Tag Archives: Iridescent Crown

A Dev Blog for Iridescent Crown

New Trailers

Iridescent Crown 1.2 is now out, and here are some trailers for it. πŸ™‚ You can play the game for free in your browser, and you can buy the Windows version.

This is the new official trailer, which runs through World 1.

 

Some gameplay footage with a projectile weapon.

 

Showcasing a few different weapons.

 

Finding a rare weapon, and the implications thereof.

 

Dev Blog for Iridescent Crown

I didn’t chronologue this like I normally do, so this is in no particular order. Most of this final work was done between March 11th and 14th.

 

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Firstly, I made a new logo for my games (and websites in general). It’s inspired by the SEGA logo, as well as the Inuyasha logo. The color purple is a nice mix of royal and feminine. Seeing my first name in katakana is pretty awesome too. Creating a new logo was a small detail, but also a big deal in its own way. I love the sound I picked to go with it – reminds me of starting up the PSX or PS2.

 

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Adding the controls before you begin the game got the most positive feedback from my friends. It’s good to know it’s not too confusing to the eyes.

If you get a strong weapon early enough in the game, nothing beyond that is a challenge. So I made them much more rare in the early levels. The difficulty curve is much smoother now. You’ll have to fight many more enemies to find a weapon worth keeping now, which makes them more valuable.

The large enemies were invincible to close-range attacks, and required projectiles to kill. I realized this was annoying and removed their invulnerability.

 

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I also added a separate room for the shopkeeper. A door allows you to β€œleave” the room if you don’t like the random weapon you buy, which quickly resets the room. I added several NPCs in this room that give you additional tips to playing the game. I added more lines to the tutorial as well (about the map and radar).

 

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I added a legend to the map on the pause screen, which tells you what the marks mean. Makes it a lot easier to read!

 

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One other big change came at the very end, when I added damage points that visibly appear when you hit or get hit. This really helps with the β€œfeel” of the fighting system.

There was also a glitch you could get by pausing on the game over screen, which I fixed after a friend reminded me about it. πŸ™‚

I experimented with changing the graphics a bit, but when that didn’t work I decided to leave things as they are. I also intended to add a bit more β€œstory” to the game, but in the end this didn’t seem necessary.

 

New Trajectories

I’m still pretty disappointed GMS2 isn’t bringing more tools to the table that I don’t already have. It kills some of the plans I had for extending my current projects – namely adding more features to the music generators.

I was really hoping they would add support for MIDI files (or any music files, really), so I could export the music my games generate. One huge problem is GM is terrible with tempo – even delta_timing isn’t always reliable. I removed the drums from Seraphim Automata to avoid lag issues with running the sequel in HTML5. It sucks because I really like the drum generation system. It may be worth recycling into another desktop game.

One of Iridescent Crown‘s biggest limitations was the 640×480 resolution, which was necessary for HTML5 but awful for the Windows version. It fits the pixel art style, but it’s difficult to appreciate the random level design when the window is so small.

It’s not like I ever had to shrink the window though. The window was small from the start, because 640×480 games were more common when I started this (in 2010). So the game is a bit of a relic in its own way, and begs for a sequel.

I think I’m done with the music generation, sadly. Unless I integrate it into one of the platformers. And I don’t know when I’ll have another platformer underway. If Iridescent Crown gets more feedback, I might feel more confident about the sequel. Either way, I think I’m done with HTML5 versions of my games. It was a nice experiment.

I will probably keep watching how this year unfolds for video games, while I go back to working on music and short stories.

 

Why I Don’t Play New Games

So the new Zelda game is out, as well as Nier: Automata and a ton of other great games. It looks like 2017 is already shaping up to be the best year for gaming since 2004.

I’m not really riding the hype train so much as watching through other’s eyes though, thanks to platforms like twitch and youtube. I have next to no interest in playing these new games, or getting or whatever, when I can just watch other people play the games for me. I don’t really care about the new Switch either (unless I can get my own game on it, of course).

New games aren’t innovative enough to be worth spending my money on. They just seem like higher quality versions of stuff I was playing in the 2000s.

I don’t care about perfect graphics. I care about deep mechanics that allow for more experimentation, and therefore more replayability. The AAA industry, because of its massive time and budget constraints, simply isn’t built for experimentation.

Nowadays you get your standard “open world” game with 30+ hours of side quests. NPC interactions are still very shallow. Too many games are content to crib Minecraft’s crafting system, rather than implement their own unique ideas. Too few have tried to innovate the “gameplay-cutscene-gameplay” problem.

Fandoms allow companies to cash in on the same IP over and over. So they aren’t likely to take a risk to appeal to an “experimental” niche like mine. Why do that, when they can just throw Link into another sandbox game and sell that?

Nier: Automata looks great, but I could also just pop in Kingdom Hearts from 2002. We haven’t progressed that far. The same could be said about the new Zelda vs Wind Waker from 2004. Nintendo and Square Enix don’t need to innovate when they can cash in on their established formulas.

I’ve also noticed a lot of my friends complaining more and more about their massive “backlogs” of games they’ve bought but haven’t played. It makes me wonder if this is how the indiepocalypse will actually unfold. You can finally make your dream game with the right tools – but it doesn’t matter because nobody has time for it.


My Presskit, GMS2 and Steam +More Game Trailers

I’ve finally got my presskit together! I’m quite proud of it. It’s on github here. https://dylanfranks.github.io/

It currently covers all my games and music software. I won’t have much more to add until I start a new game project. And who knows when that will be.

 

Trailers

Here are some new videos of Algorithm for Angel Wings. πŸ™‚ This one shows the game generating elaborate piano melodies in 7/8.

 

This one shows a marimba playing in 10/8.

 

This one shows a harp playing in 4/4.

 

And this one show the autoplay feature, which goes on forever. πŸ˜›

 

Here’s a Gosper glider gun generating music in Celody Life. I updated the software with a larger grid, pause and mute buttons, and more tempo options. The larger grid is nice because obviously now you can make larger structures and see how they β€œsound”. I may update this again in the near future.

 

Game Maker Studio 2

I’m surprised Game Maker Studio 2 is out of beta when it clearly needs a lot more work. The deprecation of certain ubiquitous functions really kills my enthusiasm for the new software – specifically instance_create() and draw_background(). Transferring my old work would honestly be too much of a pain. I’m better off continuing in β€œGMS1”, as it’s now known.

And the only reason I prefer that over Game Maker 8 or older versions is simple – dark mode is easier on my eyes and allows me to work longer. It’d also be cheaper to just upgrade exports for GMS1 than buy GMS2 – Linux export is the only one I still want to get and haven’t. My experience with making games for Android tells me iOS would just be a pain to work with.

The new work space also looks really weird. A bit too much like Unity. I’ll admit what they’ve done with GM’s image editor is impressive. But that can always be substituted with another image editor like Aseprite. You can do plenty with the image editor in GMS1 anyway.

 

End of Steam Greenlight

Steam Greenlight shutting down was quite a shock, but also a huge relief in a way. It means I don’t have to deal with their toxic community to get on the platform – if Steam Direct has a reasonable fee. If not, fuck them. There are other distributors.

Jim Sterling deserves the most credit for continuing to say β€œNo, this is not okay, and don’t accept this as being okay.β€œ I may miss his series of Steam lowlights – but for every one hilarious game he covers, there are 10-20 that are just appalling.

I hate the way Steam has shaped the game community for worse with their utter disregard for quality control. Valve has lowered the bar too much with their storefront of trash games. I hope this is the year we recover from tactless joke simulators, meme games, scatological humor, and all the other plagues that fester in Steam’s catalogue.

I’m obviously setting my expectations for other people too high, but we’ll see. I’m not too concerned about PC distribution at the moment, as I’ve been experimenting with porting my games to HTML5.

 

Dev Blog Incoming

This blog turned quite sour, sorry about that. I will write about the updates I’ve made to Iridescent Crown in the next blog, once I’ve compiled some new trailers. Here’s a shot of the updated version.

 

You can find more screenshots on the presskit. πŸ™‚ Till next time.


Iridescent Crown, Zephyr 3, and Worldbuilding Notes

Iridescent Crown

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I’ve made a lot of progress on my 2D roguelike platformer, Iridescent Crown. I’ve finally settled on a name I like (only took me 6 years). I’m looking forward to finally releasing it this month!Β  πŸ™‚

I think the randomized weapon system has been the biggest quantum leap in terms of replayability. I expect to release the game sometime this month, once I’ve added a few final features and bug tested it more. I will also follow it up with a more detailed development blog.

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If all goes well this will be my first game that runs in HTML5, so that will be awesome to see!

 

Zephyr 3

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Check it out here. I made this back at the end of September to see if it could run in HTML5. Unfortunately it seems to be too much for Game Maker Studio, despite only being a few lines of code. I even tried rasterized graphics, and no luck. But now that yoyogames have announced the release of Game Maker Studio 2, I’m hoping they’ve fixed the exporters.

I’m being cautiously optimistic, but GMS 2 looks like it has a lot of useful features. My only reservation is the software may be too bloated because of them.

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I was also hoping to use this game for Sonic-style special stages in a 2d platformer. Perhaps that could still work in a non HTML5 project.

If you’ve never played them, check out the first two Zephyr games here and here. They’re both available for free.Β  πŸ™‚

 

Worldbuilding and Gesamtkunstwerk

Worldbuilding seems to be used primarily for writing prose fiction, or making video games. Lately I’ve been wondering what other forms of artistic mediums it could be used for.

When designing games, I am often inspired by Richard Wagner’s concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, or total synthesis of the arts. I feel like his operas are the best classic example of worldbuilding outside of its typical uses.

This sentiment could be extended to concept albums by modern rock bands. Pink Floyd, The Mars Volta and Dream Theater stick out in my mind here. Concept albums get away with character development in a way that most music cannot, since the songs have character interactions. They can be about specific people like The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute, or more generalized archetypes like Pink Floyd’s Animals.

The Who’s rock opera Tommy is the earliest example of this. Pink Floyd took it further with their series of concept albums in the 1970s, starting with The Dark Side of the Moon. Animals in particular is very literary, basing their songs off the conflicting Dogs, Pigs, and Sheep in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. And of course The Wall, like Tommy, had an ambitious movie that brought visuals to their music.

These are the best examples of atypical worldbuilding I can think of. Worldbuilding expressed through poetry also fascinates me. While I’ve never been exposed to JRR Tolkien, I’m aware he does this in his work.

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One of Tolkien’s original maps of Middle-earth.

These days, everyone from JK Rowling to Stephen King to Nintendo to Bethesda are directly inspired by JRR Tolkien. Storytellers, pen and paper RPG designers, and open world video game designers all derive a lot of inspiration from Tolkien’s worldbuilding techniques.

Comics too. The Marvel and DC multiverses stand out for the sheer size and scope they cover, often having many alternate realities as a result of changing writers. These alternate realities can end up interacting in very interesting ways.

It’s definitely worth noting that before JRR Tolkien, writers didn’t usually write extensive amounts of background information that is often never used in the final products they make. It’s interesting to see how much that approach has changed the dynamic of writing stories.

That being said, many other artists before him often gathered their works together to form a greater whole. Robert W Chambers did this with the collection of short stories that make up The King in Yellow. HP Lovecraft’s short stories ended up forming the Cthulhu Mythos, which has been expanded by other authors.

 

Worldbuilding by Subtraction, or Tolkien vs. Lovecraft

While there are plenty of positives to copying Tolkien’s formula, there are also some negatives that I don’t think are discussed enough. The main problem with JRR Tolkien’s approach to worldbuilding is the more information, history, and lore you have, the less space the reader’s imagination has to fill. If you take it to an extreme, you are essentially doing the work of the reader.

A lot of short stories I read derive their strength from their brevity. Stories built through traditional worldbuilding rarely have this trait, unless they consciously choose to only show the tip of the iceberg.

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SCP-682 must be destroyed as soon as possible.”

The SCP Foundation is a good example of extensive worldbuilding that manages to keep its secrets to itself. No one even knows what SCP-001 is. The entries are often short enough to leave plenty of room for imagination in the reader’s mind, not just for the SCPs but for the entire Foundation and its purpose. The articles also use a copious amount of redactions to give an impression of more going on behind the scenes.

HP Lovecraft’s stories also benefited by suggesting there’s more going on than what is being told. Lovecraft represents the literary opposite of Tolkien in a worldbuilding sense – one relies on subtraction while the other relies on addition. Many classic short story writers like Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allan Poe benefit from the former approach, as well as modern novelists like Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk.

You can also find a lot of this in filmmaking, whether it’s traditional or avant-garde. It’s perhaps a natural side effect of movies being short affairs that are rarely revisited. Not everything can be explained in 2-3 hours, and some directors like David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman exploit this to absurdity. The Twilight Zone and similar shows also come to mind here.

 

Summary

JRR Tolkien and HP Lovecraft represent two very different approaches to storytelling. Tolkien tried to cover every important detail in an attempt to achieve “literary omniscience” about his fictional world. Meanwhile, Lovecraft tried to point out how much we don’t know about the world around us, and how much may remain forever unknowable.

Since the advent of movies, television and video games, the total synthesis of the arts now takes many forms. Music, visuals, and dramatic storytelling are all essential ingredients to your favorite movie, TV show, anime, YouTube channel, etc. In the case of video games, you could consider interactivity to be the fourth dimension.

The concept of Gesamtkunstwerk is alive.

One final point worth mentioning is the role that procedural generation and artificial intelligence can play in worldbuilding, and the creation of things that are far beyond the scope of a single person’s endurance. Map making tools can help speed up the worldbuilding process. Randomized writing prompts can give you a lot of ideas.

 

End

Keep an eye out for Iridescent Crown, which will be coming out later this month.Β  πŸ™‚

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