DarkTimmy's News


Welcome to the latest weekly update of Boss 101!

Cinematic Transitions

This last week saw the first pass of all the main cinematics in the game. The great news here is we can now sit and let the story gel while we move onto other polish tasks. If you are also working on a game you know how nice it is to have breathing room and stand back from your creation. 

Let’s look at some of the latest shall we? 

Transition Screen for the cinematics

We created this little intro screen to help set the stage for the storytelling in the game. A lot of the thinking here is to give a clear heads up as to where and what the player is seeing. In an ideal world storytelling would be told naturalistically but since time and tech constraints crop up we are looking at ways to deliver the best experience given our tools.  

For that we have a little narration screen that can crop up to give a high level lead in. You see a lone narration robo and a small action gopher in the corner. We will be using this setup to help with transitions between cinemas and to setup possibly complex storytelling. The nice thing is this will be woven into the current story with some logical ties. Before we had this screen we had a lot of insta cuts into major story elements and it seemed a little jarring. Now we can ease into things, hopefully a little smoother. 

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Hilltop at night

Who doesn’t like looking at the stars? In between robo battles we have downtime and we think you will enjoy the moments spent with the guys. It was a huge deal for us to have not only awesome arcade action but to have downtime that you can enjoy as you like. Hey, if you want back in battle – you can do that. If you want to earn some credits playing arcade games – do it!

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Steam Store Cleanup

We also began cleaning up the Boss 101 Steam store for the game’s release. Now, we know that is a little bit down the line but it’s always nice to create and design the storefront to be pleasing. I know I personally appreciate when a Steam store has information presented in a pleasing manner. I also really like when a dev CLEARLY enjoys what they are doing and lets a little humor show. We are working to do the same – give you the info and also provide a little fun while we do it.

Galactic Credit Cards
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Boss 101 Soundtrack
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Zagnuts

Boss 101 likes Zagnuts! Who knew!?! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!

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Hope you enjoyed this week’s update and feel free to visit our Steam Store for the latest news! Links below!

Remember to always – LIVE YOUR DREAMS!

-Tim


2015.09.17 Boss 101 Screenshot

2015-09-17 19:55:01 by DarkTimmy

When Boss 101 comes out we have you covered. Charge! 

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Welcome back to today’s Boss 101 update! Today we are discussing the evolution of our Endless Boss mode. Specifically the interface you are using.

Endless Boss Mode
This is a feature in the game were you are tackling boss after boss with no break. In the normal game you return to your command center for a recharge, to buy new weapons and equipment and then head out again. During Endless Boss it’s just you and your first loadout against as many bosses as you can manage. There are some cool in game rewards associate with it also but we are going to save that discussion for a later day. For now, we are a talking about the user interface. 

Launch Area
We knew we would need a staging are the player started from. The first idea was to have sometime pretty straightforward. An interface and some buttons with the word “Go” or something like that. Sure, that worked but we already has a lot of cool ideas just sitting around the Command Center begging to be used. 

One thing we noticed immediately was the Cosmic Clicks spaceship sitting on one of the decks. You pass the ship while you are moving around in the Command Center and the only reason it was placed there was as a nod to our earlier game Cosmic Clicks. Then the idea come “Hey, we need a launch area and we already have a rocket!”.

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So the Endless Boss area basically turned into a Cosmic Clicks ship Launchpad. I think it’s important to state here many things in Boss 101 are about a fun experience. For us, it seemed really cool to have an astronaut moment of riding up the side of a rocket to the loading deck for liftoff. For all this to happen we had to take the old click ship and upgrade it to a large version Boss 101 style. 

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First thing was the layout of the room. This was pretty important to us for a couple reasons. One mindset was to use anything and everything we already had to make the interface work. The Make A Boss room had all the needed buttons with some slight modifications. We took that as a base layout and built the Endless Boss liftoff pad from that idea. 

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You can see in the image here we use the Make A Boss as a scale reference for the layout of the room. These are little things but they save SO much time when you can reuse your work intelligently. There is a lot of game logic working in your favor too. The Command Center was arguably built by the same people so you can imagine much shared tech in the various rooms. 

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OK having the layout we proceed to hog in the details and create the game interface. Of course we add in all the expected blinking lights and various animations inside the engine itself.

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The real magic though is when YOU play the game and get to experience it yourself. We have a few more surprises in store for you with the Clicks ship in the Endless Boss mode but those are for another day. Stay tuned and we will return!

Thank you again and talk with you soon!

Remember to live your dreams!

-Tim


2015.09.10 Boss 101 Screenshot

2015-09-10 15:41:31 by DarkTimmy

Boss 101 Screenshot, Afternoon Delight!

Remember to live your dreams!

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Cinematics, love ‘em, use ‘em and have fun!

Today we continue with our look at the cinematic making process in Boss 101. I’m going to outline some of the initial principles we followed and point out where I think we went right and were we probably will adjust the process for Boss 102. It should be noted everything and anything added is only to serve one purpose – giving YOU the BEST experience.

I don’t want to classify anything we are doing as “right” or “wrong”. My hope is to give you insight if you are making a game and an “A-HA!” moment.

1. Cinematics in Boss 101 are mostly handled with game animation idles – good or bad this is  the template we started with. What this meant is for the most part all animations for characters and backgrounds were basically looping idles which don’t change much over the course of the cinematic. The thinking initially was we were having short-ish cinematics and it simply wasn’t worth the programming horsepower to create a complicated animation delivery system. These kinds of decisions happen daily on small (and big) teams and a lot of times you really have to invest in stuff that pays the biggest dividends. In the end it is serving us well for Boss 101 so we are happy with the currently situation.

Initial setup prepping
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2. Speaking of that – our scripting system for animation is completely built from scratch. We use our dialog script to trigger various things inside our cinematics. If we want to have an effect play or a song change we can do that from inside the dialog script. It sounds a little weird but it works just fine. 

3. All our animations and cinematics use the same engine used for playing the game. This is to say – we use what we already have. This allowed us to setup backgrounds and sprites the same way we do for gameplay. Some games use a different engine for cinematics and gameplay or build some sort of video playback engine for pre-rendered movies. All that works but we playback our cinematics in real time with our engine. Saves time in setup and polishing.

Script setup
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Dialog
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Below are things which are tougher to do and will probably have some sort of revamped procedure for Boss 102 (HAAAAAAAAAAA!!! We have this conversation all the time)

1.  Ability to trigger various animations states during dialog. Talked about this one above but it’s a nice feature and clearly adds a lot to a cinematic. 

2. Ability to have animations fire off game effects or trigger events. This is something we would love to see happen. Here we are talking about something like an animation playing, say a gun shooting, and then during the actual muzzle flash animation we call a script or trigger FROM the animation frame and place an effect on the tip of the barrel. Mind you, we can do a version of this now but it is coordinated in a different way. I’m talking about a very procedural and organic way to have one thing trigger another. 

3. Create new characters on the fly. Have characters enter the scene and leave. This is all very basic and we can do this in a roundabout way but a more robust system would make a difference. 

4. More camera controls – this is strictly the animator in me speaking

5. More choices and/or interaction during the cinematics – I love well done cinematics and it was so revolutionary to me when games really took them to the next level and allowed the player to move and interact during them. Being able to do things like move or look around while someone talks (ala the oldie and goodie Half Life 2 among many others).

Cinematic Cut
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Here’s the deal – what we have in Boss 101 currently is awesome and fills our specific needs well. I think when we return to the well for round 2 we will have an even more focused list of things we would like to create. 

Thank you for reading and remember to live your dreams!

-Tim

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2015.09.02 Boss 101 Screenshot

2015-09-02 16:25:48 by DarkTimmy

Boss 101 Screenshot, flying high above planet Earth. Live your dreams people! 

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Welcome to the latest Boss 101 update. Thank you for stopping by and we appreciate your support.

Today we are going to talk about UI polish and ways we are improving the look of the game WHILE adding needed functionality.

The Arcade Machine!

In our Command Center (your main hangout) we have a bunch of nifty tools for you to play with. One of them is the AWESOME arcade machine where you can test your skills at old timey arcade games. The exact nature and type of those arcade games are for another post but what we will talk about is the arcade machine UI.

1. What we Had
We started with a flip down console which we LOVED. This was early in development and at the time it made a ton of sense.  The thing here was the flipping down action looked cool to us and had a great feel. Sure – the actual game screen was a little small but WHO CARES!?!!? COOL FLIPPING ACTION! Right?

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Well, it turns out it does matter how big the screen is. This plus the added complication of the arcade machine was being drawn to the game screen (we won’t bother you with programming backstory) made the flip down arcade action a lot less efficient than we first thought.

2. What we needed
The arcade room was to be split off and brought into its own “room” in GameMaker. This would give us more space to display the game screen (good) and a chance to add more details to the arcade machine façade (also good). First thing on the list was hogging out the rough dimensions and getting a first pass concept.

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3. First Pass
Here is a really nice pass at the arcade machine room. It’s a pulled in look at the wall space the arcade machine is on. Nothing wrong with it overall and it does have a certain echo of the actual room. Looking at it though, it  wasn’t quite grabbing the vibe we had going in other areas of the game. Also – to REALLY do justice to something like this we felt there was a bunch of additional work to really make it shine (like make the buttons press along with the player controls and wiggle the joystick along with the player movements). The added workload didn’t have the bang for the buck we were looking for in this area of the game so we went back and made notes.

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4. Notes
Taking what we had in other room we made notes about possible directions. Note that these are ON TOP of the first pass artwork.

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5. Second Pass
OK – now THIS is more like it. You can see we are using many design echoes from other screens and rooms in the game. Makes a big difference in the look of the room and also makes the whole thing fit thematically a little better. Also we can add some simple idles and change up things like the decals on the side for various games. A very nice pass indeed!

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6. Sample with New art
This is dope – need I say more? See for yourself! Animations, cool style and a lot of potential as we add games to the arcade machine. We can now change up stickers and add decals as well as instruction sheets. MUCH BETTER.

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Hope you enjoyed this look at some of our design process. Ideally this inspires you to keep on keeping on and make YOUR game as awesome you possibly can.

Also please remember to LIVE YOUR DREAMS!

-Tim

Check out our social links and track us on our Steam Store page for the latest info. THANK YOU!



Boss 101 Screenshot, Little Red and her baby robos. She's getting work done! 

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Welcome back to the Boss 101 weekly update! Thank you for joining us once again – we do appreciate your time.

World Building
Today we are looking at environments and world building. Specifically we are talking about some of the touches added to our backgrounds to help flesh out the story and make things more interesting visually. You may already see some of this happening in the screenshots but it bears some commentary.

First – we have a definite story arc for the game. You are moving forward for a specific reason with a specific goal. In fact you have a few overlapping goals at any given time. You have your long term goals and your round to round goals. While you are playing you might be considering a cool new gun you want to buy as your round to round goal. Overall though – you are looking at a way to defeat Boss 101 in spectacular fashion. To help the player have a great experience we look at making each round with special little touches. This might be some sort of object or decoration that looks cool and gives the player a sense of story (what happened before or what might happen) or a sense of scale (how big or small the player is versus the environment he is in).

You probably see this a lot in games and it can be done to awesome effect. Games like Call of Duty or the Battlefield series might have giant set pieces that move or fall in order to bring spectacle to the round. Well, we have our own set pieces and we are picking them to not only look cool but give a sense of what is happening as your progress. You see, the bosses are taking over the galaxy and Earth is on the list. If Max and STEVE can’t stop them it’s truly game over. The good news is you already beat down the first wave, now it’s just a matter of taking out the bosses. Easy right? HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Heading into space and witnessing the destruction of a local moon... these guys aren't messing around

Ninja Action in motion

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Ninja stillshot

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Wrecked Boss ship on Earth

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Active Volcano!

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The idea is there is always something interesting for the player to notice on the first, second and maybe even tenth time playing through. Sometimes it may be a big set pieces like what you see or maybe it's a small billboard with something interesting. You never know!

Into the Sky

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Some things to remember when you make your game (re-posted from my original How to make a Game series)

Here are some questions going through the publisher’s and public's mind:
1. What is unique about this game I can’t get anywhere else? To put it another way, “What is your unfair advantage?” What do you have that no one else can easily have or duplicate? That is what you must lead the conversation with.
2. Are you demonstrating enough of your product’s vision in the presentation? Some games have an awesome tech demo. Some games have a great trailer. Others may have some drawings. It’s really up to you to present your unique angle in the best way you can. This goes for Kickstarter trailers, Patreon videos, blogs etc. Everything should turn on what you offer that no one else has. If you have a blog you want people to read, give them a reason! Funny articles? Serious articles? Outlandish articles? Exclusive articles? Give people a reason! Same goes for a game. Unique gameplay (Portal)? Amazing art (Ori and the Blind Forest)? Amazing tech (Battlefield)?
3. Do you, as the project creator, see a clear way you will make the publisher (or the Kickstarter backer) either a monetary return or a return of “acclaim”?

- Monetary return is pretty obvious. You are giving someone more money than they initially gave you for investing in your project. Games like Call of Duty and League of Legends fit into this category.
- Acclaim for the publisher covers several areas. For a publisher, this could be a game that wins awards and gains the publisher credit from the general public as a benevolent and wise group. Games like ICO are what fit into this category.
- Acclaim for the player is a category I think we forget about. Basically, does your game tell a story worth repeating? An example would be a game in which somethingso amazing happens, it makes you want to tell someone about it.

So, does your game have memorable moments, a memorable story, etc…? A lot of times people will back and support something that advances their ability to be interesting or popular (for lack of a better phrase). I look at old games like X-Com which have outlandish scenarios all throughout. When you survive one of those, you want to tell someone about it! Same might go for a crazy match of Counter Strike or League of Legends. If you have a game people talk about after they put it down then you might really be onto something.

There you have it. A small look into some of the things we're doing to bring you the best we have. Maybe this gives you some ideas for your game! If so, post your work and tell us, we'd love to see what things you can show us!

Take care, talk with you soon and LIVE YOUR DREAMS!

-Tim


2015.08.20 Boss 101 Screenshot

2015-08-20 15:38:17 by DarkTimmy

Boss 101 Screenshot, you beat the bosses once, you can do it again!

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