DarkTimmy's News


It's not all bosses and hats with the game. Sometimes you gotta dig into the little things to make sure everything gets polish. Check out the snazzed up boss health bars. These are just 4 of the 6 possible boss bars. The early ones worked but the new ones give a much better impression of progression and differentiation. Heck, they just look cooler too! #boss101 #gamedev #indiedev #pixelart 

Talk with you soon and live your dreams!

-Tim

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Hello and welcome to another Boss 101 update! Thank you for stopping by.

This week we are in the SOUP with tuning. If you have been following along you know we are getting near the end of the tunnel and we can see the light of completion. A lot of what we are doing from here on out is tuning the user experience.

Tuning can help prevent things from getting too… ahem… CRAZY!

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That means we aren’t just looking for bugs of UI tweaks. We are looking at the whole game from top to bottom and making sure the minute to minute gameplay is fun and engaging. Some of that is done through constant gameplay and some is done by gut feeling. A lot of it though starts with laying in a foundation based of the game progression you want to have. In our case we are telling our story with an arcade like wrapper. To that end we are looking to have a fun shooter experience and give the player things they will want to come back to like upgrades, new weapons, new abilities and many new challenges in each level.

When the web version of Boss 101 was made many Excel charts were generated about various mechanics and tunes. These weren’t the set in stone final things we used but they were the guides for all the things happening in the game. We wanted to share some of these ideas with you here so you can have an idea how it’s all coming together.

We want to stress these are from the OLD version of boss 101 but you will see from the examples and some imaginative thinking exactly how much effort might go into something as simple as an arcade shooter progression chart. Do you need to be this elaborate? Maybe not. Some people are naturals at various things in game making and maybe yours in tuning and balance.

Let’s get rolling shall we?

Boss Health Calculations: When we got rolling on what you would be fighting we realized it would be helpful to lay out exactly how many hit points the various “Make-A-Bosses” might have across the levels. It was pretty useful for us to create this handy chart of the level, the boss and the various pieces that might occur and then calculate the high and low hit point values. Made tuning guns a lot easier when you knew how tough the boss was!

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Gun Values Across levels: Once we knew the boss health we did the same with the guns. We took all the guns, all the possible upgrades and made a min/max chart of the ways the player could have upgraded the various weapons. There were less weapons in the web game but you can see the chart was still extensive (and this is only a fraction of it)

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Boss Weapons: Like the player weapons – we looked at the boss weapons and how they were used and buffed up throughout the game. Things like the firing percentage, movement triggers and various other pertinent data were captured in a large sheet for us to review.

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Asset Use: Also help was a breakdown of the levels and how we were using the art assets. Pretty valuable to avoid time and effort wasting when you start seeing how often or how little some art is being used. I do recommend this kind of a chart for any game since you will often make a lot of good finds.

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Hat Decoder: Many of the upgrades in the game came from the wearing of various hats to make your character look cooler ANY give him some robo-stomping powers. A list of the powers, the scaling and the various abilities granted was essential!

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Boss 101 Fan Art by Ban Beaulieu

An old pal came through with some incredible art for Boss 101. Talk about an inspiring piece! Max and STEVE jetpacking with a boot gun!

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Check out Dan on his Instagram account: here https://instagram.com/dbeaulieu77/

That’s all for this week folks and come back next for a look at the progress!

Remember to live your dreams!

-Tim



An old pal came through with some incredible art for Boss 101. Talk about an inspiring piece! Max and STEVE jetpacking with a boot gun!

Check out Dan on his Instagram account: here https://instagram.com/dbeaulieu77/

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2015.06.08 Boss 101 Update: Load Screens and Stores

2015-06-08 02:17:32 by DarkTimmy
Updated

Welcome back to the weekly update and thank you again for stopping by. This week we are moving into the polish phase for much of Boss 101. This includes the UI and the overall gameplay.

Today’s focus is on the UI improvements we are making.

Backstory:
If you recall last week, I spoke about the types of work you have on a game, they are:

-What you know you’ve done
-What you know you haven’t done
-What you DON’T KNOW and you HAVE DONE
-What you don’t know and you haven’t done

Today’s topic is really about the third category because when it comes to polish there are likely many things you have already done that you don’t know about. This was not scheduled per-se but resulted from a lucky bit of earlier work. An example – you create the UI for an inventory panel a while back. When you go to make the UI for the player store you realize you already had done the base work when you did the player inventory. It was matter of re-using the designs and ideas to quickly make the new store in a fraction of the normal time.

This type of work must be recognized for what it is when the time comes or you will redo things unnecessarily. Recognizing work you ALREADY did is the way to avoid remaking things over and over.

We have two things on the list. The Boss 101 start screen and the hat store. Both of these had a very good first pass in the game. They were functional and you could do all the needed things with them. The problem was they were some of the first things done in the game. What that meant was they were the product of the oldest thinking and design styles. This isn’t a bad thing but we had some new things in that were pretty spiffy so when it came time to polish we had an opportunity to drop in some of the new stuff instead of trying to make the old art work.

The reasoning here is the old art was just not part of the same process and thinking as the latest (and near final) game. So here’s what we did!

Start Screen:

The old start screen with the first pass load game menu. Nothing exactly wrong with this, it functions but it is kinda lifeless and blocks the main menu. No bueno!

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So we made some adjustments and added in the Gopher scientists you work with in the game. Notice the new animations and the way it shows off the main logo. MUCH BETTER!

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Hat Store:

One of the oldest UI screens in the game. Developed early with a lot of high hopes. Thing is. It is not really thematically linked to any of the new Command Center art. Mister Gopher to the rescue again! The thinking here is you have a large command center and it’s story is part of the game. Why things look a certain way is writing into the main story. The old hat store didn’t fit that mythos but the new one does in a way the player will be a part of. Here’s a place where we have done some work and unified many things under one umbrella of logic. We simply added the hat store to that list

Old Hat Store

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New Hat Store prep work

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New Hat Store

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Minion Styled Hats

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You can wear minion hats and maybe make some friends!

Ok - folks - that is it for this week but check back again.

As always - LIVE YOUR DREAMS!

-Tim



You can wear minion hats and maybe make some friends! #boss101 #pixelart #indiedev #gamedev

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Hello and welcome to the Boss 101 update of the week. We have a few things for you so let’s get cracking!

Command Center Main Room

You already know Max and STEVE have a hangout but we recently did some adjustments and touchups to the place. Mostly so you can enjoy it a little better and understand the layout. You see – this isn’t just their home it’s yours too!

First up we have the redecorated main room with a big screen TV, award and basic remodeling. The idea in this room is you have access to all things you have done in the game (like achievements, stat tracking, etc). Additionally you can hang out with the guys and play games – that’s what the arcade matching is for after all. Finally we have a couple places you can go to from here. Kite Hill – were you fly a kite with the guys and the Endless Boss mode – where you can test your skills against a neverending horde of boss baddies. So to break it down you have:

Movies – replay and re-watch movies you have seen
Kite Flying – fly a kite with the guys
Endless Boss – take on endless boss baddies
Professor Mole – consult him when you have questions about gameplay or game elements
Trophies – Stat and achievement tracking
Arcade Games – relax and play games

Check out the images below:

Main Room:

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Main Room with selection labels active – same room but with the guides active to show the player some of what they can activate.

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A close up of a few of the TV shows playing while you hang out.

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Indie Game Battle

How awesome is this! The guys working on Indie Game Battle (http://www.indiedb.com/games/indiegamebattle) put up the latest gameplay preview with your boys Max and STEVE as playable characters! Check out the sweet footage below!

Gameplay of Indie Game Battle on Youtube with Max and STEVE

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Screenie for you!

Despite his sarcasm, S.T.E.V.E. does care! He's actually a good teacher!

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How to Make a Game - Preview of the next update!

When you are making a game - have you every wondered about the work that goes into it? We have so we broke it down into four basic areas:

What you know you’ve done: This is work you know about. Work you have done. This would be something like the creation and animation of the player and environment sprites. This is stuff scheduled and done.

What you know you haven’t done: This is stuff you know about, is scheduled and has not been done yet. Inserting sounds, finishing the cinematic movies, VFX might fall into this category.

What you DON’T KNOW and you HAVE DONE: This is stuff you needed to do and by sheer luck or fortune you ALREADY DID. This was not scheduled per-se but resulted from a lucky bit of earlier work. An example – you create the UI for an inventory panel a while back. When you go to make the UI for the player store you realize you already had done the base work when you did the player inventory. It was matter of re-using the designs and ideas to quickly make the new store in a fraction of the normal time.
An IMPORTANT NOTE: This type of work must be recognized for what it is when the time comes or you will redo things unnecessarily. Recognizing work you ALREADY did is the way to avoid remaking things over and over.

What you don’t know and you haven’t done: This is the killer category. This is every single thing that has not been done and you just didn’t think about while putting the game together. This category exists in all games no matter how much planning happens. It’s what I call the “bottom of the iceberg”. It might be big, it might be small. I’d like to think on Boss 101 we have a pretty small amount of stuff in here but there most certainly is stuff in here.
Examples: Medals awarded at the end of your game rounds. When those go in it is obvious they need a little something more than the method scoped out (perhaps they just appear with no VFX). Nothing was wrong with the idea planned but the execution gave you a clear picture of improvement. This is a case of the “you didn’t know and didn’t do it”. No one is to blame, nothing is wrong, this is just game development.
Most games live and die on this category: If you want a game that is going to get great reviews and the attention fans and friends you will do well to pay special attention to this category.

That's all for the moment but we'll be back soon with a new update!

Thank you for reading and keep living your dreams!

-Tim


2015.05.29 Boss 101 Screenshot

2015-05-29 16:01:18 by DarkTimmy

Despite his sarcasm, S.T.E.V.E. does care! He's actually a good teacher! #boss101 #indiedev #gamedev #pixelart

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Welcome back to the weekly Boss 101 update!

How do you relay information to the player clearly and at the correct time?

This week we are diving into UI with a look at the Status Icons for the game Boss 101. What are status icons you ask? Good question! Status icons are the visual indicators for effects on weapons and bosses. For instance a boss might have a flame weapon. Well, we would have a status icon for the flame weapon created so you would know in advance what you are facing.

The idea here is we want the Make A Boss room to be a dynamic thing. You roll a boss and see the effects he has and you pull up the equip panel to decide what’s best to battle him with. Maybe the boss is weak versus melee weapons? Well this is where you can choose what to take him down with

The philosophy here is we want the player to really enjoy the idea of rolling random bosses and getting a moment to plan an attack. Kinda like thinking on your feet in the middle of the battle. We designed the game around the idea you get bonuses for clearing out bosses in sets as well as the idea you use certain boss parts to create or develop more tech for your weapons. That is where the Make A Boss equip screen makes its mark. Let’s dive in!

Figure 1: Here we have the regular Make a Boss screen with a couple of red squares representing the effect icons. Notice we are just laying things in for position and to get a sense of space. 

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Figure 2: Here’s a layout with everything planned. You see a sample of icons and names in their proper positions. The point here is to create a UI with a focus on the important things. In this case we are giving the player a direct look at not only the Bosses abilities but allowing the player to compare this with his own weapons and armor (hats). 

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Figure 3: Here’s a first pass on some various effects for bosses
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Figure 4: So the player will have resistances to the bosses effects (like poison for instance). This is a simple layout page with classic video game tropes using arrows to represent the good and bad effects for the player. 

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Figure 5: A look at some effects laid on for display on the Make A Boss Screen. This is mostly to get a sense of the colors and the best way to display things. 

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OK – that is the highlights for now but comments are questions are always welcome. We hope you liked this high level look at creating a game UI and the thinking that goes behind every part. We will be bring you more looks at UI philosophy and development in the coming weeks!

Boss 101 Gameplay testing

Welp, when the night winds down what better to do than play a little Boss 101 and shake down the latest. Here we are threading the needle during crazy boss attacks! If you don’t have the right hat you better be pretty good at flying! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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Remember to Live Your Dreams!

-Tim



Boss 101 Gameplay testing - threading the needle during crazy boss attacks! #boss101 #gamedev #pixelart #indiedev

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Thanks for stopping by and welcome back to the Boss 101 weekly update! A smorgasbord of goodies awaits you this week!

Weapons – the Lightning Gun

In the quest to bring you rocking gameplay and boatloads of fun we added this dandy into the player’s arsenal – the lighting gun. Yeah, it is not only powerful but can target nearby enemies automagically and jump around to all local targets. When there is a lot of action on the screen is makes for a pretty sick show.

The player’s version can be upgraded to allow for better targeting and more damage. It’s great for clearing the area of those pesky bad guys. Check it out!

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Of course the bosses will have their own version. You might want to give it a wider berth since it can do serious damage. Of course you will be able to mitigate the damage with various upgrades but in the meanwhile – steer clear buddy!

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Making Boss Levels

Work continues on the final levels of the game – SUPER BOSS LEVELS! Just a peek at what is going on but we have in progress shots of the before and after art as it is being created.

The setup

Initial layout – we look to integrate new art with existing art. In this case we have a set of pillars we are already using. These caps are for decoration and variety.

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The Black and White

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All niced up with some fancy art. From here they get colored and prepped for use in the game.

Animations from the Boss Command Center

Looks like Max & STEVE set off alarms at robo HQ. Late night raids do that.

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Making a Game – a look at the bigger picture

Occasionally we bring you a look at the How to Make a Game series we’re putting together for our friends at Indie Game Riot. Here is a snippet from the latest this week.

OK, you have your basic game loop and now you want to expand beyond that. Well, what do you do after that? Good question – you lay out the entire game in rough form as soon as possible!

You see, the temptation is always to spend time on things like polishing up this or that specific system but the real thing is you are making a game. A game has a lot of parts and you most likely aren’t a huge team. Completeness is your weapon against forgetfulness and running out of time.

Specifically I am referring to the situation you will be in when you make a cool game loop and a few awesome little gameplay features. You might sit back and thing “All locked down now!” but you aren’t. not even close. You’re making good progress though so stuck with it. Start laying out all the game loops you can think of. For every system. This includes all the UI potentials, all the gameplay modes, all the little things like loading and saving.

Break large areas down into smaller ones but don’t stop at any one area. “But Tim, won’t I just be skimming through a ton of important things?” Yes, my friend and that is exactly the point. You want to get a real assessment of all the systems which are in your game. From years of experience the best way for this assessment is to just make the game. Not plan it or think about it or imagine it will all be OK later. Just make the systems and see how they work.

I do recommend you put the systems in on a first pass level. That means they are working with a UI that is not all temp art. You should always make an effort to put in good art and good code. That is also part of the exercise.

Hope you enjoyed this look and more to come.

As always – live your dreams!

-Tim