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[PC] Steel Assault

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[PC] Steel Assault

Unread postby SriK » 19 Jan 2015 21:07

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Hey guys! This is a 2D action platformer I've been working on for the past few months. Aesthetically it's inspired by late NES games like Shatterhand or Batman, and mechanically it focuses on close combat mixed with Rockman-style platforming (except with a double jump and no instakills). On the hardest difficulty, it's an arcade-style game with one life and seamlessly connected levels. We've just launched campaigns on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, where you can find a trailer and more info:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/43 ... n=a1c16dc4

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/f ... =362287297

You can also check out Steel Assault's official site at: http://steelassault.com

The game started as just a small project in my spare time, to hone my programming and music composition skills, but I got more serious and ambitious about it over time (hiring an artist, putting more work into it, etc.) That's why I'm posting it on here and gamengai for feedback and criticism on what we have so far.

Also, if anyone here has the time and would be interested in being a beta tester, that'd be awesome too; feel free to PM me or post in this thread if you want to. I completely understand if people here don't have the time or don't want to "spoil" the game for themselves though. (We're not currently at a point where we're fully comfortable sending a demo off to others, since the game is still in kinda early stages, but we'll get there soon and that point I'll let anyone who's interested know.)

Thanks for your time, everyone!
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Unread postby icycalm » 19 Jan 2015 21:19

blatant self-promotion what makes you think you can make a thread about a new videogame in a videogame forum banned

But seriously, it looks cool and I'll follow the thread on gamengai to see what those guys think about it.

http://www.gamengai.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3196
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Unread postby SriK » 30 Aug 2017 02:33

Six minutes of play footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1S77gMGzfs

And a few new GIFs, to balance out the old ones above:

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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Aug 2017 05:57

Why does he have no gun? The action could have been far more exciting and varied with a ranged weapon. In Shinobi and Makaimura you have one from the get-go... In your footage, the action isn't boring but it's not terribly exciting either, precisely because you have no ranged-weapon and the melee attacks are limited and repetitive.

Also, WAY too many hit points. And the "emergency teleport" thing... ugh.

Beyond that... it looks fantastic. It blows away anything I've seen by Locomalito, and he does retro best in the West. Also glad to see you've moved past 8-bit and are now solidly 16-bit. The foliage and trees in the first section look fantastic. The music is nothing special but gets the job done adequately. The boss fight is great! (If we ignore the protagonist's billion hit points at least, which allow him to tank a ton of hits.) I only worry if you'll be able to stick to that standard of boss fight for the entire game.

Also, I think the character walks into a ton of fire from the boss, and doesn't take any damage. Repeatedly. I hope it is a bug and not a feature.


P.S. Change the dialogue where he says "Give me a few." It's a horrible expression for a videogame. Use "Gimme a minute", or something like that. Get a decent writer to look over all the text, and don't allow ugly phrases or bad diction to get in there in the form of "programmer dialogue". I am not going to do that for you because I don't want to spoil the game for myself, so find someone else.
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Aug 2017 06:02

He has a bomb thing that doesn't explode?

And the protagonist's sprite is detailed but not particularly attractive or distinctive. If there's one sprite in the entire game you HAVE to get right, it's the protagonist's.

Send your artist(s) back to the drawing board.

And any ETA yet?
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Unread postby SriK » 30 Aug 2017 08:38

Thanks for the quick reply and feedback!

icycalm wrote:Why does he have no gun? The action could have been far more exciting and varied with a ranged weapon. In Shinobi and Makaimura you have one from the get-go... In your footage, the action isn't boring but it's not terribly exciting either, precisely because you have no ranged-weapon and the melee attacks are limited and repetitive.


I've actually been thinking about adding a subweapon with a longer range to vary the action some more (more like an energy whip a la Castlevania than a gun, however). The fact that this is the very first thing you noted now convinces me we need it ASAP, haha.

I'm not sure if I want to depart too heavily from close-quarters action, though. It just feels too cool to dodge and slide under projectile fire, then punch the enemy that was firing at you to death before it can properly react (as opposed to shooting it from a safe distance). So a subweapon with a longer range would probably have some limits on ammo, although not nearly as limited as the grenades.

The possible issue is that this scheme still limits how intense the action can get, but on the other hand, the protagonist is agile enough that I'm hoping it won't be a problem.

icycalm wrote:Also, WAY too many hit points. And the "emergency teleport" thing... ugh.


It's worth noting that, at this point at least, I'm attempting to design the game around the player having one life. (This is probably something you already figured out, since it would be ridiculous to have that lifebar plus multiple lives, but just in case...) But yeah, the damage balance is something I still need to properly tune.

The "emergency teleport" is kind of an ass-pull (why wouldn't the suit designers just let its user teleport anytime, if it's capable of that?), but I couldn't think of a better way to handle that situation at the time. However, now that I'm thinking about it again, if I just change the way the hit stun works then it's fair to make falling offscreen an instant Game Over (since the player would have a decent window of opportunity to recover with the zipline or double jump, as opposed to the current implementation where he's stunned until he reaches ground).

icycalm wrote:Beyond that... it looks fantastic. It blows away anything I've seen by Locomalito, and he does retro best in the West. Also glad to see you've moved past 8-bit and are now solidly 16-bit. The foliage and trees in the first section look fantastic. The music is nothing special but gets the job done adequately. The boss fight is great! (If we ignore the protagonist's billion hit points at least, which allow him to tank a ton of hits.) I only worry if you'll be able to stick to that standard of boss fight for the entire game.


Thanks a lot!! And don't worry, I'm really aiming to keep up this standard throughout the entire game (in both the quality of the boss fights and the variety of locations within a given stage).

icycalm wrote:Also, I think the character walks into a ton of fire from the boss, and doesn't take any damage. Repeatedly. I hope it is a bug and not a feature.


If you mean at (for example) 5:12 when he dodges the machine gun fire, that's a slide similar to the one in Contra: Hard Corps, where you're invulnerable during the fixed slide period. On paper it feels like it could be game-breaking, but in practice you just end up sliding into bullets or enemies when you don't time the slides correctly (or in this case, if you don't time them correctly you end up in the middle of the machine gun fire rather than past it). The patterns are a bit harder to dodge than they look -- at least for me!

icycalm wrote:P.S. Change the dialogue where he says "Give me a few." It's a horrible expression for a videogame. Use "Gimme a minute", or something like that.


Thanks for this, will do!

icycalm wrote:He has a bomb thing that doesn't explode?


He has a grenade subweapon which explodes on contact with an enemy (it's used in the elevator around 2:15, for example). Are the effects not clear enough?

icycalm wrote:And the protagonist's sprite is detailed but not particularly attractive or distinctive. If there's one sprite in the entire game you HAVE to get right, it's the protagonist's.

Send your artist(s) back to the drawing board.


Shit, dude... At this point, I think it's way too late to make changes to the protagonist's sprite, beyond easier superficial things like changing the color scheme of his suit. These sprites cost a ton of money (he has something like 200 animation frames), enough for me to be very, very hesitant about completely redoing them unless it's absolutely necessary.

icycalm wrote:And any ETA yet?


Nope, not yet. I'll update this thread again when we have one.
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Aug 2017 12:21

SriK wrote:The possible issue is that this scheme still limits how intense the action can get, but on the other hand, the protagonist is agile enough that I'm hoping it won't be a problem.


It will be a big problem no matter what you do. You don't make the action intense by barring your character from cool abilities like a proper long-range weapon. You make it intense by giving him ALL THE COOL ABILITIES YOU CAN THINK OF and then properly balancing them so that all are useful under certain circumstances. Shinobi has a long-range weapon for the entire game, as long as he has enough shurikens, so the close-range attack is still useful to conserve them.

As for the grenade, I noticed in one instance that it just hits the enemy's head and the enemy disappears as if he had been hit by a rock. Perhaps I am remembering wrong though.

SriK wrote:It's worth noting that, at this point at least, I'm attempting to design the game around the player having one life. (This is probably something you already figured out, since it would be ridiculous to have that lifebar plus multiple lives, but just in case...)


I think I saw a bunch of lives in the HUD. If so, I am not psychic man, I have no idea of what you are doing beyond what I am seeing, and tons of hit points + tons of lives + instant teleport on death seems like "indie" design to me.

About the sprite... How much money are we talking about? And do you have anything left over from the Kickstarter?

The bottom line is that you have a generic sprite that will do the job, as long as most of everything else is on a higher level than it, but which no one will remember after they've beat the game, which doesn't bode well for you if you ever decide to make a sequel.

Same with the music.

If you want to go for a 4/5+ game you need to fix these two issues. The Shinobis and Makaimuras and Sonics did not get where they are by accepting middling spritework and middling music in their works. If you are aiming for the top, stuff like that needs to be not merely good but epic.

Otherwise, you can release the game as is, and perhaps it will make you enough money so as to make a brand-new IP at a later time with more talent and more work going into the aesthetics. I don't know the financial angle at all, so it's up to you who have more data than me to make the choice.
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Unread postby SriK » 31 Aug 2017 07:39

I think we both agree now that long-range weapons would make the action more exciting. Our only point of disagreement seems to be what the exact balance between long-range action and melee action should be. The style I'm envisioning is closer to Rockman Zero or Castlevania, where melee is your primary mode of attack and long-range is secondary (since the longer-range subweapons in these games either have fairly limited ammo or are weaker than your main attack -- in Castlevania you can sometimes get a dagger like in Makaimura, but it's very weak compared to your whip). You seem to want something like the opposite balance (as in Shinobi, or Metal Slug for an even more extreme example, where you're throwing shurikens or shooting far more than you're slashing or stabbing -- or at least, that's how I played these games). All of these games I'm mentioning are great as far as I'm concerned, but there seem to be much fewer examples in the former style than in the latter, which is one of the reasons why I'm tentative about changing this aspect too much.

I had mentioned the one-life design in the original post (it was inspired by your scoring essay), but it's fair that you assumed this changed, since pretty much everything else has. I also guess you could have mistaken the "special attack" meter on the left of the HUD for lives (more on that in this Kickstarter update, which I think was linked in the Discord a while back). These "special attacks" are something I want to replace anyway, since they are kind of useless and don't feel very special, to the point where I didn't even remember to include them while recording. That's where a more interesting long-range weapon could come in, or even a proper subweapon system.

Looking at my invoices, the sprite cost almost $1,000. It seems like an insane amount until you consider all of the different animations required (the 8 different zipline angles, for example, and the animations for each of them). And it's worth noting that my sprite artist actually undercharges regularly, not only for this sprite but also for many others like the boss (god bless him). I have a little over $2,500 left from the Kickstarter, which I'm projecting is going to get me through about the halfway point of the game (probably a bit less, actually). Then, from that point onwards, it's all out of pocket. I have enough money saved up to fund the rest, but probably not enough to completely redo the protagonist.

But I don't disagree that the protagonist isn't very iconic. It's something I'll keep in mind, at any rate, and fix if I can. It should have been addressed earlier, but I was just too excited at how much prettier the game was getting, and I wasn't thinking very much of how the protagonist compared to those of long-running game series.

The music, on the other hand, is much easier to change since I'm composing it myself. I agree that the themes so far aren't very iconic either, which is something that's been frustrating me as well. I am going to keep trying to hit on something great, though, since this is an area I really want to become good at. And if all else fails and I just can't do it, I hear that musicians are much cheaper than pixel artists, so maybe there's room in the budget for that.

A sequel or new IP seems so far away right now that I've barely even thought about it, but for what it's worth, the protagonist's design wouldn't have to be a limiting factor. He's in a robotic suit, after all, and there's no reason he couldn't use a new fancier one in the sequel.
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Unread postby icycalm » 11 Sep 2017 01:59

http://postback.geedorah.com/foros/view ... 618#p23618

SriK wrote:Hey Recap! I'm the director and lead developer of Steel Assault. I've been a fan of your site for a while, ever since I was introduced to it through Insomnia about 5 years ago. There are some very cool games I would have never known about if not for your reviews (Magical Taluluto-kun or the GBA Steel Empire, to give two examples), and the scanline filter I am using in my game is even adapted from one of ronan's posts in the English section of the forum. (Unfortunately, my Spanish is very weak and I haven't practiced it since high school, so I haven't been able to properly read the majority of your reviews or articles... still, I remember using your SFC Akumajou Dracula review as translation practice before a test back in 12th grade, haha!)

I'd be incredibly interested in hearing any further thoughts you have on the game, whether positive or negative. You seem to really appreciate the nuances of classic Japanese 2D games and of "dot art", and are also eloquent enough to speak about them. That's the type of person whose feedback I could really use myself; as I told zinger recently, it's hard to take the enthusiasm of some of the game's fans seriously when you see they're enthusiastic about literally anything with blocky pixels!

Thanks for your time, and I hope this message finds you well.


lol the "blocky pixels" comment is gold.
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