Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry X-Mas! + Update on CuiCD and VT

First of all, Merry Christmas!

Work on CuiCD has been semi-OK, stuff has been getting done and hope to get it finished soon. Main things left to do in it are:
  • Add menus: main, pause, options, achievements!
  • Cutscenes: intro, little "hi bad guy!" and ending.
  • Screens: how-to-play (before playing), how-to-fly, how-to-fly-combat, beat level!
  • Achievements: actually add them in.
  • Final level three area.
  • Pre-Boss fun maze.
  • Sound/Music.
Think that sums up what is left to do. Most of it is boring stuff (yay!) but shouldn't take too long to finish up, test, add sound, get and add music (I plan on having the game done before it gets made).

Once that is done, it'll be time to work on the biggie. Oh yes, I mean  biggie. The Vest Trials will push my limits and will allow me to explore some new areas whilst making areas to explore! The levels are going to be not only platforming goodness but also include exploration and some RPG elements. There will be baddies/boss etc. Don't really want to spoil anything for now as most still isn't set in stone, but I'm looking very forward to working on it.

Anyways, hope all readers have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, will be putting up next post when CuiCD gets released!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Caught up in Carl's Dream

For the past few weeks I've been working on a small project titled Caught up in Carl's Dream (CuiCD). The game is relatively short, with three regular levels and a boss level. It was originally being made for the GameJolt competition earlier this year, but because of commitments to university I couldn't have it done in time (I feel as if this has happened before...).

The game itself is mainly just a regular platformer with some baddies, collectibles and achievements. Being the lazy person I am there are no ways to defeat the enemies, just dodge them. Collectibles don't really play a main part in the game except helping the player complete achievements, such as:
  • Collecting all collectibles in a level.
  • Defeating the boss without losing any health.
  • Completing levels without losing a life.
Hopefully adding these will make an easy-ish game more difficult for those who want to complete it fully.

There is still a bit to work left to do at current, like adding music, sounds, completing the Overworld, third level, pre-boss area, cutscenes, HUD and menus to name a few. Although things should speed up a bit more as most of the more time-consuming tasks (making levels/rooms) are done.
A look at the game's Overworld.
I consider this game more of a 'experimental' type, as work on my next game (Vest Trials) will mean me thinking up some new fresh gameplay elements and fun puzzle-type levels that make it more then 'just a platformer game'.
One of the heap of 'enemies' - the Crushers.
So that pretty much sums it up! Once I get more things done such as menus, the third level, completed overworld etc. I'll put up another blog post with more screenshots.


Friday, November 18, 2011

University is finished and work has begun!

I finished university for the year on Tuesday, so now I have a 3 month long break which I intend to get a lot of work done on all projects that are underway (including 'The Vest Trials' and another small project I'm finishing at the moment). Of course I'll probably only release the small project during the break as VT is going to take quite a while to complete.

So yeah, small blog post, I'll post one about the project I'm working on at the moment when I can take a few screenshots of the game (currently working on the end boss).

I suppose I can give a hint... CuiCD (acronym of the title). ;)


Saturday, October 15, 2011

[Vest Trials] Inactivity and Nearing Dusk

Slight update, due to lots of uni work happening at the moment between assignments and study, I've had pretty much no time to work on ND. After the next few weeks (just over four weeks left of uni for the year) I'll be on a three month break where I'll work on the game a lot more heavily.

Currently during my limited spare time I'm working on the base animation engine for the game, it won't be using drawn frames for animation, but only a static image rotated/transitioned/translated. After experimenting at first I like the animations these provide much more than those I can make, and not only that but it uses up less resources.

The plot itself has also been reworked and is at a stage where I'm very pleased of how it's turned out. I'm very excited to get working on this, as I'll be experimenting with a fair few new gameplay elements, such as a higher level of control over what happens in the game.

The game itself won't be a direct sequel to AD, I've purposely left a gap just in-case I want to make a third later on down the track. That being said, ND should be able to be a standalone game, meaning that you don't have to play AD/understand AD to play ND and understand it. I'd like to think of AD as more of a game where you can see where it all began, but not really necessary to the overall plot.

During the game you'll also get to play as characters that aren't the main protagonist of the game, and the game's name (Vest Trials) will finally make sense.

As for overall length of the game, I'm not quite sure, only time will tell. ;)

That's enough from me, I have assignments to do!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

[ND] Vest Trials: Nearing Dusk

Yes, the sequel to Vest Trials: Approaching Dawn is the next project I'm working on! I doubt that wasn't a huge surprise to some, but yes, after the release of AD I felt I needed to get a sequel out to finish off and clean up the story line from the first game.

The past two weeks I've been writing up a game design document for this game, and pretty much all parts of it (except game area design and some other things ;) ;) ) are complete so I figured I could get down and dirty and begin to work once more.

I've actually already begun development of the game, already completing the main game menu (with sub-menus of new game/load game/controls/options/story and quit game) along with the game's introduction cutscene! The main menu is a more polished and I feel much more smoother menu (that I adore), so I'm glad I got that done and out of the way pretty much first.

The introduction cutscene uses 'images' to portray the story, in a similar but not quite the same way as Iji. The images are static (most) except they are accompanied with words below them explaining what's happening from the point of the game's protagonist.

Now, to get down to the heart of it, the gameplay and mechanics compared to AD. Nearing Dusk follows more non-linear exploration, making the game Overworld much bigger (for a reason though). The game won't revolve around levels such like those in AD, but other 'forms' of levels, I might post this later on but I want to keep some details hidden!

More about the Overworld - again it takes place underground, however there are different terrains and I plan on making it a lot less 'blocky' than AD hence the use of slopes. The engine that the game will be using (by engine I mean platformer engine) I'll be making from scratch, hopefully adding some improvements such as ledge-grabbing, swimming etc.

The graphics of ND I'm not quite sure on yet, I may stick to the style that was present in AD and just make them cleaner and smoother, or I might go for higher-quality graphics, but I'll probably stick to the former. Of course I plan on making the main character bigger than the one in AD, and keeping the same screen size (sorry, but I actually like the smaller screen size).

So yeah, more on this coming up soon! ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Project!

Well, I've been tossing up ideas during the week prior to VT: AD's release trying to come up with ideas for my next game project. Little did I know that the day after the game's release I had the perfect idea to come up with for my next game.

For the last few days I've been working on the design document and don't plan on spilling anything of any sorts about it until the document is finished and has been finalized. I expect the document to be done by the end of the month maybe start of September. That being said I think the scope of this project might take as long as VT: AD did, except this time I'll have everything I need to do sorted and explained prior to making it.

Currently the document is rather small, but I expect it to grow vastly within the next few weeks, and then after looking over it and being pleased enough with all my ideas, mechanics, work etc. I'll post notice about what exactly the game is on the blog.

I can say however, that this game is likely to be much more graphically demanding than VT: AD, not amount of sprites wise, but the detail that I want to put into the sprites and the animations that will be required. Programming the game's engine is also looking to be fairly complex, so I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty in code!

Pretty small blog post, just putting it out there that work has already begun on the next game (I did originally want to have a break... but I am just too eager to work on this next one!). If any major issues arise in VT: AD, I'll still fix and upload a new version (both lo and hi), just that I'll also be working on a new large-ish scale project!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Vest Trials: Approaching Dawn Released!

Warning: Read comments at your own risk, may include spoilers about the game!

Vest Trials: Approaching Dawn is finally complete and is now fully available to play!

"Take control of Dareo as he infiltrates an explores an abandoned Temple in search of its history and use. Traverse through eight main levels and two optional bonus levels in search of what is at the bottom of the giant structure. Beware though, even though there are no aggressive life forms in the Temple, its creators devised areas of incredible difficulty to prevent its secrets from being revealed."

After 471 days after the start of working on this project it's finally complete! From the above links you can download the lo-fi or hi-fi versions of the game!

Game Information:
Category: 2D Platformer/Adventure
File Size: 10.7MB (lo-fi); 27.2MB (hi-fi)
Screen Resolution: 480x272
Changes Screen Resolution: No (fullscreen is optional)
GM Version: GameMaker 8.0 Pro


Credits List:
Created by: Andrew Wickens (Nights of Light)
Music by: Brian Burke (stargenx)
Testers and Advisors:
- Andrew Martini
- Brice Lwo (iluvfuz)
- James Chappell
- Nathan Wood (turboRamble)
- Ninjutsu63
- Peter Zezima
Special Thanks:
- YoYo Games
- Mark Overmars
- Andrew Martini
- Brice Lwo
- Daniel van Blerk
- James Chappell
- Martin Piecyk
- Nathan Wood
- Ninjutsu63
- Peter Zezima
- Rebekah Ash

Differences between lo-fi and hi-fi:
Essentially the lo-fi version of the game doesn't include level tracks and overworld tracks (overall about 11 tracks), which means a lower file size. Save games from both versions will work with each other however!

Additional Information:
Please comment giving constructive feedback, or email/message me on any of the sites I am part of. If you spot a glitch please don't hesitate to let me know!


Well I can't believe the day is finally here where I can say; "Hooray I finished my first game!" After a long 15 months it's finally complete. I'm very proud of the result, I know it could be better in some places but I plan on improving on those areas during development of my next game.

A few stats for AD: 20,000 lines of code approximately, close to 500 sprites (total of over 1000 sub-images), 50 backgrounds/tilesets, over 100 rooms and much more. I'm sort of proud about how big the game actually turned out even though in my mind I always thought of it as a very short game.

Anyway I'll be very interested now to see how the game gets received, I don't expect too much publicity, but you never know, I might get surprised.

For now I'll be continuing on writing up the GDD (game design document) for my next game, which will be some uber fun!

So to everyone who had patience waiting for this day, thank you and I hope I haven't let you down. Thanks to everyone who supported me through its development!

Thanks again!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

[AD] Music and Sound Update

First things first, I'm not going to say that there will be no music or sounds in Approaching Dawn! I will be using approximately 17 different music tracks throughout the game (ranging from menu music, to level music, to ending credits music), along with around 40 different sounds.

Secondly, I know I missed my release date of August 1st! Sorry to those who have been waiting (which I don't think are many...). I've been sick the past two weeks and that along with uni work beginning to pick up again I really haven't had that much time along with feeling very lethargic.

This post is mainly aimed at the music/sound side of AD, the differing music tracks and sound effects, and my thoughts on the both.

So yeah, as I mentioned in the first paragraph there are 17 different music tracks, these are pretty much divided up into the following categories:
  • Main Menu music (1 track)
  • Overworld music (4 tracks, 3 of which are shared with levels)
  • Level music (10 tracks, 3 shared with overworld tracks)
  • Credits music (1 track)
  • Misc. music (3 tracks - level completion, level perfection, level begin and secret obtained music).
I was a bit worried about having so many different tracks (not only file size but continually changing the music whilst in the game), but decided that in order to compliment the visuals more were needed. Of course in the lo-fi version I plan to make, overworld and level music will be absent from the game. Essentially every 'tileset' has its own music, except for two (I think).

Yesterday when I completed my first full play-through of AD start to finish including obtaining all unlockables, I was also noting what sounds needed to be implement in specific parts of the game. I came up with a list of 40 sounds which I think will help add to the visuals and music.

Currently the sounds are what stand between the finished product and the one at current, I'll be using SFXR (I'm very original...) to make the sounds and hopefully implement them before the end of the weekend. This will allow me to send our the beta to those specific testers in order to generate feedback before doing final tweaks and lastly releasing the game.

I want the testing period to be around a week, mainly because any longer is overkill, I've tested the game a lot as it is (I should have really implemented a count to see how many times I've died/completed X level etc., seeing the results would be interesting), and some have other commitments during the week so less time would mean some would be unable to test.

So just a small post just to say it hasn't been abandoned, and definitely won't be now that it's so close to completion.


Friday, July 15, 2011

[AD] Bonus Levels

Over the past week I've been starting to create the two bonus levels in the game, exciting... Seriously though I wasn't sure how exactly to tackle them, seeing as I originally planned to have them accessible straight after opening them. In fact I'll just list the original vs. the new:

  • Bonus One required Arcade levels Mellow Meadows and Craving Caverns to be perfected, and could be accessed directly through the Arcade 'lobby'.
  • Bonus Two required Arcade levels Vivacious Volcano and Everlong Everest to be perfected, and could be accessed directly through the Arcade lobby.
  • Bonus One would have the approximate difficulty level of Vivacious Volcano and will include a new 'obstacle' (not telling what it is though!).
  • Bonus Two would have the difficulty level of just higher than Everlong Everest, and will also include a new 'obstacle' (not saying what this one is either..!)
  • Double Jump was the reward from Bonus Two, whilst a Secret was a reward from Bonus One.
  • No perfection times/times in general.
  • Bonus One and Bonus Two both still require the same levels to be perfected, but cannot be accessed until all four Arcade levels have been completed.
  • Bonus One has a higher difficulty level than Everlong Everest, it is however shorter (2 rooms).
  • Bonus Two has a higher difficulty level than Bonus One, it is three rooms long.
  • Rewards from completing Bonus One and Bonus Two are both Secrets.
  • Rewards from perfecting both Bonus One and Bonus Two is the double jump ability due to it potentially making the game a lot easier.
  • Perfection times and time system included in the levels.

So yeah, both bonus levels I think have changed a fair bit in terms of difficulty, making the double jump ability a fair bit harder to get, which I think is good seeing as it could potentially make some of the more difficult rooms easier (even though I myself have only been testing the game using single jump). I do not have any plans to include a "###% game complete" inside the pause menu or whatnot however, as I think it's rather pointless, complete all levels, perfect all Arcade/Bonus levels, collect all 9 secrets and that's your 100%!

Also on another note, I've made a music system and implemented it into the game, it's a rather simple one but it works and I'll be keeping it. Another thing crossed off my to-do list!

So until later, happy gaming/developing/etc/etc/etc!


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Art of Motivation

Being motivated to do work, or anything for that matter can be a real challenge. Staying motivated throughout the entire time I've been developing Approaching Dawn has definitely not been easy and was probably the most challenging part of the entire design/development process.

There were times throughout the development where I had ceased to do any work at all for many weeks due to just feeling all 'creatived' out. In fact not being motivated was probably one of the main reasons I did not get the game finished before the end of the sixth YoYo Games competition - which was September 1st, 2010. It's been quite some time since that deadline passed and looking back now motivation is what I struggled with the most.

This blog post will outline some ways that I 'got' my motivation back, and some tips on what not to do. So without further ado I'll begin:

Don't Get Ahead Of Yourself
A pretty simple one, and a motivation killer, especially when you find yourself overwhelmed with the massive plans you had made. Know your limits, and if you think your plans are a bit big, make it smaller, big doesn't necessarily mean better.

Don't Overwork Yourself
Simple, don't spend too much time each day/week on your project, because I found this also leads to having no motivation. Like everything you need moderation, and doing 8 hour days working on a project only helps you wanting to have a month, or two, or three break.

Don't Create Multiple Projects To Work On At Once
Working on many projects at once can be very overwhelming. Splitting your time up, keeping motivation and creativity for all of them can be very difficult. So stick to one, you can always write another story, or develop another game, or paint a picture after you've finished the one you're working on.

Find The Inspiration
Find a source of inspiration, this could be reading novels, playing games of the genre that you want to make, all sorts of things. I found a person who inspired me and gave me motivation to do work, the sky is the limit when looking for it!

Mix It Up
Especially when designing games, don't stay doing one thing for hours and hours, mix it up - change what you're doing. Example: I've been programming cutscenes, take a break from them and do some level design instead, or spriting etc. Doing the same thing can be very boring after a while and boredom does sap away at your motivation!

Force Yourself
There are times where you just don't 'feel' like working on it, or times where you say 'I have no motivation', do something about it! Force yourself to do a bit of programming, or a bit of writing, even if it turns out trashy it can be cleaned up later on, as long as you're working then you should be able to start generating ideas and well, getting some motivation!

Go Outside, Walk, Exercise
Going outside for a walk or doing some exercise after a few hours of working on my projects allowed me to clear my mind, relax and feel a lot better and a lot more keener to get work done when I came back. Heck, even just the feeling of being outside and fresh made me feel a lot better.

It's all good to go and read stuff on how to be motivated, but that won't motivate you. It is up to YOU to do something, so the longer you sit there thinking about how to get motivated the more time you're wasting! The best way is to slowly pick away at the things you've learnt on how to stay motivated and keep doing it.

There are plenty other things to get you motivated out there, not just the ones I've mentioned. Some of them might not even work for you, the important thing is though you do something, sitting around thinking about how to get motivated isn't very productive!

As for me, back to work I go!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[AD] Arrrgh!... Cutscenes and Progress!

The last few days I've been slaving away finishing up making the cutscenes for the game, hooray... To be truthful I've only made three, out of the five that need to be made, three all relating to the final level. Today and a bit of last night I was working on the ending cutscene that has been a quarter done for some months now and was really beginning to irritate me...

It's almost done, surprisingly, only just a few more minor things to do (I'll add in the 'credits' roll later on down the track) and it's done! I suppose then I'll have to do up a better beginning cutscene (the one at current is just plain horrible...) and after that I'll tie up the back story and implement it into the game (replacing the old dodgy 'secrets' I have at the present time). Technically then I can play the game start through finish.. without music and bonus levels. >_<

After that I'll start working on fixing up some 'stuff' around the game world and get stuck onto making the two bonus levels. Hopefully I should be able to fix majority of the stuff in a day (maybe two) and the levels in a shorter amount of time than it took to make the previous ones (without being sucky either, hehe).

So yeah, the main things left to do are:
  • Bonus levels.
  • Music/Sounds.
  • FIX!
And when looking back I really have to start getting my act together if I want a 23rd of July 'completion', which I just realized is two days before university kicks in again (so nice timing.. :P). Fingers crossed I get it done long before that, as I'll be sending the betas out to the few for a week before gathering their feedback, implementing changes (if need be) and then fully releasing the game.

So yeah I'm sorry for the short-ish blog posts lately, but time to get back to work!


Monday, June 27, 2011

[AD] Not Dead Yet!

I know that there has been a large 'break' from posting, and that it looks like I've dropped the project but actually that's not the case! I've been slacking away doing bits and pieces throughout the semester at university and now that the break is finally upon me I can get a lot more things done!

I've set an imaginary release date for the game which is the 23rd of June, this year of course! Hopefully I can push myself to get this game completely done by then (let's just ignore the previous seven 'release dates' shall we?) and finally I'll be able to release the entire game, so that it's fully playable, not only the first four short(ish) levels!

Also I'm going to get around to posting more things about some techniques I used throughout the past few months to keep myself on track, like motivation, inspiration, dedication etc. Hopefully I can also use them to learn as well as in future I'd have something to refer back to and to see how to progress on from that in the right direction.

Now, that aside I've been beginning to think about where I'll put the completed game after it's done.. I've come up with a small list which I think will help me:

  • YouTube trailer (possibly? Depends if I can find a decent recording program)
  • Thread on the GMC
  • Updated game on YoYo Games (lo-fi version only)
  • Lo-fi version on GameJolt
  • Hi-fi version on GameJolt
I'll also be posting regular-ish tweets on twitter (follow me here) etc.

Anyway that's all from me for now, I'll probably throw up another post about the progress of the game and 'stuff' either today or tomorrow, so enjoy!

Oh, and here's a picture:


Friday, April 29, 2011

AD: Progress until game is complete.

Thought I'd make a small list of what's left to do in the game before I class it as 'complete'. I still have to 'finish' some parts of the game, add things in, and after I 'finish' the game I go through polishing things (and editing things). So really I finish then polish then I class it as complete. But anyway, the list!

To Do (Then game is classed as 'finished'.):

  • Add in remaining 5 small cutscenes to Final level.
  • Add in final half of Final level final cutscene (three finals in one sentence, win).
  • Three more World HUB rooms (one being a bonus room, two being the rooms leading to the ending cutscene).
  • Completion of the ending cutscene.
  • Adding in Bonus levels and all the things related to them (rooms, items, cutscenes etcetera).
  • Implementation of music/more sounds.

To Do (Then the game is classed as 'complete'.):
  • 'Finish' the game.
  • Redo Introduction cutscene.
  • Redo Arcade cutscenes.
  • Redo Quality cutscenes.
  • Test.
  • Polish rooms, sprites, bits of code, whatever that needs fixing.
  • Test.
  • Final touches.

So really there isn't that much more left to do in the game. Hopefully today I get all cutscenes relevant to the Final level done and get to work on the remaining HUB rooms. No ETA just yet, as I plan to do a final beta run right before the game release to a few select testers/real life friends to make any adjustments to the game before the final release.

I'll also most likely die down with the blog posts as I'm really running out of things to talk about relevant to the development of AD.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

AD: Development of Puzzles II

WARNING: This blog post contains a fair few spoilers about the Final level and its rooms. If you don't want to Spoil them I suggest you don't read this blog post.

This is the second part of my 'Development of Puzzles' "series" I guess you could call it. The past blog post talked a bit about the rooms rFinalLevelC and rFinalLevelB, so that leaves rFinalLevelA and rFinalLevelD for this one to touch on!

I know it looks like the Final is another one of those levels were you do rooms in a set order, but the Final level is a bit different. Upon entering the Final level 'lobby' you can choose to go into either A, B or C right off the bat, which means all three of those have to be around the same 'difficulty'. They're not, though. As you saw from the previous post B and C are rather different from each other and aren't really classed (in my mind) as the same level of difficulty, but that doesn't phase me much.

That leaves D, the real 'last' level room of the game (excluding Bonus levels which are unlocked/can be completed at the very beginning [Arcade levels]), and A one of the three 'potential first' level rooms of the Final level.

Now this was a funny room to make. I was toying around thinking of making an Arcade-esque room to begin with, but then for some strange reason I wiped it clean and tried to make a room out of falling platforms (platforms that fall if you stand on them for a specific amount of time). This turned out to be quite the accident as I made a complete room and tested it out for the sake of wondering how it would be. To my surprise it was very difficult, mainly because it required the player to have confidence in where exactly they're jumping and the precision of their jumps, it's VERY easy to just jump not far enough or maybe too far and miss the platform, falling to your doom (well I guess not your doom, but whatever).

I was unsure of whether or not this room would fit well, but after examining it a bit more and it being something 'different' than a regular level room, I decided to stick with it and keep it. It'll prove to be a challenge to those who even slightly begin to think they're not going to make that next jump, because you'll begin tapping the left and right keys mid-jump to adjust where you land, and if you are under confident about where you're jumping too and you move the player too far to one side, restart! I tried to make the room based where it was the players fault for restarting (well it is, really).

It was also probably one of the quickest (if not the quickest) room to make as well, which is always a bonus!

After looking back on the level itself it does make heavy use of precise jumping so it could be called 'Arcade-esque' I suppose, but I prefer for it to be separate from any Arcade levels as they all include multiple obstacles (there are two in this Final level room). I did however find myself addicted to trying the room over and over again until I managed to beat it (I can beat it rather easily now). To tell you the truth it took me around 10 minutes to get the room right, so not too bad at all I think!

The final Final level room, and probably the most difficult out of all rooms in the entire game (which is what I hoped for). Essentially the room consists of two 'game portals', the door leading onto the last cutscene for the level (level completion), a Save Pad and the Exit Pad.

The two game portals will lead the player into two simple 'mini-games' both connected to each other somehow. The 'mini-games' are called Energon and Factorium respectively and do not need to be completed in any specific order.

This mini-game the player is a... Energy collector, blasting good energy (blue balls) with energy capture devices. Bad energy (red balls) cannot be captured and will damage the energy collected if come into contact with it. Of course the game ends when the player runs out of health.

The goal of this game is to beat the original high-score which was set (100 for this mini-game), and as time goes on, it gets progressively harder to capture energy without being hit by multiple bad energy. You'll really have to focus on shooting constantly up into the air and dodging the bad energy when they bounce of the wall below you.
There isn't much 'puzzle' to this room, it's really more reliant on skill (and maybe a tiny bit of luck). The Energon mini-game is probably the more difficult of the two (getting the right shots mean everything). I won't spill everything about this room as I think I want some left to be a 'surprise' I suppose.

Now this mini-game relies on concentration and reflexes. Essentially you have to press specific arrow keys at specific times. The arrow key is signaled by the direction of the arrow pointing on the crate, if it's left, press the left key, right, right key etcetera. The specific time is when the crate reaches the center of the conveyor belt (the screen will turn green signalling you can press the key now). The crate will stay in that spot for a certain amount of time depending how many crates you've 'completed' beforehand. Slowly they'll go to the middle faster and have a shorter time in which you can 'complete' them.

The game requires you to replay it a fair bit as you'll most likely stuff at least one up the first few tries, but if you do what I did, when I beat the mini-game I did a massive leap of joy in my room shouting out "I DID IT!" then I know it's good.
They're not 'fully' finished, but are working and fulfill their purpose, the only things left to do now is to polish them up (which I'll do once I pretty much complete the game).

These two mini-games I'm rather proud of making and hopefully that and all the cutscenes throughout the Final level (there's a few of them!) will make the level exactly how I envisioned it, an epic way to finish the game.

Well this just about wraps up the four rooms of the Final levels, hopefully now that it's done I can get onto the three main things that are left before I go on a polish spree - Bonus Levels, Cutscenes and Music Implementation. I might be throwing up a small Development of Puzzles III blog post outlining the Thought level puzzles, but we'll see what happens!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

AD: Development of Puzzles I

WARNING: This blog post contains a fair few spoilers about the Final level and its rooms. If you don't want to spoil them I suggest you don't read this blog post.

Greetings (finally another blog post from me), as you probably notice there is a massive vest trials: Approaching Dawn logo at the top of the blog now so I won't need to keep posting the logo at the top of each blog post.

This 'post' I'm actually going to split up into two separate posts, both touching on two of the four rooms of the Final level of AD. This one talks about rooms (which in Game Maker) I named rFinalLevelC and rFinalLevelB (I didn't make them in order A-D, I actually made them C, B, D, A which is weird I know). It will talk about the puzzles (the answers on how to do them) and why I made them like they were. I may also touch on the Thought Quality level puzzles on a third part of a post, but we'll see how it goes with just the Final level first.

Probably one of the most difficult things of current level design in AD is that just about the entire Final level is puzzle-based. Now sure I don't have to come up with physical difficulties such as perfect jumps etcetera, but I have to create mental challenges, requiring the player to actually think of what to do. The first room developed of the Final level I nicknamed 'evil colour wheel lasers of doom' shows some of the much more difficult puzzles you have to undertake.
This puzzle is.. different as it requires the player to make use of what I call 'quick-thinking' and mapping. The mapping part is relatively easy - draw a small mock-up of the room on a piece of paper and plot the locations of each specific laser and its colour (there are 12 - red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green etc.), and also to quickly mock-up a colour wheel with all 12 colours (with red at the top - the way of the colours i.e. red -> yellow -> blue clockwise is indicated by a colour wheel found in the bottom corner of the room). The 'quick-thinking' part is to figure out what to do and how to do it. Yes I realize that this room IS a lot more difficult than any other possibly in the entire game, but I want a room like this to outline what this game is all about - difficulty in the form of physical challenges and mental challenges.

What actually needs to be done is for you to check the colour of the laser, perform the action ("Move Laser Colour # spaces anti-clockwise/clockwise"). For example if we have a blue laser and it says "Move Laser Colour 2 spaces clockwise" we would then think "Blue -> Blue-Purple -> Purple" and then find the Purple Laser and trigger it, shutting down a laser. Another thing to think about is what exactly the 'odd switch' does - it resets the timer to a time depending on which laser you're currently on (changing the colour of the laser in the process). The odd switch is required to initiate the next laser after shutting the previous one down.

This can make the room rather tedious and will require the player to attempt it more than once - but this is where I wanted to incorporate elements from previous levels into the Final level rooms. The room requires a great deal of thought and curiosity (Thought Quality level), being able to navigate quickly around the room (Speed Quality level) and the ability to keep at it even if you fail three or eight times (Persistence Quality level). Personally this is what I love about the room is that it gets my blood pumping quickly and is fun (for me - I have a 'love' for those three qualities, which is why I implemented them into the game). People have also said the differentiation between some colours is bad, but I have a solution for that - keep pulling the odd switch until you get the colour you can recognize and one where you know exactly where the switch is. Because none of the three lasers can be the same colour as each other, you will always have to pull three separate switches from around the room. Using this tactic can make the room a lot easier, and it is one that I myself use sometimes.

The reason why the puzzle is like it is now was me simply trying to incorporate all three Quality levels into a single Final level room, adding elements from all of them to the room. The idea itself developed from a simple 'room with three switches' where you pick one, if it's right then you can move on, if not restart (Persistence aspect). Then I added on the Thought aspect, where the right switch requires you to think about a relationship between something and something else (also something that could be generated differently each time the player enters the room) - which is where the coloured lasers, switches and colour wheel came into play. The final aspect to be added was Speed, where I simply added a timer, a switch that can reset that but also changes the colour of the laser, and for each laser you shut down the switch restores less and less time.

This room was really fun to make... not. Essentially it's a giant maze home to three switches. Not a very original 'puzzle' I admit, but I always wanted my game to have a maze it in, generally with it being towards the end (which it is). The creation for this room took a real long time due to the sheer amount of tiles required needed to be placed 1 by 1 (I placed around 13,000 tiles in total for this room).
Oh and did I mention, to add a bit more difficulty, I lowered the light so you can only see a portion of the world around you (similar to one of the Overworld rooms). Hopefully this combined with the size of the maze would mean maneuvering throughout the maze will become a bit of a challenge.

The purpose of the maze is for you to find three switches (all green, on, which makes them harder to find due to the tileset used having the same green colour) so you can unlock the floor near where you teleported in. This means not only do you have to get lost in the maze finding the switches, but you have to find your way back!

This is where I wanted to test out different methods of completing a maze, for the most part the left-wall rule works (where you follow the left wall throughout the whole maze leading you through practically everything also leading you back to the start). But the locations of one(or more) switches cannot be found using this rule so you may have to do a bit of 'blind' exploring!

In all this room was probably the easiest to come up with an idea as I wanted a maze in the game somewhere, and the Final level seemed the perfect place to put it. Even I myself get lost in the maze sometimes, which is completely and totally fun as...

That just about wraps up everything covered in the first part of the post series. I will post the next outlining rooms rFinalLevelD and rFinalLevelA in the next few days, so stay tuned for more!


Monday, March 28, 2011

AD: Story Refine and Final Level Layout

Whilst on my small 'break' from working on AD I've begun refining the overall plot of the game. It did have some sort of structure about it and the secrets really enforced a story - the only thing I wasn't happy about was the story itself, it felt lame (to me).

So I've gone through and made changes to the pre-existing story in hope that the new and improved story will make much more sense and will answer more of the questions the game leaves the player at the end of the game. This also means that if I never get around to making/finishing the game's sequel there's still enough plot to uphold the game nicely (I do intend to make AND finish a sequel though).

AD is really the 'introduction' to a much larger game, the sequel will add a lot of new game mechanics, a much larger story and overall a lot more content (it'll also have a different layout to this game). But enough of that, back to AD!

The Final Level
Probably the most difficult level to design, I want this level to be 'different' to all the previous levels, with it being more puzzle based and have a few little surprises in it. I already have one completed room, which is probably one of the hardest rooms if you're unsure on what to do - even if you do know what to do you need to act quick.

The second room that's being worked on currently makes use 'darkness' which is also seen in the Game Overworld (after the Quality door). Still working on a way to make this room difficult without making it Arcade-esque.

The third room.. well that one hasn't been planned at all yet!

The final room is in planning, and it's different than all the other level rooms. I think I'll keep this one a secret for a while and see how things go. Hehe.

Hopefully after getting most of the Final level complete, the Speed level complete and the introduction/ending cutscenes complete progress will flow from there on until the completion of the game. The thing I'm worried about most concerning progress at the moment is music and how it's going to be implemented into the game seeing as there are many music tracks (and equally many rooms that require different music), having it change smoothly will be a task, but I'll see how the rest goes first and leave the music for last!


Friday, March 25, 2011

AD: Progress has begun again slowly

I've begun working on AD a bit more now, beginning to get some major things done (there isn't much left to do in the game really). One of these things is possibly one of the biggest sprites I've done in a long long time!
You can consider this a large spoiler, but meh! It's the final door 'unlocked' by completing the last level in the game. Venture through it and you will be able to view the final cutscene and game's ending.

I've also begun work on finishing up a few of the game's levels. To give you an idea on what's left to do:

  • Final speed level room (still, I know, but I hope to get this one done quickly).
  • Final level
  • Bonus level one (Core)
  • Bonus level two (Wasteland)
  • Cutscenes (predominately the bulk of the work, new introduction cutscenes, ending cutscene, level cutscenes etcetera).
  • Adding in the music to the game
  • Polish (sprites, pre-existing content)
A rather short blogpost, but one letting you know that progress is no longer at a standstill and that I do intend to finish this game sooner rather than later.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

AD: Halted Progress

This blog post is letting you guys know that progress on Vest Trials: Approaching Dawn has halted for the time being. Unfortunately I've lost a lot of motivation (which I hoped wouldn't happen, but it has) and with university work beginning my amount of spare time will drop a fair bit. I hope to do small bits every now and then but ultimately the game will not get done as soon as I hoped.

Cyclone Yasi and the flood occurring soon after aided to this (even though it happened approximately 4 weeks ago) hit the progress aspect of VT:AD hard (I was wanting to finish the game before university began, but.. that didn't happen).

More info on when progress will resume will be posted in the next upcoming weeks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

AD: The Quality Aspect

Throughout the past few weeks (whilst I've been concepting levels) it has made me come to realize to slow my pace of work down to do things properly and, well, better. Rushing through the creation of levels often leaves it feeling like any other ordinary level room, nothing new and exciting, no new challenges etcetera.

So upon development of my Quality and Final levels I really want this aspect to some through, to thoroughly think of ideas that would make the levels unique when being compared to the Arcade levels.

The Persistence Level
Originally going to be a giant maze, I've changed my outlook on this level and wanted the rooms to repeat - mainly plain and non-challenging rooms which draws its challenge from persistence - the player having to go through 40 rooms. Of course I've only made ten different rooms, meaning some will repeat. It would however, be really exciting to have over 100 different rooms, meaning that if the player does the level 10 times, there's a chance that they haven't seen 6-10 of the rooms, which can come up during their eleventh time: "Oh wow, I've never been here before." But it would slightly detract from the gameplay I want to enforce here - repetition. By having rooms repeat, it'll be easier for the player to get "bored", therefore to complete the level they may have to push themselves into completing it.

The Thought Level
Probably the hardest level to make. The first room of the Thought Level resembles a regular room, in some cases you may also want to try to find a way to know what's in front of you. The second and third rooms however, require some extensive thinking and planning to complete. This is what made it hard for me: coming up with a nice puzzle (two in fact), and using them in the level. The second room entails the player into turning off all the lasers - a relatively simple task. There are 5 lasers, and 5 switches, with each switch changing the on/off status of two/three lasers. It'll be wise to find out what switch turns which lasers and their location as it may be one of the longest (and possibly the hardest) room in the game.

The third and final room of the Thought Level has to do with six coloured statues. Simply enough you have to place them in their correct hole, but it's the journey along the way in which will make it difficult. Placing one in the wrong hole will force you to reset the puzzle, so be very wary about what you're about to do. These puzzles have taken a relatively long time to complete due to myself being the only tester - and it's hard to test if you already know the answer!

Some may say these are hard (and some may refer to walkthroughs to help them), but I find a good game one which takes time and effort to complete, along with it having nice rewards for players who do complete them.

The Speed Level
The last Quality level. This level was tricky to make as it bares resemblance to the "Perfection" of Arcade levels, with some rooms you have to beat the timer (hooray). There is an ordinary Arcade-like room to begin with, then a room where you're constantly falling, and when you're not you're trying to get out before a giant wall crushes you, a room where if you take too long fiddling around, you'll be choked by the poison gas, and another where you may think the wall got stuck... wait until the timer reaches zero to find out!

The last room in the Speed level is one which again - I want to take my time with and really... make it a good one. In fact, because I've pretty much spoiled the Thought level end, I'm not going to spoil this one!

The Final Level
This level is quite funny in that the level itself is split up into four separate areas, where the player can enter any (one is locked until the three previous are complete). These rooms are relatively harder than the previous, and include an Arcade-type room, a Quality-type room (Persistence + Speed), a dark/light room (these darn Immetrumen can't make lights that work!) and of course the final room being a Thought-type room along with Arcade-type and other mechanics thrown in. I won't spoil much about this level, except that it will be... fun, I hope. I really want to spend a while trying to perfect the concepting of this level as, it is of course the Final level!

I guess the Final Level in a way 'acts' as a boss, just that it's not a boss, heh. I actually did want to test my coding skills and actually make a pretty neat boss (requirements being having collected all secrets and unlocked double jump). I doubt this will happen though because the character himself has no combat-mechanics built in and it really messes with the setting of the game - SO, looks like it'll come in the second half of the game series.

The Bonus Levels
Not really fitting to this blog post but nonetheless it is probably best that I say these will be 2 Arcade-type levels which also have Perfection times. Getting them open is a lot harder than the regular Arcade levels as you have to Perfect Mellow Meadows and Craving Cavern for the first Bonus level, and Perfecting the remaining two - Vivacious Volcano and Everlong Everest opens the second Bonus level. Completing a Bonus level grants the player access to a secret (one for each), and Perfecting both grants the player the ability to double jump. This can come rather handy in the other game levels.

The levels will also introduce new mechanics, such as the crushing wall for the Wasteland level and the Core for the Core level (how fitting). With these new mechanics I want to take my time into creating the best suitable level design to make these as much fun as the other levels. They are relatively short (Core continues the '2 room' trend from it's pre-Perfections and Wasteland follows the '3 room' trend from it's pre-Perfections).

Note: The sequence of rooms is likely to be changed before release for some levels.

So until next time - I best get to work!


Monday, January 17, 2011

AD: Belated Christmas and Year 2011!

Merry belated Christmas! Sorry it's late I have been incredibly tied up. This blog is me wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year, but also to outline what's going on early next year with the release of Vest Trials: Approaching Dawn planned to be release mid January.

I plan on releasing VT:AD late January, which means hopefully it'll be ready before then (2-3 weeks should be more than enough to finish off what I have left to do, but I'm not going to rush it).

I'm deciding on how exactly to release VT:AD, and have come up with the following three options:

  • Option A: I release a low quality version (without a soundtrack) to the YoYo Games website. I will then release a version with a soundtrack to Game Jolt. The music tracks will be within the executable file meaning it'll only be one file (two if I include a readme).
  • Option B: I release a low quality version (without a soundtrack) to both YoYo Games and Game Jolt. I then upload the soundtrack by itself to a file-hosting site (in a ZIP folder). The folder will contain all necessary music pieces for the game. If the player wants to add the soundtrack to the game, they'll have to up-zip the folder and move the un-zipped folder to the same directory as the executable file. The only problem with this is that the files are able to be copied/moved etc. the folder will also include the details about rights, copyright etc.
  • Option C: I release a low quality version (without a soundtrack) to both YoYo Games and Game Jolt. Then I upload a version with the soundtrack to Game Jolt. The music tracks, like Option A, will be within the executable file.
These three options should (all) utilize the fact I want a less-intense download (~10Mb) and a more-intense download for the game with the full soundtrack (~30Mb). This should also stop people from complaining ("I'm not playing, I want music." and "File size too big, not going to download.").

I may as well say what's left to do in the game!

  • The Final Level - this (surprisingly) shouldn't take THAT long to complete, possibly 2-3 days once I get the room concepts done on paper.
  • The Speed Level - this level STILL hasn't been finished as I want another nice idea as the last room of the level.
  • The Thought Level - again, I'm thinking of an awesome last room to finish off this level.
  • The World HUB - pretty much complete, just need to add the Bonus level room and the two last HUB rooms. Pretty simple.
  • Cutscenes:
    • New Game Cutscene - I plan on doing an overhaul on the old one to make it a lot more fitting and to reflect the new changed plot.
    • The Ending Cutscene - Probably the largest of all the cutscenes, in this one I'm be using a mock-up character to give the feeling of the way the player actually moves (except isn't being controlled by the player), plus it is pretty graphic-intense so.. yeah.
    • Final Level Cutscenes - these smallish cutscenes for the Final Level should be relatively easy to make, but however somewhat graphic-intense.
    • Bonus Level Cutscenes - small cutscenes which don't really require THAT much new graphical stuff.
    • Game Intro Cutscene (when you begin running the .exe) - just to make it more fitting.
  • The Two Bonus Levels - relatively smaller levels (compared to the Final Level) so should get done within a few days if I concept the layout on paper first.
  • Adding Music - adding music to the game (I have a total of 17 tracks to be used), along with a lot more sounds, possibly some ambient noises to give the areas a better 'unique feel'.
After that it's just testing and tweaking that remain to be done. So until then, thanks!