Level 2 has been entered! I’ve been totally ripping through it the past week, replacing just about every graphic we had and sorting out each scene to make it play solid and bug-free. I’m very pleased with the entry!
Archive for MMF2
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.
You may have seen the Boss already from the very first posts of this blog. Evan has been updating the Boss graphically and it’s looking sweet! I’m now on the final 40-50 seconds of the song, which includes the inevitable fall of the Boss. Here’s what I have so far to start it off:
At this point, you will have already been fighting for a while – though from a further distance. This is where things start going downhill for our Upload Complete Boss.
I’m getting sick of calling him ‘Boss’, any ideas for a name?
Now that pretty much 95% of Upload Complete has been laid in place (and is totally playable), I’ve been going back through a number of other scenes and improving them, making them more interesting and engaging. There have also been some updates to the general engine, giving better performance overall.
Speaking of performance, Level 2 should be able to run on even the slowest of computers. The rig I’m using for testing isn’t the fastest of things, my rule of thumb has been if I get a drop in framerate on this, then something needs to change to make it more efficient. So far this has proven effective on any other computer the game has been tested on.
If you’re interested, here’s what I’m working with – Intel T2300 ~1.66ghz (dual core), 1gb ram, GeForce Go 7800 256mb. Kind of a benchmark for the lower end that can run Level 2. Running it at a steady 60fps is extremely important, any less and things get thrown out of sync and scenes can actually (play-wise) be much shorter!
DevLogs should be coming up a bit more frequently now, as I’ve worked through some pretty tough issues. Now I’m blitzing through, leading to more Log-worthy material!
This update is small for you, but pretty big for me. I just fixed some bugs that have been frustrating me for months now! Now the player movement engine feels much more solid, very smooth. Before, if you jumped up a step and clipped the ground, you would instantly jump again. Now you simply go over the step as expected. The other bug involved the player character ‘floating’ above platforms, whilst still being able to move and jump normally – nothing really wrong with it, it just looked silly.
Another thing, upon respawn, now you can no longer get stuck in blocks. The character repositions directly in the middle of the screen upon respawn, so before if there were any platforms in the way, you’d get stuck in them and gradually rise up, sometimes off the screen to die again. That aint right, so I fixed it.
Finally, today some important systems for Bosses were put in place, which should make development for all other Boss sections much smoother. Right now, all work is going into one level, and with that a lot of major game mechanics have been built and refined so that later levels can be put together without much fuss.
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!
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!