Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Battle High 2 To Do List!

So we've been working on Battle High 2 for quite some time now and as August approaches, I want to make a list of what has to be done.  Some of these I want to get finished before releasing a public beta and some of these can wait until final release.  Anyway, this list is to help me keep track but also let those interested in the loop!  So I just buckled up and am ready to go!

Beta

  • Create palettes for all 13 characters.
    • I would like to have 16 palettes.  8 are unlocked immediately, 8 are locked.
  • Create a new way to select palettes.
    • A lot of games like BlazBlue and SkullGirls and the newer Street Fighter games have interfaces to select colors more easily than just the test-and-remember-what-button-does-what method that Battle High 1 used.
    • Done!  I may need to add instructions informing players that pressing "Start" goes to this menu, but it is done!
  • Create Voice Actor reference videos for Michelle and Principle.
    • I have been creating reference videos for our voice actors like this for them to know what the moves for the different characters look like this one:
     
  • Create a PC installer for PC versions of the game.
    • I will also have to implement unique APIs for different indie gaming outlets like IndieCity, but I want to wait to do these.
  • New Menu Designs
    • Main Menu
    • Splash Menu
    • Character Select
      • Started working on and close to finishing.
    • Stage Select
    • Options Menu
    • Versus Splash Screen (loading screen prior to a match)
    • Journal / Gallery
    • Network / Matchmaking Screen -- we are going to attempt a network mode, but this will be the last thing we implement after the beta and possibly before release but screens will need to be designed to get this working.
    • We are also working with a graphic designer to do some new title artwork which will be used in these screens.
  • Keyboard Input Menu
    • This both needs visuals and implementation
  • Finish "Elemental Charge" for some characters.
    • This is a new feature that is essentially a status mode -- power-up, speed-up, armor, etc. depending on the character.
    • This will change Michelle's gameplay a bit as hers is very different than the other characters.  I'll just leave it at that for now.
  • Input new win quotes and new mid and end battle dialogues as well as setup the special "Dream Match" with its requirements and allow locking and unlocking for the secret character.
  • Balance
    • Though the beta will help with some balance issues, I can't depend on playtest finding them all and if there are glaring problems, minor details might be missed so I want to do some balancing.
  • Bug-Fixing
    • Similar to balancing, I'd like to catch major bugs that I find while doing playing before releasing the game.
  •  Update move list implementation and new inputs for existing and new characters.

Post Beta

  • Integrate received voice acting references into the game.  We've been receiving some cool stuff from voice talents like Kira Buckland who did voice acting work for SkullGirls.
  • Get a hold of voice actors for the following characters:   Khai, Principal, Michelle, Jada, Shinji, and Khai.
    • If worse comes to worse, I may even try my hand at one of these.  I'll warn, it'll be FAR from the best!
  • Have 5 songs created for the new characters -- Jada, Michelle, Klein, Principal, and Kazuo.
  • Have 5 new stages made for the five new characters
  • Implement new intro video
  • Implement new endings for all 13 characters.  Currently, endings have been written, but I need to implement as they style my differ form the original game depending on how the artist works.
  • NETWORKING!
    • I'm very nervous about this, but I'm going to do my best to do this properly!
  • Marketing 
    • Branding and marketing for the game will need to be done
      • Website
      • Cover art
      • Achievement icons (for use at places like IndieCity)
  • Outlet-specific code / achievements coding.
  • Playtest feedback and fixes from the beta.
Anyway, that is the giant list.  I'm probably missing a few things and I can update it, but I just feel like this covers most of it.  I'm nervous and excited and I'm going to start working on the things for the beta as soon as I can and hopefully I can release a playable demo before the end of August.  Also, if you are interested in being a voice actor or tester for Battle High 2, send me an email!  Thanks!

 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Contemplating My Next Game

So I've been wanting to start a new project, something simple and small I can do during breaks from Battle High 2.  I've been contemplating, hence the title, what to do.  Here's a simple list of goals I'd like to accomplish:
A checklist image for a checklist.  APPROPRIATE!
  • Unity3D:  I bought a license for this engine forever ago, and they are nearing the release of the fourth iteration.  Before this happens though, I'd like to finish at least one game.
  • Publish on the PC:  There are so many sites now to release indie games on:  IndieCity, IndiePub, Desura, and -- if I feel confident enough -- at least submit it for Steam approval.
  • Narrative:  I'm no Hemingway, but I enjoy writing.  Most of my games have very simple, open-ended stories; however, I'd like to do something with a strong plot and, more importantly, deliver said narrative in a way that isn't overly distracting but hopefully not completely ignored by the player.

Platformer

I feel a bit silly referencing this movie; I've yet to see it :\
Platformers are a popular indie genre; Indie Game:  The Movie showcases mostly platformers -- Super Meatboy, Fez, and Braid.  I can see why they are so popular.  For one, they are easy to implement and there are tons of tutorials out there for how to develop them.  Also, they work well for PC regardless if they player is using a keyboard or a plugged in controller.  Finally, I've made one already but only in college and never released it.  An issue I have with doing a platformer is that I don't think they work well as story delivery vehicles.  Because the platforming is a key element to the game, I feel like any story given through text or cutscenes -- unless riddled with clues on how to complete future puzzles -- is just a distraction that'll fall victim to being ignored.  Apparently this didn't happen in Braid or Limbo though, so maybe there is hope for me to insert a story into my game without.  Another issue is that there are so many already, and even if I try to do something different, there's a good chance it's already been done.

Fighter

You're a fighter?  I'm skeptical...but still super excited for DOA5!  Don't judge me! >_<
I've already done a fighting game, but it is my favorite genre by far.  I find them fast-paced and fun requiring a unique mixture of dexterity and prediction.  Sadly, fighters are probably even worse at delivering story than platformers.  Ending cutscenes are really they only way to deliver story; most other attempts are usually intrusive -- like BlazBlue story mode -- or ignored -- bio pages in games like Soul Calibur II.  Also, I'm currently working on Battle High 2 and just wrapped up Turquoise Mars -- my yet-to-be-released mobile fighting game -- so doing another fighter could possibly burn me out on the genre, which is something I don't want.
Another problem is that I prefer fighters with a controller and most people prefer them with joystick both of which are not the default control for PC games, and I can't help but feel that if you release a game that requires players to plug something in, most people will roll their eyes and pass, not wanting to deal with a new peripheral.
A thing I've been learning too is that I like fighting gameplay more than I like fighting games.  Soul Calibur V is a great example of this.  It's fun to player, but once you get through Quick Battle's 250 battles there's not much else to do, particularly for me since I'm not into netplay that much.  I would have loved a more in-depth Story Mode or some mode involving earning levels to progress -- something to make fighting opponents feel more than training or collecting a new, pointless badge.

Brawlers

Odin Sphere:  a great brawler and RPG combo but was just a little boring and too time-consuming for my taste.
Brawlers like Castle Crashes and Final Fight are very similar to fighting games, but they have enough unique aspects that I feel I should mention them.  As much as I would want to do a brawler, the fact that many of them require more than one player is problematic.  Four people can't share a keyboard, and I'm no network programming guru.  I will say, however, that delivering story through simple cutscenes between stages could work well for this genre, even if it is just textbox conversations.  This is one I want to think about more and see if I could make it more of a single-player experience similar to Odin Sphere, which, like the captioned image above is a great example of a single player brawler that combines RPG elements and brawler elements, but it required a lot of grinding and had a harsh difficulty curve that ultimately made it an unsatisfying experience for me.

RPG (Role-Playing Games)
Heh, the first image you find when you search "RPG"
I enjoyed RPGs when I was in high school.  I even attempted to make several using RPGMaker for Playstation One (or whatever you call it nowadays).  One issue I have with them though is that they take forever to finish, at least the epic ones; I can't fathom how that converts to development time, especially since I usually work on games by myself.  My other issue is that they tend to be boring, especially if they require to player to grind for hours on end.  Also, searching through menus to do an attack gets old quickly no matter how cool the attacks look in my opinion.  Quite possibly my favorite RPG of all time is Namco X Capcom.  Battles were strategic like Final Fantasy Tactics, but there was no grinding involved.  Attacking opponents was quick and required focus and timing.  The story delivery wasn't great, but it was all in Japanese.  If I were to replay a translated version, maybe my reaction to it would change.
Another aspects of RPGs that is intimidating is that they are very asset heavy.  You need to make the characters and dozens upon dozens of enemies as well as environments for your party to explore and those seen during battles.  This large amount of required assets intimidates me from every making one on my own.

Conclusion 

Why did this come up when searching the word "conclusion?"  I don't know, but I like it!
In conclusion, I want to making something that will fulfill the above checklist, but that isn't the most complex checklist.  I think what I want to make is a single-player experience with controls and gameplay that is similar to a fighting game but with the story delivery of an RPG experience.  It gets very risky when one starts throwing different genres and pulling bits and pieces from them.  Often, a real lame game ends up being the result, which is definitely something I don't want.
For now, I just wanted to get some thoughts written down, thoughts that I will probably return to by August.  Hopefully by that time, I will have made up my mind and started production on something I feel will really showcase my abilities as a programmer, artist, designer, and maybe even writer.