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Embraced 0.01
Posted on February 28, 2017 at 20:26

Well it's been a while, so much for this project, let's move on to the current one. Which will most likely get abandoned half-way through, more on that later, so read on!

The Abstract
I made a plagiarized sprite for the hell of it and I figured that it should be accompanied by a game. I mean, taking a sprite and setting it as a custom hat on Duck Game after 5 minutes of editing so it fits the game's dimensions a sprite artist makes you, right?. That's like writing your name on a scrap of paper and decide you should become a book author. After re-purposing another abandoned project, a few days went by and I meekly posted this on the watcha doin' blog/thread/thing.

Before I continue, and as a heads up for whoever has ran into a similar issue: if eagerly trying out surfaces on GM for the first time and you're getting some "surface doesn't exist" error, throw a check in the step event and re-create it if it doesn't exist. No tutorial I'd looked up mentioned it. Ever. Pair it up with me and my gpu fiddling tendencies that stretch every possible game window to the screen size on boot and turns out that GM deletes surfaces on window re-sizing/fullscreening, causing the surface to disappear and the game to crash. It's caused my lack of will to give up on very early projects more than once.

Following are my thoughts on this whole ordeal in no particularly insightful order.

I see the light
Wow, what a new world of possibilities 2D lighting brings. It's like an extra dimension of complexity I probably didn't need when designing levels. At least special effects look really pretty. I last-minute decided to use them as HP indicators on player characters. The dimmer your light is, the closer you are to death. We'll see where it takes me, since you can use any sprite as a damn light source. Spotlights, torches, lasers, lamps, explosions, flashlights... What do I even do with all these potential applications?

Oh right, what's all this about?
embraced.gmx aims to be a momentum-focused 2D platform shooter. Most people can imagine what the concepts 2D, platform and shooter mean. By momentum-focused I mean fine-tuning that elusive easy-to-pick-up-yet-hard-to-master quality that all great reflex+skill-based games have by, in this case, having your bullets' speed and direction affected by your character's own speed and direction. It makes the transition from bland to brilliant if pulled off right. Think this blast from the past, but with character gravity. And you can effectively perform an air-jump by shooting at the floor with your shotgun. Or jetpack with a machinegun. Or drag someone accross the ground with your bullets by running in their direction, since your shots inherit your speed (and extra pushback force).

At its best it means being able to pull off stupid fun stunts like shooting the unexpecting foe from a very surprising angle (after all, the character can only aim up/down/left/right). I did code a currently broken style score for each player for this very purpose, someday it'll take into account things like airshots, angle, speed, fall-to-death from bullet impact, and other fun, hard to code, trigonometry-influenced, performance-killing, completely pointless variables.

At its worst it's a janky mess where no bullet goes where the player wants it to unless he/she sits perfectly still, making everyone frustrated and unhappy.

I can't say I'm very sure on how far on whichever side of the spectrum the game's currently lying.

Walk up the hill before you scale the mountain
Nonsense, pseudo-deep headings aside, I thought going through getting a playable prototype out the door focused on multiplayer deathmatch would be the most sensible path. Once that's done, gather feedback, add features, refine stuff, get a really solid base on which to base an actual start-to-finish game. I want the underlying tech to feel good, I want the player to feel like they know what they're doing when shooting in apparently pointless directions, just to get a jump on the enemy, or get the health pickup, or to deny a critical path to an enemy.

Once I feel there's a reliable foundation to build upon, I'll get going with the nitty gritty story and NPCs and whathaveyou. I believe that with a game of these characteristics, engine/game feel first, everything else later, is a good strategy. (I do have *some* idea of where to push this towards in terms of setting, but let's not get ahead of ourselves) As if I'd ever typed those words before.

Besides, if it gets scrapped or abandoned, there's something to show for it, even if it's seen through "what it could've been" lens.

Camera scaling, pixels, mixels and their ilk
So I set up a rather simple camera system, that scales the view depending on players' positions, makes it all scroll around nice and smoothly, but I've encountered an issue with this on a low pixel density project (and everything is scaled 2x already!)

How do I avoid annihilate weird, ugly, pixel scaling nonsense?

What magical settings in GM's view variables do I need to play with? Is that a hopeless approach and should I just upscale every sprite at 4x, or 8x? Here's what I mean. See how, despite being a really low-res sprite game, it just scales back and forth really, really smoothly with the camera zooming in and out. Yeah Duck Game again.

Gee golly! This sounds mildly enticing! How may I test this out?
Right, so here's the rather rough, basic, yet completely playable prototype. If you download it and try it out (warning: ONLY potentially fun with IRL companions, each of which requiring their own input device, due to the nature of the game, be it an xbox or ps3 controller, though I've only tested with xbox controllers, so your mileage may vary, check out x360ce though) I very humbly beg of you to provide some kind of feedback regarding anything that has to due with the game. I was severely dissapointed with my impromptu QA team (some dudes I must've spent over thousands of hours playing videogames with) to not provide any input asides from "yeah it's ok".

I'd rather be severely negatively criticized into oblivion than hearing unbaked unchallenging thoughts on any subject.

The eventual, inevitable, insurmountable, project-destroying, mental roadblock
This has less to do with the project and more with any kind of (creative) endeavour. I'm pretty sure I'm not the first to come to terms with or ponder the statistical inevitability of being surpassed by someone else at whatever the hell it is you're doing with your life.

I mean, even if Mr. Legit Better than Thou doesn't quite match their project's vision with yours, it'll be: (choose all that apply)
Technically superior
More fun
Sound better
Feel better to use/play/<insert verb here>
Easier to install
Appeal to target demographics better
other stuff, mostly buzzwords

Thus filling the gap you were trying to embark on yourself. Why bother at that point? I was going to initially answer it with some post-modern "taking the autheur" bs route, but I don't think it cuts it. It'll get to anyone eventually, and once it's there, how you deal with it determines the future of your project.

Just wanted to drop it there, because I believe it bears mention.

yeah it's ok

Seriously. I just tried it, I only have one controller, so I jumped around and shot few shots.
Aiming up or down needs a better animation and it would be nice to be able to look down.
Everything else seems to be in place for this type of game.
Posted by Zuurix March 01, 2017 3:29 - 25 days ago
| [#1]

Tried it out on keyboard in single player mode (surprise surprise) and yeah, I agree with Zuurix XD. I think regarding aiming up and down, something to consider is the anchor point of the gun - I wonder if it might be more intuitive if the gun was lifted straight up rather than just the wrist turning, so all the directions revolve around the center of the player?

Other than that, I think it could be fun, I particularly enjoyed blasting myself off the ground - was one of my favourite parts of Quake haha. I think it'd be good if damage to the player was dealt when firing the more explosive weapons at close range (would making using that "double jump" more dangerous) - also maybe a grenade style weapon could be interesting considering the velocity based approach. That's my one cent XD.
Posted by spike1 March 13, 2017 13:51 - 13 days ago
| [#2]

Changing the pivot point from the wrist to the shoulder is in the official to-do list. Everyone that's given meaningful feedback has mentioned it. I didn't expect my lazy workaround to be as apparent.

For now I've included the possibility of bullets to explode, and create knock back (and therefore rocket jumps), and I've had the idea of implementing gravity-affected projectiles/grenades too, but those aren't in yet.

The latest and greatest version can be found here because I don't want to flood the recent blog area. srsly we need more people posting stuff

Thanks a lot for the feedback guys
Posted by Unaligned March 15, 2017 18:13 - 11 days ago
| [#3]

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