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Les Habitants Du Soleil

A topic by Shweep created Aug 02, 2018 Views: 894 Replies: 34
Viewing posts 1 to 25
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Cover by Devine Lu Linvega

Picked this cover because I'm intrigued what a potential game featuring this would be like. So why not make it? I'm quite busy these past few days but I figured I could put a little time in and show off realllyyyyy early progress.

Straight up I'm gonna try and match the color scheming as best I can and go for a very manga-esque Blame! look. I'm thinking of going for a very moody topdown adventure game where you don't do much athletic stuff or combat, more figuring out stuff and exploring really strange environments. This is really sketchy pixel art here though and I'm just figuring out possible lighting conditions like cloud shadows changing the sprite etc.

I also mocked up a 3D render and just jammed random geometry together to make a more crowded scene, figure out potential space and layered elements. There's no rhyme or reason to the outer edges of the screen but you can sort of imagine very bizzare architecture from it. Idk I'm just using it for a noise guide for now.

This is more test art but I think I'm getting closer to how the architecture will render (still not too sure about dithering). But basically mock up a 3D render, use it as a guide to lay in some foundation, then go hog wild on the details. Part of me really wants to retain some of the sketchyness as I think that feels more inline with the cover. So I need to be careful not to go too perfect with the 3D forms or get too perfect with the pixel lines (this is an elaborate excuse just to rush the art more). I've dabbled in this sort of method before but this will be a test to see if it can be efficient. I may even just use 3D renders as placeholders when I need to make progress elsewhere.

This weekend I'll likely report back with some art placed in and some actual in-engine stuff.

fell dumb asking, but have you seen the 90's anime "Iria"?

I know of it but have not seen it. Thank you for bringing it up actually because I did not remember it and it looks like good research material ! I should probably post stuff that I'm consciously inspired by at some point. Because yeah a lot of the backgrounds I'm going for are very alien/industrial things you'd expect in obscure anime OVA backgrounds. Be good to expand the "visual library" on that front.

Didn't get a whole lot done today but I figured I'd share some inspirations on where I'm coming from in terms of the visual design. Here's a photo collage of stuff I've taken IRL over the past few months (warning large image) which contains a lot of industrial stuff that caught my eye. Especially the strange pipes and odd wires. It doesn't matter what it actually is but kind of informs my sense of how weird urban maintenance can be. Yet there seems to be an inherent order to the chaos... so if you live in a city you don't have to look too hard for that kind of stuff in alleyways and such.

Visual media wise a lot of my conscious inspirations for this game are:

  • Blame! (obviously)
  • Tetsuo the Iron Man
  • EGG Elemental Gimmick Gear
  • Last Exile
  • Valerian and Laureline
  • Junk Head
  • Naussica Valley of the Wind
  • Beneath a Steel Sky
  • Dark Seed

Imgur compilation for those curious, images speak louder than words.

One thing I have to note was how disappointed I was about how goofy Beneath a Steel Sky and Dark Seed was. You have these gorgeous backgrounds and these amazing premises and title names. Yet the voice acting and the general tone of everything just contradicts the bleakness of the settings they're in. Fortunately with this anger I can put it to making such a game that I imagined them to be. I hope I do not make the same mistake...

For gameplay and general style I'm mainly going for something like ICO or the beginning parts of Another World. Where it's very atmospheric and not a whole lot going on at first.  I have some puzzle ideas jotted down where I think I get something relatively setpiecey yet dynamic enough so that I'm not programming a brand new thing every area. The biggest challenge is really getting a visual style I'm satisfied with and making sure it's not too complicated when it comes time to interfacing with the gameplay.

But yeah feel free to mention anything that this reminds you of. There's a probably a lot of stuff out there that I could drench myself in with desolate oppressive landscapes.

It's really close to the ascetic you've got going, though it looks like you already have enough research material ;) You're lucky, you get to watch cool 90's anime for inspiration, I'm stuck with pretentious art house movies like a ghost story 

Yeah I feel really comfortable with this as a starting choice more than most games I've worked on. But hey I've heard good things about a ghost story! Curious to watch that one.

Life has been kicking me in the butt lately so this is the first day I'll actually be working head long on development.

Worked on some protag sprite animations. Wasn't happy with them, so I redid them.

Still need to clean them up, but it's basically a 6 frame walk cycle in 4 directions (think Chrono Trigger or Seiken Densetsu 3). I was getting hung up with whether or not to make her pants poofy pants or just a straight up consistent skirt.  This is one of those awkward moments where I've designed the character as I'm animating and I notice things like the hair being in the way or how to identify she might have a back on the side (missing in on the of the side frames). Thank god there's only one character in this game, it's going to be a very lonely one.

I went to a carnival with some friends the other day and I managed to notice a lot of interesting wirings in how the rides are powered. Here's a gallery. Might be good for some references for the background art.

Tomorrow I'll be doing some programmed in character movement and maybe some camera work.

Added some sweet 8 direction (4 direction for graphics) movement and collisions with the background. Still has some moonwalking errors but those will be cleaned out eventually. I essentially copy pasted some of the movement code from DUNkrsh but it took a good moment to figure out how to properly ignore the additional 4 directions I don't need when updating the sprite.

Collisions is a big one, this the first time I've encountered the choice of deciding how to tackle "organic" obstacles. Usually it's recommended to make things tile based even if you do plan to have non blocky environments. But I really want the flexibility and there's not gonna be a whole lot of complex action involving collisions anyway. Here's me experimenting with Elipses and square colliders, I'm not sure how much performance it'll save as opposed to making one image with precise collisions but I'll see once I get some more backgrounds implemented and the workflow gets going.

Tonight I might get a camera system going to scroll along backgrounds bigger than the screen. My incoming todo is:

-Camera system
-Moving between rooms (kickass fade transitions perhaps?)
-More placeholder backgrounds developed and properly layered
-A way to make cutscenes or take control away from the player
-Some sort of simple intro cutscene tying the first area together

These tend to change as I discover pressing issues but it's what I think about atm.

really interesting to see how you are doing the collision - looks brilliant :)

Haha thanks, I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to collisions but we'll see how it goes!

Backgrounds are getting super temp atm.

Made a camera and some kind of basic roomteleport / teleport management thing. Basically just makes it easier for me to assign places to go and where you'll end up in rooms, can have multiple entrances/exit that lead into coresponding ones. Still have problems with moonwalking, decided to move on until the character movement becomes relevant later on for stuff. Really want to add an actual transition to make this look more seamless, also need to figure out if I need some sort of auto move while the transition is happening.

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I told myself not to do this but I spent all night getting help from a friend on how to fix moonwalking. (The white squares are testing the arrow keys and are just there for visual debuging). But the gist of it was that I wanted the first direction you press to become the "facing" of the sprite until you let go of the original direction. Since you move in 8 directions but face in 4 there were exceptions made for when you move diagonally. It's confusing stuff but I'm just glad to get it working and fool proof.

What it used to be:

I like how your design process seems to be aesthetics first, staring with the cartridge then figuring out  the game from that. As more of a a mechanics-first designer it's  interesting to see someone start at the other end of the spectrum.

I do have gameplay or a game in mind. I guess it's just not apparent as I detail throughout the blog. But yeah I definitely started with an aesthetic and went from that as the source.

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Not much to report did some transitions for transporting between areas. Been spending the weekend battling life stuff and social things. It's quite easy to make variants of these transitions btw

edit: more fine tuned!

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Finally pixeled the rest of the background. There's a lot going on in here, and surprisingly the process wasn't long to figure out when it came to implement what I wanted out of this background.

These broken lamp posts are their own objects and go infront of or behind the player depending on their opposing y values. RPGs typically get around this by being tile based and hoping the base of the lamp is in the way of the player to prevent being covered by it from below, but with pixel based movement you have to do some simple programming to solve that.

Here's how the game is laid out
1. Floors that aren't too detailed but just enough to feel textured.
2. Shadows straight from the render reference (this is separate because I'll make the player actually affected by the shadows after a point)
3. The main background that the player can be infront of
4. Instances or colliders that I sort through game logic
5. Instances that are by default above other instances or have some special case to them
6. The upper background that's above everything
7. Disabled the instances to show the final look as ingame.

Up next: Implementing Player Shading (affected by shadows) or maybe just adding more backgrounds (notably the inside of the tower) depends on what I feel like doing.

Woah! That looks amazing :)

Keep it up, I'm looking forward to see more!

Thanks a lot! and thank you for letting me use the cover. It's been a big inspiration.

This looks great! What engine are you using?

Thanks! It's being done in Game Maker Studio 2. Though a lot of choices I've been doing are kind of just recreating the things I like about old rpgmaker programs (and making it much better without the limitations).

the updates are looking good :)

and you're right, ghost story really isn't bad if only a little to much in a few scenes.

Didn't think I'd get anything done today but here's some video footage with audio added and shadows affecting the player sprite. It uses a palette changer that essentially drops the shades of grey down. So to an extent the shades are being changed to "artist chosen" ones. My only worry is that doing this puts it into requiring directX stuff. So people with crappy GPUs pre 2010 might not be able to play this game. And it's weird because this game has a lot of retro things going for like only being 5 shades of grey and being pretty low res so far. So you'd think I'd be able to take advantage of that more in terms of optimization

One thing to note is certain shadows won't actually affect the player if they're too thin. I thought about doing a specific overlap thing, but it was much simpler I think to separate the shadows out as two different objects to worry about.

That's all so far today. Going to start to dig a little more vertically in development as it's past the halfway mark. I've been spending too much time doing the foundation for a lot of aesthetic stuff. But then again I've been interrupted by a lot of things lately so maybe the pace is alright relatively speaking.

This is starting to look great. I don't thing you can spend "too much" time doing the foundations of anything.  You can always submit it as a prototype and carry on after the Jam end.

My issue with that is I've been doing a lot of gamejams in a row lately, so if the game gets submitted unfinished I'll likely never finish it lol. But in my last post I decided on a compromise.

Looks like we got an extension (as I sort of expected). 2 more weeks to go!

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Didn't do much over the weekend. Been scoping out the areas of almost the entire game. All of the backgrounds are in very blocky rough prerendered ideas. There are no puzzles yet or even collisions. Hell most of these maps are too wide for my liking. Just the bare flow of where you end up figured out. The game is 3 minutes in length if you just walk from beginning to the current part I blocked backgrounds for. Indoor/Outdoor ambiance is at least established and the way I've organized teleporting between areas seems to be pretty consistent.

Chances are you aren't going to make out anything or relative stuff, it's more for me and to show the process.

the art style is simply amazing. well impressed...


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Made a little interactable thing where you kneel down to use, it shows you what controls you're able to use after using it. Depending on what the designer sets it to you basically control anything from doors to strange pulley systems, maybe ladders or any such manner of the environment. What connection does our protag have with this world?

Funny bug that happened. Indicators go off on their own

Ooh I like this mechanic.

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Picking up things. Not really so much for a puzzle but a goal for each puzzle. Eventually you return to this place to put the orb thingies in. I really didn't want an GUI for a long time, but I figured at least making up made up symbols will retain the vibe of the game. Need to make more backgrounds, which doesn't take much figuring out anymore, but is just a grind.

So my plan is to make a finished version of the first half of the game (probably not gonna be very long) to at least achieve some level of completedness. The only real unknown element of development time is just the puzzles. I've created so many puzzles similar to this in another game before, so the design likely isn't going to be put into question, just if I can program them effectively. The activated floor is pretty much the base of every puzzle, but some of the design twists might be difficult to execute.

-program the thing that opens the locked door once you've collected all 3 pieces
-make 3 backgrounds for places that loop back into locked door room
-program a basic elevator (and make the background for it)
-program several puzzles for the upper areas (one continuous puzzle that builds on elements carried throughout the room)
-make backgrounds for them
-make a ladder sliding puzzle of sorts (easier than the last)
-make backgrounds for that
-make backgrounds for the sight-seeing areas at the beginning of the game + add that ladder interaction at the begginning

-maybe some intro cutscene idk

can I do this in a week? we shall see. it lines up with being possible per day.

due to the extension of the deadline I decided to take a break and just focus on what I feel like working on atm. Basically puzzles without visuals figured out. Top is essentially a puzzle where you push down a key orb from a high place, but block yourself off to picking it up, and bottom is a conveyor belt puzzle where you alternate between two control panels to bring it towards you. Both are teaching ways to alternate and reverse how you utilize panels but I'm designing as I program at this point. I kind of like how the shape of the conveyor belt room drives me to sort of zigzag the conveyor belt layout to match it (which the design is heading towards anyway).

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Have not worked on it as much as I wanted to as there's 4 days left. But I did manage to visually update the puzzles (in the above post) complete with backgrounds. I plan to release a demo that will likely contain 3-4 puzzles and then a to be continued screen. I want to actually continue this project even though I told myself it's usually better to try and complete something and just move on to some other jam. But I do like the potential this project has as a decent puzzle adventure. So I will give myself the rest of September to complete the rest of it.

For now the goal is to finish up the rest of the backgrounds (there are 3 before coming to this area) and program the point of getting the orbs in the first place (I almost count it as a 4th puzzle)

Push an inaccessible orb off, but pushing it blocks your path. Puzzle explores the use of using both directions (the door puzzle before only requires one).

(Still need to make the elevation of the orb going from the conveyor belt to the ground make more sense) but the puzzle introduces alternating between panels to solve things.

Issues with this project stem from being too ambitious and overestimating the 1 month time. As I don't feel comfortable releasing a game that has puzzles that seem like they could be explored more (or "resolved" to put it in musical terms). Yet due to the inspirations and how I imagined the game to be, maybe this is the best case scenario, a jam purely for getting a rock solid foundation.

Assuming you get all of the orbs or "keys" (all laid out for testing purposes) from the puzzles you solved, the door that locks you out until you place them into the slots is now implemented. Very lazily inefficient copy pasted programming was done to accomplish this but at least everything functional for the planned demo is done. Last thing to do is to do the backgrounds and maybe a ladder climbing functionality/animation.

If things go well I might have a day to just add meaningless interactions to make the game more "alive" (but then again I have a lot of sound effects to implement still). But yeah potentially a day of polish to slot in.

Finally added the first area of the game where you noticed an object falling through the sky with your little telescope. Gotta go down and check it out. Going down the ladder surprisingly didnt take that long to implement, though it has no real functional purpose (will be useful later on). So the status right now is that the jam is due in 1 hour. But I have 2 backgrounds left to do (unsurprisingly) for the little teaser demo I'm cooking up to feel submittable. So later on tonight or tomorrow I'll just get those 2 backgrounds done without pushing myself too much.  The jam seems lenient about stuff like that anyway.

The next post I'll make will likely detail the tech demo release and what my plans are for beyond this jam, and I'll likely continue in the actual game page's blog.