Saturday, January 18, 2014


It's pretty common for small changes to be made to a game's design during development, but there's one thing I always end up going back to and changing completely. Powerups. More specifically, powerups that you have for a short period of time, or lose when you get hit a couple times.

Think of something like Bubble Bobble or Mario, both have fun and unique mechanics. The idea behind powerups in those games is to compliment those mechanics, and add a little flavor to make the game more dynamic on a moment-to-moment basis. The problem is, do you include a temporary double jump powerup that can appear anywhere, and miss out on having a permanent upgrade for the same thing? (which would open up new areas metroid style)

I often decide to include a ton of powerups early in development, only to decide later that I'd prefer to have them as items you obtain permanently. The reason being that I like games with exploration, and without something to obtain, what reason is there for the player to explore? I want levels to have nooks and crannies, and I want the player to actually have a good reason to try and find them. Collectibles don't cut it either, unless they add up to something amazing.

Looking back, I think the lack of things to find is the biggest problem I have with both Kuro and Eroico. Eroico has the excuse of being simple by design, but all Kurovadis had was upgrades you could get by leveling up anyway, and everything else you needed to progress. I think the idea of nooks and crannies and a world that feels like it has depth is something I need to put more attention into as I make more games.

Also, I've decided not to hire a CG artist this time around. I'll probably be hiring someone for the next game, though.

I'm currently coming up with a style for the CGs. To match the in-game graphics, I'm probably going to go with something bit more simplified.

Other than that...demo? Eventually -__-


  1. that looks very good, i never had a problem with your cg i thought they looked good. but i mostly played for the animated stuff anyway. Looking at your work makes me want to make a game even more, i started on character designs but i have no idea where to start as in the game design since i never programmed, but i wanna make a Megaman X/ Streets of Rage Hybrid style game. any pointers?

  2. Oh god, the art looks gorgeous! But I'm not too sure how I feel about Pigmen...

    About powerups; I think some permanent upgrades and some traditional pickups would work well, especially randomly appearing traditional pickups with some "scripted" pickups like a star at the beginning of a Super Mario stage filled with piranha plants that you have to walk across

    I also liked how that one special powerup in the beginning or Eroico was entirely unique and would be lost if you were hit, but at the same time you became extremely powerful with it.

    1. That powerup in Eroico was more of an oversight than anything else. -__-

      When I moved on to design the rest of the game, I kind of forgot that it existed. I should have had it in other parts of the game. (A one time thing is neat, but probably not appealing to the average player who would lose it pretty much instantly). Plus if I wanted it to be a unique thing, I could have had one for each of the levels, and then some super secret ending if you got them all and made it to the end, then maybe it would have been more meaningful.

      As for a pigman enemy, Kind of impossible to have 20+ enemies and not have a single one that some people won't like.

    2. The graphics for this look so good. I've always loved old 2D platformers. I have to agree about the pigmen enemies but the fact you said you're going to have over 20 enemies makes it better. It would be nice if you had a variety of girl enemies and bosses. The game looks great I'm looking forward to it

  3. I actually sent you a email 12 or so hours back if you were remotely interested in hiring me and then you post this lol. Oh well, I have to thank you because you got my butt drawing : x

    For CG style you could try going for simple coloring that Harada Takehito does (Disgaea, Phantom of the brave, etc)

    Incidentally kind of out of the blue but are you a big retro sega fan? I always kinda liked the Monster World 4 look...

    1. I was actually going to respond to you before posting this, but I wanted to give you some critiques at the same time, so I figured I'd just post this now and respond tomorrow with more detail.

      To be honest I wouldn't really call myself a fan of anything. I like a lot of things, but I tend not to cling to any one thing in particular. I've never actually seen monster world, so I'll have to give it a look, since it looks interesting.

  4. For Kurovadis I think the answer would've been to just remove the experience system, since your character's stats would only increase through powerups the player would have a huge incentive to explore. I think this is how most games encourage exploration, Eroico included. Other options would be exploring for new levels (Super Mario World), exploring for optional story content (Bioshock had those audio-things, Psychonauts had these hidden comics that offered grim backstory for characters) and then, of course, there's the possibility of hidden H-content.

  5. I think of powerups in term of mario most of the time. In the 2D marios the powerups are aids. You can technically beat the game without them, so they just help you out is all they do. I don't really like those types of powerups very much. It's really hard to manage game difficulty or make it fair since people might think "my character's not at a 100%" this isn't fair when it's really "my character's not at 200%.."

    Super Mario 64 did powerups so much better. As a temporary boost that didn't just change his overall strength they were awesome. They changed HOW he played and were necessary to beat some levels. The fact that they were temporary made them super desirable and I think the game just handled their overall use extremely well.

    So I wouldn't say to take out powerups, but if you have them, I think it'd be cool to make them more prevalent.

    The other worry you had was encouraging exploration right? You did a good enough job with that in Kurovadis imo. It's just the paths didn't branch enough... but that's because the game was smaller. There's really nothing wrong with that. It encouraged exploration to the point of Metroid which is very commendable I think.

  6. Ahh, powerups. One thing I wonder about them in many games, related to difficulty:

    Should powerups cancel out when you get hit?

    On the one hand, this gives players something to shoot for besides "survive" -
    avoiding getting hit actually really benefits you.
    On the other hand, this widens the gap between good players and bad players -
    good players will keep the powerup throughout the level, making it easier to clear,
    while the bad players struggle even more than they normally would.

    Maybe this should tie into the difficulty setting? I feel like for a jump-n-run,
    adding multipliers to damage and armor doesn't properly scale difficulty,
    sometimes it downright breaks enemies (because the one dodge move is irrelevant if enemies die in 2 hits)
    What you really want is for difficulty to affect stuff like
    - powerups don't cancel if you get hit on easy (unless it's an obvious "more life" powerup like mario's mushroom)
    - game runs at 0.75% normal speed on easy (this makes difficult jumps dramatically easier to get)
    - checkpoints occur more often and with more convenient mechanics on easier settings

  7. I really like the art there, the protagonist looks pretty cute, but also kind of tough in a way!

    I'll be waitin' patiently for a demo!

  8. This game has been brought up countless times before, but I feel that Nightmare Sphere set a really good standard for various kinds of pick-ups. There were stat-increasing powerups, numerous enough to bolster the levelling system without invalidating either; there were movement-enhancing powerups which completely changed the game later on; and there were a variety of new weapons and magic to pick up, some of which had very unique effects.

    Although its development is currently indefinitely postponed, I think Nightmare Sphere 0 started by moving in the best direction possible compared to the first game: adding more variety to the same basic system. There were various new weapons within the original pre-existing types, so rather than just selecting between the only sword and the only hammer, you might have to pick between a short and fast dagger or a slower sword with longer reach.

    That it also added sub-weapons was another step in a great direction. Picking up a particular powerup with a timer is interesting in its own way, but many times it simply serves as an obvious tool for getting through a certain area, because powerups usually activate immediately on pickup. When it comes to subweapons, however, the player has to choose carefully when and where to use (or not to use) them. The throwing knives in Iris Action, for example, were a boon for the long range attacks they provided, but at the same time they were limited in number so you couldn't just 'gatling-knife' every enemy to death. Having the kind of powerup that the player can stock up on like that can really help encourage them to explore to find more of it.

    Yet another player-enticing option would b e some form of an upgrade system. Even if there aren't different weapons for the character to equip, maybe there could be a way of upgrading their basic attack, either by increasing the damage directly, or by adding combo hits, say by starting with a 2-hit combo, and can upgrade one hit at a time to a 6-hit combo. Using that example, if it takes 1 upgrade object for the first upgrade, 2 for the second, and so on, you've already added 10 objects which you can thoroughly hide throughout the game, and yet most players will continue to actively seek them out, because they influence the playable character's most basic behavior. While still technically a permanent powerup, splitting it into tiers like this gives you more to work with. And obviously, an upgrade that increases combo hits is just an idea; only you know the mechanics of the game well enough to know what, if any, kind of upgrades would suit it best.

  9. It looks very good so far, and looks like its very well thought out too. Cant wait to see what you've pulled off in a release :)

  10. Holy balls this looks good. I can't wait to see the demo! :D

  11. My instant thought would be to have certain items, very rare to get, in the beginning of the game that allows for temporary use of the power ups you get later on. That could add to whole new areas being opened up early on, as well as hidden areas you could play around with and just go wild on.

    For example, the double jump power-up. A mob that spawns and is killed by you has a 5% chance to drop the item, and you pick it up. Not wanting to use it right away, you save it. Then you move on through the stage till right before the boss fight. You can then notice a legde above the boss fight that allows you, with double jump used, to access an extra area, randomized or strategically placed, that could do some cool things.

    Like allows you to view a scene of the boss fighting an npc before hand so you can see it's moves and developing tactics for it, or you could add in a health or damage upgrade that makes the boss a little bit easier.

  12. I had a thought about a way you could encourage exploration and use a more spread out power up system, rather than using lots of temporary power ups you could use a similar system to kuro but rather than getting exp (in rather unlimited quantities) you could have the character collect a limited resource like the coins I saw in that picture, these would add up to the permanent power-ups for your character and you could place larger amounts of them in hidden areas that you needed skill or a particular ability to obtain

  13. Good to see some news. I wonder though, are the character colors shown in the screens a permanent choice? I remember you listing different choices on some forum in the past, and I must say that, for example, brown hair looked better. Of course, tastes differ.

    As for powerups, I am surely more for permanent upgrades. Temporary ones may seem more dynamic, but it is offset, especially in case of weaker players, by the hits or lack of speed that make them run out/get disabled before player will really enjoy them. Permanent ones don't have this issue and on top of that they offer one thing quite some people value - a feeling of progress, of development; the kind of thing which is one of the reasons people play RPGs, too, something that brings satisfaction when the player looks back and can say that now their character became something more because of how they played the game.

    I liked somewhat simple, but tasteful system of Kurovadis. It allowed above while also providing 'wiggle space' for players of different skills - different stats for different ways of playing the game, ability to make up what one lacked in skill with a few more levels. I suspect that lot of complaints about difficulty of Eroico stemmed from the fact one couldn't do such things anymore.

  14. The game looks gorgeous. Your skills are defiantly leveling up.

  15. The graphics for this look so good. I've always loved old 2D platformers. I have to agree about the pigmen enemies but the fact you said you're going to have over 20 enemies makes it better. It would be nice if you had a variety of girl enemies and bosses. The game looks great I'm looking forward to it

  16. I'll be here, waiting patiently for a demo. I open up your page about... 4-5 times a week looking for updates.

  17. permanent ups are definitely the way to go in my opinion,it's really bothersome to lose them over small mistakes

  18. Can you share simple source for platfom mechanics?
    Making 2D platform game with GMS is really hard for me :(
    ...that was just joke. I'll make my own source.
    I just wanted to say that now I can understand how difficult it is.
    Keep doing, and take some rest sometimes.
    Also, I'm trying to make a metroid-like game, but I think it could show up after 5-7 yrs from now 'cause I have started from learning GML...

    I think my words were pointless.
    I just wanted to encourage you.

    1. I will be making a template after this game is complete.

  19. Why bother with temporary power-ups when you can make them constant? All of them, except outright all-crushing invincibility.
    Those of them that make the game rather easy? Think of Eroico. Strip the starting character of his shield and blaster, give him crappy sword. Hide those at heart shards locations.
    Make him find them. Make him choose between reliable shield and barrier generator, which recharges one-hit bubble four-eight seconds after each hit.
    Make him choose between sword with powerful fire slash and sword with free mid-range projectile.
    Make him choose between slo-o-owly self-charging homing blaster and non-homing mass-attack blaster.
    Then make empowering altars boost all of those. He can take both, boost both but use only one at time.
    And place heart shards in bubbles, heh-ha.

    Speaking of Kuro and Eroico - I did dislike simplification of latter very much. No free exploration, no loot, no plot, no stats, no experience, no choice of weapons. Nice sprites, but that is all.
    And could you make jumping business a bit easer, at least at the main route? Getting trough red flicker blocks and spikes is quite unpleasant. There was only one equally annoying place in Kuro, but that was electrified vertical passage to optional power-up, not the main way.
    And I will be very grateful for addition of the unlimited flying equipment(wings, jetpacks, whatever) at the future games - no matter how many tough enemies will be guarding it.
    Aerial combat is awesome - dives, evasion maneuvers, lots of projectiles, getting back from above at most annoying foes, no longer dealing with spiky perversion. An if you do want to use lots and lots of jumpy spikes and bottomless chasms, you can flood earlier levels with them. That much more reasonable than placing those in main evil person palace. Unless he cold fly... which returns us to the idea of aerial combat.

    Mario and BB are relatively ugly, boring, and stupidly plotless. Metroid, RockmanX, CptClaw and Castlevania, hell, even InTheHunt are much better.
    If I harmed some feelings - I do apologize, but certain inspirations are better than others.

  20. To the point - nothing important should be temporary. I.e. attack & movement types(like combos, new weapons and double jumps), everything that has its own animation, everything that changes character in way other than stats numbers.
    Damage/speed/defense/experience/money boosts, invulnerability, invisibility are as fine as candy.

  21. YES, THE AMOUNT OF TOMBOY-ISHNESS PLEASES ME. ( dude, seriously, the sketches look real cute. As in, make merchandise with it - I'll buy it, haha)

  22. This looks splendid, keep up the good work!