Author Archives: lucasmaxbros
With Nintendo having released their SNES online service recently, I noticed Yoshi’s Island in the 20 selected games for launch. I didn’t think too much about it at the time. But they also have some cool features with this service. Namely rewinding and save states.
It had been a few years since I last touched Yoshi’s Island. It came out for Super Nintendo in 1995. I didn’t have it then, but finally got a chance to a few years ago. And the game is… interesting to say the least. I definitely think it’s a good game. Maybe a great one.
Or at least, it could have been. And that’s what my review is going to be about. While it is a beloved game, there are some aspects to it that make me not ever want to play it again.
I want to get straight to the point, so I’m not going to explain every detail about the game. Like it’s great music, all the sorts of features and abilities. Just about every normal review of the game will tell you about that. I’m going to focus on why I have a such a distaste and some of the aspects that ruin the game for me.
100%. That’s the reason this game falls a part. I’m going to talk about how you go about getting completion and what happens if you just ignore it. Cause I have a problem with both.
YI (just to abbreviate Yoshi’s Island) is very frustrating to complete. There are 6 worlds, 8 levels in each, along with an extra stage for all of them if you complete all 8 stages for said worlds. A total of 54 stages. 12 of those stages have bosses.
In each stage you MUST:
Get 5 Flowers, 20 Red Coins, and have 30 Stars when you reach the goal.
That’s quite a lot to find and collect. All of these are scattered through the stages, often hidden or requiring some form of skill to acquire. And this can become nightmarish to deal with, especially with no way to track which collectibles you’ve gotten. If you don’t know where everything is (which can take playing through the stages many times) then it’s easy to lose track. There are a few that are straight forward. But even those are not exempt from being chaotic.
Let’s get stars out of the way. You need 30, and Yoshi will start with 10. When Yoshi is hit, he’ll lose Baby Mario who’ll go crying off (which is quite annoying) and you’ll have to catch him as a timer (your Star count) ticks down. If at 0, you lose him and a life. But get him again and those numbers will regenerate slowly to 10.
To get more Stars, you’ll need to collect them through flying clouds, Check Point Rings, or hitting enemies with Red Eggs. Hitting with the eggs drops 2, and you can bounce eggs off walls to change the color to red. This means you have a way to get more, but it’s not that simple. That’s only provided you have a way to get more eggs and a good way to bounce eggs off walls to catch them. If you can’t, then it’s no good.
Now if you 100% the first world of the game, you’ll get free access to a Bonus Game and have a way to infinitely farm Star Items that’ll increase your count by 10 or 20 with the press of a button. Now you never have to worry about your star count ever again, unless it’s a Boss fight because you count use items in those.
This… I don’t like. I feel needing to be at max health at the end of a stage as a requirement is asking for too much of the player. Especially in some stages where they barely give you enough to get on by. Not to mention, the farming for items makes it completely pointless. Why even bother making that part of completion? I’d understand if it were for something else that was small, like if you have full stars at the end you get a 1up or something neat. But why lump it in with the 20 Red Coins and 5 Flowers? You’re already demanding we find a ton of items. And even then, it’s for access to one extra stage that also needs to be completed.
Next is Flowers. These are fine, because they are always stationary and there are only 5. What makes them a pain is not being able to track them. They hadn’t invented it yet, but in later games (Kirby, Mario, and even newer Yoshi titles) whenever you got a significant item, it would show it, as well as which of them you got in that stage. If you had to get 5 collectibles and you got the 4th one, then it would show that the 4th spot was filled out. So then you knew that the 3 before it hadn’t been filled, meaning there were 3 other ones you could have gotten before this one.
This wasn’t the case here. You had no idea which Flower you just got. It could be the 1st one… could be the 3rd! You just don’t know. And if you’re bad at remembering what you’ve collected already (or somehow got the Flower by hitting it off screen) then you don’t have a good way to know how many you had total. The only way to know is when getting the 5th Flower, it’ll make a 1up appear. The Goal will have up to 5 Flowers on it too, showing you how many you have or missed.
This wouldn’t be too bad if the stages were all straight forward. But they are mostly wide open spaces with all sorts of secret paths or hidden spots. This makes it hard to track down what you didn’t inspect before. You just have to guess and go over places with a fine comb. Though Flowers are a bit more significant, so you can expect to find them in more special spots…
…Unlike the Red Coins. There are 20 of these, which is quite demanding for a collectible type. And they are like yellow coins, but slightly more red. It can be difficult to see them if you don’t have the greatest vision OR impossible to tell apart if you’re playing the GBA version where all red coins were made to be identical to yellow ones. They do spin in a different direction, but I never found myself noticing that too well, except in really obvious instances when next to lots of other coins.
These can be hidden in more obscure areas since they’re so bountiful. Some can be quite easy to grab… But, these are the worst part of doing 100%. Why? SEVERAL REASONS.
First, are the Fly Guys who carry them. Some float about, requiring you hit them and take the coin. But some don’t stay. In fact, they quickly show up…. then fly away, and do not come back. They’re gone with the coin forever. If you failed, you must now die and reset to the last check point. Or if you cant (which happens in some instances), you must redo the entire stage. Some of these will also appear above pits and if the coin drops into that… bye bye!
The other big reason is the games limitations. For whatever reason, they decided to make the game utilize more sprites than it can handle at times and instead of slowing it down, DESPAWN objects. You guessed it, this include Red Coins. I’d mention flowers but that doesn’t happen, though I believe it’s possible in a few instances.
This only happened to me a few times, but it’s most prevalent in 3-Extra due to all the Monkeys that spit watermelon seeds, each seed being its own sprite that makes things despawn! So be sure you take things super slow, or you might despawn objects. You can always go off screen after clearing stuff to respawn them (if you even can)… unless they are Fly Guys! They won’t ever come back.
Oh and again on Fly Guys, the worst part about those is getting close enough to activate them right when you’re in the middle of doing other things. Like fending off against a spitting Piranha Plant, and now you have to rush by it to get the coin or lose. Even worst, in World 4 I had to play a stage 3 times because it turned out there was a Fly Guy in a spot that spawns him just briefly when I’m close due to me jumping… and I had no idea he existed because he was outside of my view. It wasn’t until I inspected that particular area without triggering him unknowingly that I found him. FUN.
Okay but, so what? Right? So what if you don’t get it all? Just get the others later-
Nope. Have to get EVERYTHING. All of it in one go. Can’t finish it then pick up the left overs. All those 5 flowers, 19 coins and 30 stars you have at the end of a stage? Doesn’t count if that one last coin is missing! Try again! Go back and hunt for everything which can take 10-20 minutes depending on how much you remember!
And that’s all they really needed to do to make this game feasible. If you kept everything you already had after beating a stage, it would make getting what you missed a lot more tolerable. You’d still have some segments that are a pain (Fly Guys), but at least if you missed a few, you can focus on getting to them and grabbing those coins instead of everything else. Doesn’t help when it’s a slap in the face after getting so much, only to be a few things short. You might as well have wasted your time trying.
And there are a lot of things to the game that makes the process to get these more tedious. It’s a sense of Distrust.
Ah! There’s a door. I bet it leads to a secret. Wait! This is a one way door? Oh no, I might have missed something!
Ah! A cloud! I bet it has stars or a Flower. Wait! It’s making a stair case over that entrance I had no idea about! Now it’s blocked off forever unless I reset!
To give credit, this doesn’t happen too often, but it’s enough (along with many other scenarios) that this when in combination with lack of tracking items, makes me always paranoid. Did I get that item? Is this a place I can get back too? Doesn’t this lead to a secret? Or is it the right way to go? What if all these eggs and enemies despawn something? What if there’s a Fly Guy I didn’t know about coming up? Is there a secret under all these breakable spikes? What will this cloud give me? Did I get all the coins here?
When you know what you’re doing and what you need to do, then the game is quite fun. Unless it has to do with getting collectibles that you need to grab quickly (Fly Guys), which can suck sometimes. But I’m constantly worrying a lot of the time if I have everything or not. When I do have an idea, I can mostly relax.
All this game needed were a few changes.
- Keep Collectibles you’ve earned.
- Mark which doors/pipes are one way or not
- Make special clouds (like ones that form stairs and platforms) more obvious.
- Make sure Fly Guys reappear if you off screen them.
- Make sure important collectibles don’t despawn (have other items despawn first or just… don’t have an area with a million objects).
- Don’t make Star Count important to getting the Extra Stages.
- Keep Track of which Flowers you’ve collected.
The good news is that in a future game, Yoshi’s Woolly World, almost all these changes are made! The only one they don’t do is the cloud one. I recall a few times where a cloud made a staircase or something actually blocked a collectible in it too. But that game, in my opinion, is superior to YI in about every way.
And that’s why I dislike Yoshi’s Island. 100% is a very nasty process to contend with.
But what about avoiding that? Can’t you just play the game without having to 100%? And yes, you can. I decided a few years ago to play through Yoshi’s Island without 100%ing it. Just play it casually.
I thought it be relaxing, but I felt bored more than anything. The game felt like it was made for you to go through and get all these collectibles. That’s where the challenge even comes from. If you just go from start to goal, it’s a complete joke. Plus you have regenerating health! Only in a few areas might you come close to death in the whole game. Now that you don’t have to collect anything, you just go straight on through and avoid most of the danger.
And Yoshi’s abilities makes anything else a breeze too. Using multiple flutter jumps helps with getting over just about everything. You rarely need to fight anything. What’s even the point of doing so? You’re just wasting your time. You’re not gaining anything at this point. 1ups are bountiful. I guess there are some items, like melons, that could be cool but you’re already avoiding most enemies. Plus they’ll disappear soon anyways.
I ended up getting to world 3 and just felt dumb for even trying. And it made me sad that I didn’t want to play any more. That’s just how I felt. But I think it just has to do with the level design being so catered to 100%. The game is at such an odds with itself. Casual run is dull, 100% isn’t dull but very frustrating. All with very great gameplay and ideas that feel wasted because of this.
In Woolly World you only need to get the 5 Flowers to get the Extra Stages. Not Health or Buttons or Yarn. Just those. And the Yarn gets you extra types of Yoshi’s to play as! There are multiple objectives with different rewards you can focus on, which makes it a far more cozy experience. I don’t get this with YI.
I’ll never 100% YI again. I’ve done it twice now. And even so, for the SNES online one, I only did it with rewind because I didn’t want to pull my hair out. And even with it, I almost did a few times! I still had to go through a stage 3 times even with those abilities to help. That shows how frustrating that experience is.
If you want to play Yoshi’s Island, PLEASE. Buy Woolly World. It’s on 3DS and Wii U…. So basically buy it on 3DS. And what about Crafted World? Eh, not bad but… Woolly is the superior game. Scratch that, don’t get Crafted if you can help it. At least that’s my suggestion if you want a challenge. Plus you have to do a ton of back tracking in that game for 100%. And the music is… (Gets Yoshi’s New Island flashbacks)… Yup.
So remember devs, when making a game, understand that there’s a trust between you and the player. Give them things to help them out a bit. If there’s a one way door, try to indicate that. Don’t waste their time. Help prepare them for what’s up ahead, give them ways to learn and understand aspects of your game so they can anticipate things better.
YI lacked a few of these things, and resulted in me disliking it. It’s never a good sign when you can’t trust the game that you’re playing!
Howdy! Mr. LMB here to give you some updates on my projects.
If you didn’t know, we started a Kickstarter for Vivid a few days ago. You can find it HERE. Goal of $8500 USD. Most of which is being used to complete the OST and help with any possible problems, like hardware breaking down. The goal is only for English/Windows PC. More funds would be needed for ports and other languages.
That’s a basic summary of the Kickstarter. If you haven’t checked it out, there are more details for things like backer rewards there too. As for progress with the game; it’s going pretty well! I’m comfortable with how the game feels and think it’s just a matter of getting assets done, tested, and maybe a few small tweaks before we have something ready. Minus audio of course.
But how has the KS been doing? You may be shocked to hear this, considering we only have about $500 of the $8500 total, but it’s actually better than I expected. All the money given so far has just been from me simply posting on twitter and discord, and a few other places. I thought it be worse honestly! The first day netted over 400, but day two was.. well, we earned nothing. It’s very interesting to see how it all works. Statistics and such. Most of the donations I got were actually from random people on Kickstarter as oppose to the small audience I had connections with.
Now you may be asking, “Wait! But surely you did more than just discord/twitter! Are you dumb?!”
Indeed, I did post in many other places. Near daily too, and had even announced the KS a week in advance, hyping it up each day where I could. But more importantly, I searched and searched for different contacts to email. I won’t give any names, but I contacted several different groups or people about the game. Although personally, I wish I could have a larger list. You can never have enough truthfully.
I tried to contact them before the launch the best I could. But the issue was if I had to move the launch date. For instance, the original date was slated for the 7th, BUT Pokemon news was set to come out that day. No one was sure what kind of news, so I decided to move the date to the 8th. I think it was a good idea because it gave me a little more room to think things out. Unfortunately, I think there was an announcement to port a game of some sort with Kickstarter that really got around on twitter on the 8th. That may or may not have dented some of the feedback. but games are being released and announced all the time.
Speaking of, I chose to do the KS now because it’s August. Barely anything is coming out, a dry season for games if you will. Wait too long, and you’ll end up in Fall where the bigger titles are coming out. A bad time to do a KS. So instead of waiting several more months, thought it be best to do a KS now. Even with 2 years of prep, I still felt a bit under prepared. But not by much.
Here’s the issue we have, and it’s simple: Exposure.
Vivid, is a good, fun, and excellent game. That’s not me trying to pat myself on the back. That’s just what I’ve heard from a lot of people who’ve tried it. Plus, when you’re making yourself a game, you better make sure you think your own thing is excellent! If you don’t think it is, how will anyone else? But my point is that, people like the game. So why so little support?
People simply don’t know about it. I have tried for years to build up an audience to support my projects. It ain’t easy. Part of the problem is myself of course. I just need to be more social, which is tough when you want to work on your game at the same time, spending energy on it. You think simply posting “Hi! How is everyone?” or responding with “That’s really cool! Nice work!” would be simple. Maybe for some, yes. Not everyone, like me for example. Perhaps it’s because I feel I want to truly give great advice or suggestions rather than something that seems half-hearted. Regardless, socializing is important. These are people I’m talking to, so I want to be genuine, you know?
But simply being social also isn’t enough. You’ve got to provide people with stuff. I think I’ve done plenty of that… buuuuut, it’s not so simple. When it comes to getting attention, especially from people higher up the ladder, it can come down to luck. Or being at the right place at the right time.
And right now, I’ve been pretty dang unlucky. Of all the contacts I’ve sent emails to (and a email for when the KS launched), 0 have done anything or responded. Mind you, they may have plans on doing something that are underway. I just don’t know about it at all yet. So no one has tried to show off the game to a larger audience yet (Except a Russian site I found out about recently). An audience that may have many, many, MANY potential backers and future fans. All I can do now is wait to see if anyone pulls through over the next month.
Honestly, I’m not too sure what more one could do to improve their chances with something like that. Other than promoting and advertising your KS, which takes money to do and may vary on what tools you use, I just need to be patient. Maybe send more emails after a while if nothing comes from it.
…SO AM I DOOMED?! Nope!
As I said, I chose to do this KS in August because I just wanted to get it out of the way before Fall. But even if it fails, nothing changes schedule wise! I’ll still be making the game at the same pace as before. Only thing is that music work would have to be delayed, and I’d have to configure a new Kickstarter eventually. So if I fail, no big deal.
If I had to be brutally honest though, I would like to have made the goal $20,000 USD. Simply because that would cover costs for languages and some ports, which I really want to do. But I kept things down to a minimum. So, unless my KS suddenly gets a lot of funding through exposure, those types of things aren’t happening.
As things stand, the KS needs 400 more backers to donate $20 each to fund the project. We’ve got almost 25 backers who’ve already done $500. And while it’s true most Kickstarters get most of their money during the beginning and end of the campaign, I think mine could be an exception to that rule, simply because so few people are aware, and none of the exposure I could use has surfaced yet. If it were shown to a wider audience, the funds would rise at the speed of sound.
You want to bet? Then let me show you statistics! (Views are top, Downloads are bottom)
These are Itch.io stats for this past month of the Vivid demo. There wasn’t much talk about it for a while, but you’ll see it start to rise as I announce a KS. Then sink back before spiking when it launches, and it’s been maintaining some momentum after. At its height, I had 23 views and 7 downloads. For someone as small as me, it’s a pretty nice number.
BUT, I’ve had better in the past!
These stats are from 2018. During July, the streamer known as “Vinny” from Vinesauce was playing a selection of random games. I managed to have a mod (Hi Alizarin) sneak the demo in. However, Vinny had to go through 30 something games in but a few short hours. Meaning he rapid fire through some of them, including Vivid. it was also a less polished demo, and he skipped the tutorial… which lead to him being confused by a few elements. I was baffled he skipped it, but he was on a time restraint, so I guess he figured it be simple enough to skip and just play the game.
Beyond learning a few lessons and revising my demo since then, Vinny streamed the game for no more than 5 minutes. 5 minutes. That’s all he did on stream, and he didn’t even show the GOOD parts! Yet, I got 15 downloads and 53 views on that day alone! And I had more happen once the stream was uploaded to YouTube.
That was merely 5 minutes of Vinny fooling around in Vivid. Versus me trying to announce, hype up, and launch a KS. That exposure alone was more than what I did within my small audience that I could reach to in over a week. So let that be a lesson at how powerful this type of coverage can be.
Of course, not everyone from there would donate. But, I did review the chat log, and it was quite positive about Vivid even if Vinny was fooling around lost. I truly believe all we need is exposure like this to get this game funded and then some!
If the KS does fail, I will try my best to form a method to getting in contact with these content creators/streamers better and with their audience if possible. There are a lot of people who’d love Vivid; they just don’t know it yet.
Think it’s finally time I went over the road I’ve traversed thus far. As a young game developer trying to forge my own little games, I’ve had lots of different experiences trying different ideas. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s taken me years to reach where I am. Some games I had fond memories making while others turned out really weird or unfinished.
I first got into programming around 2011-2012. I didn’t make anything until 2012 I’m pretty sure (a lot of stuff here is undocumented, so I’ll do my best to remember the little details). I had purchased Game Maker 8, the last one before Game Maker: Studio, which I’d purchase later that year. But before then I dabbled in programming when I could. I was still in high school so it got in the way.
I managed to make my first game… and it was as simple as simple could be! It was literally a red square you moved around to reach a goal. There were purple square enemies and walls and even a boss that were giant squares that shot squares. I dubbed it, “BloCky”. Yes, very original. There are only another million games called blocky out there! Seriously, look it up. Many other young devs have the same idea!
Don’t get me wrong though. It’s all a part of learning and I think BloCky is what your typical first game should be when you start. Unfortunately, I can’t find my game anywhere any more. Don’t know if it was erased or something else. Can’t even remember what site I put it on! But that’s okay, it was an important first step that would lead to bigger ones. Or in this case, blocky ones.
Say what you want about Minecraft and its popularity or what have you, many years ago I played it quite often. In fact it’s still a pretty good game but I’ve moved on. But I got into map building since I felt it was a good way to learn about 3D level design and an easy way to test out ideas with a large player base.
I was part of a server known as “Surthrival” back in the day. It wasn’t huge but I have so many memories from it and the crew I hung out with. If it weren’t for the folks I met there I wouldn’t be where I was today I think, cause they helped me a lot. Not just in game design but in understanding the internet and broadening my horizons. And some of them even helped test what would perhaps be one of my greatest achievements!
The Tower of Anarchy!
(Oh goodness that poster art is back before I could draw well…yuck)(PS: my MineCraft name is Drain_the_troll)
I started this map in my senior year and it was quite the undertaking. It was an Adventure Map where you had to crawl up a tower. Each level had 3 rooms you had to conquer in any order to progress. It was very…cluttered to be honest. I fit a lot of stuff into a small space. The map isn’t that wide but it’s packed with content. You can of course read over the details yourself in the thread if you wish, and even play it if you change what update you’re on!
But it was my first time experiencing true beta testing. Ah, I remember when I sent my good buddies Rob and Dan to record their series blind. They came back and yelled at me! Hahaha! One of the rooms I made was so brutally difficult they spent who knows how long to get it. There was a lot I had to fix but it was all an interesting experience. It made me feel for actual developers who made games for the first time now that I was getting the backlash.
While a bit rough I think this is one of the happiest projects I’ve made. Not only that but a decently famous YouTuber did a short series on it which helped it gain some attention. And to top it off, as of the last time I checked, the map has had over 12,000 downloads! That’s crazy! Definitely my most successful project.
But now, let’s take a step back to Game Maker. I finally graduated high school. I decide to spend my time to really see how far I can get with making a game. No more squares! An actual REAL game!
Just to warn you, this is an early game and it’s very clunky. So if you actually do want to play it, there is a possibility it’ll crash at certain points! It is beatable, though if you’ll have the patience to… that’s another story.
The next logical step was a shooter. But I decided to make a Gradius style horizontal one. And there’s a flying guy who…moves his arm weirdly? There were a lot of weird decisions in this game. Like all the keyboard controls are odd, you used HJKL to swap weapons, etc.
There are a lot of bad design choices. When you take damage, you can’t shoot! You lose all your upgrades upon death, which you only take around 4 hits and health is limited. If you die there are no checkpoints; you’ve got to redo the stage. And of course, no saving or password! Got to do everything at once.
And it was horrid on a programming level. You know what Drag-N-Drop is? Guess what?! THE WHOLE GAME IS THAT. Essentially that’s Game Makers first-timer kid-friendly simple-as-heck way of “coding”. You put in an action to do another action in place of typing… And it gets cluttered REALLY fast. Especially in GM8 and Studio (Though I hear GMS2 has a good version of it). It’s also really limited cause you can’t type or manipulate the code. So CPU consuming stuff like awful collision programming was present.
And if that weren’t enough – I didn’t know what tiles were! So all the visuals you see?(That aren’t backgrounds) Those are all objects! Each block you see…is an object! AND I didn’t know how to turn objects on or off. I could fix so many of the problems now but I was so inexperienced then.
Yet it amazes me how I was able to make this game. Not just cause of the inexperience but because I made it all in 2 months! And this isn’t that small of a game. There are tons of bosses, and over 16 stages with a wide range of visuals and enemies! There’s even a nice little story… though very cheesy at times. And I got the music from some free music site, but can’t recall the composer. I do know they’re in the credits.
Some times I wonder if I should go back and remake the game, add new stuff with a new engine. I see lots of potential, cause despite the very rough edges, there’s something about it that I enjoy. Not everything but enough that I could do more. Perhaps one day, Rai will make a return…
And now we get into one I’m not certain about. On one hand, I like it. On the other hand… Hmmm. First I should address why this… game was made. It was in response to a video by SomeCallMeJohnny called “End of Sonic 2 Month” where he plays a weird abomination of all the early Sonic games called “Sonic 3CD & Knuckles & Knuckles”. It was an amusing video and an in-joke among Johnny’s fans and his friends. And he always wanted to see a fangame of it.
Well, I answered: https://gamejolt.com/games/sonic-3cd-knuckles-knuckles/18185
Remember my points from RaiGear? Those stand here as well. Though I did learn about tiles and used invisible blocks as walls that were stretched this time. So not as bad… Except it was still awful. But the worse thing was that this was the first time I was trying to learn how to make a platformer and oh man… That was a bad idea. For one, I knew NOTHING about how to make the physics feel good. let alone like Sonic where he could move around slopes and gain momentum.
I did the best I could but it was still very iffy. I threw myself into something I didn’t fully understand. But I ended up making four stages and some funny things I guess? I don’t regret what I made but it certainly showed I needed to reevaluate my ways with programming. I needed MORE experience.
Johnny did stream the game and I even got to talk to someone I respected a lot! That was really cool, but man I was nervous. And the reason I hate that is cause… He’s just a normal dude. But I even joined the call for the Pokemon X and Y stream afterwards and barely said anything I felt so nervous. I guess I just suck at talking. But I think if I were to talk to him or anyone like that now, especially with knowing so much, I’d do just fine.
I did later on donate to a charity event with a comment for John during a stream stating I’d return to 3CD. However, I’ve changed my mind. If some fans wanted to make an actual game some day and asked, I’d be happy to help. But I think instead of making a Sonic the Hedgehog fan game with 3CD I’d rather just make my own game with Sonic-like design and make an actually good game.
Oh, and SmoshGames played it (Not crediting me). They ran into a bug but whatever. Plus they played it a long time after the game came out. Very random. But I guess I made a lot of people happy since it got over 7,000 plays! I wonder if anyone got all the Emeralds and saw the secret boss I put in?
Now the next step in my story is very weird. Cause for one, I never finished this game. Just made a demo and nothing more. That being Rollem the Golem:
(He looks like the awful coconut character from that 2000’s cartoon what was I thinkiiiiiing) (Also the art I make still sucks here… I’m happy Vivid exists)
I still think this is a cool concept that I might return to. You’re a giant asteroid. In fact there are many characters that are planets that you fight and I had so many ideas that ultimately never made it in. Mainly because it was still a very ambitious game. And I was finally learning to actually code!
I programmed it for such a short time that I don’t fully remember it. the only things I remember are the ideas I never incorporated. Not that many people tried it though since not a lot of people cared. I also tried putting it on Steam and again, not a lot of people cared if it actually became a game. So I got tired and decided to quit.
But like Rai, Rollem (Who I’ve changed to Rock’em) may return one day in a much cooler look instead of a stupid big smile.
After feeling down I decided to try map making again in MineCraft. This time it was a CTM (Complete the Monument), where you collected 16+ special items in an open map. This was called “Diamond Destiny”.
Rob and Dan and many others helped again. While not as successful as the Tower (only around 1,000 downloads) this might be the biggest push to becoming a better designer. Cause the focus of the map was to make it very tolerable. See, many people at the time made these maps really hard. And many of the games I had tried to create people had a hard time with. Why not aim for an easier map?
And I think I was very successful at making a relatively beginner friendly map, many of the testers died only a handful of times and had a nice time. It opened my mind to easier level designs and challenges that could be fun. So I’ve since then always tried to balance my levels. Funny thing is, if you aim to be easy, you’ll still often get people who find it difficult, so you have to make it EVEN easier.
The map I don’t believe is truly finished. I mean, it’s definitely possible to complete, but I never finished ironing it out. And not long after, I fell out of MineCraft.
Now on to the last game. This one comes before Vivid and began in Spring of 2014. Before Vivid, it was my longest project. I have so many feelings for it because it was the closest I ever got to being serious about a game I was making. I entered a whole new world with it and was the final step before I’d go on to better things.
Oh look, a pony! Yes, Quad Knight (actually name is Domino) is a horse. Not a pony… but I did watch My Little Pony for a bit back then. Specifically, I was interested in how the creators managed a show for a young audience to see what they could get away with. While not my favorite show, I was pleased with what I learned.
And since there were many artists who loved the show, I thought about contacting some. And holy crap! I got quite a few who actually wanted to help with music. I met PhonicBoom and Oliver Lacota, who’d help a bit with Vivid after the project got canceled. So I was really pleased with the music in the game.
Quad Knight is weird in that fact that it’s sort of the Vivid before Vivid. I was really trying my hardest to get better at art but still not that good. Like I tried using a crayon filter for everything which looked ugly but had a unique style I guess.
There was also a lot to the game… which was its downfall I think. Besides being a platformer, you could actually aim with the Mouse (Or Analog Stick) and shoot different powerups. And there were so many powerups I made and so many ways to get them. Kinda confusing. Cool if you knew, but doubt you’d care enough to reach that point.
Still, there were many clunky things to it that I’d never do. The enemies AI wasn’t the best, though interesting. Art was still a miss. Actually, I think the best way to phrase a lot of these projects is a severe lack of polish. Perhaps if I worked on QK for a few years it would play and look really nice, but that didn’t happen.
I also tried to get it Greenlit and eventually cancelled it since no one really cared. I just didn’t have a following of any kind or a platform to call home. No Blog, didn’t use Twitter often, let alone post gifs or images of the game in other forums much. I was really bad about that.
So it silently went away as I felt the game wasn’t going anywhere.
Will QK return? Well… Not sure. I do like a lot of the ideas, but it might be better off as a different game. A lot of the things I wanted from QK ended up in Vivid. The overall feel, cuteness, and unique game play. So after I ended the development in November, I would eventually start Vivid in late December of 2014.
Vivid would also go through many changes, starting as Vivid Radiance, then Vivid Wolf and now “Vivid!”. But you can read all of that in older posts.
I guess thinking back on it, I don’t really have any game I regret or dislike. I’d just change how I’d go about a lot of the choices and fix many mistakes. Perhaps some of these games will return in some form. BlocKy, Tower of Anarchy, RaiGear, Sonic 3CD, Rollem the Golem, Diamond Destiny, and Quad Knight.
Quite a few projects. Some being more successful than others. Some just not being finished. Don’t think they’re anything resume appliaction worthy but I wouldn’t say I lack experience anymore! Though I do feel like a novice when it comes to programming still. But I hope my future games will be a little better.
Demo 1.5 is out! And this one includes a whole lot of new stuff for the combat in the game. Vivid’s Red Sword, Yellow Bow, and Blue Ax each have a whole lot of new ways to be used depending on how you input the directions when attacking! There are also a few small bug fixes and changes to make the game more beginner friendly. There is still much that needs to be tested and added, but within time, this game will be ready to take on the world!
List of Changes:
- Red Sword has new moves: Hold down while in the air when attacking to Down Stab. Tap the direction you’re facing while attacking on ground to do a Dash Stab. Tap the opposite direction while on the ground and attacking to do a Spin Attack.
- Yellow Bow has new moves: Hold down while in the air when attacking to shoot downwards with Arrow Rain. Hold up or down while attacking to throw an arrow that sparks the ground. Tap the opposite direction you’re facing while attacking to unleash tons of arrows with Arrow Copter.
- Blue Ax has new moves: Hold up while attacking to launch it upwards. Tap the direction you’re facing while attacking to launch it farther. Hold down while attacking to deploy bouncing hatchets that go across the floor.
- The Speed Boost part of the Tutorial has the wall lowered by a block, after seeing some people not have an easy time with it.
- Super Star Suplex dark screen sometimes off centered – fixed.
- Tux N Torch boss would sometimes stop in center and freeze. Still testing this one out, but should be fixed.
- Texture Pages reorganized for fewer swaps.
Today I’m going to be talking about how I start crafting levels in Vivid. There are many ways to draw out and plan levels, but I’m very straight-forward. I either get a piece of paper or an art program on my computer and throw up ideas. For Vivid, all the levels are divided into rooms. Each room containing an idea.
The levels try to theme around something; whether it’s something physical or decorative (like say a desert theme) or something related to the mechanics (like a particular attack). Using these, I base the levels design around them. But more importantly, I build off them from room to room if I can help it. You want to make sure that if you’re introducing something a little more complex that the player isn’t confused and has a clear idea when confronting new things.
The first rooms in my levels are there to get the player into the mood. The only exception is if a very important mechanic is needed to be introduced, something that could play over multiple levels. Otherwise, start small. Then the next room or so, I either re-explore an older mechanic to be used in tandem with a new one later down, or just introduce a new one altogether.
I try to make sure the player understands what’s happening, how to do it, and what it can lead to. Give them room to experiment. Make the room easy while also making the player confident that they understand the objective before proceeding. That way they’re ready for more difficult variations of the new mechanics in future rooms.
But the areas afterwards are not an ascension of difficulty every single time. I may throw in a room (or a section of a room) that calms things down or get you ready for what’s ahead. Especially if another mechanic is going to be introduced or layered on top of the new mechanics. We then move on to the last few rooms where the game really tries to push your understanding of the new elements… to a certain limit. It varies on how far you are in the game, don’t want an early level to challenge you to the extreme with a mechanic quite yet! In fact if you balance it out right you can reuse harder versions for later levels. Once finished, you face a boss or are rewarded with a victory.
Now this is all fine and dandy, but I actually want to show an early rough version of a level currently being constructed for further analysis. A lot of what I just said is basic stuff and more so has to do with pacing your levels than the actual designs. In that case, let’s take a look at T2-2 (Toadster Level 2 – Room 2).
Use the above link for a better image!
A lot of stuff going on here! To be honest, since I tend to work alone on this, these are normally for my eyes only. But I’m going to try and make sense of it for you folks at home or at work. Even drew a little guide to show what’s what, hopefully the blog doesn’t squeeze it too much. Regardless, I’ll get to talking.
First off, this is Vivid. If you don’t know what it is, go play the demo:
If you just can’t be bothered, I’ll give a brief explanation: Vivid is a game where you play as said character. Besides the normal platforming business, Vivid can change color by holding jump while landing on Colored Blocks or on colored enemies. What color she is affects many things. Platforming, attacking, powers, etc. You may occasionally need a certain color to proceed or be effective at attacking. For instance, the Red Sword may not be effective on a flying enemy. But if you use the Azure Ax, which is an aerial arcing weapon, you’ll have a better time.
But in addition to Vivid, there’s Spirit, her dog. She too is playable, and even has different attacks and advantages/disadvantages to Vivid. This is very important for this particular level design because of the circumstances surrounding the characters and the story.
The Antagonist for this part of the adventure is know as the Toadster. In this story, he curses Vivid and Spirit for a night and are stuck in his tower. This causes Spirit to be trapped inside a Swap Block. When Vivid tries to free her by bopping the block with her head, Spirit is freed!… but now Vivid is stuck. The quest now becomes stopping Toadster and undoing this curse. And you will have to use these Swap Blocks to switch characters from time to time.
So let’s show what’s introduced in this room:
We have some new hazards and a new mechanic. I also have Swap Blocks noted here because the new mechanic is heavily tied to these. That being the Character Blocks. Depending on who you play as, one set will be solid. The other will be transparent and allow you to move through them. Just like Colored Blocks, but character dependent.
Let’s refer back to the Level Design image(may want to put the image in another tab for quick reference!). On the bottom right side of the level is a white square; Vivid… or Spirit if you entered as her. This is where you start, inside a small section with a Swap Block and a Color Balloon (these change color every second, and can be popped to grab a color). Up above you…is the exit. Except you can’t get in there because of the new mechanic, Character Blocks. In fact, you can’t get out of this small area unless you change to Vivid. You also can’t get to the door on top unless you’re Spirit! Looks like your goal will be to find another Swap Block outside with Vivid!
Not too far ahead, a new enemy is introduced in the form of Chef Krustoph, aka the toasters. They’re grumpy, march back in forth in anger, just all around mad. If you touch, jump on, or attack them is when they get really bad. They’ll stop and toss super heated toast all around within a certain range. Getting close may not be the best idea, but it’s up to the players discretion on how to deal with them. The Character Blocks are set up in a way for this first one so that you can jump over it easily.
The next one may not be easy to deal with because of the ceiling above and the fact another obstacle is introduced with Furnaces. Peaceful for one second, then ablaze for another. You have to be quick when going over them. You do have time to think before moving to it and dealing with other Chefs.
You’ll reach the center of the room which has many Vivid Blocks over furnaces which makes them seemingly pointless. Also a Chef on top, marching between the other Character Blocks in the center. There’s also a Heart! The main collectible which is…impossible to reach?! It’s stuck inside a wall! Well don’t worry, Spirit the dog has a teleport ability that can easily reach it… or perhaps not. After all, there’s a furnace underneath the Heart! If you can get Spirit with her yellow teleport ability, you’ll have to go in and teleport out very fast. But it’s a completely optional challenge for the player.
The other half of the room mostly mirrors the first but now, Vivid and Spirit’s Character Blocks are mostly swapped. This makes dealing with the other toasters a bit different. You won’t be able to avoid them quite as well… nor the last hazard! Cauldro! He’s a big flying cauldron who occasionally flies on top of the screen before spilling boiling water from above. He’s a constant hazard throughout most of the room but only appears every so often. So long as you don’t wait in one spot, he’s nothing more than a small nuisance.
Now to the last part. There isn’t a Swap Block here but there is a two way door. Considering the entire room has been explored at this point, it’s a safe bet the Swap Block is in there. I won’t talk about that room, but it’s a small area with a quick challenge before reaching the Swap Block. To reach the two-way door, you’ll need to go through a few furnaces in an enclosed space. It’ll require some quick platforming in a few spots. Not to mention, Cauldro will cause some problems while waiting for the furnaces, so be weary!
Afterwards you’ll reach the door, do that room, and get Spirit! But now, you’ll have to redo this room. Normally, backtracking isn’t a good design philosophy. Here though, is where Vivid’s level design shines brightest. Depending on the character, color, or circumstance there are practically levels within levels in this game!
Besides playing as a new character (and perhaps choosing a new color from the last room), the room now changes because of the Character Blocks. The center area especially. All those furnaces you passed as Vivid are now an actual threat to Spirit. The right and left sides of the room switch sides in due to the blocks as well; the right now being harder to avoid the Chefs.
You now go through a slightly harder version of the room with a new character while also now getting a chance to collect the Heart from earlier if you took note of it. Make it to the other side and you can finally make it out of this kitchen (which is the theme of this area, if toasters and furnaces didn’t give it away).
…And that’s just one room! An early untested one at that. When this area is made, I’ll likely need to test to see how much the actually room needs to be stretched out, and balance the difficulty of the hazards. A lot of times, it doesn’t quite work out exactly as predicted. It’s entirely possible the Cauldro hazard could be removed if I felt it too much for the players.
Then I have to have others test it to see how well they do. Make sure the mechanic is fully realized before anything about it is made official. There are many, many variables that need to be applied before I finalize it. Even now, the demo for Vivid is just the second stage of the game and I feel many of the elements in it are unfinished (not including art).
But… that’s how I go about making my levels. Try to throw in some mechanics, and if possible, add an extra layer to it so if you chose a different character of color, it plays a bit differently. Leads to a lot of interesting ways you can play the game. In fact, note the lack of Color Blocks in the room? That’s so the player focuses on the new Character Blocks instead. I imagine a future room would use both Color Blocks AND Character Blocks to really shake things up!
After some months of feedback and testing, we now have a new demo ready for more playing! This will hopefully be the last version before the KickStarter officially launches! Said KickStarter we are hoping to do in February.
Let’s go over what’s new:
- New art for Azure Aqueduct!
- BRAND NEW music made by Andrew Nyte! Very awesome work!
- When Vivid is blue, she can climb up water falls! You may find some neat stuff.
- New character “Bub Brosh” has been added. He’s invisible but if you find him, he may give you stars!
- SECRET: When you beat Azure Aqueduct, select it again but go to the weapons. You’ll be able to swap them for some NEW weapons! Whip, Boomerang, and Yoyo. These are unfinished but ready to be tested for your enjoyment!
- SECRET: After beating Azure Aqueduct, anytime you’re on the ground, press the Y-button or Z-key to swap to Vivid’s dog, Spirit! She has unique abilities that are ready to be tested.
- Momentum no longer adds to your jump height. Vivid will always have the same jump strength.
- Big stars only give 4 stars when collected.
- Upgrade glitch where big stars were not completely counted fixed.
- Added an animation to the switches to stick out more.
- Red Sword swing is faster.
- Slug enemies move slower.
- Tux N Torch has waterfalls in boss room, making the fight potentially easier.
- Various level structure changes to make getting around easier.
Please leave any feedback to me either on here, the itch.io page, or on my Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucasMaxBros
Trying to make a precision based platformer can be pretty taxing. It’s one thing to make a typical platforming engine. In fact if you looked up some simple tutorials online or asked a guy like me, making an engine would be a snap! But while it would only take a day to make such simple physics, it takes well over a year to make perfect game feel.
Today I wanted to talk about my approach with Vivid’s platforming. The jumps, movement, stopping, and reacting. All of it started before Vivid was even conceptualized. Back when I began programming my first few small projects. There I began creating different games that never saw the light of day or just stayed as blocks you moved.
Slowly I began understanding how to code a little better and tried basing character actions on how much fun it was to move them. Would they move in the exact same way every time? Or would they have to build up speed? These were questions I had to ask before thinking about how to handle the game. Would the jumps always be the same height? Based on when you let go of jump? Or could you not control them after pressing jump?
Vivid has many roots that it takes from, and it combines a lot of platforming traits. Some more dominant than others. For one, when Vivid runs, her speed influences her jump. No where near as much as Mario himself, who practically needs speed to pass some obstacles. Just enough to make some normal jumps easier if you get a full run. Vivid’s normal jump with no speed just barely gets over 4 blocks. At full speed she’s just shy of 5 blocks. This allows me to make sure the player can always get pass obstacles below 5 blocks, but never above.
Vivid also builds up speed and loses it. It’s something similar to a lot of platformers with physics, or just physics in general. When you stop, you don’t stop immediately. Vivid use to be a lot more slippery, stopping a few blocks after you let go at full speed. That’s how it was over a year ago. As I had more people try it, I saw places where it was unneeded and eventually made one that feels more natural. The same goes for building speed. It use to take her longer. Now she gets up to max in a little less than a second.
This is what I’m really wanting to talk about. Vivid’s speed and friction. Vivid has little to none in the air. So… if you let go in the air, you aren’t stopping soon. Turning may also prove to be a little slower due to no ground to get back to full speed. You do have plenty of control up in the air though, it’s not taken away from you like in Castlevania or other retro games. But you have a lot more control on the ground than you do in the air.
Some of the people who’ve been testing have found Vivid’s platforming to be too slippery or just plain difficult. And I say – Good!
Vivid’s platforming isn’t something you’ll typically get right away. Unless you’re accustomed to a range of different platformers, you might not easily get over every obstacle you see on your first try. Nor will you understand how to dodge enemies accordingly. It will take some getting use to and investment.
This is what I refer to as “Intrigue”. You get the player to see something they need to do and make it juuuuust challenging enough that they aren’t alarmed by it but may not have an easy time doing. In doing this they’ll try again, trying to analyze what they did wrong and counter it with a new solution. And lots of games do this, though doing it correctly can be challenging.
You die to a boss, but come back to it right away to challenge them again. Each time training yourself to properly dodge an attack or perfect a skill against them. Executed properly and the player may learn new aspects to the game. This is how Vivid’s own platforming and combat is handled.
You play through the demo currently released at this point in time for Vivid. You play it all the way through once. Likely you didn’t collect everything in the stage and probably had a hard time over coming some parts such as the room with the Timer Switch or the end of the giant cave where you had to jump over Color Blocks to get a Heart Collectible. Maybe it took you several tries to beat Tux.
But if you were to play just this same stage again (as opposed to a different stage that hands out different scenarios), you’d likely discover little new things you never realized. For instance, you stop when you attack. You probably found this very annoying in some areas. But if you jumped, because you have practically no friction in the air, you’d keep your speed while attacking. If you trained yourself to do this, you could attack while still having some control over Vivid when fighting!
These are all very small details in my game, but it’ll take an entire play through of the full game before you can master them. It’s the same when it comes to perfecting patterns or reactions in any game you play. In Vivid I’m trying to work with it and balance it so the player always feels a sense of accomplishment every time they beat a new stage. It also makes replaying that much sweeter.
While Intrigue is a huge part of a game, I feel most developers underestimate it as a tool. Or it’s just used unwisely. Learning a slow pattern or something that takes a while to get back to is awful. I could think of several bad examples of teaching patterns or bad habits to players. Battletoads racing section, Zelda’s formula of items used outside of dungeons, and heck, the internet itself for teaching you how to do a trick that was unintended!(Mach Ball trick from Super Metroid….which isn’t bad, but unintentional. Folk who use it commonly have forgotten how to complete Super Metroid naturally!)
Speaking of which, Super Metroid also has a good example of Intrigue with platforming. It has multiple sections in the beginning that require to jump up tall vertical shafts. One is shorter but on a time limit and the other has enemies to deal with. While you’re probably going to have a rough time doing these, that’s the point! It’s there to give you some practice before trying more dangerous jumps later on. When you replay the game (Or beat it in the escape sequence) you’ll see you’ve gotten a lot better at getting through it! And if the game Intrigued you enough, you might be walljumping like crazy up the walls!
That’s my aim with Vivid. While Color and Synergy are a huge focus, you always need to remember the main roots of your game. Vivid’s is platforming, so having it be one of the most fun elements is key. When you’re learning more about the game and just having fun hopping around, you KNOW something’s right!
Got a demo for a beta version of Vivid! now out to try! This is a slightly updated version due to some fixes needed in the menus. It features an optional Tutorial, one full Level with a boss, and a ranking system. See if you can get a Gold or the elusive Platinum Rank!
Report any bugs, leave feedback, etc. Thank you!
(Vivid – LucasMaxBros)
When making a game you have to go off from what you know and what your prefer. My history with games is a bit odd in that I didn’t play that many games during my childhood, though I did witness several being played. But perhaps it’s just my perspective since it feels like I know more about games I’ve never physically played.
Now I won’t go on about every game I ever had or every console I had access to. Just talking about some fond memories (that perhaps you’ll share similar feelings with) about games. That and what would lead to Vivid and what I want Vivid to become.
This first one is very deep. I was only born in 1994, but the earliest possible memory I can fathom… is in fact a game! I was over at my cousins with my sister. I want to say I was 3 but there’s no way of knowing. They had the SNES and played Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest and Zelda: a Link to the Past. They were pretty bad with Zelda, didn’t even know how to get pass the entrance blocked by the bush!
(Donkey Kong Country 2 Diddy’s Kong Quest – Rare)
As for DKC2, they must have been playing a used file cause World 5 was accessible. Don’t know how well they did but I only remember them playing the bee hive levels in World 4 and the ghost roller coaster in World 5. What’s really unique about this memory, besides being the first, is that I wouldn’t see this game with my eyes for well over a decade. It was stunning to see it again and play it when I finally could.
My Grandparents had a NES at their home with Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros III. Never could beat them but it was fun! Could never get pass the sun though… Then around 2000 or 2001 our uncle gave us his Super Nintendo! It was amazing and would shape my gaming experience forever.
The notable games: Super Mario World, Star Fox, Zelda: a Link to the Past, Super Empire Strikes Back, and Super Star Wars. What’s interesting about this is that I’m a kid who had a childhood in the 2000s but was raised with games like it was the 90s. We’d eventually get a PlayStation 2 with some cool games, then a Wii.
(Super Mario World – Nintendo)
I eventually got a GBA, NDS, cousin and I share a 3DS. I bought a Wii U and have a friend with a N64 (It was cool watching him and his dad beat Ocarina of Time)and XBox games. So there was a lot of stuff to play, but I never got serious with gaming until high school when I decided I wanted to make Indie Games. So some of my favorite franchises that I have fond memories of are very recent. Surprisingly so.
Which brings us to Inspiration numbero uno: Kirby!
Born in 1994, I played my first Kirby game…in 2011! That game was Kirby 64: the Crystal Shards. Besides the fun ability combinations I really liked the tone and nature of the game. The most prominent thing about it though was the music. Never in my life was I so invested in music. There were some songs I liked but could never find anything that I could say I was a fan in. Tried listening to a bunch of 80s music during high school since out of everything it had the most appeal besides some random songs.
(Kirby 64: the Crystal Shards – HAL)
I mention this because after completing Kirby 64 I found myself thinking about the music for a full week. And not just a couple songs; EVERY song. Even some of the random menu music. To this day I have an entire album of music from Kirby games because it never fails to make me happy. It opened me up to video game music in general and I’m always listening to OST’s on YouTube.
I’d go on to play other Kirby titles and have nearly played every Kirby game to date. The most interesting one was Kirby’s Dreamland 3. I say this because it was a very complicated experience. It was 2012, purchased it on the Eshop before Spring Break. We were planning to go on vacation to a beach house for the week. Managed to beat the first world right before we go. Mind you I was playing most of these games for the first time, so finding some of the hidden stuff was rough.
(Kirby’s Dreamland 3 – HAL)
I brought the game with me to play while staying at the beach. After all I live in Oregon and it can get stormy, which it did. The game was frustrating. Wasn’t a huge fan how some of the levels were done and ultimately disliked the game.
…6 months later, I suddenly have music stuck in my head. What is it? Dreamland 3. After thinking about it I decided to play the game again over the weekend. Now that I had already uncovered all the secrets and knew where they were, the game was much faster to complete. Only taking two sessions. Not only that, but it was so much more enjoyable the second time through. This game that I felt negatively towards suddenly had this unique charm to it no other game on the SNES has for me.
I personally think Dreamland 3 has some of the best atmosphere of any game with how it portrays its art and music. It just feels right and like I’m a kid experiencing things for the first time. It also reminded me of my stay at the beach, the thunder storm that happened over one of the nights, and my time with folks. While I don’t think the game itself is great design wise it has left an overall positive impression on me.
(Vivid’s walk cycle is based on Paper Mario’s)
This is the key inspiration to Vivid above all other games. The current art style uses a mixture of Dreamland 3 and Paper Mario; another game I blindly picked up and really enjoyed. You can see that even when Vivid stands still her outlines are slightly redrawn in a crayon pastel. The characters also have a paper border around them both to distinguish them and add to the fact this game is arts n craft themed.
Most of the Kirby series has an influence on Vivid. Besides what was just mentioned, the other two big games are Kirby Super Star and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland. If you were to look at a screenshot of KSS next to Vivid, I don’t think anything else would need to be said. Except that I do plan on using a similar progression system for Vivid. Instead of worlds, there would be several “game modes”. In Vivid’s case these would be individual stories. More details will come at a later date!
(Kirby Super Star – HAL)
KRtD is, dare I say, one of my favorite games. Played it several times, played it only a few months ago and not only does it hold up but there’s practically no blemishes to it. Even with a few deaths here or there (on Extra Mode) it was a smooth sailing ride the whole way. It is a perfect platformer. The challenge stages influenced Vivid’s level design and ranking system. I’d note Super Meat Boy but I’ve never played it myself.
However there is one game in particular that shares a huge amount of inspiration despite never playing “them”. Castlevania! In particular the classic games. I’ve beaten Aria several times over though.
(Castlevania – Konami)
I should note Egoraptor’s Castlevania vs Simon’s Quest video. You can easily look it up on YouTube(Warning: Language) but it did make me think a bit more on the first few games…though I disagree with his last part. The first game made you think and had enemy placement you had to figure out. In addition there were weapon drops that could appear from a random candle so you had to take what you could as you figured out the stage.
This mentality is present in Vivid. Sometimes you need to be a certain color but don’t have access to it or it’s difficult to get to. You need to figure out the stage and take what you can with you as you potentially gain or lose upgrades. Vivid is like a more precision based Castlevania with elements of Kirby (and Mario of course, I don’t think that ever needs to be explained). Even some of her weapons, such as the Ax, are a direct reference to the series. I have plans for one of the stories in Vivid to be a parody of the first Castlevania with Halloween themes.
Donkey Kong Country series, especially 2 and Tropical Freeze gave me great ideas for how to go about mechanics. Though I’d say not as huge inspiration as the others but you can see it throughout my games roots. There was one point where you had animal buddies! Tropical Freeze gave me the idea for the “Color Bounce” mechanic and has made me want to raise the bar when it comes to level design.
The list of influences goes on and on. Should mention Okami, though I never played that game. If anything this game has more influences from Japanese mythology than Okami itself. I can confirm Vivid is half-Japanese, half-British. You can also see some similarities between herself and various characters from other franchises. (Ado/Adeline, Ribon, Chuchu, and Kirby – Kirby series, Rosalina/Paper Mario – Mario series)
(Super Metroid – Nintendo)
There is one last game of significance to Vivid, that being Super Metroid. Actually you could list most 2D Metroid’s on here but most people are familiar with it. While it hasn’t been stated directly yet I do have plans to make some parts of Vivid work in a similar way to Metroid. The mechanics of Vivid lend well to it but I won’t spoil how it’ll work. Just know that it’s very interesting.
Well that wraps things up. Those are the notable games that have influenced Vivid. There are several games that have influenced me that I didn’t mention, like EarthBound, but they don’t really have anything that directly pushed Vivid. In the end I hope to provide a product that has the same qualities as most that were previously mentioned. A fast paced classic Castlevania with Kirby’s charm and polish and Mario’s varied level designs.
Today I will be discussing the core design of my current game making project, Vivid! First, please take a moment to analyze this image.
Keep it in mind, I’ll talk about it in a second. First we need to state what Vivid is actually about. Vivid is a 2D side-scrolling platformer. You move and you jump. But the biggest thing to it is the ability to change Color. Red, yellow, or blue.
What color Vivid currently has control over dictates what she can or can’t interact with. If she’s red, she can touch red objects but can’t touch blue ones. She cannot freely change color either. Instead you must find a way via Colored Blocks and stomping on them while holding jump to turn to that color. Or jumping off Enemies of a particular color.
Now let’s go back to the image knowing all of this. Suddenly the meaning of it changes based on what color she is! If she were red, jumping over the pit of spikes would be a breeze. However if she were to hop on that blue block, there would be very little space to land on. Of course, you could just land on the red blocks to avoid this. Now what about those blue enemies above?
That’s where the next key element of Vivid comes into play; combat. Color not only affects your interactions but your own Weapons. Which one you pull out when you hit attack depends on your color and follow certain patterns.
These weapons are a Red Sword, Yellow Bow, and Blue Ax. Each carries with it a different roll. The bow is long range but horizontal. The ax is good for targets above or below and not much else. The sword is easy to maneuver but short ranged. All of them have specific uses, advantages, and weaknesses. To make things more interesting there’s also SCAB (Same Color Attack Bonus) which inflicts double the damage to enemies with matching colors.
Yet again, looking at the image changes knowing this. Those enemies above you aren’t the best targets for a Red Sword let alone the strictly horizontal Yellow Bow. But that Blue Ax can hit vertically before those enemies try to become a threat, taking them out faster with SCAB. But be careful – SCAB also applies to Vivid!
You have choices to make: will you make platforming easier by being red but have a tougher time taking out the enemies? Or will you make platforming trickier while making the enemies easier to get rid of? There’s also another choice; skip the enemies entirely. There’s no penalty to avoiding confrontation. However you do miss out on another element.
Stars. A collectible you can find floating around. You can also find them hiding inside most Colored Blocks. More importantly you can knock them out of enemies… if you hit them with a weapon that matches or shares a color with them. Even if you did manage to hit those enemies with the sword, you’d gain little in return. That Ax on the other hand would knock out some stars for you to collect.
What are these little things for? They actually have multiple uses that build up over time as you grab them. First they add to your Score which is used to rank you at the end of a level. That leads to better prizes earned if you’re effective at hunting for stars. They also build up a meter on your weapon that quickly Upgrades them. That weapon will do greater damage and have greater effectiveness, such as the Bow being able to shoot multiple arrows in a spread out effect. But like SCAB there is a risk; using an upgraded weapon when damaged will degrade it by a level.
Then there’s Color Boost. It is an energy meter that is fueled by these stars that in turn fuels Power Pins. Like the weapons before, they are restricted to a specific color. Unlike the weapons you have more freedom to them and can equip them to a different color before starting a level.
Perhaps this level is tough, so you’ll make all slots hold a Heal pin. Or you’re trying to get a good time so you’ll use a Speed Pin. Maybe you need multiple pins for different uses or to get you out of a particular section a little easier. Weapons have a specific utility in mind while the Power Pins give the player a way to plan ahead.
Everything that I wrote, every last mechanic that was described here shares a common element. It’s all tied together and relates to one another in that first image. Color. Any action you do in this game is affected by a color you choose to use. You are constantly seeking out other methods to change color to take advantage of the situations presented to you.
I’m low on health, how can I heal? If a Heal Pin is equipped, find a way to change to the color for it to use it. Don’t have enough energy? You could find enemies with the same color to nab some stars. Need more? Go looking around by changing to a blocks color to reach areas you haven’t been to for stars. Trying not to risk damage? Change to a different color from nearby enemies to take less. Can’t? Use that weapon to take out the enemies faster using SCAB.
Whether it be combat, platforming, exploring, surviving, speed running, or puzzles, this game ties it all with color. Synergy is the key to Vivid’s design for you are at all times considering your color. You’ll be tasked with switching between multiple ones to solve puzzles or perhaps limited to only one to access another path.
For the final time, we gaze at the first image introduced. Despite its simple structure there are already several possibilities that could happen in it. The choice for how it plays out being up to the player. They could change red, or change blue. And if the player begins to learn and master the game, they can create whole new solutions. They could turn blue and attack with the ax before landing and changing red!
This is the philosophy my game lives by. The synergy of red, yellow, and blue.