Song of Arashi - Postmortem

What Went Right:

Listening to game design lectures and learning from others

I spent a lot of time watching Extra Credits and reading about the development of games like Super Meat Boy.  Sometimes it felt like wasted time, but it wasn’t time that drained me. I learned about creating a ‘weight’ for your character by adding momentum, how to design levels that allow the player to select difficulty (this was used especially in the ice level), and the importance of playtesting.  Which leads me to:

Playtesting

I benefited greatly from group of gamer friends, as well as some wonderful people down at /r/gamedev on Feedback Friday and Screenshot Saturday, who were not afraid to tell me that my game had flaws.  I was able to find out what ninja tools the players really enjoyed using and what aspects of the controls players felt were awkward, not to mention various bugs I hadn’t encountered.

Having a Deadline

About December 20th, 2012, I set the goal of submitting my game, which at the time was not much more than an idea, to the IGF.  As I drew closer and closer to the deadline my dream shrunk to fit that deadline - and that was a *good* thing.  If it weren’t for the deadline, the game would be less complete than it is now and the idea would be the same size it was when I started.  As a result of the deadline I soon had an engine worked out that includes many of the tools in the game today.

What Went Horribly Wrong:

Procrastination

I spent a lot of time thinking about the game, but not really doing much about it.  I didn’t write down a lot of my ideas so it just became worthless daydreaming.  I also continually convinced myself that I would work on the game when I had time - the weekend, spring break, summer break, all went by and I got some work done but never as much as I thought I could. I’ve learned that you have to make time, and then make use of the time you made.  Time during breaks feels so plentiful that little gets done, so a timeline or a deadline must be set in order to stay on track.

Programming Without Planning - NPCs

I spent a great deal of time creating NPCs for this game.  It made a lot more sense when the game was free-roam, since there were to be more side quests which involved information from NPCS, as well as enemies blocking paths, but when I cut the game down to just the dungeons, the NPCs became lost time.  I didn’t really plan out their use before I made them, I just assumed I’d find a place for them, but it didn’t fit the story for the enemies to be guarding inside these dungeons which were supposedly kept sealed.

Artificial Complication

For a time, Song of Arashi had limited ammunition.  This ammunition had to be gathered via chests.  The idea behind this was to add a level of difficulty to the game and to stop people from spamming their weapons.  I guess I didn’t really think this through because the best part of the game is toying around with the ninja weapons, so it makes little sense to limit their use.  So, shortly before completion, I undid the limited ammo entirely. I did still limit the spamming though, but in a way that I can stand by - power-charging.  A shuriken now takes time to draw back to full power, this prevents spamming but also allows for more custom play, since a player can choose to lob the projectile or throw it straight at the target.

Current Status

http://bomberdev.itch.io/song-of-arashi.  I’ve pretty much stopped development for now, but I may come back to it some time later.  I am currently working on an adaptation of the game which centers around local multiplayer ninja battles and is intended for controller use.

I was really hoping to hit feature complete last week, and it’s pretty close.  I got sidetracked this week after GM48 (I was hoping it would refresh my spirits, but the game I made turned into a nightmare that was overall confusing to make and confusing to play).

I’m going to start work on the levels soon, I need to finish before school starts.

Where to start?  Last week I (somewhat foolishly) promised a demo of the game for /r/gamedev’s feedback Friday.  Thus began a 6 day feature-creepin’ bug-blastin’ gamedev marathon.

Added:

Parallax Scrolling

Headbands change colors according to health and chi

dungeon art, skeleton art, and parallax background art

Archer enemy

made bombs behave more realistically

fixed grappling glitch that didn’t allow you to pull an enemy down

added enterable buildings and previous-location-based spawning

played around with a big-sword weapon, but it didn’t make it in because it was too buggy and overpowered :(

Executable

Zipped

Hey guys,

This week I added 3 npcs (swordsman, shielded swordsman, and spearman).  The shielded swordsman’s shield can be broken with a bomb, but otherwise he must be attacked from behind (or above).  The spearman will throw his spear and then switch to his sword.

I also added a sample of the ancient script, it took about an hour to translate and draw.  Can’t wait to see if anyone can solve it (it’s not exactly cryptography, but it won’t be easy!).

This week I added a grappling hook and a speech system (also clouds and birds).  Here’s a video of the grappling hook in action:Grapple.

I’m really hoping I can pull this off in time before school starts again.

Hey folks!

I’ve added some new art as well as a few other adjustments and bonuses.

The player’s health is now displayed using the length of the headband, as is the chi (which can be, at most, equal to the current health).  I also added a grass renderer engine and a star renderer.

I’m thinking it would be cool to eventually pick a single seed for the random star generator to always use, then maybe map out some constellations somewhere in the game, maybe tie them to the story as well.

I’ve also added a text display.  For the moment it only serves to show ‘shout’ text that the user cannot respond to.

So far I’ve implemented five weapons in the game. They are selected using the mouse scroll wheel, the previous, current, and next weapon is displayed on the heads-up-display. The five weapons are the bomb, shuriken, bo, sword, and master sword.

The bomb takes a set amount of time to explode, upon the end of that timer an explosion and a number of needles (a number which is easily adjustable on the code side and may be seen as an optional upgrade in-game) shoot out in a circular pattern. It is set on a fuse once the left mouse button is pressed down, and is thrown when it is released; this gives the ability to “cook” bombs for greater affect since AI will run from bombs. Bombs will explode in your hand and can also set off other bombs.

The shuriken is a throwable weapon which is also usable with the teleport ability. It can be used for fighting as well as puzzle solving. They also stick to walls which looks pretty cool.

The bo is a simple hand-to-hand weapon, left and right mouse buttons execute left and right basic hits and both buttons pressed at the same time and held gives a block that can be moved around the character to defend from projectiles.

The sword and super sword operate on similar principles. Left mouse button gives a basic attack and right mouse button deals a knockback blow that does slightly less damage but throws the enemy. The super sword deals double damage and double knockback.

Oddly enough, the movement in the game is fairly solid right now.  I’ve made it so that variables for acceleration rate, deceleration rate, max step, min step, jump height, etc.  are easily changeable so those may see some adjustment in the future (specifically I think the decay for wall-jump horizontal movement is a little too aggressive)

I felt it was necessary to add the acceleration and deceleration for the user to get the “feel” of the “weight” of the character, at least that’s what the Game Grumps say.  It took some finagling to get the wall jump to execute just right (Do it one way and the character will shoot off away from the wall regardless of the user’s intent; the other and it won’t move from the wall at all if the user is trying to move towards the wall)

Abilities are currently switched on and off using the 1, 2, and 3 keys.  Each ability will be earned at a different point in the game, some may even be optional.

There is also a non-ability quick run  (assigned to shift, but it provisions have been made for it to be adjustable in the final version) which increases the maximum speed slightly (acceleration is the same but still takes less than a second to get to full speed, just for feel).  The speed-run ability increases this maximum even more (only when shift is pressed) but drains chi at a constant rate. Using the speed run ability also makes the user run on water (without the speed run ability, the character sinks and has slowed movement, but he can jump repeatedly to get out).

The jump works just as one might expect. Jumps are non-committal since, though it takes away from some realism, committed jumps only add to the experience if a sense of fear is supposed to be instilled in the user (e.g. Castlevania).

The super jump ability will drain a set amount of chi (if enough is available) and gives a jump height of about twice the standard jump.

Finally, the teleport ability allows the character to switch places with a shuriken (perhaps later it will also be possible to switch with a bomb).  It drains chi based on the distance of the object, the teleport target is marked with a blue-chi circle.  This ability will be useful for combat as well as puzzle solving.

That’s all for this post, I’ll make another to detail the weapons.

Ladies, gentlemen, extraterrestrial beings of indeterminate gender, 
I guess I should start this off by introducing myself. I go by BomberGames on the gamemaker subreddit and on the Ludum Dare competition. I’ve been (trying to) make games since I was about 9, I’m 16 now-still trying.
I’ve made this Tumblr to keep a devlog of progress on my current gamedev project so that anyone interested can follow along. I’ll try to make a post at least once a week showing some progress.
Currently the game is unnamed (feel free to make suggestions, just know that I may steal them if you do).  The game is a puzzle-platform adventure centered around a warrior protagonist who is somewhat like a ninja. I won’t go too in-depth about the plot for now so as not to spoil anything, but know that there is one.  You will have a number of weapons and special abilities at your disposal to solve puzzles and fight baddies.  Weapons at this time are planned as unlimited use items, while special abilities (super-jump, speed-run, and teleport) will cost energy (chi) which regenerates rather quickly but still limits the amount of rapid succession abilities that can be used.
 I actually started working on the project at the beginning of winter break a few weeks ago (though I have numerous chicken-scratch design sheets to show that the idea started much sooner).  I’ve already made some good progress so I’ll be posting some more screenshots to show more of the individual weapons and abilities.
Also - Thanks to my buddy Cajoled (he is a moderator on the gamemaker subreddit) for the profile picture.

Ladies, gentlemen, extraterrestrial beings of indeterminate gender, 

I guess I should start this off by introducing myself. I go by BomberGames on the gamemaker subreddit and on the Ludum Dare competition. I’ve been (trying to) make games since I was about 9, I’m 16 now-still trying.

I’ve made this Tumblr to keep a devlog of progress on my current gamedev project so that anyone interested can follow along. I’ll try to make a post at least once a week showing some progress.

Currently the game is unnamed (feel free to make suggestions, just know that I may steal them if you do).  The game is a puzzle-platform adventure centered around a warrior protagonist who is somewhat like a ninja. I won’t go too in-depth about the plot for now so as not to spoil anything, but know that there is one.  You will have a number of weapons and special abilities at your disposal to solve puzzles and fight baddies.  Weapons at this time are planned as unlimited use items, while special abilities (super-jump, speed-run, and teleport) will cost energy (chi) which regenerates rather quickly but still limits the amount of rapid succession abilities that can be used.

 I actually started working on the project at the beginning of winter break a few weeks ago (though I have numerous chicken-scratch design sheets to show that the idea started much sooner).  I’ve already made some good progress so I’ll be posting some more screenshots to show more of the individual weapons and abilities.

Also - Thanks to my buddy Cajoled (he is a moderator on the gamemaker subreddit) for the profile picture.