I have wanted to do this for a while. There are not a whole lot of games out there that actually hold my interest for very long, and I wanted to highlight a few of the really impressive ones, and maybe throw around some thoughts I have for whatever I am currently playing.
Just to clarify, Fight Night Champion is whatever I am currently playing. This game series has so much potential, but is let down in so many places.
I have been playing Fight Night round 4 for a year or so. It is a good game, but has some strikingly poor aspects to it. These aspects have not been addressed in this years iteration. I must confess that I only play a small section of the game, mostly Legacy, with FNC I have played Champion mode. I have no interest in Fight Now modes or Online, so this may undermine the products worth further.
Anyhow, Legacy mode is back, the awkward interface is exactly the same, the awkward controls are exactly the same, the annoying and almost impossibly hard mini games are exactly the same, save for the fact you cannot skip them anymore. Leveling up your boxer has been changed somewhat from a simple but limited 2 steps forward, 1 step back system to an XP and Athleticism system. XP is earned from engaging in the horrible mini games, and from engaging in fights(good idea) As for Athleticism, well, I have not idea what it is or what it does. The game does not explain offbeat systems like this. Leveling up is slow and progress is slow and confusing.
As for Champion mode. I had no intentions of playing this mode when I bought the game, and was pleasantly surprised with it. The story was ok, the presentation was nice, the flow was there. The locked in match requirements were less stellar parts mind you, such as having to fight one handed or only attacking the head. Wonderful twist where you play as the main antagonist to get a feel for what he can do, which is monstrously beyond anything any fighter in the game could do, and to knock some sense into the stupid younger brother character. Then we come to what I assume is the final fight of the mode. Taking on the bad guy. With locked in match requirements. Don’t get hit for 2 rounds, land 75 body punches in the next 3 rounds, guarding a cut for 2 rounds. This vs a chap that can knock you down with any punch, a chap with no stamina drain. I have not completed this mode, and as much as I want to see the end, I don’t want to suffer through this fight.
The core game play has been improved, the graphics are incredible. The good parts of round 4 are better and the bad parts are worse. It is quite frustrating.
Still working on the game. Not much has changed recently though. Have been working on ways to tile dirt to make it look good and still be functional. I fret over these sorts of aspects endlessly.
I have based the main game play on interaction between four elements, fire, water, earth and air. I know this is horribly uninspired but I have found out why it is used so much. It is the perfect concept. I have gone through countless iterations of pretty much everything, and they all boil down to these sorts of ideas.
They story concept for the game has gone through countless iterations as well. The main aspects have stuck though, life and death.
I work in a very strangled ebb and flow manner. I will not leave something until it is right. So I will spend weeks on inconsequential details. Once I crack that egg, I ride the wave through a rapid development stage until I find the next issue for me to lose sleep over.
As a side note. I don’t know if I should post more personal ideas/observations/interests here beside video games in fear of scaring away those with different views from mine. However I also feel like I need an outlet, somewhere I can attempt to cough some of these things up. I will consider not canceling the next opinionated post.
We really don’t know a whole lot about everything. The more I learn the more I find is missing. That really is part of the fun in the grand scheme of things. But it can be frustrating.
However, something that is entirely frustrating, without fun, is trying to understand how so many people on this planet can be so drawn to pseudo-scientific nonsense. How desperately they will cling to it. Now, desperation is understandable for those people in situations where anything would be done to survive or to save a dearly loved friend/relative.
But those who have the ability, time and safety to open their eyes and really look at what is going on, and who do not, are doing a disservice to the human race.
I write this in the wake of devastating earthquakes in my home country of New Zealand. Vaguely predicted after the fact by a lunatic. A lunatic who sells lunar based weather forecasts for 12nzd a week. This man is now in the media light, Vaguely predicting the next tremor, probably enjoying a bump in e book sales. And being believed.
Aftershocks since the September earthquake. Count how many there are. Make a prediction, plus or minus 3 days, what do you think your chances of being right are?
Power bands, charms, faith healers, dousing rods, magnets, vibrations, conspiracy theories, moon men. All fall apart if you open your eyes.
It has been quite a long time since my last update. Back then I had two weeks off work, and decided in the second week to get stuck in making levels. Which was a great idea, with a bad result. I got eight to ten levels completed layout wise, and found out that my game was not much fun. Well, it was ok, but there was a feeling that it needed something else.
So since my last post I have rebuilt everything. To a pretty similar state honestly, I am not sure what it is going to take to really make this a good game. However, the structure is far more flexible, and I can prototype and remove ideas easily and tidily. So that is what I am doing, trying out gameplay ideas, adding to the graphics library slowly, and mocking up levels.
I use a visual game development program called Construct, made by the chaps at http://www.scirra.com. It is free and powerful, and the community is small, knowledgeable and friendly. And it is free. However simple the tools are made to use, you will still need to learn a significant amount of game logic to make anything decent. Knowing the programs interesting quirks, obscure menus and options helps a lot too. But these are things that you pick up as you play.
Hopefully I make some good progress in the next few weeks to post about.
As an aside, as I feared, the store I work in is now selling Power Balance bands. People are stupid and I am a terrible salesman, I try to keep my mouth shut about what rubbish Power Balance is, but I am honest and forward about what I know, to the point of telling customers directly that Power Balance are a scam, and they still sell.
Progress has floundered as of late. Many reasons for this. Main one however is that I have never finished a game on my own, and have not really progress past a certain stage of game development in any of my previous projects. But I have taken a few steps to help myself along. Firstly I have deleted all the art work. From the game that is, I do have it saved externally. So I don’t have anything to distract me from what I need to be working on. Level design. While I do need to take into consideration what tile set will accompany each level, I don’t want to be messing with the art while trying to get the level down to something that puts the fun in functional.
So this is what my game currently looks like. A grid in the background to help me align tiles, and to not be white. Pink platforms. And various triggers. In the picture there is a Purple trigger. When the character touches it, play is paused, and the camera will travel up to the yellow target, stay for however long I want, and then return to the character. A simple but extremely useful system. I have a lot of the traps and moving obstacles triggered in this fashion.
I have also bought a USB guitar link cable. Waiting on its arrival, but hopefully it will be good enough to do some decent recording with. I want to make the games music very atmospheric/industrial, incorporating a lot of the environmental sounds into the actual tracks. And then also release a version of the music with guitar tracks. Who knows how it will work out but this is what I am looking to achieve.
So power balance bracelets have become quite popular in the town I live in. I work in a sporting goods store, and have customers asking me where they can get these things from, why we do not sell them. I wouldn’t be surprised if, eventually they do turn up in store, because this world is all about making money, and if people want to give it to you, then you take it. But I am really kind of uncomfortable with the idea that next to logical, scientifically engineered and constructed equipment and clothing, there will be magical bracelets. Magical bracelets that, with the power of gray skull, and holograms, will synchronise your energy field and make you stronger. It is actually kind of scary that modern people can be so taken in by talismans and snake oil. But then again there is a booming homeopathy industry. I will probably leave the decision with the customer when it comes to it. I don’t have to endorse anything we sell, but I do think it is against the rules to directly tell customers a product is rubbish.
So if anyone is remotely interested in these ridiculous products, I implore that you do some research before joining the fad, take note that the promotional videos on youtube that have commenting disabled. Don’t be fooled into thinking that David Beckham is making a personal choice to wear two power balance bracelets. Think.
In my game I have worked quite hard on making movement in water to closer resemble reality. Of course it will be faster and easier, more exaggerated, how ever I don’t want the standard movement of a lessened gravity, constant sinking, constant jumping to hop along the surface. No, I want buoyancy, I want to float, to have to swim down. Which is turning a platform engine on its head. Literally. I have remade the water movement about 6 times.
Each time it seems great but then a situation crops up that makes it fall apart. Stuff like, running the game under 1000fps makes you bob uncontrollably at the surface, or only being able to have one water body.
Either way, I asked a few people who have some knowledge about water pressure to find out that, as in the image, the depth pressure at B is equal to A, C is the air compressed into the chamber. I had thought that this would be the case. So I got down to programming it as such, and succeeded to find it works just like you would think. Jumping into the water at point B, is the same as point A, which is quite deep. I am not sure how this would affect people at great depths in the real world. Makes me wonder about movies like Deep Blue Sea(my head is like a sharks fin) With the internal dive pool. Perhaps it was not that deep. Either way, it ruined the movement trying to jump into water that pressurized. So I have had to remake it again.
Ultimately I have settled on a constant pressure, instead of a gradient pressure. I needed it to work across chambers, and to remain functional the whole time.
I find it amusing that my main interests(video games and art) require me to basically know everything, or enough of everything to fake it.
I am having trouble sleeping at the moment. I have had trouble sleeping in the past and have investigated, and implemented various methods of correcting these problems.
Good sleep is hugely important for many reasons, as I am sure you know. I feel better when I am sleeping well. Generally the main problems for me is time and motivation. I have had a shortage of time to do what I want recently, and when I do have time I don’t have motivation. I start staying up later to get things done. Even when I do get to bed I am wired and start thinking things over, planning things, playing out scenes in my head every different way I can think of etc, which then impacts on the next day, and so on.
I don’t know how true this is for other sleeping problems, but fixing the initial cause is not going to fix the sleep issue, but ultimately you will need to sort it out to stop falling back into the bad habits.
There is one big way to help sort out sleeping issues. Set an alarm. Getting up each day at the same time helps promote a good sleep cycle. If you have more energy, you stay up later, sleep less, and it balances out for the next day, when you will hopefully get to bed a little earlier.
It is simple, but I am still screwing it up. Staying up too late is part of it, but I am also sleeping in too much! Even though it is now spring it has been damned cold here recently, seemingly colder than the dead of winter, which is a large deterrent in getting up on time. So that is something to work on over the next few weeks.
Today has been a windy and wild day. I used to love this kind of weather, however it is generally far more violent where I live now that it is somewhat disconcerting. But today has been pleasant.
I have been working on my game more regularly in the last few days. First main improvement was done to the players movement in water. In most platform and fps games, water represents low gravity, with the player sinking constantly, tapping jump to stay at the surface. This is quite easy to achieve, especially with Constructs platform movement. But for some reason I wanted to turn everything on its head and use buoyancy. I wanted the feeling of velocity as you jump from a high place and spear under the water, then float to the surface. I believe I have achieved this feeling quite well. All that is left to complete the impression is a bunch of effects, custom particles to really sell it.
Secondly I got stuck into the Hud/Menus. I had the menus working but I have grown dissatisfied with their blandness. So I have been working steadily all afternoon trying to sort out a good method to achieve what I wanted out of it. When it was all working correctly I added them into the game, so now the player has control over restarting and quitting from a visual menu. Added in falling to your death, connected that with the hud so you know how much damage a fall has done.
All in all I am pleased with these steps. It is quite impressive the amount of work that goes into making a smooth experience. And it isn’t until you actually put all these pieces together, next to each other that you realise where all the holes and starts are happening. I am a believer in consistency, all the menus control the same, look the same, and I need to sort out some transitions between the menus to resemble the transitions I have between levels.
And as an aside, anyone that works on big projects, shares anything online etc, you need to get a dropbox. I upload my entire project folder regularly, so if anything untoward should happen to my pc my work will be safe. Keep your work safe.
I have found in the past few years that changing from one style of art, to another, requires quite a substantial mental shift. Also going from a non productive state to one of focus takes a lot of work. But it does get easier the more you work on it. I have been getting back into pixel art for my game, finally taking a step in the right direction and it has been very difficult. I have doodled a few props here and there while I worked on the main game play, but nothing significant at all. Initially I could barely look at the canvas. Now after a few weeks of periodically approaching the art, I am starting to transition to the focused state quicker and am able to keep working for longer periods of time.
And there are changes in my work flow, unexpected changes. Each time a project grows I learn a better way to approach it. Perhaps this is where it has come from. I like to make good looking games, I work on tiles endlessly, until they work from every angle, transition perfectly, have no particular prominent features or highlights that degrade functional tiling. And this is where I would leave things in the past. But currently I am building art around scenes. I build a prefab scene that I decorate and elaborate on, always with tiling functionality in mind, but seeing it as a whole, incorporating more unique features. And then creating my tiles from that, meaning I have a nicely built scene plus functional art I can reuse and elaborate on for other structures. That is the great thing about tiles. It could take me a week(…or a month) to create one little set of tiles, but they can be cropped and changed, flipped and edited easily and quickly to form entirely new art, that can be used in entirely new ways.