Bleed 2 Pre-Natal…?

Time for something a little different. I’d like to discuss my approach to making Bleed 2, and how I’m attempting to develop it in a way that maximizes both my enthusiasm for work and the quality of the game — two things that can really suffer during long development cycles.

A scrapped boss for Bleed 2. I’m adding a few pics in here to break up the wall of text.

Bleed 2 has existed in some form or another for almost two years now — I actually have a back-up from Jan 1st 2013, when I was first re-designing Wryn’s sprites . Back then, it wasn’t “Bleed 2″ — it wasn’t really anything, just me having fun and working on my art between other projects. But the more I played with it, the more I thought about it and the more it seemed like there could actually be a second Bleed. The problem is, there are some major hurdles that come with a large undertaking like this. I’m not sure if the experience is universal, but I suspect it may be.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to get excited about an idea, but that initial excitement only takes you so far. You ride the high for a while — you lay the foundation, you make a couple of test levels and some enemies — all these fresh, new things are coming together! Your dreams are being made manifest and you’re on top of the world. But the more you accomplish, the less instant the gratification becomes. The initial burst of enthusiasm eventually fades, and the enormity of the task before you stretches out for what seems like eternity — you still have an entire game left to realize. At this point, completing the game becomes a labour of love. It’s worth it in the end, unquestionably, but in the thick of it motivation takes a serious hit, and quality can really suffer as a result.

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Week In Review — Dec 07

Oh, I didn’t see you there! Hello! Got a minute? Then I’ll tell you what I worked on this week:
 

Difficulty Balancing Set-Up

The start of the week was spent finishing up the Kitty Chopper boss. All its visuals and attacks were complete, but that’s only the beginning. Once a boss is done in that sense, I set it up for difficulty balancing. What do I mean by that? Previously the whole boss was hard-coded, so it behaved like “glow purple, wait 700 milliseconds, charge at Wryn with a speed of 20″, etc. So what I did was make it more like fill-in-the-blanks — “glow purple, wait ___ milliseconds, charge with a speed of ___”, where the blanks get filled in with a different value depending on the difficulty of the game.

There’s a little taste of what it looks like in code. Any value that could make the boss easier or harder gets pulled out and given different values for each difficulty level. Right now each difficulty level has the same value, because I haven’t actually tuned it for those various levels — I’ve just set up the ability to do so. Setting it up is rather tedious so I like getting it out of the way. I’ll come back later and tune each difficulty level… and add audio… and particles… there’s a lot of work still to do.
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Week In Review — Nov 30

This week I started tackling the second level! Environment art was touched up and put in the game, as were most of the minor enemies for this level. But I don’t want to focus on those so much this week, because I also spent a great deal of time re-doing the Kitty Chopper boss!

This is it! The Kittehs from Bleed have managed to fix up the Chopper Core, and they’re out for revenge. It’s too bad they can barely fly it…! Like the boss I mentioned a few weeks ago, the Kitty Chopper was one of the first bosses I made for Bleed 2, and it really showed… its attack patterns were just kind of meh and it had a distinct lack of polish and personality. So rather than polishing a turd trying to make the existing version better, I scrapped the whole thing and started over, documenting bits of the process!

First I redesigned the visuals a bit. The Kitty Chopper attacks primarily with small and large missiles, neither of which you could see on the original model — they’d just kind of appear from nowhere. Now the minigun is moved back so you can see the missile bay, and the large missile can be lowered from inside the chopper.

Also, by the way, those are final-product images. The chopper is actually composed of a bunch parts, allowing different areas to animate independently. Here’s a selection of the chopper’s sprite sheet showing some of the different pieces. You can see where I’ve marked the boundaries of each sprite, plus their hitboxes in some cases.

(Warning, lots of .gifs upcoming. I optimized them as best I could!)

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Week In Review – Nov 23

A moderately productive week this time. Here’s what I got up to!

 

Pistols Hitboxes

Most entities in Bleed have a hitbox that tells them where they collide with tiles and other entities. That’s fine 99% of the time, but it was causing problems with the pistols in some cases.

The gist of it is: I want the pistols to have a bigger hitbox than they appear to, so that you don’t need pinpoint accuracy to use them. The problem is that the more generous I make their hitbox, the more likely they are to collide with tiles instead of the enemies the player is shooting at — especially problematic when aiming up or down raises in elevation.

My solution was to make the pistols a special case. They now have two hitboxes — a teeny one to collide with tiles, and a generous one to collide with other entities!

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Week in Review — Nov 16

You didn’t think I’d actually do it, did you? How does it feel to be WRONG — here’s what I did this week!

 

Interior Scenes

As planned, I worked on the layout and enemy placement for the first level! The level takes place in a city, not just the rooftops, so I had some interior scenes to put together.

You can also see some of the new enemy characters there! They’re the ground troops leading the assault on the city. Maybe I’ll do a whole post on them in the future, but for now I’ll say that I’m pretty proud of how they turned out. Like Wryn, they use a combination of skeletal animation and sprite animation, so I can mix and match different heads, bodies, weapons, etc. while using the same animations across all variations.

Of course, ones with different heads, items, etc. have slightly different abilities… although they all die pretty quick so if you’re good you might not even notice, haha. I tend to prefer minor enemies in Bleed as a palate cleanser more than anything else.

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Week in Review — Nov 9

I usually feel like blog posts have to be these big productions… and that mentality results in my making very few posts. I’m trying something new — short and simple, here’s what I worked on this week! I hope you find it somewhat interesting!

 Cinematics System

Some of Wryn’s sprites for the cinematic system.

There are going to be in-game cinematics in Bleed 2, but don’t worry!! They’re nothing more than a few seconds long, and mostly just level transitions… but they will be there, so I made a re-usable system for player cinematics! It uses a small number of animations that can be swapped out depending on the current player character, so the story will make sense no matter who you’re using or how many players are present. Co-op is only a thought right now, but I’m trying to anticipate problems like that ahead of time, so it should be fairly easy to put in when and if the time comes!

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Scene Construction

I’ve reached a point in development where I need to finish the environment art before I can continue (you’d be surprised how far you can get with no art! …heh…) Right now I’m working on the first environment of the game — a city. So far I’ve got the exterior done, which looks something like this.

I thought it might be interesting to break the scene down a bit in terms of how it’s constructed and displayed, so that’s what I’m gonna do! Warning, some sizeable gifs coming up. Continue reading

Being Kind To The Player

I really like designing games that stack the deck in the player’s favour. Not in an obvious or patronizing way, just enough that the player is allowed to make some minor mistakes or has small advantages that they hopefully aren’t even aware of. At the risk of ruining some of the magic, I thought I’d outline a handful of things like this that I put into Bleed or am implementing in the sequel.

 

Hitbox Bias

Wryn’s hitboxes in Bleed and Bleed 2.

I do my best to ensure that every object and enemy in Bleed has a fair and accurate hitbox… except for Wryn. In Bleed they’re a bit smaller than you might expect, and in Bleed 2 they’re much more so. The idea is to let Wryn dodge through super narrow gaps and be more stylish and daring with her actions! Taking damage also feels more fair when there’s such a large margin for error.

 

Hidden Damage Volumes

The hidden volumes only last a split-second and do less damage than bullets, so it’s always better to play properly.

Wryn holds her arms straight out to fire her weapons, so the bullets spawn a fair distance away from her body. This can lead to situations where she won’t actually be able to hit enemies standing right in front of her — which is accurate as far as the game is concerned, but is moronic to look at and play through. Most weapons in the game have invisible damage volumes that are spawned between Wryn and the muzzle every time she fires to cover the empty space.

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What’s New In Bleed 2

Hi! Welcome to the new site! (Or if you’re reading this in the future, welcome to… the site.)

So, Bleed 2 is a thing! It’s a work-in-progress, big time (I don’t even know if it’ll be called Bleed 2 when it’s done. It’s just easier than always saying “the new Bleed” or “the Bleed sequel”.) I’ve been working on it for a long time, and would like to start sharing some of the reasons I’m excited for it!

 

Better graphics!

The game will feature a more clean, colourful and exaggerated art style, along with smoother animations and particles. I don’t have any complete environment art in place yet, but here’s a comparison between some of Wryn’s sprites from the first game and the second.

artStyle

 

Better weapons!

The starting weapon this time is a pistols/katana combo — the initial attack is a katana slash, followed almost immediately by the pistols (it’s a delay of 100 milliseconds, or 6 frames, right now.) You can also select them separately and switch between them if you dislike the combo weapon.
pistolsKatanaYou’ll be able to carry as many weapons as you like at a time, and I’m working to make sure each one is fun, powerful and unique. This may result in a few less weapons overall, but each one will actually be useful and viable in a variety of situations.

 

Better gameplay!

Having constant access to the katana allows bullet reflecting to be a core mechanic. Now any purple-coloured attack can be reflected, and not just bullets — enemies’ physical attacks can be parried and turned against them, too.
bossFightExpanding on bullet reflecting in this way adds¬†more options to combat, lends a certain rhythm to gameplay, and allows boss fights to be more exciting and varied! I think it’s a big deal.

 

More more more!

Finally, Bleed 2 will have about twice as many boss fights as the original. Just sayin’. I also have plans for all kinds of new modes, powerups and other extras, but I’ll keep those vague until I know I actually have time to make them (the core game comes first!)

I hope this has got you a bit excited for the new game. I look forward to posting more about it as the weeks pass and development progresses!