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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 9:11 pm 
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Get ready to blast your way through multiple levels of two-player cooperative action in "Run 'n' Gun", starring our heroes;

Run:
Image

and Gun:
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Last edited by darryl.revok on Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 1:09 am 
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Am I correct in assuming that not-running is not an option? ...if so, I have a simple title suggestion:
"Endless Gunner".


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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 5:26 am 
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myask, sounds like atomic runner!

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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 10:40 am 
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Myask wrote:
Am I correct in assuming that not-running is not an option? ...if so, I have a simple title suggestion:
"Endless Gunner".

I like it. (Un)Fortunately, in this game, you can also stand. Even while not gunning.
Attachment:
Gun_Standing_Idle.png
Gun_Standing_Idle.png [ 843 Bytes | Viewed 3410 times ]

The game is intended to take inspiration from, and parody Konami's Contra, while at the same time bringing its own approach to the genre. Some areas where I've differed in the abilities of the character are adding variable jump height, and a double jump move. I plan to utilize the extra agility of the player to balance the game for more objects on screen, particularly enemy bullets.

Another area in which I'd like to differ from my primary inspiration is in the difficulty curve. I feel that Contra has a very arcade-centric difficulty curve. It's very hard at first, causing it to take a few quarters to learn, however after the initial difficulty curve, it becomes relatively easy, before the player gets frustrated at their expense. This I feel doesn't make for a particularly long-lasting home console challenge. When the home cart can be mastered in a week, I wouldn't believe that its difficulty is optimized for the platform. I do feel that later iterations in the franchise addressed this a bit better.

If there are any Contra fans out there I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the game and/or genre.


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 9:32 am 
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It's encouraging to see a fellow newbie with a project of similar-ish ambition to mine who's made a similar amount of progress so far. I gotta draw more sprites!

Also, I like your homage to the smiling cigar man from Contra.
Attachment:
smiley cigar man.png
smiley cigar man.png [ 19.05 KiB | Viewed 3344 times ]

Timeless classic.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:26 am 
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Please tell me Run n Gun is short for: Clarence "Run" Rundstrom & Gunthar "Gun" Washington, or the like.

Also, have you considered a different race/ethnicity/gender for your players? I think in 2016, correcting the dominance of white male protagonists in NES games should be taken into consideration.

Oh, and looks good.

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Last edited by M_Tee on Thu May 26, 2016 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 10:42 am 
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I take issue with adding diversity merely for diversity sake. I feel like if I were playing a game made in ...let's say, Africa... and they added a 'whitey' character, merely as a marketing tactic, I would feel more offended than grateful.

I do agree that women protagonists are underrepresented, but merely slapping a last-minute... 'Oh, you can also play as the girl' feels kind of like a cheat. Especially in this genre.

Makes me think of an episode of Futurama, when they were watching a robot soap opera, and it had one token 'human' on the show.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:42 am 
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Took it to a new thread so as not to derail this one. I've been long meaning to start conversation here about the subject anyway.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:55 pm 
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M_Tee wrote:
Please tell me Run n Gun is short for: Clarence "Run" Rundstrom & Gunthar "Run" Washington, or the like.

That's pretty good. Gunther would be a fitting name for the Austrian character. I'd also need a fitting Italian-American name for the second character.

Quote:
Also, have you considered a different race/ethnicity/gender for your players? I think in 2016, correcting the dominance of white male protagonists in NES games should be taken into consideration.


My larger game project centers around a female protagonist. If I was doing a more serious Run 'n' Gun, I'd probably make a female character an option. However, in the spirit of parodying the original Contra, which in turn was borrowing almost all inspiration from 80s and 90s action films, I plan to portray the characters as parodies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

While Contra, Super C, and Contra III stuck with Bill and Lance and their depictions of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, (or sometimes just two Schwarzeneggers) Contra Hard Corps for the Genesis allowed you to choose from a man, a woman, a furry, and a robot. While arguably the best retro entry into the series, I don't feel like references to that game would be as widely understood, especially on an NES cart.

How about (possibly) the world's first homosexual action video game duo? That would seem a bit more fitting. However, not being homosexual myself, am I able to make jokes about that without it being offensive?

Also, my perspective is that there are very few exceptions where jokes about being gay are particularly clever. I feel like it gets used a lot as a cheap punchline. Two guys, acting all macho, never wearing shirts, even in the ice, they must be gay. It's lazy writing, I suppose.

Really, what I plan to highlight is the overall way-over-the-top badassness, explosions, guns, robots, aliens, high-tech future where you can still smoke inside, of 80s and early 90s action movies. No gimmicks except ALL of the standard gimmicks and a LOT of them. This is a world where cars explode from the slightest accident and bigger is always better.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 6:37 pm 
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Just realized I had a typo in those character names (Run n Run, haha). Corrected.

Love to see a Contra parody. Just have to say that also parodying Stallone and Schwarzenegger seems ...uninspired for lack of a better word. (what about Carl Weathers? :wink:)

Even if it is a mini-project, something that could be described as "it's like Contra, but ..." has a lot more appeal in my view than something that can simply be described as "it's like Contra..." (here, I'm not using but necessarily to refer to the ethnicity of the players, but in general.)

As in, "Okay, I'm copying Contra, but how will mine be different? Why should people want to play mine instead of Contra?" could be valid thoughts to have during development.

Also, is having the skin tone visible in the pants necessary for tile overlapping? If not, I'd highly suggest replacing it with a light green/blue so that you could have the same level of shading in the legs as in the torso.

Animations are tight, too.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:07 pm 
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But, Stallone and Schwarzenegger sound funny, and they have distinct voices which would sound particularly funny with (impersonated) death groans. Plus I have assets related to these characters as Stallone and Schwarzenegger, and not just the head sprites.

The cover images for the first Contra were both taken from pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but my impression is that the fanbase generally imagines these characters as Arnold and Sylvester.

M_Tee wrote:
As in, "Okay, I'm copying Contra, but how will mine be different? Why should people want to play mine instead of Contra?" could be valid thoughts to have during development.

Now that's an area into which I've put a bit of thought, largely focused on the area of gameplay at this point.

I'm a big fan of SHMUPs, particularly Compile SHMUPs, and I want to bring more of the bullet dodging into the Run and Gun genre. Generally these games tend to be more heavy on enemies than bullets. It's going to be a balance to make the game as hard as I'd like it to be and still allow for the player to evade all attacks.

I'd like to make my game more fast-paced and crazier, as over-the-top as I can for NES, given mapper limitations as well.

Currently my engine handles 2 simultaneous players, up to 6 active enemies, 32 active enemy bullets, and 16 active player bullets. Sprites are rotated for flicker, enemy bullets are placed into buffer every frame, as well as the four most important sprites from any non-bullet object, and 1/2 of the player bullets. The other sprites are rotated in when possible to allow for there to be more than 64 sprites worth of objects active.

I've given a bit of thoughts to weapons, and the scanline sprite limitations preclude some cool weapon types for a horizontally oriented game, such as a flamethrower. I believe though, that homing missiles would be doable, as well as a grenade launcher. I also plan to implement a SHMUP style weapons upgrade system with most likely three levels of firepower per weapon.
Quote:
Also, is having the skin tone visible in the pants necessary for tile overlapping? If not, I'd highly suggest replacing it with a light green/blue so that you could have the same level of shading in the legs as in the torso.

Yeah, unfortunately that's necessary. The same waist sprite is used for every animation with the exceptions of jumping, and sliding, and the skin color does show through.

I'm least satisfied with the legs and the light patterns on them. Currently I consider them nondescript pixels which highlight movement, but I plan to make some sort of cohesive pattern on them.
Quote:
Animations are tight, too.

How do you mean tight in this instance? I would usually perceive someone saying my work is tight as a positive thing.

The hardest part was animating the legs within 3 sprites.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:20 pm 
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darryl.revok wrote:
I've given a bit of thoughts to weapons, and the scanline sprite limitations preclude some cool weapon types for a horizontally oriented game, such as a flamethrower. I believe though, that homing missiles would be doable, as well as a grenade launcher. I also plan to implement a SHMUP style weapons upgrade system with most likely three levels of firepower per weapon.

I've always wanted to beat the "FAMICOM!!" laser issue with a raster effect, be it a BG disable (jitter of which can be hidden behind the gun sprite), emphasis bits, or a BG bankswitch.

Upgrade systems can lead to the Gradius/Castlevania effect, though: death becomes unrecoverably hard compared to "doing well".


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:27 pm 
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Yeah, tight was intended a complement, as in your animation is intentional and well controlled.

Three or so years ago, when I was first getting back into NES-stuff, I put together a little character mock up for a not-Contra as well. I'd post the sprites, but they're embarrassingly bad. Haha

But, I also took Stallone as my example, as is evident in my sketches:
Image

I think I was working on a "How would I have made Rambo (the NES game) and came to the conclusion that I would have wanted to have gone very Contra-esque with it), but keep the chunky Adventure of Link-proportioned sprites.

Myask wrote:
Upgrade systems can lead to the Gradius/Castlevania effect, though: death becomes unrecoverably hard compared to "doing well".


Working around that, design-wise could be fun. Perhaps a "credits" system instead of a lives system. More credits to continue with different weapons, maybe add each weapon to your continue-roster once you acquire it for the first time in the game. Could be interesting. Probably has been done before. :)

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 9:42 pm 
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Myask wrote:
I've always wanted to beat the "FAMICOM!!" laser issue with a raster effect, be it a BG disable (jitter of which can be hidden behind the gun sprite), emphasis bits, or a BG bankswitch.
Oh geez. Never get the laser! Worst weapon ever. And the flamethrower can dodge enemies completely. Maybe it's a toss up for worst.

I've considered BG lasers, moreso on a mapper with scanline IRQs. One graphical hurdle is that the most manageable ways of doing it would put a bar across the entire screen. I feel like the effect would be easier to handle for a "screen-wiper" type bomb like in Contra III. I'd imagine this may have been done on NES somewhere.

Quote:
Upgrade systems can lead to the Gradius/Castlevania effect, though: death becomes unrecoverably hard compared to "doing well".
Yeah this is an issue with a lot of SHMUPs. I feel like there are recoverable SHMUPs and non-recoverable ones. I don't mind a non-recoverable if it's well designed. I thought R-Type was pretty tough until I started playing Power Strike/Aleste. Geez damn! Power Strike II gives you half weapons on death but it's still insanely hard on normal. I like the challenge though. It makes successes more satisfying. When I was a kid however, I wasn't as good and it got aggravating.

I think I'd like to make the challenge more balanced, so that there are skilled-based rewards, but it's possible for the player to progress through at least some of the game without a high level of proficiency. It's a tough balance, because overall, I think Contra is way too easy. However, as a kid, I never owned it, only played it a few times at other peoples' houses and I never saw past the first base. I don't want it to be so that the game is easily beaten after playing it a couple times. That's just too easy. But a lot of people aren't patient enough to get over the initial learning curve.

I've thought about including a three-hit lifebar on the player. Then I could make the game as difficult as I like and still give a beginner a chance to practice and get a feel for the layout of a level or two before dying.

M_Tee wrote:
Yeah, tight was intended a complement, as in your animation is intentional and well controlled.
Thank you. I appreciate that. I am a fan of your work.

Quote:
I think I was working on a "How would I have made Rambo (the NES game)
The SMS Rambos were a little better.

One thing I didn't do with these character is a "lying prone" state, because it doesn't transfer into a slide. So there's a crouch instead, and the slide. I find the most aggravating thing in Contra is when you die from accidentally coming out of a duck, by pressing down+direction. (If you've ever played Contra with a worn-out controller this can make you wanna stop playing) I removed this as a likely possibility, by making it so that when crouched, pressing down and a direction just turns you to face that direction. This permits you to get the guy behind you while staying ducked, but you'll have to slide to get under a particularly low bullet.

Quote:
Working around that, design-wise could be fun. Perhaps a "credits" system instead of a lives system. More credits to continue with different weapons, maybe add each weapon to your continue-roster once you acquire it for the first time in the game. Could be interesting. Probably has been done before. :)
Something like this could be cool. It would scale the difficulty down the longer a person played. That would help unskilled players get through the game more easily. I plan to do something like this with my main game. However, it may make things too easy if there's not a limit that caps quite a bit before "breezing through the game". I'm not a fan of the fact that you can get the end of Contra revealed with codes. If I come up with something memorable for a late boss, I know it's much more impactful when you earn it.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 10:15 pm 
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darryl.revok wrote:
Myask wrote:
I've always wanted to beat the "FAMICOM!!" laser issue with a raster effect, be it a BG disable (jitter of which can be hidden behind the gun sprite), emphasis bits, or a BG bankswitch.
Oh geez. Never get the laser! Worst weapon ever. And the flamethrower can dodge enemies completely. Maybe it's a toss up for worst.

I've considered BG lasers, moreso on a mapper with scanline IRQs. One graphical hurdle is that the most manageable ways of doing it would put a bar across the entire screen.
Well, the Gradius laser I'm referring to is supposed to be a horizontal attack across the entire screen, foiled by the Famicom/NES sprite limits (hence, in [forgotten-game-name], being named "FAMICOM!!")

...why would a laser not go right through everything at light speed? That's kinda its thing in both franchises.


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