looks great Smiley And I love the little backstory of the operator. Looking forward to the beta!
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2015, 11:34:44 PM »

Hey thanks for the praise.

Power Up that switches enemy polarity - yeah we are considering it. There have been plans about it, the question is when that would be beneficial... we also plan weird extra missions in the release where we can explore some not necessarily "working" mechanics and playstyles (think of it almost like ... mini games based on the system)

More than 2 colors - Again something we considered doing. Again something that might show up in the aforementioned extra missions. As a core game mechanic the main problem we faced when it comes to having more than 2 weapons: how can we make a good intuitive interface for these buttons thats not totally intrusive. We considered putting two more buttons on the top right and left of the screen, also we actually had weapon swapping with 4 weapons in originally... we changed it to the simpler 2 weapon format you see in the current version mainly because there was no good way of letting people know how weapon swapping works + how weapons work etc. It was just too much for most players (yes I do realize how this sounds... but we playtested this massively with several different iterations and it was always the same: A big chunk of players doesn't get it if we don't basically force it into their heads by tutorial or excessive hinting - and people really don't read those)

That said. Having like a purple enemy that reacts to both shot types would be a possibility or generally playing around with the whole thing a bit more. I would like that - it's not planned yet though. Thanks for the suggestion.

Backstory - Yeah we really have to put some more elements in that tell you a bit of the story. It's difficult on mobile. Also because most players are not sitting down to play. They are playing on the train or at work. This means a lot of the usual story telling mechanisms are hard to do (cutscenes, longer scripted sequences, dialogs). We are planning a non-intrusive story telling system thats entirely optional for the player (think Byrdr from ridiculous fishing).

- Wyeth
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2015, 10:32:33 AM »

This week we were mainly preparing the demo we want to open up to the public soon enough. It's also the version we gonna show at the Talk & Play Event in Berlin next Wednesday (If you are in Berlin come by and have a chat!).

We included the fully functioning door intro that I spoke about in my last update
Here is the Intro sequence:



Doors, whats behind 'em?

We really hope this will bring the players more into the the world of OP90 and sets a good mood. I will still work on that room graphic behind the door, but I just wanted to be able to have something there to illustrate the effect. Personally I am quite statisfied with this intro.

The second big thing that we worked on was better feedback for bullets hitting stuff and also being hit yourself.

Here we got a small selection of feedback stuff we added:



FEEDBACK MASHUP!!!

So we wanted a clearer distinction between things that actually reduce charges (white flashing and subtle hit animation) and the feedback for hitting things in general. Enter some gibs - small pieces flying off the enemy to illustrate that, yes, you are in fact doing something to him.

We also tuned down the FX overload when killing enemies and instead moved it towards "being hit" feedback for yourself. The FX was frequently misunderstood as feedback that something was done wrong. So now it fulfills that role. We might add some screenshake as feedback for shooting weapons later on.

Lastly we added a whopping 4 challenge levels that you can unlock by perfecting the base levels.

Normal Levels, Challenge Levels, New Briefings:



Numbers AND !-marks? This is getting intense!

Winning levels without losing health now rewards you with... even harder levels that you only get 1 HP in. YAY. I hope people will appreciate the challenge - I know my girlfriend didn't. She got to challenge level 3 and gave the device back to me. She was not amused.

Next week there will be photos and stuff from the event. I will actually try to get some people playing OP90 on film this time around. Cheers.

- Wyeth
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2015, 11:06:21 AM »

Looks cool! So this is a mobile game?
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2015, 02:36:29 AM »

Hey Christian,

Yeah it's a mobile game. Runs on Android, iOS and windows phone.
I get what you mean. It's defintely not in the vein of your typical mobile game... that was kind of the plan. We are both PC gamers primarily and we basically thought ... there are very few mobile games we actually want to play. Soooo we decided to make the type of game we would love to see on a mobile device.

It has some stuff thats mobile-ish such as levels being very short (usually the longest we ever do for a single level is like 1-2 minutes). Most are <1 minute.
Also it uses gyro sensors... you actually move your character by tilting your handheld device backwards and forward (think how those "get-the-marble-in-the-hole"-games do it).

If you got an android device you can grab the demo-APK soonish from Game Jolt or our website. We will actually make a version of the demo that is playable by web-client so that people can try it out much easier and distribution also becomes easier that way... but it definitely works best on a handheld mobile device.

- Wyeth
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2015, 02:43:35 PM »

So I just played the game at the Talk & Play show, thought I would share my experience.

The biggest impression I took away from it, is that the screenshots absolutely fail at communicating how much fun the game actually is (don't mean they're bad per-se, and I don't really have any idea how you could improve that, but yeah, after playing it I really feel the current gifs don't do it justice ^_^' )

The premise is simple (color-coded weapons affect specific enemies) but the demo I played actually introduced some nice twists (for example color coded bombs, or hitting an enemy with the wrong color sends him into "berserk" mode, which is usually bad *but* in some cases can be desirable as it alters the distribution of enemies, it's really pretty clever in how it plays with its core mechanic!) so each level felt very distinctive.

The game is hard as fuck too, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences (I like a good challenge, but I thought the learning curve was a bit steep, starts off very easy, but gets very hard fast, honestly I think it might be off-putting to the average mobile gamer, would seriously consider difficulty levels)

And finally at times it almost feels like a puzzle game, it's deliciously deceptive in the way it initially leads you to think it's a classic shoot'em'up, but then twists the mechanic around and forces you to actually think about what you are shooting, and when.

If like me you were puzzled about how the game actually plays, and how they could keep it interesting beyond the basic mechanic, I would definitly recommend you try the demo whenever it's available, I for one had a really good time with it Smiley
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 02:51:50 PM by Benitosub » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2015, 02:58:18 PM »

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree that we should put some more work into giving people a better impression of the game. I hope that some things like a web-client demo and a downloadable beta-apk helps interested people to get hands-on experience with the game rather than second-hand experience through screenshots etc.

The puzzle thing is by design (of course). Its what makes the thing interesting and different. The game really started its life as a puzzle game and only became more action focused later on in development.

There are some pretty brute-force approaches though!

This weekend I will definitely talk about the convention and show some pictures. Aswell as maybe allready finishing up the demo (there is really not much left).
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2015, 12:13:24 PM »

This week was a week of tiny things. We added a lot of small bits and bolts for the demo to go live very soon. We have been throwing together a small web-based PC version of the game (which turns out is a good bit easier due to people being more used to keyboard controls and also keyboard controls being inherently easier than tilt controls on the cellphone). We are currently working out the kinks, but it should be standing in no time.

We will probably start off with Newgrounds, Kongregate, GameJolt (With an APK aswell) and itch.io
Do you have any more suggestions what we could release the demo on?

OP90 at the Talk & Play #13


This was a pretty cool little event. We got some nice feedback and had a dozen people play our game. It was a bit short though.
If you want to read more about this there is a bigger post of this on our personal project blog including a (blurry) live gameplay video

In terms of actual game dev related news - We added some things that hopefully make it easier for beginners to understand and have fun with our game...

First off - There is an adorable sleeping ant now, that you have to kill promptly.



We know you love killing defenseless things

The reasoning for this is that people always felt way too threatened by lots of ants coming at them at once from the first second. It made them unable to realize all the fancy, nice things we had in store for them. So we needed a way to show them that there is a target but its completely harmless.
Now I really want to get some kind of rebel group that wants your company to stop killing these in the game. Imagine, tiny protesters walking around this thing - singing and dancing.

Secondly we show you scrap that you have to collect in order to get sweet sweet drones that help you murder things instantly:



Purely visual... but it feels so nice

We needed a visually pleasing way to connect killing of things to getting combos (You would be surprised how much of an issue this is to establish). So we experimented with some fitting things being given to you upon death of an enemy to both reward players more and give them a more obvious pointer as to what the combo meter might do.

The last thing worth showing is the new way drones are being given to you. We wanted to create a clearer connection between the combo counter (on the bottom/middle of the screen) and the drones that you get by filling it up with scrap. Thus this was born:



Why didn't we think of it earlier?

Again all in line with our efforts to create a clearer interface thats obvious to the majority of users.

We also started a page on SlideDB recently. So if you are into that, check it out and leave us a comment or so. We got a straight up gameplay video on there of Benitosub playing our game at Talk & Play.

So long
- Wyeth
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2015, 09:52:47 AM »

This week was fully focused on getting everything up to speed for the demo-release. You can get a taste of the game by playing its web-version or if you want the authentic experience download the APK.

Pacing, pacing, pacing - Everything is pacing



One after another...

After a lot of back and forth with how to best give people a good time playing our game, we reached a setup where we feel confident that its a good balance between "letting you figure it out for yourself" and "allow easy access". Only time will tell if it's actually as easy to pick up now as we hoped it would be without elminating ANY and all challenge from it.
We truly came a long way with this one. Considering we started out with a much more classical "tutorial" approach.

HARK! ZOUNDS! KAPOSH!

We added tons of sounds and music to the game. Everything has sounds now (well nearly everything). I really gotta get a good setup to share sounds... any suggestions? Software or so?

We got a beta/demo-version now



Unity web-player build

It even includes all those sounds we talked about one moment ago. So if you want to give that a try that would be splendid. Of course the actual game is a mobile game so if you want to get the authentic feel you should get that APK. We feel that the web-version is easier to distribute and makes it possible for more people to get some hands-on experience with the game. We are very keen to hear your experiences with it and would love to get your feedback, negative or positive on the game.

Head over to TigForums very own Playtesting-area

Some feedback would be really appreciated!

Till next week.
- Wyeth


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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2015, 11:38:23 AM »

This week we worked on a demo-release of OP90 on Kongregate, aswell as some minor updates to the web player we released last week.
Sadly the APK is still not up yet. We will probably get it up this week. Aswell as some tweaks to the current web-version.

Even more pacing changes



AUTO DRONE SPAWN

We did some more work on the pacing and clarity of the interface. We have a straight text feedback now in 0-3 so that its clearer that this is a special case (it also contains the word "drone" so there is a better chance of the user actually getting familiar with the names we use).
I noticed too late that we actually broke with our interface conventions. This isn't so noticable at this point, but once we introduce screenshakes and more "out of screen" events it will have to be changed.
I worked on an alternative for this:

 

basically this would be like a "bulls-eye" effect that extends with the "real" drone grabber in the screen. We still have to do some work to actually put it in the game.

New Level intro sequence



Also works backwards as an exit animation!

This is something I wanted to do for a while. Introducing the player a bit more. Not dropping you RIGHT away into all the action. This also helps with the gyro-calibration (since there is a bit of a time gap between starting the level and calibrating the gyro sensors).
Also I just really like this <3. I know it's minor but we gotta work on our game feel.
Which brings me to...

HUMANS!



Look at them go

Another mainly game-feel related feature I wanted to get in for a while. Neutral NPCs that do stuff. Humans hang around the battlefield repairing things or running away from evil robots that want to kill them. They are wearing a raincoat-like overall that protects them from the weather and radiation of a withered world.

Everyone working on the fringe areas of the city has to wear a state of the art haz-mat suit, containing a breathing apparatus, shock collar and a full-body protecting, radiation-resistant suit.
It also features a fashionable hoodie for that real scavenger end-time feel.

We wanted to include something thats alive and not directly gameplay related. Albeit we might use them as the occasional guide/hint-giver in some levels.

Did someone say "I wanna know more about drones?"



No? Too bad!

I redrew the drones and a proper gameplay redesign will follow soon. We are planning on changing the current inbalance between the drones (anyone who tried the WEBBUILD has probably noticed this), the blue drone is vastly superior to the red drone. This is annoying because we are quite happy with the difference between beam and cannon... something we want to reflect on the drones.
We decided to change the movement patterns of the drones:
 

Blue drones move in a wider arc that makes them travel fast on the X axis and slow on the Y axis (as seen in the left picture). This is because very soon the explosion of a blue drone will be vertical and rather wide (seen in the right picture). This is to counteract the weaknesses of the beam. The beam is very good to take out far away targets... but quite bad at taking out targets that are spread out horizontally, or enemies that get too close. The new change will reflect and counter this weakness.

 

Red drones move in a steep arc, kinda like both drones do currently. They will travel quite quickly on the Y axis and slowly on the X axis (seen in the left picture). The explosion will happen over the whole horizontal line but will be rather thin (as seen in the right picture). This will counter the weakness of the red weapon. Hitting enemies that are in a horizontal line "blocking" access to the enemies that are more to the right. It also works on a distance, which is a big weakness for the cannon.

We hope that all these changes will make the game fairer, better, prettier and easier to understand.
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2015, 12:24:53 PM »

Hello, busy week. A lot of feedback after the demo-release last week.


Thanks everyone who took time out of their day to write me a line (or 10) of feedback. We have allready started to implement a lot of the ideas that were developed while talking to users and testers, improving both the web-beta and the mobile version of the game.
Keep it coming! We are writing everything down and considering each bit of feedback.

Interface updates



Several interface updates

So in order: New gfx and animation for the blue drone, many players complained that the blue and red drones looked too similiar and the color difference is not enough to quickly work with them. SO we gave the blue ones a distinct square shape instead of the round shape and a different rotation.
We put a signal on the first level to lead players into it with more ease (some players got lost on our map overview screen).
We also added some other things like the "see through" virtual drone grabber to make it a bit more obvious what is happening.
This is just a selection of the small things we changed around to make the experience more pleasant.

Drone Adjustments



The plans from last week in action

The red drones now shoot horizontal rather than vertical and the blue ones shoot vertical rather than... a hard to explain chain lightning that people would never understand.
We hope that this change makes the drones more clear and easier to use. They also do exactly what the according weapon can't (hit on range or hit enemies that are spread out). All this is explained in last weeks post, though.

BEETLES!



God, that took ages to get them back in

So the beetles were originally in the game from the very start (in a much different way than they are now). They used to scramble your weapons back when we still had weapon swapping in the game. The changes made them obsolete, but we reimplemented them now. Better than ever. They are the first "utility"-type enemy. They can't damage your base (can't take HP off) - BUT they will both act as a damage sponge (albeit they are obviously quite fragile) and on hit they leave their head on the tracks and block your movement. Rolling into them for a bit breaks the head and makes it fall off. The harder you tilt the device (so you have more momentum) the more damage you do. I only started exploring all the possibilities for interesting wave design these give us. In any case I think these will definitely make for some tricky scenarios.

The beetle will come into play as a new enemy in Area 1 (the desert level).

Sandstorm Incoming!



WOOSH!

Each area (aside from the start area) will introduce an area specific "world effect" that causes some tricky changes to the levels taking place in that world. In area 1 ("the desert") it will be the sandstorm. This causes some light visual obstructions but mainly it will create "sandstone pillars" which will create obstacles that block some shots. Since the beam pierces objects the pillar will have no effect on the beam and only affect the cannon weapon (so it will most likely be in conjunction with red enemies).

Next week we gonna have a big playtest session, hopefully giving us some hands-on user experiences that we can use to figure out how to adjust these features to the maximum.

Thats all for this week.
Thanks for reading!
- Wyeth
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