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.