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SIN EON (cyberpunk, top down stealth)

A topic by unsinister created Apr 02, 2018 Views: 76 Replies: 2
Viewing posts 1 to 3

Background
This is the game I've wanted to make for a very long time, and I've worked on it on and off for about a year and a half now. The base systems start to fall into place, and I want to start logging what I do in a dev log. I've been going at it alone, and the idea of making everything myself has become more appealing with time despite my insecurities in graphics and music.

I am using GameMaker Studio 2 for the project, and Blender for pre-rendered 2D graphics (more on that further down). These tools are the ones I know the best, and I have a pretty comfortable workflow using them so it felt natural to use them for this.

Gameplay
My main inspiration for the gameplay, as with many stealth games, is Metal Gear Solid (the original PS1 game) and its' use of systems to trick and manipulate guard behaviour etc. I'm focusing a lot on giving the player free reign in a level to tackle it as they see fit, and giving them a lot of gadgets to do it. There isn't really a way to kill or seriously harm enemies as I want it to focus on avoidance and using wit instead of brute force.

The levels are basically one screen rooms and are designed to be completed in quite a short amount of time. One mission consists of several levels, with some factors carrying over levels. For instance, if the player is detected in one room and manages to escape to the next, the guards there would be on high alert already or the previous guards would follow. I think/hope this incentivizes the player to use the gadgets at hand to escape their followers before proceeding.

Themes
I wanted to create my own cyberpunk world, with strong influences from books like Neuromancer and movies like Ghost in the Shell (the 1995 version, I have not seen the outing from last year). I want to build an environment that is as frightening and believable as those works. The setting and story tries to tackle the different ideas on identity in the city sprawl. What is an individual in an digitally and techonlogically interconnected living space, and is individualism to be valued the way we do it today? This is set to the classic back drop of technology and humanity fusing together. I want to let the player play through something cool related to that.

The themes and story are not to be the main focus for the game though, the gameplay is supposed to stand on its own.

Graphics
This has been a major insecurity, since I'm a programmer by trade and don't have any good graphics skills. I've developed my own way of making graphics with Blender, where I make models and render them as low-res sprites. The models aren't good enough to be used on their own. I used to render them in higher definition, but it looked weird and janky. I finally decided on a look similar to other low resolution top down games, like Teleglitch. I finally think it somehow works, but this is still the thing that feels the least solid.

Earlier graphics attempts also included four directional sprites, before I settled on a completeley top down look. It proved too challenging and time consuming, and it didn't give the liberty of the gameplay that I wanted (for instance, 360 degree aiming without it looking really bad).

I try to keep the GUI as simple as I can, with it still looking quite "digital" and stylish. This is constantly being revamped though.

Screenshots


Current look of the game (this isn't the entire game window)

Bonus:

What it looked like with the higher definitions sprites.

Feel free to leave feedback and tell me what you think! I'm keeping this devlog a the same time as an identical one over at the TIGSource Forums, and will post in both when I get things done.

Devlog #1

So I've worked on trying to put together something that can be used for promotional purposes, like a title card or something. The results of which you can see here:



I'm not sure the colors go that well together (I'm really bad at color matching, something I've learned through years of people pointing out my mismatched socks) but I kinda like the look of it. It reflects some themes of the game, but basically nothing about what type of game it is. I will probably make something new once I've made more character models and improved the existing ones.

Game improvements

  • Added reaction symbols that pop up above enemies (you know the kind)
  • Improved some sprites that felt stale and boring
  • Revamped some parts of the HUD to make it a bit more animated
  • Fixed a couple of bugs related to enemy AI. Also starting to realize that I might have to rewrite some parts of it (I've completely re-written it once before, not doing that again hopefully)
  • Improved the player character model with more detail (added proper hands and feet! She'll need them for sneaking and shaking hands!

Thoughts

  • I'm thinking that the main character (Idun) is such a clichΓ© with the red hair. Every other indie game with a female protagonist has red hair for their main character. She used to have purple hair, but it just didn't look good. The red stands out in game which makes her more visible, which makes it hard to get rid of.
  • HUD is really hard to design. I thought it would be e z p z. This makes me a bit frustrated. I'd like to just copy Metal Gear Solids' HUD and keep the bits I need.
  • Still struggling to understand if the game is looking really ugly, really bland or just pretty ok/charming.
  • Yesterday I took to Twitter and asked for stealth game recommendations, to get some inspiration. CRICKETS. I'm fairly new to Twitter, and only have something like 40 followers, so I might have been a bit too eager for people to want to give me game recommendations.

That's it for my first devlog, signing off until next time!

Devlog #2



I took some time off the project after an intense period of work, but I'm back at it and it's going well. Most of the work has been focused on trying to finish up the HUD and making it practical. The HUD in the screenshot above is for equipping gadgets in game (the player has two equip slots).

Game improvements

  • The preparation screen is now functional. The player can choose two passive gadgets here, and the screen displays information about the gadgets.
  • Usable gadgets are now swappable in game (before they were chosen on the prep screen, but decided to let the player use all of them in game.
  • A variety of bug fixes. All the systems are jamming quite well together!

Thoughts

  • I feel like I'm finding a visual style for the HUD that works. It's really simple, but reminiscent of old computer monitors. I'm still open to changing it though, it might be a bit too simple.
  • After watching the title card from the last devlog post, I'm pretty sure I don't like it anymore. So I'll see if I can muster up something better.
  • I feel like I'm going to add a few more gadgets before starting proper work on the levels.
  • I'm having some serious thoughts about making a separate level editor. This would be really cool to release with the game as well, but it's a huge amount of work. On the other hand, making levels right now includes several layers of tiles, collision masks, lightning etc. If I can make all those things automated and export levels with a separate editor, that would ease the level making process in the long run. I'm really anxious to release the game within a year, but I try to keep in mind that I have time. Plenty of it!