Thursday 22 March 2018

Grelox: Flies!

Over the last few days I've been adding some minor enemies to test. There are small orbs that float about randomly and some lightbulb-shaped things that just go up and down for the moment. I might keep a few of these simpler enemies in as easy fodder. The lightbulbs currently have high hitpoints, perhaps this is a good way to tempt the player to risk just running under them rather than stand and hack away.

I've also implemented some spiky floor and ceiling runners.

I think it's important to have a selection of non-destroyable hazards like this to mix things up, allowing timing to be involved, especially if they are running across a terminal location while you are trying to hack it.

Speaking of terminals, the original idea was to have 4 terminals per room that have to be hacked to unlock the door (representative of the 4 numbers per room in Zillion). But I decided that this might be a bit tiresome, so I'm dropping it to 3. As I was looking through the maps, there was always one terminal that was easily redundant anyway - 3 is enough to ensure the player needs to explore the entire room before exiting.

The last thing I added are pods. These won't actually appear in the first level as they are visually out of place, and more fitting in the darker, more cave like areas. They can be stepped on (possible strategic advantage?) until burst, where they release a swarm of angry flies. I was planning to have small flies only, but I accidentally drew the first one way too big and liked it enough to keep it.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Grelox: Creating explosions and animating Space Sharks

Drawing an interesting explosions take a bit of forethought. Most are just blobs of red, orange and yellow but I wanted something a bit different for the bigger enemies.

Firstly, I sketched out something very roughly. I've always liked the enemy explosions in Shadow Dancer on the Mega Drive, so I took that 'pillar of flame' look as the central idea, but surrounded it with chunks of standard exploding bits.

The circle in the centre was just for positioning, but when it came to the second pass, where I drew everything neater and clearer in one colour, I kinda liked it as it could represent some concentration of energy, or a small black hole or somesuch. The wispyness also reminds me of the Onibi Yokai which appeals to me.

The colouring was pretty simple. The red surround with blue interior should contrast against most background art. It's only a few frames, but they are over so quickly that the effect works well enough.

I've also updated the 'hit enemy' flash with some animation, changing the colour to pink to match the player sprite and not clash with the explosions.

The Space Sharks now have a walking animation, rather than sliding around. This was constructed with my usual method - I draw out everything in monochrome first. I find this is pretty important as it allows you to refine the look and positions because once you've shaded the whole set it's a royal pain to fix (saying that I did adjust a few minor areas after the fact).

All in all, they look nice and smooth. I maybe could have put more wobble in some areas, but I'm trying not to go too over the top with animation frames as I want to keep the feel of a certain era of gaming.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Grelox, PC Engine and other plans for 2018

Here's the latest on my various projects, it's been a long time since the last update but hopefully I'll get into the habit of more regular updates.

Inferno is done and out, physical copies are due in the Aetherbyte store very soon. Some have already been dispatched to Beep.

Grelox is a continuing saga of changes, cancellations and delays ever since it started out as something called Apothecary for the PC Engine. But I'm back working on it now for Windows. Programming is an annoying distraction for me because I enjoy the graphics, game and level design much more. However, the main gameplay elements are all in place so the bulk of the heavy lifting is sorted. Tasks now involve coming up with all the enemies & hazards, mapping everything and converting a lot of the MSX style art into the new Master System style that I'm using. Here's one of the recoloured baddies.

I'm also in the early stages of another PC Engine related book. Not a second volume of Pixellence or PC Engine Gamer, but something more personal and unique. Details currently secret but I'll plod on with this as time allows. Ideally I'd like to have it released before the end of the year but it all depends on how things go.

We're between projects now at Aetherbyte. Of course we have plans (too many), but I cant reveal them. But to throw you a bone, here's a drawing of something.

Finally, I've got a new freshly styled issue of ZX Spectrum Gamer 90% complete and ready to go. This will be a special issue, containing an exclusive brand new game called Aeon. The game is split over several tapes and tells a story with the aid of illustrated cut scenes (well, lots of loading screens tied together but you get the idea). It was quite an ambitious project for me (being 4 games and lots of pictures) but I think it worked out well considering my rudimentary knowledge of AGD. I'm just waiting for the 128k music and it's good to go.