Dev Blog

Complete Overhaul...Development

Posted by TC Games 15 Oct, 2017 05:50PM

Last post I talked about how I had achieved a milestone in producing my first game. I had got the first playable version, but it had a long way to go.

This post, I am going to talk about how to reach the end of that long journey, I'm going to have to start by stepping back a few steps.

The first has already been fundamentally implemented, the rooms. No longer is the player in a large, open-style dungeon level, but they are now in a self-contained room-at-a-time level that will randomly generate things everytime. I've got as far as the room parsing working so a different theme can be applied for each run/biome/style.

The second thing that's underway is an overhaul of the character(s). A complete overhaul. I completely reassessed how I wanted the game to play, no longer are you stuck longing to be someone else (i.e. character unlocks) but you are either a) who you want to be or b) who you can make yourself to be. To elaborate, you now start as a boring human with no special abilities, there's nothing special about you anymore (that's not true, you're wonderful)! You now pick up weapons, armour and other loot and in a make-do-and-mend sort of way you could be a swordsman with a shield, an archer with a crossbow or even a wizard throwing fireballs and lightning, but with the option in the marketplace to buy things that could help you out!

To implement all this, I've had to strip this back to basics, the underlying matrix that stored all the information has been expanded and re-written and item generation is being completely revamped. Now I'm looking to introduce chests that will randomly generate items that could be overly powerful or utterly useless to the player, but you want those moments to be influenced by the one true deity.

On the note of which, another fundamental feature in the offing will sit alongside the current implementation. Not only will you be able to donate gold to the cause to improve drops, but if you're having a particularly bad time with items, you can sacrifice yourself and all the loot on your person to Aarenjizeus and start over! Much like you would do in perma-death if you die mid-level, but here all your valuable are cashed-in.

These things will deal with reasons 1-3 from the last post, and with enough different loot and abilities, I'm expecting to provide a better recipe for a bullet-hell-style action RPG that will play in an accessible, quick roguelike sort of way.

Now, having this clear pathway set out in front of me makes me very excited but also very aware of just how much there is to do to bring this to be. It's gonna be a long road, but hopefully a rewarding one!!




Success! Yet it's terrible!!Development

Posted by TC Games 03 Oct, 2017 07:43PM

Joy of joys! I am delighted to say that I got the playable prototype out only 1 day later than I wanted and in a pretty well functioning format! If you happen upon this post, then stop reading right now and go download the protoype of the debut game from TC Games: Aarenjizeus available to download free from https://tcgamesuk.itch.io/aarenjizeus right now!

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Welcome back! See, told you it was in a functioning format! I'm quite pleased with it, even though it is terrible!

You might be sat there thinking "don't be so harsh, it's not that bad" or "yeah, it's not great" and I'm not upset either way because I made the first milestone and I genuinely feel a sense of accomplishment in doing so!

Why do you think it's terrible I hear you ask, here's the reasons:

Reason #1 it's not varied enough (yet), I playtested the game a lot to make sure everything I made was working as intended. Every slight variation, I jumped in and checked it and whilst I enjoyed doing it, I know that it's not the most intuitive game to play. Yes, there's a High Priest that shoves the story and main quest down your throat as soon as you appear and you then know to jump into the Temple Basement as soon as you arrive, but what do you do after that?

You're in a darkened basement with no clue as to what to do... and that sucks!

Yes, the spiders that descend from the ceiling look good, but what's the objective aside from killing lots of stuff? There's no path to follow, you just sort of wander around aimlessly until you eventually stumble on some stairs and then get to do it all again.

Two words: level design.

I knew I wanted to make something that was going to have random generation in it. I knew I wanted to set up an algorithm that would help generate new and different things each time the game was played. Whilst it does do that (yay), it doesn't do it in a hugely fun way.

I'm reading up a lot on level design now and I am going to introduce more linear levels with clearer purpose and focus the random generation creating fun on a room-by-room basis. I am genuinely excited by this!

Reason #2 it's not varied enough (yet), yes this is the same as Reason #1, but it holds true. What are your character abilities? 'Shoot' and 'move' that is it. In making attacks you have only 1 choice, do you shoot now or do you shoot later? Woo...

I am happy with the mechanics and the flow of the gameplay with the enemy fights, particularly the Mage setting things on fire and doing damage over time, but there's no alternative.

That's why my next release will have not only a secondary ability on the right mouse button, but you will also be able to click and charge the primary ability. This I am excited about. Watch the Archers power-shot tear through rows of enemies and the Mage cast fire shield to protect themselves and ignite others! Watch the Viking throw spinning axes dealing out whirling death! See the Gladiator perform a spinning attack with their Spear! It's gonna be so much better and again, I am excited by this!

Reason #3 it's not varied enough (yet), spotting a pattern? This time it's the loot and gear. There's just not enough of it!! I need to make many more types and expand the stats available so that there are hundreds of bits of gear. I myself am a self-confessed klepto (don't believe me? See here) who loves nothing more than grabbing every last sword, spear, trinket and shiny thing that exists in any game.

So what stopped me? Time. Genuinely. I actually have a spreadsheet I made trying to balance out the progression over the levels of gear I was looking at and should probably have focused more on getting extra actual levels in.

Speaking of which...

Reason #4 it's not varied enough (yet). Ok, even I'm fed up of reading that now, so I'd like to take a moment to genuinely apologise to you for my terrible humour, but please stick with me, I think I have a real point to make! This time, it's the enemies.

The enemies are few and the bosses aren't great. I thought if I put enough enemies in that would provide enough distraction to occupy the player, but I don't quite feel that way now. I want to have lots of different enemies in each level, but while still keeping some element of theme to it. Yes, the sewers should have rats, but that is not all they should have! A bat or two and a few other things wouldn't go amiss!

The one part with the enemies I am particularly pleased about is the Spiders. The two Temple Basement levels progress well with black spiders on the first floor and red ones that shoot venom on the second floor and the difficulty curve is nice! But... the sewers? Awful. Rats are all the same, even the bosses (aside from just being a little bigger).

All these reasons boil down to one thing and it's the exact same thing that's featured in all 4 reasons...

...this is my real point I was going to make...

...the key word was 'yet'...

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was Aarenjizeus! In fact, looking at Game Maker on my Steam account, I can tell you I've racked up over 150 hours so far. Not 100% of that is on Aarenjizeus, but the majority is, and I'm looking forward to putting many more hours in too!







Unproductive productionDevelopment

Posted by TC Games 22 Sep, 2017 09:28AM

It's been over a week since my last update, the key themes being organisation and focus...

...neither of those things have held since that post.

The as yet unnamed rogue-like action RPG has been on the low burn with a few key items coming through, but there have been a couple of little side projects that have jumped in front. I got distracted (again) but at least it was productive. Unproductive production? Maybe?

The side projects are mobile apps, they're fun little projects that don't take as much to see through from start to finish, which is sort of what I need at this point. I have recently realised how much I have bitten off with trying to make a more traditional video game which isn't even all that complex if I am honest with myself. However, feeling the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I decided a side project or two would be pretty good, especially getting them through to completion.

The as yet unnamed mobile games will hopefully be making their way to Android and iOS in the coming month(s) but with the action RPG continuing slowly. I still want to get a playable prototype out by end of month and there's only 3 key things required for that to happen, so I don't feel quite so bad about that.

Hopefully more fruitful posts will follow soon.

You've never seen a hypocrite before?Development

Posted by TC Games 12 Sep, 2017 12:41PM

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The necessary evil, the monument to all tasks that lie ahead on the path to completion, the documentary evidence of your inability to get stuff done.

The To Do list.

It's become necessary, as I've been working through task after task I've found myself running like a small child around a toy store with all the focus of a bat with cataracts. It's not all bad though, I've been having fun doing the things I've been doing, which is a good thing! However, it means that the bigger things, important things, but ultimately less interesting things, don't get done.

A good example of this is two posts ago here I introduced the 4 main playable characters, our protagonists, our heroes. Since then, they've paired off and had a couple of children (read: 'I got distracted, again'). We now have the Viking and the Gladiator to add to the ranks. Yet, there was still no way of selecting them from any form of menu to play with. In fact, the only threat of a game was the randomly generated levels were restarting each time I completed them with the manually chosen character that launched at the start. In essence, I now had 6 mini-games.

This wasn't gonna cut it. So I knuckled down, focused and decided 'I gotta write a to do list.' Item number one on the to do list? Write a new to do list.

Sadly, I wasn't even joking. As I type this, I have 2 notepads with 2 torn off pieces of paper riddled with the infinite scrawlings and musings of a madman (I'd like to think I stole these pieces of paper from someone, but no, it's all me, baby!). I needed to make it coherent and I needed to make it more condensed.

My own target: I'd like to get some form of playable prototype out into the big wide world be the end of the month. That gives me not a lot of time, especially if I keep on dallying from one jingly set of keys to another (ooo shiny!).

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I also acknowledge the irony that I'm writing this article whilst I'm supposed to be doing other things. What? You've never seen a hypocrite before?

Quickly tearing out a new piece of paper, I have now condensed my lists into something a) meaningful and b) small. The key criteria?

What do I need to do.

Sounds stupendously simple, right? But it had escaped me in the first place. Things like "make super cool particle animations" was not needed for a playable prototype, that sort of thing belongs in the refinement stage once the playable piece is out there. At this point, it was necessary to have an inventory system, a save/load system and unique character abilities.

These are the things I'm now working on and trying to be more focused in creating. Some of it is clearly placeholder and though it irritates me knowing it isn't as good as it could or should be, it is not immediately necessary to do. Hopefully I can get time before releasing the prototype/alpha version to pretty them up.

In the meantime, let's throw it to you. What experience have you had in knuckling down on something and having to focus? What did you find helpful to achieve what you set out to achieve? Did you successfully achieve it?


I've been thinking about death...Development

Posted by TC Games 04 Sep, 2017 10:30AM

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about death. I could start quoting great people in a deep, philosophical, existential sort of way, but that would be giving myself far too much credit. I'm just not that clever.Blog image

No, I've been thinking about death in a player behaviour sort of way. See, there are certain things I want people to do in game and there are certain things I don't want people to do, so it boils down to positive and negative reinforcement, or to put it another way: the carrot and the stick.

Death is a stick. In fact, it's the ultimate stick, or at least it should be. In game, death can be defined. It can be meaningless: instant respawn, no loss of items, stats or otherwise. It can be the end of the game, perma-death, game over etc.

"That's all well and good, but what are you getting at?" I hear you ask.

Well, I want to make my game fun and my own experience of RPG games in particular leans towards borderline kleptomania. If there's something of some sort of value, I will take it, trade it, build it, anything to ultimately increase my own wealth in game. I'm very, very greedy!

So when I come to play games with perma-death or item loss, it can be very painful to lose all my hard earned (read: 'stolen') items and other trinkets. However, the level of pain very much depends on how much effort it takes to reacquire those lost items.

I want death to mean something, but not mean everything. The game needs to be hard enough that there's the threat of death without death being the be-all-and-end-all!Blog imageOnto the carrot then, what do I want players to actually do? I want them to improve and explore, I want them to get better gear and progress through the campaign. To do that, there needs to be bigger and better carrots as the game progresses.

There also needs to be a balance between risk and reward. I don't want it to be a formality that the boss has been defeated, so now I have to move onto the next part and I can. I want a decision to be thought through.

I want players to doubt themselves, "Do I have good enough gear to do this?"

That's what fun boils down to, interaction and decision in the environment. If things are heating up too much, I want to have the option to jump back to safety and return to a part of the game I can beat to get better gear and push onto the next level of campaign, monsters and loot. Because when I do beat the thing I thought I couldn't, that feels like an accomplishment! Accomplishing things feels good! Feeling good is fun!

Death is not fun, but it is necessary. However, I want to make my game system fair enough that death means a character reset but with minimal need to play everything over again. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between perma-death and instant, inconsequential respawn.

If only there was some sort of divine entity... perhaps deity... that could help with this sort of thing... I think I know how I am going to implement it, hopefully I can reveal all in the near future.

In the meantime, what do you think about perma-death in games? Or death in general (ideally in games, but it's a free world)...





We have character(s)!Development

Posted by TC Games 28 Aug, 2017 12:55PM

Hello!

Work continues on the rogue-like RPG (name to be revealed in time). However, to make it more RPG-y, it felt necessary to have at least a choice of characters.

Without further ado then, let's introduce our heroes and heroines:

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First up, the Warrior! Close quarter specialist, the Warrior throws themselves into the thick of the fight, has high knockback to disperse enemies, high hit points and high damage but minimal range.

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Next, the Mage! With medium range, the Mage throws spells at the enemies and specialises in damage over time. Although relatively low initial damage and slow speed, the Mage can hold their own against waves of enemies by setting them on fire, but only if you can manage their Mana Pool carefully!

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Thirdly, the Archer! Super long range and good damage, the Archer requires precision accuracy to use and high stamina to keep up all the shooting! With good speed and high damage, the Archer likes to keep their distance and is particularly adept at dealing with single targets.

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Finally, the Rogue! Although shorter range and low damage, the Rogue makes up for this by throwing two daggers! They are also the fastest and by far the sneakiest of the classes!

In time, it will be possible to customise the colour of your chosen protagonist too! For now, work continues on the super-special secondary abilities of our elite characters as well as the many, many, many enemies that will hopelessly be vanquished before you!!

Got any ideas you want to share? Feel free to do so in the comments below!


PS: It should be noted that all art assets are used under license from oryxdesignlab.com





First Post: what's it all about?Development

Posted by TC Games 24 Aug, 2017 10:50AM

Hello! Thanks for stopping by for the first post!

This is going to be the log of all things game development with TC Games. It would be nice to think of this as a swan-like creature right now: looking elegant, graceful and calm, but underneath the surface there is a lot going on!

The first project is in progress, a Rogue-like 2D action game with randomly generated maps and art assets from oryxdesignlab.com. As the project progresses there will be lots more to see and do! The free-to-all alpha and teaser trailer will arrive in the coming weeks and if you wish to participate, all you have to do is sign up to be the first to hear about it!

In the meantime, this is the first update of many, aiming for a weekly update, so if you have any thoughts, questions, life lessons you want to share, feel free to do so in the comments below!