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Author Topic: Lazarus  (Read 2969 times)
andyfromiowa
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« on: October 19, 2016, 04:28:32 pm »




"The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, 'Unwrap him and let him go!'" - John 11:44



Lazarus is an NES-style adventure game where you play as a monk resurrected by the heavens to fight the forces of evil.  To carry out this holy mission, you explore dark corridors, dodge traps, and fight a wide range of enemies.

Lazarus keeps it simple.  There are no RPG elements, no ability unlocks, and only a single weapon – a scythe.  Players progress by learning the environment and reaching new checkpoints.  Upon death, enemies and traps respawn and resurrection occurs at the last checkpoint.

This is a one-person project that I've been working on in my free time for several months.  I thought I'd share it and get some feedback and suggestions.  The game is being developed with Game Maker for PC.  Artwork is mostly Photoshop.  Sound effects are SFXR and Audacity.

Here are few early gameplay clips:


« Last Edit: November 04, 2017, 08:19:05 pm by andyfromiowa » Logged

andyfromiowa
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2016, 10:17:54 am »

After viewing the first post on my phone, I realized the lighting is MUCH darker than on my PC.  Definitely need to make that customizable.

In the meantime, I've been working on animations and room transitions.

Here's the angel in motion:


And, here's the door animation with a fading transition:


I miss Game Maker having built in room transitions.  I suppose they got rid of those to support multiple platforms, but still, kind of pain to build from scratch.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2016, 08:46:28 pm »

If I've learned one thing from working on this, it's that I tend to severely underestimate the amount of time and effort needed to make even incremental progress.  Here's a prime example, I wanted a cannon that slowly moved towards the player, but only within a set range.  The idea in my head (which I was 100% certain would do the job) didn't deliver.

Luckily, I brainstormed with a math teacher and she helped me apply some trigonometry to make it work. Take note kids, you will use this stuff someday.

Here's the end result:



Note: I'm recording GIFs well under the game's actual resolution.  Otherwise, the files are too large for my PC.  The native resolution is much less jagged.

In the above GIF, you can also catch a glimpse of some banners and a candlestick.  This is just a testing room, but I'm working on decorations to create some variety and visual intrigue in the environment.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2017, 03:22:35 pm »

It's been a while since I updated this.  I recently got a new job and the holidays were fairly busy – so I haven't worked on the game for quite a while.  Today, I forced myself to make something new and post it.

Here's the result - a minotaur enemy with a basic idle animation:



This process reminded me how important short-term goals are for staying motivated.  I feel like I almost have enough content at this point to release a demo and I think I need to set a date and commit to making it happen.  Stay tuned!
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Pixel Noise
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2017, 08:35:35 pm »

I'm digging the sprites! Also like the simplified approach you are taking with the mechanics. Following  Beer!
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2017, 01:42:33 pm »

Thanks, Pixel Noise.

I don't have much progress to report since last time.  Life and work have kept me busy.

I slightly re-colored the minotaur sprite and implemented basic animation by rotating the arm.  It's barely even a prototype at this point, but I have some ideas of different attack patterns that could make it an interesting enemy.



Also, here's a preview of the first boss zone: 


The first boss is finished, but I think I'll keep it under wraps until the demo is ready.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2017, 06:12:06 pm »

I'm happy to report I'm almost ready to switch over to map building for a demo release.  Almost everything I've made previously has implemented in a sterile testing room.

In preparation for level design, I've been thinking about games with level design I like – and analyzing why I like them.  This made me think of the key cards in Doom and how it rewarded exploration and forced less linear gameplay.  I know locked doors are hardly revolutionary, but with difficult corridors and enemies that re-spawn upon death, this should function a bit like unlocking shorcuts in Dark Souls.  Also, keys are not generic - meaning you need a specific key to open a specific lock (or a series of specific keys).

I also started sketching some artwork for an elevator system to access a new area.  I was initially planning on making most of the game as a single, massive level.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that isn't a good idea - both because of memory usage and lighting differences.  The initial concept was to allow the player to travel in multiple directions and fight bosses in any order - that will be maintained, just with more segmented routes along the way.

Here's the current artwork for the locks and keys:


I also dedicated a few hours today to making a title screen for the game.  I'm not going to lie – this was heavily inspired by the Adventure of Link title screen from back in the day.  The gif below was made in Photoshop, but once it's implemented in-game, the stars will twinkle.

Here's the current title screen in motion:



Here's a still image:


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InterGalactic
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2017, 07:52:28 pm »

Hey, it looks great for the most part, reminds me of Ghouls and ghosts. Something about those green walls puts me off though (it's not contributing to the dark ambience). perhaps it would look better in an more earthy , darker color. Even a desaturated purple could work better. Also I like what you did with the lighting, more of that and/or little particle glows could go a long way.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2017, 08:47:45 pm »

Hey, it looks great for the most part, reminds me of Ghouls and ghosts. Something about those green walls puts me off though (it's not contributing to the dark ambience). perhaps it would look better in an more earthy , darker color. Even a desaturated purple could work better. Also I like what you did with the lighting, more of that and/or little particle glows could go a long way.

I appreciate the honest feedback.  I'll play around with the wall color and report back on how it looks.  Coffee
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Pixel Noise
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2017, 12:10:43 pm »

Love the title screen!
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Pixel Noise - professional composition/sound design studio.
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Recently completed the Underworld Dungeon OST! http://store.steampowered.com/app/520300/Underworld_Dungeon/
andyfromiowa
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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2017, 06:23:59 pm »

Love the title screen!

Thank you.  Beer!




I've been playing around with the green background color to see how it affects the overall look:




I think both versions are improvements, and I hope to have different areas colored differently.  I will try out some other possibilities - but in the meantime, feedback is welcome.


I've also got a simple dialogue system working:



I started with this code example from a site called Game Jolt, which I found through a search.  I had to adapt it quite a bit to get it working the way I wanted.  I ended up using the "Draw GUI" event so that the font could be rendered at a higher resolution and not blown up like other sprites.

I don't expect the game to have much dialogue - just a line or two here and there for some lore and backstory.  So, I think this will meet my needs.  Something weird is happening where the first line of script gets skipped on occasion (I'd say it works 95% of the time).  From a debugging standpoint, this is frustrating.  I would much rather have it work or not work, rather than mostly work.  I'm taking some time away from it for now and hope that fresh eyes can sort out the issue later.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 06:34:34 pm by andyfromiowa » Logged

andyfromiowa
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« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2017, 06:34:49 pm »

Happy to report that the lock and key system is working.  I expect the triple locks will take some trial and error, but I'll cross that bridge soon enough.

I've also created a working elevator:


After its lowered off screen, the game will transition to a narrow corridor where it will gradually get darker as you descend. This will introduce the player to an area where light is scarce and proceeding cautiously is a must.  The “ropes” around the pulleys are a combination of raster graphics and code-drawn line.  If you look closely, you'll notice they're a smidge off.  I'm hoping I can clean that up a bit.

The switch in the middle will be animated soon.  Also, I'm planning on having a power source that must be turned on to use the elevator.  I'm still toying with some ideas for what that will look like - but I'm happy with where it's headed.
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Josep Monzonis
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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2017, 11:36:11 pm »

Hey, it looks fun!

I love hard platformer games!
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2017, 06:21:45 pm »

Hey, it looks fun!

I love hard platformer games!

Thanks!  Hopefully it ends up being tough but fair.



Lately, I've been making a lot of small improvements to the game, but I haven't had much to show off visually.

I wanted to create a new enemy that attacked in a different way.  I'm calling this enemy a druid – to fit with the game's religious theme and offer an explanation why they're opposing the biblical protagonist.  The druid has no defense or mobility, but he can summon comets from the sky that induce an earthquake effect.

Here's the druid in motion, plus some crate busting:



Click here to watch the video on Twitter.
The gif doesn't have enough frames to capture the screenshake well.

I sketched a few druid variants (with different types of spells), and I think they will add some challenge when combined with the dangerous environment.  I also sketched some new environmental pieces, like the crates and spears above.  While some of these will be functional, like windows that let in bats or chandeliers that shine light, others will simply be decorative and offer a point of reference.
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Pixel Noise
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2017, 07:46:09 am »

Totally forgot to say - I like all the color variations of the background that you showed. You should do some reddish variations as well! I think red would look cool with the aesthetic you've got going.
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Pixel Noise - professional composition/sound design studio.
 https://soundcloud.com/pixel-noise
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 https://pixelnoisemusic.bandcamp.com/

Recently completed the Underworld Dungeon OST! http://store.steampowered.com/app/520300/Underworld_Dungeon/
andyfromiowa
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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2017, 02:28:52 pm »

Totally forgot to say - I like all the color variations of the background that you showed. You should do some reddish variations as well! I think red would look cool with the aesthetic you've got going.


Thanks for the feedback.  I appreciate it.  I made a red-hued version of the same background early on that I will probably end up using (although, I might darken it up some):


Later in the game, I would like to do some more hellish areas with lava-esque backgrounds kind of like this:


This is just a rough proof of concept.  The background will be more seamless and the area will have appropriate decor and enemies.  I made this with GIMP's animation tools - so it's not even running in game.  Right now, I'm going to focus on building up the early game areas and getting a demo out for feedback.  Still, it's a fun preview of what's to come.
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Pixel Noise
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« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2017, 09:29:13 am »

Building up a working playable demo first is definitely the right approach, I think.
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Pixel Noise - professional composition/sound design studio.
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 https://twitter.com/PixelNoiseMusic
 https://pixelnoisemusic.bandcamp.com/

Recently completed the Underworld Dungeon OST! http://store.steampowered.com/app/520300/Underworld_Dungeon/
andyfromiowa
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« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2017, 02:18:45 pm »

Sorry it's been a while since I've written anything.  I've been working on game saves and data management – which tend not to make the best devlog GIFs.

I initially planned on using Game Maker's built-in save and load functions for this game.  I've always heard that those functions are extremely limited and now I know why.  I tested out “persistent” rooms to maintain the player's progress (a.k.a. things that you've killed in previous rooms stay dead when you backtrack).  Even for a basic game like this, it performed terribly.  After several rooms had been saved to memory and surface effects were being called, I even managed to run out of memory.

So...I started reading up on save systems that read and write to an INI file.  I know this is basic stuff for most Game Maker users, but this was new territory for me.  After watching several YouTube videos and some online documentation, I managed to get it working.

Basically, when a room loads, the individual instances of enemies check an INI file to see if they are in the list of previously killed enemies.  If they are, they are destroyed before the level starts.  When the player dies and resurrects, this file's content is erased and the enemies are restored.  This makes the rooms “persistent” without actually saving entire room states in memory.  When a room is re-entered, it's created with the same remaining enemies as when it was exited.  I'm happy with this method and memory-wise, it performs extremely well.

I realize this would allow a savvy person to make note of instance IDs and manipulate the file to kill enemies – but if someone wants to go through that much trouble to kill a few bats, then so be it.  Shrug



In other news, I've started designing levels on paper and building them in game.  I'm trying to make things non-linear and reward exploration – which led me to realize that the game can't be as bare-bones as I was originally intending.  I have an idea for some collectible items to build upon the lore and maybe impact the end game.  More on that later.

Also, during testing, I found out my doors have some bugs that need to be worked out.  Something with the depth and surface effects gets messed up after backtracking.  I'm hoping to have that worked out by this weekend and then focus more on the creative aspect of game design and less on the technical.
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Eluardian
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« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2017, 05:38:37 pm »

I love the idea and how it's progressing so far. Good stuff!

I particularly like the bluish/ purple variant. It works nicely against the golder and fierier prop tones.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2017, 07:39:36 pm »

I love the idea and how it's progressing so far. Good stuff!

I particularly like the bluish/ purple variant. It works nicely against the golder and fierier prop tones.

Thanks!

I appreciate the feedback on the backgrounds.  I think that color combination is my favorite also.  I need to recolor, or at least bump up the brightness, on a few sprites (like the spiders) to make it work all around, but those changes should be pretty easy.
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