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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
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.
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).
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!
Boss 101 Screenshot, flying high above planet Earth. Live your dreams people!
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?
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.
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.
Taking what we had in other room we made notes about possible directions. Note that these are ON TOP of the first pass artwork.
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!
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.
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!
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!
Welcome back to the Boss 101 weekly update! Thank you for joining us once again – we do appreciate your time.
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
Wrecked Boss ship on Earth
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
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!
Boss 101 Screenshot, you beat the bosses once, you can do it again!
Welcome back to our weekly dev log! We have really exciting news so let’s dive in IMMEDIATELY!
Steam Store Page now OPEN!
Yep, you can now go into the Steam Storefront, type in “Boss 101” and go directly to the Boss 101 store page. So DO IT! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
The page is setup to show Boss 101 as ‘coming soon’ at the moment but do not let that deter you from adding us to your wish list and following the game’s progress. We will be putting our dev logs on there and will keep adding screenshots, videos and news as we move forward. We also have a community page there with discussions and news you can contribute and comment on directly.
You know you want to check it out and be part of something awesome.
Cleaning up the UI and making things as awesome as possible
So, as you know we have a Command Center in the game. This is your main staging area where you upgrade, purchase and review upcoming fights. It’s the place you spend time between fights flying kites and checking out the GopherWiki for tips on defeating bosses. Knowing that, we've been working to buff up a bit of the architectural designs.
Make no mistake; we could have left well enough alone saying “Well, we having something that works so just leave it”. We are, however in a polish pass and the whole point is not to just have something functional but to have something you (and we) think is AWESOME. It’s gotta be nice looking and fit the spirit of the game.
We are looking over the various levels, UI pages, and pretty much everything to make sure there is something special everywhere you go. We’re not here to just hit a bunch of check boxes on a To-Do list. That may ship the game but won’t deliver the experience we're shooting for.
Enough talking though – check this out. We have two stores and their respective before and after shots. Just look at how much sweeter they are NOW. Don’t you want to explore down there? There is a much, much better sense of a giant complex of machinery and in the debug store the pool of water adds a really nice touch to the look of the game. Really top level work.
Gun Shop Before
Gun Shop After
Debug Shop Before
Debug Shop After
Screenshot of the day
When you look for achievements in Boss 101, it pays to wear the correct lid!
Thank you again for checking out the latest. Enjoy, have a great weekend and remember to LIVE YOUR DREAMS!
When you look for achievements in Boss 101, it pays to wear the correct lid!
Welcome back to this week’s Boss 101 Update!
Totay we are pulling back the curtains yet again with a look at the cinematic setup we are using to bring you the story of Boss 101.
We felt it was important to allow the guys to talk with you as well as give you a sense of the world they inhabit. To do that we created what we feel is a seamless integration between the story you enjoy and the game you are playing. Nearly every asset, room and screen is an option for us to bring you more of the humor, entertainment and insight into the way the world of Boss 101 is built.
Below are three of the many rooms we have in the game.
First up us the Boss 101 game Room – you didn’t think Boss 101 himself was all about smashing stars and conquering galaxies? That’s pretty mundane if you ask me. Nope, Boss 101 takes a little time out of each day to play… BOARD GAMES! You heard right – he enjoys al the classics. The only problem is he hates to lose and people who beat him tend to lose too if you know what I mean.
Command Center Rec Room – this is nice patio outside the main center where the guys go to rest and talk about the latest missions. Oh yeah, they serve ice cream there.
Super Collider Corridor – a small but important room. It contains one of the main conduits which power the command center.
Sneak Peak at the latest How To Make a Game
As you know we do a weekly column with Indie Game Riot Website were I put out my thought on the making of games. Here’s a snippet from the latest column.
The Nature of the Fence
Today’s how to make a game column is about understanding the correct priorities for your game and your time. No one wants to waste time while they are working but we (and I include myself in this category) often focus on things which might be better put aside to make room for the real meat of the project. Let’s start with a great parable:
A lion was captured and placed in a large yard surrounded by a high fence. He soon became acquainted with the social life of the other lions who had been there a long time. The lions had divided themselves into several clubs, each with its own activities. One group met regularly to hate and slander the captors. Another group met to sing sentimentally about a future jungle having no fences. And a third group secretly plot violence against the other groups Each club tried to pressure the newcomer into joining, but something held him back. His hesitation was caused by one particular lion who kept to himself and who seemed to be in deep thought. The newcomer shyly approached the solitary lion and requested an explanation of his apartness.
‘Join nothing,’ replied the lion. ‘Those foolish creatures do everything but the necessary. I am doing what is essential, so one day I will be out of here. You are welcome to all the
facts I have uncovered.’
But what is this necessary thing you are doing?
‘Listen carefully. I am studying the nature of the fence.’
The point here is are you focusing on the things that will make your game better, more fun and arguably more palatable to the consumer. I am guessing you want to sell a lot of copies and bring your excitement to as many people as possible. For that you will need to study what your limits are and face some hard truths before you can move on.
Enjoy, have a great weekend and remember to LIVE YOUR DREAMS!
Hello and welcome back to the latest in Boss 101 news.
This week we are talking about your friends from the Boss 101 Command Center. The Gopher Science Team! That is correct, you have your own science team to help you develop new weapons and ideas in your fight against the bosses.
The idea is we want to give the player (you) a better sense of the activities and work that are going on to support you and your efforts. You didn’t just stumble into this awesome Command Center. You built it along with your friends! You added all the cool tech and you are using that tech to create new ideas to help bring you out ahead. Of course, sometimes the tech gets a little ahead of you and guys like STEVE, ROB and the Professor help reel it back in.
Let’s meet the team shall we?
Professor – arguably the leader of the group and head of the team. He helps develop the main technology in the Command Center and is responsible for taking your Boss 101 winnings and turning it into new weapons.
Roger – the professor’s right hand gopher. He’s helping with all the lab preparations and organization.
Agent 5 – when you need secret parts for the new gun or hat. Agent 5 will get it for you.
Cosmo – She works with professor to implement the new gun technology.
Jay Henry – the hardest working Gopher in the show biz or gopher biz. He is in charge of all the construction projects in the Command center.
Here’s a quick meet the cast to show you a bit of who’s who in action!
Also – we have ROB who works with the science team to develop new tech for you. He’s another jetpack like STEVE but it’s safe to say he’s not quite as sarcastic though. ROB brings you news and updates and tends to spend a lot of time in the basement working on his secret project which he one day may share with the team.
Stealing the Sun
So one thing Boss 101 is up to is confiscating local suns for his own nefarious purposes. Here we have the guys fighting as Boss 101 and his team look to round up another star. Don’t let ‘em take ole Sol! It’s pretty important to everyone on Earth wouldn’t you say?
Thanks for stopping by and much more to come next week with news about the cinematics and the latest in gameplay and tunes!
See you then and live your dreams!