Its been a bit longer than usual, but we haven’t forgot about you! Statistically speaking, we have accomplished more in the last two months than any other two months so we’ll use that as our excuse for skipping a month’s blog. Yeah.
Although we have done quite a bit, I’ll try to keep this a bit shorter and sweeter and get to the juicy stuff. Without further ado, check out the progress we have made:
A few major mechanical changes have been made to make the game feel even more fast paced, and allow for more diverse movement options.
Since our first time showing off the game, we have had a few design meetings and decided it made sense to change the aiming quite a bit. We gathered valuable feedback about the difficulty of hitting shots, and realized that joysticks just aren’t precise enough for our current aiming system when paired with the fast paced gameplay we are trying to achieve. With this in mind, we went through a couple iterations of auto-aim systems (1337 h4x0rz) which ultimately landed us on what we call “sticky aiming”. Sticky aiming requires the player to aim directly at another player in order to shoot them, but once you place your laser sight on a player, it will remain on that player until they leave your sticky aiming point of view or you move the joystick too far away from them. Right now this angle is about 30 degrees away from the character on any side to break the sticky aiming.
As you can see in the example above, sticky aiming is not the only improvement to the aiming system: you can now aim without moving! Since aiming and moving share a single control stick, this requires you to apply half of the full pressure on the horizontal axis of the control stick…apply more than that and you will move while continuing to aim. Ignore the legs running in place in the above example…we’re working on a more permanent pose for stationary aiming 🙂
To continue the theme of promoting a fast paced game, we have modified an existing ability and added a new movement ability!
The jump kick ability for initiating character switches has changed to be “hitscan” rather than physics based. What this means is that a hit will be detected immediately when the player pushes the button to execute the move, rather than having to land the move by moving a certain distance across the screen. This should accomplish two things for the player: 1. Make the game faster paced and more responsive, and 2. Guide the gameplay to be more in line with utilizing your movement abilities to avoid another player’s sights. We will continue working on this functionality, but are happy with our first pass results!
And the new movement ability is…drum roll……………………………WALL RUNNING! This ability is perfect for roleplaying neo from the matrix, as it allows you to run up walls for a short duration, and chain that into a wall jump, jump kick, overhead shooting jump, whatever matrix-esque moves your hearts desire. Again, this is very much a work in progress and will continue to be improved and polished.
One last addition has been made recently in terms of movement abilities….the most standard movement ability that probably should have already been in the game (oops)….sprinting! Like moving fast? Of course you do. Now you can move faster (you just can’t shoot while doing it).
If you glanced at the screenshots above, you probably realized pretty quickly that a lot has changed in the art department. We have new and far more detailed character art, new badass lava platforms for our first world, shiny new bloom effects, updated powerup and recharge stations, and a lot more…
Our development strategy from the beginning has been to lay the groundwork first, and keep iterating until we are happy with the results. For this reason, every piece of art seen so far has been placeholder and non-detailed art used to get a feel for the game and lay the foundation for more detailed pieces of art. That being said, we have finally gotten around to making artwork a bit closer to the final thing, although we will keep making small changes and improvements. Check out some of the new artwork below!
Along with simply detailing existing artwork, we have been hard at work on the overall mood of the game and have been running tests to see how to approach that. Our goal is to light the entire game using mostly real-time lighting which means that all of our 2D art needs to be normal mapped. We have experimented with normal map generators and landed on the idea that hand painted normals will simply look and function the best, so we have been running tests to find the best method of creating those. Below is our fist normal map and test in the game engine.
As you can see above, some of the angles of the normal map do not reflect the light as we would expect, and some of the portions of the art are a bit too detailed for the map. In the coming weeks, we will create the next test using the same art asset and continue iterating until it works as expected. Then its on to mapping all of the other assets and lighting our game up!
Along with real time lighting, something we are already utilizing in the engine is bloom. This really makes the lava look like bright flowing lava, and the colored lines on the character suits look a bit more like bright neon lights. Although we like the effects on the platforms at the moment, we think it is a bit too bright and orange so we will be creating grates and vents to overlay on top of the current platforms. This should also create an awesome glow effect through the small holes of the grates / vents once we animate the lava in the platforms flowing 🙂
BLOOM!!! (And yes, some of the platforms are a bit unaligned, we’re on it!)
After adding aiming animations into the engine, a lot of our existing animations broke since we needed to add IK to the arms. This means that we spent a lot of time reworking existing poses and animations to make sure they work again! That’s not all that we have been up to…we created a slick new recharge animation when you are recharging your weapon, a dope recharge station animation for when you pass by the recharge station, and a new idle animation. Check them out below!
Along with making vast improvements on the artwork and continuing to iterate on our look and feel of the game, we have started polishing passes in the animation department as well. As you’ll notice above, we cleaned up the idle animation and put a little extra love into it with a chest breathing effect. We also have two different idles to choose from with a gun inspection animation to go in between idle loops to break up the monotony of long looped animations like this. We will continue looking for ways to do things like this with other animations and loops, and have been talking a lot about how to add “character” to our animations. We really want you to feel connected to the character and feel like an athletic futuristic badass.
We hope to have some information soon on when and where you can play our game. We have big plans for releases a bit into the future, but in the meantime we will be taking our game to any and all shows that we can as soon as it is ready. Keep following here and on our social medias linked in the right sidebar to stay up to date!
Until next time.
We are back and refreshed from showing our game for the first time ever at the 2019 BOGS (Business of Games Summit) at OU! For those that saw us – thank you so much for checking out this VERY early version of our game and offering valuable feedback. We have already had a few meetings and plan to implement much of the suggestions we were given, and have some great new ideas on how to improve the game. For those of you that didn’t see us – we will be showing our game at other expos in the NEAR future and will continue updating the blog here so stay tuned. This recap will take a bit of a different approach since we were more involved in playtesting and gathering feedback last month, but should give you some interesting insight as to where we plan on going from here.
We talked about our game to a wide variety of people – from developers to professors and consumers, and it was great to hear different perspectives. One thing we heard repeated was how much people liked the pace of the game and how fast it felt. This feels great to hear as we have been deliberately building the game around quick movement and fast paced gameplay, so it is good to know we are already executing on that. Taking the good with the bad, we also realized that the game is pretty difficult to understand – even when the player is given an explanation of the mechanics.
In the coming weeks, we plan to add many more visuals and more exaggerated animations to sell the core mechanics of the game and make it more readable. The overall concept of the game is confusing, and from here it is our job to keep iterating on the visuals to make sure the gameplay is communicated effectively. In particular, players seemed to get confused when they switched bodies because there wasn’t an animation to show this happening. This coming sprint we will implement that animation, and play around with effects to make that the focal point and ensure players understand which character they will be controlling when the swap is over.
We had a discussion which almost caused us to start from ground 0 and rebuild the game – but ultimately we decided against it. We are focusing on detailing the artwork this sprint, and had a tough decision to make around LOD in the game. Since the camera is fixed, we have been building all of the artwork around the pixel density of a typical HD screen. Although it may seem like a lot, this doesn’t give us a ton of detail to work with so we are learning quickly how to maximize detail with a low pixel count. Each world unit accounts for 64×64 pixels, which is the size of a single platform on a level. As an example, the character is roughly 1 unit wide and 2 units tall, which only gives us about 128X64 pixels to work with. We played with the idea of scrapping the fixed camera with screen wrapping in favor of a dynamic camera and a much higher pixel count, but ultimately realized that this would greatly sacrifice the speed of the gameplay and the size of the levels.
As for now, it is full steam ahead on the current low pixel-count art style so stay tuned to see our techniques for making the most of it! By the end of this sprint, the demo level should start feeling a lot more like a world than it does now with all of the placeholder art.
Animations are getting quite a bit of an overhaul as well! We have about 90% of the character animations implemented in the game in a very early state, and plan on implementing first passes of the ones we are missing. Along with this, we have developed a new process to begin adding “character” to our animations to give the character a bit more life. This coming month, we will begin storyboarding much more intricate character animations to go along with our art style and fast-paced exaggerated gameplay. We are excited to see what we come up with and hope you are just as excited to see the process and how we develop our game world!
Thanks again to everyone that had a chance to play our game at BOGS – you guys are amazing! As we continue along the process of making this very early build into a full game, we cannot stress how important everyone’s feedback is to us. Please don’t hesitate to comment here or send any suggestions to email@example.com; we discuss ALL feedback together and implement the vast majority of it as features. YOUR ideas could end up being in the finished product and we hope they are. Until then, stay tuned on our website and social medias for continual updates.
New year, new game. Its 2019 and we are finally getting our shit back together! In recent weeks, our game has been reaching first playable status with the vast majority of mechanics in place, and first pass / early representation of game art and animations implemented into the engine. A lot will change as we show the game and play test, but we finally have something to show and gather feedback on…and your first opportunity to do just that is at Ohio University’s Business of Games Summit on February 22nd!! Get pumped, and get reading this fresh monthly recap.
It may not have been very noticeable in previous screenshots, but the laser sight used to aim did not previously wrap around the screen while aiming. This past month, we worked on fixing that in an attempt to move ever closer to getting a feel for how the game plays. While this seems like a minor addition, it has large gameplay implications since we are driving for gameplay that revolves around baiting your opponents into up close and personal combat. When seeing a laser pointed at your character, it is natural to avoid it because you are in immediate danger of being hit. This will drive where you move your character, and give players more of an opportunity to make plays around this mechanic.
During recent tests of mechanics, wall hanging has been turned off since it was triggering too often in its “first pass” state. This past month, we iterated on it again and it is now much closer to its final state of functionality meaning we can test it more rigorously and design more interesting movement around it. Vaulting off of a wall hang? Aiming and shooting while hanging? Jump kicking from a hanging position? The possibilities are endless!
The platforms that you see in the above images, and in many of our other blog posts were supposed to be a first pass of the final platforms used across all levels and worlds. This was at a time when body switching was not initiated by players, but happened to everyone on a global timer. These platforms were meant to carry player colors through them to visually show which new character you would be controlling, but since this is no longer how switching works, we elected to create different platforms for each world. Below are examples of how the first world’s platforms may look:
Along with art and mechanics, we have been in iteration mode in the animation department as well! After implementing animations in engine, we noticed that certain animations like the recoil and damaged animations are not very noticeable when performing other actions. Because of this, we have been iterating on these to give them a bit more “oomf”. Keep your eyes out to see examples of these soon!
As the groundwork has now been laid, we are very excited to keep building on this game and get it to a state of releasing it to the world. The first step towards that goal is to gather as much feedback as possible. That being said, come see us at the Business of Games Summit (linked in the first paragraph) and play our VERY early version of the game! Games can’t be made without help, and we would love to hear what YOU have to say about the game. See you soon.
WE HAVE A NAME FOR OUR GAME!! Sorry for the caps lock but it seemed necessary…please meet our next game, “Switch, Pit, Win!”. Belated happy holidays and a happy happy recap! It has been a busy time of the year with the holidays, but the team has managed to (relatively) keep our stuff together well enough to keep things moving. Hopefully we can start holding our promises of making these updates a bit more consistent and predictable, but alas the recap!
Now that most of the core gameplay mechanics have been implemented, we have been spending time on polishing those mechanics and thinking of how they work with all of the other systems in the game. With this comes new functionality for aiming as well as shooting that should make a fast paced game such as this feel much better than before.
In previous builds of the game, projectiles would physically travel through the level similar to a game like Battlefield. This may seem obvious, but this type of projectile is very different from McCree’s revolver from Overwatch, for example. Our new iteration of projectiles is more in line with McCree’s revolver, being a “Hit Scan” type of projectile rather than one affected by physics. This means that instead of traveling through the level, the projectile is deemed as either a hit or a miss depending on where the player is aiming at the exact moment that the trigger is pulled. This should make for a much faster paced and much more responsive feeling game.
Along with this new way of handling projectiles, we thought that the aiming system needed a bit of an overhaul as well. We previously locked the aiming at a few defined angles since aiming and moving happened on one joystick, and aiming seemed a bit difficult without a bit of assist. Although this seemed correct at first, our new approach for projectiles demanded a new way of handling aiming. Being locked to a few angles seemed bad because of how easily players can change direction, and being able to aim at a full 360 degrees seems to feel much better.
One final change was made to quicken the pace of the game, which was removing the button for reloading. Instead of having to press a button when in range of a recharger, you may now simply walk into range and start recharging instantly!
We have continued shaping the game world with concepts and finally have a first logo iteration to show off! Along with this we have begun reshaping our first world platforms to more accurately match the world aesthetic, and created concepts for the round win screen and what switching into your opponent’s body might look like. These concepts should continue to shape the game world for you, and give you an idea of how and where you will be fighting. Check out this awesome art below:
Animations have been in progress as well as we continue to improve our previous animations, as well as ensure all character actions have an animation attributed to it. Animations that are more noticeable like the running animation have been iterated on quite a bit and are close to completion, where animations like the player damaged animation and primary fire animation are being iterated on more to ensure the movement is crisp an noticeable. Most of these animations were not previously implemented in the engine, but all animations currently created are now visible in game! See them in the engine at work below:
Along with all of these awesome assets which have been created and implemented in the past couple months, we are working on plenty more this month. If you are in the Southern Ohio area, check us out at the Ohio University Business of Games Summit on February 22nd! We will be showing our game for the FIRST TIME, and hope to have a playable demo which exemplifies a first pass of the full game. Until then, we are hard at work to ensure that the game feels good, and looks great. Until next time…
Its time once again for the monthly recap! After attending GDEX, one of the largest gaming expos in the midwest, we refocused ourselves and had some design decisions to make. This past month was a result of that refocus, and for that reason we have plenty to talk about in terms of upcoming mechanical and art changes! Along with some of these changes to the core game, we have also created plenty of sleek new promotional art pieces to show off some of the objects in game. Now, enjoy the recap.
In the upcoming weeks, we will be making some widespread changes to some of the core game systems as well as building upon others that are already in place. Some of the systems that will undertake considerable change are aiming and shooting. Systems that will be iterated on are most of the systems that keep the game together such as scoring and the core gameplay loop. It has been our short term goal for a while to complete a polished vertical slice of the game, and we feel we are close to achieving that goal!
At its core, this game is a hectic precision-shooting action game, and we want to leave plenty of room for you to pull off some crazy moves while playing. It is for this reason that we are looking at other options for aiming systems. In its current state, aiming can only be done on around 10 locked axes in a circle around the character. This is not precise at all, but was a direct response to how difficult we felt aiming was when we tried it with all 360 degrees around the character being free to aim in. We are going to revisit 360 degree free-aim, but make some changes to make it a bit easier to hit your targets. Rather than using raw input from the controller joysticks, making the aiming feel very difficult to control, we will be averaging the movement from the joystick out. Along with this, aiming will be slowed just a bit so that smaller adjustments can be made without having to be uber precise in the direction you point the joystick.
Another system we feel has some room for improvement is the general shooting system. If you have seen previous blog posts, you are probably familiar with the laser sights that come out of the gun of each character. We want these laser sights to identify “danger zones” to drive gameplay so that you are constantly trying to avoid being the line of sight of other players, as it is a risk to being debilitated. Because of this, we felt like having physics-based projectiles that actually moved in the game world was a bit detrimental to that style of gameplay. In the coming weeks, we will be transitioning the gun play to being more of a “hit-scan” style (pressing the fire button while aiming on a player instantly counts as a hit).
Along with these system changes, we are building upon the groundwork of our current game loop and setting out to achieve a fully playable version of the game. We currently have a rough version of the round counter screen (which displays after each round ends, with each player’s current wins) which we plan to iterate on, as well as a match over screen which will display accolades for each player as well as other statistics for the match.
A lot has changed since we first started making the game, which is the reason for evolving some of the gameplay systems. As our gameplay systems evolved however, some of our art which complemented old gameplay systems did not evolve. We realized this, and decided to iterate on some of the artwork as well, particularly the platforms on each level.
Back when player switching happened on a timer rather than being initiated by the players themselves, we wanted a visual way to easily communicate this switching of players. To achieve this, we decided to have the colors of the players suits transferring through the platforms and into the new suits. Because players will be initiating this themselves, and will always be right next to the player they are switching with, we found that there was not longer any reason to do it this way and decided to make platforms fit the theme of the world/level they are on instead. Below are some concepts for the first level, which is themed as a smelting facility with a lot of red hot lava:
More of these concepts and actual platform art will be coming soon as we iterate through different designs and create new worlds.
We also decided to do a bit of world-building lately and provide some hints into the functionality of weaponry that is used in the game world. The below concepts outline the gun and the suit currently found in the game, and the features each have:
This was a bit more of a short and sweet update, but there is plenty of exciting news pointing towards coming updates! Stay tuned to this site to follow our progress, and be sure to check out our social media feeds updated weekly on the side bar to the right of this page 🙂
I know what you’re thinking: we said we would post every month at the beginning of the month and we already failed on that. Well…I have no excuse, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy! The last two months we focused mostly on iterating on and implementing existing assets in the engine. Improvements were made to character movement, a totally redesigned character was implemented in the game engine with a couple basic animations, the character’s HUD was improved, and the flow of matches was redesigned from the ground up. We also attended GDEX and met a ton of awesome people who provided valuable feedback to the direction of this game. Now that you have an overview, let’s get into the update!
Wall hanging has been added to the game to increase the options players have when navigating a level. Use the wall hang to avoid direct fire when there is not cover, or to plan your attack before dropping on an unsuspected player! Vast improvements have also been made to ground sliding, giving players an opportunity to generate momentum and launch themselves across levels. If a player becomes airborne while ground sliding (either by jumping, or falling off a ledge), they will retain their momentum and can use that in combination with the jump kick to traverse large areas in quick fashion.
Comparing the old HUD to the new one, many things have changed. First and foremost, powerups have been added to the HUD allowing players to know which powerups are being carried, and other pertinent information related to individual powerups. When looking at the HUD, you may also notice that lives are no longer displayed. This change has occurred as a result of the previous redesign of weapon play (see the last blog post for more on that), allowing us to design matches around round wins rather than kills. Instead, progress is tracked at the end of a round by displaying how many rounds each player has won, until the game ends by a player reaching the necessary wins.
Your gun used to debilitate opponents just received a visual upgrade! Previously, we were using the same projectile image for primary and secondary fire. Now we have more appropriate art for the different shots which better exemplify their purpose. The primary fire is a standard looking projectile, while the secondary fire is a much larger charged ball of energy. This will allow you to easily identify what kind of projectile has been shot, so you may act accordingly. Along with the various weapon improvements, there has been work done to character aiming and fast falling to help players visually during gameplay.
The game has made some exciting progress recently as each character’s suit now lights up with the selected color! In previous posts, you may see each character have a color overlay as a placeholder to determine the different characters, but now the color mechanics are working as they will in the live game. This new bit of art allows us to show you which character belongs to you (by the color of each character’s body), and the character that you are presently controlling (based on the color of the character’s head). This makes the body switching mechanics playable from a readability standpoint, and brings us much closer to our goal of a playable build.
As we continue developing in-game art and mechanics for the game itself, we also place importance on promotional art materials that look really cool and show gameplay / what you might experience as a player. The piece below took a really long time to create and we are happy with the way it came out. It shows off some of the core features of gameplay while looking super badass; we hope you like it!
Speaking of visuals, a few new effects were created. Going back to the gun, the projectile laser was improved into three separate animations; the beam, energy lighting, and the tail. Although this new projectile laser will probably be iterated on again, this is a much closer representation of the look we are going for. When a player is shot, the player may be affected in one of two ways. If the player is not already slowed, the player will lose their outer shield and become slowed, which is now represented through a visual effect. If the player is already slowed and shot again, or the player is hit directly by the secondary fire of another player, the player will become stunned for a brief moment, which is also accompanied by a visual effect and animation.
We have also been developing ideas for what a player death might look like. To continue the theme of a futuristic, neon-colored aesthetic, we decided that we wanted to make the player death a sort of ‘phasing out’ effect similar to how a CRT television would look when you turn it off. This was all developed when player’s were still able to harm each other with their weapons, so we may need to revisit this later; however it’s looking pretty awesome right now!
Last but certainly not least, we are getting close to having all of the player actions animated for the characters. These are all still very rough animations in their early stages of creation, but as of right now most of the actions possible in the engine should have an animation attributed to them!
Not only have we been working on the game in the last two months; we also attended GDEX and had a great time! Thanks to everyone who came to the booth to check out Shark Thrower as well as some art we were showing off for this game. Check out our instagram for images and videos of the event. To everyone we met: it was awesome talking to you and we hope to see you next year! To anyone reading this who did not go: check out www.thegdex.com and think about attending the next event. It is a really great opportunity to talk to creators of awesome games and see exclusive content that you don’t normally have a chance to see.
Until next month.
Another month, another recap! I know what you’re thinking, we released our last recap a short while ago and we already have another one? We usually don’t post recaps in such quick succession but there’s a method to the madness. We have been posting recaps at the end of our condensed work periods (which last a month), but we realized that once we factor in planning, those work months become a bit skewed from the calendar months. To realign, we are posting a bit of a shorter recap for July as a sacrifice to get back on schedule. This means that you can look forward to our recaps being posted at the same time, somewhere during the first week of each month! With that out of the way, let’s jump into what we have been working on for the last couple weeks.
Although it hasn’t been very long since our last post, there have been some pretty significant changes to the gameplay which we are all pretty stoked about. We set out into making this game loving local multiplayer games and wanting to make our own mark on the genre with the unique mechanic of controlling your opponent’s character as a win condition. Since we consider this the core of the game, we have been finding ways to build around this mechanic as a focal point and always ask the question when we think of a new system to implement: does it help encourage the core gameplay?
We asked this question recently after playtesting, and realized that being able to kill players with weapon fire did not support this mechanic, and it seemed that gameplay outside of being switched into an opponent’s body was just not very interesting. The result of this is removing all damage from the game other than the instant-kill mechanic of a player falling into the pit. This means that players may no longer damage others by shooting their primary or secondary fires, or by landing a jump kick. To ensure the weapon still serves a purpose, the primary fire now slows any enemies hit by it and stuns any enemies who are already slowed. Secondary fire is an automatic stun if the shot connects.
Along with the weapon changes, we have updated the jump kick and player switching mechanics. Instead of players switching based on a global timer, players may now target other players and switch into their bodies by landing a jump kick. We feel that this will create more interesting and emergent gameplay, as players will have direct control over which player’s character they are controlling, and can strategize throughout gameplay around that.
Another major change is the addition of a laser sight for the purpose of aiming. The idea behind this is to show where each player is aiming at all times to both assist in more accurate aiming, and to allow players to maneuver around enemy fire / bait others into areas of the maps. Below is an early representation of how this will look:
Polishing existing mechanics has been a focal point for this month to make character movement feel more enjoyable. We have improved the feeling of the jump kick and general player movement, and have more improvements coming in the near future such as jump, wall jump, and ground slide mechanics.
This month has also been big for art, as we finally have a scene in engine full of original art – no placeholders!
The final piece to this puzzle was getting the platforms in the engine. This took a while due to a few issues, namely a bug with Unity’s tiling tool in 2018.1 (resolved when 2018.2 was released) and the team learning how to create a proper tileset. After trial and error, we finally have a usable tileset for many platform combinations which can be seen below.
We have also been diligent in creating a new character, as we decided that the old character did not fit well into the resolution that the game is being displayed in. To shape the character, we first created some new concepts and went through a few iterations before deciding on a new character to move ahead with.
Since this has been a month of improvements and iteration, we also decided to iterate on the effects we created last month for weapon firing. We felt that our first iterations of the fire and hit effects were not large or impactful enough. For this iteration, we focused on greatly expanding the size of the effects and focusing on the silhouette to make the effects feel more powerful. These changes can be seen below, and we think these are already looking a lot better.
Since we created a new character, all of our old animations for the character have become obsolete. This means new rigs and animations for our character! We are trying to take things we learned from the first pass of creating the character and apply them to create better looking and feeling animations. A problem with the old animations were how slow they were, which made actions feel lethargic and clunky. This new crouch animation is literally 2 frames, making it barely classifiable as an animation but a hell of a lot more responsive!
Not much has changed in the level design department, other than finally being able to build our existing level with the new platforms. We are continuing to playtest that level and polish it to make it balanced and fun to navigate.
Although it hasn’t been long since our last recap, we had quite a bit of changes to show. Once again, you can expect these recaps at the beginning of every month from now on, and can keep even closer tabs on us by following our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages linked at the bottom of this webpage. Near our social media links, you can also find an invitation to join our discord community (which gives unique insight to our dev process and will allow you to directly participate in development and community events) as well as a link to twitch where you will be able to find our live playtests once those start next month. As always, thanks for checking in on our progress and have a great August!
-Humongous Bone Games
Good news everyone! With another full month of work in the books it’s time for our monthly recap again! We have finally made significant progress with core functionality of the game, and the art style is really taking shape. These are exciting times for us as we finally are able to import some art into the engine and get an idea of the world we are building! We pretty much met our goal for this month with a few exceptions, but we believe we have some juicy content to share with everyone and hope you get as hyped up as we are. Now let’s check out what work has been done with this months recap!
During this sprint, a number of mechanics for the game have been implemented. One of the new features that was added is character slide functionality. Players will be able to slide which will help them dodge projectiles or escape from an incoming enemy, granting a temporary speed boost. The slide mechanic can also be used offensively to get the jump on another unsuspecting player.
Another mechanic that has been implemented is the ability for the player to slide down a wall. This enables the player to slow down while falling to avoid falling into a pit, or time an attack from above on opponents. It will be exciting to see how people use this mechanic to their advantage!
A lot of existing mechanics and features have also been tweaked and iterated on. Through extensive testing we have been able to improve the aiming functionality of the character. To improve aiming, we are limiting the number of angles players can aim at to a finite number, which should greatly improve precision. Below is an image of all the different directions you can aim the characters line of sight.
A lot of other small aspects of the game have been tweaked such as the various ways players can move around an environment. This includes how fast a player moves, how fast a player falls, how high a player can jump and so on. Another mechanic that was tweaked is the improvement of the platform spawning system. We had to make sure that when the platform spawns from secondary fire, it spawns conscious of the collider size, so it would not clip through the walls of the level. We plan on having a visual aide to the secondary fire HUD and charging of the laser shot so players know when they are using the platform secondary fire.
In terms of art, a lot has been done this past month. We started the concept art of the incubation hoses, which are used to suspend the character from the top of the screen during character selection. Players can hover over suits with their cursor (P1, P2, P3, etc.), and once selected the character will jump down from the hose and become controllable. This design decision was informed by some of the lore we are building for the world these characters exist in, so stay tuned as more is revealed.
The environment for our first level has finally been implemented into the engine. This first environment piece is part of the first of many playable environments which have unique visual and gameplay characteristics. This means that our level now actually looks like it belongs in a world somewhere!
Along with many in-game assets, we started conceptualizing some visual effects for the character and weaponry. The laser shooting effect and the laser contact effect are going to be implemented for in-engine use within the very near future. This will give some aesthetic feel to shooting the main weapon for that you will now see a muzzle flash and the actual laser making contact with something.
Remember the two power-ups we talked about in the last recap? Well we now have the art for them in-engine so you know what power-up you have collected and which power-up is spawning at the power-up station!
Last recap we showed off the World 1 environment painting and now we have completed the concept of it. The concept was iterated on and fine tuned to what we thought is a good representation of this first world environment. We want the players to be immersed in this world we are creating and it starts with how the world and environment looks. Below is the midground and foreground of the World 1 environment.
Last recap we had the task of finding the right scale of the levels. With accomplishing that, we moved onto fine-tuning the level design so that there is a good flow to it when players are battling it out. With this level 1 we created, we opened it more so players have more freedom to move around and use all of the interesting movement abilities available to them! Below is a before level design and the new and improved level design comparison.
A bunch of new animations were created this past month for the character and other assets. First off we will talk about the power-up animations. The power-up station now has an animation when the power-up spawns and when the power-up is picked up. The actual power-up itself has an idle animation for when it has spawned and no player has picked it up yet.
A couple new character animations have also been created and implemented into the engine as well. There is now an idle animation to the character for when the player is not currently moving. This helps add life to the character even when not being controlled. The jump kick animation has also been created for the character and we are really excited about this one because who doesn’t love landing a good jump kick to someone’s face? Now you can see it happen with this animation being implemented!
That’s it for this month’s recap! We hope you enjoyed the hard work we have put in this past month and are eager to play as much as we are eager for you to play as well. Stay tuned and connected on our social media for more weekly updates. Also, don’t forget to be on the lookout for next months recap for more insightful and detailed information on this game!
– Humongous Bone Games
Its that time of the month again, our monthly recap! With one month already under our belt, the art style and features of our game have evolved to provide a more concrete example of what this game will be. Although we fell a bit short of our goal for the month, we made some positive progress that we would like to share with everyone. Without further ado, let’s jump into the recap!
During this sprint, the movement options for the player were expanded greatly to include crouching, wall jumping, fast falling, and even a damaging jump kick!
Early Jump Kick shown above without animations
Early Wall Jumping shown above also without animations
Along with dealing damage, the jump kick can also deflect incoming projectiles as a last line of defense. This will have to be tested to ensure it won’t be too overpowered, but we wanted a way for the player to skillfully avoid damage in ways other than simply hiding behind a wall. Of course this ability will come with a cooldown that we will have to tweak as well, but currently the kick is feeling pretty good. This is going to look AWESOME once we implement our real character with animations.
Apart from character functionality, we also have been experimenting with powerups, weapon recharging, and a way of displaying all of this information to the player. There is now a HUD surrounding each character showing lives and weapon charge, and we intend on expanding that to also show the current equipped powerup.
At the moment, we have early versions of a positive power-up (the jetpack) and a negative power-up (reverse controls). The idea is that positive power-ups enhance play and would be used while the player is controlling their own character, and that negative power-ups hinder play and would be used before a switch to make controlling the player’s character more difficult for their enemy.
Weapon recharge stations have been placed throughout the levels to balance play and drive players into certain locations on a map. After a player exhausts their charge, they will have to navigate to a recharge station and charge for 2 seconds before they can shoot again. Hopefully this will discourage players from being trigger happy, and go for more skilled and timely shots.
In the art department, a world one background painting was completed to show the feel and look of the environment and show how the level may look. Along with developing concepts, some actual level assets were created for in game purposes such as the recharge station and the power up station. Currently theses two in game assets are not complete and are a quick representation of what these objects will look like, detailing and finalization of them will come later. Lastly, the laser art for both the platform and shot were created. As of now there are a lot a place-holder images in our prototype, but with the help of these our game will get closer and closer to what it should look like.
Final version of the world 1 environment promo image
Some early unshaded in-game assets
The topic of scaling has been in the back of our minds since the start but we finally got it nailed. A level was created 3 times and scaled differently from small to medium to large. We all play-tested each size and concluded on the best size visually and technically for players. With this as a base, it should now be a lot easier to create properly sized assets and experiment more with level designs.
The character rig for the side view of the character has been completed, enabling us to start animating aiming and other actions which use the side view. Since Spine is being used as our animation software, we spent a good chunk of time figuring out the features that come with the Unity runtime. This should expand the possibilities of what we can do with interactivity and animation, particularly with aiming.
With our second recap in the books, we look towards the next month to make some progress and get to the point where we can show actual gameplay! Stay in the loop on our social media (linked at the bottom of the page) until then, or wait until July for the next in-depth recap. Until next time.
– Humongous Bone Games
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