Stuff Under the Header

12/21/2012

End of the World

Edit: (December 27, 2012) Thought I forgot about the patch to DT1? ... ... ... I did. Anyway, all the patch does is correct the bug with the S Rank. The title screen will now display something new if any of your save files have been completed with an S Rank. (You don't need to beat the final level again, it will remember.)

It's rather underwhelming. I was expecting better, but maybe it's good that it didn't end considering the weekend just started. Would be a cruel joke for the world to end at the end of a work week. Oh wait, I work on the weekends too...

Flocks come and go a lot this time of year, so not many up close bird moments have occured lately. There was one that was nifty the other day though. I passed out some food to a random bird and out from around the corner comes another. She looked over to me and curiously tilted her head. From that distance, I wasn't sure if it was a bird I had seen before. She took a step forward and did another curious head tilt, then tilted the other way. She then repeated the process. I spoke (can't remember what I said) and suddenly she comes running over to me. At that distance, I saw that it was the bird that I had hand fed a few weeks back. I hadn't seen the bird for quite some time, so I figured her flock had moved on. It was interesting seeing her look at me knowing she knew who I was, but just couldn't quite remember. It could have also been that I had a big jacket on, some gloves, and part of my face was concealed.

MLP Hate
Don't let the section title fool you. There's something I noticed after watching the season 3 premiere. In every episode that Cadence shows up in, (only 2, technically 4) she is always beaten and battered, or tired and overworked. The first shot is from the season 2 finale, the next is from the season 3 premiere. In almost every moment she's around, she's overwhelmed and just feels so pathetic and sad. I've decided the writers must hate her.











Borderlands Thing
In both Borderlands games, I noticed a nifty thing. Every human character that you can shoot; Their face is concealed or partially so. The bandits have hockey masks, (or that's what I call them) the Crimson Lance had full on helmets that hid all of their facial features. This is consistent throughout the series thus far except for very specific characters, who I won't name for spoiler purposes. To me, I feel like it's a way to disconnect the player from what they're shooting at. We have tons of war games and other violent massacre games that don't do this and mowing down dude after dude is ingrained in our mind that a disconnect wouldn't be necessary, but the design choice is an interesting one to me. It was definitely something that didn't happen in the series by accident seeing how consistent it always is with it. Considering the subject matter and how the game goes about making death and killing comical, it's a good choice I feel. While the second game's plot got a bit more on the dramatic side at times, the face covering of humanoid enemies can keep that sense of "wtf am I doing" at bay and help keep things on a light-hearted comical scale. Just an observation and opinion.

DT3 Progress
Holy dang is it slow lately. I have a schedule of when I wanted content playable. Even with the content cut a few months back, I'm about 1 1/2 months behind my projected schedule. I'm in the middle of fleshing out chapter 10 content right now and I was supposed to be finishing up chapter 11. I'll be remaking that schedule sometime, especially now that plans have changed. As said in the previous post, the full release date will probably be early 2014. We're currently in chapter 10 out of 19. Two of those chapters are fairly short and one being kinda lengthy. I'm thinking I'll be done with the content by earl 2014, but a lot of work will still need to be done. That's when all the polish and minor details will make their way in as well as squashing all the bugs. The last 10% can take awhile. Of course, if I had tons of time to work on the game and never ever played other games, I'd be easily done by summer's end... that's not gonna happen. I just need to win the lottery that I don't play so I can do away with my day job. Luckily working on DT is fun and enjoyable and full of zany learning experiences.

12/16/2012

Lots of Views

I saw the bird in the store do something that I probably shouldn't find funny, but meh. I was around the produce section late at night when I spotted her above it, which is fairly normal. A moment later, she flew down into the lettace and sat in it. So I did what any good employee should do... I watched her. At first I thought she was going to eat some of it, but she was drinking the water that was on it. After she had a few drinks, she flew up for a few seconds and then came back down, sat in the lettace again, and made herself comfortable. She got another drink, gave herself a quick bath in it, and then flew back up.

The blog has over 50,000 views now. (It had reached it earlier this month, I just missed it.)

Planetside 2... Again
There are certain games that, instead of having a set story you play through, it lets you craft your own story through your experiences. Planetside allows you to do this on many occasions. In one instance when my faction was defending the Crown, I had noticed the base next to us had turrets bombing us, and at times my faction would pointlessly fire back over to them. I was busy sniping people trying to get across the bridge or sniping their snipers and this was starting to bother me. I figured my little mission would fail, but I decided I was going to sneak over and hack the turret and turn it on whatever I could, which would also cause them to have to turn their own guns on it. So I made my way over to it, foiling a poor sniper who had an unfortunate position on top of a hill. He should have had cover when he shot at me. I then successfully made it to the base and recharged my cloak, then snuck to the turret and hacked it while someone was in it. A moment later, I was in. Success! Immediately I scanned for targets and blew someone away, then something even more interesting caught my attention. I took out an active Sunderer and bailed out of the turret just before they destroyed it. I didn't make it far before I had a few hundred bullets in my back. It took them awhile to get that turret back for some reason, but I decided to wrecklessly try it again. Same result, I blew up another Sunderer of theirs, and bailed before they blew up the turret. This time however, I managed to make it away successfully. If you know the area around the Crown, then you probably know about the bridge to the south-west that leads up to it. While the opposing faction had occupied this bridge and were busy with my team at the front, I found a vantage point that left their team with nearly zero cover.

Overall, I don't know how much of an impact this had in that fight, a lot of times it's hard to gauge just how helpful your actions are, but that end result is not my concern. The actions themselves were satisfying and it left a fun story. Playing with friends also makes this game much better. On another note, I've changed my faction to VS.

DT3 Progression
Development has been really slow the past few months due to work (which will die down in January) and my more active social life. Development is not going to stop though, the project is getting better all the time. The target release date, if the pace keeps at what it is now, will not be met though. It's looking to be early 2014 now.

Boss Fight Video in DT3
NegativeZeroZ has a video of a duel in DT3. A very late Demo_2.1 boss fight, so if you haven't played the demo... it spoils a later boss fight. It's so weird to see the old damage colors now.

12/09/2012

Lots of Video Games

I went on twitter for the first time in forever and figured out there was the @Connect button at the top. Yep.
Also I watched a bird stretch her legs, and then stretch her wings. I don't know why it looked interesting to me. I'd get a picture, but I can't just ask her to do it again.

DT3 Thingie
On an unrelated topic, I've found the hardest thing for me when making complex things in DT is just starting them. The Death encounter, for example, I knew what I wanted to do and all the elements that would need to go into it, but where to start had me puzzled. Thinking about the end result when starting from almost nothing is a headache. At the start of things like that, I usually take baby steps with it, setting up very simple things. The process isn't always the same.

For example, with Death, his sprite wasn't his hitbox, (it was for damaging you) so making sure that was where it needed to be was first. Next up was his animation speeds and zoning. After that, I kept him stationary and made sure each of his attacks were positioned right. The telegraph before each swing was part of that step. Next up, his 3 consecutive swings were implemented and his movement was given back. The swing size increase as the fight goes on was made after that. His projectile deflect was added in just after. This without anything else was tested for awhile so all the minor adjustments could be made to make sure it was perfect. This aspect of the encounter was the most important part, so most of my attention was on that. His periodic scythes were added in after that. This was actually where it was originally going to stop, but it felt like there needed to be one other interruption to the player. That's when I added the multiple scythe summons. (Not the mid-battle sequence, that was always planned, but those are done last.) After the timing and adjustments were made to those, it was time for all the finishing touches, like figuring out what was a fair HP count. It needed to be enough that kept the player from brute forcing in any scenario, but not so much that the fight would drag on. I wanted the fight no longer than roughly 90 seconds. The outcome needed to be fairly quick, it would either be you or him going very fast.

Not really sure of what my original point was, other than I'm currently making something puzzling on my end for Chapter 10. It's pretty nifty to see this sequence in action though, probably the most cinematic DT has ever gotten.

DT3 Changes
DT3 has had lots of changes after the demo (2.1) release and it will continue to do so, some minor and some very big. The biggest change that isn't in the game yet is Gate 6 and 7 being merged into one and its ability not able to be moved outside of it. (Not completely anyway, there are certain passive elements taken from it that will apply to both characters.) Here's a list of some of changes in the game now, some based on feedback. (That would be visible to anyone that played the demo, a few have been mentioned before.)
- The max bottles is 2 instead of 3. (Technically not in the game, but a 3rd will not be available later.)
- Ammo, such as arrows and heart energy, will be set to 20% if it was below that when respawning after choosing 'Retry from checkpoint'.
- Movement speed is no longer affected when charging attacks.
- Inactive abilities recover energy at 1/4 their normal speed.
- Claire's control was tightened up to match Jerry, but her dash has remained the same. DT3 is going to require more precision and Claire's floaty control didn't work for it.
- Everything causes knockback, including stationary traps like spikes. No more sliding around everywhere uncontrollably. There are a few non-knockback damage objects in the game, they do not interupt your attack state, but you do not get invincibility frames. Like the undashables (red outline), these are also clearly marked.
- Wolf Heads don't shoot through walls and Tektiles don't glitch through walls.
- Jerry's Sword Master skill and Claire's Cool Whip skill no longer affect attack speed. That is now static and set to the equivalent of Lv.3. The skills instead boost the stun time of their respective abilities.
- Jerry's Bomb can be remotely set off. (To its flashing point.)
- Claire's Holy Water loses 25% of its power when entering its Explosion state.
- There is a limit on the amount of projectiles you can fire from one ability at a time. Example, Jerry can only have 2 arrows on screen at a time, same with Claire's Dagger and Holy Water.
- Salem Witches deactivate sooner and a witch's projeciles are destroyed when the witch that fired them is defeated.
- In Gate 4, Jerry can fire off walls at any time instead of when only having downward velocity.

AP and item costs probably won't be finalized till just before the game goes beta.

Something under the hood changed that made particles about 3x more efficient when spawning in. It had the side affect of breaking some of the places that particles spawned, but most of those have been fixed. Maybe all of them by now. One tester found quite a few places in Gate 4 that I had missed.

Video Games
So many games. The first is this little game called Skrillex Quest. I don't really care for dupstep much, but this still got my attention. Some dust gets into an NES cartridge and messes up a game world and it's up to P1 (You) to fight through the glitches... and playing along with Skrillex' song, "Summit". I found the music enjoyable for this little game and I forgot I was listening to dubstep, in fact, I like the song.

Slaix showed me this one (and a friend posted it to me on Facebook) called Old Spice Saves the World. Sound ridiculous? It is, and its got some fun humor along with it involving current political silliness. The rest I won't spoil.

If you like stealth games, check out Mark of the Ninja on either Xbox Live or Steam. This game has no combat at all. If you're caught, you're probably dead. It respects the gun beats sword logic well. I actually got Jerry into it as it matches his view of ninjas. He doesn't like Ryu Hyabusa for that reason, which I like to call the action ninja. There's a demo available and I recommend playing if you love stealth games.

On the subject of stealth games, if you've been around my blog awhile, you might remember when I recommended Stealth Bastard, a game which Slaix had shown me. It was made in Game Maker and featured leaderboards and the works. This game is now on Steam with improvements. The old version was pretty sweet and while I haven't played the new one, I'm sure it's even better. Dust Force started as a Game Maker game as well before coming to Steam and saw many improvements for its final market version.

12/01/2012

Games and Music

No big bird info today, though that bird mentioned in the last post is still around and happy to say hi when she sees me. She's always with the same small group of birds. (This post is a wall of text with no pictures.)

Planetside 2
I've been looking forward to Planetside 2 ever since the first one sadly died. Seeing the second go free to play was quite a nifty thing, so I picked it up for Steam. I started the game and dropped in immediately, took 3 steps, and was shot to death. Planetside 2 is an amazing game and I really think you should play it.

There's no sarcasm there, the game is actually tons of fun. There's a bit of a learning curve I found, even knowing the first game. My first hour was full of mistakes and deaths, but each time, I learned something that I should do, and usually, something I shouldn't do. The best way to learn the ins and outs is just to jump in and see how it all plays out. It's rough at first, but the end result is worth it... even if my KDR is always 0.6 or lower.

Out of my many deaths, I've found that I can be my own worst enemy. I decided to try a vehicle out after about an hour of running about and sniping... usually failing to do so. (3 headshots out of 7 deaths isn't TOO bad right?) So I spawned one and was immediately teleported in where it was already in flight. I realized I hadn't reviewed the controls at all. The mouse and WASD all seemed to be doing various things. By the time I figured out what I was actually doing, I was upside down and heading straight into a mountain. Lesson learned, review the flight controls before getting into aircraft.
I skimmed over them afterwards, then tried my hand at it again. This time, I was able to kinda sorta fly. I came out of an aerial battle alive and they didn't so I think I did something right. I did take some damage during the struggle however. I started to think what would happen if the vehicle hull was almost destroyed and I would need to bail out. I realized I hadn't looked at the controls closely. So I tried a button to see if I would jump out with landing gear. My assumption was correct as I dived face first from my craft, but I quickly realized I was missing something. I quickly pressed P, but all that did was bring up a menu that had nothing to do with parachutes. Lesson learned, don't jump out of vehicles that are 100+ meters in the air.
Running in the game is kinda weird and I wish it was like Borderlands. We're stuck with either hold to run, or toggle run on and off. I go with toggle. This sometimes leads to problems though. I ran up to an edge and saw that I could snipe. I thought I had turned run off when I wanted to get a bit closer to the edge, instead, I sprinted right off. Another lesson learned, press buttons better. On that same note, and different occasion, don't run off bridges when your health is low. Also look both ways...

Despite my bad playing, I've had a lot of fun with the game. I'm usually playing as an Infiltrator. The server I play on is Soldeck and I'm with the New Conglomerate. You know the name I go by. (ZephyrBurst) My roommates also play it on occasion. All of us are playing on the same server on different factions. (I shot Jerry at one point.) There's a lot to the game and it doesn't have a tutorial before throwing you in the game. The first hour of it can feel daunting, but if you look at it from an angle of you're learning how the game works, it goes much better. Take it slow, check the menu out when you get the chance, and see where everything is located. The site does have videos that may help you out if needed though.

Music from People
I like to browse the newgrounds audio portal from time to time. Stay there long enough and you'll come across some very skilled people. I recently came across one by the name of Fictionalhead. His music is a blend of instrumental and electronic and I think he's hit that very well. Out of the 29 tracks he has on his bandcamp, it was maybe 2 that I didn't really care for, but the rest were great. Check him out and give him some support if you can. I've been trying to keep in the habit of contacting everyone whose music I use, which I haven't been doing well on. I haven't used any of Fictionalhead's music, but I have contacted him about possibly using one of his tracks later. He said it would be fine and would like it if I did. That goes into the other reason I want to keep up with contacting the music creators is if they would rather their stuff not be used. Usually I try to go for the tracks that have 'Can be used in freeware' in the info.

11/25/2012

Oh man, 10 Days Later

There's actually stuff to talk about, and again, I'm going to split it up between 2 posts. Oh yeah, I'm finally back into my normal routine, had a busy 2 weeks.

Of course the first thing to mention is birds. Last week was an interesting one with a particular bird. All throughout the week she approached like many have in the past, but she never shy'd away from anything I did like a lot of them do. Every day she would come just a bit closer till she was at the edge of my hand. They'll come over to my feet, but when I kneel down, they typically back off a bit. I noticed they look at faces a lot and always look directly into your eyes. So I thought, I'll try keeping the food in my hand instead of putting some on the ground in front of me. She waited maybe 3 seconds before making the choice to come over and eat it straight out of my hand. This happened on multiple occasions throughout the day. She took less time to approach and was less apprehensive on each following encounter. On another moment, she had no problems being nearly eye level with me at close proximity when she was on a tree. The next day I tried to get a picture of her in action, but one thing she shared in common with the others birds was she didn't like the camera. She'll get close, but won't eat from my hand if the camera is out. Maybe I'll find a way to keep the lense unblocked while the rest of the camera is hidden, though if it's the lense that they don't like, that won't work. I've thought about setting the camera down and backing away a bit to see if they'll inspect the camera then.

Here she is looking straight into the camera. This is about as close as she'll come to it.







You can see her poofy feathers pretty well here.


She was turning her head right as I got this picture. That string on her feet is now mostly off. She had less and less of it every day. The easy way I tell her apart from the others is that bit of fluff on her feathers. There's also a certain marking on her head. Though an even easier way to tell is that she's the one that wastes no time running/flying over to me.






Different birds here. It was interesting that the far back one laid down so close to me. No worries, she's not hurt. A bit after this pic was taken, she did the same thing and every time the wind picked up, she brought her wings up.




Slit08's DT2 LP
Slit08 has an LP of DT2 up and completed in 5 videos. First one here. He doesn't go for 100%, but the play-through is done well. I enjoyed his fight with Harpuia quite a bit and it shows he has a very good grasp on the game's dodging mechanics. He also beasts right through the final level, even with the nerf it got, that's still pretty good. The only map he has trouble with is Sector 4. That's another thing where I'd like to showcase hilariously easy ways through hard looking obstacles. You can get through that cluster of red rings unscathed in about 3 seconds.

NegativeZeroZ's DT1 S Rank LP
For anyone that doesn't know. An overall S rank is when you A rank all categories on the Distorted setting. The reward, which isn't there in any release, is it will tell you on the title screen how to unlock the debug mode for the game. (Or at least some of its functionality.) That will be patched soon. No big rush as I don't think there's a lot of demand for that. :P

Anyway, Zero has done the S rank. I don't know why anyone would ever attempt such a thing, let alone succeed at it. Hats off to you. He makes good use of every spell the game has as well as any exploits that would benefit him. As I've said in the past, if you find an exploit, use it.

A Voice Interview
Hadriex (gamerzsnark) caught me some months ago and forced me to do an audio interview with him as he's converting all his text interviews over to that. Since he forced me to, I had no choice. He had a spoon and I didn't know how to react to that other than give in to his demands. It can be found here in this sentence. So yeah, you'll hear me. Don't remember that voice or I shall have to hunt you down. We're not sure if it was on his end or mine, but my voice is choppy in places. No amount of tweaking settings seemed to fix this, but most of the time, I'm understandable. On the good side, Hadriex was awesome enough to subtitle everything. If you thought my writing was unfocused and all over the place at times, my speaking will go beyond that. I had my answers to his text interview on hand, but I kinda just tossed that to the side and went with an unscripted mess of words. Which is... more my style. We did do a second take on I think 3 questions and only a part of each of them.

11/15/2012

Making Games is Hard, Act. 2

Edit: (November 23, 2012) A new post will come in a few days. Its been a busy week and DT3's latest changes were taking up my free time... that and Borderlands 2. There's actually plenty of stuff to mention and talk about at least. :]

Continuing on from the previous post regarding DT3's changes to later chapters. This post is also long.

I get very attached to my projects. I want DT3 to be great and my best so far. The game has had a lot of time put into it, and I'm always afraid to make major decisions for it, since I don't want to do anything that could harm it. I'm afraid to change it from my first view and design of it. I detached myself emotionally from the project and took another look at the project as a whole to see what was really best for the game. Then I needed other opinions from those with an unbiased view of the project and presented what was currently there and where it was heading. It wasn't hard to see the superfluous content in the game, especially considering I already knew what that was.

It was pretty clear what needed to be done, so I immediately began rewriting that portion of the game. Gate 7 had a somewhat solid set, but Gate 6 wasn't clicking. Even then, I was looking for a reason to keep those 2 Gates, specifically the 3rd set they would bring. I asked the available testers what they would like the Gate 6 theme to be and got some decent suggestions. Then made a decision based on that, which was shot down with a better alternative. I thought about going with that. Still, this didn't fix the real issue. The rewrite was finished and really, things were better from all sides with the change.

More specifics on the change that won't spoil anything. There are now 6 Gates with their 1 McGuffin each. That number is arbitrary anyway, the Gates mostly serve as a spring board and training ground for the ability sets. Like the first Gate, the final one utilizes both characters and does give a unique ability to both of them, but only for this Gate. It does break the sequence the game had, however it gives the benefit of not having to keep that set balanced with the other sets and works very much in favor of the narrative at that point in the game.

It does have pickups associated with it, but they won't be around except for inside that Gate, so it's identity is kept hidden unlike what happened with the previous Gate 6. Which was the idea anyway. On those 2 removed levels. The first is one that you've all figured out if you looked around much in some of the later parts of the DT3 demo. That was Ninja Gaiden with a bit of Shinobi mixed in. The final Gate for Claire is one that had a joke applied to it that anyone will get if they've played the games. Sad to see it go, but a single laugh is not worth keeping it. Its theme was Ghoul's n' Ghosts.

There was a very special event that would happen around Central City between Gates 6 and 7. It wasn't removed, in fact it stays right where it was after Gate 6. It actually works much better as a bridge to what has been called the 'End Game' chapters of the game, which are just the chapters after all the Gates are completed. While it's called 'end game', it makes up quite a large chunk of the story.

Encouragement
Something that seems to happen with every major project I've had is discouragement. Not from external sources like negative feedback or lack of interest, but from myself. There are times during the process that my motivation runs out and I think that the project is going nowhere or that it's terrible. That I just can't do it or I'm inept at what I'm doing. I think this is something that hits many people for anything they put a lot of time and themselves emotionally into. This seems to hit me at least once for any big project whether it sucks or is great. Feeling burned out is part of this, but discouragement can stem from anywhere.

There are many ways I've found people combat this problem. One of my methods is simply to think back to why I'm creating what I am and what my goals for it are. This has nothing to do with the game's concept or gameplay structure, it's more personal than that. It's all reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing. These are two things I write down at the beginning of a project and occasionally look back on. The act of writing these two things down is fairly recent. DT3 was the first to have this done and its been considerable help in the process. The Bird Game has also had this done for it, and oddly enough, I often think on that when thinking up how I want the Bird Game to play out. I reference it just as much as the high concept when talking about the game and discussing potential ideas.

The DT series has been one of my stress relievers. It's what I do when I want to relax. Often times, instead of playing video games, watching a movie, or any other activity used to assist in stress reduction, I'll further the DT project. Sometimes though, I'll simply spend a few minutes with it and code something small. Those are the moments when something like the birds make it in. Or in the most recent area of the game, the dancing/cuddling flowers, which goes along with the more upbeat vibe to the area. That area also produced something that filtered into the rest of the mainland areas, which are respawning birds. These birds fly in from the sides and land in a set place and are given a slight randomize color blend. Seeing the birds simply fly by periodically was the major reason behind putting them in, rather than the more practical use behind them with their dive bombing nearby bad guys. The thought that the bird lands and becomes a bigger part of the scene makes them that much better. That was a fun side tangent.

There are external things that can assist with keeping motivation of course. Feedback of any kind has always been great, it's a big indicator that there is interest. My unexpected fanbase, while small, is amazing to me. The tropes page being completely fan made is super nifty. Seeing people discuss the game and strategies that worked for them and the LPs are equally as nifty. After seeing interest in the game pick up, I figured it would get a Lets Play or two, but not 9 or 10. I didn't realize the game was that Lets Playable. (We're going to pretend that's a thing for that sentence... I am anyway.) Something else that's always been great has been when people point out something in the game that they found neat that was intentional on my part. One specific off the top of my head was when raocow noticed that the fight with the Artist felt more like a battle between Jeremy and Hexor rather than one between Jerry and the Artist.

Okay, I gotta wrap this up, this is all ready longer than the Act 1 post. So what are ways that you guys keep yourself motivated or help pick that motivation back up?

11/09/2012

Making Games is Hard, Act 1

This is going to be quite long. It goes into some rather drastic changes for DT3's later content.

It seems a lot of you have dabbled in game design before on some level, be that through your own original works, stuff like DT, rom hacking, or tabletop games. Not even limited to games, but the creative process itself is laid with challenges and tough decisions for any media. DT3 has been coming along really nice and I'm super happy with how it's turning out. I'm most happy with how the ability sets work well together. It's seeing these abilities work so well together that I've seen many other design flaws and issues that just don't mesh well together. I've had this thought for some time that I've been uncomfortable with, yet feel is necessary to maintain a core balance with the game. These are one of those tough decisions that I really don't want to make.

If we take Claire out of the game and leave Jerry with his first 2 ability sets, Zelda and Megaman. We're left with a close range attack supplimented by a limited use arrow and quirky bomb. This set alone works well, but falls short at various times against the challenges presented in the game. The Megaman one is a set focusing on 3 different ranged attacks with somewhat limited energy bursts. Again, this set alone doesn't hold up against what DT3 wants the player to do. Putting them together though, they work together really well and compliment one another. If we take Jerry out and focus on just Claire's first 2 sets, Castlevania and Metroid. (Which you all have already seen the signs for.) It's the same as Jerry's first 2 sets. Her Castlevania set focuses on her melee attack which is supported by 2 weapons with different quirks. The Metroid sets gives her access to similar abilities Jerry has, but with a different approach. Claire's weapons (cannon and missiles) can be fired up or down, while Jerry's cannot. However, Jerry's special weapons allow for things like stun locking and can linger.

Focusing on just the 2 character's first sets, Zelda and Castlevania. Jerry's melee has shorter range and is faster, while Claire has much better reach, less arc, and a bit slower. Things that don't work with Jerry's melee, Claire at times, can handle better, and this works the other way around as well. The game doesn't forces you to play with any one set nor does it force the player to constantly switch characters, but it does point out these differences. These 4 sets between the 2 characters with their mobility differences is the core gameplay. If one set can't do something, another one will take over and help the player trump whatever obstacle is in their way. Even further into these sets, Jerry's Megaman set gives you a hookshot, which adds to Jerry's mobility options and lets him get to places that Claire can't. Claire's Metroid set gives her the morph ball, doing the same as Jerry's hookshot, but again, taking a different approach.

As you know, the game has 1 more set per character to add to this mix. Each one being fairly quirky in nature, yet trying to fall in line with how the existing abilities work. Herein lies the problems that I've been seeing as I test content working with all 6 abilites together. DT1 made the mistake of being overly complex (and wasn't clever with it) and lets be honest, had useless abilities. There were a lot of mid to late game abilities in DT1 that were entirely situational and had extremely limited practical uses. Who used Inferno or Zephyr? Wildfire had maybe 1 or 2 places where it could come in handy over something like Fireball, but any other time, it was an MP waste. The 3rd set for both characters doesn't add anything to the core gameplay that the first 2 sets do, and further, it adds an unnecessary layer of complexity. It breaks the flow of the other set's melee/range priorities. It creates the problem that DT1 had with too many button presses to get to what you want. The abilities themselves are too quirky to be useful in comparison to what's there with the first 2 sets. Making them closer to the DT3 core makes them useless. They feel tacked on as well.

So what does this mean for DT3's later chapters? Gameplay wise, it's going to be completely changed from the initial plan. Story-wise, the Gates have side stories which feed into the main story. These 2 final Gates can be condensed, as some of the story content feels like filler. (Another prompt for me to have a look at these on the gameplay side as well.) This means some content that I had planned will be cut, which I feel is very necessary to keep the game's core set going as well as keep it from going stale. I had only planned for DT3 to be about an 18-20 hour game, which is all ready pretty large for the type of game it is. At the end of my playthrough of chapters 1-9, I have 11 (almost 12) hours of gameplay time. This is gameplay time not consisting of bug finding, this is just a straight shot through the content. (100% of the items available) That's only 42% of the chapters, this is getting to be a bit much. Something needs to be condensed, and I've found useless content that doesn't mesh well or add anything to the game.

I've been keeping Gates 6 and 7 a secret and will continue to do so for now. The details on the changes will be kept the same. But of what I will say is those 2 ability sets will no longer be there as previously mentioned. Something else will be replacing them, that I feel, is better. This also means that the game will have 19 chapters as 2 of them will be condensed into another. Each chapter is always a turning point in both the story and gameplay and I'd like to keep that consistent. This doesn't change the 7 McGuffins. Nor the 8 instrument quest as that is essential to what happens later.

To the testers; As it says in the channel, I'll be away till probably the week after Thanksgiving. Got some changes and happenings going on in the real life as well. I'll be getting another build to you guys somewhere between then and now. I'll still be working on the game, but internet is going to be a thing the next 2 weeks for this computer. (I'd go wireless, but this laptop refuses wireless.) You might be able to catch me on steam when my roommate forces me to play games with him. (That's a different machine.) To everyone else; My response time will be very slow to questions/bugs till that time. I'll also be out of town for a few days.

So has anyone else ever worked on a game and had to either make the decision, or seen decisions that made major changes to the game? If so, what did it feel like to have to do/see that?

11/05/2012

Insults Incoming

Not much bird news this time. One thing the males love to do is stand on the cameras that are on the roof. 99.9% of the time, it's not a problem, but male grackles have long tails. Sometimes their tails will drop down and cover the lense, which I always find humorous. It's even funnier if you see it from the security feed, trust me on that.

In other birds news, this one comes by to say hi from time to time.










Wreck-It Ralph
Two months ago, I didn't want to go see this when Jerry told me to watch the trailer and said nothing about it. I did my normal thing of, "That sounds stupid, cause the name is dumb. Anything with the word Ralph and Wreck in the same sentence is doomed to fail and yada yada." He stopped listening after that. Of course, me being into video games, as soon as I saw the trailer, I said; "So we're seeing this on the release date."

I'm not gonna review it, I'm a terrible reviewer, but I just gotta say that I found it fantastic. I think it would be enjoyable for those that aren't into video games. I'd definitely game hop into Sugar Rush. That candy audience... Jerry and I had this giant shit-eating grin every time those were on screen. No worries, none of this is anything you haven't seen in a trailer.

So when the movie ended, this was the first thing Jerry and I thought of. Only click if you've seen the film or don't mind something that could potentially be a spoiler. I had to do it.

DT3 Demands A Sacrifice! Well not really...
The insults that everyone loves so much. DT3 demands more of those! If you have a Game Over insult that you think would work for DT3, leave a comment here. I'll be crediting those, if you want, in the Thanks section of the credits.

There are restrictions though. Swearing needs to be kept to a minimum and restricted to those words that have appeared already. 'Ass' seems to get the running theme here as far as that goes. Nothing too vulgar and if an ennuendo is used, keep it very very subtle. You've all seen DT1's insults a thousand times, you know how they go. :P
My personal favorite for DT1 is "Quoth the player; Nevermore." which came from a friend in the Netherlands. Yes Cali, (if you still read this blog) that one totally made it in. Way way far back, she requested an option to retry bosses from the menu cause she was always going for a flawless victory on them. I should have used her advice back then. :< She did however, prompt me to make Jerry's hitbox smaller. I think this was around the time Metropolis was in development.

Other DT3 Stuff
In response to the bottom comment on the previous post.
I won't say too much yet and not going to say where it is. Intense and creepy is the intended feel I'm going for. It does have multiple boss encounters and there's a section of the level with a gimmick, so some will be happy to know that. The color wheels also make a brief return, but they're handled in a much different way this time. The spinning wheels are gone, and instead you're given a new HUD element that shows what to do. For most of its return, it's less an obstacle and more of a puzzle element as I said once in the past. A screenshot may come in a few weeks. When I have something that I think looks good, I may post something.

10/31/2012

Feathery Air Shows

Edit: (November 2, 2012) 9/21 chapters done... That doesn't sound like much. Chapters 10 and 21 being the most intricate.

I had an interesting moment with a grackle the other day. Copy-paste time!

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Male grackles are a bit heavier than I imagined. So this evening at work, I found a grackle laying down on his side next to the building. When I approached, it didn't move so that was sad. It didn't really look dead, though I glanced around to see wtf may have happened to the bird and why it would just die right there. A few small feathers were scattered about, it wasn't another animal, and grackles don't kill each other in fights usually. Besides it's not the season where the males claim territory.

Then I looked at a nearby window and realized what happened. It left a spot of feathers where it made impact. So I thought, well I can't leave the bird here, I'm sure the store doesn't want this laying about. My thought was to put in on something to bring it over to the bushes and let nature do the rest. So I kneel down and pick him up to transfer him to this thingiemabob I have. It was mid-transfer that I realized something I hadn't seen earlier. The bird's chest was moving! Okay so the bird just knocked the wind out of himself. I figured he had broken his neck. It was at this moment of realization that he suddenly lifted his head. I about flipped out. Luckily I didn't do one of those flailing freak outs as the bird was still being held. In my mind I'm thinking 'holyfuckingshitthisbirdisstillalive'! He looks into my eyes, and I'm sure he flipped out just as much when his daze wore off. He does this crazy acrobatic roll and fly combo and he's off toward the sound of the flock.

So that was fun.
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That same day, here's what the sky looked like around 6:30pm-7:00pm.











She hasn't come by in awhile. She flew down on a rock close by and stopped to look at me, then hopped off.







DT3 Stuff











These Dragon Knight guys are finally almost finished. If you followed the blog waaaaaaaaaaaay back when I was still finishing Gate 2, you may remember a screenshot with them. Their AI is finally being finished now, though Chapter 9 is where they debut. They're on the same difficulty as the Tyrants and like them, have a few reactive behaviors. I personally find them easier to handle than the Tyrants, and though they're not done yet, I don't think I'll find the finished version any different. They have a few more behaviors that need to be finished and a lot of tweaking. Other than a dungeon all about puzzle solving, this guy is the only rough part of Chapter 9. The end of Chapter 8 and most of Chapter 10 are fairly intense, so I wanted a calmer moment between them.

I'd like to keep trial and error out of any puzzle solving in DT. Most of it will use observation on the player's part to figure things out. I've gotten feedback on the dungeon from 3 testers and all went well. 1 had some trouble with one room, but he had skipped a step earlier in the dungeon that displays how certain objects react, so that prompted a tweak so said part couldn't be skipped in the way he managed. Another had trouble with a room in a different way, which prompted me to add a nudge to the player about not fearing a certain mechanic. My roommate, Jerry doesn't do regular testing for DT, but he does know how to play it. There are times that I'll have him play a section after the testers run through it and I'll watch how he plays. These puzzles will definitely be one of those places.

Next time, gonna talk about games... again.

10/24/2012

Controllers

Edit: (October 26,2012) Oh hey, another not so subtle change to the blog. It seems Jeremy has been plotting to get me a new computer. I don't know when he was planning on doing this, but if it's before I planned to build one in March next year then uh... I'll have one before that? That would be pretty nice as this machine is pretty slow, AND I'd be able to record again! Maybe that flawless playthrough of 'Think & Act Fast' will come sooner. I'm dreading that, I was only able to pull that off once and that was during development on DT1 when I was much better at the game. Plus I'm pretty sure I was feeding off some unknown source of godly gaming energy. Now to voice or not to voice it?

I'm pretty sure grackles have a game revolving around finding the most expensive looking car and pooping on it. As someone who finds luxury cars to be silly, I find this game to be in good humor. There are still birds in the store and people are convinced they should catch them with nets. This has been unsuccessful 99% of the time. I've been trying to tell them to try using a trap door type of deal with a trail of bread crumbs leading in. Set it up quickly when they see the birds and wait at a good distance. Then once one is in the box, the bird can be freed outside. My advice has fallen on deaf ears it seems. Trying to catch a bird with a net is hard. A coworker told me that last year a bat got in the store. I replied with, "That's awesome!" The person gave me that look as if I'm crazy, then said something about it being a heath concern, as are the birds. I replied with, "So hundreds of people all in one store isn't a health concern?" I find that a single bat or bird every few months should be the least of our concerns as far as diseases spreading goes. "But the birds get into the food and fruits." This is a legit concern, but customers do the same... daily.

Unfortunately I was not able to get a picture when the entire flock was overhead, but I did manage to this one. Every evening around 6pm-6:40pm, they gather up everyone and roost.
I had quite the audience.
I noticed this one making noise/singing, so I waited for him to do it again as I was sure he would. I like when they puff up their feathers when they sing.
 Here's a shot of a female getting very close.
And surprise to me, so did this guy. He was walking away when I got the shot, so he was actually a bit closer than this at one point. It always surprises me when the males come close. The flash was on for this and the previous shot, so they have this weird drop shadow.




DT3 Physics and Controls
In the DT3 demo, Claire's control still uses the loose methods that DT1 and 2 use. In future versions, Claire matches Jerry's tight control. DT3 requires more precision than its predecessors and those controls don't work well for it. After playing with Jerry's new control in DT3 and swapping to Claire, she felt too loose for the game. Her crazy dash and slide momentum is still in place and is now slightly more exaggerated. Underwater controls are the same.

A few more control nuances will make its way to the dashes in DT3. Jerry's forward dash will stay the same, but Claire's forward dash will be changed so that holding forward will not cancel its momentum. Pressing forward or back during its duration will still end it though. Claire's back dash will probably stay as it is. Jerry's back dash may change quite a bit. Currently there have not been any levels based around his current back dash mechanic so only minor changes may need to be changed to existing levels if that happens.

Due to Slaix bitching at me, the character swap delay during split party sections is being reduced to 1/3 the normal time. The change for those sections feels right, so props to him.

Here's a shot of a new area where everything takes a turn for the bright and happy. Birds fly about, flowers dance and cuddle, and the music pretty upbeat.

The similarities with the game raocow is playing nearly got me to move this level to a later section or remove it completely. It stayed. The dungeon in Chapter 9 is mostly based around Jerry and Claire working together. The boss fight is also the first and one of the few bosses that use the split mechanic.
Now that I look at it, this shot is boring.









Chapter 9 is getting close to ending. It's a fairly short one that leads straight into the Black Rock of DT3 and the big turning point in the plot.

This Other Game Idea
I had a game idea last year where the basic setup is a physics based platformer, but when you die, your past body is left behind. You can then use this body for whatever you want. I had many thoughts on the applications of this, but my most fond one is throwing the body to overhead spikes, thus impaling it, and using it as a swinging rope.

10/17/2012

Complaints & Information?

Edit: (October 18,2012) I had a text interview with Hadriex last year. He has something else coming up and he has a lot of footage to cover. SO!! He'd like some screenshots. There's no set number, but if you have any good ones or can get some, email those to me and I'll pack them up for him to use. If you'd like credit for that screenshot, put your alias somewhere on the image, I think the bottom-right would be a good place.

Either link to them in the comments or email them. If you do link them, be sure it's a known site and no shortened links. I do not check shortened links, not even from my roommates. If I'm not 100% sure where I'm going, I won't check it.

Oh yes, to the testers, (in case I don't get a chance to talk to you) you guys can send stuff as well, including things in the test builds, but not from boss encounters and no dialogue on screen from anything not in the public demo.

Two more birds got into the store the other day, both of which were always paired up every time I saw them. They brought a smile to my face, though I'm sure a co-manager will say something to me about the doors... again. To which there is nothing anyone can do about it considering I've observed one waiting for someone to open an automatic door, then fly in/out during these moments. If they really want in, they will get in.

On the topic of birds at work, two days before GDC, one of them decided to follow me inside. When I realized this was happening, I turned around and stopped, which she did the same. Then took a few steps, and she followed at the same pace. As much as I find it amusing when they come inside, they're definitely better off outside in many cases. I took a step toward her and she took a step toward me. Clearly she isn't afraid of me. Instead of scaring her out, I decided to try something. I walked around her and sure enough she followed, which was a good thing. Luckily no one saw it happen. I don't want to have to go through a talk with those people about why a bird followed me into the store that close. She followed roughly 2 feet behind me.

Yet Another Game

In the previous post's comments, I mentioned another game idea I had, and someone wanted more detail about it.

To restate: "The other is what DT used to be, though its concept has been changed since then. It's a puzzle platformer that you could say is a reverse Metroid. Throughout the game, the protagonist will be protecting someone who is unable to protect themselves and will have to sacrifice or give up something in order to do so.

Example: Taking a bullet for who they're protecting."


This game is on the back burner, farther down than the one mentioned in the previous post. To answer the questions though...

"Will it be 2D?"
This is still undecided, but I'm leaning on 3D more and more with this game.

"Will it use graphics from other games like DT or original graphics?"
No, and I can answer another potential question with this as well. DT3 will be my last game to use sprite rips. I can see small things down the road, but nothing even close to as massive as DT.

"Will it be a free fangame?"
No, the DT series will be the end of my fangames.

"Where does it play, where's the setting?"
It's a sci-fi/fantasy setting taking place mostly in urban and underground locations. (I'm suddenly reminded of Tomb Raider.)

"Are there bosses and esp how difficult will this game be?"
There are bosses, and like the rest of the game, don't involve a lot of combat. The character is clever and acrobatic, (at least she starts out acrobatic) and will use this to her advantage. Difficulty won't be on the level of DT. Seeing how this game will be on the market, if I ever make it, it needs to be a bit more accessible. That's not to say it won't be higher than average, this is me after all. :P

Just a few other details. For most of the game, the protagonist is protecting someone else. This is NOT an escort mission game. I can't stand escort missions. She is protecting an infant that won't move from the spot you place it down. Puzzles involve getting both the protagonist and the infant through obstacles. Whenever she has the infant on her person, she is encumbered, more so in later parts when she becomes more and more injured. Also through most of the game, she is being pursued, which in certain areas, is used as a timer as she has to outrun and outwit her pursuers. There are also times when she will have to find a safe place to care for the infant. (Feeding, etc.) Of course things like this may feel like micro-management, which could get in the way of the game, so I'm wondering if something like that should be mostly or completely scripted.

This game idea is a bit more underdeveloped than the 'Bird Game' at this point though, which is what I've been calling the previously mentioned game. On the Bird Game, I got an email asking a few more questions. I don't want to answer those at this point, but one was about difficulty. (Asking me about difficulty. I wonder why?) The answer, there is no winning or losing, there is only experiencing. There is no wrong decision, unless that decision is to not experience at all, but what is life without that?

That Complaint

A few posts back I mentioned I would possibly rant about something. Here we go!

It's about a Double Dragon Neon Review on IGN. I generally don't go to review sites these days, but there is the occasion I'll see how various sites review a game. As I mentioned way WAY back, I don't look at the score itself, but what the reviewer says. I'm all right with biased reviews and such or things the author found boring, but what gets to me is when a reviewer makes false statements. There's a few points I just wanted to touch on...

Right away, the tag line is "A strong case against that Battletoads remake we wanted."
This is definitely shaping up well isn't it? Because one game being bad definitely makes another game, that isn't even made, bad as well. Under the assumption that Double Dragon Neon is bad. I have my share of complaints about it, but these things stated here...

The review states, "The additional stages help fill out the original game’s 30-minute length, but only by about another 30 minutes, so you’re paying ten bucks for an hour of gameplay."
This is false, the game is roughly 2 - 2.5 hours to play through on the Normal setting without replaying any of its 10 levels. Seeing how the reviewer said he had to redo stages due to losing, this is even more questionable on their side. Also why is $10 for 1 hour bad?

The review states, "In those new levels you’ll encounter inept platforming segments, which don’t mesh well with Neon’s slow, cumbersome characters."
There was never an inept platforming segment or pitfalls that needed pixel perfect precision. There was one room in the final level with missiles coming across the screen on set intervals, which provided a frustrating obstacle to my roommate and I until we realized we were playing horribly. There was a fairly easy rhythm to it. This is a user error, not bad level design.

The review states, "During a late-game boss fight, I died and my co-op partner killed a behemoth tank. By virtue of having to throw explosives at its close-range weak spot, he died as well."
This is a lack of understanding. During said boss fight, there are times where you are required to throw explosives at a close-range target, like it says, but doing so does no damage to you. Even so, it gives you enough range to stay away from said explosion. If someone is reviewing something, they should know the facts. (Also said boss fight is slightly over half way through, not a late-game boss.)

At the very end, he states, "Let’s address a sad truth nobody wants to hear: The brawler genre is not very good anymore."
What little credibility this reviewer had for this review is now gone. You don't state an opinion and declare it as truth. This is also contradictory to his later statement of, "Double Dragon: Neon doesn’t bother to keep up with contemporaries such as Castle Crashers, Shank, and Scott Pilgrim – and you should let it fall behind." Which is it?

Most of his complaints feel like user errors as I didn't have any of the troubles he did. That isn't a good basis for that argument, but... whelp. Bleh, no more of this, I'm going back to no more complaints. Also this post was long with no pictures. I'll fix that next time... man I hope so.

10/13/2012

Tired Changes & Interrelating Webs

Noticed a few comments in the previous post regarding another project that I briefly mentioned, including an email, so I'll address that here.

The synopsis being: A small game where the player interacts with the world and its characters through simple means; Sound and expression. Every interaction provides a strong meaningful response and alters future interactions. All of this done without dialogue and text.

I won't talk about this one too much, but I feel it's kinda cheating if that's all I say about it. So... It's a single player game where you, unsurprisingly (you'll see what I mean), play through the life of a bird, starting with the very first moments when it hatches from its egg. From there, every system and mechanic is set up for you to build relationships with other characters as the bird's life goes on in a fairly directed narrative driven world. The game world itself is kept small as well as the number of characters, but each one plays heavily into the experience of building relationships.

That's all I'd like to say about this for now, but I may talk more about it at a later date. I'm also still writing up the design doc, which for this, is a slow process. Lots of ideas getting written down, but get thrown out very fast. What is there looks really good though. Everything has to go back and draw upon the basic concept of the game.

As for how the game would be released; It'll definitely be released as a downloadable game for Windows, and probably (most likely) available for mobile. It won't be built in Game Maker because I don't trust its mobile and cross-platform tools yet. I feel that needs more work. The game will also probably be in a 3D world, and Game Maker is not the tool for that.

A Problem with the DT Story
When I say it has a problem, I don't mean I'm dropping anything, this is simply something wrong with it. I've said that in the beginning, DT's story was only there to justify going from location A to B. Back then I thought this was an okay thing to do, as DT is very gameplay driven and embraces games in their interactive and traditional roots. I used to push away story and focus only on the gameplay side of games. This last year, I've been seeing that wasn't a good idea and have been finding ways of merging gameplay and narrative seamlessly as that can lead to a far more engaging experience. When writing a story, it's important to know what you want to convey to your audience. I skipped this step completely for DT3 and didn't give it enough attention. It's there, but not fleshed out well enough. A good writer can (and should) take a complex idea and convey it in a simple way, or take a simple idea and convey it in a complex way. (I prefer the first method.) For example, DT3 touches on human rights during its second half. Lately I've been asking myself how I can go about conveying that concept properly through DT's narrative without it being preachy and overbearing. This was something that should have been done well before this point.

It's not that this is a requirement, but having all this together would have made DT much more engaging. The concept of 'fun' doesn't have to be the only thought on a designer's mind for video games.

None of this would fix my horrible skills, or lack thereof, in writing dialogue. But all of it, as a whole, could have been better because of this.

GDC
Oh right, I'm back from GDC and still somewhat tired after having only 3-4 hours of sleep a night from staying up all night at the Ginger Man with the Narrative Summit group. But it was fun and awesome. I may link to some of the pictures I took when I get them uploaded somewhere.

10/06/2012

Even More LPs

No new bird pictures today (well there is one) despite there being lots of birds now. Sometimes I wondered if after shaving, the birds would still recognize me, but they have no problem with that. I stopped to have a conversation with a co-worker today and this bird landed on a rail behind me, then stood there for quite awhile about 1 1/2 feet from me.

I should name her, but I'm no good with names. My bird with the short tail feathers, I've usually called 'Grumpy' cause he doesn't usually like other birds around him during the day.






She waited there for about 2 minutes while I talked with the co-worker before I gave her something. These days, she's the bravest of the birds as far as approaching me goes. She won't eat out of my hand, but she has no problems coming within inches of me now.

Other LPs
The LP I mentioned last week that I didn't have the link of is actually one I had seen before but neglected to mention here. It wasn't Spanish, but Brazillian Portuguese, as I was told. You can find it here by . He's playing on Veteran.

There is one more LP though. This one is by ShadeWearingHero's friend who showed him the game. He's playing it on Distorted and has said he may not finish it. He's just seeing how far he'll go before he ragequits the game and cries... One or the other. Place your bets!! Oh yeah, it's by .

GDC Austin
I'll be at GDC this week, so responses will be delayed till Friday or Saturday.

10/02/2012

Just A Blog Post

Haven't had too many chances to get some good pictures of the grackles, but now that fall is here, there will be a lot more of them. Although more doesn't mean better. All the new grackles coming in don't know me, so I'm hoping the ones that do know me don't move on.

The left one was waiting for me to throw out some food while the one walking away was... well walking away.
Well look who it is!









Another LP
I was shown another LP of DT1 that started a few days ago by a youtube user named . It has voice commentary by a guy who seems to know he's getting into something harsh. No issues on resolution and frame rate. His LP can be found here. It seems he was shown the game by a friend. I have a feeling said friend just wants to laugh at him.

I was told of another LP supposedly in spanish, but was not given a link.

Speaking of LPs, I laughed at raocow's despair and moment of silence at the end of Section 6.

Twitter
There is a twitter dealybob that was added to the side which links to my twitter account that isn't used. I think I started the account simply to reserve the name. Lets see how long that thing stays on the side till I decide to remove it due to uselessness. Man this paragraph's sentences are kinda long.

9/26/2012

Awesome Things and Other Things

Edit: (September 30,2012) DT2 got a small patch. The 'exe only' link has returned as well. Mainly to fix those issues found with the shooter level and assisting with chaining on its end boss. An edit was made to the final sequence involving the game over screen. The random piece and rotation on level 4-1 has not been changed yet.

NegativeZeroZ did a really awesome thing. He's got a video of beating the Shroud Lord on Distorted and looks pretty awesome doing so. Check it out here. His use of Wind Burst near the end had to be my favorite part. Check the video info as well, he's left a very detailed dealy-bob on what methods he used and why he used them.

On that first game, has anyone ever pressed Enter in the save room? The answer to the question given is what the S rank was supposed to reveal, but I'm a derp and forgot to have it actually give, though I don't know of anyone actually getting an S rank without screwing with their save data. The answer may be revealed years down the road and has nothing to do with the game.

Close Encounter
More bird stuff. This one was about 1 foot from my feet when I took the picture. She was pretty pleased when I dropped food around me. A lot of the birds know they can approach me, but very few will come within 6 feet. Even fewer will come as close as this one did.





This bird followed me all day. I'm not entirely sure what she was so curious about, but my guess is she found a bug to eat.







This is a different bird from the previous image. She came very close, right up to my feet.






You saw the bird on the right (our right) two images ago. The other looks very curious.







There she is again.







A small gathering of them that tracked me down. The bird on the right also appeared in three of the images before this. One is scratching an itch, and the one close to the bird following me was caught mid-blink.






And there she is again. She found me all throughout the day. When I pressed the button on the camera, she was looking up at me, but it looks like the time I press and the time it takes for the camera to actually take a picture is enough time for her to glance down.




Still haven't been able to get a picture of my bird, but he's only around during the morning and afternoon. I've either been too busy to be around during that time, or I'm not around till later when the grackles are all getting ready to roost. During that time, he's way up at the top of a tree calling out to the flock. I've been good about remembering my camera, so eventually I'll get a picture of him. I just hope he doesn't move somewhere else during the season change cause it won't be till about March or April that he would come back.

Yay Video Games
Since the 18th, I've been playing a lot of Borderlands 2 and been enjoying it a ton. I haven't played a game this much since uh... the first Borderlands. Been playing it with a friend.

Color Wheels in DT3
Will they show up? Yes, but not for very long and their role has changed a bit. Since the HUD no longer shows the color order, a new HUD element is added that shows the order the wheels demand. The wheels themselves are also removed, instead the HUD element will display when it demands the player to be in a specific place. It also constantly displays how far off a warning is, and a countdown will begin when it wants the player's attention. Unlike when they appeared in DT1 and DT2, they are not the main element of the level, but like before, they will be dictating player actions at times. The time between warnings is larger and the color fields are generally bigger. Oh yes, the color coded cannons and blades don't show up again.

The major reason for the bigger fields, aside from it being better to maneuver with, is they have new ways of interacting with the game. Some of them can move about, but that's minor. The bigger element is they now interact with certain enemies. I won't spoil anything else about those though. Their role has changed from being a major obstacle into more of a puzzle element. So yeah, to answer recent comments on their appearance in DT3, yes, but limited to one area again and not for very long.

Other Things
Next post I may rant about something if I can collect my thoughts on the subject properly. It's not DT related and I'll mark when the rant starts.

9/19/2012

Double Dr... uh, Bromance

Edit: (September 20,2012) There was an edit below that I meant to have earlier.

I really liked the old school street brawling games like River City Ransom and Double Dragon. Recently, I checked out some stuff online about Double Dragon Neon, then tried the trial with Jerry. Oh man was that a good move. The game is just super fun. Now I don't know what it's like alone, but with a friend, it's just great bromantic fun. It's got the same beat-em-up feel the old games have with a modern touch. I found the writing cheesy and over-the-top the whole time, which felt right and meshed well with everything else going on.

The gameplay is what you'd expect from a side scrolling beat-em-up. Punch and kick the bad guys till they don't get up, mix in some special moves, a bit of dodging which doubles your power for a short time, and there you go. Everything is tailored to work better with your bro, err, with multiplayer, including a humorous way to share/steal life from each other through giving high-fives, as well as both bros doubling their power.

Check it out, it's tons of fun, and is simply a video game. Also the music kicks ass, which can all be downloaded for free here. Or you can also pay what you want, which is nice to support people who do awesome things. Grab your bro and have fun!

More Grackles and Bad Cameras

Really bad image quality, I either need a better camera or learn how to actually use the one I have. Probably the latter. The quality is usually bad without natural light. Two male grackles foraging in the rain. They seem to like when it rains softly.



I really like the white stripe on this bird's chest.








DT3 Life and Respawning
So you know when you die in DT1 and DT3, you continue as if you had just entered the room with the exact life count from before? (Well DT1 recently puts you just above the flashing red screen threshold.) DT3 does give a bit of help. If you've got a max of 6-10 hearts, you'll restart with 2 hearts if below that. If 11-15, you'll start with 3, etc. Recently, after the current demo, that was changed to every 4 hearts that you'll restart with extra. (5-8: start with 2, 9-12: start 3) This will change again.

You know when you're in the middle of a dungeon or large field, such as those found in Gate 2, and you begin a map with 1 heart? Then you get an unmentionable amount of deaths just trying to get out of there to refill your life. I'm sure it happened to a few, I got a few e-mails and comments about such occurrences. That's not a good thing. I knew it 'could' happen, and the minimum life threshold spoken about above was there to assist with that. The problem is it doesn't help when it needs to. Sure, the game is designed around the player not getting hit, but...

3 hearts is now the minimum you will restart with after death. This won't change anything but maybe one or two health pots or Mario blocks being removed from early levels that were placed in just to assist with problems like this. As for the minimum as you move on;
3-8: 3 hearts
9-12: 4 hearts
13-16: 5 hearts
17-20: 6 hearts
This system doesn't change much (if at all) mid to end game, (Ch.10+) which works for what I want. It's simply there to help ease the early game hell that sometimes happens. It does assist with extra gate levels, which are designed (a bit) around the player saving up health.

Another DT2 LP
Raocow (or is it raocow even at the beginning of sentences?) has started LPing DT2. I uh... I think that's all that needs to be said. Quite a few are here probably because of that, so yeah. The talkhaus thread is here, which I will probably step in and comment on like the first from time to time.

9/15/2012

The Big DT2 Update and Stuff

Is now live! I'll let you guys find out all the other stuff that was put in. As I mentioned in an edit during the last post, the score converter did not make it in, however, I'd prefer if people played it fresh again. That and I know you'll all find the scores easier to get, or just much more fair this time around.

GDC Online
It's that time of the year again. I'll be away from the internet from Oct.8 - Oct.11 to attend GDC in Austin. (More like 10 minutes away from where I live.) I usually sit in on the design and narrative talks as they cater more to what I find most intriguing about games. Last year I didn't go to any of them as I was helping out the IGDA guys on the Expo floor for most of the time. That and mingling with others around that area, mostly a few hidden Twisted Pixel guys and those at Vigil Games. The narrative group usually meet up at a place called The Ginger Man, after hours, till around 2am in the morning. That's about all to say there.

DT3 Scouts
I think I briefly touched on things like the Shrouds in DT3. That being they do not show up, but a new type of scouting enemy does make an appearance. This time, they're a small group comprised of different units. The group as a whole works almost completely procedural and constantly change up how they're engaging the player. The end goal is I'd like to have them learn and arc their behavior as the game goes on, but learning AI is way harder to do than I thought. At least effectively. That is something that may get cut in the end, but that's not important for the DT3 scouts at this time.

The unit I want to touch on today are the assist bots. Their role is... well to assist the group, and they will actively assess the situation and change what they're doing to suit the needs of the group. It's a completely non-combat unit with the main functions being healing and shielding. Healing is pretty straight forward. Shielding makes the target being shielded completely immune to damage. There are limitations on these. Only one can be used at any given time. To shield a target, it will have to float (the assist bots fly) stationary and focus to keep the shield over the target for as long as they feel the need to. If it wants to heal an ally, it will have to stop the shield. For both healing and shielding, the assist bot will need a direct unobstructed line of sight. Think back to the Aero Bot laser in DT1. Healing has a charge up time before it can be used, and a cooldown time before it can be started again. Units with an assist bot in the group can call out to be healed, which will actually be indicated on-screen. This doesn't mean the assist bot will suddenly prioritize healing that unit, but it does go pretty far up the list of things to do.

Since the assist bots work on figuring out the best way to the group as a whole, especially if I including ways of learning, I knew they would devise ways of completely screwing over the player in certain conditions. Namely, in an attrition based scenario where there are two assist bots, I didn't want them figuring out  that all they had to do was point a shield at one another and watch as the player runs about helpless to do anything to them. A few other limitations on their functions were set up. That being they cannot heal or shield another assist bot. The assist bots can priorities fleeing if they feel the need to get out of danger, but they will never ever be able to target themselves or other assist bots. Assist bots do have an auto healing property, but it is slow working and can be disabled by the player.

Some time later, I'll go a bit into some of the other units in the DT3 scouting group. The testers have not been able to see them yet since I usually don't give them unfinished stuff. The scouts are currently in a fairly roughdraft state.

9/11/2012

Mostly Grackles

Edit: (September 13,2012) The DT2 update is finished! The DT3 testers have access for now while I do a few extra tests. The score converter seems to want to be finicky, plus I suck, so that doesn't look like it'll make it in. Though I recommend to play the game fresh anyway.

Finally remembered to bring my camera during the last few days to get some pictures of the birds, though nothing out of the ordinary happened. Still, some of them might be entertaining.

This bird doesn't know me, or at least I don't recognize her, but she still let me come fairly close.








The only bird out of these that I know is the one walking close to me.








The one on the left with the gray fuzz has been flying down to ask for food for the last few days. The middle one with the soft features looking up at me has known me for roughly a week. Or at least that's as far as I can remember her reoccuring. The bigger one I've never seen, but he came close quite a few times that day and was fairly aggressive to the other birds.

 
I should have gotten a video of this. They were all being cautious around the donut and taking turns with it. I did manage to get one mid-flight, but my camera is really bad. The one that looks like it's yelling is the same bird on the left of the previous image.



When I first saw this bird, I thought he was the short tailed one I have known since I started out there a few months ago, but it turns out he's not the one. His beak is shaped a bit differently and he looks too timid. That and his tail feathers don't appear to have been taken off. The one I know has it a bit rough around the tail feathers. Took a picture anyway.



Same bird from the previous picture, just an hour later. His left leg hurts him when he walks on it, which is why he's standing on his right constantly. It'll heal.







Caught this younger bird perching on a car. The look she's giving is one of, "Please leave me alone."







The male with the short tail feathers that I know is up there. Can you see him? He was calling out, but not to me. The flock was getting ready to leave for the night.







DT2 LP
DT2 LP by DieHammerbrueder
The first one! Being played by Steve, who has not played it before. Commentary is being done by both him and Slit08. The LP is before the big update, and even before the previous one where I had toned down a few things and fixed a few bugs. They know of the update, but they're going to continue with this LP anyway. It'll be very easy to see the differences between the two versions.

Speaking of the update. The release date is the 17th. I should have it done tomorrow or the next day, but I'm going to let it sit in the dropbox for the testers to poke at if they want. You know, cause I often miss things.

Other Things
There were other things I was going to post about, but I didn't make notes of them, so they'll be in the next post. I guess... ponies? o_O
Oh right; Red Vines > Twizzlers