Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

 
Advanced search

1382195 Posts in 66019 Topics- by 58435 Members - Latest Member: ahomewki

September 19, 2020, 02:27:41 PM

Need hosting? Check out Digital Ocean
(more details in this thread)
TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsUnnamed Grid Platformer with stealth etc (alive again)
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4
Print
Author Topic: Unnamed Grid Platformer with stealth etc (alive again)  (Read 3376 times)
diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #40 on: August 08, 2020, 09:29:45 PM »

Poll time. Which indicator is better (and why, if possible). Other suggestions are welcome. (the speed is too high, don't pay attention to it)





Just wanted to mention how different it is to make pixel art for CRTs (or filtered emulators, most likely). There isn't enough room to make the question mark so I used different shades of the same color to make read better.



I think the round one is prettier but maybe the separators of the first are easier to predict when the time is up.
Logged

JobLeonard
Level 10
*****



View Profile
« Reply #41 on: August 08, 2020, 11:58:32 PM »

YES! Thief! Waaagh!

Those games were so goooooood

I like the second one, for entirely subjective reasons so don't take my word for it.
Logged
diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #42 on: August 10, 2020, 09:45:41 PM »

The second one was the right choice! It was secretly not a poll but more of a covert validation bait. I mean, it's round! CIRCLES YALL! (said the traumatized pixel artist)

Most of the time I even forget I'm making a Mega Drive game, because the devkit makes it so easy. But today I solved a performance issue that reminded me I'm working with a dinosaur of a system. Started noticing some sluggishness after putting two guards in the same screen, but the FPS seemed steady enough, which was odd. Turns out all those animated sprites changing frames at the same time were basically getting stuck at the door. SGDK has a feature that prevents more serioust problems caused by this by waiting a frame to update a sprite if too many are updating already. That's what I was seeing, and that's why the FPS was steady, it was just the animations going sluggish to prevent memory issues (or something like that). My solution was to desync the animations with a simple check and a counter of "finished animations this frame". Since most of the logic in my game is tied to the animation, once the desync happens everything just flows normally indefinitely. Edit: nope. Dumb dumb over here was compressing the sprites, which is not advised for streamed sprites like those used in animation.

The AI icons are working nicely too.

I'm not sure what to work on next. Maybe a bigger playground level, with screen transitions. For that I would need to update my Tiled workflow and the Json parser. Do I really want to do that now? Maybe I could push that away a little longer and work on a basic takedown animation.

Oh yeah, I went to youtube looking for takedown techniques. Martial arts on youtube is a whole universe of weird and funny videos! anyway, I was somewhat drawn to the most realistic methods, armies call this 'rear sentry takedown". They all have the same basics: pull the head backwards and the person just falls! not enough time for the 'sentry' to re-balance by stepping back. Quite interesting how that works! What follows changes from every technique, and is where I will use poetic license to make it fun to watch. I might add some kind of kick to the back of the knee while pulling the head backwards. No one did it like this but it needs some spectacle.

Another random thought I had. Bodies. Usually in stealth games you have to hide the bodies. I will not bother with that at all! but I do need to address it somehow. Maybe just make the guards see a dead body and go to a more alerted state (the same state they go when they hear a noise), which makes them move a little faster. Not a terrible consequence for something you can do nothing about. Or some plot-convenient tech that makes bodies disappear.

I would post a gif but it would be the same animations as before, the same background, the same everything.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2020, 12:56:33 AM by diegzumillo » Logged

Prinsessa
Level 10
*****


Ava Skoog


View Profile WWW
« Reply #43 on: August 12, 2020, 05:00:52 AM »

What the heck, I had not seen this thread at all! Huh? And I didn't know you do non-pixel art too, amazing drawing on the previous page! Shocked

This looks great, hope it's a nice getaway from working on Apple and Worm when you need it too. Coffee
Logged

ContrailSurfer
Level 0
***

Solo game developer


View Profile WWW
« Reply #44 on: August 12, 2020, 05:31:05 AM »

Quote
I went to youtube looking for takedown techniques.

If you are looking for reference for fighting animations (especially with pixel art), I would recommend taking a look at

https://www.justnopoint.com/zweifuss/

Also you can just search for Mortal Kombat animations on youtube, they are also a good referenced for stylized takedown techniques.

Logged

diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #45 on: August 12, 2020, 09:14:14 PM »

What the heck, I had not seen this thread at all! Huh? And I didn't know you do non-pixel art too, amazing drawing on the previous page! Shocked

This looks great, hope it's a nice getaway from working on Apple and Worm when you need it too. Coffee

Thanks, Princessa!  Coffee This subforum is beyond crowded; it's easy to come here every day and still miss an active devlog.

About the art, I do a little bit of everything. Painting, modeling, animating, composing... which also means I am not particularly good at any of these things lol But it's enough for my needs anyway.
 
I did need a break from Apple. In fact, I even made this my main project (I am constantly cycling through projects, so apple is not dead again). When I return to Apple I am planning another 30 days levelthon! that worked really well. It burned me out but it did work.

Quote
I went to youtube looking for takedown techniques.

If you are looking for reference for fighting animations (especially with pixel art), I would recommend taking a look at

https://www.justnopoint.com/zweifuss/

Also you can just search for Mortal Kombat animations on youtube, they are also a good referenced for stylized takedown techniques.

Hey thanks for the tips. What an odd site to exist!

I have to admit a small hint of regret creeping in. I like animating, really, but this game is heavily relying on animation! Animation is one of those things that I enjoy doing but the ratio of results and work hours is so ridiculously small. I think it's almost as bad as music production and its silly 5 hours of work for 5 seconds of music ratio. Sure, pixel art is not the worst offender of this ratio among other animation media, (I'm looking at you, stop motion) but it's still bad.

How many more enemies do I have to animate, I wonder. I'm already looking for excuses to have a single takedown animation.

All right. No gif again, sorry. But I still have two hours left of me-time today and it will be used animating. Because of course it will.
Logged

ContrailSurfer
Level 0
***

Solo game developer


View Profile WWW
« Reply #46 on: August 13, 2020, 05:02:56 AM »

Quote
Animation is one of those things that I enjoy doing but the ratio of results and work hours is so ridiculously small. I think it's almost as bad as music production and its silly 5 hours of work for 5 seconds of music ratio.

It might make you feel better to consider another ratio - 5 million people listening to the 5 second music over entire lifetime of the product. Same goes with animations. It's worth spending even multiple days on a 3 second animation loop if that's what your player is going to be doing all the time. I'm doing it for my Raccoon knock out sequence. To keep the project manageable  you can choose to spend less time on animations that are not so frequently seen.

Of course the hard part in game-dev is to decide which is which.
Logged

diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #47 on: August 13, 2020, 09:38:00 AM »

It might make you feel better to consider another ratio - 5 million people listening to the 5 second music over entire lifetime of the product. Same goes with animations. It's worth spending even multiple days on a 3 second animation loop if that's what your player is going to be doing all the time. I'm doing it for my Raccoon knock out sequence. To keep the project manageable  you can choose to spend less time on animations that are not so frequently seen.

That is a really nice way of seeing things.

BTW, I did the dishes instead of animation last night Tongue
Logged

JobLeonard
Level 10
*****



View Profile
« Reply #48 on: August 13, 2020, 12:05:19 PM »

Speaking as someone who used to be guilty of doing the dishes once a week: well done!
Logged
diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2020, 11:00:25 PM »

This has been stagnated for a couple of days (nights). I did some animation work and I coded some stuff and now I don't know what to do next.

Here's a giant gif showing some things:


The kill animation is just the bare bones at the moment; basically just the key frames with no proper timing and inbetweens yet. Needless to say, the guard's death is even less finished.

See? you can move and kill. It's a proper game. SHIP IT!

I am suddenly reminded of ContrailSurfer's rant at his devlog. I sit down to make some art and a million questions start to overwhelm me: What do the walls in this world look like? Who built this structure? What kind of technology do they have? what does it look like? And I just freeze! Even though I have a good outline of the story and setting I don't have the precise answers these questions demand. This is perfectionism at its worst. Every decision brings me to a halt. I then search for inspiration online and I realize (and understand why) most art revolves around well established tropes. Fantasy dungeon style, realistic and contemporary, steampunk, cyberpunk etc. I know what I have to do to unload all the decisions but it's still hard for me: I have to pick a trope and go with it. It's easier to add my spin to, say, steampunk, than to come up from scratch with a completely novel setting and visual identity. I can fake some good art but in reality I am quite mediocre with a limited vision; I don't mean to self deprecate here, but it's important to acknowledge my limitations and work around them. This is a one-man project, there is no art team with dedicated concept artist.

Maybe it's time to cycle projects again. I believe Apple and Worm is the next in line Smiley
Logged

JobLeonard
Level 10
*****



View Profile
« Reply #50 on: August 17, 2020, 01:55:28 AM »

(I kinda like how the guard glitches out of existence, actually)

Ah yes, sustained focus and seeing things through to the finish line. The bane of any person with ADHD. Luckily this is your personal project so no need to feel truly pressured! Wink
Logged
ContrailSurfer
Level 0
***

Solo game developer


View Profile WWW
« Reply #51 on: August 18, 2020, 11:33:46 AM »

Quote
I realize (and understand why) most art revolves around well established tropes. Fantasy dungeon style, realistic and contemporary, steampunk, cyberpunk etc.

I came to the same conclusion.

Quote
I can fake some good art but in reality I am quite mediocre with a limited vision; I don't mean to self deprecate here, but it's important to acknowledge my limitations and work around them. This is a one-man project, there is no art team with dedicated concept artist.

Sometimes I think, if I had a big team of artists to implement my ideas, will that make me happy? I can answer for myself, No! For me the fun is dreaming up the ideas and trying to execute it using my own skills and learning them new if I don't have those skills. Granted that I may fail implementing the final vision; but heck it's fun. It's about finding my limitations and trying to push the envelope whenever I can. If I had a big team, all my time will be spent in emails and bug reports. I definitely will resent that. I don't much care if the project becomes successful commercially; I only want it to make just enough money so that I can pay bills and keep repeating this process. I think that's manageable if we keep trying.

Nothing against the folks who do big games with big teams. Maybe the skills they want to develop are how to work across big art team (that's necessary for really big visions). But that's not me.

Quote
Maybe it's time to cycle projects again.

Just try to put in words why you think working on the new project will be more productive than current project at this moment. Maybe write it down somewhere. That way in future when you come to a similar juncture again, you will make more educated decision about switching/sticking.

 Hand Thumbs Up Left

Logged

diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #52 on: August 18, 2020, 01:12:12 PM »

Quote
Sometimes I think, if I had a big team of artists to implement my ideas, will that make me happy? I can answer for myself, No!
Oh sure, I agree with you! I am happy as a one-man team and would have it no other way. But that requires a one-man team mentality as well, was my point. Perfectionism has no place here! Keep things simple and feasible or get ready for disappointment. But it's sooooo hard to make decisions on the fly that you know are not the best solution but you made the decision anyway because the alternative is to freeze.

Quote
Just try to put in words why you think working on the new project will be more productive than current project at this moment. Maybe write it down somewhere. That way in future when you come to a similar juncture again, you will make more educated decision about switching/sticking.

It's not a new project. I am currently working on the assumption that working on more than one project simultaneously can be more productive than one at a time. Every project goes through unavoidable periods of stagnation, and one of the strategies to get over it is to work on something else for a while and come back refreshed. In fact, this project was created because my signature project stagnated! Getting back to apple and worm now should feel refreshing.

That is the theory, at least. The jury is still out on whether this is a good strategy or not. Not to mention there is a third project too! the cycle is apple -> scifi flight sim -> mega drive stealth -> apple ... I might have gone overboard a little.

Logged

Sp1ke
Level 0
***


Mike


View Profile WWW
« Reply #53 on: August 18, 2020, 08:38:34 PM »

Quote
Quote
Sometimes I think, if I had a big team of artists to implement my ideas, will that make me happy? I can answer for myself, No!

Quote
Oh sure, I agree with you! I am happy as a one-man team and would have it no other way. But that requires a one-man team mentality as well, was my point. Perfectionism has no place here! Keep things simple and feasible or get ready for disappointment. But it's sooooo hard to make decisions on the fly that you know are not the best solution but you made the decision anyway because the alternative is to freeze.

Quote
Just try to put in words why you think working on the new project will be more productive than current project at this moment. Maybe write it down somewhere. That way in future when you come to a similar juncture again, you will make more educated decision about switching/sticking ote


I totally agree trying new stuff and seeing how they work is a fun, but fun may quickly fade away when you realize that aspect that you worked for your game does not fit into game framework. For me another problem is testing. Especially if it is something complicated and bug follows bug.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2020, 09:02:54 PM by Sp1ke » Logged

diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #54 on: September 04, 2020, 11:30:47 PM »

Heyall! stream of consciousness wall of text ahead. This is for my own selfish benefit. Proceed at your own risk.

Pandemic+fatherhood has been a little draining for me lately. I took some time off then went back to apple and worm and got nothing out of it, took some more time off gamedev, then I came back to this one and played some more with my unity rapid prototype version. Prototyping is fun. I can think all I want about ideas and designs but there's nothing quite like making it and playing to see how it works.

My ideas are still organizing but it seems my assumption that grid platformers work well with stealth is still standing. This much is solid. But there are two caveats: the smooth animations, as pretty as they are, get old and boring quick. And stealth in 2D on a grid runs the risk of becoming trivial.

I believe I can address the first issue with smaller levels. Literally smaller, levels that occupy less space. Such a tight level design will require less guards patrolling and a slight redesign of my gameplay mechanics. That whole thing of reducing the noisy death counter with every 3 silent kills won't work well in a level with a handful of guards. It's like having an inventory system for only one or two items.

However the second caveat still remains. 2D on a grid has too few degrees of freedom! there is a guard in front of you, what do you do? go straight and you're caught, so you take the path above or below. Mark of the ninja and stealth bastard are 2D stealth games, but they are not on the grid, there are more options when space is continuous which makes the gameplay less trivial. I noticed this with my prototype. No matter how complex I make the level, how many guards I put there, gameplay is trivial; avoiding a guard is either impossible or simply not an issue. Things improved drastically with the introduction of light levels and visibility, which is to be expected. Now you can add lights that flicker, moving lights, and light switches to the mix to spice things up.

So what I have now is a... it's Trilby: the art of theft. I just made a clone of AoT. That game also introduces a bunch of neat features that make the game a lot more interesting and replayable, like upgrades and level grading.

Honestly, I see no shame in basing my design around AoT! It's an awesome and incredibly underrated gem of a game. With the added bonus that I don't need to prototype anything, I already know it works. Buuuuuut I would prefer to come up with something more original.

I considered making the game on a slanted perspective so you can move on a plane and also climb up and down. This seems like a technical challenge but worth a thought at least. The perspective might be an issue in trying to make out what's below or above. I also considered adding another plane of movement, like little big planet or (a closer example) bonanza brothers, but this isn't significantly different enough mechanically from the current system.

My most interesting idea is actually simpler than that. I could add another playable character, like lost vikings. The more I think about it the more excited I get! They could have different skills and there could be actions that can only be performed with them together, like climbing on shoulders for example. One could be noisy and can't knock out people but can operate terminals. I don't think I've ever seen this incarnation of lost vikings yet. Tomorrow I'll start implement this second character on the prototype.

Edit: Commandos! stealth and several playable characters with different skills! doesn't remind us of lost vikings because it's not a platformer but the idea is the same.
Logged

ContrailSurfer
Level 0
***

Solo game developer


View Profile WWW
« Reply #55 on: September 07, 2020, 09:15:57 AM »

Nice reading your thoughts on the design process. Reminds me of the internal dialog I have with myself Cheesy

Quote
2D on a grid has too few degrees of freedom! there is a guard in front of you, what do you do? go straight and you're caught, so you take the path above or below. Mark of the ninja and stealth bastard are 2D stealth games, but they are not on the grid, there are more options when space is continuous which makes the gameplay less trivial.

I think if you are doing a stealth game on a side scrolling platform, then your gameplay has only 1 dimension (may be 1.5D where 2nd the second dimension is constrained due to gravity) I really appreciate Mark of Ninja for that reason. The jumping and sliding down the walls was done to get around this constraint, but it added positively to the game feel of handling the character.

For Phantom Behind I chose 2D with top-down perspective instead of side-scrolling, that way I get to use both dimensions to the fullest extent (and with some tricks a pseudo third dimension by assigning height to certain regions).
Logged

diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #56 on: September 09, 2020, 08:36:52 PM »

Nice reading your thoughts on the design process. Reminds me of the internal dialog I have with myself Cheesy
Surprised anyone read that haha

Quote
I think if you are doing a stealth game on a side scrolling platform, then your gameplay has only 1 dimension (may be 1.5D where 2nd the second dimension is constrained due to gravity) I really appreciate Mark of Ninja for that reason. The jumping and sliding down the walls was done to get around this constraint, but it added positively to the game feel of handling the character.

Right! my thoughts exactly. It makes it even more admirable that Yahtzee pulled off such a cool game with those constraints. I think that game really benefits from the upgrade system.

My prototype now has the two playable characters and the light system. The light system works like in AoT: there are 3 light levels, dark, light and penumbra.

Now I am coming up with differences between the characters. Character 1 is the stealthy one so it's completely hidden in the dark always, in the penumbra it needs to crouch to stay hidden and in light he's always visible. The other character is only slow and clunky; he's only invisible while crouching in the shadows.

I might have different ways of going up and down to further differentiate the two characters. The stealthy character can climb on ledges but the clunky one need stairs. The clunky one, however, is sturdy and can fall from greater heights. The stealthy one can climb on the clunky one to reach higher edges.

I'm playing around with different locks. A normal door can be opened by both. Stealthy dude can pick locks, clunky dude can break reinforced doors.

So far it seems the clunky one is a bit useless. I am considering adding terminals that control things like doors, lights and lifts that only he can manipulate.

Initially I was making this clunky character a robot that was dug out of a cave. He was stuck there for millennia but is pretty ok with it. He or she... it. It is a pacifist robot. It can grind humans into a paste but won't, for the frustration of the stealthy one.

However, it seems like making the robot the pacifist one is the wrong choice! Stealthy guy is already a one man army. The robot is there to, what, flick a light switch and give him a leg up?

This requires some thought. I am unsure about those noisy/silent kill mechanics I had before, and the throwing knife thing too. Maybe robot can kill from a distance. Maybe different guards require different approaches that require both characters.
Logged

ContrailSurfer
Level 0
***

Solo game developer


View Profile WWW
« Reply #57 on: September 10, 2020, 04:55:47 AM »

 
Quote
I might have different ways of going up and down to further differentiate the two characters. The stealthy character can climb on ledges but the clunky one need stairs. The clunky one, however, is sturdy and can fall from greater heights. The stealthy one can climb on the clunky one to reach higher edges.

Brilliant idea.

Quote
So far it seems the clunky one is a bit useless. I am considering adding terminals that control things like doors, lights and lifts that only he can manipulate.
A clunky character can carry multiple bodies and hide them (if you have body hiding mechanism that is). It can also carry heavy objects like barrels (There's a clunky character in each of mimimi games - Mugen in Shadow tactics and Hector in Desperados3)

Quote
Initially I was making this clunky character a robot that was dug out of a cave. He was stuck there for millennia but is pretty ok with it. He or she... it. It is a pacifist robot. It can grind humans into a paste but won't, for the frustration of the stealthy one.
Like the idea of a robot being pacifist.

Logged

diegzumillo
Level 10
*****


This avatar is so old I still have a some hair


View Profile WWW
« Reply #58 on: September 10, 2020, 10:24:51 PM »

Quote
Like the idea of a robot being pacifist.
Me too haha. We'll see.

More ramblings:

One thing that is really bugging me right now is whether I should continue to invest in my Unity prototype or move on definitively to my actual project in C for the mega drive. The weird thing is that during the day I switch from one to the other with unprecedented certainty! I go from "yeah, this is a non issue. Obviously it's a waste of time to implement things twice; I should just focus on development in the final project" to "Obviously the iterative nature of game design requires a more agile work environment!" in the same day.

Let me list some pros and cons of each.

Investing in the unity prototype:
+ Fast to implement new things and test them
+ Change level layout on the fly
- I still want to make a mega drive game, and unity doesn't do that. So any work I do here is for design purposes only and will be re-implemented again in my other engine.
- Unity runs like crap on my laptop. I need to be on my desktop to work on this and lately that's difficult.
+ The game is not at all complex. Re-implementing things will only consume time but will not be a technical challenge.
- ... but it will consume a lot of time.

Going straight to the C implementation:
+ Any feature that will make it to the final game will only have to be implemented once
- As the design proceeds I will have to discard features and implement new ones. In C this will often require large code refactoring
- Any changes in a level will not be automatic. It requires working in Tiled, running a parser to make the level readable in-game etc
+ Working in this project is super convenient right now because it is super light weight and runs on my laptop. It's very hard to find time to work lately. At night I'm exhausted and my brain is not functioning properly. During the day I spend most of my time in the living room helping with the baby and other chores; if I could work in my laptop it could mean more work done during the day.


My idea was to work on the unity prototype only until I had something more reliable then switch to the original project and take the risks. But every day that passes and I can't sit down on my desktop to work (or when I can but am too tired) I feel like this is a waste of time. But deep down I know it's not. This new feature, for example, with two playable characters was implemented in a matter of minutes in unity. In C it requires a ton of refactoring. Then again, even if it was quick to implement, I couldn't really play with it for two days straight because of those life constraints.

Holy crap, so much respect for old school devs working on ASM. It's easy to see why so many games from this era are clunky and "poorly designed". Time constraints prevented them from iterating on the design. They went as far as they could on paper, then it was straight to coding, with only fine tuning the parameters left to experiment with.

But all right, I should probably push a little further with my unity prototype. At least while I'm making big decisions that would be a pain in the ass to retreat from in my C project. I'm still not entirely sold on the two playable characters yet.

Logged

ContrailSurfer
Level 0
***

Solo game developer


View Profile WWW
« Reply #59 on: September 11, 2020, 05:23:39 AM »

Quote
I go from "yeah, this is a non issue. Obviously it's a waste of time to implement things twice; I should just focus on development in the final project" to "Obviously the iterative nature of game design requires a more agile work environment!" in the same day.

Totally hear ya  Smiley

Since last couple of years I have learnt to shut the part of my mind which wants me to try other game engines. I found that the promise of performance boost/clean code that lures me into restarting from scratch is an illusion. I happen to find it very attractive because I want an excuse not to solve the problems higher up the stack (i.e. actual gameplay). I irrationally think that re-implementing things will automatically solve the other problem up the stack.
Logged

Pages: 1 2 [3] 4
Print
Jump to:  

Theme orange-lt created by panic