01.11.2017 | projects | comments: 1
So I started this project off a couple of years ago, made a decent sprite, then finally something motivated me to start it up again a few months ago. Here’s the first screen:
While I work I’m taking the opportunity to expand my horizons in non-procedural level design. I’m also taking opportunities for tangential learning in the process of world-building. This log will follow me as I make my design decisions, both mechanical/dynamic and otherwise. Video, then more screens and musings after the jump.
That video, as you’ll see, is a little out of date aesthetically, but shows off some decent things. I have a few influences at the start, and I want to make sure that at least in general I have a notion of what I’m doing with the signs, symbols, and other cultural references that find their way into this thing. I don’t want to say a lot yet about the world I’m setting it in, except that it involves a character who dreams lucidly, and will some of my tangential learning will involve French and German folklore and possibly some of the language as well. Even the project name is basically a placeholder.
Two of my chief influences in terms of games were Knytt and Demon’s/Dark Souls. Knytt holds a much stronger atmospheric influence. Dark Souls holds influence more in terms of the way I want to handle lore and wanting combat to matter, though I’m not trying to make it “like” a Nifflas or From Software game by any means!
The last time I designed a platformer with more than 15 minutes of playtime, I didn’t plan it well. Level design was almost malicious and the stamina mechanic was punishing. (I’m speaking of a game I’m not even mentioning here because I’m embarrassed.) Part of the issue was that I designed around the tools I gave the player, but I only had one beta tester besides me and the design was too “tight”, not enough mercy given to the player.
I decided to use two fixed-height jumps that would vary depending on how long the jump key was held. This means I’ll only have to design around those two jump heights, and I won’t be tempted to make players pull off ridiculous maneuvers. There’s also no stamina mechanic in this game.
I also really wanted to do something good with combat in this game, but I knew from a previous iteration that shielding isn’t great in 2D, or at least it wasn’t working well for me. So rolling it is! There’s only one enemy so far, which you can see in the video linked above, but there are more to come. Here’s that roll in action, albeit with a slightly earlier version of the room in question:
I want the game to have a good atmosphere overall. You can hear some of the music it already has in that video; probably there will be at least four to six other distinct songs in the game with at least 3-4 more areas to come.
There will be a pretty minimal story that will be understandable, but the boons you find in your quest will have some more extensive lore about what’s going on, for the curious. None of the menus are complete enough for me to show you that lore, so have another screenshot instead:
I’ve learned from my mistakes a little bit and will be giving more mercy in general and a better difficulty curve, and hopefully reaching the right balance of atmosphere, platforming, puzzles and combat. Ideally there will be some commonality with those games where combat is well-executed enough to be a sort of puzzle without being quite as hardcore as the games where this is usually the place. I want a challenge for players, but not a gauntlet, at least not a gauntlet all the way through. Have an awkward screen with our heroine in mid-run:
Ultimately, I’m hoping for an overall aesthetics of play emphasizing challenge and sense-pleasure, with narrative and discovery more subtle and under-the-surface.
I have the basics mapped out. Things will need refining, both individually and as a cohesive whole. So even when I’m 99% done I’m sure I’ll have that infamous other 99% to go. I am hoping to have this done and ready for release by March 25th. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to branch out from MZX to a more professional development environment this year, and if I can get this version done, especially in that time-frame, it’s likely I’ll be doing it again with GameMaker: Studio or some-such.
Thanks for reading, or at least skimming through to the screenshots or watching the video. I hope you were entertained. Please feel free to message me, leave comments, questions, here, Facebook, etc. I’ll probably update this thing about once weekly just to give a notion of where it’s at. I’d better end this thing before I get past 850 words, I’m just about at the tolerance level for decent internet writing length.