NEW: Arcade Game Section Added to the Site

There’s not much there now, but I’ve added another section to my website accessible from the menu (or right here) that I affectionately call the Arcade. There you can play ‘Flight of the Stratos Guardian’ (a touch/one-click based endless flyer) and the work-in-progress of the Jet Dancer game (an action platformer). After having some trouble uploading ‘Stratos Guardian’ to the Windows store, I decided to try plopping my stuff right here. Just a fun little idea I had.

Try as I could, I could not figure out how to get the ‘iframe’ any larger on the pages for the game, so I included links to the games on the Arcade page to play them full sized.

By the way, the Jet Dancer game supports both keyboard and XBox controls, so if you have the latter, plug one in before you try it. The controls shown in the options menu will reflect whatever buttons you press to get there.

The Jet Dancer game doesn’t work on mobiles, since I didn’t add any touch controls, but Flight of the Stratos Guardian does (although at least on my smartphone, it took forever to load and the music didn’t play).

I’m just trying things out. Let me know what you think of my games!

Short Game Review: Curses N’ Chaos

Curses ‘N Chaos is a 2D wave-based brawler in which you control one of three characters (the third has to be unlocked) and beat up monsters. It has platformer mechanics (X and Y axis movement, double jumping), but there is no platforming. All you do is fight enemies and bosses with your fists, your feet and the occasional sub-weapon.

And shake your belly if you’re the dude, or twerk (I never thought I would type that word, let alone use it in a sentence) if you’re the girl. This taunt gives bonus points, which is a neat addition.

It’s a very simplistic game, but it’s also quite retro-charming and fun to play in short bursts.

The game is straightforward and elegant; every time you hit anything, your combo counter goes up. Hit 10 enemies and you get increased score for hitting enemies and more money. The more you do this, the higher your multiplier goes, but get hit once and it’s back to the bottom. Money can be used to buy items to start the game with or mixed to create new items. You’ve got five hearts and five lives to make it through ten waves of enemies and beat the boss, and near as I can tell, there are several worlds (but each level is a single screen, so there’s not much to it). It can be quite challenging and even a bit unfair, but it’s still fun to me. It also has 2 player local and online co-op.

I only wish the visuals were better. They work (and look better in motion), but they’re really cheap.

I played the game thinking, this is simplistic fun that would be fairly easy to mimic in a game IDE, like, say, Construct 2 or Game Maker. I should try making something like this, realizing that my Jet Dancer game is perhaps too complicated to develop any further on my own. I could see myself building a game like this with my WEAPON Combat League concept at the core, perhaps giving every character some simple but diverse attacks–only a few–and have many of the characters unlockable. Maybe even include a versus mode.

Thinking of doing random game reviews

I don’t generally play what everyone else is playing. Sure, I get my hands on the occasional AAA game (and often find myself bored with them, as I did with The Witcher 3, Fallout 4 and Final Fantasy XV), but I spend more time playing (and getting engrossed with) lesser-known games that often don’t get mentioned by the big review sites, games like Dex, Stardust Galaxy Warriors and 7th Dragon III: Code VFD.

I was pondering doing brief reviews of such games here on my site. It wouldn’t be done with any regular frequency, but as I want to be an indie game developer, I feel it prudent to study indie games that get my attention, regardless of when they were initially released. Maybe I’ll point you in the direction of a game you hadn’t heard of, or were on the fence about.

I’ll do a trial run, maybe featuring one of the three aforementioned non-AAA titles, and see how it goes.

My Sprite Making Method in a Nutshell

I’ve been getting some questions and interest in how I go about making my sprites for my games. I’m no fan of pixel art or hand-drawn animation. I respect those who are good at it, but I like to focus on more efficient methods, since I have no choice but to do all the work for my game project on my own.

I like to use the common and popular modular animation method, which is basically putting together characters in a ‘paper doll’ like fashion, moving at the joints, rotating the parts and substituting them as needed to make animations as effective and efficient as possible.

Here’s a quick rundown of how I’m putting together the latest addition to my Jet Dancer game, the shield trooper:

First, I started with the same file I used to create the game’s sniper mook. As you can see, every body part is a separate drawing on its own layer. I’m using Clip Studio Paint here, but this is a PSD file.

I imported the parts into Flash using its ‘Import to Library’ function in the file menu, played around with scaling and proportions until I put the shield wielding trooper together like so. I wanted him to be a bit bulkier than the sniper goon.

I spend time making animations in Flash. I don’t use tweening; I just make the animations frame by frame, positioning the parts as I go along. I don’t really NEED Flash to do this, but since Flash is a vector program, rotating the body parts doesn’t cause them to degrade as it would in a raster program like Clip or Photoshop, and drawing in Flash itself is a bit tedious (though that’s exactly what I did when I made the Jet Dancer sprite). And Flash’s animation tools make the actual animation process easy (or at least, I’m used to using it so it’s easy for me).

Once I’m satisfied with an animation, aware that even if it’s a bit choppy, it’ll look better when scaled down, I move to Game Maker. It might seem like a strange choice given that I’m building my game in Construct 2, but while I’m not really fond of Game Maker’s actual game-making IDE, I DO love its internal graphics program. You can easily resize, edit, alter animations, add glow effects and such to your sprites, and export them as perfectly-arranged sprite strips that it and other programs (like Construct) will read. All I have to do is export the frames from Flash as individual PNG files and then import them into Game Maker all at once. They’re immediately lined up in order and you can preview the animation at any speed you want, make any changes, and then save it out as a sprite strip without changing the original files.

Once I have a satisfactory sprite strip, I add it to my game project file in Construct 2 and get ready to add logic to it, which is where the real hard work begins.

That’s pretty much it. I would say the hardest part is drawing the body parts in such a way that they can easily be assembled to make a whole figure. They have to properly overlap and they also can’t be too ‘flat’–not too far sideways, not too far forwards. To save work and keep them looking somewhat dynamic, I try to go for a slight quarter turn with sprites that aren’t going to get a lot of elaborate animations. For instance this enemy will never show his back or need to have any super-smooth turning animations, so one facing direction is fine. For Jet Dancer, I did a lot more. She has front, side and back facing parts and I did an absurd amount of work on her hair (if you can’t tell by how it moves in the game). Speaking of which, in case you haven’t seen it, I made a new gameplay video showing some updates including use of new hazards I’ve been creating. You can check it out below:

JP