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Montoli
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« on: July 17, 2009, 08:09:40 PM »

Hello everyone!  After enjoying following so many of your games, I've decided to finally post one of my own.  (Translation: I finally got around to making something that I wasn't embarrassed to display in public. Wink)  It has had about a month of development time so far, and will hopefully be done and available to the public sometime in the next month.

I call it... Boss Rush!

It is a shmup.  It consists of pretty much nothing but [hopefully] cool boss fights, because that is where I believe mad fun is to be had.  Two such bosses are basically complete at this point.  (Out of a planned 4-5 total.)  Here are some screenshots of them in action!






As may be evident from the screen-obscuring bullet patterns, I have been playing the TouHou games lately.  (A friend got me hooked.)  They are

!  I usually play on easy because I am a wimp.  Anyway, somewhere in playing them, it occurred to me that the boss had a much better deal in all of this than I did.  I mean, he or she gets to sit there and absorb hundreds and hundreds of bullets from my gun, while dancing gleefully across the screen, obscuring most of it with beautiful, terrifying patterns that kill me at the barest touch.

And such patterns, too!  I frequently wish I could just sit and admire them, but dodging them to stay alive usually occupies most of my attention.

Anyway, from this, I decided, that it might be fun to make a game in which you got to see the other side of things.  Sit and admire the patterns, and not worry so much about dodging them.  Get hit a lot, and shrug it off ludicrous amounts of damage.  Take leisurely pot-shots at some poor hapless idiot that is challenging you with a pea-shooter.  Be...  The boss.

So yeah.  In all of those screenshots posted above - the little red ship?  He's your enemy.  You're controlling the other guy.  The big one.  All those bullets?  SOMEONE ELSE has to dodge them.  See how THEY like it.

It's fun!  I'm happy with how it is turning out so far.  Unfortunately, since I'm planning on trying to go the Flash Game License route, I don't have a publicly playable demo just yet.  (Which is a pity, since I'd love some feedback on gameplay...)  I'll try to post more as I go!


-Montoli
« Last Edit: July 30, 2009, 09:06:48 AM by Montoli » Logged

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Alec S.
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2009, 08:27:04 PM »

It looks pretty awesome so far, and I like the concept.

I look forward to seeing how this turns out.
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Loren Schmidt
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2009, 08:34:05 PM »

This looks pretty polished judging by the screenshots. I'd be up for some testing if and when you do any.
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Inanimate
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2009, 08:48:48 PM »

Nice graphical style you going on! Bosses ARE some of the best parts of a game, that sure is for sure. Banana Nababa sure shows us that.
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BadgerManufactureInc
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2009, 04:37:26 AM »

Hey I also like the concept and graphical style; I'm honestly really looking forward to unleashing hell onto the poor human ship!!

You tricked me, because from your screenshots, right up until the last minute I'd never guessed that you are turning the tables.  Cool  Now I see why there's no score/lives etc.

Great work and good luck,

Badger
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Montoli
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2009, 09:57:13 AM »

Heh.  Actually, there is no score/lives/UI in the screenshots because until fairly recently, the UI looked crazy ugly, and I had gotten in the habit of cropping it out when setting up screenshots to send to friends.  There's normally a UI on the right that lets you switch between various attacks, tells you how long you've survived and how many ships you've taken down, etc.  I'll see if I can't dig up an image of it, since it's less hideous now.

Thank you everyone for your kind words!  Especially about the visual style.  I am glad people seem to like it!  That means it is doing its job - disguising the fact that drawing things more complicated than simple solid-color shapes is well beyond my ability!  (And thus saving me from having to hire a real artist. Tongue  I call this "pulling a geometry wars")

I'll see if I can't dig out some screenshots of the actual UI at some point.
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BadgerManufactureInc
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2009, 12:08:19 PM »

Hey.  It would be good to see that UI.. Better still, a demo..!! Or am I asking too early?

 :D
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Montoli
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2009, 04:04:41 AM »

Providing a demo... is hard.  Given how the flash game market seems to work, if I want to cling to the fiction that I might see some money back out of this, (which I would like to do very much since I am otherwise unemployed at the moment!) everything I have read suggests that putting it up in public early is a bad idea.

So I'm afraid you'll have to content yourselves with screenshots for the time being.  Still, it is getting close!  And after it's released of course, all bets are off!  (Basically, soon as I get it up on FlashGameLicense, I'll post a link here for people to try.  Hopefully this will be sometime before the end of next week, although it is probably best if that be taken with a grain of salt, since so far my estimates not been grate lately.  Not sure what happened to me, my time estimates definitely used to be better than they've been on this project...)

Anyway... speaking of screenshots...  Here is another!  This time with a different boss  as well as a shot of what the UI looks like.  It's a little wonky looking, since I realized after I took the shot that I forgot to disable the debug "restart" and "options" buttons.  (Neither will be present in the actual game, which is why they look so out of place.)

Oh yeah, and a big laser, too.


Interestingly, even though this is the third boss I've shown via screenshot, this is actually the first one I made.  Unfortunately, after making him, I went and worked on other systems, and then made the other bosses.  So the other bosses have the benefit of a bit more technology behind their design, not to mention I was getting better at boss design by then.  (And heck, this one didn't even WORK for a while, since in the mean time I'd changed some fairly fundamental stuff about how bosses communicated with the UI.)  Anyway, he's back now though.  And if he's still not quite as awesome as, say, the purple centipede (definitely one of my favorites) he's at least passable now.
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2009, 03:53:59 PM »

Hey, this is looking pretty slick.

I can understand you not wanting to post a public demo, though it's unfortunate. One alternative is to have a closed beta. That's worked for me so far.
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Montoli
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2009, 05:50:33 PM »

Yeah.  I've basically been conducting a small, unofficial closed beta with friends.  Particularly ones that live near me and are understanding enough to let me say "here, sit at my computer and play this unfinished game, don't mind me as I take notes, and tell me what parts you don't like!"  But I doubt I'll move much beyond that until I get it up on FGL.  (Happily, once it's on FGL at least, it's easier for people to preview and provide feedback.)

I'm always amazed at how much having other people playtest helps game quality.  They're always a bit of a splash of cold water to the face, but once I get over the feeling of "what do you mean you don't find this thing I  have slaved over to be a perfect and transcendent experience?!?" I almost always learn things that I think make the game better.  I just wish I could get used to the feeling.  You'd think by now I'd have it through my thick head that I don't have all the design answers, and that sometimes I just need fresh eyes.  But somehow it still always stings, at least a little, when I discover that the game didn't spring into the world like Minerva, fully-formed, flawless and complete. Undecided
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2009, 06:02:15 PM »

Ha ha, I totally understand what you mean.

The game looks pretty sexy, and I can't wait to play it once you finish the game!  I'm quite a fan of the TouHou series myself. Smiley
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BadgerManufactureInc
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« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2009, 06:24:18 AM »

It really does look good; I am looking forward to trying it out  Grin
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2009, 07:58:21 PM »

..it still always stings, at least a little, when I discover that the game didn't spring into the world like Minerva, fully-formed, flawless and complete. Undecided

Indeed! I always have to repeat over and over, "Every opinion is a valid one, every opinion is a valid one..."

I look forward to seeing the game once it's up on Flash Game License.
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Montoli
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« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2009, 09:21:07 AM »

Bleah.  I feel like I should be done by now, but of course now is when all of the little bits of polish that feel like they should take no time at all start actually taking time.  Oh well.

Currently waiting for my audio (the guy doing it should be done tomorrow or early next week) and after that I'm pretty much done, I think.  Spent this week doing playtests with whoever I could find that was willing to play my game while I stared at them in an unsettling way and took notes.  The balance and progression is feeling much tighter!

Lesson I learned from all of this:  Homing missiles feel unfair when you're on the receiving end of them!  I had made the enemy [little red] ships slowly start with more weapons as time went on, but it turns out, starting them with homing missiles just feels mean.

I mean, I NEED them to have homing missiles eventually.  They're my safeguard to make sure that I didn't overlook some cheesy way to trap the red ship in a corner or something, and never die.  But starting him off with homing missiles just makes people feel like I'm being unfair.  However... according to playtest results, increasing the [enemy]-powerup spawn to ludicrous levels is not unfair.  The net result is the same.  The enemies still get homing missiles quickly.  But it feels nicer since you can at least delay them a little bit, and feel like you have some way to try to stop them, even though it's very hard by the end, and not really practical.

Good to know!


Also - finally realized today that there is some kind of "anti-deep-linking" stuff going on with my image hosting.  So I think the screenshots I had put in the first post were not showing up unless you had recently visited my website.  (Which I can't in honesty really recommend yet, since there isn't a whole lot on it at the moment.)  So I fixed the screenshots at least.  And what the heck, added a new one that I don't think I'd posted here yet.

Setbacks aside, starting to feel like I'll actually finish...  The time I'm spending waiting for audio is sort of forcing me to futz around and polish the stuff that is done, rather than try to add new features in at a breakneck pace.  At this point, that's probably a good thing.  The game feels better for it at least.

-Montoli
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2009, 10:21:43 AM »

this looks great, can't wait to get to try it out.
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Montoli
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« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2009, 12:28:20 AM »

Whee!  Spent the day making new backgrounds.  (I might post some screenshots tomorrow.  We'll see if I think they're interesting enough to bother posting.)

One piece of feedback I received was that it felt better if there were obvious changes when you reach a new level.  Sort of like how when you use to play, say, Tetris, and the background would change every so often, and you'd be like "oh man, I never seem to make it past the spot where the background looks like the Kremlin in wintertime!"

So to address this, I've been making various backgrounds for the different levels.  All fairly simple stuff, mostly just abstract shapes sent through my particle system.  But I think this was good feedback.  It feels cleaner now.

Also, an unintended side benefit that I realized after I started making'em:  They are a GREAT way to convey general "difficulty" or "danger", just by changing the scrolling speed.  Start off slow and laid back.  If it gradually ramps up in speed as the difficulty increases...  I really like the feel it generates.

(The old way I was doing backgrounds was just by changing the color tint of one fixed background shape.  It was an ok background, but not great at conveying progression.  Was easy to miss in the confusion, and not different enough to be really obvious.  This is much better!)

I'm starting to think that having my audio delayed was something of a blessing in disguise, since I'm finding time this week to polish a lot of things that needed polishing.  And the game is feeling better for it.  Here's to hoping I can get it up on FGL next week!

-Montoli
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« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2009, 02:38:45 PM »

Hey

Really glad to hear all is still progressing well.

And you have some interesting ideas with regard to the engine!  It's especially helpful to me right now, to hear your thoughts about backgrounds/particles etc.  And while I'm obviously aware of your approach to keeping things undemofied for now, the screen shots added to your infectious enthusiasm, are adding up to demonstrate a slick and playable shooter.

I also really like the idea of the background objects increasing in pace to mark noteable changes to the tempo of the game.  I can't wait to see how it turns out and best of luck finishing off these great ideas.

 Grin

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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2009, 04:27:39 PM »

having the scroll speed of the background reflect the difficulty sounds like a nice touch.
Also the role reversal, amazing. Can't wait to be BOSS :D

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« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2009, 12:09:12 AM »

I'm totally borrowing the scrolling speed used for atmosphere. What a great idea.

It's been fun seeing you work on this. Do let us know when the demo goes up, I'm looking forward to playing it.
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Montoli
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« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2009, 12:17:43 AM »

[Warning, long post approaching!  No refuge!]

Thank you, btw, to everyone who has dropped by with a kind word or suggestion.  It is appreciated!  It can be hard working on a project in a vacuum for 1.5 months, and it is always nice to hear peoples' feedback and thoughts!  (Even if I'm being a terrible tease and haven't even given you guys a demo.  Sheesh, what's with me?Wink)

Anyway.  Updates!

First off:  This is apparently the week in which I discover that I have doppelgangers!  Or maybe that I'm a doppelganger for someone else?  Don't know, but it's been funny.  Or is that creepy?  No, mostly funny so far.

Consider!

Exhibit A:
I have been calling my studio "Paper Dino Software", and set up PaperDino.com, etc.  This week I discover that there is already an award winning studio called Paper Dragon Games.  Huh.  That's eerily close.  Apparently I'm not the only one to have the idea of naming my game brand after my hobby of creating folded paper reptiles?  (Funnily enough, I even considered Paper Dragon as a name, but dismissed it after discovering that www.paperdragon.com was taken by someone doing toy dragons.)  ATTENTION PAPER DRAGON GAMES, I AM NOT TRYING TO RIP YOU OFF, CAN WE STILL BE FRIENDS?

Exhibit B:
Today I came across this game.  I've seen other things by this author before.  He does neat stuff!  He's one of the few places I've seen people use post-processing in Flash, other than my own stuff.  (Actually how I found his stuff in the first place - after I figured out how to do it, I went out actively looking to see if anyone else was doing it.)  Anyway, I had a moment of panic when I saw the description for his game on the indiegames blog, but it turns out I'm still ok - we made very different games.  Still, it was rather eerie to discover that just as I prepare to start getting ready to release, that there was another game that just came out, that was an inversion of a traditional Shmup, which used nifty flash post-processing effects to do blurs on a simple, geometric style.  (For the curious, his is a game in which you control the waves of enemies during a shmup level, while mine is [as you've probably gathered by now] specifically focused on the boss fights.)

Crazy world!


Anyway, enough about other peoples' games.

Let's talk about mine!


I am REALLY happy with how the backgrounds turned out.  Like most of my art decisions, they were heavily weighted by the "what would take the least amount of effort and disguise the fact that I can't draw?" rule.  Even so, I'm fairly pleased with how well they came out.

But don't take my word for it!  For lo!  I am making good on my threat!  My threat... of screenshots!!!

.... at the end of the post, that is.  Because they take up lots of screen real-estate.

Side note.  It's still a humbling feeling, when you are bested by your own AI.  There have been several times this project where I've made some new bullet pattern, and said "this is pretty.  Too bad it's clearly unfair.  There is no WAY the computer can dodge this.  And then I do a playtest just for fun, and the computer runs circles around it and laughs.  And I'm like "well, cool, I guess, that it dodged.... what, 6 times now?  I wrote a good AI, go me, I guess?" but that is still inadequate balm for the raging feeling inside of me, which goes something like "DANGIT, LITTLE PEST!  WHY..  WON'T...  YOU... DIE???!?"  Anyway, picture 3 is one such pattern.  I liked it, but figured there was no way it would be balanced.  Huh.  Turned out it was.  Tenacious little bugger.  (I nailed him in picture 1 though.  Hah!)

I feel if I have captured nothing else, I have adequately captured the frustration that a video game boss must feel, at being so mighty and possessing so many amazing guns, but still, in the end, being unable to stop the tiny mosquito-like pricking of that one dude in a ship who's village you torched or whatever.  And even if you do kill him, he probably has lots of quarters.  Sigh.

Anyway.  Onward!  Hopefully I'll get audio this week and can put this thing to rest.  While I've had a lot of fun polishing this week, I'm getting ready for it to be done.

(And fear not, as soon as I have a demo up that is playable, the problem won't be getting me to tell people.  It will be getting me to shut up about it for 5 gosh-darned minutes. Smiley)

-Montoli

[Screenshot time!]





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