Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gravitus News!

I made a post earlier about Gravitus, a video game currently in development. You may be wondering, what is Gravitus?

Gravitus is a 2D side-scrolling space-shooter. I describe it as "Starfox, but in 2D," though in reality I draw inspiration from many different shoot-em-up games (shmups).

While still very early in development, I do have an exclusive super-secret-special-pre-alpha gameplay screenshot!

It's not much, I know, but I do wish to improve.  I've got actual plans for this game. I don't want this to simply be something that I run out of steam halfway through and ends up not happening.  I want this to be a complete and full game, and I plan on actually trying to sell this thing.  For money.  To this end, I've actually written down my ideas for what I want to do with this game, and have included them below.  This list is extremely tentative and subject to change on a whim.

Goals for Gravitus

blue for alpha, red for beta, black for final

-new sprite
-fix physics
-Shooting mechanics
--bullet sprite
--'fire' sound effect
--as many as you can fire when you hit the button, but slower fire for holding down button
-death event
-'Do a barrel roll'

Level 1
--New image
--More enemies, better sprites
--Yet More enemies, better sprites, and more variety
--Stuff you can crash into
--Stuff that will just sort of push you away
–main attack
--able to kill him
--able to attack him
--Entrance animation
--Possibly new robot/sprite

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oh dear lord...

I just... ugh...

While the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series had a prominent presence at the beginning of Nintendo’s E3 press conference, Skyward Sword was barely mentioned. Due out this year, we haven’t  heard much lately on the progress of Link’s next adventure
Oh, of course not, that would ruin the "surprise."

Sorry, please continue.
While the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series had a prominent presence at the beginning of Nintendo’s E3 press conference, Skyward Sword was barely mentioned. Due out this year, we haven’t  heard much lately on the progress of Link’s next adventure. Despite the lack of updates, the upcoming Wii title was playable on the show floor in the form of a new demo. I got a chance today to try out three different sections of the game - a bird riding race, a dungeon area, and a boss fight.

Bird riding was a fun segment that featured Link out of his standard adventuring garb. He resembled the farmer version from Twilight Princess, and was participating in a high-flying race for a trophy. It starts with the four participants diving off a cliff, followed by grasping and mounting a giant bird. Shaking the Wii remote makes the bird fly higher into the clouds, and the A button activates a speed boost system not unlike Epona’s carrots from previous games. Your objective is to reach a bird that’s carrying a trophy before any of your opponents, and they’ll eventually get more aggressive. After my first win, my fellow riders started shooting eggs back at me in an effort to slow my progress. Upon catching it the second time, I was treated to a cutscene of Link and an impressed Zelda flying off atop the bird.
And then they break out into song!
I can show you the woooorld...

Yes, I've missed impressing an non-princess Zelda by flying around on a bird.  I haven't done that in a Zelda game since... 

Wait, what?

Second on the agenda was the dungeon demo. This allowed me to experience more traditional Zelda gameplay, with a focus on finding keys, using items to solve puzzles, and defeating enemies. Like in Ocarina of Time’s Deku Tree, giant Skulltulas drop down from the ceiling if you get too close. Unlike those, however, there’s no immediate way to attack their weak spot. Destroying them is a mini-puzzle in itself, and it first requires you to snip their line of web with the flying beetle item. Once they’ve fallen to the ground, they’re still protected by their hard shell. Thanks to the added control afforded by MotionPlus, you can hold the sword near the ground and pop the enemy up to expose their weak point. A few stabs and a dramatic finishing move later, and they’ll be defeated.
You read that right, folks, flip it over and attack it's weak spot for massive damage!
Giant Enemy Spider! Actually happened in ancient Hyrule

After disposing of several of these Skulltulas, I started searching for a key. Flying my beetle around exposed a switch that opened a door, leading me to another puzzle. A gate guarded a treasure chest, and three ominous wall-mounted eyes watched me as I got close. They’d follow the movements of my sword like a haunted house portrait, but would quickly shut if I aimed at them with my bow. Looking around the room, I spotted a box hanging from the ceiling. I cut it down with the beetle, shoved it near the eyes, and stood on top. Now that I was close enough, all three eyes were open and following my sword. I still couldn’t shoot at them, so I spun my sword around in circles. After a few rotations, the eyes got dizzy, turned red, and disappeared. The gate opened, and I received the key I was looking for.
Such innovation! I haven's seen something like this since...


Mario 64!
And it was obvious then, too!

The final section of the demo was a boss battle that relied very heavily on directional sword swipes and well-timed blocks. It was a ghostly white female, although it wasn’t clear what species in the Zelda universe she was. Rather than the immediate action of many Zelda boss fights, this woman slowly made her way towards Link. Her hand followed the movements of my blade, and she would catch it whenever I attempted to strike her. I learned that I had to get her hand set in a specific location, then quickly alter the direction of my swipe and get the upper hand.
 Okay, first things first.
That's a dude.  I know because in Japanese media there's generally two indicators of gender.  Usually rather large, round, and obvious indicators.

Secondly, I assume the 'species' is the same as the sword-fairy-master sword-girl from the concept art.

After striking her numerous times in this manner, she started backing up and throwing projectiles at me in lines of five. I initially dodged them by jumping to the side, but you can also deflect them with your sword if you swipe accurately enough to hit all of them at once. The boss started charging me, and I got another chance to get some hits in after parrying with my shield as the strike approached. When she finally fell, it felt like I had played an entirely different boss fight than any of the dozens I’ve encountered before in the Zelda series.
See, this sounds fun, and it very well could surprise me, but really it just sounds annoying and boring.  Why can't  I have more than one way to attack enemies?
Gamers have complained for years that Zelda is a franchise content to rely on an age-old formula. You may be collecting keys, taking on bosses, exploring dungeons, and pushing blocks again in Skyward Sword, but the 1:1 MotionPlus swordplay really does make a difference. Many encounters with standard enemies feel like miniature puzzles in their own right, as you have to perform actions like flipping the spider on his back before you can take it out. With a new take on enemy encounters, a visually pleasing art style, real-time weapon switching, and fantastic motion controls, Skyward Sword looks to be a great addition to the Zelda lineage.
Why would I want enemy encounters to be miniature puzzles?  I don't want puzzles, I want mechanics.  Like raid bosses in World of Warcraft.  Like a good boss fight.

Why is it that people complain about the boring dungeons, (because they're full of boring, tedious puzzles) so the solution Aonuma comes up with is to make the overworld like one giant dungeon?  To make the boring puzzles into enemy encounters?

Why is it that the solution to 'you only use items once' is to make that stupid flying Beetleborg morpher used for everything?  It's like the seagulls in Wind Waker, and I didn't think that those were worth revisiting.

I really don't think motion controls will impact the gameplay that much (considering how most of the complaints about the formula aren't centered around pushing B to swing your sword) and I sincerely hope that this game bombs just as bad or worse than the atrocity known as Spirit Tracks.

I don't know if I should be screaming in rage or laughing my head off about this game.  At least Spirit Tracks made that distinction obvious.