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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!

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.

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.



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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.