I’ve been making a LuaVerge middleware code wrapper in my spare time for some time now with the cooperation of Zeromus. I figured this week that the Gruedorf competition would be a fancy way to show off some of the features. It’s fairly spiffy. So I made a sidescrolling engine!
Get it here!
Now I can hear, “This looks kind of neat, but also really useless. What do you actually need a sidescrolling engine for? Why did you even bother porting it to Lua?”. At the moment, yes, it is a VERY useless engine. I put in the basic movement and jumping, nothing splashy. It’s a port of a port of a port of some silly code (VergeC -> Java (trouser engine) -> ika -> LuaVerge). I decided that of these languages, Lua’s probably one of the ones I’m finding most comfortable. VergeC’s crippled, Java’s too verbose, Python’s very nice, but ika’s got a bunch of quirks and a somewhat awful toolset. LuaVerge is nice, since now that I’ve got a useful Lua wrapper, I’ve tackled most of the quirks with using Lua to map nicely to the C functions (like int-to-boolean coercion always being true). Plus LuaVerge means I get to use a fairly nice scripting language, keep some familiar dev tools, and get software raster rendering rather than hardware texture rendering.
Signal is the codename for a sidescroller project that’s been bouncing in my head for months saying “do me, do me!” but I never got around to taking it past the idea stage. The game is going to be set in large explorable two-dimensional world with a nice mixture of action and puzzles. What makes this game different is the player has next to no abilities on their own. The player is in fact, quite frail alone. However, there are transmitting signal beacons scattered all throughout the world that can be interpretted by the player’s suit. When the player’s in range and has good reception, they obtain a variety of abilities and gain physical enhancements to strength, mobility and environmental resistance.
As you move around, some signals die out, while new ones are received. Environmental factors like thunderstorms or magnetic fields will interfere with the player’s ability for reception. Strategy comes into play as you maintain the signal beacons in order to advance, applying repairs, enhancing signal strength, pushing the beacon to another location to get it past environmental factors, or into range. In some areas, signals broadcasted by the beacons can be switched with another beacon’s power.
The signal you receive is interpretted in digital “levels”, where a low level denotes bad reception, and a high level denotes a great reception. As signal levels increase, so do the powers. Your physical appearance will fade in and morph as your strength increases, and you will also be able to see when you’re at risk of losing strength and abilities by a “static” distortion effect on various artwork. This is going to take lots of artwork layered on top of each other, but it’s almost essential to get a nice in-game display. I wanted the game to have a very minimal HUD, since too many little icon things on screen easily get distracting and confusing. Physical appearance changes, on the other hand, make it easier to see, and keep your eyes on the player in situations where it counts, like if there were to ever be an area with both signal interference and intense action. I was thinking when the game was paused, I’d give a more detailed view, but when the game is in action and you have to constantly monitor several factor that can get annoying. That way, you get the best of both worlds.
So what would be on the HUD? Probably just a minimap, your health which fades out when it’s not being affected, and (perhaps) the player’s weapon reception when it changes.
The game is going to try to keep exploration fairly free and non-linear, limited more by your cleverness than story factors. I’d ensure that hopefully the game can be beaten without getting stuck often, but have several rewarding things for those who go out of their way and explore the world in greater detail. I want to have puzzles, but I don’t want people to hate me for unbeatable puzzles in areas that are essential to completion of the game. I also don’t want frustratingly impossible action in the main portion of the game. I think challenging puzzles and intense action will have their place as side-quests, and I will try my best to make it interesting and rewarding enough to inspire the player to get through difficulty. Maybe an unlockable ending or something, but I’ll make sure that the player can actually go back if they missed something, because nothing pisses me off more than New Game+. I mean, it’s a cheap way to force replay. There are some things I don’t want to do over again. I mean, I love rewards. But please don’t make me replay the game just to get them. I mean, sure, I’ll replay games I really liked, but these are exceptions. If somebody wants to play my game once and get everything and be done with it, I want to leave that as an option. None of this stupid starting over and repeating painful game areas over just to get a goofy prize.
I don’t really like backtracking either, so it’s going to be minimized to a reasonable amount, because as nice I think my maps could be, I think variety is important. Exploration implies backtracking to an extent, but I will try to have multiple routes to locations, and make sure that you don’t go back and forth too often. Metroid and Castlevania both do well for the most part, but you can find the odd area where you have to do frustrating backtracking because you fall down a hole or something stupid. I want to avoid punishing the player wherever possible.
Oh, and here’s some old artwork I drew a while ago, but I’m not sure how much of it will actually be used for this project:
The mockup’s especially out of date, because the HUD’s way too cluttered for my tastes, and it doesn’t use the grass or water tiles I made. The grass tiles were going to have dirt tiles underneath, but I couldn’t find a satisfactory texture that had enough realism and tiled well. The water tileset has an example of the old dirt I had, but it’s too simple and flat in comparison to the bushy grass.
Darien drew this very sexy edit of my sprite:
I’d bug Darien to actually give me a hand on the project, but I know he’s busy with school overseas in Ireland. I could modify his sprite, but the problem is, there’s no way in hell I can animate something that large in efficient time. If I did anything it would most likely look ugly and unsatisfactory to me. Meanwhile, my hero sprite is too flat and not worth the time to animate. I’d rather use my weekly updates for code and design than drawing because I’m sufficiently bad at artwork.
Anyway, I’m done blabbing for now. If you are a talented pixel artist, drop me a line. I’ll want a hand with this project, because artwork is a big time-consuming ordeal for me. I’m also looking for a musician, ambient in the deserted map areas, but bombastic and epic in the action-filled areas (possibly with chiptunes). Comments? Concerns? Criticism?
See you next week.
Ahoy! It is I, Overkill, the mythical hero spoken highly of in delusional online legends! I am a 19-year old Canadian student in my second year at the University of Guelph, Ontario. I’ve always been creative and moderately talented, or have liked to think so, anyway. Since infancy, I’ve been playing a vast library of video games, and trying to make game ideas into a reality. I learned how to program in Grade 7, and now that I’m much older and wiser, I know a large palette of programming languages and know many ways not to finish a game project.Sadly, I haven’t really done anything notable with any of these talents, because of an encumbering mass of laziness. I guess I made a few demos or something, but do they really count? Pretty much all game projects I’ve had have lasted a maximum of three weeks before they’ve fallen. They were primarily nothing more than learning experiences, because I quickly grew annoyed or discouraged progressing these ideas further. So yes, you could say I’m just a giant mass of wasted talent.
What does a silly nobody like Overkill need a journal then? It’s clear he doesn’t get laid and isn’t making games. Isn’t this just going to turn into a repository of emotional whining about deprival and inactivity?
The answer is uncertain! However, I’m not alone– at least in the latter respect of not making games. In fact, this journal was inspired by McGrue and Kildorf, two of my most hated rivals (also: loved friends), who are currently engaged in fierce and valiant combat! Thrusting at each other with all varieties of magical crystals and sleepy-headed amnesiac protagonists, greater enormities are arising from the midst of this choas! Heroic magical artifacts, called VIDEO GAMES bubble and pop with mystical creative glowing energy. Mr. McGraw and Mr. Peveril are boastfully posting journal entries, and making weekly updates to their games in order to stir up competition and to instill shame in the lazy!
I thought I’d join this cruscade against laziness, and hence this journal! There is still hope. I have yet to decide on my game idea, but I will, soon. I don’t want to die in failure. Wish us all luck, and may this journalized game-makin’ battle yield desirable results!