4 Hugues Ross Writes a Devlog: 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014
Hugues Ross

12/31/13

Games I Play #12: Maldita Castilla

Once again, Locomalito has ported one of his games over to Linux. This calls for the usual post, although i'm a bit late this time around. Personally, I consider Maldita Castilla to be one of his best games, so I'm happy to see it find its' way on to Linux after all of the time I spent playing it on Windows.

-Overview-

Like Locomalito's other games, Maldita Castilla is a game designed with old-school aesthetics and values in mind. In this case, much inspiration seems to have come from platformers like Ghosts 'n Goblins. You play as Don Ramiro, a knight on a quest to stop the evil plaguing the land of Tolomera.


-The Good-

This game is really well polished. The music not only uses proper soundchip emulation in order to sound as authentic as possible, but it sounds great as well. The gameplay feels like it came straight out of an arcade, with the stiff-but-predictable control that you'd expect from a number of games of that era. The graphics are vibrant and seem to adhere to palette restrictions, for a complete old school look. The game itself is a blast to play, and mastering a level feels great. At this point, I can blitz through the first two levels like some kind of medieval ninja! The game loosens some of its' restrictions when it comes to death. You get 4 continues after running out of lives, and you can sell your soul for infinite continues if you wish. You won't get a very good ending then, but at least you can keep going even if you get stuck. The game also has a ton of cool hidden things that you can easily miss the first time around, adding to the replay value. The end even provides you with a handy checklist of what you did/didn't miss.

-The Bad-

In keeping with the tradition, Maldita Castilla is blisteringly difficult. I enjoy the challenge, but there are a few areas that feel incredibly unfair until you've passed them a few times. Losing any powerups you had when you die can make this problem even worse. While you can still certainly prevail with the basic starting weapon, it still can make an already frustrating bit even worse. Additionally, there is no options screen that I know of, just a handful of keys hidden in a readme. The game would also benefit from some kind of extra mode, be it local multiplayer, or a boss rush, or something of that sort. It's not much of a complaint, but it'd be nice to see.

-Final Thoughts-

In the end, the both the best and worst thing about Maldita Castilla is that it provides a very authentic feeling arcade experience. It's a wonderful throwback to old times, but its' difficulty is brutal and merciless. It's wonderful fun though, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys platformers, especially those harkening back to a simpler, tougher time. The only people that I'd specifically discourage from playing this would be easily frustrated gamers. If you rage easily, then this game is probably not for you. As for everyone else: give it a shot! After all, it's free.


You can download the game for free here.

12/27/13

AMAZE - 12 - Filling the Gaps

Once again, I return with the week's work. Due to a combination of celebrations and laziness, I haven't gotten too much done this week. Still, that's not to say that I haven't made progress.

Last week, I wanted to finish off the scripting updates. I haven't done this, I'm afraid, but I've laid out my goals for the next month or so. Keep in mind that:

  1. This schedule is just there to keep me more or less on track. It doesn't mean that I'll stick to it, but it gives me an idea of what I should be doing.
  2. The schedule is not complete. There are other things that I want to get done, but haven't decided on when to do.
With that out of the way, here's the schedule:
Week 1(next week): I'm finishing the GUI. It's been in a half-completed state for far too long, and It would be nice to have it finished before I release any demos. I also plan on finishing up the tutorial, after which I'll probably release a tiny, unimpressive demo. In order for this to work, I'd also like to get Windows builds up and running.

Week 2: This week will mostly comprise of backend stuff. I'll finish up scripting, add some basic menus, and maybe add in a bit of sound and music to the game. This won't require me to make a new file type, as that's a target for a later engine version. Then, I'll get to work on the first zone's mechanic.

Week 3:
This week will all be game expansion. If I manage to finish everything that I want to, I'll be done with the first zone and I can make a new demo. Along with that, I'd like to implement a basic way to save your game, since there'll probably be ~15  levels at that point.

Week 4:
Once week 3's over, the backend of the game will be close enough to complete for me to start working on content regularly. I want to both start AND finish all of zone 2 within a week. This'll act as a good benchmark for how quickly I can complete the project as a whole. Some of the game's later mechanics will be quite difficult to implement, so it won't be perfect, but it'll show me whether or not I'm on track.


There we go. If all goes to plan, The engine will be close to done in a month's time. See, told you guys I was getting somewhere! On the code side of things this week, I finished the last mechanic that the tutorial introduces, so that means that I won't have much code left before it's done. I have a WIP screenshot, but I'll save it for next week when I hope to reveal the first demo. From now on, I'll post about the code/mechanics of most features once they're out in a demo. That way, I can let you guys find out for yourselves how stuff works.

12/20/13

AMAZE - 11 - While I Was Gone.....

With the semester over, and Space Douchebag done, work on AMAZE continues. I've made some progress since the last post, so I'll go over that today:

  1. I finished revamping the sprite/animation system. It not only allows me to create animations from whatever collections of images I want, it also lets me control a number of other aspects, like frame offsets, animation speeds, and even delaying animations on certain frames.
  2. I've expanded the scripting system somewhat, although that project's still in progress. Scripts can now run special scripts that run over time. These scripts are loaded externally in .sca files, and can pause and repeat. I also plan on expanding the capabilities of all scripts with some cool new stuff, but I'll post about that when it's done.
  3. Finally, I've laid out the initial design of how I want the entire game laid out. I'm going to keep it secret for a while, though. Every time I complete a set of levels, I'll release a public build and write about its' contents.
That's it for the progress I've made. Next week, I'll try to be more or less done with scripting. Following that, I'm going to finish up the tutorial levels, and maybe complete the UI while I'm at it.

12/17/13

Games I Play #11: Starbound

Really, it had to be this one. I've been anticipating Starbound for so long, and it came out so recently that I could think of no better game to return with than it. Technically, the game's still in a highly incomplete state. Despite that, the game has tons of content already so I feel pretty safe giving my impressions of it so far.

-Overview-

Starbound is a game in the exploration/mining/construction genre that Minecraft seems to have spawned. Like Terraria before, it plays in a 2d plane  and is much more combat-heavy than Minecraft. What separates Starbound from just being an effective clone of Terraria is mostly gained from its' setting. Terraria throws around a bit of everything: sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, and just plain weird. To compare, Starbound is distinctly science fiction. In fact, Starbound(as the name might imply) is all about space! You can travel to alien planets, find resources and settlements, and slowly work your way up from low-tech stuff like pickaxes and swords to high-tech things like blasters, space suits and 3d printers. The game is also separated into technological 'tiers' which are unlocked by beating bosses.

-The Good-

The game has tons of variety. You can fly to a nigh-infinite number of planets, each with their own randomly-generated alien inhabitants. You'll find all kinds of settlements and structures built by the game's sentient races, and even planets with similar biomes and characteristics can look extremely different. For instance, when I landed on a grassy planet, I did not exactly expect a village of robots in the middle of a field of giant tentacles. Along with this, you can find all kinds of randomly-generated weapons off of enemies or in abandoned chests. Breaking and placing blocks feels quite a bit nicer than most games of this sort, because you can work with more than just 1 at a time. You can also place any block in the background, which makes things much simpler than having both foreground and background blocks.

-The Bad-

Later on, almost all craftable items cost pixels, the game's currency. It feels like you never have enough to make the items that you want, even when you have plenty of materials available. The easiest way to get pixels is to fight monsters, but it can take quite a long while later on to get what you need. Another problem is that because there are so many different types of stone and dirt, not to mention the many varied decorative objects, your inventory fills up at an alarming rate. Another small annoyance is that you can die very easily. When you die, you only lose a small percentage of your pixels, but it just makes collecting them a bigger pain. Finally, you always warp onto a planet's surface in the same location. This means that building your house on a planet ANYWHERE ELSE is a massive pain in the butt(Also, building a giant hole in the ground where you spawned will cause you to warp into a death pit whenever you return to the planet).

-Final Thoughts-

Overall, the game's really fun, even in its' unfinished state. It cost me 15 dollars, and since the game was released two weeks ago I've put 28 hours into it. Even then, I'm still not done with the available content. For the 15 dollars I spent on it, this game has been worth every penny and then some. Personally, I highly recommend Starbound, especially to people who played and enjoyed Terraria.


You can buy the game here.

12/13/13

Space Douchebag! - 9 - DONE!

Guess what?


That's right, Space Douchebag is complete! As you might've guessed, I've done quite a bit in the past two weeks. For starters, I added an entire level and boss to the game. There are enough changes to warrant a list, though, so here's the rundown on what's new:

  • I've added 4 new enemies to the game. These only show up in Stage 2, and they're much more dangerous than Stage 1's enemies. 
  • I made stage 2, and its' boss(naturally). They feel a bit lacklustre since I was running out of time when I made them, but they're not too bad.
  • I changed the particle system to use multithreading, although I don't think I made any decent speed gains in the process.
  • SWAG! The game's got plenty of it now, and you unlock it through a variety of means. The SWAG is as follows: Beer Hat, Slotted Shades, Bling, Red Spoiler, Unfortunate Tattoo. To see how to unlock them, refer to the video above or just experiment a bit!
  • The game now ranks you at the end based on deaths, SWAG, and score. You know you've got the best rank from one of these if it's highlighted in yellow on the win screen.
  • I added the game's story in. If you sit at the title screen for about a minute, you'll see what I mean... In addition, beating the game will wrap things up.
  • Temporary powerups were never part of the design, but I added them in later for balance purposes. One makes you invincible, one powers up your weapon for a short while, and the last will fully restore your ego if it's low.
  • I accidentally forgot to re-enable the graphics adjustments, so they're effectively gone. In addition, you'll need to relaunch the game if you run out of lives, or things will glitch up slightly.
Right, I think that's it. I've been working really hard on this game, so please enjoy it. It should be up on the Games page today, under In Progress.

...Wait. Why in progress, you might ask? Well, I think I can do better. Space Douchebag hasn't reached the lofty goal that I held for it, and I'm going to remake it. For the moment, I'll leave things at that, but expect some more info during this coming week.

12/5/13

No Post

This week, there will be no posts other than this one.

This is because all of my final projects will be due shortly, and I don't have time to write anything. Next week will feature the final Space Douchebag post, probably on Thursday or Friday, and there will be a video.

Following next week, I will return to my usual schedule and also to posting progress updates for AMAZE. Quite a bit has happened since my last post...