Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rubrics Cube... Err... Square, Really.

While working on this project, I frequently find myself just working on random parts with absolutely no focus or concept of what an end goal looks like. Luckily I have been reminded by a good friend that I have a set of tools at my disposal to help me stay organised and focused on the goal... And also to define what that goal is.

So I created a rubric!

This is something that I've had to do a few times in my life, but the version that I like the most was introduced to me in Rachel Rutherford's GAT 399 class at DigiPen. It is more free flowing than a timeline based rubric, and allows me to keep track of when I'm spending too much time in one area.

Click For Larger Version

If you've never seen this style of rubric before; let me tell you a little something about it. The columns are labeled F through A, and then T. F is nothing, where all projects begin. A is what I hope to achieve when I call this a released game. T is the dream: this is what I would want to happen if the stars aligned and everything just worked out perfectly. The colored bars are where I think I am right now. I keep them at red when I'm not very far along, yellow when I'm doing okay, and green when a section is nearing completion. There is currently nothing green. Let's work on that, shall we?

Next week! Next week, let's look at some artwork. I want to finally be at a point where I can show off some environment art and some character work. I'll see you then.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Plot Must Simmer Before It Thickens

First of all, I just want to say that I've been following along with DoubleFine's Amnesia Fortnight. Watching them work has been really very inspiring for me while I work. I don't know if this sounds silly or not, but I have an easier time working when I'm being exposed to other people being productive. I'm listening to them having a morning SCRUM report right now as I type this.

ONWARD. I was doing a pile of sketchwork this week, and I became inspired to inject a story in to my game, FIST CHAMPION. Essentially, what I've come up with is pure B-Movie Bliss. In the world of my game, there is a company called Big YEN, and they're a mega corporation (Think OCP from robocop) that makes everything from No. 2 Pencils to Nuclear Warheads. The board of directors for this company are all evil, though, and want to rule the world.

I'll tell you more about it later, but if you want an idea: think Mortal Kombat meets The Last Starfighter.

Also this week, I've been thinking about the art style to my game. my initial thought was to do some seriously detailed pixel art, like what you'd find on the old NeoGeo/SNK arcade games. Completely ignoring that I am by no means the most detail oriented artist I know, and although I have a very strong passion for smaller scale pixel art, this is way beyond where I am at right now. SCOPE! Scope is what I keep trying to remind myself. So, I think I'm just going to go down some fun avenues, and try drawing and painting and 3D modeling with my game in order to see what I like, what I don't like, and maybe we'll find some things that we didn't expect, but will ultimately help sell the goal of making this "the most eclectic game about arm wrestling there has ever been."

Here's some sketchwork that I've been doing:

I really need to get a scanner...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Advanced Rules: The Difference Between Fantasy & Reality

When I first started talking to my friends about FIST CHAMPION we decided the controls for the game were going to be kept simple. Taking that to an extreme: I made the most basic form of the game be a single button masher. It took very little time to put together, and that was pretty cool. However, very early on, Brandt Andrist came up with the idea of a more advanced "2-Button" style of gameplay. We started talking about how that could open up all sorts of new strategies for play rather than just a straight up button masher.

It's kind of funny how just adding a second button to a game can make the game itself so much more complex.

For the final game, I decided, there would be the standard mode of play that the game would default to, and there would also be Advanced Mode. THE MOMENT I sat down to start scripting Advanced Mode, I hit a weird mental brick wall. I had spent a lot of time talking to my friends about how this would work, and it all seemed pretty straight forward, but the actual act of writing how that functions as a mechanic in Scripting (with my level of ability anyway) seemed like a suddenly very daunting task.

Here is the originally proposed method for Advanced Mode:

1. When gameplay starts, both players begin on the same button.

2. after a short time, when one player starts getting ahead: the losing player can switch to another button to effectively block all button presses done by the winning player on the original button.

3. The previously winning player needs to switch to the new button in order for any presses to mean anything.

The problem with this mode of play is that it runs into too many problems involved with how long it takes to decide who is actively winning or losing a round, and what happens when the originally winning player suddenly becomes the losing player without having switched buttons.

Right now I am leaning more towards something like this instead:

1. Both players have a stamina meter on screen during gameplay. The primary button drains the meter, and the secondary button replenishes.

2. If the player drains their meter: no button presses for that player are valid, and the player must now wait for a time for the gauge to replenish itself.

And yet, I also think that there could be another way of handling this... Maybe something more like the way that riding a horse in Zelda is handled? a highly limited gauge that encourages more of a rhythm than speed to keep going. I could picture this being really intense for people playing. Especially when someone falls behind, and the struggle to catch back up.

For those of you who might not know what I mean, here's a helpful video (applicable part is 57 seconds in) :

What do you think? I would really like to hear some feedback on this.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Fist Champion - Not Your ProtoTypical Game

This past week, I took a page from the book of passion and rocked out a prototype for Fist Champion. It is really nothing fancy to look at, just some text elements and basic test sprites, but I made it, and I am very proud of that.
This is what the prototype looks like in Unity before I run the game. A pile of GUI text Elements and a few basic sprites. 
Immediately after starting the game, the Time sets to 10 seconds and the scores set to 0. (I'm still thinking about if I even want visible counters in the final game.)

4 seconds left and it's a tied game!

The timer strikes zero and the player with the higher score wins! I know that this is all very primitive to look at, but believe me: as an artist, figuring out how to do this was a real boost to my day.

On top of my prototype, I've also started illustrating my first character for the game. His name is The Pugilist. Although there is a whole list of potential characters already lined up to be in this game, The Pugilist will be first, because his design is the most straightforward... and I have an affinity toward curly mustaches.
He is an old timey sort of fighter. The kind of fella you'd expect to see lifting comically large weights at a carnival or practicing calisthenics at the beach whilst waiting for his best lady. He's an old fashioned sort with a disposition towards winning.

This week:
  • Wireframes for the menu systems
  • Thumbnailing first stage
  • Thumbnailing gameplay layout
  • More control related scripting
  • Playtesting!