Stuff Under the Header


I Am Not Error

Edit: (May 30, 2011) Correction about the screen size. It is 480x352. (Cut out 8 pixels to maintain the grid I had.)

Another meaningless title.
I'm back and I hope everyone had a great week. It was a busy one for me, but I finished the writing for the entire main game sequence. Now I know what the game actually needs and doesn't need. The story is divided up into 21 chapters. Chapter changes are noted on-screen and is usually a mark of a new story direction. The length of each chapter varies, but expect each to average around 45 minutes of gameplay. This puts the game length right around the first DT. It's longer than the first though due to the gate chapters, which there are 7.

The gates are, as stated before, where you get new ability sets, and lock you into the new one until you complete that gate. (Unless you leave, but you can't take the new one with you until you complete the gate.) The first gate starts at chapter 2, and there are usually 1 or 2 chapters between each gate in the main overworld. These usually consist of the characters trying to track down a way to the next gate and solving problems in the main world. There's a fairly lengthy end-game after the 7th gate, this is when you'll have access to the entire game world and all abilities.

The game functions are introduced at a fairly slow rate. You won't be able to swap abilities till chapter 9, and dashing doesn't come into play until chapter 7. It's a good chunk of the game that you won't have the normal DT abilities. However, nearly every chapter changes the way the game is played. This constant change, I think, will assist in keeping things interesting and fun. More game genres will make small appearances, for example, there is a tower defense section. I think I'll hold back any more details.

I'm sure with the chapters idea, some of you are thinking that this could be episodic. I'm really unsure about this. The game world is fairly persistent. I know a save file you guys could keep would work, but as you saw with the first game, there are times when things broke in that due to changes. (I also don't want people to have to do that.) And it's not really set up to be episodic. Aside from the gate chapters, they aren't independent pieces of the game. But hey, if I'm suddenly enlightened and I find a solid way to release the game episodically as it is developed, then I will do so. If not, nothing aside from a demo displaying the first 3 chapters of the game will be released until it is done. (And possibly a small scenario in a later part of the game.)

This is entertaining and no, it's not fan-made.


Short Post & Screen Sizes

I'm far enough along on the system to start actual game content now, though for the purpose of finding more design flaws that slip through on paper, I will not do that yet.

A big design change will probably happen that will affect everything. I will most likely be changing the window size in the game. Right now it is 512x384. (Screen size for DT1 and 2.)
If it is going to be changed, it will be one of the following:
480x360 (Probably what I'm going with) Edit: I changed it to this. It works just right.
All of them work well and provide easy numbers to work with. I'm not sure how often people use the 2x window mode. But due to this change, it will be highlighted more. This change will be made due to design issues I came across in both previous games. I often times had too much screen space to work with. For getting a nice view for bosses, the area was much bigger than I needed 90% of the time. There was often times too much dead space as well. The smaller area will allow me to provide a better visual composition as well. (Which is a big reason for this change.) Level layouts will be better like this too.
Keep in mind, the actual resolution is not changing, just the game window size, which means a smaller view.

I am also going to be away for the week. Going out of town to help out family with some things.

To keep with recent trends I've had. She's waving for me, though it looks more like a hello rather than a goodbye.


Bad Fan

Edit: (May 22, 2011) Slaix mistyped the url for the blog and came upon this. I laughed.

Edit: (May 21, 2011) All the ability sets except for one are set up. (Small nuances aside.) One was removed, or rather replaced today. All the sets have distinct advantages and drawbacks based on each other, but the removed set didn't flow well with the others. The set in question was a Contra set. It doesn't mean I won't have a Contra themed level though. The replacement has been decided and is being coded now. It looks good on paper, whether or not it actually plays well with others is another story. I'll know very soon.

The bad fan is me. I was generously given a copy of 'Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble' this last weekend and I didn't know it was the third game in the trilogy. I saw the title of the game and assumed it was another spin off to the series like Red Hot Rumble and didn't research on it. This whole time I had been looking forward to finishing the trilogy and it was out THIS WHOLE TIME!! >_< As soon as my roommate lets me use his DS, I'm going to play it cause I'm cheap like that and I don't have a DS of my own. Viewtiful Joe (along with most of Clover Studios games) is one of my favorite games of all time. My top 5 if anyone is curious are:
1. God Hand
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
3. Viewtiful Joe / Okami
4. Yoshi's Island
5. Ikaruga

Distorted Stuff
I'll start off with giving screenshots of stuff. Yay!

Both shots actually show works in progress. The first is of the abilities menu which displays info about your eh... ability sets. :P As you can see they have levels per ability and level up the more you use them. (I think I said that in a previous post.)
The second shot is the skill menu. (or Spend AP as shown ingame) It's pretty self explanatory for the most part. The red circles are locks and are unlocked through story progression. The skills attached to the locks are not only unattainable but what they do are also obscured until the lock is undone. All the locks must also have a point or two in the skill they are linked from to unlock as well. The blue ones are the unlocked ones.

So there's a little bit to look at and speculate on for now. The way it is planned out, the player will not be able to max everything out by the end of the game unless they go for the extras. (Or grind, but who does that?) :P

All of the writing is almost done and I think for those of you that want more story focus will enjoy what I have prepared.

Other Games
I got a chance to play a really obscure PS2 game this last weekend called The Red Star. It was shown to me by a friend. (Same guy who gave me Viewtiful Joe.) If I had heard about this game online or seen it on the shelf, I may not have thought much about it considering it's based off a comic book and I generally have low expectations for licensed games. But seeing how said friend has the same taste in games I do and highly recommended it, I knew I was in for a treat. It's an action game mixed with shooter mechanics (think bullet-hell). Generally the levels with the (sometimes) swarms of enemies are brawler action based, where the bosses change to bullet-hell. It sounds like it's a genre mix gone wrong, but it actually blends together rather well. It's a difficult game and if you're not good at bullet-hell games, you may not enjoy it. Then again, if you're here and playing DT, then you'll probably enjoy The Red Star.

I really shouldn't let the licensed game fact get in the way of my first impression of games (or anything). Getting past that sometimes reveals rare gold mines. Like this game or the new My Little Pony. (Yeah I know, I slipped in yet another mention of it.)


Production Started

Nearly all of the pre-production work is done for DT3 and more time has been put into the actual production. I have been building all the systems and ground work for the game as well, which is also, surprisingly, almost complete. Surprising because I'm often not given much time to work on these things. Though the time I do work on it is very focused.

Design Challenges
Periodically I'll be talking about the challenges that come up during development for the game, the first is here.
While the game doesn't start off in a Mario styled level this time around, one does pop up fairly early on. The difference with DT3 is that the worlds will work a lot closer to their original format. (Those that are not part of the main overworld that is) You already saw near the end of DT2 on the airship that you could stomp on the projectiles the ship threw at you. The Mario area works like this as well. The design challenge with this segment was figuring out an effective way of handling collision. It's not enough to just have the stomping work exactly like Mario games. The physics involved with them highlight and work with the ability to jump on enemies. DT isn't quite like that. The movement is not set up for that type of gameplay, resulting in a lot of fumbling on the player side. I thought about changing the physics for that area, but it felt inconsistent. These enemy types also appear in other areas of the game, so that awkward control will just resurface. Plus there's too much else for the player to learn how to do in the game without having to try and figure out yet another movement style. My method comes in 2 parts. The first is the amount of leeway given when stomping on enemies. In DT2, you may have seen cases where you were able to stomp on an enemy even when hitting from an area like this:

This is due to how the threshold works, which is largely based off of your downward speed. (This threshold was scaled down a bit and changed for DT3) It is very possible with enough downward speed, that hitting an enemy from the side half way up your character will still result in a success on your end. The other minor part of this is how the character bounces off of enemies. In DT3, you are given a lot of slow air time after bouncing off of them. That is if you don't hold the jump button on contact. Doing so has the effect of giving you a rather large lift, but it doesn't have the slower motion the low bounce has. These 2 changes, specifically the hit detection, make things feel a lot more fluid.

An Interesting X-Box Live Game
I was recently shown an interesting game that can be bought on Live called Chime. It's a musical puzzle game... No really, that's what it is. Basically you put 5-blocked pieces on a board to create rectangles, the larger the better and try to fill a board with these completed rectangles. The concept is simple, but where it becomes awesome is how the music dynamically changes. Where you place the pieces, where the completed areas are all change how the music plays and it's interesting to out how the music evolves as the board is filled up. The beats always start simple and build up as the board is filled, which flows nicely with the gameplay.

The game was released in February last year and is very cheap. Only 400 points ($5). Even more awesome, 60% of this goes to charity. All of the music in the game was written for it and given free. I have a soft spot for things like this. If you enjoy puzzle games with a lot of meta-gaming potential, pick it up.

The entire first season of Friendship is Magic has finally aired and now Hasbro is stating that they do not have plans to release a DVD/Bluray set of Season 1. The fans have expressed their displeasure to this statement, me being one of them. There is a lot of interest and demand for a physical copy of this show. If you're a fan of the series and wish to see a DVD, I suggest expressing your interest to them in some way. Online petitions typically hold no merit, so that is not a good method. Writing a letter directly to the marketing team, or customer service, (probably the better choice of the two) expressing your interest can be effective. Another, somewhat surprising method to me, is Twitter. There are various ways through Twitter to voice yourself to Hasbro.