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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:32 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
Aside that the game is way too hard, it's pretty good. The taser takes way too long to recharge, even by avoiding most enemies I still have to use it often.

Yup, sounds about right.
Maybe that's the typical phenomenon: I played portions of the game so often that I didn't notice how hard it is to outside players.

Bregalad wrote:
Also there's several anachronies

For those, I have some handwaves:

Bregalad wrote:
such as that the title screen art is way too good looking to have been made in 1985

While the sprite style was influenced by other games of that time, i.e. it didn't occur to us to waste one of the three colors per sprite on black outline since this hasn't been done by then, the title artwork is actually based on the idea: "We still have a lot of graphic tiles unused. Can you draw a pixelated version of an actual drawing of Amy?"

So, unlike the sprites or in-game graphics, it doesn't need to be based on actual existing title screens, only on the general idea of including an artwork.

But if you need a game-based inspiration:

"Hogan's Alley" has some nice artworks, so this could have been the place where we got the idea for a detailed artwork of a person.
The ending of "Vs. Mach Rider" might be another inspiration.

Furthermore, our official backstory is that we found the NES in December 1985, created our game inspired by the launch titles, but actually finished and published it in December 1986.
So, the game is not supposed to be a first party black boxart title, but still a game by a third party company (Den Kat Games).

This means, some of the anachronisms can be explained by us seeing more modern games in the meantime.

So, the sprite style is of course still old-fashioned because it was one of the earliest graphics that we did, the stuff that defined our game. And we wouldn't redraw all the game's graphics just because we saw a new art style in, for example, "Castlevania" in the meantime.
But the title screen artwork was pretty much the last graphical thing we did, after the programming was almost done. So the fact that "Urusei Yatsura: Lum no Wedding Bell" came out in October 1986 may be another explanation of where we saw an anime artwork of the female main character in the title screen.

Bregalad wrote:
and there's dialogue with the boss, which is not a very 1985 thing either.

Yeah, I'm unsure whether there's something like that. Maybe in old computer RPGs?
But in this case, maybe it was just my personal style to add a bit of story to the game.
Sometimes, you might come up with something new yourself.

Bregalad wrote:
DPCM voices were uncommon too, but there's one in Ghostbusters 1988 (but that game is so awful it looks like it dates earlier).

"Kung Fu" has opponents laughing, so adding an actual voice sample is just the next logical step. Not unlikely since "Kung Fu" was one of our main inspirations.

Bregalad wrote:
I am really amazed at the title screen art, she's really natural, sexy and realistic, and that is done with BG only without any overhead sprites, it's incredible.

Yeah, that's Katrin's masterpiece in the game.
As you can see on the box artwork and in the manual, she can draw at professional levels.

Bregalad wrote:
In comparison a similar art I made for my own game of comparable size is much worse (I compared them side-by-side), and it's made with sprites including two layers of sprites in some parts so I have no excuse.

That's the advantage if you have a dedicated graphics artist. If I had drawn all this stuff myself, it would have looked like shit.

Bregalad wrote:
The music is without a doubt the weak point of the game. It's really average.

Hmm. I like the main song, but what do you expect from an arcade-like 1985-inspired game? Apart from "Super Mario Bros.", is there really a game from 1985 that has a kickass soundtrack? As far as I remember, I even asked the composer to make something that's not too fancy.

Bregalad wrote:
I am looking forward for your next game(s). Is the Dragon Quest like game and the Zelda like game you mentioned a single game or two separate games ? I hope they're/it's not Dragon Quest-like grindfest though - as much as I love story-based games I don't like grinding for levels or anything like that.

There are no two games, only one. I only mentioned those names in regard to the graphics style, like in:
My new game shall have the more modern "Final Fantasy"/"Pokémon" graphics style, not the old-fashioned "Zelda I" or "Dragon Warrior" or "The Magic Candle" style.

And no, that's one of the things that I absolutely detest as well, so there's no grinding in the game.
The game won't have experience points. Attack and energy boosts are item-based, and important items are story-bound, i.e. you get them in fixed locations.
The only thing you might need to grind for occasionally is if you need to collect money to buy disposable healing items or the like.

By the way, it is an action adventure/action RPG. Not a game with turn-based fights.

All in all, the play style is closest to the "Zelda"s while the graphics style is similar to "Final Fantasy".

The way the story is told: There's only one game I know of that does it our way, and that's "Final Fantasy Adventure" for the Game Boy, which, all in all, can also be seen as our number 1 primary inspiration for the entirety of the game, with the first three top-down "The Legend of Zelda"s being on place 2 in regards to inspiration.

Oh, P.S.:
Another thing that the new game will not have is obscure riddles that you need to solve to advance in the game. You know, like burning every bush and bombing every wall.
If you are in a dungeon and you don't know where to go, then you simply didn't walk through all the doors yet or didn't open all the chests. But you will never encounter an actual dead end where the game expects you to push a random block for a way to open.
If we actually include a secret passage that has to be taken to go on, then some character in the story that you are guaranteed to have spoken to will have told this to you. Actual secret rooms only contain optional bonus items.
This is the other thing that I hate in these games: Endlessly walking around. A problem in the NES "Zelda" as well as in "Final Fantasy Adventure".

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:26 am 
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I stand corrected if the game was from 1986 rather than 1985 then it allows a few more things :p

Quote:
"Hogan's Alley" has some nice artworks, so this could have been the place where we got the idea for a detailed artwork of a person.

Hogan's Alley has nice artworks, but they're still simple compared to artwork of City Trouble's title screen - people have just plain surfaces colored clothes and hair, and only the face is detailed. In your colleague's artwork, everything is shaded and detailed, it looks more 1990+ than 1986. That could be the title screen of a cartridge re-release of a formerly FDS game for example... but since that's not your story anyway who cares.

(EDIT: Also watched the ending of VS Mach Rider on Youtube, well the art is not very good looking. They tried way to hard to make her sexy but the shading and colours are awful - definitely much worse than the title screen of City Trouble which shows much better taste and incredible shading).

Quote:
That's the advantage if you have a dedicated graphics artist. If I had drawn all this stuff myself, it would have looked like shit.

Well in my case I don't have any dedicated graphics artists but at least if I ever release my game it might be more authentic 1986-era like than if there were so maybe that's not a bad thing.

Also I didn't mention it, but the box could really be a NES game box in 1986 with the art style and all, so I really like that.

Quote:
Hmm. I like the main song, but what do you expect from an arcade-like 1985-inspired game? Apart from "Super Mario Bros.", is there really a game from 1985 that has a kickass soundtrack?

Now that you mention it, not many, but there's definitely many 1986 games with a killer soundtrack, and many of them were probably already developed in 1985. Gradius, Castlevania, Zelda, Dragon Quest, The Goonies, etc, etc...

As for your next NES games I'll preorder a copy if I can :p It sounds like it has similarities with the game I've been developing since 13 years (also inspired by Zelda and Final Fantasy Adventure and also female protagonist), but in much better and more complex. So we could say the game I'm developing since 13 years is a crossover between your two games, it's supposed to be "simple", very retro and "arcade like" like City Trouble but its gameplay is based on Zelda and Final Fantasy Adventure (and also a 3rd game I won't mention because I might be taking a little too much from that game :p ).


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:26 am 
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My 2 cents on mid-80s nes music:
The composers and driver programmers had not yet taken advantage of all the tricks the APU can do, but composing and arrangement skills are still somewhat universal. Zelda evokes emotion and adventure. Castlevania paints an expressive picture through suspenseful blues and baroque musical memes.

Even megaman 2 from 88 doesn't do anything obscure from what i can tell, but it's good rock arrangements and people love that stuff. pulse envelopes are a bit more refined, i think.

the underground theme of SMB is super minimalist but it has tons of melodious attitude and people still hum it.

People in general won't hum metroid but the composer made a good work on doing moody, eerie synth music that pretty much carries the game theme.

Focus on the melody. (not all games do this. only the ones we like to remember). Maybe add a countermelody to give it flavour (SMB is imo a good example of early good use of harmonies to convey something emotional - listen to overworld and win fanfare, one channel at a time).

tl;dr
for an -85 sound, you might need primitive envelope juggling (one or max two envelopes per percieved "instrument", sharp cutoffs, no echo), maybe no volume separation between the two square channels.

Maybe use hardware sweeps instead of software pitch shifts.

Since you "can't" work on chiseling the sound, focus all the more on melody (...this is not my strong suite, btw).

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:44 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
I stand corrected if the game was from 1986 rather than 1985 then it allows a few more things :p

Have a look into the last pages of the manual. There, I give our fake 1980s story and the actual real way how this game came into existence.

Bregalad wrote:
Hogan's Alley has nice artworks, but they're still simple compared to artwork of City Trouble's title screen [...]
(EDIT: Also watched the ending of VS Mach Rider on Youtube, well the art is not very good looking. They tried way to hard to make her sexy but the shading and colours are awful

Well, the difference in quality has nothing really to do with the time frame, but with the talent of the actual artist.

We can pretend that we got the inspiration for a full-size artwork from games like "Mach Rider".
But the fact that our artwork looks much better is simply because Katrin is a better artist than the person who drew the girl in "Mach Rider", not because the image was really drawn in 2016.

After all, that general anime style existed back then. And so, Katrin simply drew her pixel artwork in that typical anime style.

Bregalad wrote:
Now that you mention it, not many, but there's definitely many 1986 games with a killer soundtrack, and many of them were probably already developed in 1985.

Yeah, but we wouldn't have seen those soundtracks in 1985, only when the game came out in 1986. And by that point, our composer, who only had the launch titles to work with, would have already created most of our songs.

Also, even in this fictitious backstory, we are not a major company like Capcom or Konami. We're just a small developer who cannot even afford to publish our game ourselves, so we need a separate publisher.

Hence, every instance where the game is more primitive than other games from 1986 can be explained away with the fact that we are just a two person company who created our first professional videogame ever. Unlike Capcom and Konami, we didn't have a huge development history in the arcade and home computer scene.
And we don't even have an in-house composer, but had to hire someone external.

Bregalad wrote:
As for your next NES games I'll preorder a copy if I can :p

This will still take quite a long time. Well, not 13 years, but still a while. I hope that we will be able to finish all the gameplay features and all the graphics by June 2019, so that we can design the screens and clean up the code until the end of the year. If this works out, then it's box and manual design and ROM testing.

But I can offer you right now to review the game's plot and try to look for plot holes or open questions if you want.

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Available now: My game "City Trouble".
Website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Trailer: https://youtu.be/IYXpP59qSxA
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
German Retro Gamer article: http://i67.tinypic.com/345o108.jpg


Last edited by DRW on Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:51 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
My 2 cents on mid-80s nes music:
The composers and driver programmers had not yet taken advantage of all the tricks the APU can do, but composing and arrangement skills are still somewhat universal. Zelda evokes emotion and adventure. Castlevania paints an expressive picture through suspenseful blues and baroque musical memes.

Yeah, as I said: Simple graphics and simple music for a simple game. I never intended "City Trouble" to rival the big players like "Mega Man" or "Castlevania". It was always supposed to be a game in the line of "Kung Fu", "Paperboy" and the like.


The next game is different:

With our adventure game, we need our composer (whoever this may be :mrgreen:) to create atmospheric and fitting songs.
This game isn't limited to an old time frame anymore. "Final Fantasy Adventure" didn't come out before the end of 1991, so if we invent a fake backstory for the new game, the release date could be in 1993, i.e. the music can include all the tricks that are possible with the sound driver.

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Available now: My game "City Trouble".
Website: https://megacatstudios.com/products/city-trouble
Trailer: https://youtu.be/IYXpP59qSxA
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
German Retro Gamer article: http://i67.tinypic.com/345o108.jpg


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:36 am 
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Quote:
Well, the difference in quality has nothing really to do with the time frame, but with the talent of the actual artist.

We can pretend that we got the inspiration for a full-size artwork from games like "Mach Rider".
But the fact that our artwork looks much better is simply because Katrin is a better artist than the person who drew the girl in "Mach Rider", not because the image was really drawn in 2016.

I don't know but it took time for people to actually draw such detailed graphics on the NES/FC. Most games started having good graphcics in 1987 and only had really good graphics ca. 1989. That's 4 and 6 years after the console's release in japan. I wouldn't be surprised if it was because programmers drew the graphics before 1987.

Not that this is a big deal, just a detail. I imagine it's hard to make art bad on purpose just like it's hard for non-artists to make good art.

Also it would have been hard for your company to survive between 1986 until 1993 without any release, only with the sales of City Trouble... :roll: It would have sold really really well. Or they did games on other platforms, or the games released between those dates are going to be released later. Actually it's not a bad idea to release games "out of order" like that.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:50 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
I don't know but it took time for people to actually draw such detailed graphics on the NES/FC. Most games started having good graphcics in 1987 and only had really good graphics ca. 1989. That's 4 and 6 years after the console's release in japan. I wouldn't be surprised if it was because programmers drew the graphics before 1987.

You gotta use your fantasy here. :mrgreen:

Our sprite style was equal to early NES games because we took inspiration from those very games. So, yeah, I understand that I cannot have graphics like in "Shatterhand" and still claim that it's a 1986 game. This way, we would have been huge pioneers in NES graphics.

But the artwork looks awesome because it isn't based on anything from a game, but it's an actual pixelated drawing. And the drawing itself, this one is based on 80s anime.

That our artwork looks much better than the one in "Mach Rider": Well, that's because we had a bit more passion for our work.
Our primary goal was to create a game with an attractive female lead and the artwork was done by CEO number 2 (an anime fan) for the title screen instead of just some random artist for whom it's merely a job that only gets seen in the ending anyway. So, of course ours is better.

Also, have a look at the Japan-only game "Layla". The title screen has an actual high quality anime artwork of the protagonist's face:
https://r.mprd.se/Nintendo%20Entertainment%20System/Titles/Layla%20(J).png

And this game came out in December 1986 as well.
So, for our artwork, we don't need a predecessor. If the developers of "Layla" from the obscure company dB-Soft can draw an NES pixel anime artwork in 1986 without having previous examples on the console, so can we.

(In real life, I actually used this specific title screen to show Katrin a way how to create an anime artwork on the NES.
In our fictitious story, again: "Layla" came out in December 1986 and our game came out there as well, so whatever their artists could do in that day and age, our artist could have done too.)

Bregalad wrote:
Also it would have been hard for your company to survive between 1986 until 1993 without any release, only with the sales of City Trouble... :roll: It would have sold really really well. Or they did games on other platforms, or the games released between those dates are going to be released later. Actually it's not a bad idea to release games "out of order" like that.

Yeah, a bit suspension of disbelief is required: Who knows what we did in the meantime? Maybe after the sales of "City Trouble" we went back to our regular programmers jobs and came back for the adventure game some time later.

(Also, I have no idea how our company could actually afford to become a licensed NES developer. Because that's an implicit part of our story: Of course our game was a legitimate release and not one of those unlicensed games with their ugly cartridge shells and the potentially console-damaging methods to disable the lockout chip.)

The out of order idea might become a thing if I decide to create more games.
If I ever get an idea for a game based on "A Nightmare on Elm Street"*, then this will most likely be our second game, even if it comes after the adventure game in real life.

* Yes, I know, there is already a game with that name on the NES. But I'm talking about a game that is actually based specifically on the first movie, and the first movie alone. The game by Rare/LJN is based on some separate story that would maybe fit somewhere around part 4.

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Trailer: https://youtu.be/IYXpP59qSxA
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:17 pm 
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played a little bit again and now I can reach the end of the stage more easily but cannot beat the boss yet: for some reason, I cannot find what you are supposed to do. The taser seems to not harm it, you cannot bounce the bullet with the taser either. I think once it reacted but I'm not sure why (maybe I hit it in the back, cannot remember).

Once I figure that one out, it should be more smooth.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:09 pm 
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DRW wrote:
Also, have a look at the Japan-only game "Layla". The title screen has an actual high quality anime artwork of the protagonist's face:
https://r.mprd.se/Nintendo%20Entertainment%20System/Titles/Layla%20(J).png

And this game came out in December 1986 as well.
So, for our artwork, we don't need a predecessor. If the developers of "Layla" from the obscure company dB-Soft can draw an NES pixel anime artwork in 1986 without having previous examples on the console, so can we.

Nice catch ! I didn't remember that Layla came out that early, it really looks good for a 1986 game !


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:55 am 
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Banshaku wrote:
played a little bit again and now I can reach the end of the stage more easily but cannot beat the boss yet: for some reason, I cannot find what you are supposed to do. The taser seems to not harm it, you cannot bounce the bullet with the taser either. I think once it reacted but I'm not sure why (maybe I hit it in the back, cannot remember).

Once I figure that one out, it should be more smooth.

Since he's carrying that huge flamethrower, you cannot attack him from the front. So, yes, you have to attack him from the back when he runs to the other side.
(When in doubt, also have a look into the manual. Each character is described there.)

Bregalad wrote:
Nice catch ! I didn't remember that Layla came out that early, it really looks good for a 1986 game !

Yeah, the artwork looks good. The game itself look only average.

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Trailer: https://youtu.be/IYXpP59qSxA
Gameplay: https://youtu.be/Eee0yurkIW4
German Retro Gamer article: http://i67.tinypic.com/345o108.jpg


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:23 am 
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Oh, I didn't realize the instruction manual was available ^^;; I just read it and yes, it mention how you are supposed to approach them in it so my guess that the weak point is while attacking from behind is now confirmed.

I should be able to do another run, once I find time. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:15 am 
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DRW wrote:
Bregalad wrote:
Aside that the game is way too hard, it's pretty good. The taser takes way too long to recharge, even by avoiding most enemies I still have to use it often.

Yup, sounds about right.
Maybe that's the typical phenomenon: I played portions of the game so often that I didn't notice how hard it is to outside players.


I thought the difficulty level was just about perfect. Hard enough that I felt challenged, but easy enough that I didn't get frustrated.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:37 am 
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I love the aesthetic. it reminds me of Kung Fu. I don't think that early NES look gets enough love.


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