Open wide

…Here comes more Ascension drip-feeding! And you thought I was going to say something dirty.

I thought I’d talk a bit about the technical side of the screenshots you guys have seen previously. The game’s HUD is made up of two components: the Hotbar and the Portrait

The Hotbar is that series of notes at the bottom, and it (eventually) displays the number of items you have of each type. You have 3 static items that directly affect you: Health Packs, Painkillers and Sedatives (I’ve given up on bolding. Fuck bolding)

Health packs refill a portion of your health.

Painkillers reduce the amount of damage you take from being hurt.

Sedatives lower your panic bar (More on that soon).

Aside from the static items, you also have a slot for quest items (yellow), two slots for collect-quests and the rest are general item slots (For things like keys, etcetera).

 

MOVING ON: We have the Portrait section of the HUD. The Portrait houses the most important parts of the HUD: The health bar, the panic meter and the battery meter.

The health bar shows your health (duh).

The panic meter shows your panic (duhduh). If it rises above a certain percentage you start to lose health. It’s affected by things like darkness, enemy presence, and missing a shot with your pistol.

The battery meter shows approximately the current charge of your flashlight in 25% sections. If you have no charge and no spare batteries, your flashlight goes out.

As well as those 3 vital bars, we have the player portrait (WIP) which will show the general mood of the PC (Player Character), and the weapon indicator (Straight forward).

The HUD can be hidden at the press of a button (currently CTRL, subject to change) although we may make a “hard” difficulty where you can’t view your HUD period. 😀

 

Want more? CHECK BACK LATER!

 

Klassic

Drip-feeding Ascension Information

We’ve been a bit quiet the past few days, and here’s why: Laziness. Also Deus Ex 3, but that’s beside the point.

Anyways, I thought I’d give you all a bit of background on Acension’s story and character(s). We’ve been keeping pretty quiet so far, but I figure it’s only fair that you know SOMETHING about this game.

Ascension is a survival-horror game, as most of you already know. It’s set in a newly-constructed skyscraper called MN Tower…What? The building has a large number of floors, but most of them will be un-accessible in game for obvious reasons. You play as a solitary custodian, the name of whom no one cares enough to remember. One day during work you are called to fix a maintenance issue one one of the Office floors. While there, the lights go out and people begin to die. I won’t spoil what exactly happens; that’s something you’ll have to find out for yourself. All you need to know is that you, along with a handful of others, survive the initial mayhem. You wake up in the basement. Your primary objective is to escape the Tower… or is it.

I’m being vague, and you should also keep in mind that none of this is 100% concrete yet, so it’s subject to change. We’ll keep you all updated as we go, but don’t expect a full explanation of the plot this time around. We want to give you guys some incentive to play the game, right? ;D

That’s all for now! Check back later for some more drip-fed information.

Klassic

Co-op and Procedural Generation

While I wait for work to arrive at my doorstep regarding Ascension, I’ve started (literally, just now) cooking up a concept for a procedurally generated (either fully or partially) co-op game. What I have in mind of a game that shares the “each character has a role” mentality that games like Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine have. In these types of games, the level cannot be completed (or if it can, not easily) without the aid of every person involved. Monaco is a heist game, and I have no intention of stepping on its feet (indeed, I’m not sure if I’ll work on this game at all). What I need to first work out, in this case, is what kind of experience should this game provide?

Here are some options:

-Dungeon Crawler (A tad overdone, but loved for good reason. Great use of procedural generation and lots of room for roles)

-Stealth (Stepping on Monaco’s feet again, but still an option and a damn good one at that)

-Construction (Perhaps requiring all parties involved to put together a building/settlement?)

-Completing a certain task (Things like fishing, harvesting etcetera. Not exactly what I’m going for)

-Combat (Something along the lines of DotA or LoL, requiring players to work together to defeat a force, whether through defence or offence)

-Barricade (Building off the previous concept, a game where you and your team must work together to stave off an attacking force)

-Exploration (Purely exploration, no true goal. Requiring partners to access different areas of the map)

That’s all I can think of for the time being, but feel free to suggest a good idea if you come up with one.

Now, to answer some questions that I predict you’ll be thinking:

Q: Why does this have to be procedurally generated?

A: It doesn’t, but I find that procedurally generated games provide longer replayability, and in a co-op party game replayability is vital to its success.

Q: What perspective would the game be in?

A: Top down or side view, most likely. I suppose isometric would also work, but it’s kind of an awkward perspective and very limiting in this genre.

Q: Would the game have a clear, concise ending?

A: Depends on the type of game, to be honest. Some games, like Minecraft, need no ending. Others, like Monaco, present you with a goal at the very beginning that you know you want to achieve.

Q: What do you mean, partially procedurally generated?

A: For example: Minecraft is 100% procedurally generated. A game where I develop a set of 5 maps and choose randomly from those 5, and then populate that map with items (also at random) would be partially procedural.

Let me know if you have any questions or ideas! I’m not promising any game will be made, but it’s something that I think would be very enjoyable if done properly.

Klassic

Combat and Why You Should Fear it

Hey everyone, It’s time for a little musing on my part.

Right now we’re dealing with enemy AI, and combat. As it stands, there are two weapons in the game: The axe, which serves to stun the enemies temporarily, and the gun which will kill them in a number of shots. All enemies can be killed, but with only the gun.

We’ve been discussing this for a while, and after going over some facets of what makes a game scary, we’re considering changing what we have in place. I’ve come to the conclusion that if we keep the current system, the following will happen throughout the game:

-The player will use up all his/her ammo on enemies and kill as many as possible

-The player will scavenge for ammo

-The player will use all that ammo on enemies and kill as many as possible

-Rinse, repeat

As you can see, this isn’t exactly a great gameplay element, especially in a game where you’re supposed to fear combat. Right now, the players aren’t scared of combat. This is partly because there is no real punishment for death at the moment, indeed, you can’t even die in the current version of the game. While that will change, my question is this: Is it enough?

I read an article today over on Indiegames.com (plug plug plug) in which the developers of Amnesia: The Dark Descent stated that if the player is given a weapon, no matter how useless, he or she will instinctively try to fight enemies. If the player is NOT given a weapon, he or she will be instinctively afraid of enemies. We have already decided that our game will feature combat, and changing that now is out of the question. What we need to figure out now is, what can we do to make the players not want to attack the enemies, despite the fact that they have the means to do so?

Death is an obvious one. If the player dies, he/she has to restart from the last checkpoint. The loss of gameplay progress is a good incentive to avoid death. However, avoiding death is one thing. Avoiding combat itself is an entirely different beast. We need to make players wary of the enemies and do as much as they can to avoid interaction with them. Making the enemies hard to kill is a good start, but with enough experience any player will eventually master combat. Adding tiered enemies is another good idea, because that keeps the enemies fresh and different. Even if you master fighting one type of enemy, another type is right around the corner and ready to take advantage of you. Still, this leaves some room for the player to become capable at combat and no longer fear fighting.

We could penalize the player for interacting with enemies, but that can be frustrating, especially when said interaction is an accident. The Panic system is a good way to prevent players from fighting, but I think we may need to change it: Currently, your panic rises whenever you near an enemy, regardless of the circumstances. You could be fighting it or sneaking past it; your panic will still increase. What if we only made your panic increase while fighting? That would be a good incentive for players to avoid combat, especially if increased panic makes it more difficult to fight OTHER enemies. Fighting one enemy could create a chain reaction that ultimately leads to your death. No one wants that, so the player might be hesitant to fight.

Another, completely different option available to us is to give the axe killing capabilities. If both weapons can kill, you will always be able to fight, regardless of your ammo. This is a much more upfront tactic, and in it we are basically forcing the player to fight. However, because the axe will be much more difficult to use (and will take more hits to kill enemies), players will be pushed to preserve their ammo. The gun will become the fallback weapon, not the primary weapon. It’s a risky route to take, though, because if players become too used to combat the game is no longer scary.

Finally, we have the option to prevent players from killing enemies altogether. In this case, the gun would stun enemies much faster, but it would never kill them. This gameplay direction would leave the players desiring to avoid combat, because they know they can’t win. They are, ultimately, powerless against their foes. However, this could easily become frustrating and boring to the players, who have two weapons at their disposal, both of which are completely useless in their own separate ways. Is this the best route? It’s hard to tell.

If you’re reading this and you have a suggestion or comment for us, feel free to let us know in the comments section (or by email). This is something that we’d love to hear other opinions on, as it will eventually end up being the most important element in our game (other than story, but that’s not exactly gameplay).

Klassic

Ascension screenshot frenzy

What an unimaginative title. Oh well, here are some screenshots of our progress with Ascension. I think you’ll notice a few improvements 😀


 

Exclamation Mark

This one goes out to all you grammar nazis out there. Yeah. Keep it real. Yeah. (I have no idea)

 

So I finally got Game Maker fixed today. I won’t go much into that situation, because to be honest I don’t care anymore. It’s in the past, and I’ve moved on to bigger and better things.

Speaking of which, Ascension.

Today, in an effort to make up for lost time, I worked on a number of things:

1. I created Security Panels, which lock down certain features of each floor until they’ve been ‘used’ (turned off)

2. I created locked doors, which are unlocked by the aforementioned security panels

3. I completed the inventory system. That is, the picking up and replacing of ‘generics’ (non-mandatory items)

4. I discovered a random bug with the HUD that appeared out of nowhere (GM bug, perhaps?)

5. I worked towards integrating GM with the Indiecity SDK (More on that when we get to that point)

6. I floundered about with enemy AI for a bit before deciding “Screw it, I’ll do it later” like a good little procrastinator

7. I created a system that allows you to add literally any item you desire into the game, and have it be fully functional (Not as impressive as it sounds. I’m not making Scribblenauts here)

8. I added in a shitton (YES IT IS A WORD AUTO-CORRECT SHUT UP) of sounds that have been queuing up.

 

And there you have it. Evidence of progress (not really). We’ll get you guys some screenshots/videos/whatnot when we have more to show. As it stands, most of the art assets in the game are coloured boxes drawn by yours truly.

See you all later!

 

Klassic

Rainbow Dash! Trailer and other related news!!!

Hey everyone!

Because of an irritating Game Maker bug and a lack of response from the YYG help desk, I’m currently locked out of working on Ascension. With any luck, this will be resolved soon and I can get back to work. Meanwhile, though, I’ve been doing some related work:

1. I made a Rainbow Dash! Trailer

I recently picked up a new video editing software and I wanted to try it out, so I made an amateur-ish trailer for Rainbow Dash! It’s short, but it was fun to make. Check it out here:

2. I looked into independent game distribution

We’re considering selling Ascension if it turns out good (It will) and I’ve been checking out some indie game selling websites. Most of them are in beta, but by the time Ascension is finished they should be up and ready to go. Some of the sites I’ve found are http://www.indiecity.com/ and http://www.indievania.com/

3. I purchased a domain name

We have no immediate plans to launch a website, but it’s good to protect our name. http://www.magnesiumninja.com/ is now registered, and you’ll be seeing some things on that website in the future. Can’t say when, can’t say what.

I’ll see you all soon when hopefully GM has been fixed and Ascension is back on track.

Klassic