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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsSIN EON [cyberpunk, top down stealth]
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unsinister
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« on: April 01, 2018, 12:41:54 AM »


Background
This is the game I've wanted to make for a very long time, and I've worked on it on and off for about a year and a half now. The base systems start to fall into place, and I want to start logging what I do in a dev log. I've been going at it alone, and the idea of making everything myself has become more appealing with time despite my insecurities in graphics and music.

I am using GameMaker Studio 2 for the project, and Blender for pre-rendered 2D graphics (more on that further down). These tools are the ones I know the best, and I have a pretty comfortable workflow using them so it felt natural to use them for this.



Gameplay
My main inspiration for the gameplay, as with many stealth games, is Metal Gear Solid (the original PS1 game) and its' use of systems to trick and manipulate guard behaviour etc. I'm focusing a lot on giving the player free reign in a level to tackle it as they see fit, and giving them a lot of gadgets to do it. There isn't really a way to kill or seriously harm enemies as I want it to focus on avoidance and using wit instead of brute force.

The levels are basically one screen rooms and are designed to be completed in quite a short amount of time. One mission consists of several levels, with some factors carrying over levels. For instance, if the player is detected in one room and manages to escape to the next, the guards there would be on high alert already or the previous guards would follow. I think/hope this incentivizes the player to use the gadgets at hand to escape their followers before proceeding.



Themes
I wanted to create my own cyberpunk world, with strong influences from books like Neuromancer and movies like Ghost in the Shell (the 1995 version, I have not seen the outing from last year). I want to build an environment that is as frightening and believable as those works. The setting and story tries to tackle the different ideas on identity in the city sprawl. What is an individual in an digitally and techonlogically interconnected living space, and is individualism to be valued the way we do it today? This is set to the classic back drop of technology and humanity fusing together. I want to let the player play through something cool related to that.

The themes and story are not to be the main focus for the game though, the gameplay is supposed to stand on its own.



Graphics
This has been a major insecurity, since I'm a programmer by trade and don't have any good graphics skills. I've developed my own way of making graphics with Blender, where I make models and render them as low-res sprites. The models aren't good enough to be used on their own. I used to render them in higher definition, but it looked weird and janky. I finally decided on a look similar to other low resolution top down games, like Teleglitch. I finally think it somehow works, but this is still the thing that feels the least solid.

Earlier graphics attempts also included four directional sprites, before I settled on a completeley top down look. It proved too challenging and time consuming, and it didn't give the liberty of the gameplay that I wanted (for instance, 360 degree aiming without it looking really bad).

I try to keep the GUI as simple as I can, with it still looking quite "digital" and stylish. This is constantly being revamped though.



Screenshots


Current look of the game (this isn't the entire game window)







Bonus:

What it looked like with the higher definitions sprites.


Feel free to leave feedback and tell me what you think. I will try to make a log here once every other week or so, or when I've gotten some work done on it!  Smiley
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 08:50:47 PM by unsinister » Logged

Jesse Ko
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2018, 05:43:19 AM »

This looks so promising already. I love stealth games that let you leave holograms (and even better, holograms that can move). What other gadgets will be available?
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unsinister
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2018, 08:12:50 AM »

Thank you!  Smiley

(and even better, holograms that can move)
This is a great idea. Currently the only hologram is static.

As to what other gadgets the player can use, there's a bunch. Stun mines, grapple mines that are useful for stunning and hiding bodies, a grapple hook for moving quickly and over obstacles, a decoy bot and glass camo to name a couple of them. There's also passive gadgets that might affect the amount of sound the player makes for example. These are some of the ones that are currently in the game, but I've got quite a few more planned.

I try to take care as to not make the gadgets too powerful. I don't want the player to be able to use one or two gadgets to speedrun a mission in 30 seconds, so I try to have the player use a gadget once or twice during a mission, so that they are incentivized to think about how the other gadgets could come in handy. One of my pet peeves with a lot of stealth games is that a few tools can be used to develop a specific playing style that let's the player clear all missions in the same way. MGS5 tried to counter this with guards learning about the players tricks and avoiding them, but there was always the option of just using brute force.

It is also quite important that the player can finish most missions entirely without using gadgets, but with added challenge. Currently I'm mentally preparing for the challenge of designing all the levels...  WTF
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unsinister
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2018, 12:12:24 PM »

Devlog #1

So I've worked on trying to put together something that can be used for promotional purposes, like a title card or something. The results of which you can see here:



I'm not sure the colors go that well together (I'm really bad at color matching, something I've learned through years of people pointing out my mismatched socks) but I kinda like the look of it. It reflects some themes of the game, but basically nothing about what type of game it is. I will probably make something new once I've made more character models and improved the existing ones.

Game improvements

  • Added reaction symbols that pop up above enemies (you know the kind)
  • Improved some sprites that felt stale and boring
  • Revamped some parts of the HUD to make it a bit more animated
  • Fixed a couple of bugs related to enemy AI. Also starting to realize that I might have to rewrite some parts of it (I've completely re-written it once before, not doing that again hopefully)
  • Improved the player character model with more detail (added proper hands and feet! She'll need them for sneaking and shaking hands!

Thoughts

  • I'm thinking that the main character (Idun) is such a cliché with the red hair. Every other indie game with a female protagonist has red hair for their main character. She used to have purple hair, but it just didn't look good. The red stands out in game which makes her more visible, which makes it hard to get rid of.
  • HUD is really hard to design. I thought it would be e z p z. This makes me a bit frustrated. I'd like to just copy Metal Gear Solids' HUD and keep the bits I need.
  • Still struggling to understand if the game is looking really ugly, really bland or just pretty ok/charming.
  • Yesterday I took to Twitter and asked for stealth game recommendations, to get some inspiration. CRICKETS. I'm fairly new to Twitter, and only have something like 40 followers, so I might have been a bit too eager for people to want to give me game recommendations.

That's it for my first devlog, signing off until next time  Blink Blink
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unsinister
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2018, 11:43:36 AM »

Devlog #2


I took some time off the project after an intense period of work, but I'm back at it and it's going well. Most of the work has been focused on trying to finish up the HUD and making it practical. The HUD in the screenshot above is for equipping gadgets in game (the player has two equip slots).

Game improvements
  • The preparation screen is now functional. The player can choose two passive gadgets here, and the screen displays information about the gadgets.
  • Usable gadgets are now swappable in game (before they were chosen on the prep screen, but decided to let the player use all of them in game.
  • A variety of bug fixes. All the systems are jamming quite well together!

Thoughts
  • I feel like I'm finding a visual style for the HUD that works. It's really simple, but reminiscent of old computer monitors. I'm still open to changing it though, it might be a bit too simple.
  • After watching the title card from the last devlog post, I'm pretty sure I don't like it anymore. So I'll see if I can muster up something better.
  • I feel like I'm going to add a few more gadgets before starting proper work on the levels.
  • I'm having some serious thoughts about making a separate level editor. This would be really cool to release with the game as well, but it's a huge amount of work. On the other hand, making levels right now includes several layers of tiles, collision masks, lightning etc. If I can make all those things automated and export levels with a separate editor, that would ease the level making process in the long run. I'm really anxious to release the game within a year, but I try to keep in mind that I have time. Plenty of it!
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unsinister
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 03:01:25 AM »

Devlog #3

In the last post I mentioned having thoughts about building my own level editor. These thoughts became increasingly hard to ignore, so I decided to give it a shot. After thinking about making it in another programming language as that would probably be easier than making it in GMS2, I decided on using GMS2 anyway. That way I can bake it into the game if I'd like to, or use it in future games I might make in GameMaker. Since I'm near the stage where I'm going to start making all the levels this would be the best time to make the editor, so all my work effort has been towards that.

I'll get some screenshots of it when it's a bit closer to finished  Hand Thumbs Up Left Smiley Hand Thumbs Up Right

Progress
  • I started building my own level editor!
  • Level editor support for brushing objects
  • Level editor support for selecting placed instances
  • Level editor support for configuring object variables/settings
  • Level editor support for starting directions of an instance
  • Level editor support for deleting instances
  • Level editor support for dragging around the grid with the mouse
  • Level editor support for zooming in and out

Thoughts
  • It's hard making an editor when you hate programming GUIs. If I had used another language I could've used some premade framework for GUI, but yeah.
  • GameMakers lack of structs or objects are making themselves known when trying to set configurations on different instances/objects. But I'm getting used to using the available map- and list functions in a similar way!
  • One of the strongest points in deciding to make this is also the fact that the game can have a community around it post-release, where players are free to create levels and share with others. I really hope that adds some extra value and playtime for potential players. It's also fun to mess around with the systems, so it would be fun to see what levels people can make.
  • A concern I have now is that I'll have to make the editor look kinda nice if I want people to use it later on. Or I make it serviceable for now and brush it up just before release.
  • It's fun with a change of project for a little while, even though it is an extension of the game in a way.
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