AuthorTopic: Starr Mazer: DSP  (Read 2021 times)

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Starr Mazer: DSP

on: August 26, 2016, 09:24:55 am


Starr Mazer: DSP released in Early Access on Steam today!
http://store.steampowered.com/app/462100/



Check it out and let us know what you think!
We plan on updating the game in the days to come, so any and all feedback is welcome.  :y:
Hit up the Steam forums for developer interaction.

If you want to know more about my experience on the project click the spoilers below.

Here's a big stack of art I worked on for the game.
Some is made purely by me but much of it is collaboration with the rest of the team.
Click to zoom in, alt click to zoom out.





































I'd also like to take a moment to talk about the team.
We consist of many dynamic individuals all working together for a greater good. :)

Maximo V. Lorenzo is our Art Director.
http://8bitmaximo.com/
Concepts, designs, promo, pixels, etc.
The heavy lifter on the art team and has been a part of nearly everything you see in the game.
Also he beats us with sticks when things aren't good enough.
A super cool guy.

You all know Ryumaru.
http://pixelation.org/index.php?action=profile;u=279
He's our Environment Artist.
Pretty pixels to set the mood flow from his brain to the game.
He has the nicest hair out of anyone on the team.

I'm the primary pixel and animation guy.
On a clear night around 3AM, if you listen closely you can hear me making "PEW PEW! KER-BLAM!" sounds, as I draw, from miles away.

Jeffrey Nielson also did animations.
There's so much to do in this game I couldn't get to everything.
On really short notice this guy happily saved the day.

The guys at PixelJAM built the game and the engine it runs on.
http://pixeljam.com/
Working with them has been awesome.
They have a great sense of making a fun and intense game experience.
I love Potato Man Seeks the Troof and Dino Run!
DSP has that same coding wizard blood running through its veins.
I'll leave these guys anonymous to keep them a mathematical mystery.
SPOOKY!

Alex Mauer is our genius musician.
What he brings to the table can only be stated with sound waves.
If you haven't heard his funky tunes check em out!
https://alexmauer.bandcamp.com/

Don Thacker is the show-runner.
http://www.imagossoftworks.com/
The man with the vision and the hype.
Like a killer robot sent from the future with no off button, he won't sleep until the mission is complete!
Without him Starr Mazer wouldn't exist and he works tirelessly to keep us going.
A huge contributor to the personality of the game.

Dan Stern is the main contact with our publisher.
He fights to make sure we can all focus on working on the game without the worry of what tomorrow brings.
Chill guy with a lot of confidence in the project and team.

Kazuo Mayeda is a magic man with magic hands.
He's the behind the scenes guy, around to make sure things actually work.
Nice dood who is down to do it.

Vanessa Williams is our text savvy writer.
Slapping down descriptions and dialog, she helped add flavor to DSP.
She also puts a lot of thoughtful time into crafting the future stories of Starr Mazer.
Calm and honest.

Additionally we had help from a handful of other artists.
We also had a bunch of cool people do the fun voices.
Thanks guys!

I'm sure I missed a few others.
You're important too!

Teamwork is the most important part of game development.
Thanks to everyone for all your hard work and making this project possible.  :)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 09:43:16 pm by PixelPiledriver »
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline wzl

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #1 on: August 26, 2016, 09:41:51 am
SICK DUDE
i wasnt aware ryu works with you too. nice work you guys, and the rest of the team too.
I'll so be getting this :D just after i finish deus ex

I'll be leaving a review here, once i thoroughly played it!

Offline jun

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #2 on: August 26, 2016, 01:25:05 pm
FINALLY!
Good job, dude. Thanks for posting all the art! Lovely stuff.

Offline wzl

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #3 on: August 29, 2016, 10:09:05 pm
Alright, finally got to play this thing.
First off, really nice job. Art, music, atmosphere, effects, its all pretty much spot on. The backgrounds are nice looking, but subtle enough to not get confused, you can tell enemy shots pretty well even when chaos is going on, so thats a big thumbs up.
There are a number of issues i have with the game personally though.
This is 1.5hours into the game, so i'm not sure i've figured everything out yet, which is another point i'll adress.


Ok, so the first major confusion hit me when i went gameover. The idea that you choose your squad is pretty awesome, but the whole screen was just overwhelming.

The contrast of the text, the choice of yellow for some text, which makes it pop unecessarily. It's really hard to figure out whats going on at a glance. In addition to that i find it incredibly hard to read the font, or lets say, it feels really unpleasant.
Center card being blown up, and changing its shape doesn't help getting an overview of whats going on in that squad, it feels all very deliberately confusing to me.

When it comes to the score screen, i find some problems with focus and scaling.

The upper 3 values, Score, Mission Time and Pilots Deployed have unnaturally huge numbers, and it makes it kinda obnoxious to read the numbers. I'd also love to see a delimeter for thousands, as in the score on the very top. (also just realizing, why is that score different?)
The ingame stats, while secondary, are imo loosing too much attention. They will tell you how well you did compared to before. And its a scrollable list too, which is kind of odd too. The stat numbers itself are so far across the screen its really troublesome to look back and forthe for each stat, to see which value is which. I'd suggest to either get them closer, or add icons to get a quick overview of what number is what stat. I'd love to see this screen rearrange to fit all info in a well readable manner.

Ingame looks mostly nice and clean, although, ALTHOUGH, it does happen that the portrait covers up some incoming markers which had me killed more than once, which is just infuriating. A suggestion would be to move it to the far right side.


I'd just like to know what the bar beneath the portrait is supposed to be. which i couldnt figure at all. Is it just decoration, or does it actually imply something?


Ok, let's continue to the way the game teaches the player.
You start with 3 ships, pretty normal. You die, you go into the squad shop, you eventually figure out you can buy ships. You continue, you collect shiny bits, and realize your shooty gets stronger. Sometimes you can SUPER, until you realize there are bars at the bottom that indicate super fuel/ammo and the level your shooty thing is currently at. Add 1+1 and you figure out that shiny bits increase your ammo/level. While i like the ammo/level mechanic, it is not very well transported into the game at all. There is no feedback, no blinky blinky, no beep boop swoosh when you level up, that tells you "YOU DID SOMETHING" and therefore the player is like "SOMETHING HAPPENED, WHAT WAS IT,  DO IT AGAIN"
This also was the reason i didnt figure out why the bar didnt charge beyond lvl2, and why sometimes i had splitshot for a splitsecond, which almost felt like a bug, but not quite. Turns out normal shooting depletes all ammo on level 3, not even sure what happens with super at 3.
Why? Because apparently shinybit stacking is a thing, and that mechanic is really weird. I'm not sure about my opinion on it yet. Let's say i'm not sold quite yet. The idea sounds neat. you don't collect your bits, they build up, stack up, and you can super a bunch, collect them, and super a bunch. Kind of interesting, interesting skill challenge, so to speak. Unless you run into a bullet, ship, obstacle, because you dont want to collect and therefore waste 2minutes of bitstacking for shitty waves. Then you die, and your shiny bits evaporate in your explosion. You continue with a new ship, and no ammo/level, and you are massively behind, depending on the ship and ammo. It doesnt help that they either try to go offscreen as fast as they can, or swarm towards you so you have to actively evade them. I've found stacking them in some areas night impossible, eventhough it would have been massively helpful (act 1, asteroid bouncy thingies).
Like i said, i'm not really sure about this mechanic. i don't feel it helps the game all that much, considering the difficulty it introduces, for a small dps boost, that is often times at the wrong place, or just too short to matter.

Anyway's lets carry on. Squads! Yeah, cool concept, neat idea. Love it! Although, right now it is like, look at score, choos squad, pick all, go. No reason not to. handpicking just takes far too long, and imo doesn't really benefit you all that much. sure, you can get rid of primaries/secondaries you dont like if you got the creds to spend, but there's no real meaning to pick certain ships over others, since you cannot really choose which ship you have at what stage in the game. No tag-team like swapping out. No choose what ship you want after death. Not even a preview of the ship you'll get next (OH next ship is a splash, that will be awesome in this and that area comming up, lets play careful so i dont waste it before). Kinda sounds like a voluntary crash to get the ship done for the job, but thats the vibe i get from squads. A bit of wasted potential at this point.

Unless you really get into the game it will be a get-a-random-ship-every-death or a bunch of busy work every continue to re-assign your squad. I love the idea and setup, i just feel it should be more than it is.

Speaking of ships, i feel the values, specifically life, is really vague. Chance to evade a hit, with ranges from A-F. Whats that mean? 50-0%? 100-50%? 63-12%? Generally a random value determining your death seems a bit weird. I'd much rather see a more deterministic approach. something like remove 1 level/ammo bar. if not possible>die. If you want to bind it to a stat, i'm sure you can figure something out. but a evasion chance is really cheap (or actually wrong imo), especially for this kind of game.

2 more things, kind of relating to each other. I'd really like to know the hitbox of a ship. in a game where you need to do precision movement, it is kind of nice to know where you're gonna be killed. is it a bounding box, the cockpit, or just the ships muzzle? i wouldnt know. Maybe show the hitbox superimposed on a ship in the squad screen ship/character selection.
The second point is that i found it quite difficult to evade or precisely do small maneuvers, a small acceleration would probably help making tiny positioning adjustments.

All that said, i really dig the game. I hope you can tell :P I'd love to see it flourish, advance, and become great, because it definitely has the potential. Just right now it feels like an amazing basis, without much replayability or decision making.

So, ppd, ryu, get the fuck busy, and make this thing amazing :D

Offline yaomon17

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #4 on: August 30, 2016, 05:00:40 am

tfw your install time is determined by RNG


I am really bad at this.

Where do I see how much Z I have left

Also check it meowt


Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #5 on: August 30, 2016, 10:14:26 am
Hey guys, I guess it's my turn.
Animation makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry, so I do the backgrounds :D Starr Mazer is the first project I've worked on that has had an actual release ( well I guess there was Dungeon Dashers as well, but DSP feels more official). By far the biggest team I've worked with, which led to a dynamic completely different than I'm used to. On freelance stuff I usually self art direct, and have nearly full control over the final output ( besides client suggestions).  Level 1 of DSP was a beast with it's 3  transitions, and Kirk, Maximo, the programmers, and even the sound guy had their hands in it some way; mostly palette and layout edits. Here's some of the more interesting files from my folder:

Where it all begins!



First version of the clouds



Final version with modified palette, and flatter background clouds. Originaly the clouds were going to be mostly stationary to be in the far distance, but rightly so, the team decided to have them all move at a considerable rate, making for a more dynamic segment



Rough smoke clouds with some unused building assets



Background set piece: abandoned gate. Cute story behind this asset, it was supposed to be the gate that the player goes through to speed up, but we didnt want to tax the programmers with the issue of collision and giving it translucency when sprites pass through it, so I came up with an easier solution, and stuck this in the background with some battle damage. Felt kind of fitting to find such a use for an asset that was literally scrapped



Mockup segment of the Numspa Gate, including the light based circular gateway at the beginning that replaced the asset above. PPD did the space background that lies beneath this, and is present throughout the game



A lot of this was done under the crunch of EA. I hope to redouble my efforts and make some even cooler stuff for acts II and III :]

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #6 on: August 31, 2016, 09:18:46 pm
@wzl:
Thanks for the in depth thoughts. :y:
Good suggestions.
All user feedback is currently being sifted thru and considered.
Will let you know what happens.  ;)

@yaomon17:
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And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline yaomon17

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #7 on: August 31, 2016, 09:49:37 pm
what does the bar on the top left do

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #8 on: August 31, 2016, 11:18:43 pm
Bar in the top left is your Shield.
It indicates a random chance of surviving a hit.
Green you live, Black you die.
It's not well understood by the majority of players so we are working on ways to improve and change it.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Probo

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #9 on: September 01, 2016, 10:23:22 pm
wow  I can tell you've been crunching, this is really coming along! Love all the new art guys, thanks for sharing. Any plans for some sticky, fleshy, biological levels? Off to check my bank balance!

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #10 on: September 09, 2016, 07:08:31 am
Thanks!
The crunch continues.  :o

Hope you enjoy game!
Let us know what you think.

Quote
Any plans for some sticky, fleshy, biological levels?
Yes!
But some other stuff is in production before that.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline ||||

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #11 on: September 10, 2016, 06:38:43 pm
 :y:
Excellent work fellows. Those graphics look great!

Offline kriss

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #12 on: September 16, 2016, 11:32:21 am
wooow excellent sprite/animation and high detail level with so little sprite :o

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #13 on: September 16, 2016, 11:25:54 pm
OMG I played this at the SIX afterparty and bought it there instantly.
Says enough I guess.


I didn't know though that Ryu does the backgrounds. I knew that you did the anims PPD
love it so far. All parts come together greatly, currently there is a bit little content, but I guess this will get better since it's EA.

I would recommend the game to anysone who is looking for quick intense and fun shooting :D
"Because the beauty of the human body is that it hasn't a single muscle which doesn't serve its purpose; that there's not a line wasted; that every detail of it fits one idea, the idea of a man and the life of a man."

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Offline Indigo

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Re: Starr Mazer: DSP

Reply #14 on: September 23, 2016, 04:05:49 am
this work is amazing, and those clouds are just gorgeous.  Had no idea you guys were working on this, but i'm definitely keeping my eye on it