Haunted Halloween 85
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Author:  dougeff [ Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Haunted Halloween 85

Hey. I picked up a cart the other day, Haunted Halloween 85. It has the distinction of being the first homebrew that I've purchased.

(I've only had time to play about 10 minutes of it, but it looks pretty good, so far).

Author:  rainwarrior [ Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Recently Locked Topic

I've played it twice so far. I got to the werewolf boss both times, but I still haven't beaten it.

(Also, why not just called this topic "Haunted: Halloween '85"? It has nothing to do with locks. You can edit the topic name by editing your post.)

Author:  dougeff [ Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

K, done

(Why I called it "recently locked topic" is because I wanted to post it under that thread, but couldn't)

Author:  tepples [ Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

The lead designer recently PM'd me that he finally feels ready to offer his thoughts on the game.

Author:  DRW [ Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

Where will he write them down? If he publishes his thoughts, please let us know the link.

Author:  Retrotainment Games [ Fri Dec 18, 2015 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

Thanks for getting this conversation rolling again!

First, I apologize for not being available during the first round of discussions. By the time I read the initial thread it was locked. Also, a word of warning, I am new to message boards / forums so if I do something taboo on here please inform me.

Reading through the initial thread was very enlightening for me! I didn't realize how important having a presence on here was; same goes for NintendoAge which I will be addressing next. The main point I'd like to make after reading the initial thread is that Tepples was hit with some questions and criticism that he shouldn't have had to deal with, it should have fallen on me. I cannot stress enough how good of a programmer Tepples is (I'm sure you all know this), but seriously, he kicked ass!

I'm open to any and all feedback on the game. I love criticism, preferably posed in a constructive manner, but either way I find it to be a good thing when coming from passionate people who share a common interest. I'm not sure how to proceed with this so let me know if there are specific questions/concerns I should go back and address from the initial thread or if we should just start anew. Please advise...

Author:  dougeff [ Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

Is this Tim? (Cash-In Culture owner)

Love the stores. :D
You should sell more homebrews/repros.

My only feedback is, it should come with an instruction booklet, and maybe a box.

Author:  snarfblam [ Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

dougeff wrote:
Is this Tim? (Cash-In Culture owner)
My only feedback is, it should come with an instruction booklet, and maybe a box.

I think many people willing to pay for a homebrew would be willing to pay more for that. Whether it would be worth the extra time and effort is hard to say; you would have to sell enough "deluxe editions".

Author:  Retrotainment Games [ Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

This is Greg, Tim's business partner.

Thanks for the kind words about the stores dougeff! We try to make them a nice place for retro gamers and collectors so when we get positive feedback like that it really helps to reaffirm that we're doing things that customers like.

I agree about the homebrews! I'm in contact with several brewers about getting their games into the stores. We just added Armed For Battle and Star Versus this week actually! We're looking for any fully finished games that are solid so that we can showcase them. If anyone reading this is interested please PM me and we'll work out the details. Ideally we want stuff that is largely glitch/bug free so that we're putting good games out there to draw attention to the community. Many people have no idea that any of this exists and since I can't pay the community back in the way of coding experience/help I can at least offer a market place and some publicity. We're setting up demo stations so that people can play the games in-store, the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. We're looking to dedicate a whole section to homebrews so that people can see the awesome stuff that's out there first hand.

Repros are a different story. We're already getting some people in the stores who assume that homebrews are re-skins or hacks. People aren't taking the time to distinguish between what's a legit homebrew and what's not. In fact we've already had one person tell us that Haunted was a re-skin of Splatterhouse and another tell us that it was a hack of River City Ransom; this was of course before we told them it was our game and built from scratch :) I took it as a compliment since both of those games are so cool. Someone asked me today if Armed For Battle was a hack even though there is nothing out there like it for the NES. So we're taking the time to educate customers on the difference between hacks and homebrews, highlighting the fact that brewers spend so much time and effort learning to do things on their own without taking code from existing games.

I also agree about the manual/box. We just didn't have enough funds or time to get those ready yet. We fully plan to right after the holidays when we have a little extra money and the time to create them. This was another mistake I made along the way for sure. I didn't realize how much a box and manual meant to the collectors. As soon as possible we'll get those made though! Maybe even "deluxe editions" too...

Author:  Retrotainment Games [ Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

And in my absentmindedness I forgot to post this link to the official trailer...

If anyone wants longer game play footage I would be happy to post some!

Author:  Dwedit [ Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

I think I'm missing something here, anyone care to summarize?

Author:  Drew Sebastino [ Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

How long have you been gone Dwedit? Some people came over to NESDEV asking if anyone was interested in programing an NES game for them, tepples said yes and joined them, they finished the game, but some people had complaints about it and (intentionally or non intentionally) kind of put it on tepples even though he didn't have anything to do with game design and the topic turned into a mess and it got locked. Later, dougeff bought the game as it is for sale, and decided to make a new topic about it, which is this one.

Author:  tepples [ Sat Dec 19, 2015 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

  1. Original topic began civil. Some notes on palette compromises and VRAM update architecture; some foreshadowing.
  2. Last minute sound engine replacement months later once the composer becomes frustrated with the lack of portamento in what is now known as the Pently music engine.
  3. Mustardseed notices it's out: persistent begging for gameplay videos.
  4. I finally post a video Some praise how well our artist hid the tile grid; others complain about the music and perspective; still others jump to my defense that I not be a scapegoat for the designers' decisions.
  5. Vocal critic accepts my lack of fault but argues that I should have published video even earlier to seek constructive criticism. Cue bickering over the validity of criticism by someone who's never shipped.
  6. We end up ninjaing each other as our composer's instrument choice is compared to that of Hummer Team. The vocal critic gets called a troll by someone who missed the vocal critic's acceptance of my lack of fault, and they argue a bit over what a troll is and who actually said what. Locked two days after the video was published.

Draw your own conclusions.

Author:  Retrotainment Games [ Sun Dec 20, 2015 1:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

1.Original topic began civil. Some notes on palette compromises and VRAM update architecture; some foreshadowing.

These were good questions to direct at Tepples since he was the brains behind the tech side of things.

2.Last minute sound engine replacement months later once the composer becomes frustrated with the lack of portamento in what is now known as the Pently music engine.

This was a bit of a misunderstanding and some inexperience on my part. I didn't know enough about the audio side of things to explain the details to our audio guy. He learned to compose in Famitracker as I suggested and assumed that all effects were in play. I didn't realize that different effects were handled differently with code so I failed to communicate to Thomas that not all effects were available to us. I also didn't realize that each instrument had to be built individually and that it took time to do so. We assumed that if we delivered an FTM file everything could just be "magically" imported somehow. So he went nuts with the instruments, making new ones for each tune and sound effect in the game. He also heavily used portamento and other effects when composing and so he was understandably frustrated that it wasn't in the music engine since he had taken so much time crafting the songs to his liking. Had I known more about the whole process I could have prevented this issue so that's completely on me! The Pently engine is really good and in any normal situation it would have been more than adequate.

3. Mustardseed notices it's out: persistent begging for gameplay videos.

This is also on me and stemmed from my inexperience with releasing a game. It was totally reasonable to ask for game footage. He didn't want a commercial-esque video with quick cuts, rather, he was looking for some basic footage of someone playing the game for a few minutes. If I understood correctly he was looking for a specific kind of beat 'em up, he didn't like the Double Dragon/TMNT style were you had to beat up all enemies in one section in order to move on. So I think Haunted initially appealed to him in that regard since you could run through it. Had I been more prepared I could have easily had something ready or at least recorded something on my phone of me playing it on a TV as he suggested. Of course I didn't even realize the conversation was even happening.

4. I finally post a video Some complain about how well our artist hid the tile grid; others complain about the music and perspective; still others jump to my defense that I not be a scapegoat for the designers' decisions.

The tile grid being hidden was a result of the graphic artist's (Zack) style. I showed him my original artwork for the backgrounds that I made early on when we were trying to get this off the ground. They were completely 2D and followed the tile grid much more so. I had never made graphics, I can't draw and I had never worked with pixel art before so they were tremendously inferior to what Zack did. Maybe some people would have liked that better since they were simpler and more akin to original NES games but we all really like what Zack did and so we ran with the somewhat isometric perspective and complete shucking of the grid. Needless to say, this was graphically intense and Tepples had to keep us in line with our tile usage.
The music is not to everyone's liking but that's how music is. I understand the complaints about it but what didn't make sense was people directing criticism at Tepples. Once again on me since I wasn't on here to take the criticism. I ultimately gave the green light on all the music so if anyone wants to ask specific questions or make specific complaints I'm completely open to addressing them. Personally, I think Thomas has a cool style and he did a great job making music to fit the game as I asked of him.
Much thanks to everyone who came to Tepples' defense!! From what I gathered, most people seemed to understand that none of this was Tepples doing but a few people wanted to voice their opinions and it came off as an attack on him.
The rest of the thread is not worth addressing since it wasn't constructive at all.

Opinions are always valid, bickering is a bit much. As someone stated, just PM each other rather than having a public battle of who said what. If anyone wants to re-post their complaints I urge them to do so. Opinions are always valid; I stand by that opinion :) !! I will take the time to address them and let you know my thoughts on any matter that anyone seeks clarification on. If you want to bash the game now is the time. Seriously, I won't be offended.

To touch on the perspective issue...
We were initially sticking to the complete 2D standard dynamic of a side-scroller even though there was some dimension built into the backgrounds. While we were building the Woods level we started flirting with the idea of adding some depth to the platforms themselves. We demoed the game at Replay FX here in Pittsburgh and people really took to the added dimension, even stating that there were certain things they wished they could have jumped on that we didn't have blocked as a platform. At that point we felt comfortable continuing with the idea and added the additional blocking to things like the bleachers as we developed the levels. When people play the game in our stores most are a bit surprised to find that they can jump into the background but every single person says something to the effect of, "oh, that's cool" or "that's so neat" referring to the added depth. So while it does violate the standard we feel that it adds a bit of character and uniqueness to the game.

The bedroom scene with the over-sized bed was funny to me. I enjoyed the jokes about that! It was not intended to be that way initially but we were running out of time so we improvised and just used the main character sprite in the scene instead of adding larger sprites that would have required more work and more time to complete. We already had plane tickets to Portland and purchased a table at PRGE and we wanted to have the game ready. So we did our best to work with what we had and put together the opening cut scene. Again, most people tell us they like it and that they get it that the story is being told by a ten year old boy so things are exaggerated and don't always make perfect sense. Other things in the game are exaggerated as well like the giant hay bales and cornstalks. The monologue is poorly written and rambles at time just as ten year olds do.

So I accept the criticisms that some perspectives don't match and that the physics might not make sense in parts but I stand by the decisions made and call upon the wonders of the suspension of disbelief. I will gladly discuss any specific perspective concern if someone asks.

Author:  JRoatch [ Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Haunted Halloween 85

Belated congratulations to the team on getting a NES game made from initial pitch to physical production in just a mere 7 months.

When I got Haunted Halloween 85 back in November, I almost got the werewolf boss before running out of continues. Then other things occupied my time until now. Today I got through the whole game on normal difficulty, but I don't think I could of made it if I hadn't found that infinite 1up trick in the silo of level 4 ("Malaise Maize"). The remaining levels are a lot less frustrating when you've got 40 Serum Sodas. :)

I must say the game has quite a bit of loose physics (which is actually expected for a beat 'em up game). Using a soft upward eject for the ground, like how SMB1 ejects horizontally through the walls, is an interesting choice. Makes slopes and landing on corners feel right. There was one moment where I did zipped upward though a solid ceiling in the descending part of the silo (probably won't save time in a speedrun).

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