Thursday, April 2, 2015

Progress for real now

Ok, now that April's fools is over, here's this month's progress:

THE LOGBOOK
It was redone from scratch. It's now a big list, instead of being separated by categories. It's still ordered and labeled, and reading logs is a lot more intuitive. Just 1 button to display the (sometimes scrolling) text, that's it.



The log pictures are bigger, and each entry can feature multiple images, as the text updates.
Some of the cooler ones (Metroids and Minibosses) might end up featuring original concept art in these images.
It's a minor detail overall, but it improves the way the story is presented, for those who take the time to read it.

ZETAS AND OMEGAS
Zetas are being balanced for normal mode now (they were extremely frustrating, but some features will be kept for Hard mode), and some frames of animation are being added to some of their attacks (well, to some of their bodyparts).
They still need more testing, since there are still some very convoluted and risky ways of tanking them.
Omegas will receive the same animation engine overhaul the Zetas did. Luckily they are much heavier, less agile, and easier to animate, compared to Zetas.

AREA 4
Not much progress here. The map, scripted events and Metroid battles are in place, still being tested and polished.

AREA 5
The area is being redone, both to house the new item that will be found there and its corresponding puzzles, and also to allow some area specific mechanics to be implemented.
I don't want to spoil the surprise of the first time playing the areas, but I can say it's going to be as unique as the other areas, gameplay wise.
Right now the layout is planned, and basic rooms are going to be added to connect existing rooms from the old layout and new ones.

MUSIC AND SOUND PRODUCTION
When I had my recording studio, some of my customers were media producers. They always complained that the sound design and music production were left for last, to be done at the last moment and in a rush. I kinda feel guilty of doing that myself nowadays.

There's been a little bit of everything going on lately. Sometimes I struggle to find time and energy to work on this, but every little bit of progress counts.
As always, thanks for all your support.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

AM2R Goes 3D!

Before you freak out, no, I'm not starting a 3D remake of Metroid 2 from scratch using the Unreal engine or something. 
It all started when I saw some awesome videos of the Occulus Rift. The awesome results that can be achieved with today's hardware really got me thinking: 3D is the future.

AM2R is bringing you quality entertainment, done like it was done in the 90's, with pretty pixels. If I want to bring the game into the future, it will have to be the way 3D was done in the 90's: Anaglyph 3D!




This is the best solution, since it can be enjoyed by everyone, without having to buy expensive hardware. 
So, in order to achieve the amazing depth, I had to change the way objects, backgrounds and tiles are drawn. They all draw 2 times, with different color blending, in additive mode. This means the game will run pretty slow on older computers, due to all the depth calculations and drawing tricks, but it's worth it. 




Also, like Batman used to say: With great power comes great responsibility. I added a much needed quicksave feature, very handy to take a break and control the anaglyph induced headaches every 3 minutes. Don't worry if you get too inmersed into the game, a handy full-screen notification will let you know that you need to take a break. Now you have total control of your headache management, and you can enjoy an overall of 2 extra hours of quality content thanks to this feature!


FAQ
- Is it free?
Of course! AM2R will always be free, in any of its forms. You need to provide your own 3D glasses, though.

- Is this an optional feature?
Of course not! 3D is the future, and having an option to turn it off would be like wanting to live in the past. It'd be like having options to play the game in black and white, or emulating the CRT effect of a television. Nobody wants that!

- Can I enjoy this awesome feature now? Or do I have to wait for an update?
You can try it out right now!. 
The latest demo (1.34) has a stealthy update system that already downloaded the update while you were sleeping (along with mining some data that's useless for you, but that's something for another blog post).

This version does not include the warning screen yet (it will be added in a later update), so if you find yourself being distracted by seizures or hallucinations, it might be a good idea to take a break.
So go ahead, grab a pair of cardboard 3D glasses, some popcorn and enjoy the demo in it's glorious, brand new 3D mode.

DISCLAIMER
By running the AM2R 1.34 demo ("the demo" from now on), you resign from your right to blame the game, its creators, producers and artists involved in its production for any physical or psychological damage caused by the on-screen effects. The production team will not be held responsible for minor issues like headaches, migraine, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, halluciantions, brain damage, death or blistered thumbs.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Vacations

I was able to, after quite some time, go on vacations.
Being able to relax at the beach with my family is something I really missed.

Anyway, back to the project.
One of the features of the game that still needs improvement is the logbook. Besides this topic being a suggestion from several of you, I saw several playthoughs where the player was confused about the scrolling, taking a couple of moments to understand how it works.
Something like this must be intuitive, the focus must be on what the new log is about and its discovery, not on how to make it work.
It's a minor thing, but I'll be restructuring the log screen within these days.

Progress wasn't that much this month, but development and testing will be back to their usual pace.
In the meantime, tell me, is there any other aspect of the overall game you think needs improvement?
Feel free to comment here (even if I don't respond that often I do read all the messages), or at the Forums.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Balance

During the last couple of weeks I was able to observe a couple of playtesters going through the current version of area 4. Luckily, this time the area miniboss isn't as unbalanced as Arachnus and Torizo were in their earlier versions.
In fact, quite the oposite happened with the overall battle difficulty with normal enemies. Samus has access to Plasma Beam and the Screw Attack in this area, like in the original. After getting these Samus is pretty much invincible, and enemies need to be very tricky or have annoying traits to pose at least some challenge.
I even added a new, original enemy. But I can't seem to find a middle ground between it being cheap and just being a moving target.
So, there's the posibility of moving one of those major items to be found on area 5. This might require the redesign of some rooms, and more testing.

By this time, in the original game, once you cleared the tower and chose your beam, you went directly to the Omega nest. It made sense to be fully prepared by that time.
Now, this is where I need to depart the most from the original level design, specifically with item placement.

In the meantime, Area 5 was redesigned from the ground up. It will have some unique events, like all the other areas do. The layout is on paper right now, and it will need to house the item moved from Area 4 too. But I was able to give the existing rooms a new location and functionality, so production of this area won't take that much, level design wise.

Things are going a bit slow, but any progress is good.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Things are going pretty smooth in Area 4.
The scripted events are becoming a bit more complex and awesome than the original plan, but the extra effort is going to pay off.
There's still some balancing to be done to the miniboss, and music production is a bit behind schedule for that particular area. But the place is starting to have its own personality and atmosphere.

Area 5, on the other hand, is very likely to receive a complete overhaul (trying to reuse the existing rooms as much as possible), to make room for the new planned features that are exclusive to that location.

I wish you have a great celebration, close to your loved ones. One of my wishes for this next year is to be able to play AM2R complete, as a full game. I'll do my best to make it happen. May your personal goals for this year be fulfilled, and most importantly, be safe and be happy.

Happy holidays!