that’s objective 3 all over! now with what little time I have left I can get cracking on patriot and *fingers crossed* have something playable for my exhibition
I don’t even know where to begin talking about bit.cops It`s been my life for the past 2 months :X I suppose i`ll just do a frame by frame playthrough like i did with tixel.
so as you can see, I decided to stick with the original intro. the style of the characters has obviously evolved a bit since then, (with the rotoscoped look, they are more realistically proportioned and less cartoony) but there was simply no time to retrofit it so I saw fit to keep using this one. not terribly happy with the decision, there’s a whole lot I would change about it given time. I wish I had some HD lighting from the windows, maybe some HD reflections on the water and HD smoke from the guns. and of course, upscaled the logo. would have made it animate with shine.
when I first made this intro, I was practising the 16-bit style and the mantra of neo-retroism research was`nt fully in place yet. so I did`nt deviate from the style/limitations
having thier eyes move was`nt especially smart, given their small size makes them hard to see. should have had a head tilt or hands cocking their guns.
alas, it`s only the first few seconds of the sequence so it`s by no means ruined.
for transitioning between rooms, I did a horizontal slide, to show movement and progress. originally I wanted the entire things to be one long uncut sequence of going room to room. more on that later.
john shoots first, let it be known. he is the roguish han solo type of the pair. the thug was clearly a bad guy anyway. regarding the actual setting. they are raiding a narcotics warehouse and `subdueing` all of the thugs and drug users within.
the bad guy fades away in a pixxelly manner. I obviously didn’t want any blood or *too* much violence, since I do plan on exhibitioning this. there is some blood on a wall in a later scene, but if I had time for exposition, I would have explained that it was a henchmen who had spilled ketchup. or something as equally ludicrous to evade censorship.
so once he`s been defeated, the cops take cover behind the box and the concrete wall to hide from incoming baddies. obviously on the way since that alarm/switch on the right has now lit up and is flashing (HD effects for it, since it is a major point of interest. looking back now, I should have made it even more obvious though, it`s kinda small)
ugh yes, attack of the clones. so basically, I have two varieties of bad guys and 3 palettes for each one. and as I mentioned before, I can’t actually have two types of the same bad guys (example, what you see on the screen here. two hoodie thugs) in the same flash file, because they share similar data. whenever I tried and have two, they would share frames and even renaming the folders and frames didn’t make a difference. so in the end, I made about 3 or 4 flash files per level to accommodate the number of bad guys I wanted on-screen, then I would mask the videos together.
the downside is obviously that I spent a lot longer animating the levels than I`d have liked. but i have learned a lot regarding some tools in my video editing software of choice.
anyway yeah, the screenshot. here, the thugs are destroying the cover (destructible cover has about 10 different frames and an explosion animation to mask the transition) and the cops are peeking out from cover to fire back. this whole, taking cover and firing back dynamic is very modern. in most sidescrolling shooters cover is negligible since characters can usually jump about 10 feet. but since this concept has a more realistic edge, i`ll be having none of that.
hell, my guys may be indestructible badass`s, but that`s because I never made a `getting shot` animation for them.
I was originally going to have them flash red, or even become incapacitated and need the other players revival which would of course, be a reference to the modern mechanic itself. but not in this video.
they have taken them down. you can see a yellow sheen on the bottom cop. for the firing frames, I made copies of their original frames. increased the size, and made a lighting overlay for them. that yellow sheen is very high-resolution, but it wont detract from the retro element because it only appears for a split second (3 frames to be exact) but when it is glimpsed, it looks nice and compliments the sprite.
I originally wanted the bullets to be visible and have a slower trajectory (like older shooters) but that`s not very realistic, I may have done that if this was intended to be playable. the way I have it now is good. it gives shots an impact instead of feeling/looking floaty.
while the black cop is in cover, a narc walks by and only spots the cop on the lower levels. traditional game logic dictates that whoever has higher ground has the advantage. better field of vision and such. this also applies to the player. in many circumstance, the top cop will have a better angle for shooting baddies on both floors. you`ll see this at play in later levels.
so with this in mind, the top route is designed to be harder and for more experienced players. you could say it`s some sort of difficulty balancing.
so with the top cop being undetected (lets dub him Trevor) he approaches the narc from behind (narc as in narcotic user. though `narc` is a cool bad guy name) and melee`s him.(Trevor has a fairly goofy punch, he is`nt as vicious as john is) and the bottom cop (John) makes a run for the bottom baddie.
now regarding the melee moves. I tried to make each characters moveset as different as possible. john holds his gun upright at every given opportunity, and Trevor holds it closer to his hip. they crouch differently too. Trevor is long-legged and a bit lanky, hence why his crouches are painfully symmetrical and a bit goofy. whereas john bends his knees more and tries to look cool. Trevor`s melee is a simple punch, whereas johns is a mighty kick from his pointy shoes. since there`s no voice acting or dialogue, I really hope the animation gives off a sense of personality. i`m unable to judge, i`ve been working on the thing for so long.
and here’s the mighty kick in motion.once this thug`s down, the alarm goes off.
the upper path is clear however. it always has been aside from the thugs. Trevor went onwards without opening the shutters for john, just as a little joke. like the playful banter which borders on abusive that you`d see between two best friends.
and the pause here is to indicate that both players need to go right in order to progress. so this moment serves two purposes. character expression and mechanic explanation. johns idle animation is him looking at the player with a little smirk and some attitude. but in this context, he looks like he`s pissed off that he got left behind, I like it.
but of course, Trevor being the good cop that he is, comes back to open the shutters. for using switches and levers and whatnot, I just repurposed their melee animations.gets the job done.
in my original concept, I wanted a load of foreground decorations and parallax scrolling. but as the work ramped up, and I remembered the missteps that happened during tixel I decided to leave it out. as I mentioned in an earlier post, parallax scrolling is infinitely easier when in an actual game engine. as weird as that is.
okay this. for transitioning between rooms, I wanted things like this. just walls to try to tie the environment together. this graffiti strewn mess would indicate that the players would switch positions. but I felt like it was a bit too jarring and nonsensical so I got rid of that. that and making the whole animation a single flash file would have been impossible, given the bad guy glitches and flash`s tendacy to lag on large files.
so here you have it. genuine cutting floor content. removed in favour of cheap window movie maker transition effects.
speaking of which, here it is in motion. at least these moments go by really quickly and there’s plenty distraction on-screen to detract from it. such as the bad guys shooting on the right.
so once they enter, they alert the baddies in the typical metal gear solid fashion. I wanted to show some semblance of artificial intelligence because their actions throughout the video gives the impression that they are missing a good portion of their brain. to be fair, I just wanted some good old cannon fodder for the main characters to be empowered. but if this had been a real game, the bad guys could have been very smart. perhaps taking cover themselves or even supplying ammo to one another. and that in itself would have been a modern feature.
I had big plans for this room in the beginning. that metal pusher at the bottom was intended to be three which all moved at varying rates. and I was going to have john time his sprints to make it past, or even have it push a few bad guys in the warehouse abyss below. alas, it has been repurposed as a cheap “defeat all the bad guys to progress” barricade. on the plus side, it gives this room a chance to show off the ammo sharing mechanic.
another thing here, Trevor has pushed a table over to make cover, a modern touch. and it happens again in some capacity with a green crate 2 rooms ahead.
so the two top bad guys are going for Trevor, and that pink mohawk at the back is going for john.
john dispatches him and he falls down the gap, and he can actually be seen falling through the bottom floors grating. that was a lot harder to do then you may think.
the two top thugs can’t shoot at john at the moment because the pusher is in the way, so Trevor is pinned down.
and in theory, once a player is running dry on ammo. there would be an automatic prompt. I think some voice acting would have worked well here but time constraints yadda yadda. so instead I used a high res speech bubble. looking back, i`m not fond of it. all the cartoony stuff sticks out to me now.
so this feature is a modern touch, it`s seen in things like gears of war, and not much else as far as I can tell. but it`s interesting to hear things like that shouted during battle. adds to the immersion and dynamic of fights. neo-retroism cherry picks from both sides. if it`s going to have modern features, they should be good ones.
I glossed over this `throwing a ammo clip` animation as it`s a bit too quick to screenshot but no matter.
here, the ammo found it`s way to Trevor and there’s a little notification.this shiny emblem finds its way into a lot of notifications. it`s the same base graphic used for the title screen too. it`s a mixture of a police badge emboss and the mega drive logo.
so with that backup from his teammate, Trevor dispatched the last foe, and the shutter moves aside for john to progress.
and they make their way to the exit. this part is such a slog watching it. I wanted to put in metallic footsteps to drown out the silence, but if i did it here, I would feel compelled to do it everywhere.
there’s a few moments like this, when the cops are simply making their way right with little happening. but I can’t remove them or the levels would have no context. I suppose it gives the songs a little more running time. some of the original compositions are sadly cut a bit short. i got a fellow student called David Currie to give me some original songs for this.
and here’s the transition into room 3
this areas pretty fun. as you can see, there’s an elevator which leads to the plane in the background, but someone has to stay here to work the lever.
so noble Trevor gets in the lift destined for lands far away. john of course, hits the switch with his foot.
if you can spy it in the background, there’s a series of leaky taps. helps things from becoming too static.
the logic is that, the higher path (or one further away in the background) is the more difficult one. and that`s sort of the case here. Trevor needs to investigate a forensic item, the gun rack. keen-eyed viewers will spot oddities like grenades and a mace on there.
and john needs to give him covering fire from the ambushing enemies. so in theory, if I had animated a damage system, Trevor would take quite a beating here.
the `examining` animation is pretty nifty, it looks a bit like a sonar sweep, but I tried to make it look like the circle loading icon on windows operating systems. regardless it came out okay, it gives the impression of progress/loading. a bar filling up would also have been good, but maybe this is better. the mystery of not knowing how much longer is left to get = builds tension.
bad guys are coming in from the elevator. which looking back on it now is a high jump in logic. that elevator *supposedly* leads to the foreground one. i`ll just say there’s another floor where they are spawning from.
speaking of illogical spawning. foreground baddies are coming from the upper left girder, and reappearing on the bottom right playing plane. thought it was nice and flashy to see them walk in like that. my original intention however was to have john shoot up and down them. alas, I never got round to vertical aiming animations. only isometric up and down ones.
here’s john dispatching the thugs as more arrive above and behind. the girder above made a good separator for video editing thankfully.cropping the background thugs in was really tricky however.
as you can probably tell by now, the thugs are terrible shots. I could say they have stormtrooper syndrome, or that since they`re narcotics users they have shaky hands and can’t aim. take your pick.
the background thugs are getting awfully close to Trevor.
after all that defending jack runs out of ammo, while two guys are closing in on him. of course, they don’t do the logical thing and shoot him, they try to get in close, giving Trevor a chance to lob some ammo and return the favour by shooting one.
I did a really fun thing here with the ammo. it scales up and goes over the top girder to land on john.
he claims it, and Trevor downs the pink mohawk. I have him actually fall off the ledge here replete with a Wilhelm scream. managed to find two of those online to use.
john of course finishes off the last thug giving him chase and Trevor makes way for the end elevator. another one of these boring end sequences. but it helps the tension wind down.
he kicks the switch and sets the elevator into motion.
out he comes and then they both head right. not much else to say about this room, except I wish I had more like them. playing with perspective like this is slighty modern. since older hardware probably couldn’t scale as sophisticated as adobe flash can. the sprites stay somewhat legible here. of course, the ambiguity of the sprites is an intentional factor to add into the difficulty. I could have brought the background plane in closer.
and onwards to room 4. the main focal point of this room being the lime green cargo crate.
lot`s of baddies here. they should obviously get into cover. hence why there’s so much of it strewn about the place. my composer even dubbed this room the `box emporium` a bit cheeky. that`s the problem with realistic settings, they can be boring when grounded in reality. I tried my best to make warehouses and factory’s look interesting, I like to think the colour pallets went some way towards that. no two rooms look the same after all.
the baddies all open fire and they divide their attentions appropriately. the bottom two focus on Trevor and vice versa. proximity is the only attribute I could animate into their pathetic intelligence.
johns feeble brick cover is disintegrating while trevor`s is`nt.
a cool thing here. I have an animation for crouching into small cover. I have john do it here when his cover is reduced to a chest high wall. meanwhile Trevor sneaks around the side for a better firing position.
Trevor is now in position to finish off his foe, while john sneaks into closer cover.
and here they are, doing the `crouch/cover/shoot` animation
once they`ve been dispatched two more arrive on the scene. the two cops retreat to behind the crate to recuperate.
the narcs being the PHD level drug users that they are, decide to get in front of the crate and start firing at it. it`s retarded but it gives context for the next moment…
with the power of two, they can push the crate to `incapacitate` their foes. a bit silly but it strengthens the `teamwork` vibe. and it`s a fabled example of environment interaction.
and then they both run to their respective exits. I painfully have Trevor go down and then up, because halfway through animating it I realised I needed him to be on the top floor, when I originally had him at the bottom side of the crate.
into room 5. regular 2D here, this game likes to play with perspectives because that`s what being neo-retro is all about. couldn’t do all this stuff back in the day.
Trevor gets into cover and john proceeds to kick the thug. this is just them clearing the room before Trevor begins investigating the `ketchup` stain.
shooting the last two thugs.trevor`s cover is taking a bit of wear and tear. speaking of that stain, I actually have a high frame animation for blood dripping from it and onto the lower levels. it`s a subtle thing, but it adds a bit of atmosphere to the environment. or so I like to think.
Trevor begins examining the blood in the name of criminal justice. and points. the viewer is probably watching at this point thinking “how on earth is the bottom cop going to shoot the bad guys up there?” this is where the old videogame standby, the red explosive barrel gets a fresh breath of life.
shooting it causes an explosion to propel upwards. the explosion itself is a high-resolution 10 frame burst of fire and smoke, with a HD red glow overlay to tone the environment. of course an extravagant action like this would be rewarded with some HD effects.
since the first barrel is exhausted john moves into position to shoot the second one when a thug walks overhead. and as you can see from the charred corpse, he did just that. the explosion also wore down the destructible cover next to it.
trevor`s claimed his forensic bonus so obviously there’s no more baddies on the way, and it`s now safe to move onwards.
this is reminiscent of the red button in the first room. only Trevor actually opens it this time instead of running off. the metal sign has an arrow pointing down to the yellow hatch. the opening sequence is the yellow panel folding upwards and the ladder sliding up, giving john access to climb up. since his path is now a dead-end.
these choke points are useful for bonding and for having the level structures flow in a way which brings the cops together, then breaks them apart in the name of pacing.
john climbs up the ladder, not much to say here. but looking at the pipes and vents made me remember something. I was going to have steam burst out of them from being hit with gunfire, but the gunfights can already be quite chaotic. and HD effects for having a bad aim doesn’t really make sense to me. although smoke and steam is such an incredibly subtle and transparent effect that players might even notice it`s in HD.
this next room was a pain to storyboard because it was really long and I left the camera motion in untill last. this is essentially the main set piece of the whole game. when they first get in the room, they take cover behind the forklift.
they both inch their way forward to the front of it.
Trevor gets to drive while john stands on the lift part, the metal pylons? no idea what that part of a forklift is called. he shoots while raised up there for superior aim. meanwhile a purple hoody rushes over to see what all the commotion is.
but he is greeted by the sound of the sight of the forklift destroying the precious cargo. most likely drugs or some other illegal contraband. he takes aim but soon realises the hopelessness of the situation, being squared against the two manned metal monstrosity.
Trevor shows his surprising ruthlessness and runs him over. and then more boxes. using metal boxes as indestructibles, I created a makeshift driving course. it`s nothing more complex than up/down/up but it adds some variety and filler to a shameless showpiece moment.
the brown boxes in the path splinter and combust as the pink mohawk futilely attempts to run away.one thing I didn’t plan for in the level design is the verticality of the combined cops. his head goes offscreen more than once. unfortunately there is no more art that high up, so he gets clipped.
two more lanes of boxes to go.there are three states of animation that forklift. neutral/up/down. the only negligible difference is that the steering wheel,trevor`s position and the wheels turn slighty. I should have drawn the forklift from three angles. but the things are difficult to draw. almost as hard as drawing guns, but at least the guns are about 5 pixels in this.
aside from letting Trevor have all the manslaughter fun, john shoots the pink hoody thug at the bottom.
they bust through and all the thugs are soon dealt with.
the forklift comes to a halt and lowers the metal platform for john to step off.
this big button here, is connected to opening the red door. which should hopefully be made obvious by the big red wire. john stepping on it doesn’t activate it however.
it`s designed for the forklift to push down hence it`s size. this is also a way to make sure the forklift doesn’t come into the next room.
he exits the vehicle and they both press onwards to room 7.
pacing would dictate that after a fairly easy, flashy moment like that. the next thing would be a harder more technical room. and that`s correct. there’s a lot of switches, covering fire and background traversing.
the panel on the left is linked to the elevator on the right, which takes john to the background. looking at it now, it probably wasnt wise to have it aesthetic wise as the panel in the background (which is linked to the foreground door on the right) but since this is just a concept video, I can get away with that.
the upper path is most definitely harder here as you`ll soon see. Trevor activates the switch and it sends a spark from the panel to offscreen, then the lift begins motion.
as soon as john has been sent away a narc shoots out the panel so he can’t return, a forced split for the characters here.and a graphic swap for the panel.
Trevor takes cover behind the busted panel and john is approached by baddies. this levels a good one for showing off all the up & down shooting animations.
Trevor takes care of the thug on the upper level since john can’t reach. the bad guys also have vertical aiming/shooting animations.
they both get defeated and fall off the precarious walkway. while more enemies spawn from the mystery cargo containers on the left.
Trevor dispatches the two on the bottom (they fall off and scream Wilhelm style obviously) and another appears on the top. there’s a cool masking trick on the upper level where the baddie goes behind the ladder girder and appears on the ledge. gives a nice depth to the level.
john finally gets onto the upper walkway and has to deal with the thug before activating the switch.
he of course pops and drops him, then kick starts the panel. a spark travels along the wire and the blue door opens for Trevor.
and now they can both move right into the next room. i have john just leap off the platform and land into a run because i want him to look cool. sliding down the ladder would have also been cool, but that would mean I would have to make more animations, actually that would have been fairly easy to do looking back on it.
there’s a slight continuity error here. they both switch planes when entering the next room. it`s easy to become so involved in things like these that I lose sight of the big picture, and the major things become hard to spot.
room 8. the bad guy gauntlet area. this was originally intended as a solo boss room. where he would jump between the two planes and each player would have to try to manuever to his weak spot to shoot him. but having a boss would have been too much of a time sink so instead I made a horde room. and boy was it hard to choreograph.
so in this room, the main focal point is the conveyor belt in the bottom middle. there’s ammo ascending up it into a compartment where it will vanish. to get hold of the ammo, john has to kick the compartment in the middle up to stop the ammo from going anywhere. this would have made a lot more sense if i put like a mini fence on the conveyor or something. but it would become visually cluttered.
so as for the level, I have it as slightly deceptive. the doors close in on them once they think they`ve defeated all the enemies and a lot more flood in.
here he is solving a `puzzle` of sorts. to be fair, without the ammo this section would probably be impossible.
the ammo drops onto the floor where he can reach it.also, some bad guys are now swarming from the upper exit.
as soon as he`s grabbed it, he passes it to Trevor. he`s parralel with the bad guys and he also has the upper ground. it makes sense strategically for him to have it.
with the enemy’s attention split, it makes it easier to dispatch them. ~ in theory ~ were this a real game.
and there you have it, the safe assumption that the level is over, so they press onward.
the upper door slams shut and 4 thugs appear from the left. this room was not fun to video edit let me tell you.
outnumbered and outgunned they get into the nearest cover. Trevor needs to act fast however as his cover is disintegrating.
john inches forward to grab some ammo, and Trevor makes a few pop shots to try to take some of the heat off.
he gets to it and immediately passes it again, since Trevor needs all the help he can get and john is ill equipped to shoot the thugs up top.
trevor`s cover is grinding down, he initially is crouched against it but now that’s no longer an option so he turns round and opens fire. meanwhile john is waiting for the ideal time to strike.
one of the thugs has been dealt with and john gets some ammo. the turquoise mohawk is also focusing his attention on the upper level, so john legs it towards to land a kick on the brown hoody thug.
Trevor finishes off the guys on his floor and also guns down the turquoise mohawk. that`s the fight over now. had the boss still been in the game, he would have escaped to the right by this point.
instead they simply head to the right to enter the final area, room 9. the boss I originally had in mind would have been an amalgamation of villains from die hard movies, with the aesthetics of whitey from venture bros. but given the projects gradual shift towards realism maybe an exaggerated villain wouldn’t fit.
in this last scene, I was going to have the cops chase the villain onto the roof and engage him in conversation mass effect style. after presenting all the evidence gathered to him, he would have walked backwards and fallen off the roof. but I think I like this revision with the snipers a lot better.
john is out of sight so he`s attempting to sneak up behind the thug who has Trevor pinned down. I was originally going to have a fade mask on the bottom floor. there would be a fuzzy see through area of bricks, to show that john is `underground` and hidden. but a fuzzy, alpha mask in flash is something i`ve never gotten to work. may have been too visually confusing anyway.
up he goes. as you can probably tell, metal boxes are indestructible in my own internal logic.
the cool thing about this last area is I managed to invent a few cool new gimmicks. like here, if both players attack an enemy at the same time they are awarded the duo hit bonus. it`s to encourage teamwork.
they both ascent to the rooftop. quite a fitting scene for a finale. the bloom from the windows is obviously HD. and every light is an individual animation. it made flash chug quite heavily under the strain.
once they both get up, 4 green lights appear from various building windows, and then a crosshair tries to hover over them.so they take aim and shoot towards the buildings.
the crosshair and the green glow inside is very high-resolution, and was originally intended as the two main cops aiming reticule. but the game would have been extremely cluttered had I chosen to do so. the way the aiming works in-game now, is a sort of wide cone radius where the closest target gets shot at first. perhaps a zelda-style lock on system would be a good fit.
they both shoot the sniper at the same time and are awarded a `duo shot` bonus. another enforcement of teamwork with a HD emblem.
another reticule appears and chases Trevor to the left, he ducks down behind the pipes as it takes john three shots to land a hit. those buildings are far away after all, and without any trick shots it`ll take a few attempts.
now two snipers take aim at both sides, so the cops retreat to the middle.
may have `retrofitted` this mechanic from army of two,in that game however. the back to back moments would last about 5 minutes and they sucked. I just have it as a simple one shot trick here, because it looks cool and teamwork-y.
now all of the snipers have respawned and are now taking aim. the reticules drift slowly to the right, forcing the players to make their exit onto the chopper. helicopter sound effects inserted here to let the player know they need to “get to the chopper”. I was going to have a speech bubble with that, but I didn’t want to seem like a pop culture whore.
i`m already ripping off lethal weapon, no need to steal from predator too.
they both leap (well, falling animation) off the edge of the building. grab onto the ladder and fly away as the closest sniper tries his luck to land a shot and misses. and that`s the climax of the gameplay a harrowing escape complimented by a bloom filled cityscape. there’s a very subtle spotlight effect highlighting the silhouettes of buildings lower down. hard to spot amongst all the sniper dodging though. it`s a subtle detail which on initial viewing gives the sequence a pleasantly busy feel.
and the obligatory score screen. I felt the sequence needed a cohesive end to tie it all together, and to give myself some sort of closure by summarising the whole sequence.
the portrait in the background with a score overlay is derived slightly from the score screen at the end of SNES contra.
I have this cool little effect for important text `slamming` onto the screen, where the characters flash white,their colour can be seen then it fades back into black and white. just a little extra bit of polish.
regular kills, meaning death by gunshot. I was a bit apprehensive about using the word `kill` but I can always removes this part if need be.
anything from melee to explosive barrels,forklift or getting squashed by cargo crates. worth more than regular kills.
and then all the gathered emblems and then that`s it. I didn’t need a final score number at the end because a lone number would have zero context.
and yeah! that’s it! wow. I really hope there’s time left in the year to get patriot made, this was a real time-sink.
so now i`m going to unload a huge number of assets, so you can see how far this project has come.
all the animated storyboards. I deviated slighty from them in the end.
concept sketch of the first level
abandoned mechanic where players and enemies could swing between the planes using the environment.
overhead map of the game
various articles of clothing and accessories.
just some general doodles.
conceptualizing the way each character would move.
I was going to made the tattoos on the mohawk thug different for every palette swap, but turns out it would have taken a lot longer than I first thought if I had tried it. the hoody thug changed quite a bit as you can see. maybe I should have left the tracksuit in. the bandana didn’t read well in sprite form however.
some more bad guy ideas. the blonde guy in the middle was the beginnings of the boss idea.
he was going to be theatrical and use a machine gun.
some ideas for the boxart. I first though to myself. “i`ll just draw every single one, and pick whichevers best”
I severely underestimate how long it takes to do anything. I initially thought tixel and bit.cops would take 2 weeks each, but it was more like 2 months.
the forklift idea. it was a real “eureka” moment when i came up with this. that and the snipers.
figuring out which gun each cop would use. obviously I wanted th aesthetics between character and weapon to stay similar.
making some iconography for the cops
some of the earliest ideas.
their melee attacks. another eureka moment for showing personality through movement.
some more, super early sketches.
some of the first pixel art for john. i remember having so much trouble thinking of a good color palette for his clothes.
I do like the rotoscoped look, but this cartoony cops are also quite nice. I like the one of the left the best. good colors.
some practise pixelling for Trevor.
here’s an overall mood board for the whole bit.cops concept.
and a mood board for the level and the abandoned boss.
rough photoshop of Trevor
mildly better photoshop of Trevor
and his card
early photoshop of john. his running style changed.
photoshopped profile shot of john.
here he is looking angsty and dramatic
and of course, his card.
here’s the boxart. I`ve sent the images and carts away to the copy shop. cant wait till I hear back from them
the original art.
a super,super early preview of the title screen.
and now onto the rotoscoping stuff. it was great fun to do and i`d definitley use the style again. but of course, with more frames(for smoother movements) given the option and time.
john running upwards, well, not really john. it`s the actor.
bad guy death.
shooting from cover. I really need to get myself a decent camera one of these days, would have made such a difference. some details like creases and the positioning of feet got lost in translation.
here’s the actor for john, bobby coyle. and yes, that is the best photo I could find.
daniel kane played the two thugs. I myself rotoscoped for Trevor but I`m not going to put a photograph of myself up because i only want to embarrass these two.
hoody thug spritesheet
and that`s finnally all the assets phew. I think there may be more in the earlier blog posts regarding objective 3 but that`s all I want to cram in this one post.
now for a summary, the whole point of this self research is to discover what works regarding neo-retro game design so lets dive right in.
benefiting the illusion
the HD visuals were kept to a minimum for only the appropriate purposes. most of them only lasted a split second so they add a subtle layer of polish that players most likely can’t tell are in HD. the reasoning behind this, is to keep up the immersion that the player is playing a retro game.
gunshots from characters create a mask of lighting over them which fades over the course of three frames. the bullets also create a HD spark when they hit something. the `fading` animation of bad guys is something that couldn’t be done on a small resolution as the pixels have smooth tween motions where they shrink and grow. something like an enemy death deserves a flashy (semi-HD) moment, as a payoff.
for heads up display elements like the notification emblems and speech bubbles, they are especially beneficial for being in HD. they tell the player important information and reinforce positive actions, so having them as flashy and readable as possible is a huge plus.
the sniper reticules in the final sequence are also of a high res, and they include a fancy bloom light in the center of the crosshair. the reticule is obviously an area of high danger, so having it extremely readable/visible was a conscious decision
there are various game mechanics proposed which didn’t make it into the video like regenerating health, reviving a downed player and intelligent enemy A.I.
despite this, these do merit talking about. these elements could be used to improve a retro game if implemented correctly. bit.cops strays quite far from the old style shoot em up of the 80`s with more realistic slow movements, realistic bullet trajectory and rotoscoped characters. hence why player revival would be a sensical inclusion.
had this mechanic been implemented into a game like contra or alien soldier it wouldn’t be a welcome addition, as it would slow the pace of the game tremendously. those games move at an absolutely lightning,breakneck pace where going left would be regarded as sacrilegious. however, with bit.cops it`s been designed around the idea of co-op and more realistically paced play. and this mechanic could be a good way to keep inexperienced players in play and perhaps balance out general difficulty issues.
it`s obviously not the goto trick for brainless players rushing through the game, as there are a few times where the players cannot reach each other so a incapacitation would result in a restart.
retro shoot em ups are notorious for their difficulty, so this idea of having the better player take the higher path, and be able to resurrect their partner could bridge the casual/hardcore gap somewhat.
regenerating health would also have been a modern feature which could have reduced,or removed the old school challenge all together. I think it could work, but it would have to be slow, and along with destructible cover would keep players on their toes.
the level is a weapon
as for enemy a.i. this would evoke the player to get the most out of their environment to gain an advantage in battle. bit.cops has a lot of examples of environmental interaction. the ammo conveyor belt is necessary to defeat the horde. the flame barrels are also needed to defeat inaccessible thugs. there’s plenty of levers, elevators and buttons to mix things up as well.
the table in the second room. it can be melee`d onto it`s side to make some cover. the cover system also qualifies in this category.
having a working cover system is a modern mechanic in itself, but going one step further and making it destructible increases the dynamic even more so, and add`s a visual panache to battles.
how do we make points relevant again
there are various opportunities to score points in the game. things like team kills and environmental kills will net the players emblems. not to mention the forensic scenes, these moments can also resupply the players ammo (such as the gun rack in room3) but it comes at a high risk. i.e the onslaught of enemies attacking the helpless player.
but why chase after points? what incentive can you give modern players? well, unlockable`s would be a good choice, achievements for high scores, online leaderboards. the ability to customize an old school style leaderboard screen so it shows only your friends list. or the entire world if the player selects.
regarding forensic evidence, i had an earlier idea to give them even more relevance aside ammo and points. in my initial design there was going to be a boss character. once the players reach the roof, they would starts a dialogue tree sequence where they can present the gathered evidence to press heat on him, and eventually make him fall off the roof. this being the best possible ending, could only gained with a high score/forensic scan rate. story is always a good incentive for modern players.
it`s really unfortunate that a lot of these points/features didn’t make it into the final video so I could demonstrate their efficiency more ostensibly.