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Shattered - Why Not Me: (ostensibly) a magical girl game

A topic by XCVG created Apr 09, 2020 Views: 751 Replies: 32
Viewing posts 1 to 22
Submitted (1 edit) (+3)

EDIT: It's done. Take a look at this post, and/or check out the submission page and project page.

Hi!

So I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be starting on this already so I've limited myself to throwing around ideas and not creating anything yet. With that being said, I'm 100% onboard so I thought I'd introduce myself, what I'm (probably) going to build, and how I'm going to go about it. Also, I have a spiffy (temporary!) title card I wanted to show off.


It says "visual novel" there but that's already on the rocks; I'm not sure if I'm going to do that genre or something else this time. The "for real this time" is a bit of an in-joke: visual novels are kind of cursed for me in that I've never finished one. Project Katana was cancelled and Whistler was never publicly released for various reasons. So maybe my challenge to myself should be to finally finish one of those?

Some of you might be looking at the codename and the bird and already figured out what one of the inspirations is. It's not going to be a major inspiration but it will be part of it.

I'm a professional software- but not game- developer who's been making games on the side for the better part of a decade now. The early ones were bad, the newer ones are also bad but a lot more complicated under the hood. My main project is Ascension III, a semi-open-world 3D RPG built in Unity, but I do a lot of smaller projects also. Honestly, I've been having more fun with the smaller, sillier projects lately. This will be the second jam I've done in a row (technically at the time of writing I'm still working on one), three if you count the mad dash to build Toilet Paper Panic in two days as a jam. What can I say, I can't go outside and I'm bored. Might as well make something of it.

Why did I decide to do this jam in particular? Mostly because it's different than most of the stuff I usually do. That, and the timing was right.

So, back to Lucidity. I'm probably going to do something story-driven, since I've been doing more gameplay-driven games lately. I have some story ideas in mind, but I'm struggling with two issues: not making it too dark, and avoiding plot elements with unfortunate implications.

For instance, an early draft of the intro sequence had that bird decapitated by a meteorite. That's very much definitively scrapped, but that should give you an idea of the type of story I normally go for.

More details to come!

HostSubmitted

Thank you for participating. Really appreciate it.

I'd prefer people only start doing the jam when the time starts, and only use the time before for brainstorming... but I did release the theme early and have no problem at all with people having a headstart and make the game before the jam starts.

Looking forward to what you are going to submit. Good luck ;)

Submitted

So I was hoping to have all the characters drawn by tonight... that was overly ambitious. I managed to get the main character done, barely.


This is our protagonist, Lady Briella Brukton. The daughter of a minor noble, she dreams of being a true knight, slayer of evil and protector of the innocent. By day, she fakes her way through the lessons and duties expected of a lady. By night, she duels trees and stable boys with a stick. She dreads the day when she will be married, which grows nearer each day. But soon, she will find herself in a fight she never asked for, with powers she can barely control...

...it's gonna be a weird game.

Submitted

I got a bit of a late start today- I struggled to get going but once I did I got quite a bit done.


I think I already failed my goal of "don't make it grimdark" with this intro. Although it starts off somewhat miserable, the story is pretty bright and hopeful in general. Or at least I like to think so.

Yes, this will be the final art style. Insert disclaimer about programmer art here. I should really find an artist but drawing the art is one of my favourite parts of the process.


Again, the concept art kind of already spoilers this part. This thing is going to be super hacked together but it should be playable at least. At least some bits of Whistler might finally see use.

Despite the codename and supposed inspiration, the soundtrack right now is my usual "random whatever from OpenGameArt" faire. In general this game has actually deviated pretty far from the original concept but I think what I have now will be pretty fun, that is if I can make it work.

Submitted

I finished up the second chapter- which is all narrative- today. My master plan is to build out all of the visual novel ish narrative sections first, then figure out the actual gameplay segments. I'm not even sure what those will look like at this point, so we may or may not have actual gameplay at the end. Originally, this was going to be a pure VN*, but then I figured that stating the protagonist has all these powers and not giving the player and opportunity to actually use them is kind of mean.

*It's worth noting that I have very little experience with the visual novel genre and thus this may end up as a very weird visual novel.

This looks way better in motion, even with only 5 or 6 frames. I was actually surprised at how well it worked- I might try to upload this bit as a GIF later.


And something happened to her hair! I'm pretty tired right now.

I've figured out the Brukton family and most of the other characters but I haven't drawn out any concepts other than Briella yet. Maybe later tonight but I think I'm done for today, so it might have to wait until tomorrow.

(+1)

Man, I'm here struggling with my unreleased webcomic because it doesn't look professional enough to me, and you draw art for your game and apparently it's also your favorite part of the process, despite it looking like "programmer art".

Huge respect from me on this. I should really approach art from a different mindset and drop my perfectionism because it apparently blocks me and denies any will to progress. This jam destroyed my art block and I have to thank the host for that. Let's see what I can do.

I'll definitely play your game if you finish it, XCVG. It's eye opening to see someone not being afraid to draw, no matter their skill level.

Submitted(+1)

It's hard, in a way. With art, but also with games in general. I still struggle with a kind of lack of confidence imposter syndrome complex when it comes to publishing and showing my games. I look around and see some incredibly professional, incredibly polished efforts that are other people's first games. I've been doing this for years and often feel that what I make doesn't measure up. But when I show my games I usually get a pretty positive response, especially in person. One's "crappy" game might be more interesting and compelling than they think. That being still I have had some critical and even downright rude responses. I know it's part of the process but it can still be really demoralizing and I tend to take it as a personal failing.

I'd like to say "just do it" but that really is something that's not so easy. If I have helped in some way than that's great, I really love to see what other people come out with even if they don't think all that much of it.

Submitted

I didn't get as much done today as I did yesterday, mostly because of a late start and one piece of art that took something like an hour longer than I thought it would.


This one. I think it turned out well, at least it turned out well by my standards. I know my art is not awesome but I feel it is improving each time. This is probably the most complex scene I've done in a while, if nothing else.

Are these slightly shady looking guys our villains? Maybe...

I got a few other pieces of art done, as well as some more dialogue. I'm about halfway through the story and things are starting to get weird. Like I said earlier, I'm implementing all the narrative stuff and the VN/dialogue gameplay first, and I'll add the rest of the gameplay later after I figure out what it's going to be. This is complicated by two things that I didn't entirely consider. The first is that in some sections, gameplay and story is more tightly tied than I had thought- conversations are meant to fit in the flow of the gameplay. The second is that I'm prioritizing sections as "this must make it in" and "this would be nice but may not make it", but the sections in the former category have to be a little different depending on if the other sections make it in.

In other words, I'm sure this game will be perfectly coherent without any plot holes at all. But hey, it's a game jam, and for me that's about making something and having fun doing it rather than making something perfect.

Submitted

Another short day and short progress update. I was hoping to get all the story stuff done by the end of today (technically yesterday now?), but realized pretty quickly that wasn't going to happen. I think I am on track to have most of the story stuff- basically everything that isn't tightly integrated with the gameplay parts- finished up tomorrow. There are five chapters (plus an epilogue that may or may not make it in) and I'm halfway through Chapter 4.

I guess I might as well reveal the chapter titles, or the quick temporary ones I came up with anyway:

  1. The Promise
  2. Stardust
  3. Unleashed
  4. The Art Of War
  5. Let's Dance
  6. We Are The Others (epilogue)

Each is named for a song, but most of them don't really reflect the chapter well, at least not anymore. The story is pretty locked down now but that basically only happened yesterday. The writing is pretty rough in places, to be honest, and I'll try to clean it up at the end if I have time.

Some more screenshots. I have no idea how much of the plot you can guess from these and am too tired to care all that much at this moment.

A badly drawn map! It's supposed to be rough, so I think it turned out fairly well.

A guy saying the words "magical girl" makes it a magical girl game, right? I realized the House Garrick crest looks like a "no" symbol halfway through drawing it. It's supposed to be a stylized spear and shield, and is inspired by a misremembered version of Pyrrha's symbol from RWBY.


This choice will make a difference in the subsequent gameplay section. Probably.

So, I still have no idea what the actual gameplay will be. Yes, I've been building half the game without figuring out the other half. Suggestions are welcome. But really, that's tomorrow XCVG's problem.

When I first considered joining this jam, I wanted to make a platformer, but only had the setting but not the gameplay itself or the accompanying mechanics. I thought having no gameplay idea might be dangerous so I instead decided to use a genre with which I'll have more clarity. Hope you figure out the gameplay soon!

Submitted(+1)

So, at first, I was going to do a pure visual novel. That's easy from a gameplay design point of view, albeit still quite a bit of work. I've kept that, partly, for the narrative sections of the game (although again it probably doesn't strictly fit the definition of a visual novel). But early on in the planning process I starting thinking that creating a protagonist with all these magical powers and then not letting the player really use them feels like a lot of wasted potential. I want some sections where the player can actually use these powers in action and feel totally badass doing it, just like our protagonist does.

Submitted

I've got most of the story parts done at this point. Chapter 1 and 2 are done, Chapters 3 and 4 are mostly done, and Chapter 5 I think is done. I ran through what I have and realized there are some parts that are pretty rough and one or two places where an extra scene really needs to be added, but right now it's mostly coherent. The intro is still missing, because it might be a gameplay section, and the epilogues haven't been made because I'm not sure exactly how I want to do those. Chapters 3 and 5 will be mostly gameplay chapters, but I'm confident enough in how the story will fit into those chapters that I've already written most of the accompanying dialogue.

I also spent a lot of the day doing art. It took longer than expected (which is pretty normal for me) so between that and an unexpected bug I didn't quite get where I was hoping, but it's pretty close.


Well...


Johann is supposed to be pretty smart.


I like drawing Briella...


...but I really wish I'd given her simpler armor.

Tomorrow I will begin working on the gameplay. I still have no idea what that will be.

Submitted(+1)

I figured out what I wanted to do for gameplay while failing to sleep last night. Project Lucidity is going to be a first-person shooter action game. I went this way for a few reasons. It's definitely my comfort zone, for better or for worse, and though it's probably not the easiest option it does save me the work of drawing a lot of animation sprites for Briella. It also very definitely puts you into her boots and hopefully will give the player that feel of being totally badass and awesome.

The other options I was considering were a side-scroller or a top-down action game.

Apologies for the poor video quality, something went horribly wrong with OBS. The huge endless flat plane I'm using for testing doesn't make things easier to see, either. In it I show off the power jump, power dash, power attack and regular attack. The power jump and power dash share a timer while power attack is separate. Power jump and power dash are your standard flash-step powers, while power attack is a ranged sort of "energy wave" attack that can hit many enemies at once.

The bars on the lower left are temporary; you can ignore them. The weapon sprite is borrowed from a truly ancient project of mine and is also just a temporary thing I threw in for testing. The enemy sprite here is from Freedoom but I had him lying around from Toilet Paper Panic- obviously not the guys we will actually be fighting in the game. I just wanted to get something working today even if it was hideous.

The HUD is a mockup. I'll probably redo the graphics, and it's not functional yet, but I think this is the general layout I'm going to go with. This is technically a diegetic UI; it's supposed to actually be on the inside of Briella's helmet so I'm trying to go for a magic/fantasy style and might add a vignette effect as well.  The symbols on the bottom are indicators for power dash/power jump and power attack, and will turn red when not ready and blue when they are ready. I may animate between the states if I have time. The bar on the top represents health and is a little more complicated. There is sort of a shield mechanic at play, though it's really just a threshold on the health value. As Briella's shields are depleted, the bar will turn from blue to red, and will turn back as they recharge. When shields are gone, it will flash red. I may add warning sounds and flash the bar when damage is taken as well; it really depends on how much I end up having time for.

I feel like I've made a lot of progress today just figuring out what I want to do, but there's still quite a bit of work to be done. The aforementioned HUD, weapon sprites, and enemies all need to be made. There are four main levels where you control Briella directly, and possibly one or two short ones as well. And of course it all needs to be integrated with the story stuff that's already been built.

But I think that's all for today.

Submitted

Another quite productive day. I managed to finish up most of the gameplay mechanics, finished one of the four levels, made a good start on some of the graphics and put together a little bit more of the story bits.

This castle is built in Unity using ProBuilder. It's really meant for prototyping but I've used it to build levels for release before and will probably continue to do so. I'm a bit out of practice- all of Firefighter VR was built with ProBuilder and some of those levels were fairly sophisticated, but that was years ago and I'm kind of working back to where I started. I am getting better with the workflow, though. Here, I'm going for a 90s-ish style or my own typical variant on it.


This is what it looks like in-game. It's not all that visible, but there are a few new things in this picture. The HUD is no longer a mockup but is actually implemented. The bottom indicators turn from red to blue when powers charge. Those indicators are updated by the disparate components handling dashing and attacks dumping update messages through the messaging system every frame, which is horrifying, but it doesn't seem to lag in practice so I'll probably leave it. The bar at the top changes from blue to red as you take damage and back to blue as you heal/recharge. I also fixed some issues with movement and tweaked weapons a bit, and finally added sounds for the player.


I also drew an enemy! The animation frames look 50% less terrible in motion.

Finally, a few shots from the new story segments.

I think this will be the first scene we will see in the game. It kind of sets the tone in many ways.

Is it raining? No, because I forgot to draw the rain.

Tomorrow will largely be a continuation of today: more gameplay sections, some graphics, and some story segments as time allows.

Submitted

Nice work! You've made so much progress!

Submitted

Thanks! Once I figured out what I was building and got working on the gameplay stuff, it started going a lot faster!

Submitted

I started the day by editing the guard sprites for another enemy, and then screwing up the import settings.

The particle effect in the leg area is most of the way up the actual enemy size.


I built a little village and drew some new first-person sprites to replace the temporary ones. They might be worse in quality than the temporary ones, but at least they're sized and colored correctly.


This totally looks better in motion, I swear! You can see the same sprite as the first picture at its proper size here. The village is very low-fi, and I'd like to add detail to it, but that depends on whether I have time or not.

I also added some music and made some tweaks here and there. The game is now playable from the beginning to the end of Chapter 3, though I would like to go back and tweak some of those chapters if I have time. I think I'm basically halfway done- I still have to do the climactic battles and a few story bits in Chapters 4 and 5, as well as the epilogue. I want to put in different endings depending on your decisions during the game but we'll see if that happens.

I still need to come up with a title. They say there are two hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors. But I'm sure something will come to me.

Submitted (1 edit)

This is really shaping up! I'm excited to see more of this in motion. This is giving off a vibe that reminds me of the early days of FPS games... in a good  way! I have a lot of nostalgia for somewhat forgotten games like Ken's Labyrinth, Catacombs 3D, even Quiver. Not to mention all the better known games from that time period. Really cool stuff, keep it up!

Submitted

Thanks! Things are definitely starting to move on this.

Stylistically, the first-person segments are more or less a continuation of my GZDoom-based games. The sprites and animations are similar to Tactical Weapons and Tactics, and some of the environments are reminiscent of my long-abandoned Ascension Revolution project. Obviously Doom and other shooters of the 90s were huge influences on those projects and on my games in general. Ken's Labyrinth and Catacomb 3D are names I haven't heard in a long time, and Quiver not at all, but yeah, I can see how it might remind one of some of the lesser known titles.

Submitted

No big progress update today. I took a bit of a break- I didn't not work on this at all, but I only did a few things here and there. Mostly minor tweaks and some art. I think the only thing I implemented was making the power dash push enemies out of the way and damage them. I didn't do any fancy vector math, just pushing enemies in the direction from the player to them, but it seems to work well enough. At this point it's now possible to play halfway through the game, so the focus in the next few days will be building the two remaining battles sequences and the last remaining story bits.

Submitted(+1)

I got a bit of a late start and a few things ran long, but I managed my main goal for today which was getting the big battle scene in. I also made a crossbow enemy, which was planned but kept getting put off. He turned out a little weird but the actual crossbow bolt turned out better than expected.


It looks... well, it looks consistent with the rest of the game. The code is totally unoptimized and I was worried about how it would perform with a hundred enemies on screen at once, but it seems to run acceptably. The AI is very simple and not really set up for big battles like this, but you don't notice it so much while playing.

I'm a little behind because there's another story sequence right after this gameplay section which I didn't entirely factor in. Half of it was actually supposed to be part of this gameplay section but didn't work out, the other half I forgot about. I've done some of the art but not all of it, and of course it still needs to be scripted. The timing will be a little tight but I'm reasonably confident I'll be able to get everything important in even if it's not 100% of what I was hoping. Chapter 4 will be finished by the end of tomorrow and I might be able to put a dent in either Chapter 5 or the epilogue as well.

I was planning on posting a little video or a GIF today but because of the aforementioned delays I didn't get to it. Tomorrow, hopefully!

Submitted

So, today didn't go entirely as planned. I had a power outage, and I didn't lose anything but it stopped me from working for a few hours and kind of killed my momentum for the rest of the day. Despite three days of slow progress I think I can still finish this on time. I was able to finish Chapter 4 and get the story stuff done for Chapter 5. That leaves the actual climactic final battle, the epilogue, and a laundry list of small tweaks and fixes. A few things will be left by the wayside and a few parts won't be as polished as I'd like, most likely.

Unfortunately there's not much new stuff I can post without spoilering half the game at this point. So here's a video of some combat from the battle I made yesterday.

Also, I finally have a tentative title: Shattered. If I go with it, I'll talk about it more when I talk about inspirations and such, but I won't post that until after the game is released.

Submitted

I had a minor panic today because the 4 key on my keyboard is semi-broken, which means I'll probably have to tear the whole thing apart to fix it. But other than that things actually went well. I finished the last gameplay sequence remaining, and it is now possible to play the game from beginning to end. It still needs the epilogue and title screen, and there are few parts here and there I'd like to fix up, but I'm very much on track to finish. That's a bit of a surprise, to be honest- I've felt like things were not coming together and the deadline was rushing up to meet me over the past few days. I can't quite relax yet but I'm feeling a lot better about it today than I was yesterday.

Here is castle built in ProBuilder. Again I can't really say much more about this without spoilering the last chapter of the game. I have run into some possible performance issues but I might have to just live with them. Uh, you all have awesome gaming rigs, right?

There's a very good chance this will be feature-complete tomorrow. That puts it ahead of schedule for a Thursday release, giving me an extra day of wiggle room which I will probably end up needing for one reason or another.

Submitted

Awesome! You've really kept this trucking forward. I know what you mean about not being able to relax. I'm about 90-95% done, but I feel even more stressed in some ways, hehe.

Arg! That keyboard! I hope that's an easy fix. Funny story, when I finally added the logic for losing when HP hits 0, I was doing a bunch of testing. Making sure you'd lose control during the "defeat" animation, respawn at the appropriate checkpoint after the gameover screen, etc. After losing and respawning a bunch of times, my controls stopped working. I immediately thought that there was a mistake somewhere in the events that wasn't re-activating the player control. I dug for 10-15 minutes (using my mouse) changing things, switching things. Eventually, I got to a point that I had to type to make a change I was trying... and... nothing. I couldn't type. My wireless keyboard had run out of juice while I was testing the game. *face palm*

Submitted (1 edit)

The last 10% of the work takes the last 90% of the time, as they always say.

I'm hoping it's just a cracked solder joint- I think I can fix that without tearing the keyboard completely apart. If it's a broken switch or broken trace it's going to be a much more involved repair. A normal person would probably have thrown this keyboard out years ago- it's not a high-end board to begin with and it's known to have issues with keycaps breaking and lights dying. The lighting on mine is still good but it has very few original keycaps left. But I've grown used to it and will throw unreasonable amounts of time and money into keeping it working.

Submitted

Project Lucidity is now feature-complete. It's fully playable from beginning to end, including the epilogue, and is mostly coherent. There are still a few minor things here and there that need to be done; a few tweaks, documentation, packaging. It still doesn't, officially, have a title, though I have a shortlist. I will pick one tomorrow and make the menu background, which is I think the last major thing that needs to be made. I'm pretty exhausted already so I don't think I'm going to shoot for any of my stretch goals, though we'll see. I'm aiming for a release tomorrow, and I have a ton of postmortem type stuff to post here with it.

Submitted

Congrats on getting there!! Picking a name was one of the absolute last things I did too. I really didn't expect it to be that hard, haha.

Submitted

I struggled a lot and ended up jamming two potential names together.

Submitted

And we're done! Take a look here (or here if that doesn't work).

I ended up calling it Shattered - Why Not Me, which is two of my shortlisted possible names jammed together. I felt like a slightly awkward two-part name would be a good fit for this, but when I started making banners and such I realized how very awkward it is. Oh, well.

I have a ton of postmortem stuff to go over and share, but right now I'm pretty tired and need to relax a bit. Linux and Mac builds will be uploaded either tonight or tomorrow, time permitting.

Submitted

I've been lurking in your post for the last few days, and I'm really impressed by your progress. Can't wait to try out your game later!

Submitted

Alright, enough procrastinating, time for the postmortem. In this one I'll talk about my inspirations and influences and why this game ended up so weird. I'll do one or two more covering my process, what made it in, what didn't, where I might go next, all that good stuff. Obviously these will all contain spoilers so you may want to hold off reading until after you've played through Shattered.

So, I’m not sure if this really counts as a Magical Girl game. I didn’t realize “magical girl” was a well-defined subgenre with specific narrative elements and visual style until about a third of the way through the jam, by which point I was pretty much committed to what I’d started and I decided to finish it as it stands anyway. I figured it would be different if nothing else.

So, I think I definitely missed the mark on making a Magical Girl game.

I have basically no prior familiarity with the Magical Girl genre. I think I might have seen an episode of Powerpuff Girls as a kid and I read a Nanoha fanfic once because I’d confused it for something else (and was myself very confused). I did skim the tropes page for Magical Girl before I started but I guess I didn’t fully understand it until I saw what other people were building and what they were citing as their inspirations. I did eventually realize that it wasn't just about having a female protagonist with magic, but that Magical Girl is a well defined subgenre with specific narrative and stylistic elements. That was halfway through the jam, and after a minor panic moment I said fuck it, I'll just finish this, it'll be different if nothing else. Indeed, after playing some of the other games in the jam, I've noticed a lot of common elements that I don't have in my game at all.

I would say the biggest influences on what became Shattered are Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, superhero movies and Iron Man in particular, and gothic/symphonic metal. Mostly setting from the first and plot from the second. As for the last, it was more an inspiration early on that faded except for some bits here and there. In terms of gameplay I kind of fell back to what I was comfortable with- Western RPG dialog trees and 90s/early-2000s shooters- but I'll come back to that later.

I joined the jam fairly early and thought, hey, this is different and neat, but I struggled a lot with coming up with a workable concept and basically didn't have anything locked down until the first day of the jam. Which is either a really good thing or a really bad thing depending on how you look at it, I guess.

The suggested narrative themes of “hopes, dreams, friendship, love, and other wonderful stuffs” made me think of the music of one of my favourite bands, Delain. They’re a band from the Netherlands, variously described as gothic metal, symphonic metal, symphonic rock, or hard rock. I was able to see them last year, which was a lot of fun, and they recently put out a new album, Apocalypse & Chill (a disturbingly prophetic title if I've ever heard one). That's kind of where I started with my brainstorming, and where the working title Lucidity came from (it's Delain's first album). Early on I wanted to make something heavily influenced or based on gothic or symphonic metal, but I was never able to figure out what that meant. I think the most noticeable element left in the game is the Brukton house sigil, which is based on the hummingbird Delain stamps on everything.

I quickly figured out a few things I probably wanted to do, but it was very much a list of scattered ideas. Female protagonist with magical powers, obviously. I was thinking she would get her powers unexpectedly, maybe from a dying goddess or a fallen star, and maybe after a tragedy. I was leaning toward a medieval fantasy setting, and maybe our protagonist wanted to be a knight but couldn’t because it’s one of those medieval fantasy settings. I had some vague idea of maybe a magic ring that’s actually worthless because the power was within her all along. Cliched, but uplifting. For gameplay, I was leaning toward a visual novel, because it seemed fitting and I wanted to break my curse of never finishing one. I definitely wanted to do something story-driven, having just finished a gameplay-focused game for another jam.

One of my earliest ideas was to do a game based on the Within Temptation song The Promise. As far as I can tell, it’s about a woman who loses her beloved and then murders a bunch of people avenging him. The name always makes me think of The Witcher but as far as I know it’s not inspired by the Sapkowski book in any way. It would basically be medieval John Wick with a female protagonist and some magic. I scratched this one because it seemed too dark and violent for this jam, and I could never figure out what the gameplay would be. I may come back to it some day.

I also had a really cool idea for a post-game teaser sequence that would flip things on their head, but there was no way to work it into the final plot and I likely wouldn't have had time to make it anyway.

I think it was literally the night before the jam started where I had the idea of making the magic power-granting artifact an ancestral sword, and the ideas kind of flowed from there. Okay, so sword is medieval fantasy, which I was leaning toward anyway. Magic has to exist, but can't be ubiquitous, or she wouldn't be special. Nobody has been able to use the sword in generations, but only the sons try it, not the daughters. That's a nice compromise between "anyone could have been given this power" and "the power was within you all along", isn't it? I'll make her an Action Girl in a male-dominated world, too. I wasn't really thinking about the jam themes all that much, though they were in the back of my mind, and the ones I was leaning toward at the beginning are the ones that I feel the end product hits best.

To give you an idea of the mindset I was in at that point, the magic sword is named Silvergleam because it's the first thing I could think of and a quick Google search showed nothing overly famous already using it. The names are a mix of frantic Googling, scrolling through 20000-names.com, and references to various metal musicians. Fortunately I did write down where most of them came from.

The setting I’m using here isn’t well developed, and it’s pretty much vaguely defined as “you know that TV show with the dragons? it’s like that but slightly more magical and slightly less grimdark”. I didn't even bother drawing up a full map of the world or naming any of the regions that the game isn't set in. I have two of my own settings that are better developed but I didn’t use them because they wouldn’t work for the story I had in mind (one is science fantasy, the other is fantasy but much more egalitarian and magical). Game Of Thrones also influenced the visual style of the game, as much as a high production value TV show can influence horrendous programmer art anyway.

I have a complex love-hate relationship with Game of Thrones and the books it's based on, and in a way Shattered reflects both the things I love about it and the things that frustrate me to no end. But that's a story for another day (probably).

I (re)watched Iron Man a week or two before the jam (time flows weirdly under lockdown) and there are some similarities in the plot. It's not a complete knockoff of that particular movie, but I, um, borrowed a few story beats, and the plot is a generic superhero origin story. Protagonist goes through some tragedy, gains powers, adapts to their newfound powers while kicking ass and defeating some new enemy that may or may not have been responsible for the original inciting incident. I don't think I started with superheroes in mind, but I realized pretty quickly the similarities despite the difference in setting and decided to go in that direction. I'm not a rabid fan of the superhero genre, but I'm reasonably familiar with it and the Marvel movies in particular.

I'm quite tired, and that's gone on long enough, so I think I'll leave it there for now. Tomorrow: How I hit (or didn't hit) the themes, and what's up with the weird title.


Submitted(+1)

I think this post is going to be less organized than the last one, it's more or less the things I didn't cover before and I didn't plan this one ahead. Just like last time, beware of spoilers!

I wanted a name inspired by symphonic/gothic metal for the game, and ideally one inspired by Lucidity, Delain's first album. I kinda waited until the end for this and picked two favourite from a shortlist (which I had only started the day before) and jammed them together. I was leaning towards Shattered as a title because it could be interpreted as something bad or something good, but I felt it wasn't enough on its own. I listened to the Within Temptation album The Unforgiving and the intro track, Why Not Me, really made me think of Briella's story. So that's where that came from.

At first I thought it was a pretty decent name and that the slight awkwardness had a charm to it. Then I started making graphical assets and realized how awkward it really was. Oh, well. Naming things is hard...

If you've been following this devlog you'd be well aware that I started with the story sections and only started building gameplay halfway through. I really wanted to do a story driven game this time, so that's where I started. At one point that's all I intended to do, but then I realized that having a magical girl protagonist with lots of fancy powers and then not really letting players actually use them would be a huge disappointment.

At the end I wasn't sure if splitting my efforts was the right approach, versus focusing on pure gameplay or going the other way building a story-driven game with limited or no gameplay, but I've seen that some other entries in the jam have taken the "try to do both" approach so I feel vindicated somewhat. I was worried that I'd made a game that doesn't work well from either point of view, but I think I managed to strike a reasonable balance.

I still wish I'd been able to come up with something more unique for the gameplay versus just falling back to what I was comfortable with, but oh well. I think it works well enough, and stands out from the other games in the jam even if it's a bit of a repeat of games I've done previously.

I think I came up with the list of Briella's powers when I came up with the gameplay concept, but it also kind of went hand-in-hand. I gave her a set of powers that I thought would be fun in game. I really like games that let you jump and fly around, so power dash and power jump were easy choices. At one point the power attack was going to be melee only and she was going to have magic missiles for a ranged option but I felt combining the two was a better option... and also an easier one.

I managed to get I think about 70 percent of what I wanted into the game. I think I could have made it more like 75 or 80 if I'd put in a little more effort, but I was already pretty burned out by the time I submitted. In a lot of places I went with the easiest/quickest option or put in the minimal amount necessary, especially in some of the story bits and with the environments, with the intent of going back and fleshing things out, but that never happened.

Some of the things that were supposed to make it into the game but didn't are actually referenced in dialogue. For example, Ronn The Great's healing ability was going to be something you could use to heal allies, back when I actually thought there were going to be allies. Those were dropped pretty quickly, but I didn't change the conversations to reflect this. There's a fairly major non sequitur just before the field battle, where you can choose whether the guards will come with your or not, but it doesn't actually affect the battle.

There's also the conversation with Garrick, where it looks like you could convince him to stand down but you can't. I never wrote that path and cut it off early, though the epilogue actually checks for a flag that can never be granted. And early in the game there's a But Thou Must moment where you have to go and confront the bandits even if it seems like a terrible idea, because I didn't want to branch that deeply.

The somewhat awkward transition between the field battle and the village scene is because what I originally was going to do didn't work. I was going to have the rout occur in-game; all the enemies were going to turn and run away. I tried to do it the easy/hacky way, it didn't work, and I threw a cutscene in instead of trying to fix it because of time limitations. The village scene itself was gradually cut down as the clock ticked down toward the deadline: First it was going to be a gameplay sequence where you'd be able to wander around, then this was changed to a conversation for time, then it was cut down to a cutscene when I realized there's no guarantee that there'll be anyone there to converse with, then a single frame with text when I didn't have time to make the other graphics. At one point I even wanted to have multiple village battles with you getting weaker each time but this was cut pretty much immediately.

I also never had a chance to really finish the HUD. I ended up releasing it with the temporary graphics and missing the crucial features of flashing the health bar and screen in response to taking damage. I wish I had more time to flesh out the environments, too- they're very bare bones, and in my opinion it's detail that really makes them come alive in games.

I wish I could have done a deeper storyline with more character development and maybe dive into some of the lore, but I don't think that was ever realistic. I had more scenes planned out, but cut it down to the bare essentials early on and never had a chance to expand on it. I find it very hard to sit down and do the kind of thinking necessary for this in the frenzy of a game jam. Still, I think if I had focused on story and cut the gameplay sections I could have done more here. If I ever come back to this project I think this is where I'd like to focus.

Finally, I was going to do more complicated branching endings, with various decisions changing various parts of the epilogue, showing some more of the characters, and having more than one background graphic, but it was already a few days from the end of the jam when I got to that point. Between limited time and exhaustion, I ended up going with what I felt was the minimum necessary, meaning a "good" ending and a "bad" ending, plus a stinger that you may or may not get. It also has a very lame "thanks for playing" short video instead of a full credits sequence.

But overall I'm pretty happy with what I did manage to implement in time.

That went longer than I expected. I think I'm going to do one more post talking about where I might take this and going into some of the (ultimately unused) lore.

Submitted(+2)

I'm not sure if anyone is reading these but I need to write them anyway to clear my head. This will be the last entry. I'm going to talk about some of the lore that I came up with that didn't make it into the game, where I might take this in the future, and some of the brilliant (?!) ideas I had after the jam. This one's going to be shorter, I think, it's just tying up a few loose ends.

I like to throw a lot of nods and easter eggs into my games, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get as many into this one as I'd liked. I snuck a song cover into one of the levels, there's a dialogue that references Skyrim in a very blunt way (actually a test thing I forgot to remove), and I think that's it. There's also a special easter egg for my friend who said that Briella looked like a "battle lesbian" (whatever that is, and you know who you are). And many of the characters are named for metal musicians. So I guess maybe it's not as sparse as I thought.

I did start jotting down some notes about the backstory behind the magical artifacts. It started off with a bunch of random thoughts but distilled down into a set of reasonably coherent ideas by the end of the jam. Don't take any of this as any sort of canon, obviously, because I didn't really do anything with it.

Many houses possess powerful artifacts that only perhaps one man in a hundred generations can use. The exact nature of these artifacts and their origins are lost to time and only legends remain for the most part. In fact, a goddess (we haven't figured out the pantheon yet) granted these to her children after seeing them struggle in the brutal world. It's very rare for men to be able to use any of the artifacts because they're meant to be used by women, meaning their ability is more of a fluke. Over time, powerful, jealous men took control of the artifacts and suppressed knowledge of their true nature.

This never made it into the game for a variety of reasons. I wasn't entirely happy with it- it seemed rather Anvilicious and seemed to have some unfortunate implications in addition to not being well developed. But mostly, there wasn't anywhere to put it in. This magical stuff was meant to be mysterious and the story was about Briella and the conflict with House Garrick, not solving that mystery. If I ever do a sequel, I might try to work that in.

So, what lies in store for Shattered - Why Not Me? I do kind of want to fix some of the issues with this game- mostly the inadequate feedback, floaty movement, and various bugs- but I don't have the energy right now. I might come back to it later, but that would be dependent on having the time, and I suspect other projects and other commitments will take priority.

Will there be a sequel? I think that comes down to time. I'd like to do one, and I have a storyline in mind. It would be about a kind of dark mirror to Briella, another noble lady who gains powers but uses them solely for conquest and revenge. As I mentioned earlier, I'd like to explore some of the lore and backstory as well, and maybe show more of the currently unnamed Kingdom. There would need to be a lot more worldbuilding, that's for sure.

I'm one of those people who has way too many ideas and can never make them all, and indeed I had two immediately after the jam, after playing a few of the other entries, that I feel in retrospect would have been better entries had I come up with them two weeks earlier. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I'm always more inspired after seeing what other people have done.

One of them is a more conventional (I think?) magical girl game where several students at a secret magical girl academy are called forth to stop an ambiguous evil force of magic from invading the world through a portal between realms. It's a struggle, but they succeed in defeating the entity and sealing the portal through the power of friendship and celebrate the defeat of evil and peace forever. The twist is that it's set in the 1930s, with exactly the implications you're probably thinking of.

The other is maybe a little less cynical, but still not exactly conventional. It's set in the future, kind of a Halo or Mass Effect ish space opera military science fiction setting. Our protagonist is a spec ops type, the space equivalent of SAS or Navy SEALs. Suddenly, a magical girl appears, grants her her powers, and dies. She's from the past, and was sent forward in time because at some point all magical girls have died out but a darkness is coming. Most likely she would have a kind of angel on her shoulder which was a wise advisor to previous magical girls but is a complete fish out of water in a world of spaceships and nuclear missiles, and at least at first doesn't get along with her strong, augmented, battle-hardened and cynical charge. In the end, of course, she defeats the darkness, but not without the help of her squad which it turns out she needs despite her new powers.

Most likely, neither of those will see the light of day. Too many idea, too little time. But maybe if there's another Magical Girl Game Jam in the future, it's a possibility.

That's all I have to say for now, but I'm happy to try to answer any questions.