Making A Demo

If you missed the news: I’m showing Bleed 2 at PAX Prime next weekend! Come by, say hi, try the game! I’ll be in the Indie MEGABOOTH!

I spent this week preparing a new demo build for the show. At face value it’ll look like I’m simply demoing the first level of the game, but there are a ton of edits I’ve made to help it shine in an exhibition setting, as well as fixing some common problem areas. I’m gonna list as many of these edits as possible to show the amount of work that can go into preparing a demo! I hope it’s not too much of a ramble.

 

Build An Arcade Cabinet

My basic philosophy to showing at exhibitions is to treat the booth like a big arcade cabinet. It should be simple and straightforward and entirely self-contained, and ideally it should draw peoples’ attention as much as possible. If I do it right, I shouldn’t even need to be there at all (although of course I will be, for just about every moment!)

First off, I created a new main screen with as little clutter as possible — just the game logo and player select (arcade-style!) Since some stations will have co-op and some won’t, player two’s area won’t even display if a second controller isn’t plugged in.

More, I added an attract mode! For those not familiar: you know how if you leave old arcade cabinets alone, the game will start playing itself? That’s called an “attract mode” — it’s meant to get people interested so they’ll try the game. It’s a lot more exciting than the main screen, and will work much better than me hassling every person who comes by. Who knew all my replay work would eventually have a payoff!

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The MEGABOOTH!!

YES!! Another thing I’m very pleased to announce is that Bleed 2 is in the Indie MEGABOOTH for Pax West!! If you’re gonna be there, come say hi and try out the game! Here’s a handy map of the MEGABOOTH space, and where you’ll be able to find Bleed 2.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the MEGABOOTH is an awesome organization that helps indies like me show our games at huge events like PAX, GDC, E3, etc etc etc. You can see the whole PAX West lineup on their website here — it’s really, really exciting to be showing alongside so many other amazing games. I’m stoked!

This also means I’ve been running around like a madman for the last month or so trying to prepare. There’s so much to be considered and co-ordinated and designed and ordered — I’ve barely touched the game itself in the last 4 weeks. Here’s what I’ve actually been up to!

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The Trailer (FINALLY!)

At long last, Bleed 2 has officially been announced and the trailer has been released, woohoo!! I thought it’d be out a lot sooner than this, so thanks for bearing with me. I hope you enjoy it! I’d recommend watching it at 60FPS if you can!

(It also has an official Steam store page now, and a press kit too! Yeah, I’m pretty legit over here.)

I don’t pretend to be a professional trailer-maker, but if you look back on my original trailer post maybe you’ll be able to see what I was going for, namely; a brief introduction to the setting, a long take introducing the basic gameplay, and finally a whole bunch of action showing the variety of locations, set-pieces and bosses. I wanted to focus on gameplay because (aside from my already-stated not-being-a-professional-trailer-person) the game is 100% about the gameplay, so I hope it speaks for itself and gets people excited! Plus, when you got the knockout combo of Joonas and Jukio and audio, getting people excited gets a whole lot easier.

So far it’s gone over really well, and I can’t thank everyone enough for being so kind as to share it on Twitter, NeoGAF, Facebook, etc! I did some creeping, busted. But it’s really touching and encouraging to see.

That about concludes this post — I’m worn out from attempting the whole media/PR thing this week. Buuutttt it’s not over yet, as I’ve got one more exciting thing to announce soon, so (radio announcer voice) staaaaayyyy tuned!

Week In Review — Aug 7

This week I made a new trailer to announce Bleed 2! (To be clear, the game’s not done, but it does need to be *officially announced*.) I put a trailer together back in May that didn’t work out for various reasons, however THIS one is 210% good to go and will be out in the next week or two, max! Buuttttt anything I wrote about trailer-making would just be a repeat of the May post, so I’ll spare you. Instead, here are a few bits of polish I’ve added to the game over the last little while! Hopefully it isn’t too filler-y!

First we have the Rolling Invader mini-boss (my boss names are so creative, aren’t they??) It’s supposed to exist as a soft bullet-time tutorial, since slow-mo would (ideally) help new players deal with its speedy, dodgy antics. However, the Invader dodged shots instantly, even during bullet time, making the fight a poor introduction to the ability. I changed it so that if the player is slowing time, the Rolling Invader takes a while to react to the incoming bullets. I’m not sure how great it is, but it’s better!

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Mutators

This week I’ll touch on a new feature in Bleed 2 — mutators! In case anyone doesn’t know, mutators are little tweaks you apply to the game to change how it looks or plays. Beating the game on any difficulty will unlock a selection of mutators, and I thought I’d share a lot of them with you here. I’m keeping most of the interesting ones after the break in case people consider this kind of thing a spoiler.

One really simple mutator is a “debug mode” that lets you see all the tiles and hitboxes! Maybe it’ll interest aspiring game developers, or anyone who’s curious how the game is constructed (there’s a bunch of hacky tricks!)

There’s also “infinite health” and “infinite energy” mutators for when you just wanna mess around, or play with your younger sibling or whatever. Obviously this would invalidate all kinds of leaderboards, achievements, unlocks, etc, so they’re all blocked while mutators are active.

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Fixing Bugs: Enemy Damage

This week I fixed all the major bugs (that I’m aware of) in Bleed 2’s engine! One of them was a problem with how enemies take damage, which I’m giving a big run-down of today.

First off: how damage worked before. Enemies and player attacks are made up of one or more hitboxes — when the hitboxes touch, the enemies take damage. Easy, right?

Weeeeelllll, not quite. The katana’s hitbox, for example, is large and can easily strike multiple hitboxes at once. If those hitboxes all belong to the same enemy, like a boss, the boss gets hammered with “you got hit!” notifications (one per hitbox), multiplying the damage like crazy.

The easiest way to fix that was to make it so enemies only accept damage once per frame — that’s how I solved it for the original Bleed, and how it’s remained since 2011.

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More Scoring!

A while ago I posted about re-doing level-end scores, but that was only one aspect of scoring, and it was only half-done!

This week (among many, many other things) I finally got scoring completely in the game and finished off.

The first task was deciding how many points you get for killing each enemy. Enemies are generally classified as being small, medium, or large, giving 5, 10, and 25 points respectively. Bosses, on the other hand, are worth 500-1000 points — occasionally more. When you kill an enemy, the amount of points you get is multiplied depending on your current style rank — ranging from x1 when you’re at D, to x5 when you’re at S.

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Week In Review — July 10

I started the week by sorting the giant list of problems, classifying each item as very-important, kinda-important, and not-really-that-important.

“Very important” items are the ones that absolutely must be done. They include fixing all the major crashes and bugs I’ve found, as well as tasks like making the end credits sequence and balancing the weapons and characters. “Kinda important” items are ones I *could* leave uncorrected, but I’d rather fix them. For example, all the vehicles in level 2 are red, and one of Valentine’s fights has an attack I think is really bad — not critical, but things I think people would notice. All the other items are very low importance, and basically just polish (and I value having a polished game, but game-breaking bugs really should take priority over “adding particles to attack X”.)

Each category ended up filling about two pages, and you can see I tackled a bunch of medium-importance items this week… I was kinda procrastinating on the very-important ones, which won’t be nearly as easy or fast to check off. But I’ll have to do them soon!!

So blah blah blah, what else did I actually do this week? Well, I made Bleed 2’s splash screen!

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The First 90%

Yo!! First off, you should know Summer Games Done Quick starts this weekend. Like, right now!! I love that event so I gotta shout it out every chance I get.

In Bleed 2 news, things are motoring along. I got all achievements implemented, as well as finally having all the unlockable characters roughed in! Most of what took so long was the sheer amount of artwork involved. For example, every character needs a full set of sprites for their in-game cinematics (in addition to their normal sprite sheets) — cinematics alone added almost 200 sprites of work.

So yeah, wah wah it was a lot to do but I got it done! Achievements and unlockable characters were some of the last big, individual items on my sticky wall of doom. Here’s how the wall has progressed over the last six months (I believe the photos were taken Jan/Apr/July.)

Three groups of stickies remain, and they represent big items. From left to right, we have: replays (let’s be real, I’ll probably cut these), officially announcing the game (still needs a while longer) and finally, playtesting/polishing/bugfixing!

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Challenge Mode Challenges

I *almost* finished roughing in the unlockable characters this week. Almost!! I really underestimated how much work it would be! For now, I’ll talk about a few of the hurdles in creating Challenge Mode instead.

I mentioned Challenge Mode a few weeks ago — it’s the one where you can fight up to three bosses at once! In general, it was really easy to implement because of how I code my boss fights! Every boss in Bleed 2 is fought inside an “arena”, which is just a rectangular area of the level that I mark off in code. It’s a habit I got into during Bleed 1 when I designed its Challenge Mode.

Bosses use the rectangle in all of their behaviour. For example: if a boss has an attack where it rushes across the screen, it knows the attack is over once it’s outside the arena boundaries. Using the boundaries, it also knows where to reappear. If I want a boss to move to the center of the arena, I just tell it to move to the point halfway between the arena boundaries. Etc etc. When Challenge Mode starts, I just create a bunch of bosses and give them the level’s arena rectangle. It’s pretty easy!

But.

But, it would be boring if all arenas were perfect rectangles — so they aren’t. Still, in code, the “arena” has to be marked off by a rectangle, which led to some issues.

For example, the Blast Jumper ignores all tile collisions — the only “ground” it knows is the bottom of the arena rectangle. Now that it can be fought in more varied arenas, I had to change how it handled collision detection.

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