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Author:  rainwarrior [ Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

tepples wrote:
You might need to rethink camera control to compensate for the less tall screen. ... But you'd probably need to improve color depth somewhat and arrange the music and sound effects for the double polyphony and sampler mentality of the S-DSP.

I don't need to do any of those things.

Maybe I wasn't clear enough, but: I'm not porting this to GBA.

I only mentioned the three platforms I did because they are things I actually have thought about prior, though I would have kept this to myself if you hadn't brought it up. As I said, I have some interest in learning SNES or Genesis, and a port of Lizard could be a suitable project to do so. DOS is a different case, I just have a personal interest there.

However, in general, I don't see much value in porting the game to these systems. It will not increase accessibility at all. Anybody with a computer that is capable of downloading my game can run it already in some form. There's no utility there. (...and please don't harbour any expectation that I will actually port it to SNES, Genesis, or DOS.)

Lizard was made for the NES, body and soul. I don't want to redo the art or music for another platform. Everything in the game is touched by the constraints of the NES in some way, and that's a really important aspect of the game to me. I would want any port to be as close to the NES version as I can manage. (See the PC version for a demonstration of what I mean.)

Even now, preparing for a Steam release, I'm looking at the trading card art requirements and not really enjoying the prospect. The ambiguity of pixels in their small resolution is really important to me. I don't want to make official art that forces a single interpretation of these characters. (I welcome fan art though.) Lizard's box art is already a source of cognitive dissonance for me, even though I think it does stay pretty close to the game.

Author:  lidnariq [ Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

rainwarrior wrote:
please don't harbour any expectation that I will actually port it to [...] DOS.
It might be fun seeing Lizard running inside Magiduck's engine, but I'm certain it'd be way too much work.

Author:  FrankenGraphics [ Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

I'm looking at the trading card art requirements and not really enjoying the prospect. The ambiguity of pixels in their small resolution is really important to me.

I totally get this.

What exactly are the requirements? Five cards minimum? Do they care about the contents?

I'd just upscale pixel art by some factor if that was permitted.

Author:  rainwarrior [ Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

Out of curiosity I tried Lizard on PocketNES right now in an emulator. It seems pretty playable. The noise emulation sounds a little weird, and none of the graphic modes are ideal (the full view looks squished, the follow mode will probably prevent you from noticing important things), but this look OK if you really must play Lizard on the GBA.

Even if I wanted to make a native GBA port (which I definitively do not) I think the screen size problem basically makes it not a sufficient superset of NES to be worthwhile without significant redesign. PocketNES is a better compromise.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
What exactly are the requirements? Five cards minimum? Do they care about the contents?

Is this document publicly viewable?

It's a whole suite of things: cards, badges, emoji, wallpapers, and extra wallpaper-sized versions of each card too.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
I'd just upscale pixel art by some factor if that was permitted.

I probably will end up drawing a few new things that don't extrapolate too far from the sprites. Right now I've got Blender rendering a pile of cartridges as one of the wallpapers.

Author:  Erockbrox [ Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

I really wish that I was part of the beta testing for Lizard, but I hope that the input that I gave for your demo at least provided some valuable feedback. If I'm part of the beta testing then I feel like I was at least part of the project and thus I'm more likely to buy a cartridge.

Congrats on finishing this!!

Author:  rainwarrior [ Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

All feedback received was useful, yours included.

I wrote an article on this subject:

Author:  rainwarrior [ Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

So, the digital version is now fully released, available on Steam as of a few hours ago. Info on the game here:

The cartridge version will be available for sale this Thursday (March 8, 2018) at InfiniteNESLives:

Author:  Sumez [ Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

Congratulations! I'm definitely gonna get myself a cart.
I'm assuming you don't have any European distro, right?

Author:  rainwarrior [ Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

InfiniteNESlives will ship internationally, but they are located in USA.

Author:  Sumez [ Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

Shipping isn't the issue :P
I've bought from INL before though, and have been very pleased with the transaction.

Author:  Sumez [ Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

Surprised people aren't talking about this game. Finally got the shipment yesterday, and thoroughly enjoying the game. It deserves a lot of praise.

What exactly does the password save??

I'm sorry if this has already been adressed before, but I got really bummed out from this... after spending several hours with the game yesterday, exploring a large part of the game world and finding and beating four bosses, as well as a majority of the coins in the game, etc. I realised it was getting really late and I should go to bed.

With all the stuff I had done, I briefly considered leaving the NES on, since the password was obviously too short to save all the coins I had picked up. I figured it would be insane to just discard that kind of stuff and thought the game probably has some sort of saveram for it, with the password system kept in as a curiosity...

But, well, seems that it didn't, and my entire progress was lost. Apparently the password saves where I am, and my current lizard, but even the bosses I previously fought, I now have to do all over again? All picked up coins got reset, and world states like opening shortcuts to the castle was forgotten, which makes me feel like even the ability to do that in the first place is kind of pointless.

Now, I'm a big proponent of playing NES games in a single session, and I don't mind doing all the challenges over again (except from the dreary rabbit boss), and knowing where most things are, it will definitely be faster the second time around. But one of my favourite aspects of the game is the exploration and puzzle solving involved in finding all the coins. I have absolutely no idea what they do yet, but I really enjoy finding them, and wanted to go for 100% of them, or at least close to that.
I went all in and took pictures of coins located in areas where I couldn't get to them yet, and went out of my way to backtrack to some areas with a new lizard to pick up some that I previously missed. It took a lot of effort, and especially the ones that involve dropping into blind jumps, or really getting an overview of how areas connect to find, feel like they will be either impossible or unnecessarily exhausting to go for again. I really love the game, but the thought of having lost all that progress is something that just immediately makes me burn out on any game, and very reluctant to pick it up again.

Rainwarrior, I'd really love to see your thoughts on this aspect? It feels like a really tough blow to new players, and I can't imagine you haven't considered it doing development. I guess maybe I'm not playing the game "as intended", but the coins were there, and this was the most intuitive approach to me. :\

Aside from this, the game is great, and I'll go into details about all the little touches I love about it at a later point.

Author:  rainwarrior [ Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

So, to answer the direct question of what the passwords do, they store (or restore):
  • 1. Location
  • 2. Lizard
Nothing more than this is captured, and nothing more than this is affected.

"Why" questions are a lot harder to answer. Well, if it's something that happened by mistake, that's not a difficult answer, but this is deliberate. I plan to write an article about this a little later, but I'll try to give a short-ish answer now.

Probably the most agonizing thing about game design is that every decision is a trade. Anything that I think will make one player feel good will make someone else out there feel bad, and I don't say this as if it's a numbers game trying to maximize the number of good feels, just there is a constant wringing of hands while thinking about which benefits I think are important enough to justify the detriments that come along with them. What I should keep, what I should give up, what I should change...

So, with that preface I'll try to explain why my passwords are this way. I wish this forum had spoiler tags. I'm going to put the following text in tiny font so that anyone who doesn't want to accidentally read it can hopefully skip it. Sumez you might want to play the game a bit more before reading this, but it's up to you:

I wanted to make a game where you start over ever time you power on. You don't accumulate power gradually like Metroid. You aren't granted incremental progress for every minute played like with XP in an RPG. I wanted that familiarity of starting again at the beginning. (The randomized character appearance is also meant to reinforce this, a small reward for coming back.)

I also wanted you to be able to chose your path, so that you can try different things each time you play. In this respect, there are 6 episodes of this game. Each one is its own a loop of finding a lizard, then finding its corresponding boss. These episodes are overlaid on each other so that you can spend a while getting oriented, learning the space, learning the rules, and planning out your route for each boss. All of that learning is stuff you don't need to encode in a save; once you remember it well enough, getting to where you want to be is fairly quick.

The passwords are for this episodic game. Being able to go back to a place with the lizard you had will let you make incremental, saveable progress toward each of those 6 goals. Each of those episodes has its own "mini" ending, but I also felt it was valid for the player to consider it the actual end of the game.

On top of this episodic game is the "full" game where you beat all the bosses and continue on to get a "final" ending. The primary intent is that this was for people who master the game, a new way to play once you've gotten good at the 6 episodes. Some people don't discover this for a little while, but I'd say most people clue into it fairly quickly. The passwords do not directly help with this long game, but a lot of people will expect that they should. The basic need for the password was for the player that has a hard time completing a single episode in one sitting; the "advanced" player will probably outstrip this need rather quickly, and at that point they might start to seem useless.

The way I did passwords is maybe a bit more subversive to a lot of people than I intended it to be. Generally games made now always have a save feature, or else they are intended to be played through in maybe 30 minutes tops. People have developed a lot of expectations about this. Super Mario Bros. 3 would absolutely have a save feature if it were made today; you can easily compare New Super Mario Bros. as a similar game with a similar length, but obviously has a save feature. As a result, there is a lot of potential for a traumatic dissonance when a player of my game realizes their expectations were thwarted.

I think there is some good in it, and some bad. It will for sure feel very bad for many players at least momentarily, but I hope that most can recover from it. For some that recovery itself will be enjoyable. For others this will be a wound that never heals, and that was a choice I made. As you have already mentioned, you expect you can beat the bosses again pretty quickly now that you know where to go: this was an integral part of this design. If you're willing to experiment a little with the passwords, you might even discover that you could use them multiple times to go straight to the bosses. I very much did intend for this game to work by starting over every time you power on the machine, and I tried to make the design conducive to this, even though that is not how most games are made today. That's partly why I wanted to make this game; I wanted to experiment with this concept as well as others. Restarting from scratch is a core component of the game as intended, but I also did it with the full expectation that this will rub some people wrongly.

Going back to the SMB3 vs NSMB comparison, though, look at the difference in Warp Zones. In NSMB they're kinda vestigial, missable, unimportant, not very useful. In SMB3 they're so important that everybody knows about them, we pre-emptively tell each other about this secret because it's such a rewarding feature to be able to use. You don't need warp zones in NSMB because you have saves, and can go backwards through the map. I guess this all applies even as far back as Super Mario World, where already just having a warp feature was kind of boring and unuseful, so they added multiple layers of things just to add new interest to the warp zones, i.e. unique and weird star road levels + the ultra secret SPECIAL challenges.

The passwords in my game are sort of a low-key warp zone. Something that's not a secret, but figuring out how to use them effectively might (or might not) be an interesting challenge/experiment for the player. I also have cheat codes. For example, there's a diganostic screen cheat you can use as more or less "a password for coins and bosses" if you want to. I consider this not just a debugging feature, but a critical tool for anyone who doesn't want to play the game by its base rules. If you're mad at the game for not saving your stuff, please take control. However, this stuff was deliberately left out of the manual, too. I put the cheat code information out into the world (and it's findable) but making people find it through side channels was something I thought was important. The manual and descriptions of a game are very much a part of it. (I also have the expectation that few people will even read the manual, but that's a whole other discussion.)

There's also emulators and savestates, of course. Pretty much every emulator has this feature, and even the AVS and Everdrive and PowerPak have it. Once again, this was fully in my mind while making this game. It's intended to be completely playable without such a feature, but I think it's perfectly valid to use it if you want it. Again, also very important to me that this is not an explicit in-game feature, though I did implement a weaker version of savestates, more of a suspend/resume feature for the PC version, because I did not want to punish those who wanted to play the long game in sessions by making them use an emulator instead (and most other gaming platforms have a suspend/resume now). The stock NES version will lack savestates, of course, but there are still cheats at least.

Ah, I didn't mention the coins. Well, I hope it's obvious that I designed them to provoke that question about what they do, or whether they do anything at all. I can't say whether you'll be satisfied by an answer to that question, but I think the stuff I said above might obliquely shed light on why they are the way they are.

My next major NES project has already begun, and it's going to be pretty much the opposite of Lizard, in these respects. Don't want to say too much about it, but it'll be a direct and obvious action game, no exploration, no mystery, not so experimental.


BTW if there's a question you need answered about the game, I feel like it's much better to discuss the game on a forum with others than have an official response from the author. I don't really want to establish an "official reading" of the meaning of Lizard, but if you ask why I did something that is necessarily an answer about myself and my own interpretation of it. If you do find yourself with an important question that you eventually find an answer to, maybe consider sharing it with others on forums, or maybe submitting to GameFAQs or similar place. I definitely think this game would benefit from a well written guide, but I also feel like it would be inappropriate for me to write it myself. :S

Anyhow, thank you for sharing your experience. I hope to know how you feel about it proceeding from this realization about the passwords. I do not mind at all when people share their experiences of my game, negative or positive.

I worry a bit about trying to thoughtfully answer "why" questions like this because it seems to open the field for argument I don't need or want. If you do have an argumentative response to any of it please keep in mind that this game is done. I will gladly entertain new or interesting ideas, but I have had years to debate every minute detail of this game with myself (and often others) already. ;P Like I'm definitely not trying to justify my decision to anybody, if you don't like it or think it's bad, I don't really mind, to many people the game (or any particular part of it) is bad, but I'm trying to answer the asked question of what I think about the thing I made.

Author:  tepples [ Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

Another interpretation: Compare Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, whose six boss stages lose their completion bits upon Game Over.

Author:  MWK [ Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

rainwarrior, I salute you! Awesome game!
Now, I'm only waiting for the 60pin Famicom release 8-)

Author:  Sumez [ Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lizard

Regarding your first spoiler paragraph, I can completely get behind this. I love that approach, and it's one of the first things to really made me like the game. With a couple of exceptions, you're never really required to do anything specific before anything else, and you can go everywhere from the beginning of the game. It's a brave descision, and the game's design really supports it. I love the "open ended" aproach to using the lizards' powers for navigational purposes (ie. the dynamic "Little Samson" model as opposed to the horribly strict and guided "Little Nemo" model).

I can get behind the idea that learning how the entire world is connected is the "true" progress of the game, and it is my favourite aspect of it. I am kind of confused however, why you'd even have the password system then. I guess this is not the place, or at least it is definitely not the time, to discuss that, but it seems to me that it serves little other purpose than confusing and misguiding the player.
I have also been arguing the value of warp zones over save games many times, but in the case of Lizard, I think the game/world design serves as the warp zone, not the password system.

None of that really has anything to do with my core issue, though, which is the coins. I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm coming hard down on it, but it just seems like a schizophrenic implementation of a collectible system.
On one hand, the coins themselves are extremely well designed. I love the puzzles and challenges involved with each of them. Sure, I have the main challenge of the game to seek out the bosses and beat them (which I did last Friday), but that feels like such a small part of the whole thing considering how fun it is to go for the coins.
Now on the other side of the coin though (unintended pun, I promise), it severely bothers me that I will never go for finding all of the coins, which I assume is required for whatever happens when you do. The reason simply being that some are so extremely well hidden (I'd like to compliment some of them specifically, but I think that would be spoiler'ish) that I would never find them in a single session. I can remember most of them when I turn the console back on, but a lot will be forgotten, and some I will never find. Maybe I will find all of them except one, and I have no idea where to look. I keep looking, and eventually I will have to turn off the NES, which means my progress is reset and I can start all over again.

I ordered copies for a bunch of other guys over here so that we would save money on the shipping and custom fees, and whenever I hand out a copy for each of them, I've been warning them not to spend time going for the coins on their first playthrough, and it just makes me a little sad that I have to tell them that. I guess that's the gist of my issue. Everything else is really great.

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