AuthorTopic: [WIP] Curse of the Caves (EGA DOS game)  (Read 31967 times)

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #30 on: July 03, 2010, 03:19:32 pm
Thanks for the feedback, guys. ;D

As far as the palette goes, I don't really want to change it since the CGA colors is what I associate with games back then. I was mainly wondering what I could do with the same palette.

I think you should break up the straight lines on the waterfalls, the straight edges are killing them.

Yeah, I was hoping the sparkly effect would hide the straightness a bit.

But perhaps the text should be placed over some sort of background?
Maybe blacken the inside of the big monster's mouth, that would give it a bit more depth.
Also, have you considered using dark red for the stalagmites/tites? I think that could possibly push them into the background a bit more. Right now there's just a lot of blue going on.

I tried the red for the cave background, but the dark blue is currently the darkest color in the palette, so anything brighter adds to the contrast, making it busier. The contrast in hue between the foreground and background was also a bit too harsh. I don't really mind the blue. It makes the cave seem cold and it also serves as a nice background for the text since the yellow really pops out against the blue.

If this underground world has relics in it, suggesting a lost civilisation, then it would be cool to have squares of cut stone, and leftover bits of wooden structures to also 'break up' the rock tiles.  Maybe carved faces, also?
I think the cyan outline looks fine, but if it isn't subtle enough, how hard would it be to make it fade in and out like a soft glow (stepping through darker colours, rather than an alpha, I assume)?
I've been staring at the reflection animation for your crystals with unblinking appreciation - it's amazing!  And is that a little page to fit into the diary - does it have game hints and story-advancing clues?  I wouldn't be able to wait to collect them, even over treasure!
Are you still going to have coins?  I think a stamped image in the center like an eagle or a fish would help them look flat (especially if they had a raised edge).
Is this going to be a mockup, or a working game? (looks pretty convincing atm!)
I like the idea of the alternate layer you showed in this post, which really gave a suggestion of depth and intricacy.

I'll try to come up with some carved, ornamental tiles. I won't keep the coins, since there's no need for currency in the game (i.e. no shops). I also decided to go with a neolithic culture, which rules out metalworking. I can try to add another layer to the background, but with statues or something like that, but I've so far found it difficult to make an additional layer subtle enough with the current palette.

As far as diary pages goes, I was thinking I'd try to combine the story with a tutorial. The pages will describe the discoveries of an anthropologist lost in the caves, but they'll be found out of order so that the items are explained before you find them. The pages that only contain information related to the story will be scattered a bit more, so I guess it would be a little quest in itself to find them all and combine them.

I don't know if it'll actually turn into a game at some point, though. I need to figure out more of the gameplay before I start thinking about actually making something out of it. I also want to give the ecology of the game a bit more thought to make it seem both consistent and sufficiently varied. I'll keep the current monsters, but I think I might need to make them a little bigger.

I like the glow suggestion, so I'll experiment with some kind of glow or sparkle effect. Maybe I'll do something similar to the reflections in the crystals for the other items as well. As a digression, making that animation was a straightforward procedure, so I thought I'd explain how I went about it.



1) First I colored in all of a crystal's planes with each color indicating a similarly angled plane.
2) Then I decided which direction the light would move in (horizontally, in this case). I indicated the planes I'd use for the animation with white and light green going from one side to the other.
3) I made a palette swapped version of the crystal so that the colors were roughly halfway between the original and pure white.
4) I used the image from step 2 as a mask to isolate the brighter planes while leaving the white from step 3.
5) Then I put the resulting brighter and white parts on top of the original crystal.
After that, I tweaked the individual frames a little so that the edges wouldn't be too sharp and to make sure the animation would be smooth.



Here's an attempt to soften the edges of the waterfalls, and also text with a background. The page looks a little crude right now, so I'll try to polish it a bit more and experiment with the colors. It does block more of the player's view this way. I'd rather not freeze the game while the text is displayed since I've always found that jarring, but now it's a bit more obvious where the text is coming from at least.

Offline Olothontor

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #31 on: July 03, 2010, 03:34:04 pm
The dirty journal entry approach to the in-game text is great, stick with it, but it could stand to be smaller, since currently if you jumped your character would disappear behind it, and that's potentially even more jarring than a pause to completely lose sight of your character. Just a thought.

"In a mad world, only the mad are sane." - Akira Kurosawa

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #32 on: July 03, 2010, 05:08:52 pm
True. I guess I haven't really thought about this practically enough. I could do something like put a little icon in a corner of the screen after a page has been picked up, and then the player can press a key to read it.



Better now?

Offline Helm

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #33 on: July 03, 2010, 08:11:47 pm
A suggestion is to leave the new pages on-screen in the background when the player selects them (and if they press the key for journal they dismiss them) but don't pause the game, so people can platform and read at the same time.

Offline Olothontor

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #34 on: July 03, 2010, 11:21:22 pm
Much better. And Helm's idea sounds great, and I think could add to the feel of the game if done right.

Really awesome progress so far. Mockups are always so disappointing, though, because I always want to play them :/
"In a mad world, only the mad are sane." - Akira Kurosawa

Offline PypeBros

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #35 on: July 04, 2010, 12:47:49 pm
True. I guess I haven't really thought about this practically enough. I could do something like put a little icon in a corner of the screen after a page has been picked up, and then the player can press a key to read it.

Yay! My favourite spelunker is back!
I like the idea of "some bonus being harder to read against the background because they're supposed to be rarest, highest valued and require more attention from the player to spot them. The sparkling of the jewels is imho way preferable to outlines, though I find your animation posted on June, 30th a little too slow for that purpose.

Introducing the ancient civilisation and the lost journal promises a terrific quest ... I'm not so convinced of the greyish journal compared to the golden letters, anyway. Tyrian had a nice approach of "data cubes" that you could collect in-game and read inter-mission ... vvvvvvv had the exact opposite approach of short-sentences hints (log entries) that were shown onscreen when platforming, possibly without pausing the action. Tyrian is action-oriented while vvvvvv is exploration-oriented, I guess depending on the core gameplay of your project, the best approach would change.

HTH. Keep it up !

Offline Ninja Crow

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #36 on: July 04, 2010, 08:24:44 pm
I love the little sparkles, but forgot to mention them - they're cool!

I also like what you did with the waterfall edges.

I also really like your crystal animation mini-tute - very clever process!

I assumed when the letters were gold that it was narration or the player character's own thoughts.  When you put the page behind, I realised that it was the words of the lost anthropologist (which is a terrific idea - not only does it add character, it alludes all the way back to Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth!). The gold letter effect is cool and moody, and if I had picked up a page, and clicked a button to read it, and the letters appeared, I would have had no issues whatsoever with understanding that the words came from the page.
I like your idea of having an icon appear up in the corner of the screen that would show that you have an unread page (that way the player is always in charge of when the action pauses).  But if the pages only hold a short gameplay hint, especially if context sensitive, they maybe should pop open automatically.
As for making them look like they are on a page, I think the idea is cool, but it is too jarring to pick up an icon that looks like a page and then see an object that looks like a torn strip from a page.  Any way to make the two more equal? (e.g. blurred top and bottom edges to suggest that only part of it is being seen?)

A background layer probably should be quite subtle, to prevent your focus from shifting from the foreground, but I don't know if a midground layer has to be too subtle because the drama created from the occasional sudden pass-by of near objects adds a sense of depth, as well as visual interest (such as a shipwreck coming into view on an otherwise flat seafloor).  The trick would probably be to have the midlayer be sparsely populated (just the occasional statue, say, as in a game with a city level having a lamppost or a tree scroll by).

Gulp - bigger monsters?

As for game play, is puzzle platformer too cliche? When not a straight Sonic or Mario experience, my favourite excuse to move a character across a screen is surely epitomised by the GBA game, 'Klonoa: Empire of Dreams'.  A jumping block-puzzle game would seem a perfect fit with the keys and idols and so on that you've shown so far. And lots of exploration and collecting, please!

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #37 on: July 07, 2010, 06:32:10 pm
A suggestion is to leave the new pages on-screen in the background when the player selects them (and if they press the key for journal they dismiss them) but don't pause the game, so people can platform and read at the same time.

I think that's a good idea.

I like the idea of "some bonus being harder to read against the background because they're supposed to be rarest, highest valued and require more attention from the player to spot them. The sparkling of the jewels is imho way preferable to outlines, though I find your animation posted on June, 30th a little too slow for that purpose.

I was thinking about making the crystals reflect based on movement, since the light source will have to move relative to the camera to get that effect, but I'll have to see that in motion before I decide on anything. If the point is to make them visible, only making them change when everything else is also in motion might not work very well.

As for making them look like they are on a page, I think the idea is cool, but it is too jarring to pick up an icon that looks like a page and then see an object that looks like a torn strip from a page.  Any way to make the two more equal? (e.g. blurred top and bottom edges to suggest that only part of it is being seen?)

Yeah, I think I'll have to try to find a way to indicate multiple pages. I think I'll need both the pages and the yellow text. The gray for journal pages and the yellow text for internal thoughts.

There will be few puzzles. It'll mainly be basic lock/key, and should be designed to minimize backtracking, i.e. you find the keys first, then the doors. There will be a few categories of things to gather, so I hope there will be enough to do without puzzles.

The main challenge right now is to flesh out the story and tie gameplay and story together. Once I've straightened that out, I'll need to come up with a few incentives to get the player to play the game the way I want. I want to avoid simply forcing the player to do that by introducing arbitrary rules. I might go into more detail once the gameplay is a little clearer to me.

I tried to make statues that were just larger versions of the little idols, but I think they'll have to be more detailed than that. I'm sketching out some detailed designs for the shamans of this ancient culture, and then I'll stylize them to make the statues.

In the meantime, I gave the title screen a shot. I ended up with something much less action-filled than my initial ideas. I first made a much larger sketch, then shrunk it down and grappled with color reduction. I tried to fix the shoulder, but I'm feeling fairly clueless about the whole neck area. I left some room for the title, but I need to decide on a font style first.


This is... going to take some work. :crazy:

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #38 on: July 17, 2010, 07:23:02 pm
I haven't done any big pixel pieces in quite a while, so I decided to finish this before getting back to the mockups. It still needs the title text, but I thought I'd post the scene itself first. What do you think?


Helmet light ref
Skull ref

Offline Pawige

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Re: [WIP] Crystals and undead geologists! (EGA mockups)

Reply #39 on: July 17, 2010, 07:51:38 pm
<3 this all so much. Makes me think of the cave levels in Cosmo's cosmic adventure. Or maybe it was some other game I'm thinking of. Anyway! I like the title screen, but I think the hand that is flat on the ground looks very round and flat, more like a thick pancake with fingers painted on it than an actual glove. Probably just a bit more detailing in that area would help a lot, maybe shorten the little finger and ring finger a bit. I'm also having a lot of trouble telling what exactly the big cyan things in the background are... Everything else is looking really great though!