Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Musical

I spent the last week fending off what was left of my cold and sinus problems, but I managed to get some work finished by looking up music for Magma Girl. For those who played Buried Blitz, you may remember the music being good, but not fitting the theme. As I was limited by using only creative commons based songs that were looped, my available library was a little too thin to get the proper action and suspense feel that I originally wanted. Instead I used techno for mixed results. As the available library size has continued to be too limiting, it looks as if I will have to make the music myself. I spent the week getting familiar with the Anvil Studio midi creator. Hopefully, the tracks created will fit the theme better this time around. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Down with the Sickness

Sudden illness has put a strain on progress this week. However, here is an image of the prototype in progress. Be sure to check in next week for a Christmas update.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Damage Report

Good news and bad news. The bad news is that the sliding stop function is too buggy for proper use in the game. The good news is that I got the health bar to work right and have it work with a stun mechanic so players do not die by not moving away from the enemy fast enough. Also, the lava is fully functioning for destroying enemies. As of now, enemy AI and whether or not an enemy health bar is reasonable will follow soon. The main issue will be keeping track of all of the on stage objects that will be acting out invisible functions to make the game play in a more smoothly manner. More will be revealed next week.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sliding Home

Another week of development is finished. I was able to create a sliding stop mechanic for moving that seems to be working well. I'll know more once more features are added. Health is next on the list and it will be followed by a huge amount of enemy tests and room mechanics. Once that is finished, the process of stage creation, items, and boss tests will follow. Sounds like a short list on paper, but that is not including the final bits of art and sound that generally become very time consuming.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jumping for Joy

Another week of prototyping has been finished, this time working out the kinks in movement and jumping. The original plan for the movement programming was scrapped in favor of a system similar to what was used in Buried Blitz, though it has better tracking for left and right movements. Tests still had to be created as new inputs are going to be used this time around. Slight slippery movements are next on the test list as is working out a new health system as the one from Buried Blitz is to time consuming for art assets.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hot Lava!

Week one of prototyping is done. I think I have the lava timing and gravity down for what I want to do. More on this as I move on to levels and enemies. Updates will resume on Saturdays as usual starting next week. Here's a quick shot of one of the tests.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Research and methods

Hello everyone! Right now Magma Girl is undergoing basic planning and documentation. So far the enemy types, attacks, items, bosses, and stages have been planned out. Prototyping will start now with more news next Friday, as I will be unable to properly update next Saturday. Stay tuned, everyone.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Buried Blitz postmortem

Now that Buried Blitz has been released on Yoyo Games and Game Jolt, I figured now would be a good time to release a postmortem concerning the game’s development.

In the middle of July, I began work on Buried Blitz after cancelling another project due to time constraints. The process took roughly around three and a half months of work and was finally released on Halloween night. While it took less creation time than the previous two games, Moody and Meteor Malice, its creation was small feat. Through development, the basic concept changed from completely vertical dodge and climb game to actually having a sprawling level with many horizontal and vertical twists and turns to the final exit. The final project was the end result of constant testing and a desire to not condemn the project to developmental hell.

What Went Right:

1. Easy to use engine

The Game Maker engine is actually one of the easiest engines to use for independent game creation. The fact that I have already used this same engine to create games in the past made it even easier. The drag and drop interface for quick scripting and level creation allowed what would have been weeks or months of coding to be finished in hours or days. While the engine does not get the best reputation as a professional engine, the easy to use interface and variables make the creation of rapid prototypes quick and painless with less high level scripting than many creations made with Flash or Java.

2. Simple sprites and animations

Art is a touchy subject when you think of terms in with animation. While the Mona Lisa is a well done painting, fully animating it and having it move around would be difficult, time consuming, and may end up looking awkward. To combat this, I decided to use super-deformed characters with large simple heads and small bodies with little detail. This technique is not new as such methods were used in the creation of the Power Puff Girls. By going a more cartoon route, I was able to make the animations simple and easily read while avoiding the issues of the uncanny valley.

3. Simple concept

A few years ago, I tried playing a card game involving a single token placed in the middle, five different card types with little direction on when they should be played, a changing order of play and direction as the game progressed, and a bunch of other game features that would take up at least for pages to explain. Needless to say, I felt lost, confused, and quit out of frustration. If you take a look at Blackjack, the rules are to get close to twenty one without going over. My whole idea with game design is simplicity and consistency. If the player knows what to do with minimal instructions, the game will be easier to play and reach a wider audience. By focusing on making the game solely about dodging falling blocks and progressing to the next room, there was very little to make the player feel lost or overwhelmed.

What Went Wrong:

1. Sound issues

The final week focused on sound, which was not the best plan. The fact that I traded off sound editing software in the middle did not help out either. Up until five hours prior to upload, the different sampling and compression rates seemed to confuse the engine and caused the background music to become suddenly mute. Massive amounts of recompression had to be added to the stage sounds to work around this issue. The main reason for the software change had to do with the music size after looping the sounds and converting them into .wav files. It was also why the game is only 24 MB and not around 90 MB.

2. Development during the summer

Summer is classically the time when people go on vacations and events. This led to the consequences of a few unexpected risks in dealing with funerals and family vacations. Luckily this was only isolated to August, but the end result was that I lost over two weeks of development time. The major lesson there was that life does not fit in with self imposed deadlines.

3. Graphical cuts and issues

One of the earliest decisions I made was to forego the use of a health bar in favor of having damage and status being exhibited by how the player character looks. This ended up tripling the number of sprites. To reduce the development time half of the animation states were cut including slight angles when jumping and falling while moving left or right. Some of the largest graphic flaws did not exhibit themselves until the point of no return in the development cycle. While many of them were fixed, certain weak decisions such as the asymmetrical arm failing were swept under radar. The lessons learned from this were to explore the use of health bars, create sprite masks for defining movement at least, and work on less misleading animation loops.


Despite the struggles, lost time, and compromises, I am happy with the game and its response online. I learned even more about theoretical game design than with previous projects and found various ways to apply such ideas in future projects. For my next project, Magma Girl, I hoping to create an even greater gaming experience. As I will be concentrating more of my time on job hunting and web design, the development will have a much slower pace. Visit again next Saturday as I post more details.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Buried Blitz finished

Buried Blitz has been finished and is now available for download and online play. Next week, a postmortem will be published concerning the development of the game and an alternate download site should be made available. Right now three games are being pitched for the next project. One is a two part action game using a character change system similar to one of my cancelled games, another is a fighting game that uses platformer controls and works like a boss rush style game, and the final pitch is a run-and-gun platformer that uses a more vertical based attack system. More will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stumbling to the finish line

While the cinematics have been finished, there is still a bit of work left. The game will be released on Halloween, with a special announcement concerning future projects. Until then, see you next Saturday.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Almost there

The primary bug fixes have been finished. While minor cinematics are being introduced, not much else is to be added for the final game. Sound should take two days tops if all goes well, and hopefully the songs will not increase the file size too much this time around. As for future projects, they will be made on a short schedule as to put more focus on the job hunt. Right now, two future pitches are going under review.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Neck and neck

A big chunk of the testing and clean-up work has been finished. The game is expected to have a final release not too long after next Saturday. The following Saturday after the release will have a short postmortem detailing the full progress and development of the game. Tune in next week, as I finish up the final pieces of Buried Blitz.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Home stretch

The game is near completion now. What's left is just clean-up work, testing, and sound. As of such, the game is set to be released in approximately two weeks. Updates will proceed as usual and a link to the game's download and online play will be posted once the release is finalized.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

All image

The final art week is now in session. As most of the visual progress has been either too boring or spoiler-filled, there will be no more image postings until further notice. The final pieces should be finished by next Saturday, with sound and general play fixes to follow. The next project is undergoing the green light tests now, as possible employment opportunities and other studies are starting to take a head. Stay tuned for more updates next Saturday.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Getting ready for the engine

Not much on the development front this week. The art progress this week has not been placed in the engine, as they can not be properly tested without the animation bits finished. But keeping in theme with the weekly art show, I will reveal the three damage phases for the player during one of the power-up events.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Possible delays

Despite the progress made on the art, there have been some minor hiccups causing the games release to come into question. Right now, a good chunk of the programming has to be revised to make the jumping more friendly and less brutal. On top of that, it has been discovered that the game lags too much in play, so a new mechanic is being designed to fix that. To compensate, half of the originally planned artwork has been cut. Despite this, the release date looks to be pushed back to early-mid October at the earliest. I know I was wanting to release this game under two months of development, but that currently looks unrealistic. Still, this game will be released and will not fade off into vaporware or become a three year project that should have only taken six months. I have too many future projects I want to get created. Here's a new screenshot, this time showing part of the new damage system planned for the game.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Quick update

Much of the main character sprites are being tested at the moment. As of now the late September deadline for the game's release stands. A more detailed update will be included next week. Here's a quick screenshot of the game in progress.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Background information

Another week has passed and more art is on the way. I finished the background a few days ago. The tiles seem to work well with the stage so far. The only issue is that it seems to be impossible to have separate backgrounds for the play area and the unreachable places in between without causing the game to lag. As of such, I will have to make sure the level design is not misleading during testing. Items and certain character sprites have also been finished, I hope to have at least half of the main character's sprites and animations finished by the next report. I will be busy with a bit of outside world related business next weekend, so the next update may be a little slim. But for now, here is this week's screenshot.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Art on the attack

Now that my vacation is over, I have been working on the in-game art. It will be a bit of a grind to finish that and the sound by late September, but I should be able to finish the game with time to spare. As I move on with this stage, I will be posting a new screenshot with every new post until the art phase is finished and the final sound stage begins. Be sure to stop by next Saturday for more Sanity Limited news and images.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sounds of music

The final few days of my vacation are at hand. Right now, the music is going to be from either RageVI or Grillpie. For further study, visit newgrounds and check out the audio portal. Right now, the addition of music into the game will happen after all of the art has been completed.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vacation work around

While out of town for a short summer break, I have had little time to work on the project. Never the less, "Buried Blitz" is completely built with the items all coded and inserted. The build works start to finish, leaving only art and sound decisions. Stay tuned next week when possible music selections will be revealed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blocking it out

Yet another fine Saturday night. The level has been built and over half of the items have been coded. The checkpoint system this game will be using has been finalized and within a week or two the only the art and sound will remain. As a previous engagement has been made, eating up time for a few of the incoming weeks, the future progress reports this month may seem a little slim. Never the less, you can expect "Burried Blitz" to be completed between the end of the month and late September. And as promised, here are some screenshots of how the game looks now, with placeholder art.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Clean restart

For those of you who do not visit the TIGSource forums, I recently cancelled "Crude Science Rangers Go!" due to lack of time to finish the art and sound. As of such, I resumed working on an older halted project, title "Buried Blitz." As of now, the level design portion of the game has been finished, except for a few checkpoint places here and there. The programming is about half way done, and art and sound will be started once that is finished. Next week, I'll publish some screenshots of the placeholder art filled game and include a few sample images of concept art and perhaps a sprite or two.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Closing in on the deadline

For those of you who do not know, the current project is being created for an online competition. The deadline is around the end of the first week of August, thus making the project's development time only a little over one month. As I am working on getting a job in the industry and creating a portfolio of illustration work for side work, it will be a large sprint to finish the game on time. But do not read this as a complaint, I am greatly enjoying this challenge. Most of my normal development times for game creation has been four to six months of work, and if I manage to finish this project on time future works should be created with only two to three months instead. However, the creation is going slower than I would like. So next week the final decision on whether this game will be cut or not will be finalized. If so, the projects data will be used for creation on "Buried Blitz," an arcade style platformer that currently uses much of the same code. Be sure to tune in for more news next Saturday and learn what will become of "Crude Science Rangers Go!"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tiny pixels

Another week has passed and first full build is close to ready. A bit more programming needs to be finished and a few more rooms need to be built. The main focus for this comming week will be art. I have finished flat color standing sprites for three of the five main units. They are part of the main characters for Crude Science Rangers Go! To further show the fruits of my labor, here's what they look like for now. More to come soon.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Building blocks.

Well, its been one week and I am almost finished with the under layer of my third game. This one is being made for a contest, so I'll be working on it for one month instead of three to six. This means that it may be a little rough around the edges, but it should fine where it counts. As for hints about the theme or genre, let's just say I'm glad parody laws exist and I hope Saban Entertainment has a good sense of humor. As for in-game screenshots, its not even in alpha yet. All you are going to see is blocks and blanks like the one below. Be here next week when I post some new sprites and reveal more about this bizarre project.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time to get crazy!

Hello everyone! This is MacDiver, creator of Moody and Meteor Malice. While I am searching for a career in the gaming industry, I figured I might as well start a development blog for the independent games I will be creating in the mean time. Thus begins the journey of this one person game studio, Sanity Limited! Be sure to check back every Saturday for updates, images, and who knows what else!