The Official BOSS Roster!

After many long nights of designing and redesigning as well as long phone conversations collaborating with Josh we now have the OFFICIAL BOSS ROSTER for Neon the Ninja!

After literally slicing her way to the top, The Geisha Assassin is now the leader (and chief executioner) of the Yakuza. Her true identity is unknown, as she never removes her mask, but some say only a blood-stained skull lies behind it. Although her name and face may never be discovered, her brutal business dealings are well known all over the world. And she plans to keep it that way.

It’s no secret that when a new Pope is elected, he receives the holy abilities of levitation and pyrokinesis. What the Church doesn’t want you to know is that they sometimes choose the wrong candidate. How does one know a bad leader is in place? Sometimes it’s a series of disastrous meetings with the press or pronounced drops in church attendance. Other times, however, it’s the pile of burned bodies sitting outside of the commander’s office.

Hero-villains are born, not made. Such is the case for Big Kim, who exited his mother’s vaginal canal with a triumphant cry of “Seize all who oppose us!” Yes, Supreme Leader Big Kim is the world’s youngest head of state – and he behaves like it. But come on, the guy is loved all over the world, and he has the pictures to prove it. Whether shooting hoops with forgotten (and reportedly banished) NBA nitwit Dick Dickman, or having dinner with a hologram of Adolf Hitler, Kim is certainly a man of the people. And, oh yeah, he has nuclear weapons, lots of guns, and no conscience.

ATM, a rapper from the ATL, has sold over 10 million units of his debut album, “Advi$er.” Its singles, including “Liquid Assets” and “Private Placement,” are mainstream hits not only because of their memorable beats and instrumentation, but also their solid financial advice. Though generous in his willingness to share information on the best investment opportunities, critics have begun to question the companies ATM supports. They want to know why all of these companies manufacture futuristic weaponry, and more importantly, why the CEOs keep “disappearing.”

The Recluse is a former American business magnate, investor, programmer, inventor, and philanthropist. He is the founder and original CEO of SwagSoft®, the world’s largest personal-computer software company. Perhaps the weight of these accomplishments and responsibilities became too much for him, as he eventually became obsessed with what he called the “inevitable Mayan Apocalypse that would destroy us all and maybe, just maybe, bring us face to face with the Mayan god of death.” No one has seen or heard from him since he rocketed out of a SwagSoft® board meeting with the company’s only prototype of its multi-billion dollar jetpack.

Neo-Cleo is many things. She’s a combat specialist, roboticist, and daughter of the world’s most revered archaeologist, Sir Eugene Cleopatra. Indeed, she has a considerable claim to fame. Despite being influenced by her father, Neo-Cleo disagrees with the old man on one minor issue: She believes true power can only be obtained through the unholy union of science, technology, and the occult. In a quest to prove herself right, she’s enclosed herself in a heavily fortified Egyptian pyramid where she eagerly pursues the secret to world domination.

Not content with being heir to the most powerful drug trafficking family in Eastern Europe, “The King” decided he’d rather become the world’s most powerful Elvis impersonator. Thus, he grew his sideburns to a suitable length and moved his clandestine operation to the only city capable of truly appreciating his Presleyian abilities: Las Vegas. In addition to adoring the King’s spirited renditions of Elvis’ hits, the city fell equally in love with his high-quality cocaine. And neither his show nor his blow are going away any time soon, as every detective assigned to investigate the King for drug trafficking has turned up dead. Or maybe you could say, “all shook up.”

New Year! New Build!

GameTest

Club

I’ve made a lot of changes to the prototype over the last few months. This is essentially Tokyo 2.0 with the amount of level re-working and art style updates that I’ve added. Here’s the breakdown.

  • Shurikens – these throwing weapons will stun a Yakuza long enough for you to stab them to death. They will also instantly kill a Cambot.
  • Suit Swapping – You can switch suits colors at any time and the level was heavily re-designed with this in mind.
  • Stealth Kill Spin Attack – You can now Stealth Kill from below in certain situations where you are stealthing by the enemy. Push the attack button and you will throw yourself into a helicopter spin attack.
  • 3 attack combo – If you press the attack button fast enough you’ll do two sword slashes and a spin attack. This attack will not prevent you from getting shot by yakuza unless you stun them first.
  • Multiple Paths – the prototype now more accurately represents how I want the final game to feel. There are two primary paths that you can take to get through the level one focused on platforming and the other more focused on stealthing.
  • Camera – A lot of work put into having the camera adjust depending on your direction, how your stealthing and jumping dampening. Overall it should just “feel better”. Also you can toggle wide view by pressing in the right joystock.

Those are the main new features. I’ve left out the Boss fight in this build because it’s still a Work in Progress. However I’d love your help with finding bugs and giving me overall feedback with the current build as they’ve gotten less and less obvious.

There are two versions of the build one is controller mapped to the Wii U Pro gamepad and the other is mapped to Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers. Both versions have keyboard and mouse controls but as always I would recommend a gamepad.

Controls2

Controls1

 

Neon is Evolving.

CharactersRecently, I was motivated to create a brand new promo image for the game. Something dynamic and iconic. Something that pushed the art style with lush colors, shiny glares, glows and blurs.

I love how the image turned out but when I compared this Neon with the one that is in-game it was a bit of a let down.

“We can rebuild him.”

So I tried to bring in the elements that I really loved in that promo image in-game.

  • I added a glow to his swords but tried to keep it looking like a glare off of the camera more then a light source emanating from the swords I’m going to try and fluctuate the glare depending on the animation to enhance the effect.
  • His brow is much thicker making his head shape more iconic from a distance. When you combine the more exaggerated brow with the blue eyes there’s an insanity to his stare that’s a lot more interesting.
  • His suit has a lot more variation in color. In previous versions the simple gradient insinuated just the one light source. Now his suit will look more reflective and should really liven up his animations as he twists and turns.

You might notice that the majority of Neon’s look hasn’t changed. The hardest part is sorting out what is working from what isn’t but I think the more time you spend with a character or art style the more obvious the little things become.

This is the perfect example of the kind of polish that while a bit time-consuming can really enhance the production quality of a game.

Releasing on the Wii U (FAQ)

Q. Is this as awesome as it sounds?
A.
Yes, if it sounds like I’ll be able to release the game on the Nintendo eShop without having to go through a publisher.

No, if you think it means I’m getting flown out to Japan to meet Mr. Miyamoto about a million dollar advance. It’s not like signing a record deal it’s more like getting access to a special club.

Q. Sounds exciting how did this happen?
A. Apparently, having a presence in social media and showing off your work early really can help.

Q. How will this change development of the game?
A.
The cool thing is the Unity Engine is compatible with all the new consoles so I’ll be able to continue building the game as I have been.

The big thing that I’ll have now is access to Wii U tablet/controller functions for cool little things to enhance the experience like an interactive level map, equipment screen or the ability to play the game on the controller.

Q. Have they given you any deadlines or launch dates?
A.  No, I’ll have full control over the launch date which is great considering I’m still doing the development part time. I am still looking into crowd funding (once I have all of my ducks in a row) in order to go full-time and speed up development.

Q. So are you still launching on PC?
A. Absolutely, the current plan is to release simultaneously on the PC, Mac, Linux and Wii u.

Q. Aren’t you worried you’ll get “screwed over by the man”?
A. No, because games aren’t cheap or easy to make and with this setup we both win.
They’re getting a game (without having to spend any resources developing it) for their console when I finish it. I’m getting access to the Nintendo market (which I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise) and am still releasing on PC, Mac, and Linux just as I initially planned.

Q. Have you gotten your exclusive Nintendo Members Only jacket yet?
A.
No, but I’m assuming it’s in the mail.

Q. So what’s next?
A.
I’m hard at work on the official website, first trailer and polishing the prototype level. Once I have all of these at a good point then I’m going to need another round of play testing from you guys so stay tuned!

Responsive Soundtrack

Music

Video games are an interactive media. When you push certain buttons the images on the screen change and different sound effects are triggered to create the illusion of a virtual world.

One way the game can respond to the player’s actions is through music. A well known example of this would be in Super Mario Bros. When the player starts running out of time the music speeds up in tempo. Since this happens the player immediately knows that they are running out of time to complete the level.

Super Mario World has another more subtle example. When Mario rides Yoshi drums are added to the background music.  This gave the player an audible reward by filling out the song making the experience feel more complete. When Mario dismounts the drums fall out echoing the change in gameplay.

I wanted to try something similar with Neon’s music by having the level music respond to  how you are currently playing the game. The idea is if you are crashing through windows the song will be loud and energetic, but when you are in sneak mode the track will fade into something more subdued to reflect the players actions.

It was a fun idea that I added to my “wishlist” but as animating and programming continued to take up so much of my focus it seemed that I would never get around to it on my own.

Then I found Chris Sinnott. We discussed how to match the sound of Neon with the art style by giving it the attitude of a 90’s anime. Energetic, unapologetic melodies with high quality samples and wicked guitar work. He also had the idea of showcasing some classic Japanese instruments (since that’s where the prototype level is taking place).

Listen to this mini-masterpiece.

His next challenge was to work on the alternate version of this song for stealth mode. I was a little worried about this one but I have to say it turned out great!

Finally, it was up to me to implement them in game. I love it when a plan comes together!

Let’s get testing!

GameTest

Alright here’s a quick primer before you try out the prototype.

1) If you can get a hold of a USB controller or have an Xbox or Playstation controller that has a USB cord it’s pretty easy to download a driver. (Though depending on your setup it could be plug and play). You will have a much better time with a controller because platformers just don’t translate well to Mouse/Keyboard.

2) You can still play the game with Mouse/Keyboard but you can’t rebind the keys currently as I’m still trying to find the best solution for that.

3) At the bottom of this blog you will see a breakdown of the controls but also if the you pause the game by pressing the “Start” button or the “P” key you can find the controls in-game if you need to refresh.

4) You can download the latest build for here just unzip and click.

5) After you’ve had your fill of the prototype please fill out this questionnaire. Also feel free to contact me through twitter, facebook or email with any suggestions or questions or comments you might have.

 

Keyboard/Mouse – Controls

Controls_Keys

360 – Controls

Controls_360

Neo-Tokyo’s Evolution.

Discussion

As I’m nearing the completion of my Prototype level of Tokyo. I thought it’d be interesting to look back at the different iterations I’ve been through.

ConceptTokyo_05

From the beginning I knew I wanted to have Neon jumping on roof tops and crashing through skyscraper windows. I experimented with colors and building shapes and the effect looked really unrefined. It was rough but it was a start.

Tokyo_look2

In my second draft I changed everything I wasn’t happy with. The buildings originally looked too flat and too varied in style. So I re-designed them at an angle with a more uniformed look.

I took extreme measures to tame the color palette and consolidated all of the background pieces to shades of blue with some small exceptions for signs. Finally, I knew I was headed in the right direction as this really made “Neon” pop off the screen.

Mock_Tokyo

Version 2.5 shows some smaller changes I made as I built the scene in the engine. I brightened up the sky and the Mountain to add depth to the scene. I also added the UI and some example character animations so my Mockup would show my progress.

Mock_TokyoO

Recently, I’ve thrown in a larger set of buildings to create even more depth in the scene. Rolling the blue tones to a brighter teal really drives home the electric glow of the city.

Mock_TokyoGY

I’ve also added a second suit color because I really want to showcase different routes and objects to blend into based on the color you choose. This bright green really pushes the contrast here. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind why this ninja calls himself “Neon”.

Stealth Kill – Gameplay Footage

Video

So it’s been a little bit since I showed off Gameplay footage. I’m trying to save some surprises for the play-testing which will start (in the next month or two). That being said I really wanted to show off a Stealth Kill to those who haven’t seen it in action.

Something else you’ll notice are the particle effects that I’ve added that I finally feel are working.  The Particles are generated at run-time and add a little more juice to the game. They are the newly added sparks flying off of Cambot and Blood splashing out of the Yakuza when damaged.

I’ve added a Wall Slide that slows your descent if you butt up against a wall (very much like Mega Man in his games) and it’s the first step to Wall Jumping (which is more complicated to do right then I initially expected but is in the works.)

Also, thanks to a helpful redditor all of the Japanese text in game is authentic Katakana, Hiragana, or Kanji” now. So it’s not just gibberish anymore. The signs say incredible things like “Sushi” and “Hotel”.

Smarter Not Harder!

Discussion

This month I’ve been hitting the interiors pretty hard adding content to the demo in between trying out combat ideas. I hand-drew and animated a few games for the arcade that I showed off last post. While I’m very proud of them it does take a while to put them together.

So I had this silly idea of trying to contact other Indie Game Devs for content. The thought being they already had made a logo and gameplay footage for their project. If they sent me the files I’d get content quicker and they would have their game displayed in my finished arcade scene.

I was thrilled with the response I got through the reddit r/gamedev community and currently have completely filled my virtual arcade. These are some of my favorites.

To date I received a total of 16 submissions and I’m toying with the idea of adding another story to the arcade if I keep getting more. Either way it was an awesome experiment!