My man Hamish Todd was recently asking me about something I told him some time back; I told him that in game development, I polish as I go. I wanted to elaborate on that since it's a useful, but complex production style. Readers of this blog and followers of my game combat philosophies have heard me say that I developed one attack at the very beginning of Aztez, and didn't move on to another attack until that one looked and felt great. But other game developers could argue that polish is of secondary importance, and that the rules systems and mechanics are the most important thing to nail down first. And this is where I disagree!
(This is an image from a mech strategy game currently being developed by Zach Fowler. When he made this image the prototype was a mere 3 weeks in development! How jazzed did you get just looking at this?!)
**Updated August 15th, 2013**
I had this idea a little over a year ago to record myself playing the game while I ramble into my microphone headset about newly implemented features, art, design decisions, future plans, and so on and so forth. When one hit Kotaku and they started getting 10k views, I figured they were worth continuing to make. I produced a new one tonight, and while it was rendering/uploading, I went and watched the previous ones. It almost made me shed a tear being face to face with how much the game has changed and grown up. But it also made me wince, sneer, and gasp painfully at previous iterations of the game. But in a good way. :)
Anyway, here are all the dev plays in one convenient place. And I'll update this post as I continue to make them. The most recent one is here...
...and the rest are all right down here for your convenience. Enjoy!
An amazing thing happened in the last stretch of our Mexico work trip! We released a Friends and Family build and the feedback was hugely positive and also very thorough! Now I have a very liberal approach to feedback; if it can be implemented, played with, and marinated on without disrupting the flow of the project I will do it on principle, provided I haven't already explored the issue previously. There have been many minor (and major) pieces of feedback that have improved the game and I think it's a good, albeit authorially uncomfortable policy. Not every piece of feedback is valuable and is worth investigating, but in my experience, MOST are. I wanted to write about this fascinating fork I'm standing at right now with the appeal of the scrappers on one side and the appeal of the masters on the other.
This weekend I took a current build of Aztez to the EVO fighting game tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. For those of you unfamiliar with EVO, it is the world's largest fighting game tournament. Highly skilled players fly in from all over the globe to compete in various one-on-one fighting games like Street Fighter, Marvel Vs. Capcom, Mortal Kombat, and more. But it's also an exhibition of all things of interest to the fighting game community. This year, the event organizers tried something really cool; they set up a showcase of 7 indie games they felt the community would enjoy. Aztez was one of those games and the experience was fascinating. I'd like to share the insights I received by having the game up and running, for anyone to play, from roughly 9am to 5pm, for the first two days of the event.
Hi! This is the development website for our game Aztez, a hybrid of two distinct game types: sidescrolling real-time beat 'em up gameplay (the deep and expressive kind) and turn-based strategy gameplay (like a board game). This website serves two purposes; a technical journal on the analysis and creation of combat heavy beat 'em up games (table of contents here), and a news source for development and progress of Aztez.
VIDEO UPDATED ON March 4th, 2013!
I asked followers of the Aztez twitter account and fans of the Aztez facebook page which environment they wanted me to build next and they voted for Chapultepec! I also promised a timelapse of the construction. Here it is!
I had a very interesting conversation with a good friend of mine (this particular friend is one of the most technically minded game thinkers I've ever known, as both a player and a designer), where after reading my Bayonetta combat analysis, brought up the issue of discovering mechanics through experimentation. In the combat analysis I mentioned that Bayonetta doesn't appear to have a substantial air game until you discover (and then learn to execute) a specific exploit inherent in this one obscure mechanic. The only reason I knew about this exploit (and a lot of the game's other rules systems and technical properties) was because I bought a specially made guide and I resent the developers for this.
While I went into great detail about the entire system of effects in the Impact Effects post, I just wanted to quickly share the sprites I made for the Sword Swing and Sword Slash effects so you can see exactly what's playing out when you watch our characters attack each other. It took a good amount of iteration on these to get the effect I wanted and the great feedback I got from people I showed it to was instrumental. Anyway, the sprite for the sword swing effect looks like this: