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Ghost Song

twotimingpete

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Some of you who have talked to me or seen my posts have probably seen various little tech demos and tests from this game over the last months. I figured it's probably time to have a thread where I can post updates for stencylers who may be curious to see what I'm up to. I am trying to control the game assets and image a bit right now, so the old tech demos are no longer public as of this writing. There will be more, and sometime in coming months I'll want a few testers.

(Apologies, the screenshots are presented at 1:1 size, which is 800x480, so you may need to scroll right to see everything)


Ghost Song is a "Metroidvania" style game with an emphasis on atmosphere and exploration. The general tone of the game is lonely, and the themes addressed are tragedy, love, and closure. The player is tasked with exploring a strange and dangerous Planetoid that few people have ever left alive. Along the way the player will run afoul mutant abominations, bizarre indigenous creatures, feral droids, and ever emoting ghosts.

The game follows the metroid formula of progression, where the player must obtain new abilities to gain access to new areas. As such, some abilities and weapons are required to progress, but I've also made a point of including a number of abilities and weapons that are missable (though highly helpful), found in areas that the player is never required to visit. I want to engage the player's imagination and sense of exploration and wonder. My design philosophy is also that if nothing is ventured or risked, the player can't experience the same level of drama and intrigue, and, as such, the game is difficult and save rooms aren't necessarily around every corner.


A broken vault door.

There's a lot that can be done with Stencyl, as some users have demonstrated. I'm an artist by trade without any programming background, but over the last year have been able to get a lot of things working in very slick fashion just by learning simple stencyl coding concepts and expanding on them.

I've found that my visuals can be boosted greatly by experimenting with layering and blending modes. My game has 2 or more "overlays" (graphical patterns that cover the entire screen) running at any time that help tie the appearance of the game together and bring it movement and subtlety. I've also made numerous "particle" actors that serve as anything from sparks, to floating dust particles, to magical motes.


Lair of a mad droid


This is an animated beam of light coming from the surface above. I used blending modes to enrich the effect and some simple behavior to spawn dust particles floating around inside.


This this is the crash site where the adventure begins. I have separate layers for foreground fog and several background movements, all moving.

The game also has a virtual pet mechanic. Early in the game, the player encounters a small droid that decides to follow along. It grants useful utilities, such as mapping, and damage analyses (floating damage numbers). Over the course of the game it may evolve a couple of times based upon conditions and grant new powers. More on that later.

It's hard to assess the "completion level" of the game right now. I can tell you that almost all of the power ups and abilities are already in, the stat system is already in, the pet system is mostly in, and over a dozen enemies are already finished (with more to come). I've also mapped out the entire game and implemented about 1/3 of it. There's also the difficult to quantify stuff, as I've been completely obsessed with and preoccupied with the game for over half a year now, and in that time, while I wasn't always working on it, I was always refining the concepts and figuring out exactly what I want to do.

Now comes the great push to finish this game. Barring unforeseen problems, my goal is to have it done by the time summer begins. A lot of that will simply be working on environment art and fleshing out the map, though I also need to do some more enemies and npcs and powers.


What's up there?


That poor soul looks familiar


Four way intersection

center]
Thorny proposition[/center]


Ghost song is my obsession, I believe in it strongly, and, in my opinion, it's much more ambitious than the majority of flash based games out there. It's a labor of love that can be traced back to the days of my childhood, when I, (like probably many other kids) simply knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that if *I* could make a game, I could make a great one.

Oh, and one more thing. 3.0 rescued my game. This began as a 2.2 project, but I was running into more and more performance issues given the ambitious nature of the presentation and all the actors I wanted to use. I had sort of shelved it, until I decided to get 3.0 beta and move the game over. Now, this initially went very badly, as the game project wasn't surviving the transition without loads of bugs and gremlins and problems. Reluctantly, I decided to risk some of my time by reassembling my game from scratch in 3.0. This paid off, big time, because in doing so not only did I improved on the game's handling and mechanics, but I also found that I truly could use more actors in a scene with a more stable performance. Early in my time with 3.0 I conducted a number of stress tests and shared them with the 3.0 forums. I did such things as battle over 100 enemies at once (and these aren't simple enemies at all) or run a scene with over a thousand "dumb actors" (terrain actors with no code, visual only). 3.0 still has a few bugs, but it's hard to complain when it's making my project possible.

I'll be posting more in coming weeks and months.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 03:00:30 am by twotimingpete »

Joe

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The game looks and plays great so far. Looking forward to seeing what you can do!

dtrungle

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The art is beautiful. I remember seeing those map image layouts and I'm intrigued with how you plan on laying the gameplay out. I hope nothing stalls this game's development.  :)

marcumgames

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Amazing!  Please notify me when it is done!
I own Marcum Games

twotimingpete

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Thanks guys for the comments.

The art is beautiful. I remember seeing those map image layouts and I'm intrigued with how you plan on laying the gameplay out. I hope nothing stalls this game's development.  :)

The basic gameplay isn't particularly ground breaking, it's just what I perceive to be GOOD core action/adventure. I am extremely anti-hand holding, the player will be given almost no instruction by the game itself. Just stuff they must know, such as what the controls are or what item they just picked up.

Basically, you're set loose. There'll be some item or objective you need to accomplish before being able to access "the next" area (meaning whatever way ultimately leads towards the end of the game). However, there is a great deal of real estate that is completely optional, and will lead to discoveries that grant you new powers, stat increases, or enrich the story (or all three). This is very deliberate. There's some backtracking to be done as areas will often have outputs to areas you can't reach yet until you have a certain ability or what have you. All this also means it's hard for me to predict how long the game takes to play. :)

Super Metroid was a formative experience for me, but for all those early formative experiences, I can only think of one that's actually a recent game -- Dark Souls. I love Dark Souls, it reminded me a lot of what I loved about retro games but also taught me some new things. There's a spot in Dark Souls, down in blight town, where -- Off in the corner of the map, in an area that's already deep in the bowels of the world, there's a hollowed out tree. Inside, there's a room with a fake wall. If you break the wall (just by chance or because someone told you -- it's not made obvious) there's a treasure chest.

The interesting thing, though, that I find so fascinating is that they actually have *another* fake wall behind that treasure chest. This is stuff most people wouldn't think to try on their own. It's just not made obvious.

And behind that treasure chest is a rather extensive area that can be accessed in no other way.

This type of thing blows my mind, and there WILL be some stuff like this in Ghost Song. I WILL have very rewarding experiences hidden in very unlikely places. No obvious clues, no hints. Just rewards for the player who has a gut instinct to try something and shocks himself to find it worked.

« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 10:34:34 pm by twotimingpete »

Hectate

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That's like the amazon level in the NES Duck Tales game. If you go down underground (not required, out of the way even) you can push a block to jump up and onto the top edge of the tilemap and walk off the left side of the screen. There you'll find a few gems and a chest. Most people would stop there but you can actually jump back up on the top edge and walk off the left edge and find MORE treasure in a second hidden room beyond the first.

Fun stuff, messing with expectations. Secrets, inception style.
:
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Patience is a Virtue,
But Haste is my Life.
Proud member of the League of Idiotic Stencylers; doing things in Stencyl that probably shouldn't be done.

twotimingpete

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  • Posts: 1666
That's like the amazon level in the NES Duck Tales game. If you go down underground (not required, out of the way even) you can push a block to jump up and onto the top edge of the tilemap and walk off the left side of the screen. There you'll find a few gems and a chest. Most people would stop there but you can actually jump back up on the top edge and walk off the left edge and find MORE treasure in a second hidden room beyond the first.

Fun stuff, messing with expectations. Secrets, inception style.

Found it! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=I7aNGcCk77g#t=106s

twotimingpete

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  • Posts: 1666
There are zombies in this game. Maybe not zombies in the traditional sense. They were people, now they're this. Some are bigger and scarier than others.

Some are garden variety.



These little belchers some of you have already seen if you've played my tech demos in the past.

To get a nice "zombie like" behavior, I wanted them to be somewhat aimless, but also at least a little bit threatening (especially in groups). To accomplish this, I came up with several "states" they can be in. Pursuing (they'll move in the direction of the player), Idling (doing nothing), Wandering (walking about randomly). Every so many seconds, a dice is rolled, and depending on what it is they'll go into a different mode (or stay in the same one). I tweak the various values to get the balance of aggression and pointlessness I want. This "dice rolling between modes" in intervals is a an AI mechanic I've come back to several times with my enemy designs to try to lend some perceived dynamism. This doesn't work for every type of enemy, but more on that later.

oh, If they're in pursuit mode and the player is close eough, they'll shoot puke projectiles. Thus why I call them belchers.

spoogob

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Gotta have lots of those funky particle effects on weapons ;)

captaincomic

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Not sure if I said this before (since I've seen your tech demos) but I really love the art.

twotimingpete

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Thanks Cap. :D And the particles are a never ending balancing act of trying to figure out how much I can get away with.


I just picked up a power up in this room. Nice. But there's something about that wall..


Bingo

There's nothing too fancy actually going on here. I've made actors that use the same graphic as certain tiles to make those actors easy to interact with for hidden walls like this. I know there's an API you can use, but my fake tiles animate when you kill them. Plus, I'm stupid.

lazyboygames

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My face when I opened this thread.

Hectate

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I have to agree with Lazyboygames. I've seen some of this game prior to this thread (ttpete has been on IRC occasionally when I have been also) so I didn't see a reason to post initially, but this still is definitely a project to keep an eye on and I have been doing just that.
:
:
Patience is a Virtue,
But Haste is my Life.
Proud member of the League of Idiotic Stencylers; doing things in Stencyl that probably shouldn't be done.

twotimingpete

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  • Posts: 1666
thanks guys for the very flattering responses. I'm never sure what anyone will think. hopefully the game lives up to the hype now.

back to tiles tiles tiles tiles tiles...

twotimingpete

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Screenshot of the day.


What's up there?

« Last Edit: February 19, 2013, 10:06:12 am by twotimingpete »