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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsOperation Hardcore - 2D side-scrolling shooter
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Author Topic: Operation Hardcore - 2D side-scrolling shooter  (Read 5786 times)
snugsound
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« on: October 25, 2015, 11:06:01 am »


Hey guys, Adam here from the Operation Hardcore team! Gentleman

OH is a game I've been working on for about a year now, originally solo, but I've since recruited an old pixel artist friend, Keops.

The idea behind the game was to recreate some of the charm (and difficulty) of beloved classic action games like Contra, Mega Man, etc. but on a modern engine and with modern niceties.

Overall we've gone for a retro aesthetic (somewhere between 8-bit and 16-bit--let's say "12-bit"!), but we haven't really gone for "accuracy" per se: we're using HD particle effects, lighting, modern sound design techniques, etc. to create a more atmospheric and dynamic world.

Here are some of our key milestones so far:
  • we were Greenlit (as of July), we're hoping to release within the next few months (PC, initially)
  • we've been approved for release on Xbox One (as of September) through the [email protected] program

And here's a highlight of what we have planned in terms of features and content*:
  • 12 levels of fiery, bloody, explosive-y alien-blasting mayhem
  • 4 playable badasses
  • analog controls for precise 360 degree aiming
  • modern sound design and electronic soundtrack by Snug (that's me)
  • intense 2 player local co-op and deathmatch
  • modern particle/atmospheric and lighting effects
  • multiple difficulty settings, upgrade paths and secret areas
  • achievements and unlockables for the overachieving, enterprising badass

From a technical perspective here's the stack:
  • Unity and C#
  • various Unity assets: 2DVLS (defunct), InControl, iTween
  • Tiled and Tiled2Unity for maps

I've done the sound design and music pretty much exclusively in Ableton Live.

Here's the original concept art for the "badasses", by the talented Halifax-based artist Dan Helle:




Here's the latest batch of screenshots (full size shots on Steam store page):


We also have a demo (first 2 levels) which you can check out here. (disclaimer: the demo is few months old now--the game has come a long way since then--but should give you a general idea of what we're going for!)

Other links and stuff:

Watch this space for dev updates, new screenshots, videos, etc. Thanks for reading/following our progress, we welcome any and all feedback  Smiley

EDITS:
  • update launch features, links, screenshots (Dec 31, 2015)
  • update completion %, add Tumblr URL (Feb 13, 2016)
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 01:35:49 pm by snugsound » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2015, 11:29:36 am »

Spent the better part of the day the revamping the menu UIs (7 down, 2 to go). Originally I had just roughed them in using the fairly nondescript Unity defaults, but this didn't really fit the overall aesthetic of the game.

Before:



After:



Sadly, I didn't think ahead and use prefabs for buttons, so this was a fairly tedious effort. Huh? (oh how I wish they had carried over the concept of "styles" into the new UI system...)
« Last Edit: October 25, 2015, 11:36:15 am by snugsound » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2015, 07:46:49 am »

Propping up the forest level with Keops's lush art:

  • cleaned up the background and made the pixel density consistent with everything else
  • added an additional parallax layer
  • replaced tile-based one-way platforms with stump sprites
  • added a couple layers of (non-parallax) trees (sadly, some of the branch detail is off-screen--we'll probably need to make them a bit shorter)

I think it's looking pretty spiffy Well, hello there!



Oh, and I also decreased the film grain effect (not pictured) as it was mucking up the crispness of the pixel art.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 01:08:43 pm by snugsound » Logged

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Keops
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2015, 06:14:57 am »

Hey TIGers! I'm Ricardo, known around these parts as Keops. I'm working with Adam on this game and I'm going to share with you some info about the art.

This here is a post I made for our IGG campaign talking about the art and the improvements I made since I joined Adam. Unfortunately I joined the team a bit late during the IGG drive and I couldn't push harder than I did, but still made good progress on the art front. Our campaign wasn't very successful, we only managed to raise around 300 dollars from 6 contributors, but we managed to spark some interest in the project (and the subsequent Greenlight effort) and we also learnt a lot from the experience.

Since we published the demo back in July we've polished the assets a lot and also improved the gameplay tremendously via tweaks and bugfixes (even updated the logo!). But nevertheless, I'm going to share this as some of you might find it interesting (and also to archive this in the DevLog).

See you around!

***

Operation Hardcore: Powered by Awesome Pixels

Hey everyone! Ricardo here!

As Adam pointed out in the last update, I've joined the Operation with the sole purpose of making it even more Hardcore™. I'm going to lend my graphic design and pixel art skills to this amazing project and aid with promotional art, so I think now is a good time to share with all of you a bit of the work I'm doing. Prepare for old-school pixel goodness!



Evolution of the Badasses



The player character sprite is arguably the most important graphical asset in the game. For that reason the first thing I did when I took on the role of artist for the game was to iterate on the characters, starting with our first Badass, to whom we shall refer as "Army".

At first (for prototyping and testing purposes) the game used some assets from open/free game art libraries. While this assets are not bad per se, they lack the custom look and personality we want to implement. In short: This dude doesn't look at all like our Army concept. Not hardcore enough!



Later on, before I joined the team, Adam worked with the folks at m07games, who crafted original badass sprites for the game, including Army.



While the sprites they pushed were a clear improvement and a step in the right direction, Adam still wanted to improve the look and feel of the character. So I took m07's Army as a starting point and refined the sprite further.



The refinements in the pixel art aim to improve the silhouette and contrast of the sprite. Since we're using small sprites and then scaling them up for a retro-feel, it's important to cram as much detail as possible while still keeping readability high and projecting the desired personality for the character.



The animation was also tweaked with additional frames to make the walk/run cycle smoother, and more Hardcore. The arm was also given more muscle, 'cuz, y' know, Army is a pretty buff operative!



Cool, but what about the other graphics?

We want to push the look of the game as far as possible, so improvements are being made all around to make levels, enemies and the overall aesthetic way more interesting! Here you can see some of the improvements made:



I hope you like my work for Operation Hardcore, and if you like it, please share it with your friends and your social networks! We also have a dedicated Twitter and Facebook now, so follow us to keep up to date with the project! Support the badasses against the aliens! Become a part of this Operation and be a HARDCORE!

Peace! Ricardo out!

***

I am also experimenting with gif capture, here are a couple of GIFs I recorded yesterday. Since these are newer you can see more improvements to the game and the HUD:



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El-Metallico
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2015, 06:32:19 am »

Dude, this looks awesome! Btw, nice music
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« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2015, 09:11:06 am »

Looks great! I really dig the art style--it grabbed my attention the minute I saw it in Screenshot Saturday. Following the log.
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2015, 12:18:11 pm »

I'm glad you like it Natman and thanks for the follow! Smiley We'll be sure to keep this devlog up to date and add new screens and animations regularly.
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2015, 12:21:33 pm »

I started integrating InControl today. So far it's been a fairly tedious job since I need to refactor pretty much all input handling code. (but it seems like something that would be fairly straightforward to integrate at the start of a project! Facepalm)

I decided to make the switch to a third-party input manager in order to support as many gamepads as possible, and because I didn't particularly feel like reinventing the wheel. (previously, the game was hard-coded for Xbox 360 gamepads only)

This is going to allow us to support a whole whack of different gamepads on Windows:

Executioner XLogitech F310
Logitech F510Logitech F710
Logitech WingManMaxFire Blaze5
Moga ProNatec Genesis P44
OUYA controllerNVIDIA Shield
PlayStation 2 controllerPlayStation 3 controller
PlayStation 4 controllerSpeedlink Strike
SteelSeries FreeValve Streaming Gamepad
Xbox One controllerXbox 360 (and clones)

Although of these, we're probably only going to support gamepads that have both triggers and shoulder buttons, as at present they're integral to the mechanics of the game.

Things I have yet to work out:

  • deadzones/sensitivity: I had this working perfectly before, but the InControl defaults don't "feel" right. Also, if I use InputManager.ActiveDevice with more than one gamepad connected I get some weird behaviour. Seems like a deadzone issue, but needs more investigation.
  • gamepad control of UI: the included InputModule is using ActiveDevice, which is fine for the most part, but doesn't work for the vendor/shop UI in multiplayer mode as we don't want player 1 controlling the shop for player 2 and vice versa.
  • devices disconnected during gameplay: as a starting point I plan to automatically pause the game when a device is dis/connected, but I think it's going to be a lot more involved in this, like to the point that I may need to display a remapping dialog!

On the slightly less technical side, I spent some time over the weekend working on a marketing plan, as well as updating the website to match the look of the game UI:



Still a bit "flat", but a good base to start from anyway.

Also mocked up a landing page for our upcoming marketing push (once the Steam page is live):





« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 04:09:47 pm by snugsound » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2015, 04:08:33 pm »

I'm messing around with trying to get blood particles to stick to map tiles. Ultimately, I'm looking for a convenient way to achieve this without having to add a bunch of 3D planes to the levels.

Here's an achievable but fairly impractical approach:



It's impractical because it relies on the particle system being a specific distance from the mesh, and a very specific amount of force being applied in order to push the particles into the mesh. Bleh.



Back to the drawing board, I guess (still, looks pretty cool... definitely the look I'm going for!)
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Keops
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2015, 08:03:10 am »

New artwork: Level 3 Boss Room. Not many things come to my mind when thinking oldschool than these type of waterfalls.
 


It's amazing how much the atmosphere of the game improves by applying a fresh coat of paint, ie. polishing the assets and adding neat touches like these.
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Keops
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2015, 12:06:34 pm »

Revisiting the first boss, Alien Scout Drone's beam attack animation. I'm pretty pumped, it looks a ton better and packs a ton of energy. Before we just had a plain beam and some particle fx, but now it is made of sweet, old-school pixel animation.

This is also something new for me, it's the first time I try to make effect animations in pixel art at this size (all my previous animations were tiny and less detailed) and I'm pretty satisfied with the output.

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Keops
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2015, 05:16:52 pm »

Making some new background artwork for Act 5 and updated assets to test how it looked in-game. While testing things got interesting. Somehow, the controls got bugged (inverted Y axis, but only on this level  Embarrassed Adam said it's probably an easy fix, probably related to InControl integration), and suddenly the level became hell  Hand Any Key Hand Any Key

As it became a nightmare to aim, I decided to just avoid enemies and by the time I reached the boss, the enemies kept moving towards me and eventually they reached me.

Things got a bit chaotic rather fast. Insane fun!



Also going to properly equip the badasses when they go to outer space:

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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2015, 08:28:34 am »

While testing things got interesting. Somehow, the controls got bugged (inverted Y axis, but only on this level  Embarrassed Adam said it's probably an easy fix, probably related to InControl integration), and suddenly the level became hell  Hand Any Key Hand Any Key

This is fixed now Tongue
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2015, 05:40:12 pm »

Too much? Evil

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snugsound
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2015, 09:02:14 am »

I always found the the badass's heads a little too static... made them look kind of goofy, i.e. not even looking where they're aiming Durr...?

So today I took at stab at rotating the heads dynamically based on where they're aiming. It's currently clamped to +/- 15 deg, which I think looks pretty natural:



Oh, and I also finally got around to fixing the "moonwalk" issue (walking animation was being played in the same direction regardless of movement direction!)

Now I just gotta animate the "head bob" that was previously baked into the sprite sheets, and let Ricardo clean up the mess I made by ripping the head out of the sprite sheets Wink
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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2015, 01:05:11 pm »



Dude, I wanna see those pixels... Smiley

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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2015, 01:11:54 pm »

So as part of our marketing and promotion strategy, as well as in the interest of polishing the game further, Ricardo and I are building a (proper) intro cinematic. It'll be used not only by the game, but also as the start of the new and improved trailer.

Here's the first scene we're working on...



  • sphere rendered off-screen, with a couple low-res point-filtered texture (one for earth, one for cloud cover)
  • off-screen camera rendered to a point-filtered Unity "render texture"
  • render texture applied to a plane, and scaled up for pixelated goodness

Meta-lo-fi! Grin

P.S. the Steam store page has been approved, so as soon as we get some new screenshots and the new trailer it'll be marked as "Coming soon" and we can finally work towards getting folks to wishlist/follow it![/list]
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2015, 08:13:49 am »

Insanely productive weekend, motivation level was super high...

  • completed mocking up intro cinematic, still a ways to go but all the transitions are now there. Also gave me an excuse to finally play around with Unity 5's audio mixer.
  • voice acting for intro cinematic Wink
  • added controller rumble when rockets/grenades explode, and when player dies
  • added screen-shake effect when rockets/grenades explode
  • added some audio silliness to the stats screen, depending on badass rank (ranging from cheers, to booing, to an indifferent "hmmm")
  • added fireworks to stats screen (for badass rank 3, the highest badass rank)
  • background music for act intro/transition screen
  • added SFX for alien troopers (one of the main enemies in the game, which were previously totally silent)
  • improved lighting for all darker levels (some were a tad too dark)

Phew
« Last Edit: November 23, 2015, 10:55:57 am by snugsound » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2015, 08:53:51 am »

Reminds me of Broforce! Love retro action games!
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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2015, 09:36:20 am »

Reminds me of Broforce! Love retro action games!

The sad truth is that I've never actually played BroForce... Embarrassed definitely gotta fix that soon!
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