Castlevania SotN/Zelda II demake. The main focus of the game is the Zelda II-style combat; but also with palace-building scripts that... well... at this point, basically generates pathways to two keys (or enemies that drop them), an item room (that requires one of the keys), a boss room (that requires the other), and an in-palace shop. There's seven "palace chunks" in total, and later I'll be scripting closeoffs for passageways that aren't used.
A seven-palace romp with progressive/changing enemies, decent assortment of weapons and passive items, enemy drop RNG that on occasion includes some of these weapons and items, to give it more of that SotN replay/uncertainty, a couple of secret areas of some sort?
TL;DR: Okay, I've done a fair portion of the core spriting, and incidentally, worked ahead a little in Music/Mapping Monday.
First row of spriting is the tileset. The "yellow block" includes some probability of generating a locked door (and a key with it, upstream somewhere); the "green blocks" basically take you from one chunk of the area to another.
The rest of the first page is the beginning of a three-layer spriting setup; upper body, lower body, and head (heads will go on page 2). Even though the standing sprites look "full," they're really designed to combine upper and lower body poses for various effects. The lower body relates to movement, while the upper relates to weapon management... so this way, you can still move side to side while executing standing attacks.
Crouching frames, however, are committed to crouch states/attacks. The crouching attack actually gets an ADDITIONAL tile of stretch/range, giving it a little bit of an advantage over standing attacks. This is compensated by making them more vulnerable (partly due to the body stretch) to airborne attacks or downward thrusts. There's also an "up strike" (and upward thrust) in the design to counter air attacks, and a plan of cancelability between them to allow for some comboability. So in a way, it's combining fighting game design with the core gameplay, too.
I also managed to make the subscreen, the top of which (hearts/coins/keys) will likely remain persistent throughout the game... I'm hoping I can make the pause function freeze the "action pane," then scroll it down (revealing the entire subscreen)... and the unpause function scroll it back up and resume. (pointers?)
Heads will be rolling soon (either while wrestling with other parts like the music tracker tomorrow, or next week if this becomes a two-week project). I'm planning on simply changing the colors and assigned heads (and weapons/HP) in a cross-reference kind of table so that a single function can generate an assortment of enemies and attack/defense patterns; like so:
head will assign attack/defense priorities (primary and secondary - primary is reactive to a specific player state, secondary is what it does if the player does not enter that state).
color will assign HP and weapon (which will factor up with progression).
The idea is that 12 variants of each will generate 144 creatures, which spread across 7 levels? Each level will have about 20 enemies to pool from, and each playthrough will assign maybe 4 or 5 of them.
I'm also planning on putting a few basic creatures in play as well... some "chunks" are designed for this fighting system (which will focus more on the core enemies), while a few are more focused on the lateral platforming that rounds out the action, which is what the "smaller" creatures are for. But I don't plan on making them so small that you have to crouch-stab everything (or the standing attack's range?).
The thing with the little creatures though, is that since the game is very map intensive, the shared data is going to be map-prioritized... so I've gotta dig through the infamous favorites of the titles and find which ones are most relevant to the game and just make a few of them... but again, after the heads and combat variants are in place. Those are the more important ones.
Well, that's all for today. Tomorrow: Music/Mapping Monday!
It's really just my second time wrestling with the SFX/Music tracker; I'm hoping to compose two alternating palace themes, a boss battle theme, and a "final boss" theme.
Okay, so right now, it's a bunch of design-doodled stuff for the time being; something like a "development wishlist" that I'm hoping to grind myself through soon... and hoping I can squish into PICO's limitations.
MARLO AND FRIENDS
Basically, a SMB "demake" comprised of 4 levels, repeated with some factors changed like enemies/placements, coins and platforming widgets. It follows the typical SMB pattern of "overworld, underworld, scarce ground, fortress," except that the bridge battle at the end will require you to cross it once forwards, once backwards, and a third time across. The "and friends" part is for pallette swaps, switching the focus of the game (and maybe, if enough tokens remain, the end-of-level widget, we'll see):
Marlo (red): Flagpole, clearly.
Zonac (blue): Speedrunning, distance jump at end instead of height.
Dunky (brown): Enemy combos, the DKC2 end-of-level prize-hammer thingy.
Roshi (green): Collectables, flowery-roulette wheel except now it's stars.
Warlo (yellow): Coins!! Slot-machine-card thing from SMB3.
I don't think I'll do much with powerups - just one that makes you big, and if you recollect it, you can do a mid-air trick one time. Marlo gets a double-jump, Zonac gets the Fire Shield-style dash from Sonic 3, Dunky... I haven't decided yet, probably the ground slam, though; Roshi does the ground pound drop, and Warlo... don't know about him yet either. There'll be bouncing starmen too, but only for scoring purposes, no invincible crap in this game!!
"The Legend Of Zelda," abridged edition. 20-screen overworld with a set of 9-screen dungeons, caves/entrances shuffled every time except the wood sword. The "guardian" will appear at the BEGINNING of the dungeon... and I'm hoping to use a "Hint, Item, Puzzle, Solution" system past that for the level's item, and the heart container/level end.
It also features a simplified inventory: Boomerang, Bombs, Torch, Bow/Arrows, Whistle/Flute thing, Health Potion; Raft, Ladder, Ring, Power Bracelet. The open-from-the-start caves include the Wood Sword, Level 1, Level 2, the hint for the changing Lost Woods segment, and the first shop (Shield, Bombs, Torch). The hidden levels can contain up to 5 duds, but may also feature: Level 3, Level 4, maybe a Level 5 if it pads out that much, $15 (x2), $50, the Money Game, second shop (Shield for cheaper, Potion, Ring), a choice between a Heart Container or the White Sword, the Magic/Master Sword, a -$35 trap, a trap that costs you all of your bombs, and a trap that costs you your choice between the torch (or significant $$) or a Heart Container.
For reference, I think I'm gonna max the $ value at 99; and do the $1/arrow thing, too.
A Pico take on MegaMan 9/10's "Endless Attack" mode. 9 scenes of 3 screens apiece with generated platforming/enemy trickery (5 horizontal, 4 vertical); and after every 3 sets of that, a boss phase (with a selection of three "boss arenas"). After you beat the boss, you get your choice between a large health restore, or a new weapon. The weapon toggles with Select, but you don't accumulate them like in MM games, or recover ammo for them. The ammo you get is what you get, and when you take another weapon, it replaces that one, will full ammo. After 8 regular you-like bosses, it throws a fun fortress-style boss, and then a Wily-style boss for the tenth.
Kind of a dummy version of Smash Run from Smash Bros, but with 7 challenge gates, each containing a Smash match (ala Classic Mode). Unlikely to feature actual Smash characters (for a plethora of reasons), but it'll give you a lineup of 8 characters (mostly color swaps, it'll show generated special move sets), the ones you don't choose will be your opponents. Master Hand is a bit much, so "big boss" concept will have to be totally rethought.
This will really max out the Map space, and focus spriting almost entirely on the characters, the tileset, and maybe just a couple of platforming widgets and minor goons to keep it interesting. Create-a-character mode is a maybe; but that would defeat the character generator, wouldn't it?
Return to ZWORD
A Palace-focused Zelda II demake... this starts you off in a one-screen town, then you proceed into a generated palace, formed from combinations of 8 (3-screen across) wide sectors, interconnected by doorways and elevators. There's an item/weapon room, a palace shop, and a place to upgrade your three main stats, Attack/HP/Blocking. None of that magic crap in this game!!
The focus is mostly on Z2-style fencing/combat, since that was the meatiest part of the title, and while it may feature a few little creature-grunts, the majority of enemy design will focus on that as well. Also, instead of passive items, or things that affect "map screen stuff" (that isn't featured here at all), you'll be able to collect and change between an assortment of weapons to fight with; maybe each with their own full-HP projectile attack that, unlike in Z2, isn't completely worthless.
Finish the boss fight, place the seal, and the exit of the palace leads directly to the next town (although there's no turning back at that point!), where the next palace is generated.
Weapons may include: Sword, Pickaxe, Morning Star, Whip/Flail, Spear, Torch, and maybe Boomerang, Magic Rod, Fireball Rod. I also might throw in passive-effect wings for mobility options that Z2 lacked, but that's more a Gentroid thing; and "if there's room/tokens left after everything."
Okay. So my previous attempt at this, using dynamic map generation, hit the token wall. That's what I get for trying to make such a big world out of so few things.
So in this reattempt, I'm planning to use some prefetched scenes, like in these other titles, rather than scripting them to fill themselves with content. So far, the map space plan involves two of the 2x2 screen hubs, 3 vertical corridors, 3 horizontal corridors... and all the connections between them are lateral. There's also a start screen, a "get the item" screen, a pause/status screen, and a 2-screen across boss arena.
Truth be told, I'm still working out how to get the Metroid/SuperMet sensation out of such limited constraints, and if I want the game to be level-based - IE: beat one boss, do the escape sequence, repeat - or nonlinear - IE: finish the entire set of bosses by having multiple preassembled layouts, and then hub those together, and then finish with a single endgame/escape sequence?
What I do have worked out, is the power set. Morph Balls will include the ability to jump with them, btw. But you can only equip one per set, and your mileage may vary. Charge shots become missiles/explosives.
Head: Dark Vision, Block Scanner, Screw Attack, extra HP > Ammo, extra Ammo > HP.
Wing: Slow Fall, Hover, Slow Rise, Momentary Free-flight, Double Jump, Unlimited Jump, Teleport
Arms: Burst Shot (shoots 3x quickly), Double Wave Shot, Double Bounce Shot (~30 degrees), Triple Spread Shot, Piercing Laser Shot, Shot Eraser Sword, Shot Repel Sword, Grapple Beam/Whip, Double Freeze Shot, Basic Shot (to start), Basic Blade (to start)
Core: Resist Heat, Resist Freeze, Resist Shock, Resist Enemy Collisions, Resist Knockback, Resist Shots, Reserve HP
Legs: High Jump, High Speed, Stomp Attack, Water Weights, Magnet Boots (ceiling walk/wall walk?), Sure Stop
Ball: Basic Ball, Speed Ball, Bounce Ball, Spike Ball (can climb walls, hence the Magnet Boot overlap being unnecessary?), Float Ball (on liquids), Cannon/Launch Ball (think Shinespark, but with the ball)
Etc.: Missiles > Super Missiles, Bombs > Power Bombs, Grenades > Super Grenades (first is charge shot, second is direct upgrade to it), Ammo Up, Health/Energy Up.
I'm also thinking of doing a Gauntlet-style thing where your energy counts down like a timer; but every segment has a place to repower yourself; to be fair, but to keep you moving.
A Spelunky demake is very exciting, but also very difficult to fully concieve. There's a huge difference in the control schemes, and it's a very complex game. That said? I'm still sitting on this (haven't really fleshed it out yet), but some things I'm considering in comparison:
-Up + Attack for Rope, Down + Attack for Bomb.
-No crouching, lifting/throwing, or flipovers. Also, no Kali, because there's really no way to do sacrifices now.
-No fall damage, or at least a bigger fall buffer. Possibly fall stunning instead, without the HP penalty?
-Damsels and idols will collect upon contact, but Idols will also immediately trigger associated traps. Maybe some changes to the traps too, to make them more interesting - like the Ice Caves one making a quake that drops all of the falling platforms.
-No Olmec. Really, it's mostly that he'll eat up FAR too much sprite space, or just look like a really ugly, overstretched idol.
A Binding of Isaac demake, but like Spelunky, the control limitations may be tricky to work with. Here's the thought so far:
-Shot button, Bomb button. Hold shot to strafe while auto-firing that direction. Brimstone or Mom's Knife are the only charge attacks.
-No space bar items. Pills give effects immediately upon collecting them. Cards? Not sure yet. Maybe similar to pills - but with no way of identifying them first, it may be better to just not have them at all.
-Powerups are entirely passives, and/or things that influence shots and bombs. Issac's sprite may change color/size, but not very much beyond that.
-Few bosses with more color variants? And on that note, one level per set, rather than two; Hades, Chest, and Cathedral all branch from Womb. So a whole run is 5 levels, basically.
A similar demake of Rogue Legacy, with things trimmed down and the controls simplified. Map is likely to feature mostly single-screen and two-screen chunk segments; and one boss arena with platforms that toggle on/off. It helps that they're all resized basic goons, anyhow.
-Traits and visual effects (somewhat) intact.
-Gear and passive effects available on the manor.
-No Classes/Class Effects. :( This hurts, but I don't have enough buttons for it.
-No dashing/dash runes. Same reason.
-No Magic/Subweapons, and with that, there go the minigames. UNLESS - that replaces the sword entirely, and then you have no sword (or the sword becomes another subweapon?). Not certain on this yet.
-Maybe no fairy chests. It's not that they aren't fun - they're kind of the heart of the game, when you think about it! But having to set aside so much map space for dedicated rooms constructed for many of the challenges will kill the level generation; especially some of the funner ones. The "kill all enemies" thing isn't THAT compelling, is it?
It's just Bejeweled 3. Classic, Lightning, Butterflies, Poker, Diamond Mine, Blitz Modes. shrug Maybe with 360-Blitz style controls? Second puzzle classic after Tetris now, no?
PICO PICO REVOLUTION
A DDR demake that tricks the SFX/Music data by rewriting it on the fly; and editing the framerate to coincide with song tempos (there's a 7.5 factor differencial between FPS and BPM; and it doesn't have to be 1:1 perfect). That said... I wonder if Pico allows L+R or U+D inputs, or prohibits them by default? That could be a problem if it does...
"Feature creep" includes dynamic remix generation (altering the tempo, looping the stepcharts?) or course mixing (basically, chaining one song chorus/verse to the next on the fly, only does the final song's outro). Likely to feature "abridged versions" of popular songs, and only the most vital thereof. At least the spriting is simple in theory!
A somehow-more-minimal Mini Metro?! A Pico-version of Coin Crypt? No idea, just spitting things out now.
Could really use more discussion/insight on the scope of these, and their feasability; or smarter ways to pull this kind of thing off. I see some really incredible stuff already being produced here!
I'm serious! Everything is so gorgeous and animated, sounds fantastic, and I'm all... "I have 64 tiles/frames and sfx/sequences to make THAT happen!?" :o
/curls into fetal position with all my jellybeans
...and here I'm butting my head against a wall, trying to figure out how to correctly phrase "make a sceneID, make a doorway.sceneID table, cross-reference sceneIDs in the appropriate doorway tables."
So, I just barely got started with PICO-8, and I'm very excited to do so.
The idea of implementation so far:
-Title Screen (Simple and straightforward; shuffles the collection of powers and allows the player a selection of game lengths, short being 4 powers, normal being 7 powers, long being 10 powers, and hardcore being 13 powers for the session)
-Starting Screen (a single start/end screen that produces the first neighboring "hub" scene)
-Hub Scene (a single screen blocked on two walls, the layout flips horizontally and vertically to create a four-screen block; with which to branch off transition rooms and corridors)
-Transition Screen (here's where the For loop takes the first 'n' powers, and applies them to the layout; before making the feedback loops relating to the items)
-Horizontal/Vertical Corridors (two endpoints with two or three screens of obstruction along the way, and mechanics defined in part by the powers used so far... the corridors go out from the transition screen, link to a second hub screen, and immediately double-back the same direction, to another corridor, that takes you to the item/prize room.
-Item/Prize Room (has the items, along with a one-way door often utilizing this power, to feed you back to the chamber you came from)
Finally, find a place in the feedback loop to hide two upgrades: a shot class, health up, or damage up, in the terrain that's generated along the way. This completes the item distribution cycle and accomplishes one important thing - it adds a new Hub scene, so now subsequent powers can be chained similarly from more Hubs, expanding the world while basically using the same fundamental setpieces.
Finally, these will function like transition rooms, but for a thing you can collect for completion by utilizing your acquired powers; preferably in a resettable puzzle-like setting. I haven't thought this much through yet, so I'm not sure what I'm going to make these objectives be; but it's certainly part of the original Gentrieve formula that was missing. Perhaps generate a puzzle room that transitions to an objective room?
The powers, so far:
-Rollerball (planned to use more like Sonic Spindash more than traditional "morph ball")
-Shot Power Up
-Piercing Laser Shot
-Shot Eraser/Blade Up
-Shot Deflector/Blade Up
*Shot effects are planned to stack up this time, rather than be toggled; charge shot for Grapple Hook.
Hopefully, the base sprite and rotations thereof will provide the variation of animations and mobility options I'd like to consider featuring...