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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 6:29 pm    Post subject: Development Log - A Lode Runner Story Reply with quote

I've been quietly working on this project for a little while. I still have a lot of work to do, but so far I'm excited by its progress. The core mechanics of the game, although not fully polished, nonetheless seem nice and smooth. (In comparison, I recently fired up a couple of my old Lode Runner remakes and... let's leave it at that.)

I'll flesh out a little more information on the current status of the project soon. At first, though, I'm interested in fielding any questions, general thoughts, or even concerns that people have based on just a general introduction and a couple of screenshots; the ideas therein might give me new inspiration on additional feature (creep) possibilities and similar refinements.

Two screenshots (click thumbnails for full size):


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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This looks like a logical expansion of Errro 2's presentation. I like the background graphics a lot.

So, is this Lode Runner on steroids, or is there a fundamental difference between the two games?
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steroids is one way to describe it. At the same time, I'm trying to make sure the "steroids" are optional to the player. This way, the player who downloads the game looking for the "extra virgin" LR experience can play it just like they might have played the original c64 version (more or less). Overall, if this comes out of the oven how I'm expecting, there shouldn't be any significant fundamental difference between this game and the original. After it bakes, though, I do add on a couple of layers of frosting. With luck they will enhance the overall flavor of the game, yet at the same time be easily scraped off the top if preferred.

I completed a rough draft (of sorts) of the main level set yesterday evening. I have the structure / layout of each level set up and things like that, which is a good portion of the work. Most of the levels still need bad guys, gold, enemy respawn points, and things like that, though. Luckily that kind of stuff should be a lot easier than the level design itself. I also have a couple of levels that I might want to scrap, but for now I want to step back from mapmaking a little bit and change things up a little bit.
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ohhhh..... now this is an interesting development. Will you be able to take up assignments/missions from NPCs while in town?



I felt like being an old BBS-o-phile, and made my text code obey pipe commands. I wish I had done that a long time ago. It's convenient to change attributes in the middle of a string!
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sirocco wrote:
Will you be able to take up assignments/missions from NPCs while in town?


Yes, that's the plan for sure. The core quest functionality more or less works already. It's just a matter of adding the content (the quests themselves), which I haven't really started. I do have a number of ideas committed to paper, but I'm approaching the system tentatively at first to try to get it as "right" as I can from the start. I'm hoping to get into a groove with the process after rigging together a couple of them.
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to go on record saying that floating point arithmetic tends to drive me crazy. I had to fix a bug where subtracting a float value from a number yielded a number just below the "expected" target. When I converted it to an integer at that point, I ended up with a number one less than I wanted (e.g. 599.9999996 -> 599).

In the past I've typically used integers for most of my game characters / etc. I suppose if I had used floats more in the past, I wouldn't have had as much trouble tracking down this bug.

I am using XML for most of my data files (level files, dialogue, etc.). Some of these (for instance, the level files) I don't touch directly very much; in the case of level files, the level editor generates the xml "automatically" and such. I have a different situation with the dialogue files, though. Originally I put together a bit of javascript that would import/export XML (displaying everything as a collapseable treeview). It actually turned out pretty nicely, but it just took too much time to move the mouse here, there and everywhere; I felt a bit daunted thinking about coding any substantial amount of dialogue with it.

Instead, I decided to rig together a crude command-line XML editor of sorts. Now with command completion and a strictly keyboard-based interface (I treat the XML document as a "directory" of sorts, cd here, cd there, etc.), I think I can work more efficiently when putting together the dialogue files. It's not a perfect utility, and I will still need to spend a fair amount of time overall, but I think it will work well for my needs.

I've made some good progress on the first quest (a trial run of sorts, from this developer's perspective). Most of the content is in place, but the bookends (starting the quest, evaluating success / failure and the aftermath) remain incomplete. I'd also like to try to make the overall interface a little sleeker.

I'm hoping to get enough of that done to offer at least a quick sneak peek of some of these parts at some point over the weekend.
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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yes, I had rounding bugs galore when I was working on Moai. Mostly the gradient stuff, when I added banding support.
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Gil
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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Floating point math is fun. As a math geek, seeking answers to tricky math situations, having to adapt to new paradigms, that's what it's about.
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Lachie Dazdarian
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love the pixel art you got so far.
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the compliment, Lachie. I'm not gonna lie, I went with what I thought the "best" stuff is first. I have a couple of other world types, and I think they hold their own, but just not on the same level. In the same way, the first levels (and in turn, the highest percentage of levels overall) will use this tileset... I figure you only have one chance to make a first impression, so no sense in holding back. ;)

I want to make sure credit Dennis for the work on the main character sprite!
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0xDB
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mikedoty wrote:
I want to make sure credit Dennis for the work on the main character sprite!
I'm sorry for being such a slacker but Diablo 3 is keeping me really busy atm so I hope there will still be plenty of time left to do the remaining sprites and animations later.
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For better or worse, plenty of work remains to be done before I even begin to think about getting this game out the door. ;)

I've been redesigning the in-game menu over the last couple of days. It's ... fun. I wouldn't lie about that. ... Anyway, so far it definitely looks better, a little cleaner and more polished. Hey what the heck, let's post an image while we're at it!



I went back and forth for a little while, trying to decide on the best way to structure the various sections and subsections. I was using a sort of slide-out menu system previously; it worked, but it seemed a bit too crude and gimmicky. I finally decided to use a grid-based approach. I set up a "grid" with X number of columns and Y number of rows. Then I lay down various "children" on top of the grid. The children can have any width and height; the section in the screenshot, like you see, has a quartet of 2x1 "children."

I added the icons in an attempt to avoid "text overload." I'm hoping having even just a few simple icons will add a little liveliness to the menu. I'm also hoping I can get this done realfast so I can get back to working on some more quests. Because I'm having way too much fun on these menus, that's all. ;)
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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skills. That little tidbit opens up a lot of possibilities.

I remember getting the gravity flipping bombs in Errro and immediately thinking, "I'm going to get a lot of odd mileage out of these."
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the skills will add a nice extra layer to the gameplay. I made sure not to make them essential, though; I don't ever want players to feel like I'm forcing new mechanics on them that go beyond the typical scope of a Lode Runner game. I have tried to keep them within reasonable bounds, though... no fireballs, you know. ;)

I'm still working on transitioning the pause menu to the new system. I added a new "list" menu that lets me take X number of items (say, a list of all of the quests you have completed) and then display them in a scrolling list. Nothing fancy, but it'll help me take care of a couple of different pause menu components at the same time, using that same setup.

I haven't decided how I'm going to do the "world map" menu component. I don't know if I should just have a series of boxes (more of a "topographical" map, maybe) or an honest-to-goodness miniature replica (perhaps pre-rendering the world to an image at runtime or something) that you can pan and zoom on. Thus, it remains gridlocked on my todo list until I make up my mind, for now.
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Things are moving along slowly but somewhat surely. I've continued work on the pause menu revisions. Today I finally got the load/save game stuff wired up again; I'll be relying on that a lot, I believe, for testing purposes.

I finally decided on a reasonable implementation of a world map. Oh yeah, I rendered this huuuuuge PNG of all of the levels in the game, all in one image. It looks pretty cool! However, it also takes up way too much space. Instead, I went with the "topographical" approach, for lack of a better term, where I render a grid of the levels.

I also added in the option to zoom in and out of the map. Zooming in doesn't add any additional information; it's just there to let you get a clearer view if you want it. I need to add a few little touches (like centering on the player's current location, highlighting the current screen in [green or something], and perhaps a simple labeling system where I show the names of the towns, or something like that. Having this working version seems like a good start, though.


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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Work still continues on the in-game menu systems. I would like to be making more expedient progress. I also want to make sure they look good and work fluidly, though, so I'm not trying to rush through them at light speed. I have actually had to backtrace a couple of times, redoing the code here and there as I get a clearer picture along the way of how I want various interface elements to work.

Right now I'm pretty happy with the state of the various menu objects. I still have yet to fully "populate" a number of the screens, though; that will take some time. With the systems themselves mostly in place, though, it shouldn't take too long to piece the content together, ambition allowing, you know. ;)
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0xDB
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike, have you received my mail from a while back where I sent you the updated walk animation with the new (chunkier) character sprite?
(did not get a reply which is why I haven't done any additional spriting yet)

I usually idle in ##gdr during daytime (UTC+2).
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, I did get it, Dennis. (Right before I hit my mailbox storage quota, luckily.) I've been stuck in the menu stuff and had left it on the side, but I got this updated guy into the game, and he's ready to make his live action debut. ;)

Here's a short video demonstrating some of the base gameplay in the game. It also goes over some of the menu interfaces and introduces parts of the inventory system. You might have to click the "watch it on youtube" option for the full size.

Note - video has sound, in case your speakers are turned up.



In case I made a mistake embedding the clip, here's a [url= link[/url].
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got some good stuff done on the (for now) last remnants of the menu work. Most of my attention went to the skill assignment menus, rigging up various methods to retrieve "unlocked" skills to display in a list, specifying icons for each skill, things like that. I also finally finished off the radial rectangle system I started a while back, so when one of your skills is recharging you can just glance at the clock-looking radial rectangle which goes from 0 to 360 degrees. Once the rectangle finishes its fill, you know you can use the skill again.

I still want to do a little more work with a couple of user interface objects before shoving off from that kind of work. When you explore the world you'll find special puzzle rooms you can enter that don't have any bad guys in them; instead you will have to solve various puzzles (sneaky digging puzzles and stuff), collecting all of the gold in the puzzle to "win." When you finish the puzzle you'll get a reward like a new item, or experience, or something. I'm going to need to put together some intro / outro messages for them, though, so you can tell if you've already completed it before entering, see some instructions when you enter, and get a listing of your prize / prizes when you complete it.
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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Watches video...

OMG, your microphone works now :)
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I actually ended up spending my birthday money on a copy of Fraps and recorded that video from Windows. I had tried several various applications, and it was the only one that would work properly and keep a good framerate. It'll be nice to be able to narrate the stuff I put online, though.

I had to revisit my text rendering code today, specifically the color coding stuff. It worked "pretty well" before, but it didn't support nested color tags and stuff. Also, for some reason exclamation marks weren't rendering at all! It wasn't especially fun work, but it's done now, and it's nice to have that stuff settled once and for all.

I've still been working on getting the "puzzle room" menus in place. I don't have the in-game menus done yet (like when you pause, you'll have a special puzzle menu that lets you restart puzzle / leave puzzle / whatever instead of the traditional menu), but I have made pretty good progress on the intro / outro menus.

When you complete a puzzle room, you get to pick a new item. I struggled to decide how to present the choices, though. At first I thought I'd place 3 little boxes on the left of the screen in a vertical stack, listing each prize item's properties and stuff. This looked "ok," but it really limited the amount of text I could fit in each box. It really wasn't going to work. I considered dropping the number of choices to 2, which would have given me more space to work with, but it seemed like a cheap trick. Plus, I will have some merchants in the game at some point; I anticipate using a similar setup when you browse their wares, and I definitely didn't want to limit the inventory of every merchant to 2 items or less.

In the end (after also experimenting with a single, dynamically-updated box that looked a little dry), I thought it'd be cool to just display little "tooltip" type boxes to the left of the current selection. I built the tooltip functionality right into my list object, so I can easily use the same feature elsewhere if I find a good place for it. Here's a quick shot of the result.

Screenshot (click thumbnail to enlarge):


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mashup games . com | Finally! - A Lode Runner Story
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just about completed work (for now, at least) on the "puzzle room" menus I've been working on. Today I added a little more functionality to my menu stuff, like being able to specify that an element (for instance, a cursor icon) will only appear on the screen if the item is currently highlighted, so the menus now have a cursor next to the active selection. It's not the pinnacle of thrills, but it makes things look a little better, and you can probably never do "too much" to make the user know which item is currently active (short of marquees and stuff right?! ;)

After that I decided to reorganized / revamp some of the map loading / transition code. Everything works the same still (on the surface), but the code is a lot cleaner / more logical, and I didn't have to implement any dirty hack to get all the transitions working, which makes me happy. I should be able to wrap this puzzle room stuff up pretty soon now, finally, and move on to whatever's next. Probably another menu, at the rate I'm going. :)
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The end of the game, yes, is pretty much getting the weapon and killing off the population.
mashup games . com | Finally! - A Lode Runner Story
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One by one, I've been adding items to my "hot list" and then removing them in turn. I've cleaned up a number of small / technical issues over the last couple of days... I'm finally doing things that aren't menu-centric! The hardest part might have been a dirty little dialogue conversion script I put together. I define the dialogue in the game in XML files, but because I didn't want to code out all of tha XML by hand (or even with a "sreamlined" editor), I started using a kind of shorthand, where 95% of my typing work went toward writing the actual dialogue (and the other 5% to shorthand formatting cues). Now I finally have a script that reads in a shorthand file and turns out a pretty XML file.

I also made a few minor additions to the event system, just simple stuff like copying a variable from a to b, things I had been putting off while working on the menu objects. Some of it is actually pretty cool, but it's hard to put it in words I guess. I'm gonna try to put another video together, maybe tomorrow if I have time, to show some of the dialogue and quest systems I'm working on. And the new menus, I bet. ;)
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mikedoty
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I started working on this, I had a lot of fun ideas for various quests and things like that. For quite a while they were only ideas on paper, though... I didn't have the things in place to actually put any of them in action.

A lot of work remains to be done on this project, but I feel like I've made some really nice progress in the 2 months now since I started this little thread. Today I created the second developer diary video for the project. This one gets into the dialogue and quest systems, demonstrating how the choices you make as you play through the game can have a lasting impact on the overall story. I also blow some things up with bombs.

The video clocks in at 18 minutes in length, and it has sound as well as narration of the various additions. I'm really excited about how this game is going. I hope you enjoy the video.



With all of the text in the video, you might get a better picture watching it in youtube. You can see that here: [url]
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