Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh man holy cow jeez I need to not neglect this so much I say that every time BUT NOTHING CHANGES anyway hey again gang. This will be a longy, but hopefully goody as I give you a little glimpse into my development habits.

The question always comes up after huge droughts like these "Are you still working on Life+?" Yes. Unless I make a blog post saying "Sorry guys, I quit Life+" then it's still on. I'm actually working on it a lot more lately! Consistently, even. Previously whenever somebody asked me how I keep with it so long, I'd give the cheaterly answer of "I just like working on it."

It's true, I really do! However, it's also sort of work like which makes me put it off. Recently I read a normal forum post basically (I'm paraphrasing here) saying that working based on enjoyment was silly and it should be a daily habit.

He was so completely right!

So, it's finally after however many years become a daily habit. I'm still glacially slow, but I have consistency now. There's several hours in a day that I find to work on it, otherwise I feel fidgety and nobody likes that.

Anyway, all of that aside, where is the game right now?

About three weeks ago, it was here:

A sort of Descent-ish HUD on the bottom, SNES resolution because I'm clearly making a homebrew SNES game and must adhere to it, for the greatest purity of feeling. Everybody knows it's the resolution that made those games great. A bunch of empty holes to be filled by various HUD items as you found them. This was exceedingly silly, because if these features are important (they are) why show where they would go without so much as a hint as to what they do?

Then I thought that was all very silly and did this, about a week ago:

In a fit of passionate rebellion to myself I expanded and molded the HUD into a wobbly little mess of empty boxes at a groundbreaking 320x256 resolution. Everything vanished and the world looked absolutely nutty. Look at that. That's weird, man. I grew to like this new resolution. Everything was still all dithered and fake color limited like in the good old SNES days, though. The screen felt horribly lonesome and sad though, so I did this:

About five days ago I was here, and I forgot to tell OO that he wasn't wading in acid anymore so he was still glowing a bit if you look closely (this glitch has since today been fixed). You may notice the art style changed a bit. Yeah! With help from the good folks at TIGsource I realized that over dithering complicated things and didn't match any of the character art I did ever, making things look messy and rough. Super Metroid had great graphics, that doesn't mean I had to match it in dots per millimeter. I decided to add a minimap, which only shows half of the rooms available, basically giving you a main route to follow from gate to gate.

That's another thing! Between sections of the world map there are gate sections that separate places, similar to the elevators of Metroid or the different looking sections of wall in La Mulana, or the gates in Blaster Master that made cool sounds when you went through them and went "NOW ENTERING AREA x". They have conveyor belts and everything.* I've been doing a ton of concept sketches at this point, and finally fell into my rhythm of working daily. I made special effects that I sketched, I drew a robot and did its pixel art in the same hour. Its AI that would take about a half hour not withstanding, it was finished. That felt pretty sweet.

It's still pretty empty though. I can't count how many times I've redone this room.

*Or they will when they are finished.

Yesterday I was here, but this isn't all that important. I typically create things in separate .GM7 files and then mix them into the game (other than things that involve platform dynamics, this works great, actually!) for use with other objects, which is why there is a border in these screen shots. I don't like borders, but maybe I will include them in the final game. A note of some joy for myself: This effect fails to visibly lag on computers with as little as .7 GB of RAM despite having a couple thousand instances active.

Earlier today I was here. I turned on debug mode and gave myself all of the items, and filled out the HUD. It wasn't empty, but the game screen was. Man, look at this place. It's so gloomy and empty. I mean, sure, there's dragonflies but they don't say anything. I can't even throw rocks at them and make them explode. The HUD was bothering me now. I went into TIG's IRC and found out every reason why, there were lots of them. It was cluttered, it was a bar (that took me a while to get), things were different sizes and roundnesses, the last one was the wrong shape, and the numbers were 4x3 font. Also, the whole thing was kind of cluttered and cramped. It wasn't what I wanted. Ergo, I can tell you the functions of the now defunct little indicators (keep in mind that you would have to find items to gain these effects, and still do):

Blue would tell you how heavy the ground was, and if you could lift it. I now plan to have the ground jostle a bit if you can't pluck up a piece of it but are close to able to, for instance if you pick up ground of weight 2 but have strength of 1. Green would blink as you entered a room or a part of a room if the room was 1 grid space away from an item. Now, I just plan on playing a little tone, with a slightly more excited tone if you enter a room with the item. Yellow would light up if you were near a hidden passage. Now, I plan to just have passages visually alert you of their presence. The red one was an enemy alert, which brightened up when you were near a threat. I'm not sure if I'll have that anymore, but if I do I plan on making it a drop down thing from the middle of the screen.

About ten minutes ago I went on to make a little mockup based on some of the issues, but not all of them. This was just messy and weird, but I made it within the day. This was the screenshot that really drove home something that the folks at #TIGDev confirmed for me: A bar HUD prooobably would not work for LIFE+ no matter how badly I wanted it to.

Eightish minutes ago I got a little frustrated and spawned some enemies to jump on at the start of the tutorial area. They satisfyingly exploded into sparkles, but the confetti isn't done yet so they didn't do that. As I was also invincible and at full health, they also failed to drop recovery food. As I was unlucky, I didn't get any money from them.

Five minutes or so ago I realized I forgot to make a background for messy pipeline areas like this, so I have something else to do tonight.

Right now I'm here. The interface goes offscreen at an angle when you're at max health and push a button. Your health comes in all by itself when you pick up health. The money and keys icons each come in alone when you pick up money or keys. Had I given myself the item, I'd have the map in the upper right, which would come in to tell you NO DATA for a brief second if you wandered into an area off the grid. Granted, that happens very rarely when you collect the second map item, which gives you a to scale, accurate to room shape mini map.

Coincidentally, "joy" is in the filename.

I really like where the HUD is now. Thanks, guys!

And as always, sorry for being so dull to follow. I'm probably going to start a TIGSource progress thread, which I will link here. I'll make an effort to update this more in the meantime, but as I lack home internet it'll be an ear play.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Whoops, haven't finished the title screen yet.

There is this, though.

So, before Blogger went down, there was a comment on my last post askin' me about progress. I guess that's a pretty fair question! I wish the maintenance whatever didn't eat the comment, but:

-The story is completely written. It's organized sort of akin to Mother 3, in a chapter format. Since it's a Metroidvania, this basically just means map states and instance presence. Doing certain things will roll the chapter forward, and doing certain things can revert the map, but keep you on the same chapter since you've already done stuff prior.

-The bosses have been designed. On paper and some in code, few in pixels, however!

-The items have all been made. I have to draw and write out a lot of files, though. As far as main map crossing powerups are concerned though, they've been done since about day one.

-The game's engine is done. Again. I dunno if I should ever call it done though, because of optimizing and removing redundant things and general streamlining that happens. Basically, it's playable and is being steadily improved upon.

-The overall map is not complete yet. It's divided into 12-ish sectors, each of which has multiple visual motifs that need another tileset, a 'scenic route' that connects two distant areas, at at least one 'dungeon' sort of place which needs a unique tileset. Since I've downsized tiles to 16x16 for the sake of space onscreen I've had to redo a bunch of tiles, for instance:

Ignore the stuff on the bottom, it's just title resources.

You've probably seen that tileset or something similar a couple times if you've been following Life+ for a while. It's still being remade. Aside from actual gameplay tiles, I have to make a tileset for the mode7-ish world map. I am plugging away at all of these, though! O

Speaking of the map, I wanna talk about an important aspect of it that'll be vital to beating the game. Nothing that you won't learn early on, so it's a basic of the game that I feel okay sharing. The things that will support you are robots. Super-robots, to be specific. I briefly mentioned a couple of them back in the art spam post. There are a total of three that you'll be running into, LIZA1, RISE5, and GEMIN8. So, I guess I'll introduce em in order of appearances.


The first super-robot you encounter is RISE5, a defunct computer network spanning the entire island. He handled things like floodgates and the island's version of the internet, food production, power production, and general utilities. He has interface terminals here and there, but most of his kernels aren't working, limiting his functionality. Despite this, his terminal can provide you with some snippets of local information that'll help you solve any puzzle. Once he's repaired, he'll be able to provide you with everything from information to spaceships. RISE5 facilities can be identified by the presence of large glass eyes that come in five colors: Red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
LIKES: Geothermal energy, gardening


LIZA1 is the old onboard AI that served as a companion to people living aboard the Eliza Space Station allegedly orbiting the planet. Chunks of her and the station litter the ocean and mountains. Though a lot of her terminals have been vandalized, she can provide you with maps and files. Even more important than this, however, are her convenience centers! There is one in each sector. At them you can save, recover your energy, as well as teleport to any currently operational convenience center. She knows a lot of history, and is always happy to share everything she can. However, because she is a fairly old model super-robot she has no speech synthesizers like RISE5 and has to communicate by installed printers. If she's out of paper, she might just make a face and hope you get it. LIZA1 centers can be identified by expressive black and green spheres.
LIKES: Solar energy, debating


GEMIN8 is... Actually, let's not talk about this guy. It's bad luck. He lives in a very dark place and breathes lightning. You'll know when you see him. At any rate, nobody talks about him much. If you're really interested, I'm sure something's written somewhere. The island does have plenty of office space underground, after all.

The super-robots are all over the island. Just like their normal robot companions, they might not work the best as their systems are sort of neglected. Talking to them is almost never required, even if you use their facilities, but it's very helpful. You might walk past them sometimes even if something important happened and just carry on. No forced navigation room exposition stuff, but if you walk past LIZA1 she might frown. Anyway - Despite the presence of them on Love Island, some (read: most) places are completely cut off from them. Anyway, I forget what the rest of the comment was asking for as far as status was concerned... As always though, if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave some!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Though the blog hasn't updated in a long time, Life+ isn't gone by any means. Sorry if you've been worried!

It's been hiding?

I keep trying to make bigger and bigger updates but I think that's silly now. Will be trying to post more often, but you know me. Let's try getting in the swing of small progress reports!

Right now, I'm working on the title screen to replace the old one.

The N■.■aaa■O logo has to go, too. I've also grown to dislike that little title quip about space junk.

So I'll be posting that when it's done. Hey, I might do two updates in a night. Wouldn't that be something!