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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMarrow Devlog - 2D, Action-Adventure, Horror
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Author Topic: Marrow Devlog - 2D, Action-Adventure, Horror  (Read 4171 times)
Brookesy
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« on: August 30, 2016, 11:43:25 PM »

Hello and welcome to the Devlog for Marrow. This won't be so much of a log tracking progress through development because development is nearing completion with the only things left to finish being the soundtrack, tweaks, balancing, optimizing and of course marketing and getting the game Greenlit on Steam. Marrow will need testers soon so keep your eyes open for your chance to get a credit in the game.

The house on the mountain and the crime that was buried

Instead this Devlog will look back a bit and describe some of the process and inspiration that lead to the project's creation. I will be posting soundtrack clips as I work on and finish them and be posting profiles on certain enemy types.


I will also be sharing some fun tidbits like early sketches of the game's maps, early hand drawn sketches of enemies and even the proof of concept playable demo which was made nearly 4 years ago and is what convinced me, or perhaps deluded me into believing, "hey, I can make a video game!" Looking back on it recently I can't believe it convinced me of anything.

If you want a breakdown or pitch of Marrow, please visit the game's Greenlight page and read the Spiel. Support it, spread the word, watch the trailer, like the facebook page, uh...high-five the twitter and...I guess fist bump the Indiedb page?

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=754069393




Or visit the games announcement on this very site in the Townhall section.

For this first entry I want to talk about origins of Marrow, the world it takes place in and give a general overview.

The initial idea behind Marrow was to make a fairly straight forward, and honestly kind of predictable Metroid-like using a low-fi, pixel art-style. The current game is made in the Construct 2 engine, but at first it was being built in the original Construct, now called Construct Classic. The change from a more low-fi style to something bigger and more detailed was actually done in part because of my desire to make the main character's facial expressions readable.

So readable

I wanted a mouth, eyes and nose visible. In retrospect I can't really explain why this was, possibly because of my love of Toon Link and a number of different Mega-Man sprites.

 Blink MARROW FUN FACT! Blink
The initial sprite (not the one currently used) for Daniel (the Hero) was a rather poor attempt to match Mega Man's sprite in the SNES Mega Man X trilogy.

The novel concept I kept coming back to for the central focus of the game was the interplay between light and dark(literally, not metaphorically). I knew I wanted to have a dark world illuminated at specific points and centre how Daniel would navigate through the world around the light source he was carrying, relying on it to not only cut through the dark but also to reveal otherwise invisible elements in the world.

Finding the first Medallion

In the final game this idea manifests with Daniel collecting hidden medallions which give off light and whose light grows with each collected with different areas of the game making the player nearly blind (or at least at a big disadvantage) if they don't have a strong enough medallion.Other scenarios also worked their way into the game, such as lighting torches (temporarily) to illuminate invisible platforms or the use of the Luminous Orb to play a note and briefly reveal a hidden enemy.

Daniel jams with the Lumen Flies in the chamber of mad birth

As stated in the marketing spiel, Marrow has no exposition, or dialogue, or cutscenes. That doesn't however mean it lacks context, or story in a very unconventional use of the term.

The world was built with a purpose, and with context in mind. It is not random and a careful eye might pick out details that might suggest certain elements of story (or lore as the kids say these days) without outright saying them. Honestly this comes from a desire by the author (me) to read the kinds of speculation and interpretations people come up with after finishing the game.

So the story exists, and I know it, but there is something exciting about seeing how others interpret things when you give them a small slice instead of explaining things to them. This is something I'm quite passionate about. The game also features simple things like title cards for areas and a credit sequence which gives the names of each enemy and boss, giving hints of lore.

The Patriarch

In a future post I may extrapolate on the origins of how Dan and the other orphans came to be in the old house on the mountain.

So that's the first Devlog post

Next Week

Enemy Profile


Stillborn



« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 06:41:37 PM by Brookesy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2016, 09:50:42 AM »

"...and watched silently as the briny smell began to spread like a warm mist, choking and stinging her eyes, but they remained open, unblinking at the sight of the source of the smell and the now very audible, otherworldly, chuntering sound. It was amorphous at times, and when fully visible its shape was senseless to her; sensible to us only in microbial form. It would evaporate and reform instantly, but never in the same space, like it was moving but it's movements were unseen. Soon she could glimpse the actual moment when the creature would travel, and it acted as if inhibited by no external force, not air, water or even gravity. It moved aimlessly at first, blinking in and out of sight, simultaneously straddling the poles of a perceptive sphere with only one visible to the human, or rather, living eye."


Stillborn, along with many other creatures inside Marrow's haunted mountain reflect one of the goals of this project. Namely to make a horror themed game that doesn't rely on the obvious "go-to" enemies that permeate the genre. The biggest offender tends to be the "Halloween decoration" subset of enemies. Rats, bats, spiders, crows, and of course, my personal favourite, the skele-man.

The Mountain has many undead (it is a haunted, burial site after all) but each comes in many different grotesque shapes, sizes and deformities. Non fall strictly into a uniform "zombie" type. Along with the hordes of deceased come a number of more alien creatures (like Stillborn) to keep them company. As you journey down the Mountain's innards the more ethereal beings become more frequent. There will even be creatures which bare traits from both undead and alien archetypes.

 Blink Marrow Fun Fact! Blink
The game's initial enemy concepts featured a number of  fairly overused creatures, including a large bat and even a feral vampire. both were scrapped as they were too inline with the "Halloween decoration" pitfall and they didn't make sense inside Marrow's universe.    


Stillborn is a mystery for the most part. They reveal themselves early on and permeate the entire game. Their skin is acidic but whether or not they actually intend to do harm to Dan is unknown, and unknowable. They are alien in that they don't originate on our perceptive plane, though that doesn't necessarily mean they are from outer space.

Stillborn have a couple of different behaviours in game, the most common is when they appear out of thin air and begin moving toward Dan, but as if blind, they can't quite aim themselves correctly. After a short time however they will zero in on Dan and move toward him aggressively. They can be fairly easily beaten back but unlike other enemies which have a tendency to stay dead until a save point is activated, Stillborn will continue appearing until engaged or fled from.

Please take the time to listen to a song from Marrow's OST





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Baptized


P.S. Marrow has officially been Greenlit! Thanks to everyone who voted!
« Last Edit: September 09, 2016, 10:39:22 AM by Brookesy » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 05:12:07 PM »


"The surface was solid but suspect, not unlike ice near the end of winter, with the familiar crunch and crackle of the pieces jutting out of the ground. Odd reflective pools of muddy liquid dotted the area, pools which moved and writhed and sloshed unnaturally in the damp cave. Peering into the puddles for too long might give the vague suggestion of an almost human form slurping and tossing inside the sludge. Soon after one might see the bright pinpoints denoting eyes, and a face wrought in agony."

The Baptized are a humanoid, swarming enemy and like certain forms of the Stillborn they cannot be permanently defeated, merely knocked back down into the muck from whence they came. Once knocked back they will re-spawn elsewhere within their pool and re-emerge once more if approached.


They only appear inside large pools of dried Marrow. It is solid enough for Dan to walk across, and distinct enough to be recognized as a place that will harbour these goopy, undead beings. They have no real nuance to their behaviour; once they have line of sight to Dan they will come after him until beaten back or until they hit something.

The inhabitants of the dried Marrow come in two forms, the larger of the two is no faster than its smaller counterparts but is more deadly and has a much bigger pool of health.


Fire is effective but watch your clarity.


With the right weapon the Baptized drop in one hit, however having a weak weapon could mean dealing with a group of surrounding Baptized which may take three or even four shots to put down, a potentially deadly mix.

The Marrow-men of the deep regions of the Mountain represent some of the gruesome and twisted ways in which Marrow can effect an organism (living or dead).


The Baptized were likely the victims of internal Marrow poisoning, either during the course of an experiment or in a misguided step along some blasphemous ritual, these people ingested Marrow and were eaten and transmogrified by the substance, changing them into an almost completely liquid state.

Their new forms were not fatal at first. These poor souls likely lived a long, natural life as a pool of muck, contemplating their own choices and existence as the horrors they had become, before succumbing to death. Now even some of those still wander, undead, inside the halls of the Mountain.  

Morrow OST - Pathways

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEXedzZBmyc&feature=youtu.be

Up next

Growth

« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 05:23:16 PM by Brookesy » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2016, 05:13:34 PM »


Subject's deformities are growing at an alarming rate. All facial features appear to have been swallowed up inside a mass of crusty flesh and fragments of growing bone are protruding out the subjects body. The mixture in the tonic was meant to dilute the effects of the substance, however they seem to be as horrific as before, different, but horrific nonetheless. I suspect soon the other subjects exposed to the tonic will swell as this one has and the labs in the house will be put at risk should the subjects size expand to the point of  ...explosion. I will recommend the subjects be moved to the lower caverns where they will pose no danger.

Growth is a deformed human whose exposure to some form of Marrow has swelled their body up to the point of being so volatile that a single hard smack could cause them to explode and spill out the noxious gasses and fluids of their innards.


They quickly seek out any noise they hear in an attempt to destroy themselves at the hands of whatever creature has wondered into the spot they dwell, presumably to end the pain of existing as the hideous and bulbous creatures they've become.

The explosion which ignites from contacting the Growth is large enough that striking the enemy with one of the shorter weapons in the game will still leave the player in range of the blast and cause damage. A well timed fireball will stop them dead in their tracks but their quickness means any hesitation will be long enough for the Growth to get close; listening to the sounds of one approaching is key to reacting in time. 



The Damage the Growth does is considerable, some of the highest in the game, but don't fret, along with the usual health and weapon upgrades Marrow's world also contains two earrings which cut the damage done by enemies greatly. Finding these are no straightforward deed however, unlike fairly common health upgrades you won't simply stumble upon them.

The odd statue in the basement of the Stuland Manor hides a secret

Other key items, like weapons and medallions are also tricky items to find, some requiring a careful memory of the many environments in the game and an observant eye of the subtle clues that will come your way. 

Marrow OST - Decayed Madness





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Gloom

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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2016, 06:45:49 PM »


"...it was as if a fleshy maelstrom had passed through the region. Gone were the rocks, the trees, the grass, replaced with this hulking mass of veins and polyps, even bones. The tower, once a prison for those inflicted with the red sickness was crumpled, kept up only by the entanglements of the cancerous growths surrounding it. The members of the envoy attempted to ignore the horrific implications the shapes and smells of the malignance would suggest, that this maze of fleshy caves bore a haunting resemblance to the internals of the human body, but soon they were overwhelmed with terror and began to flee, no longer concerned with confronting the lost Seer. Members of the envoy would later speak of catching glimpses of senseless forms inside the caves. Large masses of grey bulbs, half visible, floating perfectly still, suspended by nothing, with the grotesque suggestion of a face staring back at them."

The Gloom inhabits an area in the world of Marrow quite different from the earlier portions of the game. For one, it is an entirely optional, though very important if one is looking to see the real ending to the game. It is also an area mostly bereft of more common, defeatable enemies. Instead Malignance is an area mostly about avoidance.


The Gloom are harmless in their initial state, but once you cross paths with one of their "dreams" The whole of the region begins to pulsate and the creatures will be on you very quickly. The Gloom are one of the hardest hitting enemies in the game, dealing some of the highest amount of damage, things can go south very fast. 

An Inert Gloom
Emissary

The Gloom heed to no obstacles and can pass right through walls. They can't be harmed, pushed away or beaten, however, they can be rendered inert. Leaving the immediate area will reset them, but if an exit isn't nearby, search for the Emissary, an alien like creature who helps you enter the area. The Emissary will appear in certain spots around the room once the Gloom have been activated. Once found the Emissary will put the Gloom back to sleep and reset the area.


The Gloom only appear in Malignance, they are tailored for that area. Each new area in the game is designed to throw new things at you; enemies, mechanics, systems, puzzles. instead of a set of simple and organized routines. The simple formula of -->Area-->Temple-->Boss--> Repeat Ect. or variations of the sort seen in many other games is done away with in pursuit of making every new area a new experience which resets the players knowledge.   

Marrow OST - Lurking Echoes





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Patriarch

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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2016, 05:48:09 PM »


"Accursed, detestable Frederic! Fierce, brilliant Frederic. What would they say of me now? Mournful Frederic? Poor Frederic? Dead Frederic. Tucked motionless and alone inside this chamber, the walls adorned with the faceless cousins and brothers and sisters whose names I can't be bothered to recall. I can feel my life slipping, I can see my body; broken, crusty, disfigured. This death feels like a birth, the fading memories give way to wondrous truths, horrible truths. Even in death the search for the great truths eludes me. Truth is all we have, the pursuit of it, the most noble of deeds. I sought truth, lifted the rocks others were fearful to, and revealed the scope of our ignorance. I plunged the dagger into the very earth and fed on its blood. Let the Stuland name be forgotten, let all my kin be buried here with me, their Patriarch, and let this foul truth remain elusive to all the poor souls above. Curse the truth!"

The Stuland Patriarch is the very first boss in the game. A man who sold both his life and sanity to study and experiment with the substance flowing beneath his Manor, Marrow, as he and his kin would come to call it.


The Patriarch is a spectral entity, a spirit. His actual body can be found inside the Master bedroom of the Manor, a long room at the far side of the house which contains a group of invisible monsters as well as one of the fireplaces. The Patriarch can be heard speaking to the player in other rooms inside the Manor and even attempts to attack you after you have claimed the rapier using his spike-like limbs which stab out from the floor and ceiling, assuming the boss is still alive.

The Boss himself has various attacks, and like a few of the bosses in the game he has a 2nd tier. The most noticeable change is that he transmogrifies into an even more misshapen, less human version of his previous form.


The Patriarch's attacks include a quartet of limb like blades which line each of the walls, ceiling and floor of the room which will randomly stab outward with the only signal to the player being a short burst of dust from the spot the blades come out of. The Boss can also scream and cause all blades to shoot out at once.


The boss can only be afflicted with damage while his third eye is visible, his eye is also the source of his most deadly attack, a ball of energy which shoots out from the eye, and will bounce off the walls. The attack is relatively slow during the Patriarch's first form but speeds up greatly in the second phase. The attack can be stopped if struck with a weapon, however careful timing is required because the energy will linger for a split second and can damage you even after it is struck. In addition, the Patriarch can also shake the room and cause debris to fall from the ceiling.


Getting to the Boss from the beginning of the Manor is relatively straight forward and doesn't require you to explore much of the rest of the Manor at all, however a rather deadly energy field stands between the player and the Boss room. There is a way to destroy the field, however it is possible, depending on your current maximum health, to force your way through the field and fight the Boss with the field still active, though you'll need to beat the Boss without taking any damage in order to survive because the energy field does hefty damage to the player, and the trek to find a save point after the fight will be arduous.

Marrow OST - Ascension





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Witness

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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2016, 06:28:39 PM »

"The most peculiar of the delegation, the Octave, shrouded in hooded cloaks, skulking about in a crudely inhuman manner, adorned with masks depicting some vaguely lizardly face. Terrifying creatures, easily mistaken for the otherworldly things beneath the Manor, but still normal enough to remind the eye of their human past. They will frighten the children, the women, but it is worth it, to have audience with this most magnificent guest. The Octave, these witnesses of the deeper truths. Beneath the cloaks and masks I've glanced the most gaudy and pitiful of forms, yellow, skeletal things; armless, with a plunging endless hole where instead should be a face."

The Witness is one of the more common enemies in the game, though it only appears in a couple of areas. It is an emaciated human form, without arms, with pikes instead of legs, and a faceless head. Its Idle movements are erratic but the Witness only has one way to move, and that's leaping. Presumably it can't walk due to the bizarre shape of its legs, its arms likely removed to prevent it from falling over.


Like quite a few enemies in Marrow the Witness can only be damaged by attacking a specific spot on its body. Striking or shooting the legs or head won't do anything, instead the Witness must be bisected by hitting it in the abdomen.

Another wildcard factor with a number of enemies in the game, including the Witness, is their behaviour. Some of the Witness enemies will act differently than others. Some will bounce randomly around a room, while others might lie dormant until you approach and than retreat backward until you are close enough for them to strike, leaping forward and catching you off balance. Variable health is also a trait shared among a number of enemies in the game.


Certain types of enemies may buckle under a couple of hits but enemy health is individual based, not type based, so enemies of the same type both later on in the game and even mingling with their weaker kin may have an unexpectedly higher pool of health.

Marrow OST - Back Through Shadows

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfE2ByzjtDc&feature=youtu.be

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Migrant

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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2016, 06:09:14 PM »


"It has been weeks now... or is it months past since that bulbous, beautiful sphere had been cracked, and that low, maddening hum still wafts out from the walls and hollow ground beneath. My workers, the simple but observant men from Windheim could sense a presence, a mind, inside that darkened and dormant orb found beneath the Manor. Something was hiding inside, like a turtle flees to the inside of its shell. After it was cracked, but before it could be shattered, a face emerged, or so I was told. I did not see it, I seem rarely so lucky to witness such things, but others have said the face seemed to mimic the face of a man. The others surmise it was pleading to us, pleading for its life, I read it differently. I believe it was a warning to its kin below of the form of its captors. That is why it needed to be shattered, and soon we will have what's needed to harness that wretched hum."

The Migrant is an enemy composed of two parts; the body of the creature is a muddy, scaly blue form with two legs and what seems to be a single eye, but the "brain" of the creature is the sphere which is attached on top.



The migrant is a kind of mid-boss of sorts. It is only fought a few times in the game and can even be circumvented in one particular case. The enemy's only weak point is its brain, the body is impervious to both weapons and fire. Fortunately, the migrant begins in a kind of sleeping state and can be damaged easily from far away without making it aggressive if you are willing to spend the clarity to do so, otherwise you must approach it and begin attacking.


Weapon length matters in this fight since the body of the creature protrudes out enough that hitting the orb without taking damage by colliding with the body is hard with something as small as the dagger.

The migrant essentially only has two attacks. For one, it can strike one of its legs into the ground and send it shooting out of the ground at the very spot the player is standing. The only way for the migrant to move is to send its head flying across the room in a circular motion, it protects itself by forming two projectiles around itself and firing them at the player as it moves away. At this point it could emerge just about anywhere in the immediate area, even right where the player is standing so it is important to try and defeat the monster as fast as possible. Later fights with the Migrant also introduce some other enemies into the mix to make the fight a bit more difficult to deal with.


Marrow OST - Entombed





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Mass

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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2017, 06:55:07 PM »



"What devilry?! I am at my wit's end! No matter what we try, those which succumb to the sickness have an insatiable thirst and will to remain. We have buried them, locked them away, chopped them and even burned them to no avail. Perhaps in this pursuit of the secrets held within the deep we have neglected this saddening display of the will of man to circumvent his very death. Some have formed hulking masses, twisted perversions, melted into a husk of dead flesh and bone, writhing in the darkened corners. They are harmless though, unless approached, best leave them where they stand, cemented in the ground, waiting for a second death."




Mass is a simple enemy type encountered a number of times during the game under varying circumstances. It does not move or chase you, it will not curse you and it doesn't pack the hardest punch in terms of damage (though it is still substantial). However it is impassable, and they do guard a number of important places and are often assisted in this task by other enemies making them a little more complicated than they may seem at first glance.

Their main and only attack is to swipe at you with their one big arm. In order to damage them they must be struck in the head. The length of your weapon makes all the difference in these encounters, assuming you have beaten back any assisting enemies striking the head and avoiding the claw attack should be quite easy, but, do look up from time to time. 




Echo Enemies

The Echo realm contains one very distinct enemy type, and in this state, most other enemies become invisible and harmless, however there are few enemies that retain their damaging qualities even inside the Echo realm.

Some of the harmless threats in the echo realm will turn invisible after you have viewed the echo light, but not all. Even inside the echo realm certain enemies will see you and attack you but can't do damage, though you won't know this until after the enemies have already struck. In addition, there are enemies, like the Mass, which will remain a threat even inside the altered perceptive state that is the Echo realm. The Mass in particular is a nuisance because it cannot be passed by or avoided, and since you cannot attack in your echo form, the creature must be defeated in the realm of normal perception.

As a side note, non-echo enemies which remain active in the Echo realm also deal different damage percentages in their echo state. 

Marrow OST - Into the Breach





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Boss Profile

The Imprisoned Seer


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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2017, 06:18:18 PM »


"Blinded, maimed, buried and surrounded by the fleshy mound created by the soiled bodies of the Marrow cancer. His eyes have been taken to the fringes, guarded by those dear sweet Emissaries. That shameful crime I helped produce is caught in the deepest place it could be brought, now haunted over by those few selfless minds left behind. This should be enough, but it won't be. Instead I must bury all of it, tower the earth above this valley and envelop all beneath a mountain of dirt. Will it be enough? Men are prone to  dig. My hope that the terror of Frederic's wake will be enough to ward off any curiosity, before any travel further below. Curiosity has ruled me, and now may have doomed us all, if my measures are not enough to silence these beacons."

The Imprisoned Seer is a an optional boss at the end of an optional section of Marrow and possess the final weapon (Tendril), a very powerful weapon which is needed in order to get the game's true ending.


The road to the Seer requires a careful eye and a good memory of your previous surroundings. It isn't enough to simply reach his cabin, the entrance to the Seer's prison isn't so easily broken in to. In order to open the path to the Seer the player must collect a number of the Seer's eyes, hidden in secret rooms around the game world, and protected by a set of mini-bosses. Finding these locations is where your memory and instincts have to be sharp.



The boss hangs from the ceiling and fires projectiles at the player. Each projectile spawns with a random colour. Use the orb to destroy the ones which spawn from his hands and reflect those which come from his head, that is the only way to damage the boss. Striking the boss with your weapon will damage you so be cautious about engaging the other enemies in the room during the fight. Two of the "Taken" enemies will continuously spawn during the fight, in addition to the enemies which spawn from the Seer's dripping blood. Managing the other enemies and timing your attacks are the keys to winning this fight, which can be a bit of an endurance match given how difficult he is to damage.


In Echo mode, this boss fight plays out a bit differently. Since you can't distinguish colours in Echo mode the Seer's projectiles will always spawn in a state that can be reflected only with a weapon strike. It seems like a small change but the challenge is ramped up significantly due to the position of the attack and the precision needed to hit it. Interestingly enough, due to this change the boss doesn't technically require the Luminous Orb to defeat. 

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