Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ultrageist Update

Besides the graphical changes, I've changed the fire button as the previous arrangement seems to have prevented diagonal movement on some keyboards.

You can download it either from Yo Yo Games or Game Jolt. Game Jolt gives me a small royalty-- by small, I mean, a fraction of a penny per download-- so I'll link there.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ultrageist Diary # 20

Spriting for the final boss. I have to keep him in tune with the game's over-all aesthetic (blocky, symmetrical, very "sprite-y") and make him big enough to fill the entire width of the screen. Given the dimensions of the screen, this makes him very rectangular. The other characters, both enemies and bosses alike, are very square or circle, very compact, and the art style is fairly simple and uncluttered to reflect this. This boss, being so rectangular, needs some other shapes to break up that dominant shape, to make him more-- well, organic isn't quite the right word, what with the armour and everything, but less like a long ugly box.

Making a change to the third boss that cuts down the time required. I am, however, making the margin for error less forgiving-- i.e., taking damage will restore a lot more of the boss's hp.

Ultrageist Diary # 19

Having some trouble with the sprites for the last boss-- I want the sprite and its various states of disrepair/blow-up-i-ness to be really spectacular and satisfying and I'm not feeling particularly inspired as of yet.

However, I do know exactly what I want to do for the boss's attacks and how I want the fight to "feel", and I've actually created the objects I need to do that-- just without sprites.

This last fight should depend more on skill and reflexes, and so there isn't an overriding strategy or trick this time around other than, "hit him with your bullets" and "don't get hit by his bullets". Elegant, simple, shmuppy.

Hopefully I'll wrap my head around the spriting during this next week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ultrageist Diary # 18

Changing the bosses from "gods" to "memories", with each memory given a somewhat obtuse title.

When they were gods, each of them went through a number of names-- first, nonsense names, intended to ape the sort of eldritch abominations you'll find in Lovecraft, then poorly-translated Esperanto versions of nonsense phrases, then joke names. The latter included Death Crab for Cutie.

With this current naming convention, the words on the screen have some kind of meaning without detracting from the mysterious atmosphere that Mr. Crane's wonderful music evokes so well. Puns and gibberish get in the way of the experience.

There's a danger, of course, with people investing too much meaning into these "memories"-- this isn't a story game, or one with any kind of deep philosophical theme. And then there's the danger of people being turned off by this naming convention, who would think it a bit pretentious or arty-farty.

Which isn't my intention. I'm just trying to make a neat shooter. Here's hoping I'm able to strike the balance.

Going to bed now. Tomorrow I'll see if I'm happy with these names and that third boss. If so, it's on to the final boss.

Ultrageist Diary # 17

Happy accident: an unintended result of the collision code for a certain part of the second boss allows the canny player to hit it with several spread-shots at once, skipping over an entire attack pattern. It is now possible to defeat that second boss in about the same amount of time as the first.

I was so pleased to stumble upon this "mistake", as it's exactly the kind of thing I've been trying to build into the game from the start. And I don't think it'll be very hard for others to stumble upon it as well.

In other news, I think I've finished the third boss. He's very different than the others: instead of firing bullets, he uses his body; he has a small weak-point, surrounded by armor that deflects the player's shots; he requires the sort of careful timing that makes for fun boss fights but doesn't lend itself particularly well to the "I-just-beat-the-boss-in-10-seconds" feeling that you might get with the first two.

To compensate for this-- after all, I can't expect a player to beat the whole game in three minutes if there's a boss that deliberately gums up the works-- this boss takes more damage-per-hit than the others. And to compensate for that-- because, after all, I don't want it to be easy-- the player takes more "damage" from coming into contact with the boss and so there's less of a margin for error.

A mistake in this game, especially in the boss battles, can cost the player dearly, and that goes double for the last two bosses.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ultrageist Diary # 16

Some screen-shots from level three.

As you can see, these enemies have a trail effect, which helps to emphasize their speed. These enemies are in constant motion, whereas earlier enemies come to frequent stops.

I briefly tried adding a trail effect to the third boss, but because the sprite is much larger, it didn't have the same effect-- instead looking rather ugly and clunky.

I'm trying to iron out a couple of technical crinkles in the third boss. Assuming I can overcome them this week, and that the fourth and final boss is going to come together as quickly as I think it will, the game should be done by the 20th at the latest-- ten days before the deadline.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ultrageist Diary # 15

Scratch that. Part of it, at any rate.

Level three has one enemy type, with one hit point, and a constant attack aimed at the player, creating a sea of bullets. Player must strike a balance between safety (i.e., blowing them away) and abusing the bonus system to fill up the bar (i.e., putting that bar at greater and greater risk). Not a mental decision but a twitch decision.

Going to sleep on it, and if I still feel good about it, I'm going to get started on those last two bosses.

Ultrageist Diary # 14

As stated before, levels one and two each feature two enemy types, a popcorn unit (low-defense, relatively low-offense) and a tank/sponge (high-defense, lots and lots of bullets).

Because I want level three to ratchet up the intensity, to be slightly more spastic, I'm not going to go the same route. Instead, I'm going to create two or tree units that combine popcorn-unit style defense (that is, units that can be destroyed with one or two shots) and tank-unit style offense (that is, a helluva lot of bullets).

While the same basic mechanic from the first two levels can and should be used (and abused) by the player, the third level should manifest itself in a less strategic, more reflexive manner.

Fingers crossed.