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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2017, 07:38:37 PM »

After spending a lot of time on technical stuff, I've decided to postpone fixing the door bug and focus on getting some other gameplay and design elements to work.  Obviously, a game about coming back from the dead needs a resurrection animation.  So, here's what I've got so far:


He has risen!

Also, I just finished up testing this trap room.  It's pretty standard adventure game stuff: there's a locked door and a switch to open it...but before the door opens several waves of bats must be defeated.


Afterwards, the bars rise up and the player can progress.


I'm not completely happy with how the bars are spaced over the doors.  The limited number of pixels makes it a challenge...but I will experiment with some heavier bars and different layouts to see if they look better.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2017, 03:33:14 PM »

After several weeks of procrastinating, I finally dedicated a few hours to redesigning the door system.

The original code was sloppy and inefficient.  Connecting two doors across two levels wasn't intuitive and made level design a chore.  I was also relying on Game Maker's use of persistent rooms which was causing inconsistencies with depth (the original doors actually changed depth at a certain frame to literally cover up the player).  There was also a nasty memory leak that could be induced by repeatedly switching rooms.

It was painful to throw out most of the code, but I was able to simplify how the doors work and avoid using persistent rooms altogether.  Instead, when the player activates a door, it writes the destination to a global variable and changes to the appropriate room.  Once that room starts, it uses that destination variable to move the player to the correct door on the other side.

This allows for working rooms with more than two doors – which couldn't be done simply by persistent rooms.  Performance-wise, this seems to be a solid upgrade also.  Less data is saved in memory and repeated room transitions are no longer an issue.

I also did away with the depth change and simply added the player sprite to the animation and made the player invisible and immobile while doors open and close.  Everything is simpler and more elegant.

Here's the new door system in action.  It doesn't look all that different, but I assure you, it's a significant upgrade:

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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2017, 04:42:53 PM »

Now that some of the technical issues are ironed out, I've been working on designing some new enemies.  For now, I've been testing them out in the same generic space.

Introducing the Slug:


The Slug has great senses despite having no eyes and is capable of moving at explosive speeds.  It only takes one hit to kill but I have plans more a more difficult variant that will spawn enemies and endure multiple hits.

I also made the Caster:


The Caster is a new type of druid that shoots fireballs and takes three hits to kill.  By themselves they're not too challenging, but that can change in a tight corridor or a room loaded with smaller enemies.

There are more new enemies on the way – including a mutated blob that releases a toxic gas cloud as a defense mechanism.

In other news, I am planning to show off a demo in early June to a small group of people.  I'm helping host a barbecue, so I thought it might be fun to have an early build of the game running that folks can try out if they want.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2017, 07:39:30 PM »

Working on enemies that generate toxic clouds.  I didn't plan on having the Slug use this effect, but it was easy to test out and once I saw it, it just fit.  Killing the Slug results in this:


I also added this Toxic Flower that shoots three toxic seeds in quick succession.  I need to improve the animation (it's barely noticeable), add some surrounding vines, and test it out with other enemies - but overall, I'm happy with this addition.

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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2017, 12:46:06 PM »

I showed off a small demo of the game over the weekend to some friends.  I downloaded some keyboard mapping software for a controller and hooked my laptop up to the tv through the HDMI port.  It was really cool for me to see it played on a tv and it only took a few minutes to set up.

Most of the folks who played the demo weren't really gamers, and certainly not hardcore platformer fans.  People died A LOT.  I only saw one person successfully complete a level.  I was also preparing food, so I might have missed it if someone else did.  Despite the high body count, no one seemed to think their deaths were unfair.  One girl said it was addictive and that she would play it on her phone if she could.

So, feedback-wise, that was encouraging to hear, but the majority of the demo wasn't actually seen – including the boss fight and new skeleton enemies.

I was rushing to meet the deadline, so I didn't really create the non-linear world I was hoping for.  I also cut several levels and combined elements that should be separate.  For that reason, I'm not releasing this demo online yet.  I want to build out the game world and add a little more content before I open it up to people who are more experienced with platformers.  Still, it's very close to being ready.

Here are several screenshots from the demo:











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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2017, 09:05:02 PM »

It's been a long time since I've worked on the game.  I did some traveling this summer and unplugged for a few weeks.  I'm back to my normal routine now, but haven't done much development yet.  I did find time to start artwork on a new boss.

Here's what I've got so far:


The general idea is that the hive of skulls will follow different movement patterns and break off into smaller skeleton enemies throughout the fight.  I'll find some time this weekend to test the idea out.  Hope to have more news soon!
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Think Inside The Box
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« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2017, 08:36:18 AM »

Love difficult platformers, Super Meat Boy is one of my favorite indie game of all time, so this is definitely my cup of tea. The most important things, in my opinion, are to have a balanced/fair gameplay, captivating level design and most importantly solid controls. Interested in seeing more.

And is that a parody of Zelda II title screen i see?
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2017, 08:12:58 PM »

Love difficult platformers, Super Meat Boy is one of my favorite indie game of all time, so this is definitely my cup of tea. The most important things, in my opinion, are to have a balanced/fair gameplay, captivating level design and most importantly solid controls. Interested in seeing more.

And is that a parody of Zelda II title screen i see?

Thanks - I think you're exactly right.  The title screen was definitely inspired by Zelda II.

-

In other news, I dedicated a few hours tonight to creating the archer version of the skeleton.  There was some painful troubleshooting with animation.  I didn't realize that Game Maker's "draw_sprite_ext" function will stop animating if the current "sprite_index" has less frames.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why the archer only drew the bow halfway and stopped.  Eventually, I added a line of code and he stopped being a conscientious objector.  I'm pretty happy with the end result.

Here's how it's killed:



And here's how it kills you:



It needs some tweaking and a death animation, but with this enemy working, I can move onto designing the second boss.  I'm really looking forward to getting this amalgam of skulls up and running.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2017, 07:36:56 PM »

Project isn't dead, I've just been very busy with work and daily life.  I'm making this game as a hobby and as things have become more of a grind, it's been harder to stay motivated.

Today, I did some more work on the second boss.  First, I had to make a new skull enemy that spawns into a random skeleton enemy when it reaches the appropriate height from the ground.  I'm happy to say this worked almost perfectly on the first try.

Next, I sketched out the three phases of the boss fight and came up with patterns for the Amalgam of Skulls to follow.  The fight will be a combination of dodging the larger enemy and occasional projectile attack while dealing with a series of archers and melee skeletons that spawn regularly.

To accomplish this, I first made objects that perpetually follow the different patterns of movement.  It's not much to look at, but here's the general idea:


In the end, these moving objects will be invisible and the big skull will follow their movement and add more patterns to its movements as the stages progress.  At this point, the bulk of the backend work is done.  I have a good amount of artwork to do as the skull decomposes, but that should mostly be a matter of turning off layers in Photoshop.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2017, 10:56:06 AM »

Spent some time this morning animating the skull.  This is roughly what it will look like at full health:


I might randomize the smaller skull movements a bit, but generally I think this will look pretty good once it's in motion and the player is also fighting the skeletons.  As the fight goes on and more of the skulls fall off to spawn, it will become more sparse.  I built this with a bunch of layers in Photoshop, so it should just be a matter of turning them off and then recreating this with more parts missing.
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« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2017, 09:51:01 AM »

I've succeeded at putting the big skull in motion and using it to spawn waves of smaller skeletons.  I set up a series of variables that determine when the next spawn is set to occur and how many enemies will be in a wave.  This should help balance the fight in the long haul.

It took me longer than it should have to get smooth movement along the “tracks” as well as the transition between those tracks. I have yet to add the animation, but this basically what phase one of the fight will look like:


Next up, I'll add more “tracks” of movement as the fight progresses, as well as projectile attacks and some charges towards the player.  I also need to add some kind of death animation for the skeletons and visual feedback when they are hit.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #31 on: November 04, 2017, 08:18:12 PM »

The skull fight now has two phases and works as intended.  I spent a few hours today tweaking the spawn rates to make the fight challenging but not overwhelming.  It's been tough.  If there's a long pause between spawns, the fight is downright boring.  It's a lot more fun with a high spawn rate, but with so few hit points, things turn fatal quickly.

I think I've landed at an appropriate rate. I've added random integers to the alarms so there's some variation between spawns.

I've realized that this fight needs something to mix it up.  The new attack patterns and projectiles make the second phase more difficult, but I feel like it needs something different to make the fight more interesting.  Maybe something with the environment?  Maybe a new type of skeleton.  I'm not sure yet.  I'll brainstorm a bit on my commute next week.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2017, 01:50:26 PM »

I spent a little time today tightening up the platforming.  I also corrected a bug that occurred when hitting the side of a wall just right.  While testing to make sure the bug was indeed gone, I got back into level design.


By experimenting with floating platforms (instead of corridors with enemies and traps), I've come up with some fresh ideas for vertical levels and branching paths.  I'm seeing the game featuring a few areas with different types of structures and enemies.  I think it makes sense for one area to be more focused on precise platforming and less so on enemies (although there will be elements of both).

I also got around to adding the proper animation to the skull boss fight.  I'm very happy with how it looks, although it is extremely difficult to defeat at the moment.  Clearly, I have some balancing to do.  Still playing around with different background colors as well.

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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #33 on: December 06, 2017, 10:53:43 AM »

The second boss fight is up and running.  It still needs some polish, animations, and visual effects but everything works and the difficulty is consistent IMO.

I recorded a video of one of my attempts at defeating it:





The fight starts pretty tame and is easy as long as the skeletons are killed soon after they spawn.  As things ratchet up and the big skull becomes more aggressive, that becomes easier said than done.

I also added some new platforming elements and sketched up a new idea to add variety to some of the game's dark levels.  I'll show off more of that soon.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2017, 08:29:55 PM »

I added a new ghost enemy.  I've wanted the game to have a ghost for a while but I didn't have any solid ideas how it would fit in gameplay wise.  I came up with a few sprites that I liked and a fading visibility effect and started experimenting.  My original idea was to be able to kill the ghost when it was fully visible.  This would require a perfectly timed attack with a high risk of damage if unsuccessful.

Ultimately, it didn't feel right.  Also, the idea of killing a ghost with a metal scythe doesn't make sense to me.  Eventually, I flipped that idea around and made it so the ghost can hurt the player when mostly opaque but can be ran/jumped through when it's mostly invisible.

I also gave the ghost a plunge attack, where it quickly moves towards the player for a few moments before speeding madly away.  I feel like dodging them is tough but doable and the enemy behaves differently from everything else – so I'm happy with how it turned out.

Here's a quick look:


I also got around to adding death animations to skeletons.  At first, I used the same simple rising, fading effect I've used on other enemies.  It was ok.  Here's what my first attempt looked like:

EDIT: For some reason, this GIF won't show up.  Here's the direct link: https://media.giphy.com/media/3oxHQAbBXVOQUUmkZq/giphy.gif

Soon after I added the effect, I realized it would be neat if the bones separated and fell.  So, I created some different sprites and dropped them at varying speeds and rotations.  I'm pretty happy with the effect - it's definitely more visually satisfying to watch them crumble.  Here's the new and improved skeleton deaths:

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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2018, 03:32:29 PM »

Hello again, internet!  Despite this being my first post of the new year, I've actually been working on the game quite a bit.  I finished up most of the third boss fight but I don't plan to show it off before release.

A while ago, I realized that the title screen of the game was my favorite aspect visually, but I felt it didn't really represent the tight, enemy-filled corridors and traps that make up most of the game.  So, I decided to build a more open, linear area above ground with its own end boss.  This is where the game will start and it should ease players into a more difficult experience.  Players will still be able to detour underground and explore other areas.

I drew up the title screen in Photoshop and didn't previously plan to have it as an interactive area, so I had to go back and deconstruct some visual elements and make them function in-game.  I then adapted some wood patterns from other objects and make a few trees.  I just used a couple jagged green sprites for the trees – I plan to add more of each for variety later.

Here's where I started creating the forest elements:

Some things needed tweaking.  I quickly realized that the bats were too dark and there wasn't enough contrast to make them easily visible on the sky background.  I simply recolored them to be more blue-gray in this area.  Spiders weren't a problem because I plan to mostly drop them from trees here.  I also added some new types of enemies – including the mummy shown below.  I'll keep the other one under wraps for now.

Here's gameplay from the forest area:

I plan to get rid of the brick tops and replace them with randomly generated grass patterns, but for now – everything works and I can build out the area.  I especially like hiding bats and spiders in the leaves and surprising players who are in a hurry.

On another note, the game's backstory is coming together and I hope players will discover that this isn't the good vs evil story it appears to be on the surface.  I've always liked how Dark Souls told stories through optional sidequests and left the player to interpret dialogue and item descriptions.  This game isn't going to be quite that ambiguous, but I hope that players feel they can organically explore and learn about the world if they want to.

On a related note, I realized my character designs didn't have a ton of diversity.  The game's world will not have many NPCs, but I scrapped some existing designs and I plan to use some of these instead:


That's about it for now.  I feel like I can almost see the finish line on this project.  I will have some more stuff to show off soon – including the world map system.
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« Reply #36 on: February 02, 2018, 07:00:50 PM »

classic, simple and neat, presentation is great, love it!

I was flicking through the boss fight video, do you plan to add a strafe button? that would help ducking into to attack and dodging but I can understand leaving it out to make the game more difficult too.

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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2018, 03:33:46 PM »

classic, simple and neat, presentation is great, love it!

I was flicking through the boss fight video, do you plan to add a strafe button? that would help ducking into to attack and dodging but I can understand leaving it out to make the game more difficult too.



Thanks for checking it out. No, I'm not planning to have any alternate views or lock-on functions if that's what you mean.  It's an interesting idea, but I want the mechanics to be very basic and reminiscent of those early NES platformers.



I spent some time working on the forest, which is a long, linear area, but there are a few stops and alternate paths along the way, including this cabin.  This will be the player's first stop after returning from the dead.

Exterior View:



Interior View:


The game has a pretty limited color palette, and I had a hard time getting enough contrast between the wood walls and brown elements in the foreground.  I think I tweaked the colors enough to make it work.  If anyone has criticism or suggestions, please share.

On a related note, does anyone recognize the painting on the cabin wall?  Blink
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #38 on: February 19, 2018, 05:05:58 PM »

Happy President's Day!  I wanted to share a little bit about the game's story and world.  The game will open with a few sentences from the angel who is about to descend from heaven and resurrect our monk.

Here is a preview of the intro:




The angel has bestowed the monk with everlasting life so that he can embark on a holy quest to win the war for heaven.  But this isn't a basic good versus evil story.  Along the journey, characters from both sides of the conflict can be encountered.  Below is an early encounter with an unnamed character who worships the Old Gods.  He has history with the main character, but as a result of dying and resurrecting, those memories are gone.  Through exploration and sidequests, the player can learn more about the war and potentially empathize with both sides.


If the player doesn't want to bother talking to these characters or learning more about the backstory, they are free to move on and deal with the challenges ahead.  Very little of the story is mandatory.  Dialogue can be skipped by simply walking away – time does not stop when you talk to an NPC.  The idea is to provide some backstory for those who are curious and hopefully hide a surprise or two as a reward.
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andyfromiowa
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« Reply #39 on: February 25, 2018, 03:53:16 PM »

Today, I built the first section of the forest area, which is also the starting area of the game.  I started by designing sections of the level on paper and then testing those ideas in the game and tweaking the layout and number of enemies from there.

The level is almost entirely flat and linear, but there are some elevated sections and some secret paths along the way.  This area is intentionally easier than later areas.  There are no traps or saws to worry about at this point.

Here is the very start of the game:


The dark background required brightening up the ladder a bit.  I also discovered that the frog behaved strangely when elevated this high.  It sort of had a slow motion fall if it happened to go past the edge.  I was able to deal with this by increasing the gravity after a handful of steps – and now, it seems to be workable.




Almost...


At the end of this half of the area, there is lift that descends down to the areas below.  Players can keep moving to the right to face more difficult enemies and eventually the forest boss.  Or they can head down and explore several different areas below.  There is no requirement to fight the bosses in a certain order, but I imagine most people will take out the forest boss first.
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