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[pre-WIP] Salem City Beats

Discussion in 'Game Development' started by eyeteeth, Nov 27, 2016.

  1. eyeteeth

    eyeteeth Swell Supporter Ryonani Teamster

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    so i have an idea for a game, and i am really excited about it, but that is basically as far as i have gotten! i am posting this for feedback and ideas. the game will probably be called Salem City Beats. i will probably make it in OpenBOR, because that seems like the simplest way to go forward.

    the idea for the game is a superheroine-based roguelike beat em up. you start out playing a street level superheroine, sort of like Huntress or Colleen Wing. no powers, just martial arts. if you die, that character is gone and a new superheroine is randomly generated for you to play. if that one dies, a new one comes along and on and on.

    the gameplay involves selecting missions from different areas around Salem City. you go to the mission, beat up criminals, and collect clues about different villains. when you collect enough clues about a villain, you can go to their lair and try to defeat them.

    your heroine's life bar has three segments. when a segment is emptied by damage, you are temporarily defeated, and must attempt to seduce your enemy in order to get a chance to fight again. if you fail the seduction, one of two things will happen: either the enemy you are attempting to seduce will kill you, or if the enemy is a villain's henchman (larger chance of dropping clues), they will take you away to the villain's lair and tie you up in a deathtrap. in the deathtrap, you have one more chance to escape before being killed.

    some nice touches i would like to add are, if one of your heroines dies on a particular level, their body has a chance to show up as a decoration on that level if one of your future heroines goes there. heroines who die in villain death traps will always be on display in the villain's lair.

    the setting for the game is Salem City, which is also the setting for one of my upcoming comics called Salem Sanatorium (it's a parody of Arkham Asylum/City/Origins/Knight). here is some art from that comic.

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    older art:
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    i am really excited about this game but it will be REALLY hard to accomplish! for the moment, i think i am going to start small with a La Mouette Noire game that has just the basic features (three-part lifebar, when defeated seduce enemies to continue).
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
  2. stuntcock

    stuntcock Club Regular Staff Member Moderator

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    One point that's not immediately clear: is this intended as a solo venture (with feedback, testing, etc from Undertow members) or do you intend to recruit people to join your development team?

    Based on very limited research (as in: I hadn't heard about OpenBOR until five minutes ago) I'd advise you to investigate other options. OpenBOR seems like a fairly "technical" engine -- highly optimized, perfect fightstick support, great performance and absolutely solid framerate ... but at the cost of limited flexibility and greater complexity for the dev team.

    If you're looking to incorporate additional game elements (such as Visual Novel scenes, quest/journal logs, mission-selection map, QTE survival sequences, etc) then it might be easier to build your game in a more general-purpose engine. You'd lose a bit of focus (i.e. your fighting sequences might become less crisp) but you wouldn't need to write a lot of custom c++ code (c is a somewhat tricky language, especially if you're new to programming).

    The biggest question, though, is artwork and animation. How do you plan to create all of the art assets for your game? Are you going to pose all of the characters in a 3d program and then export each frame as a separate sprite (like what @Toffi does when creating his games)? Or do you intend to import the characters as 3d models into the game engine and then use collision and skeletal animation in realtime? Are you planning to create different fighting styles and movesets for each character, or do you expect to import them from a pre-assembled animation library?

    Once we have a better idea of your artwork strategy and your game's mechanics, we can probably offer some specific suggestions re: engines, templates, and toolkits. If you've already learned a lot about OpenBOR and you're ready to proceed with it, then please feel free to ignore this point :)

    Is the newly-spawned character just a "reskin" of the dead one -- with the same moves and mechanics? Or would the player need to learn the new character's moveset?

    The latter approach is more narratively interesting (because it creates a greater sense of attachment and loss) but it might also screw up the difficulty curve. You can't expect the player to immediately jump back into the Final Boss Fight with a character whose moves they don't know. So you might need to kick them back a few levels and let them beat up mooks for a while. If this pattern repeats too many times, then it could become frustrating.

    Depending on how this game element is laid out, it might require additional artwork and animation assets (facial expressions, sexy animations, mesh deformation, etc). If you'd prefer to avoid such complications, then you might be able to implement the whole thing differently (e.g. via a text-based CYOA scene).

    It would probably be helpful to sketch out a few concept-art screenshots, so that people can better understand what you're trying to create. They'll then be able to provide more useful feedback, as well :)

    Tricky. "Grinding" is rarely a desirable element in game design. Ideally, once the player has mastered a particular skillset or challenge, you should be prodding them towards the next thing. If story progress is gated behind random drops, then the player will sometimes be forced to repeat content that doesn't challenge them anymore.

    The player can usually compensate for boredom by practicing a new playstyle (or a Nuzlocke-type self imposed challenge) but the roguelike permadeath feature discourages and penalizes them from doing so. The game encourages safe-but-boring play, and then puts the player's entertainment (i.e. novelty, exploration, plot revelations, character development) at the mercy of RNG. There's a risk that the player will simply get frustrated and stop playing.

    I don't mean to say that the idea is inherently bad. There are ways that it could certainly work, such as optional high-difficulty missions which are guaranteed to drop a quest item. Or you can just playtest the game carefully and tune all of the variables so that players rarely get bored. Or accept the grind, but turn the whole thing into a power fantasy by allowing the player to smack down dozens of mooks with each attack (i.e. the Dynasty Warriors approach). It's not a fatal flaw in the game design; it's just a risk to be aware of while you're planning your game.

    Does the player have an incentive to deliberately lose a fight, in either mechanical or narrative terms? I'm not entirely sure based on your description.

    Can the player gain some reward by seducing a miniboss (or escaping a deathtrap) which they couldn't gain by simply winning the fight?

    Is the seduction/deathtrap stuff intended as a "second chance" for the player to recover from a loss? Or is it more of a roleplay thing (i.e. for players who want to see their character get killed and then displayed as a trophy)?

    Neat idea. Are the bodies randomly-generated, or are they just selected from a pool of pregenerated characters?

    Do you intend to use the same art style (and modeling tools, etc) from the comic for your game?

    I ask because beat-em-up games often use an exaggerated or cartoony animation style, in order to blunt the sense of cognitive dissonance. It's tough to like the protagonist after you've seen them beat a thousand people to death; it's easier to accept the violence if it seems very bouncy and consequence-free. It would be tricky to render these realistic characters with squash-and-smear animation techniques; the realistic characters may also require more fine-tuning in their animations (flinch, idle, windup, etc) in order to avoid uncanny-valley creepiness.

    Then again, the high-stakes violence seems to be an intentional design element here ... so maybe the conventional lessons aren't applicable, and the more realistic approach is totally suitable.
     
    eyeteeth likes this.
  3. eyeteeth

    eyeteeth Swell Supporter Ryonani Teamster

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    wow, thank you for the feedback!

    my intent is to try to get the game completed, which i honestly expect will mean that i will do the bulk of the work and possibly even do all of it by myself. but if someone beats down my door wanting to contribute, i will not stop them! :D

    i was going to start with OpenBOR because the way i have seen others do it, you can export someone else's game into an editable condition, and then basically mod it into the game you would like to create. i am much better at modding other people's work than i am in creating my own stuff from scratch (which is why i use Poser :D). i have pretty extensive experience in JavaScript and some basic familiarity with PHP, but i've never worked with C++.

    the other main option i have considered is GameMaker. with GM, it has both drag-and-drop scripting and also regular scripting with a custom language called GML (i think GML is based on JavaScript).

    for artwork and animation, my current plan is to make the models in Poser, then export frame renders. i have done this before a little bit, but not on the scale and complexity i am considering now.

    of course, again, if some programmer comes along and DEMANDS that they be allowed to make it 3d animated, i will do everything i can to help them! but the sprite renders are what is within my own ability to produce.

    new characters are completely new characters. they have their own special moves and animations, and their appearance will be composited from different parts. so a hair part, a head part, a torso part, an arms part, and a legs part. i have not decided, perhaps animations and special moves will be completely random, or perhaps they will tie directly to the appearance parts. so if you have a head part with red goggles, you get a laser vision special move; if you have a certain arms part, you get a three-punch combo as your basic attack. i think that would probably be easier to animate.

    making the modular appearance will be VERY work-intensive. on the other hand, once i have a good process figured out, adding more appearance parts will be very easy.

    regarding difficulty, a new character won't be able to jump right back into the boss fight anyway! clues are tied to the character, so if the character dies the clues are lost. i think the villain locations won't change, and doing missions close to the villain location will drop clues at a higher rate, so you won't really be completely starting from scratch since you know the best place to farm. but you still have to collect all the clues in order to face the villain again.

    as far as grinding, my intent for this game is for it to be basically endless. it's a continual cycle of new villains appearing, tracking them down and defeating them. once you "learn" the game, the difficulty should really gel into a pretty specific range. cycling through new characters is going to be basically mandatory unless you're REALLY really good, because i plan to make the seduction portions and the deathtrap escape portions vary from "easy" to "literally impossible". i know that this could be frustrating in most games, but in this game it kind of ties to the fetish that underlines the whole thing. and because it is an endless roguelike, dying and starting over is just a temporary setback.

    the seduction and deathtrap escape portions i intend to be in-game. i haven't decided how they will work, maybe some kind of DDR-style string of key presses? i don't really know.

    as i intend it now, the seduction/escape portions will be purely for a second chance, in terms of game mechanics. putting certain gameplay elements (powerups, clues for special villains, etc) behind seduction/escape portions is a possibility that i would like to explore eventually but it's not part of the current plan. again, because of the fetish nature of the game, players may CHOOSE to get themselves into seduce/escape scenarios for their own purposes. and again, because of the roguelike/endless nature of the game, that isn't penalized too harshly.

    the bodies are literally the characters that you have played! so let's say you get a character named White Fox (names will also be generated), with Head A, Torso B, Arms F, and Legs D. while playing White Fox in the Industrial Zone, you lose a life section and fail to seduce. the mooks White Fox was fighting strangle her, and you cycle to a new character named Razorwing. Razorwing goes back to the Industrial Zone... and while fighting through the level, she passes by White Fox's body (with Head A, Torso B, etc) hanging from a steam pipe! or if White Fox was shot to death, you will see her sprawled on the floor with a pool of blood.

    you won't see previous heroines EVERY time you go to the level, but the levels will be procedurally generated and the defeated heroines will be one of the decoration options that can be placed (once) in the level. the more defeated heroines there are, the more likely it will be to come across one.

    yes... part of my interest is in making that consequence-free violence feel more consequential, if not necessarily more "real". i like the mix between almost cartoonish ultraviolence and characters who do not act cartoonish.

    good idea, i will start working on that!


    i am considering, if this project really gets off the ground, making a Patron for it and other future games. i think if i am able to get a proof-of-concept simplied game created, with just the fighting and the defeats and the seduction, i will go to Patreon and try to make a real project.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
  4. eyeteeth

    eyeteeth Swell Supporter Ryonani Teamster

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    i am also considering some kind of violence level setting, where you can set your game to Ryona or Guro. the game as i've described it would be Guro. on Ryona, instead of dying the heroine would just be permanently knocked out. same mechanics and everything, they just wouldn't be obviously dead.
     
  5. eyeteeth

    eyeteeth Swell Supporter Ryonani Teamster

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    updated art
     
  6. eyeteeth

    eyeteeth Swell Supporter Ryonani Teamster

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    after looking around, i think i am going to work with Game Maker Studio. i have found a beat em up extensions that provides the basic setup for a game that i can start working on. one reason i am going with GMS is, for $199 there is an HTML5 export module. so if this game does well, i can afford to make it playable online. probably not multiplayer or anything like that, but high scores and things like that.

    another decision i have made, my first step will be to make an extremely basic version of the game starring Black Bat. no randomized characters, no clues or deathtraps, probably just one level to start out. it will basically just be Black Bat fighting mooks and trying to seduce if she is defeated. i will start working on sprites this week.