After more than a few long nights, I managed to complete my game. I added my boss fight at the end and created economy within my game using a stamina feature. I found a simple royalty free soundtrack on freemusicarchive and looped it through my game and I created a simple intro cinematic and control menu. The final game has very little in the way of bugs and is polished to a point that I am happy with. It is now time for me to create a 1 min game trailer using the intro cinematic and some game play footage.
I made these 3 painting for my intro and layered some text on top. While its not a fantastic intro, I am pleased with its short length and genre setting. I made sure it plays at the start so everyone has the chance to watch it and made it re-playable in the title screen.
I have been rather lax with my weekly game reviews as I have not been able to find the time to invest in playing the game to an adequate degree before forming an opinion on it. I have however played a good amount of hyperlight drifter which I will write my review on soon.
Once the game was finished I began using playtesters. Quickly I noticed that a lot of people would skip past the controls and this was a serious problem as the mechanics are complicated. I thought of ways I could resolve this and the decision I came up with was to change the order of menu items so that controls was first and play was second. These options are then followed by intro and quit.
The first level is possibly too difficult but I feel that it introduces the player to the mechanics very well, setting them up for the rest of the game. (provided they read the controls). Hossien actually played through the first level and while he was a little confused and possibly rushed, he did say that he enjoyed it. Despite not being able to attack.
Several people found the boss fight to be difficult but all of them managed to defeat it after a few goes.
Overall I think people found the game to be captivating but not necessarily challenging, with the exception of a few levels. I am happy with this result.
Protagonist: Marcus Lockhart
Dispatcher: Bishop Trest
Helper: Bishop Trest
Person Sought-for: King Redmond
Who is the protagonist?
The protagonist is Marcus Lockhart. As an orphan growing up in the slums of Ravenswood, Marcus had to steal and hide from the authorities to survive. One day, King Redmond sealed the slums off from the rest of the kingdom without notice or explanation. Seeking answers and a chance at freedom, Marcus finds a way past the wall, with the help of Bishop Trest.
What is the main conflict?
You start the game just outside of the walls of the slums on a mission to find King Redmond. Bishop Trest is with you and seeks the king as well although he seems nervous to travel through the kingdom on his own.
How is the conflict resolved?
Marcus uses what he has learnt growing up to make his way further towards the heart of the kingdom and to the great Ravenswood. This must be where King Redmond has gone.
What causes the tension to rise?
Soon after leaving the safety of the walls, Marcus discovers why the slums where sealed off. The kingdom is gone. The land is barren and those who inhabit it seem to be plagued by a mysterious blight.
What is the deciding factor that brings the story to a climax?
When Marcus enters the castle, he is attacked by King Redmond who has obviously gone mad. After retaliating, Marcus becomes aware of the blight effecting the king and puts the king out of his misery. In his last, sane words, the King pleads with Marcus to save the Ravenswood, which he corrupted with his own greed.
What happens in the resolution?
Marcus approaches the ravenswood, unsure of his role to play. He did not come here to save the kingdom for he has no love for it. Was this a chance for him to do something good in his life? To atone for his past wrongs? When he approaches the tree, he is given a second option. The chance to take the throne. To be given ultimate power and the remnants of a broken kingdom.
What elements of interaction can support each point?
The player is able to make the final decision and decide the fate of Marcus and Ravenswood.
How does interaction or gameplay cause dramatic tension to rise?
The increasing difficulty of the levels are meant to challenge the player, forcing them to struggle on the journey much like Marcus. The game music is supposed to counter this. With its calm tempo and minor tones, the music is supposed to reflect the story and slow the pace of the player as patience is a key part of gameplay.
What deciding factor in the game play brings the game to a climax?
The defeat of King Redmond
Is there a pivot point?
When Marcus realises that there is no kingdom left beyond the wall, he simply has more questions he expects the king to answer for. This also leads the moral decision of whether or not to save the kingdom and end the blight.
As the game progresses, its supposed to get harder. To represent this increase in strength for the enemy knights, I made corrupted versions of them.
This also gave me a chance to design my boss stages. A mechanic I intend to implement is a stage system for my final boss. This means that when the boss takes a certain amount of damage, his sprite will change and he will gain health. To keep this simple I only designed 3 stages for the boss.
I created my room backgrounds in stages. Each area has 3 rooms of increasing difficulty. The hardest part of this was creating continuity between these vastly different environments. The designs themselves however do not take long to create because of their simple design. Towards the end, I was able to create a background that I was happy with in around 45 min. As I create these environments, I am adjusting my backstory to suit. King Redmond left Ravenswood with his army of slaves in search of battle presumably. Marcus Lockhart sees this as an opportunity to infiltrate the ranks and finally put an end to king Redmond’s tyranny. However as soon as Marcus leaves the forest he sees the reality of the world outside Redmond’s walls. The outskirts are barren, plagued with demons and Redmond’s army is nowhere to be seen. Delving deeper, Marcus discovers a castle high in the mountains where he confronts the cursed Redmond.
Still to go are the final 3 level designs, including the boss room.
I started work on my animations mainly for clipping purposes. Some levels require the player to crouch under obstacles and as such, I needed to create a crouch animation. This movement is one of the most important in my game for two reasons; traversing terrain, and for sneaking past enemies. I plan on creating some code that will give my player a detection radius when he moves. To make this clear to the user I will have to create a system for showing the detection radius on screen, possibly on the HUD.
Using the crouch code I was able to create my own piece of code that allows the character to sprint. This increases the players move speed and changes the animation for walking to running.
Once I started coding my game I realized why pixel art is so popular. It is much easy for collisions and animations to work in this form. After completing my backstory, I began work on converting the drawings I made into pixel art. This was not a waste of time as I found the original drawings maintained proportions and poses very well. It may be necessary to create all of my animations and characters this way.
One particular trait I realised about this assessment is that all of the code will be more or less the same therefore the point of difference is reliant on game artwork and storytelling. I decided to set aside more time to focus on these 2 things.
I created a run animation for my character but I still need to create a simple 3-4 frame walk animation.
The paper play-test proved to be very helpful as I was able to explore several new mechanics that I wanted to put into my game. One of these being stealth. I was able to create a simple way to incorporate morality into the game but, I will still need to explain its premises with an intro sequence. This will also act as my trailer.
As with many of my creative projects, I lacked the interest required to develop my world into something that would reach my personal standards. Because of the shortening time frame however, I did not go so far as to change every element of my game. I kept my all of my artwork albeit, in a more updated versions. Below is the new version of my environment design.
Regardless of previous motivation problems, I am now moving at a good pace with relation to my game design. I have accepted that compromises must be made and thus I have lowered the detailing in favor of ‘the big picture’.
I decided to play to my strengths with regards to future artwork too. I based my game in a much more western medieval setting. This made things easier when it came to creating my villain and my mentor. Since the game that I will be creating is a simple design where the whole game does not necessarily be complete, I will use my villain as a final boss. My finished game should include at least one room dedicated to stealth mechanics and one boss fight.
You can watch my paper playtest here: https://youtu.be/GSXPczGTNsk
So what’s new?
Well, a lot has changed surrounding my game, most importantly, I now have a backstory that is gripping myself and motivating me to explore the curiosities within this world I have created. One of the hardest things I found when I created my game story was naming things including the game itself;
The game is set in a world where land is divided among rival kings. The people of the world live in poverty where the only escape from this life is joining the kings army. In the kingdom of Ravenswood King Redmond seeks to defeat his rivals with sheer numbers alone, devoting all resources in the kingdom to his army.
Previously a knight in the kings army Marcus Lockhart (you), fights to usurp the throne in order to save the people from the kings greed. However the role of a king is difficult and as you progress you find yourself harboring more and more people with resources stretching thin. How will you rule the kingdom after your quest for justice is complete?
Like many others before him, Marcus chose to serve the king over living in poverty but his conscious got the better of him in the end and chose to rebel against the king. He began his one man rebellion deep in the forest of Ravenswood.
In the land of Ravenswood it is the responsibility of the monks and bishops to train soldiers who prove themselves in battle and make them part of an order of elite knights belonging to the kings royal guard known as Outriders. Bishop Trest is one such monk who fled when king [Redmond] destroyed his monastery in a display of power.
King Redmond is perceived as a corrupt monarch, intent on expanding his empire and his legacy, but the reality is he is a fair king who felt that he had no other options. The land outside of the Ravenswood is a barren mountainous range with little to offer. It is Redmond’s belief that if he can secure lands in these areas and defend them against the demons that inhabit the lands, then he can provide a better life and a better future for his people. The means do not always justify the ends however.
Creating a 2D game
Tuesday 28th February
Before I can create a game I need to know the limits of the software I’m using. By looking at games made with game maker and some basic tutorials, I should be able to get a good idea of the software’s capabilities.
Started researching 2D games made with game maker to see what the limitations are with the software. Out of the many games that use the software these appealed to me most of all:
- Hyper Light Drifter: This is a game with simple graphics that follows the ‘hero’s journey’ archetype. It is a combat/puzzle hybrid but the key feature is its story telling. The soundtrack for the game is simplistic and works well with the environmental art to create a ‘distorted peace’ mood.
- Death’s Gambit: This game, although not out yet, looks outstanding. The game is a simple 2D pixel art renditions of my favourite game series; Dark Souls, with similar aspects from Shadow of the Colossus. It is platform based with a simple yet captivating art style. A key inspiration for my GameMaker game.
- Momodora: A series of 2D games with an extensive fan base. The game has mechanics similar to Death’s Gambit. It has a simple text dialog system to help explain its story. As with Hyper Light Drifter, the games soundtrack and set design create an immersive environment. Unlike Hyper Light Drifter, the addition of dialog and diverse characters creates more empathy between the player and the characters.
The similarities between these games helped me to identify the kind of games I enjoy. These are all adventure games with challenging combat, boss fights, intriguing stories and the mystery of these stories.
Wednesday 29th February
Finished GameMaker tutorials. Started to conceptualize the game I wanted to create.
A Hero’s Journey 2D Platform Game
I decided that the value that I wanted to add to my game was something similar to the story of robin hood. To do this effectively in a game I had to do some research into the original story of robin hood.
When it came to designing the game itself, I wanted to create a platform game with puzzles and fast paced combat. My inspiration came largely from ‘abe’s oddysee’ and ‘Death’s Gambit’. Since time is an important factor with the creation of my prototype game I decided to simply create a tutorial sequence that includes at least one puzzle and a boss fight at the end. I can then use these scenes in my trailer.
For the artwork, I wanted to incorporate my ability to create digital landscape paintings. I want to use photoshop to create simple backgrounds which will provide setting. I will then lay the game boundaries on top, creating a style similar to animations.
To create replay value I wanted to create at least three playable characters all with different mechanics. As a later addition to the game, these characters could make different choices throughout the game.
With Hyper Light Drifter, I found the game to be a little overwhelming as not much information was given after the tutorial. I want to create a more linear story line in my game and use dialog to help explain things to the player.
Monday 6th March
For my game, I wanted to distance my story from the original tale of Robin hood.
You play as an orphan who leaves leaves the slums after being chased from your home by the emperors men. Entering the woods you meet robin hood.
Robin hood is either an outcast prince (original) or an outcast warrior.
A mighty man for whom he fashions a mighty great bow after they fight on a bridge. A simple, peaceful man who is a great archer too. Robin hood must fight each of these characters for them to join him. After he gains a horn to call on them.
To keep with the original theme of Robin hood they should be dressed in green.
Different mechanics should be employed for each of the characters based on how agile they are. With the main character robin hood being a fairly average character overall. All of these characters follow the archetypes listed on digital design notes.
Similar to Trine and the Lego games, I wanted to create areas that are only accessible with different characters. In the tale of robin hood, the merry men come to his aid when he blows a horn. This could be the mechanic to bring up a character select menu.
Ulterior theme: corruption.
One game that I loved for its moral decision making is Fable. By adding in similar moral dilemmas I can give the player choices and expand the story and replay value.
Tuesday 7th March
Started work on Character Designs for my game. I started with some sketches in my art book, then recreated them in pixel form on Photoshop
Sunday 12th March
On Tuesday I created some pixel art for my main character. Looking back at the design I was not happy with it and so decided to start fresh with some sketches. I found the pixel art to be incredibly challenging thus my need for some base sketches (these would then make up my mood reel).
Tuesday 14th March
Need to rethink backstory of the main character. Is he one of the four merry men or is he simply a stranger and if so what is his story? What is he searching for and why?
While I thought about this I completed another page of design work, this time on colour:
Wednesday 15th March
Finished first design for my environments
Sunday 19th March
I created another landscape design, this time exaggerating the design.
I’m very happy with this style and it did not take too long to create. This is very good as I will need to draw a background for each cell in my game.