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 Video Game
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!
Recently I’ve been putting a lot of work into the Boss of Upload Complete. All his main attacks are finished, and the sequence itself is laid out, prepared for any details that will come.
Testing it myself, I know the attacks, I know what’s likely to come at me next. For the first-time player it may not be so easy, but I don’t want it to be impossible to survive for those who don’t know the patterns. I’m hoping for a semi-readable fight, that requires skill more than anything to overcome. Being the first Boss it definitely wont be as intense as Bosses in future levels, but it’ll still be a challenge.
In addition, many other scenes of the level have been tightened up, and a scene has been added granting the player a Weapon Upgrade! Given what comes at you after the Upgrade, it will be a very welcome gift. For the demo, a number of other Upgrades/Updates may be handed to the player simply to give a taste of what’s to come in the full game.
The difficulty may also be ramped up for a more hardcore experience in the demo. Upload Complete is basically the ‘tutorial’ level, but that’s not to say it wont throw the player into the deep end (even in the real game version, it’s not going to be a walk in the park). Intensity is a running theme through the whole game. I mean… listen to the tracks LCTR have up on their Myspace, how can a game with that music not be intense?
I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped.
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!
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.