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W10 Endless Midnight

January 10, 2017

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Time stands still, five minutes to twelve: waiting for the apocalypse.

Tombs, skulls and cat we dance: this it the moment.

Rewind, undo, relax: your deeds are unbroken.

Chaos, time and I in a endless midnight ride.

Controls

Move – Arrow keys

Jump – Space

Attack – Z

Control method 2

Move – WASD

Jump – Space

Attack – Left Shift

A Joystick is recommended, use a keyboard to joystick program, ex Joy2Key, and map the buttons to your joystick.

No Game Play Jet

Credits

Music Blue Space by FoxySynergy

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Post-Morten

Inspection – The game idea was to make a retro action game similarly to Castlevania. Deadly, short and action packed levels, and tight controls. I have had similar ideas in the past but not made any of them playable. Most of the ideas involve dashing, stamina meters, and slow drinking potions like in Dark Souls. So the first thing I did was to make a one screen room, and add jumping attacking and knifes. I also made a three hit compo early (but I never got around tweaking it properly…). I also added a simple dash, which moved the character x distant with out taking damage.

Brutally Fair – Both the knifes and dash got cut pretty early because I never added a proper stamina or mana meter / feedback loop. And I decided to have one hit deaths, so potions didn’t work. I could have added a shield which recovers, like in Halo, which I have in 5 Bladed Lotus, to prevent cheap kills, but tbh, this game only contains cheap kills so why even bother…. I also felt a kind of draw to the “brutally fair”. Because a lot of my last games have tried to elaborate on game concepts which try to make interesting games without a tight feedback loop. Some of them have been interested, but I just felt like playing a known card, that works. And to add hp and shield requires more balancing, so I stuck with the one hit kill, just for simplicity. If the game would go for longer play time for each round I would probably change that.

Medusa – I then added the enemies (or rather before I made all the decisions on combat structures). The first enemy was the Medusa, which comes from Castlevania. It got this bad reputation to instant kill players on level two by hit stunning the player making you fall down into a hole. It feels very cheep, especially because you have pretty much health in Castlevania 1, most of the times enemies are not a problem. But the medusa also have a good reputation from the hallway just before the second last boss, death. Where you try to sync the Medusa’s movement and the axe throwing armor dudes, like a dance. Egoraptor got a video about it, Sequelitis(12:41). So that was kind of what I wanted. But I know that the Medusas wouldn’t be as annoying in this game, because the characters have faster movement. In Castlevania 1 most enemies moves faster then the player. And I really like how the Medusa moves in a clearly visible pattern (would be a interesting idea to actually render it on screen), so you can predict where it will be, but, because most of the time theres a lot of things happening on the screen at the same time, so its hard to pay attention.

Tombstone – I also added a tombstone falling from the sky. Its inspired from Metal Slug. Theres a boss battle in Metal Slug 3, in the second stage, the zombie level, (where you can get turned into zombies and get the super vomiting attack…) where some kind of alien levitate and drop down obelisks (the player in the video is playing super safe, usually theres obelisks all over the place), similar to the one from space odyssey 2001, which block movement and gets smaller when the player shoots them. Obelisks aren’t exactly the most dangerous enemy, but I really like how they dynamically changes the flow of the level. How you first can jump from one place to another, but then how it suddenly changes. You can remove them, and in Metal Slug you have to, because theres a lot of them, and they are to big to be able to jump over. But while you hit them you are vulnerable from other enemies.

Panther – The last enemy is a black panther. It was originally a man sized enemy that just walked one the bottom of the screen, but when I added graphic I changed it into a panther. One of the things I like about Castlevania 1 is that it has so much different enemy types, a lot of them that are just used only a few times in the whole game [1]. And the panther is one of them. The panther in Castlevania actually wait in place and starts to run when the player approach, so its not really the same. But it moves, is 1 by 2, and panthers are pretty bad ass. At first they didn’t turn when they collided with the tombstone, but the rounds got to static, having a lot of tombstones and panthers standing still. So I made them turn and deal damage to the tombstone. I also added that the player could stand on the panther. It was a bug a first, because the panthers are solid the player could stand on it, but also die. I showed it to a friend and he liked it, so I removed the damage on the top and behind the panther. Riding the panther…!

Candles – I really like the candles from Castlevania. In one way its very unlogic to have items drop from candles. But I like them because they fit in to the environment. They kind of work like the question box from Mario, in the way that they contain items, and its hidden which one. But Mario draws inspiration more from some Japaneses TV-show with the question box, and today most games uses crates or pots as a environmental cover up (or treasure chests… why are there so much treasure chest every where in dungeons…). Candles can not have items, but it kind of make sense that you can draw magic or some other kind of resources from them, they are lit after all. So I added candles as mana which I planned to have for knifes or stamina esch.

No retreating forward air – I also added so that you could hit in both directions independent from which direction you are facing. This is a thing I’m thats a hassles in Super smash bros, where where every character have a forward air and back air so you need to face different directions before you jump to be able to hit the attack in the right direction. Also its kind of a mess to do specific things like jumping facing right, moving left, and hitting forward air (right) which requires you to press right while you want to press left to move backwards. AKA retreating forward air, a standard move for Marth. You can do it but using the c-stick, but its a lot slower. So I just made it so that you attack forward and backwards all the time. It doesn’t work as well in a multiplayer games, because you can’t sneak up behind people and hit them when you have landed a attack in the wrong direction. But its a huge improvement in a single player game. Maybe not huge, but its one detail. I also made it so that you would throw knifes in both directions as well, which made it possible to snipe down candles on both of the sides, which was the reason I added hearts which would drop, and you had to collect to score. I later removed the hearts when I removed the knives. When I make a verison 1.1 it would contain different sub weapons.

Feedback loop – So I had enemies, they kill the player, you can kill them, you get some hearts from the candles, they do nothing, but its fun to hit the lights. I also made the enemies respawn when I kill them, just so that I could test it more. For score my first idea was to make it time based, like I did in 5 Bladed Lotus. A friend of mine made a game called Hectic Santa which have a interesting scoring system. When you score after a while you complete lists which makes the game harder. The nice thing about it was that a new player could play slow and progress slow, learning the game. While the other approach make the game harder based on time only, would force a inexperienced player into harder situations very quickly. Hectic Santa also had another system which would make the player lose ”hp” buy making bad moves and a little just by time, because it had no enemies to kill the player. I had some ideas about adding another variable which could be used as hp and stamina / for consumables, but I just kept it simpler for now.

Killing is not the answer – Anyway so theres one more enemy on the screen based on about 5 candles you hit. When you hit a enemy another one instantly spawn. Its kind of evil. When I toled it to a play tester his reaction was: ”So you mean that everything I do has no meaning?” Kind of. If you expected to progress by killing enemies you are right, but it can still be used to escape from bad situations, and to re shuffle the playing field. But I like how killing is not a end in it self, just sometimes a mean to progress the other goals.

The clock – And I also added a clock in the background. It was a little unclean at first, but I added a blue marker which would fill up when the player gets score, at first it fast just a arm. I also added a light which travel from the candle to the clock. The more game projects I have made, the less I like HUD. So it felt good to come up with a solution of displaying the information in side the screen, instead of having a number in one of the corners.

One more week – I really enjoyed playing this game so I made the decision to work on it for another week, to add sound and make better graphics. The game play i basically the same as the first playable version. I only changed the hit collisions, fixed some bugs and but in more effects. I initially planned to make the game easier / possible to complete, but it took to much time to fix the animations. The panther animation… Almost made me not complete the game. It really makes you respect the games, and people make the games, with good animations. Because its very time consuming, especially when you try to learn the art of animation, the software and complete a game, not recommended. I just decided that I would not be able to make usable animation right of the bat, so I just started to play around with the software. Some of the Medusa animations actually got into the game. And I made a pretty descent fire animation for the candles, but it didn’t got in because I had so much different candles [2]. Anyway, its a lot more fun to make the beginning of the games, concept then routine work. And with art, I have enough experience to know if something would take a lot of time to do, and most of the times come up with a budget acceptable solution. With animation, I cannot make these kinds of decisions.

Version 1.1

Sub weapons.

Different characters with uniqe move sets.

Neither a 3 stage setup like Savant Ascent or a campaign like One Finger Death Punch, with random levels with some small twist.

Maybe combining side scrolling exploration with survival rooms.

Also some ideas about having set ups like in plant vs zombies where you get sub weapons after levels and get to choose which ones you play with before each level.

And having cursed weapons which are over powered but boost enemies, or spawn specific enemies.

And bosses,

and enemy variants, like instead of spawning 5 Medusas it would spawn 2 Medusa and one level 2 Medusa which moves faster and, I don’t know, spawn baby Medusas on death.

Next.

[1] Vampire killer – Its because Castlevania 1 nes was developed at the same time as another game, vampire killer for the MSX. Vampire Killer had no scrolling but used a connection of one screen rooms where the player looked for hidden keys, and roosters in the walls. The player would then traverse none linear between the rooms to find the items and go and fight the boss. Castlevania is a kind of best of from vampire killer. All of the screens from Castlevania is found in vampire killer, but in Castlevania they are arranged in a linear way. So that kind of the reason why some of the enemies only appear once, because they was made for vampire killer and used multiple times there, but in Castlevania only a few instances of them was choose. Which probably made Castlevania a better game overall although Vampire Kill have a lot of interesting ideas, which return in later Castlevania games. (I’m having some problem on backing this up with a reference, so I will leave it unreferenced, I read it from a locale Swedish gaming magazine)

[2] A lot of Kirby costumes – Its very annoying when you make something for fun or because you like it, and then when you want to add other feature, the first extra thing force you to do a lot of extra work later. Or force you to drop it. I imagine that Kirby is a example from super smash bros just like that. Its a really strange character because for every character you add to the game you also need to make a new model and animation for Kirby. I understand that they want to have Kirby in the game, considering that Hal Laboratory, which develop SSBX, also develop the Kirby games. But its a lot of investment for one character. I mean, in the first game, N64, 10ish characters, low poly, totally okey. Next melee, 24ish characters, higher fidelity, probably to expensive. Wii U 40+ character + like 10? DLC characters… Its probably not a to big investment considering how big move set each character have. I would guess that the extra graphic and animations would take like as much work as animation for 2-4 characters. But they might have the ability to tweak animations, and probably some die hard Kirby developer which have made Kirby animations for all of his/her life. But for a indie game, it would probably not be worth it.

It was a similar situation when I added a bonus playable credits screen for sorting terminal. We ended up discussing it, and changing tempo, removing collisions to boost performance etc etc, from something that was suppose to be a extra ”fun” thing.

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