Biz cards!

What are you gonna get done without the all important business card?  You think you can make waves in the fast lane without some paper to slap? Think again. If you’re not erroneously filling up someone’s pocketbook you’ll never make your mark.  It’s such a given that it seems like more of a chore than anything else.

Exploring the obligatory vistaprint returned yawn worthy pedestrian fare.  Slogging through the options garnered few palatable results. Adding images was a rigid affair that chewed up and spat out only foul garbled mockeries of pixel art.  No dpi options, no control over compression or filtering – it is truly just hamsters hand keying your .png files in machine language on an Altair over there.

The local print shop of choice has always been friendly, spacey, and slow but eventually they do produce.  With assurances that art given would not be tampered with in any way and faithfully reproduced verbatim, some proofs were ran and it immediately became clear that, well, you couldn’t see shit.

What dark curse had materialized this time? Truly the darkest of all – it was way too dark. The attendant’s best attempt to tweak brightness (that’s right brightness only, no contrast control) resulted in something that was possibly 10% brighter, while they touted it as 95% brighter. Clearly some hunt and peck Neanderthal, there was nothing that could be done on-sight.  The attendant conceited that new, brighter more contrasty pieces would have to be devised, sent back over and then the new proofs would require a real life person to come back down and bless in person before production commenced.

On a side note, the local shop doesn’t have a sign out front for this but it’s twice as expensive as vistaprint.  In the end your two basic options are to buy from a used luxury car dealer or the Borg.

Now for reference please examine the original (far too dark) artwork:

bizcardfront

Feeling generous and somewhat anti-Borg the new much brighter works were delivered via sane methods to the locals and new proofs were ready the next day for the whole song and dance again. Bellow are the brighter and brightest versions, which to the layman may appear to look washed out and like shit but are actually still barely bright enough…

front brightfront brightest

The final ended up being the super washed out brightest one, in printed form however it really popped and was by far the clearest. After waiting a week to account for ‘installing new toner’ the coveted paper was finally burdened with my garish works and the final product was signed sealed and delivered. No it had to be picked up actually.

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It’s a decent reproduction of the original vision. If one were to select but a few choice words to retain from this account they would be that whenever traveling in person to a print shop bring several copies featuring brightness far into the retina burning range :]

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12/14/14 December Big Update

I’ve decided to skip the commentary in favor of a longer write up for this update. My hope is that without me yammering over the video viewers might pick up more detail about the game, my voice is rather jarring after all. Also it’s pretty hard for me to avoid rambling on while I’m playing and keeping focused is an issue! So check out the quick play through and read up on the detail when you’re done!

Major updates since last blog:

Completed running animations in the 5 key directions – East, North East, North, South and South East. These are the key directions since they are the only unique sprites you need for an 8 direction object because you flip the NE, E and SE art to do NW, W and SW.

I learned a strong lesson about doing 14 frame animations of 2 legs in 5 directions: going cross eyed is a thing. I basically stared at silly looking leg like blobs of huge pixels for 2 weeks straight to complete them. But you know what? They are some pretty good looking legs. This heroic effort also leveled up my pixel art skill dramatically which was a side effect I had planned on.

Needing a break from art I broke the game in order to completely redo the way you control weapons. Planning on this for some time I had a lot to do. This control update also included the first inklings of an item system by storing all the variables for all the weapons and the different types of ammo in a 2D array that is essentially the global item list.

As for the control changes – the old layout included all of these buttons as combat buttons:

Q, E, R, Z,  Ctrl, Shift, Space, Left Mouse, Right Mouse, Mouse Wheel Up, Mouse Wheel Down, Middle Mouse.

To be fair, these 12 buttons gave you access to a formidable armada but it was tough to jump into and start peeling away at the thing for your average gamer. This is bad game design. I knew it, but for where I was at in development, that layout served it’s purpose.

For reference you had at your fingertips the following weapons and abilities: Tech 9, Energy Sword, Rail Gun, Shotgun, Missile Launcher, Grenade Launcher, Ion Cannon, Blink, Ammo Rush, Toggle Buff, Bullet Time and Turbo Speed.

7 weapons and 5 abilities not including the Dive move which you activate by double tapping a direction key (WASD). The new scheme greatly simplifies the weapons system and removes Ctrl and Z from the buttons list entirely. The abilities are left intact however core gameplay revolves around Turbo Speed (Space) and Bullet Time (Shift) and I am unsure on exactly how but you will probably have only Q and E for active abilities with a toggle on R or something.

mouse1

Now, let’s picture the mouse and think about how we can cram as much versatility into the thing as possible without being unwieldy. This is a moving target of course depending on the player, but there are gameplay changes in place to help with this problem.

What I came up with I believe to be somewhat elegant: left mouse button controls your characters left hand and right mouse button controls their right hand.

You can have one alternate weapon in each hand, which you access by flipping mouse wheel up to cycle your left weapon or mouse wheel down for right. That is probably the most difficult part to get used to, but it provides loads of versatility. Finally you can click middle mouse to equip a “big” or two handed weapon. This weapon has a primary attack (left mouse button) and a secondary (right mouse button). Click middle mouse again to cycle back to your dual wield set.

This provides 6 total weapons all accessed through the mouse and activated through left or right clicks. With a number of visual and audio cues it is quite apparent what weapons you are wielding at any given time.

In the video you will notice in the upper right corner the new stat block which details your characters current stats. Below the icons are your weapons, those sprites are all weapon specific and the small colored bars adjacent to them represent their rate of fire and are color coded. The sight lines drawn from your characters weapons to the crosshair are color coded to the weapons as well. You may also notice the new muzzle flashes when firing and those have unique sprites, colors and animation speeds.

The hardest part of course was actually producing the individual weapon sprites. Each weapon needs a sprite for each of the 5 key directions, lucky for me anything is easier to draw than those damn legs so this was actually quite a pleasure! Coding the logic for where each sprite is located based on player position was no walk in the park though.

With the color coded muzzle flash, sight line, fire rate bar and unique menu sprite and weapon sprite, visually we’re getting there. Combine all of these and you have a fairly unique visual feedback signature based on what weapon is in your hand each time you fire.

What about the sound though?? No shooter is complete without the pewpew after all. With that in mind I’ve acquired some decent sound assets that are working great with the new 3d sound system. Sounds all vary based a ‘listener’ reference position which I attach to the player. The environment emits ambient sounds now and even individual projectiles make noise as they fly past you (Doppler effect and all!). Listen for the trickle of water from the streams, sound of the windmill and pulse from the power converters!


That covers most of the big stuff and I need to eat this pizza, but thanks for checking Kite out. Catch you next time!

10/02/2014 Update

We’re back and we’re in high def! Everything is prettier!

 

Got my capture software sorted – it’s a lot harder than you think to get good capture software that will do fullscreen games at 60 fps without slowing down.

 

Put huge work into art assets and visuals: updated explosions, shrapnel physics, new plantlife, apple trees (that drop apples yay!), targeting, UI font, smoke trails, all kinds of stuff!

 

Implemented a sort of parallax scrolling technique for tall objects – really adds depth to the level and makes tall things like the solar tree look really huge. When you’re far away from a tall object, it’s top section moves towards the outside of the screen, as you approach it the top section moves back towards center and then as you walk away it again moves towards the edge of the screen.  Hard to explain, and actually kind of hard to see in the video.  Here are some screen capture examples that hopefully illustrates the effect:

scrollexample_1Notice the height of the willow tree, it goes up as you go down
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See the willow leaves hanging down quite low on the tree

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Here you can see the leaves moving up the tree as your view moves down past it.

The trees and bamboo are randomized as far as their right or left orientation, color balance, height and width and what kind of fruit they drop. This means that I can outfit environments with very few unique objects but still get that resulting diversified look. This will be one of my main techniques for environment building as I continue to add new assets.

 

As far as gameplay is concerned I’ve cleaned up the movement a lot to avoid getting stuck on walls and I’m quite pleased with it’s current implementation. On that note I added a dash move that has no resource costs and a small cooldown that you can activate when double tapping a direction on the keyboard. Quite handy for times when you’re out of energy or jam and you need to evade.

 

Also implemented what I’m calling ‘Aspects’, Currently there are just two, a defensive melee one and a ranged dps one, you toggle between them with the ‘Z’ button and it makes a sound and changes the color of your character aura. So far really fun flipping between them according to the situation.


Ok well that covers enough bases for now. Back to the grindstone!

Dev update late August 2014

Hello again friends!

As expected every time I post it’s been longer than the last! Perhaps I can buck the tradition next time. However between buying a house, moving and visiting the family at the cabin I’ve had plenty of reason to stall. Yes in other words I’ve gotten very little done!

As for what I have accomplished, I have a protoype ‘roof top’ level that is coming to gether nicely and currently serves as really the only playable content. New art assets abound and game play mechanics are polishing up nicely. I’ve added a couple new enemies and some environmental objects. Half depth structures like flower beds are functioning and I can now easily add new features in a jiffy.  All and all I’ve got a decent engine going and I’ve honestly been struggling most with what direction to point in for development. Add more enemies? More weapons? Or keep cranking on art and sound? Should I develop the other progression mechanics, or polish the UI?

I think I know the answer, and it’s the hardest one. Wish me luck!

Kite gameplay with commentary 7/7/14

Well it’s been just long enough that I can show off some progress. I’ve been hard at work on hit detection, aiming, depth accuracy and most heavily, ai. I’ve reduced the gene pool to just two enemies: little guys that have a short ranged attack + speed buff which I call the chargebot and the laser drone who is a pretty average looking oval fella with a laser cannon.

Gone are the days of enemies sitting in place waiting for you to take pot shots, I’ve added a wander and aggro mechanic. They have improved pathing around walls although not by much and they have different movements based on range and what powers they have on cooldown.

They’re far from genius but they’ve made the gameplay more dynamic. I’ve added creep spawners that pop out charge bots every so often and have to be capped. You’ve got to cap ’em all and kill all the creeps to progress. It’s feeling more and more like a game, which is encouraging!

I’ve also most recently set to work on creating a basic talent tree or skill system. Right now you’re getting one point to spend every 5 levels on one of 6 upgrades: dash,rail,missiles,nades,sword or ammo. Mostly a proof of concept but I cranked out some little icons to make them pretty and it hasn’t been insanely difficult to get the talent arrays worked out. They provide buffs to they’re respective weapons and abilities.

As always, much more to come but for now I’m happy with the pace of things. Thanks for checking me out!

First game play footage of Kite the game

Well I’ve come a ways people! I’m evolving rapidly on the game systems front while remaining almost completely stagnant with artwork. However game play itself is a delight in my opinion (heavily biased)!

Video includes my rambling and random musings as commentary. Please let me know any ideas questions or comments you might have! Thanks for watching and reading!

A Shoot 'em up for thinkers. Kite will test your aim as your brain puzzles through enemy defenses while rescuing scientists!

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