2015.05.18 Boss 101 Lightning Guns and More

Thanks for stopping by and welcome back to the Boss 101 weekly update! A smorgasbord of goodies awaits you this week!

Weapons – the Lightning Gun

In the quest to bring you rocking gameplay and boatloads of fun we added this dandy into the player’s arsenal – the lighting gun. Yeah, it is not only powerful but can target nearby enemies automagically and jump around to all local targets. When there is a lot of action on the screen is makes for a pretty sick show.

The player’s version can be upgraded to allow for better targeting and more damage. It’s great for clearing the area of those pesky bad guys. Check it out!

Of course the bosses will have their own version. You might want to give it a wider berth since it can do serious damage. Of course you will be able to mitigate the damage with various upgrades but in the meanwhile – steer clear buddy!

Making Boss Levels

Work continues on the final levels of the game – SUPER BOSS LEVELS! Just a peek at what is going on but we have in progress shots of the before and after art as it is being created.

The setup

Initial layout – we look to integrate new art with existing art. In this case we have a set of pillars we are already using. These caps are for decoration and variety.

The Black and White

All niced up with some fancy art. From here they get colored and prepped for use in the game.

Animations from the Boss Command Center

Looks like Max & STEVE set off alarms at robo HQ. Late night raids do that.

Making a Game – a look at the bigger picture

Occasionally we bring you a look at the How to Make a Game series we’re putting together for our friends at Indie Game Riot. Here is a snippet from the latest this week.

OK, you have your basic game loop and now you want to expand beyond that. Well, what do you do after that? Good question – you lay out the entire game in rough form as soon as possible!

You see, the temptation is always to spend time on things like polishing up this or that specific system but the real thing is you are making a game. A game has a lot of parts and you most likely aren’t a huge team. Completeness is your weapon against forgetfulness and running out of time.

Specifically I am referring to the situation you will be in when you make a cool game loop and a few awesome little gameplay features. You might sit back and thing “All locked down now!” but you aren’t. not even close. You’re making good progress though so stuck with it. Start laying out all the game loops you can think of. For every system. This includes all the UI potentials, all the gameplay modes, all the little things like loading and saving.

Break large areas down into smaller ones but don’t stop at any one area. “But Tim, won’t I just be skimming through a ton of important things?” Yes, my friend and that is exactly the point. You want to get a real assessment of all the systems which are in your game. From years of experience the best way for this assessment is to just make the game. Not plan it or think about it or imagine it will all be OK later. Just make the systems and see how they work.

I do recommend you put the systems in on a first pass level. That means they are working with a UI that is not all temp art. You should always make an effort to put in good art and good code. That is also part of the exercise.

Hope you enjoyed this look and more to come.

As always – live your dreams!

-Tim

2015.05.10: Boss 101, pixel art setups!

Welcome back to another weekly update!

We have:
– Pixel Art setups in Boss 101
– Boss 101 and Indie Game Battle
– Camping time with STEVE and Max

**Pixel Art setups in Boss 101**

Let’s get right down to it with a look at the pixel art process on Boss 101 or “how we do what we do art-wise”. What you need:

The Basics

Pixel Program – we used Photoshop for the art. It’s not better or worse than many of the other awesome programs out there. It’s just what we use. It’s nice because:
– Layers (ESSENTIAL for rapid art development)
– each layer can have an overall effect applied to it to influence the underlying art. For instance – you can use a layer with a gradient to darken and shadow a layer underneath. Very useful.
– Solid program not prone to crashes. I’ve used Photoshop for nearly 21 years and I think it has only crashed out completely on me maybe 4 times.
– Animation tools for .gifs are pretty good, I’m hesitant to say they are amazing in Photoshop but they can get the job done well.
– Folders – Essential for separating the various pieces and components of art. Also allows you to store multiple files in the same location for easy reference and referral.

[Cloud] Backup Service – I cannot stress enough how important it is to actually save and back your work up ALL THE TIME. May you never experience the incredible sad panda of seeing your work erased in a power outage. When that happens you cry, you wail, you promise to NEVER let it happen again and worst of all… it’s totally your fault since you should know better. Get a free Dropbox account, Google Drive or something. If you want Snowden level security you will probably have to pay for it but most of us don’t need 4096 bit encryption for our pixel cat art.

Setting things up

Group similar items:
If you have a collection of similar items (we have a collection of player guns, player hats and bosses that get grouped together) your best bet it to put them all in the same Photoshop file. Saves a huge amount of time and makes the work a lot easier than having 200 little .PSD’s all over the place. This is a shot of our allHatsFile.psd. You can see we store 100’s of hats in one file.

(sample of our hat working file)

Work on things in batches if possible.
If you are perhaps making guns for your main character, you would benefit from making all the same types at the same time. They reason for this is you end up saving design time since you are laying out all your ideas at the same time. The avoids pattern repetition, as well as mistakes and lets you focus on the creative but putting all similar ideas in front at the same time. It’s much easier to see outliers and weird things when you have a nice lineup going.

(sample of our guns which were drawn in batches)

Work on things in layers and start with black and white art first
I mentioned this in a prior post but starting with black and white is probably best for a lot of reasons. First and foremost you are probably not that good at color. SORRY! It’s true. I mean you might get lucky once in a while and get some compliments when you bolt right in with color work but unless you’re an art major and have studied color theory trust me on this. Do the first pass of your work in Black and White and it will save you a ton of time. Black and white shows your contrast areas and detail in the clearest way possible. Color will accentuate a strong black and white base drawing but a weak color drawing is normally weak because of bad color choice (obviously) OR it doesn’t have enough contrast. The black and white will let you focus on the important stuff first.

(sample of a black and white starter image)

From there the way to go is put your shading in a separate layer. This allows you to tweak and tune the look

(sample of a black and white shader layer)

 

(sample of the shader layer applied to the base black and white – used the ‘Overlay’ layer effect in Photoshop)

Then you can just add in the color layer and play around till you have something you like.

(sample of color – notice it is all flat shaded)

 

(sample of color layer applied to the final black and white – used the ‘Color’ layer effect in Photoshop)

As you can see once you have everything all tidied up in Photoshop, separated in layers, setup for colors then you can dig in and play around with intensity and color experimentation. You will like the fact you can adjust the shading layer but keep the great colors you found. All in all this is one of the most efficient ways I have found to work. It is not the fastest AT FIRST because there is setup involved but the overall effect is a much faster workflow and a strong piece of mind. An added bonus is the tweak and changes are a lot easier too. Of course, if you do everything perfectly on the first try you probably don’t need to change anything so just work as you please! HAAAAAAAAA!!!

Boss 101 and Indie Game Battle

STEVE and Max in Indie Game Battle by Blob Game Studios!

Well we are SUPER flattered to be asked to be included in Blob Game’s Indie Game Battle. We were contact earlier about permission to bring STEVE and Max 9and their trusty machine gun) into the world of IGB and we are STOKED to present to you the first images from their appearance.

CHECK THESE OUT! Are you excited?! We are! HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

(two shots of the guys in Battle)

 

More details on their IndieDB page here so check it out when you have a chance!

http://www.indiedb.com/games/indiegamebattle

Camping time with STEVE and Max

Boss 101 STEVE and Max, guys’ night out. Camping time and ghost stories!

OK – hope you enjoyed that look at the process we use and as always…

LIVE YOUR DREAMS!

-Tim

2015.05.04: Making the UI for Boss 101

Hello again and we are back with UI talk and a peek at how we go about making the UI for Boss 101.

User Interface (UI) – overall thoughts

The safest way to start is to say UI should be functional and consistent. Functional in that buttons, visual cues and actions the player take all work and make sense. Consistent in that you should keep a theme or look across the whole dad-blamed thing. Nothing is more confusing for a player than having a bunch of random fonts, colors and button sizes from panel to panel in a game. It’s a bad way to bring the player into the action of the game and in some cases may prevent them from playing your masterpiece.

When we work on an interface we normally begin with a sketch in Photoshop or similar program. In most every case we take art from the game and work on top of that. The reason here is you want to look at your work in context. Use the same colors and visual themes. When you have a screencap or the original file at hand you can pick colors and cues while you work and also just get a sense of the shapes.

The Make A Boss Equip Screen

So – in our Make a Boss room we have a button which brings up an equip panel where you can adjust your current weapon and hat. The idea here is to let you the player kit yourself up the best way possibly to battle the bosses. Since they are rolled randomly we wanted to give you this one last chance before battle to lock in your choice for items.

So we took this first screen cap here as the base to work with. This is our reference for the colors and look of the area we’re working with:

From there we do a quick first pass to block in the area we will be working on and control the space we want to use. This is not intended to be final so we’re not exactly looking for artistic perfection. That said – color and general shaping is good to consider. The deal is if you are too sketchy and unrefined then it’s really hard to judge what is happening.

Allright – that came out OK, not awesome but the major movements are there and things are still missing. Control surfaces are undecided but the whole thing didn’t take but 30 minutes or so.

Now with that out of the way, the design was left to sit for a night. The next morning I (Tim) discussed the basic functionality with Joshua (our programmer). Right off the bat he had a few suggestions about ways to improve the look and was able to answer a few questions about how the panel might function. We had a long Skype call and the result was this:

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!! What the heck! Well, those are meeting notes and I understood what they meant so I went to work. Some of the stuff we spoke about were a control pad type switch-out for the various hats and guns. Up and Down for Hats and Left and Right for the guns. I wanted to explore that idea which lead to this:

Ok – so that looks a lot more like something we would use! YES! Notice we added in a reference shot of Max with some hats and weapons mashed in so we can see how much space things might take up. From here the next steps are to polish up the overall look and add in needed iconography to the page. EASY-PEASY – well you get the idea. The major movements are done and the polish is arguably the funnest and easist part since all the big decisions are made. There may be more tweaks of course after some playtesting but we are good for now!

That’s it for today’s UI talk so let’s take a quick look at the latest in our series of How To Make a Game!

This week’s topic is perspective! Keep it or lose it!

Full article here – How To Make a Game – Part 14

Perspective is simply your point of view toward your game project.  Sometimes you want to zoom that view way in but most of the time you want to keep it far out so you can see what’s happening. There are a lot of ways to make a game and some people advocate things like a vertical slice (which is essentially building a representative portion of the game with all working parts). Others might tell you to work on everything at once. I can tell you from experience anything can be made to work if you have enough time and money. Let’s assume you have limited amounts of both and here’s how perspective can help you finish your game sooner and better.

One thing we do with Boss 101 is constantly pull back and look at the game as a potential customer might. We assess the value of the game based only on the screenshots we have released and the information out there. We put aside for the moment we’re the creators and we already know how wonderful the game is. The deal here is we are looking at it like a real life customer would. This is incredibly helpful. Another obvious thing is to look at similar games and see where you stack up. The intent is to compare the overall polish of a game you hold dear with your current efforts.

There are plenty of times you will want to micro focus on art, mechanics and code. Ideally this all happens after a big picture moment or once the plan has been laid out. Diving straight into machine gun art or character modeling before any prelim deign has happened is risky at best.

Once you have your direction then we are into what most people would agree is the heart of game making. This is where you are doing heavy lifting and getting the game made. Art assets, code, sound and countless other specific game tasks would fall into this realm. You will need to remove all distractions to do your best work.

OK – hope you enjoyed this look at some of our process and join us again next week for a continued look at the magic behind the scenes!

Remember to always live your dreams!

-Tim

2015.04.26 Boss 101 – Boss Trains and Tuning!

Welcome back to the latest and greatest news on Boss 101. We have a few things on the table. Game tuning and tweaking and BOSS TRAINS.

Train talk

Let’s get rolling with some BOSS TRAIN talk. ROLLING I SAY!

Well, one of the later levels of the game has one bad mofo guarded a particularly important outpost. This guy will rock you six ways to Sunday and come back for more each time. Boss 101 sent one of his most deadly (and cool looking) buddies to make trouble for you. He’s a giant segmented train with each section representing some of the most powerful boss parts you can face. One section – JUST ONE SECTION of MANY has a powerful lightning gun ready to blast you out of the sky should you get too close.

Did we mention his name is Tom?

Here’s a VFX sample of the gun warming up for a blast.

Of course – you can take this section out but you need to be ready to dismantle the rest of the train too. It won’t be enough to blast once car – you gotta get ‘em all.

Keep on the looking for more updates about this guy as we get closer to release.

Design and Tuning

We spoke earlier about the tuning phase of the game and we wanted to elaborate a little more on that. Thing is – in any game it benefits from some basic game flowchart designs. In many cases your game or any game you are working on, making or playing is made up of a bunch of choice from moment to moment. The better the designers can predict and implement the most fun choices the better you are as the player of the game.

We have sat down earlier and laid out many of the menu choices. These are arguably the easier of the flow charts to make since the choices are all straightforward and don’t really deal with a lot of player variables (unlike game play moments). Here are a few close-ups and larger zoom outs of the game we are working on. Mind you the larger zoom outs are for reference only to give you a sense of the complexity that can spring from a few simple buttons and presses on the menus.

How Guns Work at a basic level

Zoom out

Zoom in (detail)

How Hats work (overall integration with the gameplay)

Zoom out

Zoom in (detail)

How the Pause menu works

Zoom out

Zoom in (detail)

Tuning continues

We’re bring you the fun and working to make battles awesome! Check out this snippet!

That’s all for this week and look for more next week! Thank you again and your comments or questions are welcome.

Remember to Live Your Dreams!

-Tim

2015.04.19 Boss 101 – Bringing you the story

Welcome to the weekly update! Story and Bosses, Two great things that go great together!

Story:

Doesn’t come up a lot in the updates but rest assured there is entertainment in Boss 101 beyond the awesome battles. Our goal is to give you a glimpse into the universe of Boss 101. We want to show you what is going on and hint at the larger forces in play. We know much of the the game boils down to cool arcade action but that’s not stopping us from plotting out a narrative for you to enjoy and follow. Here’s how we are planning it.

In-Round Dialog:

You’ve seen this. Bosses, Steve and Max talk with each other at the beginning of and during rounds. This is the basic stuff to give you the flavor of their personalities.

Making a Boss Room and various Command Center moments:

This is similar to the in-round work where you are seeing the guys and their friends react to various stuff happening in the game.  You will hear the visitors call into the Command Center and get to listen to conversations with ROB (their IT robot and part time chef)

Kite Room:

This is where you can just hang out and relax between battles. Fly a kite and listen to the guys talk about what’s on their mind. You might learn a few important things about STEVE and his past.

Game Cinema’s:

Overall storytelling in and there for a reason. We have a delivery system for these we believe you will enjoy. The idea is to give you narrative as YOU want it with the ability to play and replay as you like it. We’re working on this to make it special and memorable for you the player.

The point of all the above is there will be an underlying reason and motive for the way things are in the game. If you want to play and enjoy the game for pure arcade fun you can do that but always available will be the personalities and the history of the Boss 101 universe.

It sounds crazy but I think it’s as fun to help create the backstory as it is to work on a lot of the bosses and battles. The other day we were talking about the Command Center and why exactly would Max and STEVE have this awesome and advanced place to hang out in. Of course once the light bulb went off it made so much sense and wrapped a lot of the other pieces together too. YOU TOO will find out what’s going on when you play (or maybe read a Wiki article, HAAAAAAAAAAAA).

Bosses!

This time around we are looking at wrapping up another large scale boss. I’m going to put in a couple in progress shots of what you can expect. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what’s going on here. Let’s just say it’s going to be pretty epic and we think you will like it a lot. This guy is “on track” to be an awesome boss! GET IT!?!?!? ON TRACK! That’s a hint!

Some regular and destroyed states for part of the boss:

 

Just know this – we care about Boss 101 a lot. It’s a fun game and a great experience for us. We’re working every day to bring you our best and earn your purchase.

Remember to Live Your Dreams!

-Tim