Critique => Devlogs & Projects => Topic started by: FunInfusedGames on August 23, 2017, 07:32:42 pm

Title: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on August 23, 2017, 07:32:42 pm
Platinum Kill is a fast paced, run and gun shooter featuring lots of action, weapons, and a tongue in cheek sense of humor. It will feature six unique levels each with a challenging level end boss. The game features a chiptune soundtrack with a unique song for each level. The graphics will be a low res pixel art style. The game is playable with 1 to 5 player local co-op (4 gamepads and 1 keyboard player) and up to 4 AI players (limited to 5 real and AI players total).


The obvious comparison with Platinum Kill is going to be with Contra. Contra certainly is a big influence on this game (the original two NES titles mainly) but it is my hope that Platinum Kill can do enough different and better that it can stand on its own as not a copy but rather an envolution of the genre. There have been other entries in the genre since Contra and Super C, but I feel like those failed to really capture the excitement and pace of the original games. I want to recapture that as my starting point and layer improvements upon it. Think how the new Doom still feels like the original Doom games but then expands upon it.


The original game this started as (see History section below) took about a month and a half to complete and I've been working on this version since January of 2017. I'm hoping I can complete this in the next 3 months but I'm bad at estimates and it'll probably end up taking way longer. I do all the programming and design myself and UI graphics and then contract out for in-game graphics and music.

I want to talk about my game here, share what I am doing and gather feedback on how I can make the game better. If you want to playtest my game yourself and can use Steam on Windows, just drop me a line.


Videos (newest to oldest):

Custom built using C# and MonoGame.

Steam (Windows). Maybe PS4 down the road.

Game History:
Platinum Kill started off as Ultra Aktion for XBLIG and later ported to itch.io. My hope was that I could do monthly releases of titles and be able to support myself as a full time indie dev. Because of the short timeframe, I did all the graphics using simple colored rectangles and instead focused on making the gameplay as fun as possible. To this end, I think I succeeded well, but in a flooded marketplace and even at just a dollar, Ultra Aktion didn't stand out. XBLIG, where I released it initially, was also near the end and had a plethorea of issues (such as the game showing up in new releases but not being able to be downloaded for over a week before Microsoft finally fixed the issue). After the itcho.io release, I placed Ultra Aktion in Steam Greenlight was the comment that if it got appproved, I'd turn it into a full proper game. Well it did and that's what I'm doing now.


Dev History:
I'm the developer and founder of Fun Infused Games. My focus has always been on creating 2D old school styled games, games that I grew up playing and have a special place in my heart for. I started making games back in 2009 with XNA and released 8-9 games for Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) over the next few years. After XBLIG folded, I tried a few other platforms, releasing one game on iOS (Hypership Out of Control) and two on Ouya (ugh, waste of time). For the past few years I have been doing Steam releases and have released improved versions of four of my XBLIG titles on the platform. I also have a PS4 dev kit and a mostly working version of one of my games, but I have since gotten distracted doing Steam games. One day I plan to get back to PS4 stuff and release an actual game there too.

Website - http://www.funinfused.com
Twitter - https://twitter.com/funinfused
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtzFZwb1UhLKp8edddZbq8g
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fun-Infused-Games/261073264705
SoundCloud - https://soundcloud.com/user1903103
Ultra Aktion on itcho.io - https://funinfusedgames.itch.io/ultra-aktion
Current Steam Releases - http://store.steampowered.com/search/?developer=Fun%20Infused%20Games
Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on August 23, 2017, 07:34:40 pm
Latest image from the sewer level I am working on...


Also if anyone would like to playtest the PC (Steam) version of this, send me a message and I can send you a beta key.
Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: eishiya on August 23, 2017, 08:32:31 pm
I can't say much about the gameplay as this isn't a genre I'm familiar with, but the artwork feels really bland. It's competent, it reads*, it's functional, but I don't think it has any character or a strong sense of theme, and certainly doesn't make the game stand out ):

* Well, it mostly reads. In the gifs and videos, I sometimes find it difficult to keep track of where the player character is because they get lost in all the particle/weather effects and against some of the brighter parts of the background. It's probably easier to track when you're controlling the character, but I think it might help to make them clearer. I recommend considering how easy the game is to follow in video too, since YouTube and Twitch are pretty helpful in driving sales these days.
Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on August 24, 2017, 07:54:33 pm
Getting lost in a bit of an issue in the snow level, which I've been trying/wanting to remedy. Less of a problem on the other levels. I think maybe a more plain/flatter background might allow you to stand out more. A lot of those GIFs I made were intended to look cool so may have taken instances where there was the biggest explosions or most going on at once, not how the game looks most of the time.

I'm not an artist, I'm a programmer, but I am open to feedback on the art direction of this game. I'm not clear what I am doing wrong that makes it boring or bland (excluding the surf levels from the video because that level isn't done yet). Are there more specifics about things I am not doing or doing wrong that I could address to make this better? Sometimes I would like more character in the characters if that makes sense, but it is challenging with the size/pixel count that I am working with.
Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: eishiya on August 24, 2017, 10:11:00 pm
When I said the art lacks character, I meant the backgrounds more so than the characters. The characters could stand to be less grey, but other than that I don't see much wrong with them.
If you want an example of how to pack a lot of character into a small character though, check out Broforce. The art in that game exaggerates the characters' hair and muscles, turning them into (tiny) mountains of meat. In addition, the animations emphasise hulking arm movements and silly-looking tiny leg movements, making the characters look comically muscular. It's a good game to look at overall, as it has a similar feeling to yours, but with more appealing aesthetics.

I can't really suggest specific fixes, as I think the problem is rooted in the environments themselves - it doesn't look like your artist was trying to depict any particular mood or story, but was working with generic concepts like "jungle", "scifi interior", etc. Is it warm, cold? Bright, dreary? Night, day? Inhabited, pristine, abandoned? All of this plus emotion can be conveyed through colours.

In addition, the jungle levels look a bit bland because the screen is half-covered with a repeating, heavily-textured ground tile a lot of the time. Not only does this make the fact that you're using very few tiles stand out, it can also be very tiring to look at. You are balancing it with areas where the far background is visible, but I think you could improve it further by having the cliffs fade off to a solid colour.

Here's a very rough edit with a few suggestions (original on the left):
I scaled your art down to 25% to get something resembling the art's native resolution for easier editing, hence the tiny size.

I made the cliffs fade out to their darkest colour. This helps the characters stand out better, and avoids filling the screen with texture. In addition, a flat colour doesn't have obvious tiling. Add a few "faint rocks" tiles in there and you have a rather organic-looking wall with only a few extra tiles.

I changed your greens to be a little warmer, so they contrast more with the purple ground and tree trunk.
I gave the trunk a bit more volume by adding shading on one side and more lighting on the other.

Lastly, I tweaked your particle and bullet colours. I made the bullets lighter and more yellow so that they stand out as much as the characters, and I made the particles darker and redder, so that they stand out less. This makes the bullets read better among the particles, and should help reduce the characters getting lost in the particles even when everything is exploding at once. You could possibly even have the particles change colour over time before they fade out - briefly yellow, then quickly fading to orange and then slowly to red before finally fading out, much like fire sparks do.

Your sewer screenshot actually looks the best of all of them so far - nice clear colour identity (dull purple environment, bright green dangerous thing), the background has nice low-detail areas to look at, as well as some high-detail bricky areas. I'd recommend breaking up the bricks some more with low-intensity details like smaller pipes.

Lastly, another art nitpick: The UI in the sewer screenshot hurts my eyes. Pure blue on black is hard to read and doesn't look good. Try using a lighter, less saturated colour.
Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on August 29, 2017, 01:46:24 pm

Sorry for the delayed response, I was off camping for a long weekend and doing my best to disconnect from technology :) This is really, really fantastic feedback, exactly what I was hoping I might get posting on this site. I really like what you did with the background tiles on that mock image, I think it resolves a lot of the cluttering / busy issues and the less-saturated particles is a really nice touch too.

I don't think I will be changing the existing characters too much from what they are now, but i want to introduce several other characters for the player to choose from, which should give me some opportunities to go the more creative route like Bro-Force, which is a parody of just about every action movie ever. I am planning to start with these more generic characters unlocked immediately and then have several others unlocked as you play / complete achievements.

You are right that I wasn't directing the artist on any specific mood, it was more "I need a jungle theme". Those are good ideas to keep in mind when i ask for my next set of artwork and as I plan out future levels myself (I have two more to do from scratch plus rework on existing levels needed).

The sewer level is my newest level and has the benefit of myself learning more about what looks good and what is needed over the jungle level, which was the first level I worked on. Also the scope has increased a lot since I did the jungle level. Cliffs or something as you suggested is needed for background artwork rather than the dark/faded trees it uses now. I probably should give it a serious face lift given it is the first level of the game and can really make or break a player's opinion of the game.

It might take me a little time to make these artistic changes as I am in the middle of getting artwork for the sewer level still and it takes time to go back and forth with the artist, who tends to be rather busy, but I intend to implement several of your suggestions and I will follow up on this post as I go with improvements. I can do some of them myself but stuff like major backgrounds are beyond what I can do well.

Thank you again very much,

Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on September 05, 2017, 04:47:56 am
Not the final version, but some in-progress graphic updates to that level based on feedback. Thanks again!

Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on September 19, 2017, 01:43:32 pm
Sorry for the lack of updates... no updates doesn't mean no progress (it really means I've been playing a lot of Destiny 2 in my free time instead).

The biggest update I have is work on the level 4 boss. This floating toilet floats back and forth shooting one of three patterns of shots and then spawning little floating poops that target the closest player. The below animation gives you a good idea of this (doesn't include the toilet lid opening and closing as poops spawn, which was something I finished after making this gif).


Just lots of bug fixes and tweaks here and there as well and a new croc enemy. The croc walks towards the player and when he gets close, shoots fireballs from his mouth in a random spray pattern. These fireballs die out after a short distance... effectively the croc is really dangerous if you get close but you can safely dispatch him from a distance.
Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on September 21, 2017, 05:15:40 pm
Sooo much has changed since many of my previous screen shots and videos, I just wanted to put together something that highlights how the game looks now. The first four levels are mostly done minus a few enemy behaviors and some missing/in-progress artwork.


There are 2-3 levels to go... 2 normal levels and possibly one level similar to the surfing level. I know what the final level will be, I am unsure of the other 1-2 levels so I've been racking my brain on those. Thankfully there is plenty to polish in the game as I figure those out.
Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on September 25, 2017, 02:13:40 pm
Artwork isn't done, but we added a giant Moai head to the first level. Thought this was a sort of memorable enemy you could face mid-level.

Title: Re: Platinum Kill - Run and gun 2d pixel art action game
Post by: FunInfusedGames on October 06, 2017, 08:24:24 pm
Released a number of new videos for Platinum Kill last night. I was tired of having the only video playthroughs of old versions of the game and wanted to ensure people were seeing things up to date (which look a lot better than they used to).



Below is the first video showing off the new slime tower graphics too FYI.