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Messages - ICLHStudios

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76
Chit-Chat / Re: What Have You Been Playing Lately?
« on: October 03, 2011, 04:33:43 am »
After nearly 3 years without playing any Zelda game (with the exception of a single playthrough of Spirit tracks when it came out), watching anyone else play Zelda, listening to Zelda music, looking at Zelda art, or even thinking about Zelda games, I have just started a playthrough of the entire series. I'm hoping to finish right when Skyward Sword comes out.

This will be awesome.

77
Chit-Chat / Re: What are you reading right now?
« on: September 27, 2011, 03:44:00 pm »
I'm currently in the middle of the 7th book of the Wheel of Time. I'm quite enjoying the series, but the characters can be pretty predictable:

78
Game Ideas / Re: Where are get an inspiration?
« on: September 09, 2011, 08:31:50 pm »
From everything. Really.
Seconded, I've gotten game ideas of varying levels of fleshed-outedness from a thick carpet, a bumpy wall, a large floor fan, a vague memory of a very specific cool picture I saw in a dinosaur book when I was little, a circular touch ring thingie on someones MP3 player, and numerous dreams among other things.

79
Game Art / Re: What programs do yall use to make yalls art?
« on: September 04, 2011, 12:56:02 pm »
If I'm doing animated stuff I animate in Toonboom and then sprite-ize it in Paint, otherwise I use a combination of Paint and Photoshop for most of my stuff.

80
Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Re: Dangerous Dungeons!
« on: September 04, 2011, 05:47:39 am »
I was planning to lock up the doors in the stage selection to only open after you have beaten the stage, but now I am wondering if I should just keep them all open? For the people who have trouble beating the bosses, for example.
You should consider having some special keys or something placed in tricky spots that can be used to unlock doors in the stage select. That way you can allow players to skip levels they're having particular trouble with, but without giving them an automatic pass on all the levels.

81
Chit-Chat / Re: What got you interested in game making?
« on: September 03, 2011, 09:21:21 am »
I saw the original Mario Bros arcade game once when I was like 4 or 5, and it inspired me to make my own game, so I drew a "level" on a piece of paper, drew some characters on another and cut them out, then a friend and I slid them around on the page and played the game (rules were enforced of course, such as a limit to speed and jump height, and no going through walls). Soon after I made a sidescroller by using a roll of freezer paper (the character for this game still exists in my list of games to make) and it was awesome.

Throughout the rest of my childhood I became the default "dungeon master" for all our neighborhood games: dungeon crawls through raked leaf mazes, epic sword (stick) fights, dueling a giant snake monster (extension cord), DBZ style energy-beam battles (throwing basket balls at each other and screaming at the top of our lungs), strategy games where we would summon monsters and construct traps to slowly whittle down the enemy hordes advancing upon our fortresses (a birdbath, an old bathtub, a tree, and slide; and yes, this means I invented the tower defense genre). I made up most of the scenarios, kept track of everyones stats, designed the monsters, and made sure they didn't cheat to much (I think I also probably had the most fun).

Somewhere along the line I realized I found designing games more fun than playing them, and decided that was what I was going to do with my life. Unfortunately I soon found out that I am a terrible programmer, and so was stuck with no way to really make any of the many games I had designed over the years (I tried many game making programs, but most of them either limited you far to much in what you could do, or required too much programming ability to use them well). Then Stencyl came along and so far it seems to be working beautifully.

82
Game Ideas / Re: Turn Based game deisgn
« on: July 07, 2011, 09:28:45 am »
To anyone aiming to make a JRPG, I would start off by recommending (possibly demanding) that they play a few specific games and really try to analyze what makes them work so well.

Pokemon, preferably one of the newest ones, the series has what is undoubtedly the single best balanced battle system of all time, play the game and go to any pokemon wiki (I prefer Bulbapedia) and just read about the types, moves, different pokemon, abilities, etc…

Golden Sun, the battle system is very solid, and is only improved by the quality animation and speed (both help keep it from being monotonous, I’m looking at you PSX Final Fantasy games). But most important, what would be a solid but otherwise mostly unremarkable battle system is made one of the most brilliant in the genre by the magic splash damage system.

Breath of Fire, while not specifically for the battle system, BoF deserves to be on this list simply for the menu system (in-battle, overworld, and especially in shops), far too many RPGs have everything overly complicated, but give no information to the player, BoF helps the player make the most informed decisions out of any RPG I’ve ever played, not once did I feel like I was ripped-off in a shop because I didn’t know what something really was, or was a perfectly good item because I had no idea how it was supposed to be used.

Now for my more specific advice:
Make sure that the turn-based battle system is good AS a turn-based battle system, not just an action battle system that has been cut up into a turn-based one. Real-time action battles can be enjoyable even when the player is essentially doing nothing more than the same basic attacks over and over, turn-based systems very rarely can.

One way to do this is to avoid lots of useless techniques, many RPGs give each character lots and lots of special combat options, but most of the time all but one or two are essentially useless. The pokemon games do this very well, with the limited amount of moves a pokemon can have and the extent to which the effectiveness of any move changes in different contexts, a certain level of conscious strategy is always necessary when battling enemies anywhere near your own level.

Similarly, outside-of-battle strategy can be deepened by making equipment much less linear. In most games there is a single progression of weak equipment to strong equipment, no thought is involved in choosing what to upgrade or buy outside of money management, any strategic options are usually limited to special accessories and kept to a minimum. Again, this is similar to pokemon moves, since any pokemon is limited to four moves and each pokemon has so many options, building a good moveset involves a lot of careful planning, choosing moves that work together well (with each other and with your other pokemon), that cover as many type weaknesses as possible, that maximize effectiveness against specific types, that are built for specific strategies but allow for improvisation… If something similar could be achieved with equipment it would add new levels of depth in ways few other RPGs have.

Make sure you play to the unique strengths of turn-based battle systems, things that cannot be done in real-time, such as allowing the player to take their time for strategizing (this can be helped along by making strategies involving thinking ahead and making abilities that work well to complement each other), and the ability to use multiple party members (again, like pokemon where many different pokemon can be used in conjunction to increase the effectiveness of each).

One more thing I feel I should mention is grinding. Grinding gets a bad reputation that is largely undeserved (MMOs aside), I’ve seen many articles and blogs about how grinding is all a big ploy to artificially extend the gameplay time of a game (and in most MMOs, it is) and call for an end to it, but they seem to be missing the true point of grinding. As a manga/anime fan and martial artist, I find grinding to be not a necessary evil like many, but an enjoyable part of the game that is simply poorly done most of the time (and I also prefer the term “training” because that’s what it really is). To keep it from falling into the traps that most RPGs succumb to, it must not be treated as a mindless “press ‘A’ repeatedly while walking back and forth” thing, but as a learning experience to train and challenge the player.

Training should allow a player to feel a growth of power (at a reasonable rate), but for the fullest effect, should not allow the player to really realize just how strong they’ve become until they’re back into the “main game” (no taking months to gain a single level coughmaplestorycough, and have you ever noticed that in manga/anime the characters actually get stronger faster the higher “level” they are? Why is that never true in RPGs?). Training should be dangerous (don’t let the player grind on enemies 50 levels weaker than them) and challenging, make the most grindable enemies tricky ones that require constant effort to defeat, provide handicaps that increase the exp gain. Training should be a learning experience, force the player to use different strategies than they normally would, and it should be where players gain most of their new abilities and learn how to use them.

83
Game Ideas / Re: Tips on the level design (for platformer)
« on: June 14, 2011, 11:28:07 pm »
1. Know every ability, limit, and power available to the player BEFORE starting.
Nothing is worse than adding a double-jump or fireball after designing a handful of levels without it in mind. Obviouly, it's different if the ability isn't available to the player yet, but adding features late in the level design process can break many of your levels meaning you have to throw out work already done.
Also, knowing just how many tiles the player can jump across, or up, or down (if there's a damage penalty) is vital information when designing levels. It makes it possible to gauge just how difficult a jump is - and let's face it, platformers are all about jumping.

Related to that, I would recommend doing something like this: http://iclhstudios.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/6082527-mechanic-extrapolation
Making a list like that helps if you decide to change the mechanics/add new ones in that it's much easier to find out which parts of the game would be broken by it and need alteration.

Think about ways to set up each level as a coherent whole, pick a basic mechanic and design easy, medium, and hard levels almost entirely focused on it (if you can come up with a logical environmental reason for it, such as sliding mechanics in an ice level, or switches/doors in a mechanical level or a dungeon maze, that will give you a good idea of where to place it in the game, and help you lead up to it and out of it). Make some levels more action-y and some more puzzle oriented (how much of each depends on the type of game you're going for), focus some on unique or obscure mechanics and place them wherever the game is beginning to feel monotonous to add some variety. (If you want a good example of this kind of design, play the DCK games, particularly 1 & 2).

I would also read these: http://supermeatboy.com/13/Why_am_I_so____hard_/#b and http://supermeatboy.com/16/Extra_credit_/#b for some extra thoughts about difficulty and risk-reward.

84
Game Ideas / Re: Don't Kill Anyone: The Game
« on: June 11, 2011, 12:01:36 pm »
Yeah, random health would probably cause more frustration than not, but I think having more than one hit for civilians in the early levels might work for easing players into he game a bit.

Or alternately you could have civilians have two hits, one and they're injured and stop where they are, injure to many and you risk boxing yourself in with people who can't move out of the way at all, this would also give the option of having deeper scoring system where fewer injuries = more points.

Or blend the two and have multiple civilian types, each with a certain amount of HP (and maybe some can move around slowly while injured or something) and just change the ratio of strong to weak people as the game advances. Using this method you could also have more unique levels such as a really small room crammed with lots of civilians with more of HP (so that they're almost impossible to avoid entirely, but by carefully hitting the right people you can survive).

85
Game Ideas / Re: Don't Kill Anyone: The Game
« on: June 10, 2011, 10:50:59 am »
I love the originality of the idea, though I agree that it might be tricky to put variety in the gameplay.

I think you should give the player a small limited amount of "gun jams" to temporarily jam the gun and cease the firing, so the player has an out for particularly rough spots.

86
Game Ideas / Re: You Are What you Eat- Platformer
« on: June 05, 2011, 12:30:27 pm »
Could be quite fun depending on how deep you can get the eat/gain-ability mechanic (and you'd probably want to shoot for a balance of quantity of abilities and amount of use you can get out of them, as too much of either and not enough of the other could be quite disappointing). I would recommend a couple playthroughs of games with levels focused heavily on individual mechanics and unique gimmicks, such as Donkey Kong Country 2 or Metal Storm (NES) to help you get the most out of the abilities.

You may also (depending on how organized and analytical you are) find it helpful to list out everything you can do with each powerup and systematically make a list of every challenge and obstacle you can think of using it. It helps keep you from overusing or underusing challenges and ideas, and really fleshes out whether particular concept has as much potential as it seemed when you first thought of it.

I would also caution against using space as the primary jump button, particularly if you plan on any fast or precise platforming challenges, as space feels less responsive than most keys for often rapid-fire actions like jump (the standard in flash platforming seems to be "s" or "x"). And while on the subject, as a long time player of platformers with a keyboard, I think "down" would feel more natural for "eat" than "up" would. Neither one's really a big deal or anything, just a suggestion.

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