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August 05, 2020, 04:54:42 AM

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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsPhantom Behind - Stealth top down 2D game
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jay3sh
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« on: July 10, 2020, 07:14:39 AM »

I released an early alpha build of "Phantom Behind" - my stealth top-down 2D game - on NewGrounds last week.

Play on NewGrounds

Cover Art


Gameplay GIFs







« Last Edit: July 11, 2020, 10:50:54 AM by jay3sh » Logged

jay3sh
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2020, 10:53:52 AM »

I spent some time today updating the hero character a bit. The characters in Phantom are not drawn in any software, there are put together with about 10 ellipses (1 head, 1 torso, 2 for each hands, 2 for each legs) and then animating them in Unity.

I tried to create some element of depth by adjusting brightness for different body parts of the character. Here's a basic run cycle.



What do you think?
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ternbasedcombat
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2020, 09:56:29 AM »

Dude this looks dope!

Do you already have someone to write music for you!

I would love to write a track for you!

Let me know!

TM
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Ramos
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2020, 10:54:28 AM »


I am not into stealth game but darn your top-down visuals are so attractive. Good job
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jay3sh
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2020, 07:03:36 AM »


I am not into stealth game but darn your top-down visuals are so attractive. Good job

Thanks Ramos, I like the atmosphere of your topdown game too. Added to wishlist.  Hand Thumbs Up Left Hand Thumbs Up Right
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jay3sh
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2020, 01:03:45 PM »

The new Phantom now has two states: Standing and Crouching. The enemies have long view cones. Their view cones have two separate zones. If the phantom is in the outer zone of an enemy's view cone (marked with stripes), he will not be seen if he is crouching. The phantom will be detected and attacked if he is in the inner view cone, irrespective of standing or crouching. Also added animations for Sentry enemy. Here's today's progress in a GIF

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Ramos
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2020, 05:47:03 PM »


I am not into stealth game but darn your top-down visuals are so attractive. Good job

Thanks Ramos, I like the atmosphere of your topdown game too. Added to wishlist.  Hand Thumbs Up Left Hand Thumbs Up Right

Thank you! I did not expect that.
Much love from Newgrounds!


I also tried your game again on NG and I encountered a small problem, I killed all guards from stage 1 and I could not open the last door because that door requires a guard nearby to be opened

Do you plan to make a steam version ?
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jay3sh
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2020, 03:43:16 AM »



Quote
I also tried your game again on NG and I encountered a small problem, I killed all guards from stage 1 and I could not open the last door because that door requires a guard nearby to be opened

Yes, that mechanism could use explicit tutorial, to not killed guard because he opens the door. I was trying to suggest that mechanism subtly by means of flashing circle around the door, when a guard comes inside that circle door opens. However I realize that it's not enough. Yes, I'll fix it in next version.

Quote
Do you plan to make a steam version ?
Yes I do.
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Ramos
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2020, 09:44:50 AM »

Well to my "disappointment" I actually had fun playing the NG version, and I really am not into stealth games Undecided

I think that gameplaywise what GOT ME was the fact that it was very easy to learn how to play but in same time was not very easy to play so it still got that level of challenge required to keep the player hooked

Looking forward to seeing what changes/adjustments you do

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jay3sh
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2020, 06:19:05 AM »

This post turned out to be more of an essay than a changelog

Lost in the infinite

I would like to talk about a problem I've been facing repeatedly in design of my games since last 2-3 years.

I start with an idea for a new game that I like. I implement few mechanics of the gameplay and get the basic loop working. I release this prototype for people to play, they like it for what it is. Now I decide to expand this prototype into something that can become a "legit" game - that is big enough to be published on Steam. At this stage I start thinking about the visual style, a narrative theme if not a full story line, different possible game mechanics, audio landscape, consideration for different input methods, platform choices, and so on. In each of these categories there are so many choices to make. By applying the filter of my taste, I can narrow down on some of the choices, but still there are so many possibilities. A steampunk look or a dungeon map, futuristic setup or a rustic environment, organic humanoid characters or mecha, first person or third person POV, support mobile or not,... The list goes on. I get lost in these choices. The advice in this situation is to pick something and stick to it. I try that from time to time. But at some point I'll come at a stalemate and I'll be looking at the pile of discarded choices and one of them appears to be a great solution to my current hurdle. Then I can't resist the temptation to try it out. And soon I find myself completely off-course from my original plan. So after months of this, I don't have any final product to show for all the time and efforts I've spent. It is deeply frustrating and causes depression and anxiety.

I guess this is what it means to mature as a designer. But I'm still not there yet.

Yesterday I was listening to a philosophy podcast and came to know about the idea from a 19th century philosopher Kierkegaard - "Lost in the infinite". Here's a great succinct description of the concept which I find very relevant to my problem. [source]

To lose oneself in the infinite is to live as though life is nothing but a series of endless experiments; different paths are sampled and personalities tried on for size but no enduring choice or commitment ever made. One who is lost in the infinite is obsessed with who one can potentially become, yet in reality never becomes anything, let alone a self

"Phantom Behind" is at a stage where the prototype is functional and I'm now shopping for themes and styles to make it a legit game. I'm hoping not to fall into the same trap again.

I would like to hear if you have faced the same dilemma and if you have any advice.
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Moonbo
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2020, 09:29:58 AM »

I would reach out to collaborators (artist, musician) and entrust some of the core decisions to them. And commit to not mess with those decisions once you've agreed to them. Having others to hold you accountable to a direction can be a real help, and it also empowers the people you work with because it becomes their project too Smiley.
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Ramos
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2020, 09:41:00 AM »

This post turned out to be more of an essay than a changelog

Lost in the infinite

I would like to talk about a problem I've been facing repeatedly in design of my games since last 2-3 years.

I start with an idea for a new game that I like. I implement few mechanics of the gameplay and get the basic loop working. I release this prototype for people to play, they like it for what it is. Now I decide to expand this prototype into something that can become a "legit" game - that is big enough to be published on Steam. At this stage I start thinking about the visual style, a narrative theme if not a full story line, different possible game mechanics, audio landscape, consideration for different input methods, platform choices, and so on. In each of these categories there are so many choices to make. By applying the filter of my taste, I can narrow down on some of the choices, but still there are so many possibilities. A steampunk look or a dungeon map, futuristic setup or a rustic environment, organic humanoid characters or mecha, first person or third person POV, support mobile or not,... The list goes on. I get lost in these choices. The advice in this situation is to pick something and stick to it. I try that from time to time. But at some point I'll come at a stalemate and I'll be looking at the pile of discarded choices and one of them appears to be a great solution to my current hurdle. Then I can't resist the temptation to try it out. And soon I find myself completely off-course from my original plan. So after months of this, I don't have any final product to show for all the time and efforts I've spent. It is deeply frustrating and causes depression and anxiety.

I guess this is what it means to mature as a designer. But I'm still not there yet.

Yesterday I was listening to a philosophy podcast and came to know about the idea from a 19th century philosopher Kierkegaard - "Lost in the infinite". Here's a great succinct description of the concept which I find very relevant to my problem. [source]

To lose oneself in the infinite is to live as though life is nothing but a series of endless experiments; different paths are sampled and personalities tried on for size but no enduring choice or commitment ever made. One who is lost in the infinite is obsessed with who one can potentially become, yet in reality never becomes anything, let alone a self

"Phantom Behind" is at a stage where the prototype is functional and I'm now shopping for themes and styles to make it a legit game. I'm hoping not to fall into the same trap again.

I would like to hear if you have faced the same dilemma and if you have any advice.

That is nice of you to share with us.

Do you also listen to Jordan Peterson(I am a huge fan of his work)?

So first calm down, you don't need to do them all but from my experience, it is good practice to make final game design from the very beginning or you will face multiple risks later like:
- cannot see the game from the objective point of view not even 10%
- become even more frustrated because you do not know what your goal is and when to stop
It is ok to add some adjustments/changes later on but the final design must be clear from very beginning

Also to be successful you must have an obsession (I too have a huge obsession with my current project) so it is ok don't worry about it.
And after you have a final development plan make DEADLINES and use the obsession for doing them on time, this may work differently from person to person!

Stay strong!
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jay3sh
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2020, 04:32:20 AM »

Thanks @Moonbo that's a good perspective.

@Ramos I could learn great deal from your tips. Thanks for sharing.

Quote
Do you also listen to Jordan Peterson(I am a huge fan of his work)?
I only listened to him in a debate once. I'll check out more of this work.



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jay3sh
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2020, 09:17:40 AM »

Yesterday I had a good idea for the visual theme I can use for Phantom Behind. I'll post screenshots after I get a chance to work on it.

But this morning, I played with another idea for the character visuals I had. I really liked how it turned out to be. Here's a #screenshotsaturday



This kind of animation was tricky before, because it involves two characters. Let me explain why. A character is made of a single sprite or a group of sprites. Animation is used to change the sprite image or change transforms of different sprites in a composite character. However animation is not used to control the global position of the character in the scene. That is determined either by code or physics (or both). However when two characters interact with each other, we get into a bind. For realistic looking animation the local movement of character's limbs has to be in sync with the relative position between the characters. There are many advanced solutions in Unity for this, for e.g. IK pass after animation. However such solutions are only available for specific rigs - namely 3D humanoid rigs imported from FBX files. My character skeleton is just bunch of sprites grouped together.

So today I was trying to do an two person animation (a stab kill routine) in a separate composite rig. I copied all the sprites from two separate characters and put them in a single group and animated all of them together. This way I get full control of all their limbs during design of animation and don't have to wonder if something will be off because of some other source of transformation. When it comes to gameplay, I'm planning to hide the individual characters right before the interaction between them starts and switch to this composite animation temporarily. I'll tell you when I try it.

Enjoy your weekend!
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Ramos
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2020, 12:47:37 PM »

WOW that is looking amazing, very expressive animation
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jay3sh
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« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2020, 01:41:59 PM »

Today's progress, you can see it here https://imgur.com/a/8kD9cmN (Unfortunately imgur converts this gif to mp4 and I can't embed it here).

I tried creating some artwork in Krita today. Then arranged it at different z-values with a perspective camera. Also you can see the seemless transition between separate characters and a composite character rig during kill.
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jay3sh
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2020, 12:16:55 PM »

Tried to create sprites in Krita with some stylized look, instead of using some real life textures. The bush took a while to get right. Pile of logs could use more glamour, but it's a good start.


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jay3sh
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« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2020, 04:00:03 AM »

I spent last couple of days in Krita, learning different techniques to create nature themed sprites - trees, boulders, dirt. I also learnt to use some advanced 2D techniques in Unity - using URP, 2D lights, normal maps, Post processing. I'm also settling on the narrative theme of the world in which Phantom Behind takes place. Had some great discussion on Discord the other day on this topic.

Current status:




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jay3sh
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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2020, 03:40:40 AM »

I spent last week refining the visual style of the game. The environment is going to be in the woods, so lot of nature elements. Accordingly I'm doing some experiments to make a good hero (the phantom). I thought of raccoon as a protagonist when I watched Studio Ghibli's Pom Poko on Netflix recently. Here's a scene I composed to test my environment ideas. Also drawing a cute raccoon character didn't take much time (about a day).

I also spent some time in trying out Unity's 2d animation packages to create my character rigs. However they turned out to be more of a hassle. The most important problem is while doing symmetric animations like walk or run cycles, I don't get mirror pose functionality with this package. In my home-grown animation solution, I've written a custom script to achieve this. It's a huge time saver and reduces lot of frustration. So I'm going to stick to my solution for character rigs.

I drew the new raccoon character in Krita, instead of Inkscape. I applied several techniques I learnt from drawing environment assets to make it pop-out. Without those techniques, the dark gray body of the character looks very flat and dull.

I've been playing Desperados-3 a lot too. I'm trying to solve all its missions without using guns. That's more likely how it will be in Phantom Behind. In fact a true stealth game mechanic shouldn't have weapons like guns. In fact, it's very likely that the Phantom won't be able to kill anyone, he can only knock them out, which will take that enemy unit out of action for certain time. However it's desirable to a player to permanently eliminate the enemy by killing them. Desperados has a really nice mechanic to achieve this by not killing. After knocking the enemy out you can tie them up and hide them into the bushes so that other enemy units don't spot and release them later. This permanently eliminates that enemy from interfering with the hero's tactics in future, yet it avoid killing. This goes hand-in-hand with my idea of a cute protagonist, like the raccoon here. (Only the raccoon is missing a tail for now, I'll add it soon)

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