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Mindbleach

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A member registered Jul 04, 2021 · View creator page →

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This game got robbed, placing only sixth.

Personally I picked the shotgun and had no issue with the first few bases. (Using a controller, as well. Didn't know about mouse support until just now. Didn't know the NES had a mouse until just now.) Some of that's from playing Irritating Ship first. Some of that's from having seen Babylon Five dogfights.

Switched to the autocannon for the asteroid field. That fight proves the controls are not the issue. I mean. Side thrusters would be immensely useful - especially when enemy shots keep pushing you away, and you're pointed at the base, to fire (A gun that shoots out the side(s) would do about the same thing.) A no-brainer "slow down" button would make late corrections massively easier. (And could be discouraged by spinning the player randomly while doing it.) But I think complaints about the physics could be solved by a seemingly unrelated  change:

Move the camera.

The draw distance is so short, even when travel and combat demand high speed. Some bases can barely be kept onscreen. Several times, I was fighting a pixel in the minimap, which itself is not especially wide. The player's not even centered in the playfield. They're centered onscreen. So anything "north" of you is hidden by four additional rows of HUD. 

Displacing the camera by a fraction of the player's velocity vector would provide precious milliseconds of reaction time and improve spatial awareness. Even when stationary, it could be centered ahead of you, to better see what you're shooting at. 

Displacing the player would be simpler. Same vector, opposite direction, looks about right. But it would undermine how good the starfield looks. Those dots do a fantastic job of conveying movement. "You didn't notice it... but your brain did." (I didn't even think about tilemap versus sprites until the fourth base.) Keeping the effect locked to the player makes any forward-looking camera feel like it's sampling from a larger screen. Turning around, looks around.

Leaning into that subtly excellent feature: the deepest layer could have constellations. Tighter clusters of stars, in distinct patterns, allows orientation more natural than glancing at two numbers. 

And those arrow enemies... I have nothing clever. Please nerf.

This is a fantastic demo, and a few tweaks away from forming a killer game. The controls are about perfect. The ability to strafe was such a pleasant surprise. Levels are enormous for this platform. The intro overview shows that off, and provides guidance. 

The simplest change that would make the biggest impact is more color. There's colored elements in the background - you've obviously handled scrolling that in. Tinting whole rooms, or decorating them with similarly-colored objects, would make navigation more natural. It would improve the at-a-glance identifiability of the already-present variety.

Enemies, same story. They have a great range of behaviors. The cliche of palette-swapping to show which thing they do is cliche for a reason. Having to guess whether a turret is going to fire diagonally, or even come at you, is holding back the combat, when movement and shooting are this tight.

Yeah the complex open arena as a first level was a poor choice. The height differences are staying, though. Different constraints go in a new game. What's going to make this game easier to read are faster updates, diagonal tiles, and possibly ceilings. (And better levels.)

Some complexity is required, because this engine supports up to a thousand enemies at once. The name is the goal.

Literally slapped my forehead going "how does that screen show off the sprite zero--" Yeah of course. The background is black space. Using that feature for its intended purpose has become a clever twist.

The game has a full map editor. It's not documented because the compo version is, in general, kind of a mess. Directions on the second controller change the height and texture. B+direction on the first controller will move the cursor. Select on first controller will open a hex-editor view, where directions on the first controller move the cursor, and B+direction changes height and texture. (Like I said: kind of a mess.) Start in the hex editor will change to editing the enemy grid, which is its own kind of jank.

The Suffer option just removes health. It was a debug feature I found amusing enough to leave in. I think the compo version source code even remarks on how needlessly edgy it is.

The stuff at the top is there because apparently FCEUX is not a very good emulator to develop with. 

The premise so far is, to paraphrase Yahtzee Croshaw, "here be enemies, shoot they ass." The intended tone and context largely has not been implemented. I've been fixing bugs, improving performance, and adding features, since the deadline. That'll get posted when voting ends. A version that is an actual complete-ish game should be out by end-of-year.

Should.

I'd like to thank you first and foremost for having a name that's satisfying to yell in frustration. This is such sleek and stylish blood pressure medication. And it must have been a Foxtrot joke from thirty years ago, but this is the first actual game where I've died in the menu. Hit "Normal" expecting Easy, then hit "Hard" expecting it to go back to Normal, and at some point clipped "Gravity Off," and basically that screen is a thorough warning of what people are getting into.

What this game nails, and what I've dinged a few other submissions over, is that you're never fighting the controls. The obscene difficulty matches the razor-sharp input. The player feels fully responsible at every hair-pulling moment. Collision is aggravatingly accurate, on your ship made of pure explodium.

But yeah, a pause button would be nice.

Ooh, very nice. Tyrannosaurus Tex on GBC did a similar thing with the precomputed diagonals, and honestly still looked kinda... lumpy. Oof. This one looks better in screenshots than in motion. Especially on Game Boy. I was already gonna make an SMS Power account to thank whoever mentioned Slaughter in the "off-topic inspiring technical stuff" thread, but I might do some thread necromancy first to nudge Under4MHz toward choosing tiles directly. Axis-aligned walls have predictable diagonals onscreen. (And every wall in Castle Wolfenstein is aligned with the Axis.)

NES games tend to have tiles in ROM, so for better or for worse, combining tiles isn't a speed issue, because it's not an option. The character bank in this release honestly has abundant free space. I just haven't committed to diagonals, or marching squares, or approximate 2x2 mini-tiles or whatever. Consoles like this deserve one and handhelds would absolutely require one. 

Incidentally the Sega Master System would be fantastic for this. Flippable 16-color tiles, horizontal blanking interrupts, much more RAM. Expect cleaner and faster C code when the judging is over.

Thank you! I'm only annoyed I broke the "attract screen" somewhere between yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening, and didn't notice until literally one minute before the deadline. Whoops.

I invite harsh judging. The game part of the game is limited and the engine could be better. The technical flex was great fun to work through, and I'm surprisingly pleased with all the art driven by technical constraints, but - execution is everything. What a game could be, or how it could look, is brain crack. The ROM is what it is. If someone doesn't enjoy playing it, or playing with it, then I missed.

Engineer-art solutions: not good, but fast. 

Plus it's very freeing to have a shippable version in-hand, so everything up to the last minute is just tweaking. Always be shipping. My project currently has stick figure enemies, half a level, and the bare minimum title screen. But there will be no panicked efforts to solve technical problems in the final hour... this time. 

Ooh, you posted the demo. Oh that is rock-solid. I knew this could be done at the tile level, but would not have bet on this look working at all. And it's double-buffered. You can't just be scrunching a nametable. I need a better emulator just to figure out what I'm looking at. That is witchcraft.

Oh, kickass. I would not have said this was possible at such fine resolution. 

Remember that it doesn't have to be the final version of this game, to be a game. Without AI you can still do time trials. Without more tracks you can still go forward or backward. It might take more than six days to cram the rest of Mario Kart onto the NES... but what's already here includes the parts that make it a magic trick.

Yep, NinjaPad in a ZIP. Several stumbling blocks: you have to set "kind of project" to HTML, or Itch won't show the "this file will be played in the browser" option for ZIP files. The index.html file genuinely has to be in the root of the ZIP file, not in a folder inside the zip file. And just to make things interesting, NinjaPad may not run locally, because of browser security rules... so my test environment was uploading stuff and hoping that it worked. 

Should I be worried how often the least convenient part of retro development is modern websites? GBDK is powerful, cc65 is fast, Open Watcom is flexible, and it once took me three days to send an executable over GMail. I had to rename it attack.com... because that's not suspicious.

Heads-up - this is obviously incomplete. I'm sharing it now for other people to build on. This engine is open-source, and as you can see, there's nothing to get in the way of your own art. 

It's currently a 16 KB NROM. CHR is mostly junk. One nametable is untouched. There's plenty of room for whatever you want to make. (And plenty of room for improvement. I'd recommend picking a mapper that can move more tiles onscreen.) 

It's mostly an old demoscene effect, with tables for polar angle and distance. If you'd like to see the effect done much better, but without gameplay, the very direct inspiration was in "Gejmbåj." This was made in about five weeks before the deadline, and finished in complete panic on the final day. A lot of time in the middle was spent trying to distort a curve, with bizarre results, eventually leading to this simplified approach.

And about a week later my brain goes, "you know you could have just rotated a static image with affine sampling." If you'd like to see that effect pulled off gorgeously, check out the C64 demo "Mathematica." Execution is everything.

PC games also count, if they're for DOS or Windows 95. Open Watcom is a little archaic - but it runs on any modern platform, and will cross-compile to everything from bare 8088 COM files to OS/2 executables. It supports C and C++.

Thanks! Some feats come from refusing to do things properly. It went, "Do I want to figure out GBDK's bankswitching behavior? I sure don't." 

It was today that I realized I had no BG RAM  free for the giant logo, and no idea how to reload GBDK's default font. (They have documentation; it is wrong.) So I nearly copied the default font into sprite RAM just so I could copy it back later. 

This game is also open-source. The last version was right under the wire and I forgot to upload the folder. See profile for game submission: "Stunner, but with source code."