week 12 i think

I`ve been busy working on my first media test this past week, that’s why I forgot to update for entire week. I daresay my timetable will probably start slipping. I had trouble estimating how much time these tests would take me, as the bit cops intro took about 2 days and the patriot level animation took about a week. I think these tests will end up doubling so they take four weeks instead. no big deal, i left myself plenty of time.

before I show off the level, i`ve got some new links to blog about. the makers of the popular web & ios game `canabalt` have created a working version for the commodore 64

looks fantastic regarding the hardware. no idea how they pulled it off

this got me thinking, after looking at mage gauntlet recently and surmising how well the simple gameplay mechanics work on the touch screen, this also seems like a perfect example, only working backwards.

canabalt has fairly simple gameplay. it`s a autorun platformer similar to bit.trip runner and (as far as I know) it only has one button, a jump. so pretty perfect for a touch screen, tap = jump. the commodore 64 controller also has one button.

so what im trying to say is, old school gaming and touch screen devices are fairly similar, and similar gameplay design should be employed, but modernised for our enjoyment. (im sick of virtual d-pads on ios games)

only other thing is an article from the escapist. ( they used to make dozens of these every month, I remember reading nearly every single one obsessively back in college.but they`re less common now, the sites in favour of videos and webcomics now) it`s just like the stunningly relevant eurogamer article I gushed about a while ago. this one also covers my topics fantastically. it`s got some great quotes from gaijin games and the makers of retro city rampage.

“I’ve always thought that creativity is best bred through limitations. When you work within a set of limitations, it’s much easier to find creative and innovative ways to break those rules and expand the creative horizons,” says Andy Schatz.

he is the main designer for pocketwatch games. this quotes similar to the one I posted a ways back from the chief artist working on scott pilgrim versus the world “because of their iconic nature. More powerful expressiveness lies within the limitations of retro graphics” and its good to hear a similar sentient from another respected developer. this specific quote from Andy is talking about his current development style.

He, along with several other developers, is going back to their retro roots to explore what makes videogames compelling. Like the pioneers of jazz, they’re exploring the building blocks of their medium in order to create something new and unique.

this strikes me as similar to gaijins development style (i`ll be getting to them shortly) and it`s quite possibly my favourite approach to game development. putting gameplay first instead of visuals or story as so many egocentric developers do.

another interesting approach is to combine two fairly simple gameplay styles and mash them up to create something wholly new.

QCF Designs has taken two old genres (roguelikes can be traced back to Beneath Apple Manor 1978, while puzzle games predate the medium itself) and combined them to create something new and compelling.

the developers behind desktop dungeons. the game is a rpg not totally dissimilar in appearance to dwarf fortress but it has such strict and unusual parameters for combat and item management which turns it into a puzzle game of sorts. it sounds really creative and inventive. not to mention it has a neat retro aesthetic.

looks pretty good right?

there’s a quote from gaijin games talking about the overarching story of the bit.trip series. something which im so, so thankful for. I could use some clarification after dissecting my two favourite entires in the series.

But when players start to take it in context with the rest of the series, they begin to realize that they’re all part of a greater narrative. Each game is a part of Commander Video’s life, “from pre-birth to post-death.” And by utilizing 8-bit and abstract visuals, the games allow players to find meaning within them, to “fill that in gaps with experiences from your own life, or your imagination,” as Neuse puts it.

they go into a lot more detail, comparing the terrible boxart of old Atari games to infusing childs imaginations of being an awesome astronaut and such. I don’t wholly agree with having completely nondescript visuals (it makes the game experience seem more akin to reading a book, having to imagine what things look like) but he raises a good point.

the problem about stumbling across articles as good as these, is that I want to copy paste every single thing written in it. but I wont do that, instead i`ll just urge you once again to take a read for yourself.

and that’s all the links ive hoarded in my bookmarks since last time, got some more sketches done.

hooray all the sketches lined up perfectly this time

so about this first media test, I`ve mentioned briefly before I wanted an alien world where the main character can tear off pieces of himself to use as ammo, but is also his health. I blocked out the level first and where i wanted all the enemies and obstacles to go.

look at how filthy it is, let it burn your retinas!

and now the final (almost) version

spent a lot of time making sure the colours worked well together this time. the main character contrasts nicely I know that much at least.

don’t have enemies as of yet, or the blocks in the trees, high res effects or the spaceship at the end.

i`ll do a small breakdown of what happens in each segment.

abstract/alien take on the typical bouncy mushroom

this is a floating mushroom/spore thing. i`ll have some high res particles coming out from under it. you simply jump and bounce on it to get across the gap.

those blue spikes will have high res electricty animations. and kill you if you touch them

these weird tree things will have big green blocks which can be `shot` at, to make them fall off the tree and land on the spikes below to create a makeshift platform and cross the gap.

ignore the scabby doodles indicating the mechanics, placeholder i promise

this is a multiple path section. going under is the obvious hard path, it has risky gaps and more enemies (not pictured, enemies) and the up path has a puzzle of sorts. there will be an enemy spewing projectiles skyward so you can’t jump over it, what you need to do, is aim a `shot` at the big green block in the tree to make it fall on the broken tree on the ground acting as a seesaw, to catapult the enemy into space allowing you to progress.

hopefully the random background details will break up the monotony and avert attention away from the modular graphics

there will be green squares in the tree, and enemies underneath it. so obviously, hitting the block one will take out a few enemies. ammo management is the name of the game! ~ now i can cite resident evil as an unlikely influence ha!

that’s all of the level for now, I have a few more assets to make and all the high res effects before I can start animating. I`m a bit further behind with the character. here’s what i have so far.

14 more sets of these ugh

the goal is to have 15 different sets of these ( he has 15 different body parts he can tear off) when he tears a piece of himself off, his appearance changes (see the one on the far right) and it means im going to be doing a lot of redrawing. so I can be forgiven for having a fairly low frame count for his anims 🙂 ive predrawn them in all in a sketchy fashion in flash. but I cant use the majority of them unfortunately, because the artistic process is to edit existing images to fit the body count so all i`ll need is the clean photoshop versions here.

but here’s the sketchy flash frames anyhoo

animated, click to watch all 15 sets of animations.

so yeah, looking over all of that. I`d have to say my two biggest influences are toejam and earl and ristar. I`ll probably use a song from one of those games when i get round to making the video.

oh and also, recorded two new levels of legend of fail so will hopefully have those on youtube at some point!

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