Archive for the Game Features Category

Deadline extended?!

Posted in Game Features, General DevLog with tags , , , , , , , on 2010/06/22 by Evan Sammons

So Indiecade had some problems with their submission forms, giving us an extra couple of days to fine-tune and get more new graphics done. Great! I can’t wait to get it submitted.

I’m also pumped to start working on the rest of the game. It’s been so long since the start of this project (maybe nearing 3 years now) and it’s gone through so many iterations that now that it’s in the state it is, I really want to see how it’s all going to fit together. There are a lot of concepts and functions of the game engine that aren’t explored fully in this first level, Upload Complete, I’m itching to see it unfold in the levels to come.

There are around a dozen tracks, meaning a dozen full levels totaling at least 40 minutes of gameplay. This does not include parts that aren’t set strictly to the music, for example ambient free-roams and possible looping sections – and even that may bring total time to a little over an hour. The key will be in the replayability…

The game engine allows any part of a level to be altered in real-time, and the triggers can vary greatly. They can be as simple as being closer to top or bottom of the game area to determine if the level goes upwards or downwards in the next section. Triggers can also be complex, and depend on what happened earlier in the game, a whole combination of factors, and goes right down to affecting the game ending. The scale of changes can also vary a lot, from the aforementioned game ending changes right down to what formation a group of enemy drones takes to attack you. This should all create a visceral experience that flows seamlessly, and always tests your ability to adapt and survive.

It’s old-school shooting action with a twist on classic linear progression.

Some pretty major updates!

Posted in Game Features, General DevLog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/06/16 by Evan Sammons

Quite a lot has happened since the last post, so here it is!

First off, we’re entering the demo level in Indiecade, with the deadline for entering being the 20th – only 4 days to go! That’s not to say we’re not ready, the level is completely playable so I’m down to tightening it up, making tweaks where they’re needed and even revising a few elements.

The main cause of the revising is the fact that we now have a dedicated artist working on the graphical assets, Francis Coulombe, and you can find his site here. He has nailed the style and feel we’re going for and progress is steady. I can’t wait for it to get it all in the game, and the stuff that I’ve already replaced is looking badass.

Doesn’t this rock? This guy replaces the swarming heads, so in the game you’ll be seeing big groups of these guys flying at you, trying to smash you to pieces.

I thought what we had looked really great, but Francis is going to boost it all to a whole new level!

Also just finished is a functional main menu, with all the basic options such as control configuration and volume levels. Not a big update, but the main menu is often the first impression of a game, so getting it right is definitely important. The full game will contain more options to customize how you start a game, as well as save file management. You can read a little about the possible customization options in an earlier post here.

That about covers all that’s been going on here! More posts to come soon, especially before or around the Indiecade deadline.

-Tom

Game Modes

Posted in Game Features with tags , , , , , , , , on 2010/02/15 by Evan Sammons

It’s been a while, so here’s a little more info.

This is a fairly simple topic, but it’s still very important. The Game Mode will often dictate how you play in order to succeed in the game, and present you with the most basic methods of challenging yourself.

First, another important yet simple feature needs to be explained – Death. When you die, you explode into particles, and reform within about a second. Nothing stops, the level continues on, you get a short period of invulnerability where you can still fire your weapon. Instant respawn.

What happens as a result of death is where the Game Modes come in. What we have planned is to have two sets of lives. The first are your ‘Reform’ lives, how many times you can die and respawn immediately. The second set are you Core lives – once you run out of Reforms, you lose a Core life, and instead of respawning on the spot the entire level is restarted with full Reforms again. Losing all your Core lives results in complete defeat – Game Over.

Now, whatever Game Mode you choose will affect your basic number of Core and Reform lives. For example, a medium mode might give you 8 Reforms and 4 Core lives, whereas Sudden Death gives you nothing, and a Casual mode would give you unlimited Reforms. Perhaps a mode with unlimited Core lives would prevent getting Game Over, whilst keeping challenge with a limited amount of Reforms.

There’s a lot to mix and match, so it might end up with the Start Game screen displaying a list of options to modify the game – you specifically set how many Core and Reform lives you want, as well as a few other options. Perhaps this ‘custom game’ mode would be unlocked the first time you complete the game. In fact, I would like to hear some input on this matter, so feel free to comment!

Although the lives system forms the bulk of Game Modes, there will be other variables, though I’m not too sure what at the moment. Also, there should be completely different Game Modes that don’t follow the main narrative/song structure – such as a Boss Run mode, or maybe a totally randomly generated mode, since the engine does allow for that!

-Tom

Current Features: Music Details

Posted in Game Features with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2010/02/10 by Evan Sammons

Yesterday I talked about features that give the game a dynamic, free-flowing relationship with the music. Today is about how the music will be integrated in detail, and how music really is involved with at least 90% of the game features.

There are some parts that just need to be choreographed in detail with the music – events on-screen happening with a specific guitar strum or crash of a cymbal. Solo sections in the music will make great use of this, particularly for the inevitable boss battles and other epic climaxes. This is where the story of the game can be told, acting as a more intimate and interactive kind of cut-scene, where you’re truly part of the music.

Vocals are also very linked in with the game. Several sections will have their own lip-sync to go with it. Hordes of enemies will sing and roar lyrics at you, bosses will scream at you their objectives, how and why they’re here. Entire levels are alive, they are the music, and as I’ve said in a previous post, you will be fighting the music. Trust me, it’s badass. I recently just finished a section where both the enemies and the background sing in chorus. In terms of gameplay, it’s a fairly simple section (actually, it’s a lot like Asteroids… that’s kinda cool), but with those singing effects it’s seriously cool.

As well as the features above that are chosen for specific parts of the music, there is a more general method of detailing the game using the music. The game goes with the beat and the tempo of the music using a number of counters set to activate events at 1/16ths, 1/8ths, 1/4ths etc. – changing the frequency of certain actions like enemies shooting guns. For example, a large enemy with a powerful gun might only shoot every 1/4 beat, whereas a drone with a machinegun might shoot rapidly every 1/16 or 1/32.

This tempo control is spread across many things, from the frequency a transporter spawns a group of drones to things like a platform moving back and forth. Since tempo varies from song to song, each level kind of gets it’s own character from it. For most levels it will be a subtle difference, but the fact that the game takes tempo into account for so much will really draw you into the song, and make the levels come alive.

I believe that covers most details of the fusion between music and game. My next post is a mystery, even to me!

-Tom

Current Features: Music/Level engine features

Posted in Game Features with tags , , , , on 2010/02/10 by Evan Sammons

I think it’s time to explain the main foundations of the game. As you know, the game is going to be very closely linked with the music, and each level is a song on the album. What happens in a level, how the game advances, and how you progress through the level is directly linked to the current point of time in the song.

Levels/songs are broken down into numerous ‘sections’, forming the core of the game. Each section has a great number of variables changing the ‘rules’ for that section – for example, in one section you’ll be flying around with the screen scrolling upwards, in another you could be on the ground with the screen staying still as kind of an arena. These rules apply to just about every aspect of the game, making levels potentially very dynamic since the level features are created as you progress through them, rather than being pre-designed or pre-generated.

Levels can react to the player in interesting ways, or indeed have totally random options to use when it gets to certain points. Hopefully, this will create a more intense atmosphere and a lot more fun when replaying the game, since it will never be the same twice!

I’ll give an example: Say you’re riding some kind of winged death-bomber program as it plummet  through cyberspace, and you fall off. Under normal circumstances, you would die, but with a special condition in the section rules, it could change the section completely – maybe you fall to the ground and have to run for your life as the bomber notices you and attempts to destroy you, or it could be that another bomber picks you up from an opposing faction, and you’re caught in an aerial dogfight.

The possibilities are pretty huge, and it should make for some great sequences whilst still keeping in with the mood of the music. It will still be the same section, just with altered rules and certain activated events.

That’s a pretty big piece of information about Level 2: The Game. Tomorrow I’ll explain some more about how the music and the game are going hand-in-hand.

-Tom

Update – Swarms.

Posted in Game Features with tags , , , , , , on 2010/02/06 by Evan Sammons

Hi again, Tom here with a little info post and a project update!

So far we have the main engine complete, which includes player movement, controls, weapons, and overall level and ‘section’ control (I’ll go into detail in later posts). It’s almost smooth sailing from here, with a ton of content to add and levels to choreograph to each song on Level 2 the album.

I have to say, testing each new feature is a blast. The most recent significant addition has been swarming enemies, where numerous weak enemies fly around an origin point, similar to bees around a hive. The system is extremely flexible, allowing a ‘mother’ entity to continuously spawn swarmers, or the swarming enemies themselves origins for more swarmers, or swarms used as projectiles shot out of cannons, mouths, portals, whatever! Swarms could even be created when something else is destroyed – like being split into many enemies, or perhaps spawning swarmers as you damage a larger enemy, so bits will appear to break off and fly around that enemy, eventually being whittled down to a pure swarm. So it seems swarmers will be one of the main enemy types in the game.

You may recall from the teaser our main character shooting frantically with a lasergun. Well, now you can imagine a giant, chaotic swarm of mindless programs hurtling towards him, the laser blasting enemies to pieces and whittling the swarm down to a few harmless drones.

In posts to come, look forward to more info about what we currently have, since I believe we have some seriously cool features and I’d love to share them all with you. Right now I’m just chipping away at getting a full level to release as a demo, but in the process I’m sure some more core features will appear – and of course there will be updates on those, too.

-Tom