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    • Hunter of Predators - Canned? Processed? Gone?

      5 years ago



      Well, it's come to this. After about half a year working on the game I've decided to call it quits for this project for a number of reasons. I know all 5 people following this blog may end up being disappointed but that doesn't mean the entire thing is for naught; It's become something different. I can explain, and will do just below. I'd point a pointy hand-arrow thing to show that, honest.


      Reason Uno - Preda-who?

      I never really wanted to say this, because I wish both parties well and hell, things seemed to have gone down amicably between the two, but the departure of Jared from ScrewAttack ended up killing the entire project hype wise. I recall one of the episodes of Sidescrollers where they made a brief reference to the project, and the development and how they were looking forward to it, but after Jared left all interest in the project from the community just disappeared entirely. It was already too late then to promote the project further because any interest in the game just vanished. It wasn't ever a super popular project from the looks of things, despite posts by Chad and Sam on the project blog page. My page has also been flooded with spam advertisements and comments, I have around 200 notifications because of these spam bots and sadly it makes it hard to even talk about the project when there's people selling sport equipment all over the walls. The demo is still up to play, I won't ever remove that, so if you're interested in checking out what the state of the engine was at that period of time feel free to check it out.




      Reason Dos - Dude where's my Data?

      Picture this. You've been working on a project for a good half year. Systems are in. Enemies are moving as they should. Quirks have been fixed. You've got new elements in place and you've got a backup of the project dating from about 1 month previous, but that's fine because you're in the process of backing up the files right no-


      Power Fuse blows.


      Hard-drive gets totaled in the process. Music assets = Gone. Graphical assets = Gone. Features = Gone. The backup you have contains a fraction of the work completed, as a lot of the new features were finalized and programmed into the project the month after the backup. The frustration and sheer amount of work gone from the project is enough to drive anyone who works on projects as a whole into madness. 


      The most frustrating thing about it all, was a group of features I had added into the game to give it a bit more flare compared to the original title it was based on. Here's a list of the "Modes" I had implemented.


      • Normal Mode - Same as the original game, but had more of a Contra flare. You could upgrade weaponry and the likes as you collected them through the level
      • Big Mode - Same as the original game, this mode had the Contra aiming scheme though and allowed you to target foreground and background
      • Hunter Mode - An overworld map leading to different destinations and Predators to hunt down. This was to be akin to Zelda II or Getsufuumaden. The original Predator's game had branching paths but they were very hard to follow, and were often just level skips. In the original MSX version, the map played more like Metroid, but I wanted to do something more along the lines of hunting down and tracking big prey, which is what I wanted to achieve with this mode.
      • Scorpion Mode - A vertical shmup-style segment where you ride one of the many Scorpions through an enemy encampment, blasting things as you go.

      Out of all the modes, I lost a good 80% of the world map, most of my code for Big Mode and the first stage of Scorpion Mode due to it. With a good deal of time having been dedicated to the World Map, everything got Tabula-Rasa'd on me.



      Reason Tres - Is this the Real Life?

      University Finals.




      Conclusion-  Gee, what now?

      All the above aside, the entire project isn't necessarily gone for good. With the lack of interest and the departure of Jared alongside the loss of a lot of data (including an important essay assignment for University) and the finals coming up, I've been hard pressed to do anything other than some projects for Ludum Dare and small games for 1 Game a Month. But to do nothing with an engine that I've got ready and prepared would be a shame. As a result of that, Hunter of Predators may be no more, but a game using the same engine but tweaked, made less "so bad it's good" and more "actually playable", something I hope to show off sometime here and get a few viewpoints on with a demo in the future. As for now however, managing stuff on the side involving real life and this mini-project Studio Anjin, I just need a bit of time, and a bit of focus, and a bit of fun.


      Thanks for reading folks, I'll see you folks around soon.





    • Project Reclaim 01 - Predator (NES) : It's Showtime!

      6 years ago


      Things happen. They just do. No matter how diligently (or carelessly) a guy works on a project, things will always come around the corner, have their way with the nether-regions of said bloke and then slink off again back into the distance, watching, waiting.

      It's been a while since I updated this project. It's been due to a whole assortment of reasons, so I'll just briefly go through them before moseying on.

      I've recently just returned from my exchange year in Kyoto, and whilst it has been an amazing experience the amount of events, exams, and bookings for things caused a great deal of carnage and thusly disrupted my pattern of work. Whilst I was constantly working on the project, certain aspects that were on  the "must be fixed but not right now" were effectively put on hold; this isn't uncommon really, but it's a royal pain in the arse. A lot of projects can go south, purely because the developer "sees" their game for a complete package but knows that these bugs and glitches will cause several issues unless addressed; bugs which often have no obvious answer to them. As soon as life interjects, these bugs can get forgotten, and end up causing some serious issues with pacing of the project. Where were we? What was we doing? How did we get here? All of these questions end up Whack-A-Moling themselves across the board as you try to figure out your own archaic runes from a few months prior. Giving up the chase is not advised; a finished game is better than several epic imaginings that never see the light of day.

      Speaking of finished things; during my flight back to the U.K, my Hard-Drive had decided enough was enough and threw itself into the nearest X-Ray Machine to commit Karoshi. It took me a good month to get a replacement drive back up into my laptop, but thankfully I had made sure to backup all of my important files, including that of Hunter of Predators. This all combined to actively delaying the release of the demo by over a month, which is a pretty sucky thing indeed. However, it's here. No seriously, it's right below.


      Anyways, that's the Demo. It's quite short, and there are obvious things that are missing at sections, however the game is playable through and through at the moment. If there are bugs within this (and no doubt there are)  I will try to address them as soon as I can. Next time, I'll talk about Cutscenes and the function of setting up the ridiculous plot in store.

      Until next time folks, enjoy! And please, if you can throw a comment down below or subscribe or like anything you see here, please do! It's always good to get some feedback on things.

    • RE: Consider Pilot Episode - Localization

      6 years ago



       The first Pilot of ReConsider, a new Podcast/Alog focused on talking Video Game Design, Publication and Organization!

      This is the very first Epsiode we cooked up together, with myself, UltraJMan from SDA and Sam Mitchell from ScrewAttack.

      We mainly talk about Localization in this, and go over the cancellation of La-Mulana Wii's Western release and the success of Project Rainfall.

      For future episodes I want to try and discuss Reinventing existing brands or genres, "Reconsider"ing their place and relevance in the Market, for example, what could SEGA do with their failing brand? How could Rare regain their reputation as the Beatles of the Gaming industry? It certainly would be one hell of a ride!

      Feel free to comment or throw some requests under the comments, if you feel that you could potentially bring a topic or partake in future discussions feel free to PM me either here, on Youtube ( http://www.youtube.com/user/Neonlare ) or over at ScrewAttack (username : G1Neonlare). Game On guys!

      http://speeddemosarchive.com/ - SDArchive
      http://www.youtube.com/user/MegaUltraJMan - UltraJMan's Youtube Channel
      http://www.twitch.tv/megaultrajman - UltraJMan's Twitch
      http://www.screwattack.com/ - Screwattack
      http://www.youtube.com/user/Neonlare - My Youtube Channel

    • Project Reclaim 01 - Predator (NES) : Busy times and more music

      6 years ago


      So I haven't posted an update on the project for a while now, but I have a very good/passable/terrible/haddock reason for this;

      Ludum Dare.

      I usually take the time to partake in Ludum Dare every time it comes around, what is Ludum Dare? In a nut-shell it's a contest to make a video game from scratch within 48 hours based on a set theme selected by everyone. It runs bi-monthly (correct me if I'm wrong on that), and the most recent one was the 10th anniversary of LD, so I couldn't help but try to partake.

      The resulting project was this: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-23/?action=preview&uid=1913

      The project I created was an homage to the older Action RPGs you would find on the NES/Famicom system. It's a relatively lengthy game for an LD entry, which ended up kicking my behind because it was a bit too ambitious for the entire thing. There are bugs galore, some bugs are incredibly impacting on the gameplay, it's too hard, save places don't seem to work correctly and can crash the game if approached -from the wrong direction- which is downright awful. I had around 3 minutes before the deadline left once I finished the game up and thus was unable to beta-test the thing. After LD concludes, I'll try to release/remake the game to include a fairer system, and work out all these issues; fixing them now would just defeat the objective and point of LD. To my surprise however, this game is actually getting a really, really positive response over on LD, so much so it kind of takes me off-guard; anywhere else I'd be certain to recieve a serious thrashing for the lack of any real testing, but again I do guess that it may be due to the sheer ambitiousness of the project (ambition isn't always a good thing with LD), it's a Mid-length Action RPG which strived more to be a complete game experience rather than a tid-bit of sorts. I guess it was a success on a more experimental level, the mechanics I'm pretty proud of that I want to revisit, (and most certainly want to of course), which may actually end up as another project in the Reclaim series I'm planning and drawing out at the moment; it's very much an Homage to a specific Old School RPG; Ys.

      Now back to Project Reclaim.

      Predator is certainly a really, really interesting case of a game. The more I play it the more I get this feeling, this sinking chill that wracks my entire body. Somewhere inside, I want to scream the words, The Words, "Halt, what you do is wrong! Why do you do this thing?" but I know that what I am staring at is something entirely inhuman, an alien concept. What was this revelation? Well, I guess I'll say then...

      Most of the Bad Design was -deliberate-.

      Originally I had thought and considered the game to be more the result of a rushed development period and demands from higher-up executives, which may very well still be the case, but there's something about the game that seems almost sadistic in design. There's no real down-time between tasks, it's onto the next puzzle, the next jump, the next enemy, there's a logic to the game, in that the challenges keep coming at you without giving you enough of a breather. It's no longer fun to actually -play- a game like that, rather, the "fun" comes from beating those areas, and that sense of triumph of finally clearing those perilous jumps and awkwardly placed enemies. If I Want To Be The Guy had a Grandfather, this would most likely be it in that regard. The Roof-Scorpion is a pretty big example of this crazed design, it's hillarious and I dare say genius -if- the game controlled better, because then it would allow the player the ability to twitch-react to such situations, but that's just plain not the case with the end result. It's a case of trial and error and failure and repetition. It's a shame, if the game had conformed to standard jumping mechanics it might have actually been quite fun to -play-.

      This of course does bring up a dilemma for me; do I make Hunter of Predators easier and more accessable, or employ the same malicious techniques to envoke the same feeling of success when making it to that Level Clear screen or Big Mode? I'd stray more to making something more accessable, but this is something that I do need to consider, at least to get this fanquel -right-.

      In terms of actual progress, there's very little to write of at the moment aside from development of the GUI and of course implementing in the awe-inspiring Rolling Rock. It's truely magnificent.

      There are a variety of weapons, but there's something you may notice which is different about the HUD aside from the obvious; there's an R-1 next to the Melee. What is this? Well, it's the Rank of you currently equiped weapon; you'll be able to upgrade weapons Gradius-style in this; one death will revert you to basics, as will picking up a new weapon, so keep your eyes peeled!

      On the front of music, this is a field which the original Predator did well, and did well in Spades (Or Hoes, or Rakes, or any other Garden tools for that matter). The Music was generally minimalist but did reflect the ambient fear that something somewhere was hunting you down, even if the game didn't. The problem with that is the theme of this game is inverted; it's you who will be doing the Hunting mainly, so a lot of the tracks have become more active as a result. The original NES was capable of 2 square waves, 1 triangle, and one sound/DPCM channel. The Predator soundtrack employed a lot of reverb, echoing string-like squares, which meant that it had to combine the 2 square waves in order to create that effect, one playing quieter and delayed from the other to forge this faux-echo. It's certainly an interesting technique, and whilst the NES has never really been a system for Chords, the effects do create something akin to that, slow progressions, darker atmospheres, etc.

      Of course music is an ongoing thing; I might decide to go even more ambient than the tracks shown so far in the future, but for now, here's a recent track I've created, hope you enjoy it!



    • Project Reclaim 01 - Predator (NES) : Sparkletimes of Pixelated Screens

      6 years ago


       Progress updates are a pretty darn difficult thing to write about. As much as progress is good and progress is great, progress is also something that just generally -happens- and not all in lump sums either. Sometimes it's as big as a sizeable showcase of gameplay mechanics and other times its as shallow as Tightening Up the Graphics on Level 3. Regardless, without any progress you'd be treading water, and who really wants to copy the Final Fantasy - Versus team anyway?

      Moving on swiftly; if there's one thing to the credit of the original, it's that some of the presentation assets are incredibly well done. Outside of the game, you have some of the best renders of Arnold and the Predator you could imagine on such a system like the NES. Hand-Drawn, honest-to-god pixel art that not only just "looks" like their characters, but also nails them whole-heartedly. Whilst they may be tracings of some of the boxart of the Predator film, it's still no mean feat to translating that into a crisp, well presented looking piece of art-work for the NES.

      Not bad, there's consistent shading, it's black and white but considering the capabilites of the system it actually gives a really decent contrast with the black background behind himself. More could be happening on screen but you can very clearly tell it's Arnold, and it looks pretty damn styling too.

      Good Lord -WHAT-

      It looks like the insides of his Brain just got violently ejected from the back of his cranium in the form of some kind of Tomato-based Candy-Floss, and there's just way too much abuse of cross-hatching as a shading method. It can work, and has been done well several times before but in this instance it just to just make the awkward replication stand out even more. And what happened to the whites of his eyes? Infantrymen, beware.

      Now I can't speak much in the way of my own abilities along these lines, I know for a certain I'm not the number one in this field of pixel-art. However, I didn't think this project would be complete without -some- form of attempt somewhere, so I went ahead and got stuck in, the picture below being a (WIP) title screen for Hunter of Predators. It could basically show up on a Gameboy with the palette so far, something I plan to rectify in the near future along with other dodgier parts of it.

      So hey, there's a title screen." HURAZAHA YOU SON ARE GAME!" I hear no one cry, but this isn't all. I've managed to get the basics of the physics engine working. Sliding, Gravity, and awkward jumping physics are a go! (Although not 100% accurate. It will take a bit more time to fine-tune the gravity and speeds of ascent/descent to really get it nailed, but for the better part, it's in). Before I go onto my next section, enjoy some screenshots.

      Pretty Dark, right? Again, a lot of these are WIPs (no Scorpions as of yet), but everything is very much in ship-shape order, which brings me to another point I'd like to mention.

      Something is unerving about a game as sparsely detailed as Predator that still manages to find a way to waste 10 tiles on a tree-graphic of which you may -NEVER- see again in the game, and credit goes to the shack shortly after, which takes another 4 to 5 tiles. What? Why? I could understand if these assets got used more but this is just ridiculous. There was a reason for the Bushes and Clouds being Kissing Cousins in Mario Bros. and there's a reason why the sand tiles in Final Fantasy 1 are just recoloured grass turfs. Conserving memory on the old NES was pretty crucial to getting as much into as little a space as possible. Mind you, in regards to how little there actually -is- in Predator, I wouldn't be surprised if this is a relic from a time period in which the Team felt they were able to spend more time devoted to making more unique areas than being slaved into developing a liscenced game for Twentieth Century Fox.  Obviously since this project is being made for the PC it doesn't suffer from such limitations, but I'd like to at the very least emulate some of the good-old resourcefulness of the older generations. It'd be rude not to.

      On that note however, I did take some liberties with jumping animations. This is another Update entirely however.

      I do however have more Work in Progress Music for the game. This is another Stage theme, and is a lot darker in tone than the previous song. Any comments or suggestions would be awesome guys, it's been a lot of fun so far! http://tindeck.com/listen/tjil

      I'll see you guys in the next update!

      And on another note; thanks for checking out the project Chad! It's really, really awesome to hear you guys are interested as well! If you guys want to check out any of Chad's stuff or videos please visit-

      Oh Right.

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