posts tagged with: gamedev

September Life Update

September Life Update
Hey! It sure has been awhile. Whoops.

A lot has been going on since I last posted! I'll try to touch on a little bit of everything without making this into another six thousand word blog post.

Mental Health Stuff


I'm still keeping on with my medicine and therapy, and it's been going really great. Just as a quick recap, I was diagnosed with ADHD and started taking 10mg of Adderall once a day to counter-act it, and it's been working incredibly well. I feel like I am a whole new person and my brain actually works the way I want it to. I still also take 10mg of Lexapro for anxiety, and sometimes I consider coming off of it, but I think right now this combo is totally perfect for me.

Super Meat Boy Rival Rush


This was one of the big secrets that I was working on! A long while back Tommy and I were talking about what sort of cool thing we could do for Super Meat Boy at PAX West. He mentioned the idea of trading cards, and that seemed really cool, but why not just go the extra mile and make it into a fully fleshed out card game?

Rival Rush quickly became my focus for a few months, and we were able to actually get it all finished and printed for PAX. Then during PAX we actually ended up selling out of our entire stock of it. We didn't expect it at all. Honestly we were questioning if we would sell ten packs of cards. We grossly underestimated the demand for the game, and now we're currently working on a way to get the game reprinted on a larger scale.

This is the first non-video game I've ever successfully developed, and it was a blast. I'll try to dig into it a little more in more specific blog posts in the future. It was a crazy whirlwind of just a few months to go from the initial idea to the actual final product. I feel like I got to finally use a lot of my competitive card game experience to make a really compelling one on one game that I am really proud of.

Super Meat Boy Forever


Work continues on Forever. I'm doing all of the level design of the game, and some of the game design. It's been an absolute blast to work on this game and I'm extremely proud of all of the work that the team has put in so far. It's going to be a massive game and I think everyone is going to really love it. I really enjoy playing it, and I think a lot of the people that are questioning the auto-run direction are going to be pleasantly surprised when they pick it up. I am very particular with the games that I like, and I can honestly say that Forever is a game that I love.

I do have a lot of work ahead of me though, and again it's work that I cannot share publicly! I want to share everything I'm working on, but there are a lot of things in Forever that are best suited for being revealed as people play the game. It's going to be great.

Drawing


I've been spending a lot of time doodling and drawing with my newfound abilities to focus, but I've been totally slipping on posting anything. Sometimes a lot of what I draw feels very samey so I don't feel like posting it, or sometimes I just end up sketching a lot of stuff that feels like throw away stuff not really worth posting up here, but I suppose maybe I should. It's kinda funny how I am totally open about all of these deep personal things like my life and mental health but when it comes to drawing I still feel very cagey and protective. I want to start posting at least a drawing once a week on here again, but again who knows if that will end up happening.

PAX West 2018


This year PAX West was an amazing experience. It was also very tiring. We might have done a little bit of crazy crunch time up until the first day of PAX. Whoops.

For Super Meat Boy Forever we were able to debut one of the boss fights in the game. The boss battles in Forever are going to be one of the defining differences between the original Super Meat Boy and Forever.

We ended up announcing Rival Rush and releasing it the first day of PAX, which some might say is very weird and possibly stupid, but it was fun so whatever. I stayed up all night editing a video to launch with the Rival Rush website, and then ended up sleeping through half of the first day of PAX. Again, whoops.

After that though everything was very smooth. I spent pretty much the entire weekend showing people how to play the card game, and watching people play through levels of Forever.

It's important to note that this was my first conference or convention experience while taking Adderall. I take the instant release version so it only lasts about four to five hours when I take it, so I ended up taking my daily dose at around noon or so, so that it would hopefully last from then until when the expo hall closed.

It actually made a huge difference that I could immediately notice. Usually at conventions I'm really shy and although I don't mind talking to people, I do have a lot of anxiety surrounding it. It feels like my brain is going too fast to keep up with when I interact with people and I end up second or third guessing myself constantly whenever I have even the most basic interactions with people. I noticed that when I was under the effects of my medication though a lot of that social anxiety evaporated. My brain was remaining calm and I felt like I was in control of my thoughts, which made interacting with people much much more pleasant.

I was incredibly nervous about the card game leading up to PAX. For a lot of reasons really. It's the first non-video game project I've ever successfully completed. It's a card game so that means the only way to learn how to play is through having the rules explained to you, or reading the rules and trying to figure it out. It's pretty terrifying to think about. I was afraid that people were going to not understand the game at all, or think that certain parts of it were just terrible, or I thought that there were going to be all of these obvious things that I didn't think of... but none of that happened. People were very resceptive to the game. Almost everyone that tried it was able to pick it up after just a brief explanation. A lot of people said incredibly kind things that honestly made me want to cry!

To top it all off, so many people wanted me to sign their cards! What an incredibly humbling experience. Is humbling the right word there? I don't know. It's a very strange feeling. I signed so many cards that I felt like most of my PAX was spent signing autographs. It's totally surreal. Again I'm just incredibly happy and proud of how everything turned out with Rival Rush, and PAX, and Forever, and all of it. It's just great.

Onward


My priorities are very different now than they were this time last year. Unfortunately, Sky Sisters still is on the wayside. I don't have any time to actively develop it. Along with that, Otter is in a bit of stasis. It's a usable framework, but I wont be adding any features to it for the forseeable future. I wanted to get a new version of it up and running with a new renderer, but that is also something I do not have time for.

Once Super Meat Boy Forever is done and out the door then I'll be able to reevaluate what the future holds for me, but for now I'm keeping my focus on that first and foremost.

That's it for now!

Sky Sisters Upgrades

Sky Sisters Upgrades
I think the last actual question to ponder in the world of Super Sky Sisters is the upgrade system. A long time ago when I demoed the game at an event in Denver I got some feedback that suggested that it would be more interesting or fun if the players had some sort of active goal to pursue. This came mostly in the form of maybe collecting something actively, or something along those lines. Basically the way that the game is played right now is that you are always just reacting to things and never just acting.

The strongest idea that came out of thinking on this for awhile was tying the upgrades to some sort of active goal that the players could pursue. I decided to go down the path of collecting things and put a small challenge in that involves the players guiding the orb along a predetermined path. When they completed a lap on the path they would earn an upgrade, and the path would then demand more of them for the next upgrade by either changing shape or adding more laps, and so on. At first this seemed like a good idea but lately I'm totally not sure.

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The upgrades are things like +20% damage, or +10% special recharge, or +50% loot range. I think the upgrades are actually a lot of fun and when I added them to the game it seemed to really fit and complete some sort of puzzle that I was staring at for months. It almost seems like a hack since it seems like players in general are always going to respond well with some sort of +X% of something opportunity in a game, but it also gives the sense of progress and that is actually quite difficult in Sky Sisters since the entire game takes place in a single square arena.

So right now I'm at a crossroads. I like how the upgrades require the players to do something actively to earn them, but the more I look at it the more complex it seems. Adding this new idea of an upgrade path on top of everything else just seems like a giant mess, and the game is already messy and chaotic most of the time (especially at the higher difficulties.)

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The more I think about it the more I want to remove this system entirely and make upgrades a thing you just earn halfway before a boss, and immediately after a boss. This is the super tough part of designing a game like this. It's not as obvious to me as say changing the layout of a level to teach a mechanic easier. It's a big system with a lot of moving parts and messing with one part changes all the others. When I watch people play the game it seems like they're already trying their hardest to just survive and go for a high score, so maybe I'm reading into this feedback a little bit in the wrong direction.

Back when I received this feedback it was at a point where the game was much slower paced, so maybe the player felt like they just wanted more going on and not so much down time. The idea is that during this "down time" the players can work toward some goal, but I'm not sure if this is the right way to accomplish that. Since PAX I made the game faster paced, and it worked out better than I thought.

Not sure what I'm going to do! I think I will probably remove this whole path tracking challenge to get upgrades. Or... as I've typed this out I thought maybe if there was something on the screen that the players could always shoot that might be fun... but ... now I'm already thinking of how that could go horribly wrong too. Oh well. Video games!

Dev Log: Particle Polish

Dev Log: Particle Polish
I've just been hopping around on Sky Sisters revisiting some areas that needed a little bit more love. I wanted to make the upgrade diamonds a little bit more clear when the players touch one.

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The changes are super subtle but hopefully they get the message across a little bit more. I adjusted the screen flash and the particle burst when the orb touches the diamond, and I also added a flashing effect onto the diamond itself that gets more intense. I also shortened the overall time it takes for the whole effect to play out.

Dev Log: Loot Numbers

Dev Log: Loot Numbers
Whoops I forgot to post for like two weeks again. Why do I keep doing that! Oh well.

I'm quickly running out of things to do in Super Sky Sisters now as I try to polish every last bit that I can. I just keep letting my anxiety get the best of me and I refuse to release it because my brain is broken in weird ways. Anyway!

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I added some fancy numbers for when the player collects loot in the game. I figure since damage and healing has numbers then also collecting loot should also give some fancy numbers as well. I tried to make them look very different from the damage numbers so I went with a white fill and a gold outline.

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The numbers also get bigger the more you collect which can be pretty fun at times...

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Dev Log: Upgrade Queued

Dev Log: Upgrade Queued
One of the main pieces of feedback I recieved about Sky Sisters was something like "it would be nice if the players had a proactive goal instead of just reactive goals." Meaning that instead of just dodging things all the time it would be cool if the players could work toward some goal.

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Right now the idea is to have some sort of outline of a shape in the arena. The players can use the orb to trace that shape. Whenever a lap is completed the shape will change into something more complicated. Right now I have this tied to getting upgrades, which I'm still a little unsure of. The first time you complete a lap you unlock an upgrade. The second upgrade requires two laps, and every upgrade after that requires three laps. I have yet to try this out with two players though. I kind of like the upgrades always coming every 3 or so events, but it also seems like the most worthwhile reward that this shape tracing thing can give you.

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This might have to go through a lot of refinement as right now even I find it tough to find time to complete laps around this thing during all the madness of the gameplay. Having a proactive goal though also introduces the problem of cheesing certain events so I have to come up with ways to address that as well. Basically I don't want the optimal strategy to be to leave events running as long as possible to get more upgrades. We'll see how this turns out through play testing, and this might have to be something I possibly address or change after the first release of the game.

Dev Log: Enemy Shields

Dev Log: Enemy Shields
I keep mentioning ways to keep both players involved in the gameplay of Super Sky Sisters in my recent posts. Here's yet another way I've tried to address this issue!

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I've introduced the ability for enemies to spawn with shields that can be either red or blue. These shields operate in the same way that the Orb shield does just placed on enemies instead of the Orb. It's a pretty straight forward challenge: red shields can be destroyed by player 1 and blue shields by player 2. This means that situations will develop in the game where you are forced to switch who is doing the shooting at times.

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Another scenario that can arise as the game goes on is stacked enemy shields. Enemies can have more than one shield on them! So this makes switching who is doing the shooting even more important as now players will have to trade off multiple times in order to take down a single enemy.

So far I'm pretty happy how this change has effected the game, but I've yet to see it in an actual two player situation. I'm looking forward to my next play test opportunity as there's now a load of new things to test!