April 2018 Recap
Hello everyone and welcome to our first ever monthly recap! These blog posts can be expected around the beginning of every month to review all of the progress we have made on our currently untitled project. Stay tuned to this website for in-depth recaps, our social media pages (Instagram Twitter and Facebook) for updates throughout the month, and our Discord for special events and exclusive information about the game. Now that introductions are out of the way, lets dive into the game itself!
As stated above, the project is currently untitled but per our game page you can find this snippet which sums up what gameplay will be like in the final product: “A 2D Multiplayer Action Arena game where players have the ability to control their opponents character. Protect your character by creating platforms while navigating your opponent’s character into death zones on the map. The last person (or team) standing wins the game!”. The three of us at Humongous Bone Games really love local multiplayer games, and this project was birthed out of the passion that we have for them. We found inspiration in some of our favorite games while seeing opportunity for improvement and exploration of some truly unique mechanics that should make for a one of a kind experience.
Starting out with the mechanics of the game which likely feel familiar to most players: it is at its core a last person standing arena combat game. Each player starts out with a set number of lives and ammunition and must navigate the level to defeat their opponents…sounds simple and I’m sure many games come to mind given that general description. However, during the course of gameplay there will be multiple times where players are switched into each other’s bodies and their goal will change: do everything you can to save your character while actively searching for death zones on the map to deplete the lives of the enemy character that you are controlling. Now for some VERY early GIFs of prototyping:
From a development standpoint, the first items we wanted to prototype were basic character movement, and finding a good scale for the game. We did not want to use the engine’s built in physics because we wanted a very tight control feel for the game, so we created our own custom controller so we can tweak the shit out of movement controls. After getting a character moving on the screen, we needed to get an idea of how the levels should feel – should they be big or small? How fast should the character move within the level? How high should the character jump? There were a lot of questions we started to answer, and we felt that the second GIF is more indicative of what we are going for. Gameplay should be fast paced, and levels should be large enough to support faster movement and higher jumping. There is still plenty of iteration to be done, but we felt that this was a good start.
Next on the list was to get some of the core gameplay functionality working so we could continue testing our ideas and iterating on them:
What you see here is some of the basic combat functionality: being able to shoot each other (using some beautiful placeholders from our previous game :)), losing health and losing lives, and switch functionality happening so players are controlling their opponent’s character (via the countdown timer at the top). Overall, these mechanics are already feeling pretty solid together, and we have already iterated on this gameplay to improve it since this video was taken a few days ago. A big challenge of this game is going to be making the switches feel right and in pace with gameplay, as well as effectively communicating what is happening using visuals. Since this is early, the majority of our ideas have not yet been realized and will be explained in more detail as we implement more functionality, but this is a great start!
As this is the beginning of the process, we are going through many iterations as we try to nail down our art style. Many local multiplayer games with fixed cameras such as this one utilize pixel art, but we wanted this game to stand out a bit more and have some attitude. We are trying to make the game as detailed as possible, although it will be quite the challenge with a fixed camera as we will have to find a happy medium between scale and detail. Our primary colors are very dark shades which should contrast really nicely with neon accents, and open up a lot of opportunities to play around with lighting and particle effects.
Above are some iterations as we attempt to nail down the character design, with the bottom being the closest to what a character might look like. The tubes play an important role in gameplay and will be explained more down the road as we continue to develop the game.
Environments also went through quite a bit of iteration as we 1. tried to nail down what an in-game level might look like and 2. tried to develop an aesthetic for our first “world”. Below are some screen shots of both of those processes of exploration:
Again, the top most were some iterations of the in-game levels and a world building concept, with the bottom two being a bit closer to what the game will look like. We have iterated even further than the bottom two images to evolve the style more, and some of those iterations will be included in our social media posts as well as future blog posts but we feel we are getting pretty close to finding our art style and overall tone.
As with everything shown thus far, our philosophy for animating was the same: lay down a foundation for key animations that we can build upon. We were able to get a rig for the character completed and started on some of the necessary movement animations such as crouching, jumping and running. Below you can see some of these early animations which are simple blockouts, style and weight will be added further down the pipeline as we iterate.
As stated in the above section of mechanics, we spent some time in our first month developing the scale of the game, and along with that some concepts for potential level designs. We had some design philosophies in mind when creating these levels to make traversing them enjoyable, and to make gameplay balanced. First of all, each level needed to have at least 1 death zone to accommodate for our key body switch feature. Secondly, we wanted our levels to be symmetrical to improve balance and allow for some fun movement mechanics such as screen wrapping. With symmetrical levels, we can safely start players out in opposite corners of the level and ensure that when they start, they are not immediately at risk of dying and the gameplay can develop from the moves each player makes from there. We are also placing some other key locations around each level for recharging your weapon and picking up powerups, but that will be explained in another post after prototyping and implementing them. Below are some images of early level concepts:
That’s about it for our first recap! We accomplished a lot this month and achieved our goal of having a playable prototype with key features of the game. Our future posts will likely be a bit shorter than this as this included a bit of an introduction to the game as well as a recap of what we have been working on. Our goal for next sprint is to keep building upon the foundation we laid for the game, and hopefully have some original art in the engine instead of ugly placeholders :). Until next time.
– Humongous Bone Games