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Still making games...

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Super Ninja Kung Fu Puzzle - Extra Pow Pow

Avatar Man has sold 38 copies so far, which is the worst of the three games I made.

So, for the next game, I had to choose between two of the projects I interrupted before, One Man Armada and Super Ninja Kung Fu Puzzle - Extra Pow Pow (SNKPEPP). I chose SNKPEPP because it had the cooler name. And the cooler title screen, which will feature an animation from this:


To this:



SNKPEPP is a ragdoll-physics based platformer. Like Bennu, the goal will be to remove all the blocks in a level, but there will also be fights and ninja stuff. Also, like I mentioned before, one of the goals in SNKPEPP was to remove the high entry barrier that Bennu had (because of the hard to master controls).

I had some problems the first time I approached SNKPEPP, because I tried using two ragdolls, one when the ninja was facing right the other when he was facing left. This caused collision problems when I switched between the ragdolls, so now I use a single ragdoll.

">This video shows the running and wall jumping tests and, from time to time, I turned the ninja into a limp ragdoll for fun. :) The ninja is still missing his hands and feet, but all in due time.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

A quick update...

- We started a twitter account, which you can follow here: http://twitter.com/#!/OnceABirdGames

- We didn't place in the top 20 of the DreamBuildPlay contest, which was to be expected since the game was in a very early state.

- We're currently working on the crypts, more on that soon...



Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Developing a phone game...

Just a quick status update.

We got the phone from the DreamBuildPlayContest, it's a spiffy Lumia 900. The interface and screen is quite nice, shame about the apps.

Graveyard Shift is on a temporary hiatus as I'm developing a phone game by myself. The game is being developed in XNA, it's almost complete and running on the Lumia. I'm going to start porting it to Objective-C soon as the plan is to release it first to iPhone and then to Windows Phone and Android.

About the game itself I can't say much because it's a simple and easily duplicable concept. What I can say is that it's an original puzzle game and I never saw anything quite like it.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Bennu trailer - DreamBuildPlay

The DreamBuildPlay deadline is today. I spent the last month and a half increasing the game performance on the 360. One of the requirements for submitting a game was a video of it, which you can check here.

The trailer is poorly edited, but I think that made it (unintentionally) funnier. So, anyone else submitted a game?

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Easy now...

I sent Bennu to my older brother so he could test it and he found it too difficult, so I'm adding an easier difficulty setting. He also suggested a view of the level before it begins would be useful to the player, so he knows the level boundaries. Video here.

In the easier difficulty setting, when Bennu falls in the water, instead of dying, he is grabbed by a hippo that throws him back up. Here's the hippo image:

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Shooting controls...

When deciding the initial 360 gamepad shooting controls for Graveyard Shift I saw two options:

- The Geometry Wars way, where the player only needs to point the right thumbstick and the ship starts shooting immediately. This has the advantage of being intuitive and easy to grasp, and is also ideal in this game because the ship has continuous fire and no need to reload.

- The sort-of-FPS way, where the player points with the right thumbstick but only fires with the right trigger. This has the disadvantage of being harder to learn and forcing the player to reach out to the right thumbstick, but with games where the fire is not continuous and the player has limited ammo, it gives more control over the exact direction and number of fired bullets.

Since the guns in Graveyard Shift need to be reloaded and some have limitted ammo, I went with the latter. Over the past months some people (read: friends and family) who tested the game complained about the shooting controls and so I decided to change them to the Geometry Wars ones, with a nuance: the guns only fire when the player moves the right thumbstick close to the edge. This lets players point more accurately before the gun starts firing and prevents them from shooting unnecessary bullets.

So far it seems to works well, although I need more visual feedback about when the guns are firing and when they need to be reloaded.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Level selection

My brother suggested I should add some kind of level selection to Bennu that allowed the player to skip levels. I agreed it was an important issue, because most levels have different solutions, introduce new gameplay elements or require the player to further develop his basic game skills. If the player didn't manage to complete a level right now he couldn't play another and figure out the first one later.

After playing Braid I figured the best solution was to copy... I mean, use, the same pattern of level selection. In Bennu, each world will have a different number of levels, and to unlock the next world the player will have to complete half of the levels on the current world. On each world the player will be able to play the levels in the order he prefers (although obviously the first levels will be easier than the last ones). The exception will be the boss levels, which the player will only access after completing all the other levels in the current world. This last behaviour is yet to be implemented.

The new level selection was implemented on the game map. Below each map location, the levels are represented as spheres close to a path that represents the steps the player will have to take to finish each world. When the player completes a level its sphere will be placed upon the path, while the incomplete levels remain outside the path.

Click here for a video.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Trailer!

">Here's a trailer for attack of the 50ft Verbose Dinosaur!

Also, my brother redid the cover:


Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Menus, maps and progress...

Despite the lack of updates here, I've been dedicating a lot of time to Bennu lately. I've been working on the main menu and player map:




Each player, on the left, will only see the locations he has reached yet. I'm planning to have the 5 locations depicted in the map in the final game.

I've also been working on the game mechanics, which are nearly finished, and should start designing levels for the first location (Abu Simbel) soon.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

On the swamp

A-aight. Been working on Bennu on the free time I have between work and Call of Duty 2. :)

I wanted to finish a single level before anything else. The setting for the level is a swamp:



I've also been building a sort of integrated level editor, where I can play and drag, scale and rotate objects around at the same time. The gun in the previous screenshot was made using it. I can save the level as is at any time to a XML file.

The first prototype I made of Bennu had him changing color randomly. Now for Bennu to change color he has to touch bonuses spread across the level, in this case mushrooms. Click here to see a video of the latest gameplay. The music was just what I was listening at the time and is not part of the game. :)

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Quick update...

EDIT: Here's a video of the latest build.

Just a quick update, Attack of the 50ft Verbose Dinosaur is back in playtest, here are the changes since the last version:

Bugs fixed:
- Chopper collided with bubbles that weren't shot.
- Credits only showed once.
- Stack overflow when many bubbles were attached to the same building.
- Sometimes the fireball effect kept appearing on the dinosaur's head.
- The chopper appeared immediately if you paused the game for some time.

Modifications:
- Vowels no longer include W and Y (only a,e,i,o,u)
- Letters not shown when level is paused to avoid cheating
- Chopper moves slower in the easier modes.
- Easy time limit increased again due to popular demand.
- Font size increased when time is running out.
- Font colors changed in credits for improved readability.
- Contrast increased for the letters on the dinosaur's back.
- More information about letter power added to the tutorial.
- If the helicopter comes when you destroy a building, it crashes but returns almost immediately with the same bonus.
- Formed words are no longer desselected when the chopper is hit with a bubble.
- Parallax scrolling on the background.

If you are an Xna Creators Club Member and want to give it a try, click here.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Get In The Ring

Get In The Ring is our new game, currently in the second week of development. It's a top-down brawler inspired by the combat system in the latest Batman games, coupled with the constant upgrade progression systems of games like You Must Build A Boat. It's being developed in Unity, here's the first gameplay GIF:



The game uses Unity's 2d Physics system to manage player and enemy movement and collisions, with the occasional "cheating" to move the player quickly when counter-attacking. The physics system seems to handle this quite well.

Unity also provides a TimeScale variable that makes the slow motion effects easy to do.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Peer review again...

Bennu is back in peer review.

Here's a list of what changed since the last version:
- My cousin did all of the songs for Bennu, but one of them was originally written for a "Master of Orion"-style game I never finished. It had a singing part that I removed because the lyrics had nothing to do with Bennu.
- Instead of pressing "down" to roll on the ground, now you use "B", which is easier to do than moving the thumbstick. Many of these version changes were suggested by the guy who did "Weapon of choice" and is currently doing "Grapple Buggy", which is looking totally awesome.
- Now there's music playing on the tutorial.

Bugs fixed:
- Game no longer crashes on storage selection when playing with the second controller.
- All "key" references replaced by "button" (a vestigial mark from when Bennu was destined for the PC).
- The reason why you lost the level is now much more visible.
- The "New Game" button no longer asks for confirmation when no progress has been made.

Hope it passes this time, if it does please try it. :P

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

...One more time.

Avatar Man is back in Peer Review. If you have a creators club account, you can check it out here.

The reason it failed peer review the first time was that I didn't load the correct avatar when two gamepads were used. Hope it passes this time.

I'm happy with the way Avatar Man turned out because of the three games I completed this was the one it took me less time to finish and the one I cared less about. Both Bennu And Attack of the 50ft Verbose Dinosaur were attempts at using new concepts but turned out to be either not that acessible or fun. Avatar Man is a bit trashy in the sense that there's very little of new in it and the graphics and sound are only there to serve the gameplay, but it's forgettable fun all the way.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

DreamBuildPlay 2012

So, we finished our entry on time. In the past two weeks we completed the intro sequence, the animations for when the player dies, built a new tip system and fixed a truckload of bugs.

As mentioned, we replaced last year's tutorial with a tip system. We felt the tutorial was too restrictive for experienced players who will probably guess how most of the game works on their own. The tip system works with question marks that are spread on the first two maps. The players can read these tips when they step on them or dismiss them.

The animation for when the player dies is... Well, you'll see for yourself in the game, it's not something that should be spoiled.

Even if we don't get anything else out of this, I can say contests are a great opportunity to establish goals for your project. We did work in the past two weeks that would otherwise, in our part-time work hours, easily take at least three months.

Here's the video we made for the contest, it was made in a hurry so the editing it's not that good, but...

[media] [/media]

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Avatar Man

So we just finished our first game with avatars, called Avatar Man:



It's a pacman-like game where you must press each tile in a labyrinth while avoiding enemy avatars. Here's a ">video of the game in action. The video was taken on a PC, where you can't display Xbox avatars, but thankfully Ubergeek wrote an avatar wrapper class that amongst other things displays the avatars as skeletons on the PC.

This is the first game I completed where I didn't try to come up with an original concept. It's not a straightforward pacman clone, since the enemies move in preset patterns and there are special titles that when pressed alter the enemies' behaviour (either making them fast or releasing them from their patterns). In fact, it feels more like a hide-and-seek game than a pacman game.

It's also my first completed 3D game. There is still a lot of stuff I don't understand well about shaders, lighting, etc. The most complicated part was the effect that morphs textures as you walk over the tiles. This was done using a shader adapted from a couple of Creators Club examples.

As for the art, my brother did all the textures for the walls and floors.

If you want to give it a try and you have a Creators Club account, Avatar Man is in playtest now.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

A quick update...

...A bug was found in the peer review process: save game data could become corrupted immediately after the game was bought. It's corrected now, and Bennu is back in peer review (link only works if you have a creators club subscription). It's now at 50% in the peer review process, I think that means it needs 4 more reviews, not sure.

UPDATE: A rarely-occurring bug was found and Bennu was pulled out of review. At least 2 more weeks... :(

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Avatar Man....

Avatar Man is back in playtest. If you have a creator's club account (this is starting to sound like I'm sponsored by Microsoft or something. I wish.) you can test it here.

Also, here's the (final?) game cover:


Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Ghostbusters!

[size=2]So, I changed the fever ray so that when you play co-op, and you cross the fever rays, you get a single ray dealing 4x the normal damage:

[media] [/media]

[size=2]It was inspired by the end of the first Ghostbusters movie.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Menus and cutscenes

Been working on menus and the intro cutscene.

On each map a player gets stars if he completes the map in less than the star time. This was done to emphasize that besides winning the map the goal is to complete each map as quick as possible.

The victory screen:



The thumbs up come out of the woodwork in a small animation.

House banners for the intro cutscene:


Demosthenes

Demosthenes

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