Delayed again 14

Hi!

 

It all began with a gigantic explosion. Fast forward a few billion years and the project is delayed yet again. The main reason this time is I had to celebrate my birthday. So the release date is pushed back to tomorrow. Sorry about that.

 

But at least a lot of things have happened since the last blog post. First and foremost, I got accepted to the Future Games video game design program. Woot! I will begin in September. Until then, I will practice using the Unreal Engine.

 

On the project, I have completed a few sprites, began working on the title screen and also made a logo for the company I’m going to start-up for the sake of the project. The name will be revealed later. I don’t know what else to add. To make up for it, I’ll show you an item icon. I haven’t shown one before, so this should be nice. I just hope it doesn’t spoil too much. It’s a pack of Fries, a healing item of the game, much like in ToeJam & Earl. Behold!

fries.png

 

I’d like to welcome two new followers of my blog. The first one is BlookUp, which seems to have a service to make your blog or Facebook posts into a book. The second one is Sega Dude, which has a video game collection blog. I have been lurking the latter for quite some time, but now I am also a follower. He has written quite a bit about Pier Solar and other WaterMelon stuff, which is much appreciated! I suggest you check it out: the blog is stylish, well-written and has tons of content for you to enjoy.

 

Since I had not one but TWO new followers, I decided to be extra nice today and show another item icon. Wow!

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It’s a beer, a drink you can drink in the game. I personally hate beer, but the characters in the game love it.
That’s all for now!
Take care,

 

/Zebbe

Delayed again 13

Hi!

 

Due to heavy work, which puts my energy on minimum level, there is not much left for working on the project when I come home from my job. So the game cannot be released this week, I’ll have to delay it until Monday. Sorry about that! But at least I’ve finished a few sprites since the last post.

To make up for it, I decided to dedicate this post to a part of my video game collection – my complete European 32X set.

 

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A few of the games cost smaller fortunes – Darxide, Primal Rage and T-Mek all cost over a thousand Murican dorrals each. They are ultr@ r@re and fewer than 50 copies of each are known in the world, I think. Lately, scammers have started to make “repros” of Darxide, so if you are out to get the game, beware! I’m pretty sure my copies are legit though, as I got them way before repros were made of them,

 

A few other games are also quite expensive – Kolibri, Stellar Assault and Knuckles’ Chaotix all go for over 100 US dollars, probably over 200 these days. The rest of the games are a bit cheaper and also easier to get.

 

When it comes to playing the games, the 32X is a mixed bag. Sega’s arcade classics Virtua Racing Deluxe, After Burner and Virtua Fighter are great, but my fave is definitely the fantasy railshooter Space Harrier. It’s my favourite 32X game – simple gameplay, amazing synthrock soundtrack and the scenery will make you feel like you are in another world.

Kolibri, the best hummingbird based shooter on the ‘Shroom, is a blast to play with a friend, and it looks fantastic too.

You can’t go wrong with Stellar Assault either, another 2 player shmup, but in 3D.

Metal Head hasn’t aged too well, but is fun to play and one of the more technically advanced 32X games. It’s a mech FPS.

Darxide is a fantastic but brutally difficult spaceship shooter with texture mapped polygons and beautiful music. One day I will beat it!

Mortal Kombat II is quite a good port but could have been a lot better. Same for Doom.

Cosmic Carnage is too laggy, but has great music.

FIFA 96 is awful, and so is Knuckles’ Chaotix as well, believe it or not. Messy and unstructured level design and weird, wonky controls cannot make up for the colourful graphics, catchy music or fun bonus stages.

The rest of the games I haven’t played much actually, maybe I will some day.

 

There are a few 32X games only released in USA – Tempo and Pitfall for example. I may get them and maybe also the only Japanese exclusive: Sangokushi IV. We’ll see.

 

Have a nice Midsummer!

 

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

Delayed again 12

Hello there!

 

After a long and serious talk with my good friend and colleague Tulio, he taught me the virtue of setting realistic deadlines and completing projects within them. So this time, instead of delaying the game until tomorrow, I’ll have to postpone it to next week. Sorry! To make up for it, I’ll just mention I’ve completed a few more sprites for the project and will talk here about my relation to Tulio.

 

Tulio is great. He was the creator and founder of WaterMelon, the company we worked on when developing Pier Solar. Like most people who worked on the game, he is a multi-talented genius. His fields are music and programming, but he also does other things like story writing, organizing etc. My tasks rarely crisscrossed his, but we did some scripting together for NPCs, and when it came to testing my reports were sent to him.

 

A few years after the Mega Drive version was completed, I visited Tulio in Muscatine, Iowa.  I also met Phyu, Tulio’s wife and story writer of Pier Solar, and Fonzie too. We worked on the HD version of Pier Solar then, and some other stuff. Here are a couple of photos taken at the WaterMelon office:

 

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Even later, Tulio left WaterMelon to start a new video game company, 2Dream.

 

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2Dream has a few interesting projects going on, and I’m involved in at least one of them. But that’s a matter for another blog post.

 

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

Delayed again 11

Hi!

 

The summer is coming, but the game is not. It has to be delayed until tomorrow. Sorry about that. Since the last post, I’ve finished a few more sprites and refined the game document a bit.

 

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To make up for it, I’d like to talk a bit about Sega-16. It is a great site dedicated to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and more recently also the Master System and the Game Gear. The site has hundreds of reviews and features about the console(s). They are mostly highly informative, especially the many interviews with developers from back in the day.

But perhaps the best part of the site is the forum, where I’ve been a regular for over 10 years. The members have a lot of knowledge which they gladly share in the discussions. There are some heated debates every now and then as well, and I find it quite amusing to read some insults. Nobody is perfect anyway – some people are dumb, some people insult dumb people and then there is me who laughs at jnsults.

Actually, it was thanks to Sega-16 I became a video game developer. Because I was a writer on the site for a few years. Some of these texts probably need to be revised or removed entirely as my writing skills were quite limited back then, but that’s a matter for another day.

Sometime in the last decade, a guy called Fonzie Voltnov showed up on the forum and talked about his then upcoming Mega Cart, a cartridge which makes the Mega-CD region free. I thought it was a Nigeria letter, but later Fonzie proved to be more than a Nigerian prince.  I bought the Mega Cart and still use it to this day whenever I need to play an import game on my Mega-CD. Fonzie came back to the forum disappointed with having no reviews of the thing seen. That made me write one, and I also made an interview with him. In this interview, Fonzie mentioned Tavern RPG, the project which would later become Pier Solar and the Great Architects. A member of the forum, 108 Stars (also known as Daniel), saw this and contacted Fonzie. He became a graphics artist of the team. The team struggled with the project, and needed more members. As he knew me, he suggested I should interview the team like I had interviewed Fonzie. So I did. And not much later, the team still needed more members (they always needed), so Daniel approached me and asked me to join the team too.
So I did that too, and I stayed with it until the game was released. I’ve since also worked on several other projects for WaterMelon, as the team later got named into. Maybe I’ll talk about them in another post, another day.

I haven’t written anything for Sega-16 since last year, maybe I should do that too. But that would delay the game project even more!

 

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

 

 

Delayed again 10

Hi!

Due to being at the half hour interview for the video game education I am applying to, the game has to be delayed until tomorrow. But at least the interview went well!

 

In addition to the interview at Futuregames, I also got called for another interview for another video game education – The Game Assembly in Malmö. That’s a bit far away, I’ll ask for a Skype interview. For that education, I made a test, which consisted of designing a Zelda III dungeon, using the Tiled program I mentioned before. Here it is:

Floor1.png

The first floor mainly introduces the player to various elements of the dungeon. It is straight ahead and the player doesn’t need to look for stuff with effort. The player can find keys, push blocks and find buttons to press in a closed environment which lets the player realize this easily, as there is pretty much nothing else to do there.

Floor2.png

The second floor ups the ante a bit, with a non-linear design, and some minimal puzzles, as well as tougher enemies to tackle. To find the key to the door at the bottom left, the player will get a hint outside it – the bottom right block is a light. In the other room, the player can push the corresponding block to find the key to the door. In the second room, the player has to defeat all the enemies to open the door. And in the third room, the player has to also defeat enemies, push blocks and buttons to get ahead. It is all the next step after the last floor and a bit harder to give the player some challenge.

Floor3.png

The last room is the boss room. Here, I had two ideas. The player cannot harm the boss by the sword, so by pushing the buttons, the player can instead move the spike thing to harm the boss with. The upper button moves the spike thing up and vice versa.

The other idea is that the buttons put pots on the darker blue spots, as well as maybe one or two minor enemies. The player can then attack the boss with the pot.

 

Seeing as I got to the interview process for this dungeon design (as well as my portfolio and CV), I think they liked it.

 

In other news, I realize I’ve actually worked on The Viking & The Ninja project for over a year now. And since starting drawing sometime last autumn, I’ve completed around half of the non-animated graphics. The last few days, I completed a cutscene and a sprite, and now I work on more sprites for the dungeons (treasure chests, stairs etc.) Let’s celebrate with a sprite!

 

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Also, the entire team (which is me), would like to thank Tommy for becoming the first follower of this blog! Thanks, Tommy!

 

That’s all for now!

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

 

 

Delayed again 9

Hi!

Due to [INSERT BELIEVABLE REASON HERE], the game has yet again been delayed until tomorrow. Sorry about that!

 

But since the last update, I have complete a few sprites and the tileset I have been working on for a couple of weeks. Currently, I’m working on another cutscene.

 

As I’m rather tired right now and don’t feel like writing anything else, I’ll just make this post worthwhile by showing some pixel art progress, right from the freshest tileset. To not spoil too much, we’ll stick to a 16 by 16 pixel tile, as usual.

Behold!

Wood.png

 

Yes, it’s wood.

 

That’s all for now, hopefully this won’t spoil the ending.

 

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

Delayed again 8

Hi again!

 

After several days of hard work the game is… NOT finished! In fact, I have to delay it until tomorrow. Though I have to say the progress with sprites and the tileset have been going really well.
To make up for this delay, I’ll present to you my first video game embroidery, which is based on Erwin in Langrisser II. I decided to make an embroidery after I some associates of mine were doing pearler beads based on pixel art. I wanted to do something similar, and somehow I stumbled across embroideries, which by cross-stitches creates squares like the pixels in pixel art.

 

To do it, I took a screenshot of the pixel art in question from the game using an emulator. Then I checked what colours I needed and bought yarns and a cloth. Then I started stitching. I did it at home, and at work when I walked around between the apartments of the seniors I took care of. I had the screenshot on my smartphone so I could check how to stitch anytime. A lot of elderly women were impressed and invited me to their homes to check their embroideries. And sometimes I got yarns and needles from them. I photographed my progress every day and put it on Facebook. After about four months, the embroidery was done, and I had it framed and bought a lamp to it. It is still hanging on my wall, four years later. The year after, I made another embroidery.

 

Here is my video presenting my very first video game embroidery:

 

But why did I pick Langrisser II as the game to base my embroidery on? We’ll talk about that another day…
Take care,

 

/Zebbe

Delayed again 7

Hi again!

 

Yesterday, I was at the only true arcade of Stockholm, avoiding my responsibility of video game development like some kind of delinquent. Due to this morally wrong behaviour, the game has to be delayed until tomorrow. Sorry!

 

However, despite this, I did finish up not only a sprite today, but also its animation, which consists of 19 frames. Wow!

 

Anyway, the time at the arcade, which is called “HEY STHLM”, was nice. They had a lot of Sega games, such as OutRun 2 and Virtua Cop 3, which I played.

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I have been there a few times before and beaten the Rambo game, also by Sega and based on the movies. Star Wars Racer, Tekken Tag, Pacman, Street Fighter 4 as well as 3 are also there. Then there are lots of weird “physical” games of overly cute Japanese themes, modern bullet hell shmups, pinball machines and other things..

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It’s a great place and I am so happy to have it in Stockholm, because playing an arcade game cannot be compared to console games at home.

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

 

 

Delayed again 6

Welcome back to the delayed again series, the blog which presents the ideal time scheduling of video game development!

 

Because I am applying to the Futuregames game design program this autumn (see below), the game has to be delayed until tomorrow. However, I have continued to work on the tileset, which is a promising progress!

 

After taking care of the elderly for about 12 years, I finally decided to apply to higher education video game development programs. Some schools I have applied to are in cities quite far from mine, Skövde and Malmö, but there are also some in Stockholm which I hope I will be accepted to. One of them is Futuregames, the school which I have most expectations of:

 

 

Last month, I was at a three week preparatory course there, which helped me understand the video game industry a bit more and to prepare a work sample. During these weeks, I made a simple Marble Madness clone in the Unreal Engine, a video about it and a design document about The Viking & The Ninja.

The Marble Madness clone used some blueprints, a visual scripting system of the Unreal Engine. The blueprints can be used for almost anything. In my case I made moving platforms (see video screenshot below), change of ball physics, killzones and other things.

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My portfolio mostly showed the work I have done for WaterMelon, and so did also my curriculum vitae. The school put a lot of emphasis on past experiences, team work, visualization of your ability to design and the technical aspect. I’m not very skilled at the latter, but I hope my strengths in the other areas are enough to get accepted.

 

And two days ago, I managed to get to the second step of the selection progress. Out of around 500 applicants, I managed to be one of 130 to do a test in preparation for the final interview. The test was mostly about previous work, how to handle stress, team work etc. Things I am very used to. In a few days, I’ll know when the interview will be.  And in early July, I’ll know if I am accepted or not.

 

Take care,

 

/Zebbe

 

Delayed again 5

Hi!

The day before yesterday, I was at video game bar in Stockholm playing Nintendo LXIV with associates and strangers. It was fun! Due to this complete lack of discipline, the game has to been postponed again. I will try to be more disciplined from now on and focus on the development of the game.

 

Actually, I finished up a sprite yesterday. But for some reason, the game STILL isn’t done. Yeesh!

 

To make up for this delay, I’ll talk a bit about the item design of Pier Solar.

When I made the items, I wanted them to plentyful, varied and serve a purpose. I also wanted them to fit the setting and the place where they were located. Seeing as there are many towns in Pier Solar, I made unique weapons and armours for every town. I did a lot of research on Google for this task. For the equipment on the desert continent, I looked up old weapons and clothing used in Arabic countries, and for the mangrove jungle continent I looked up items used by natives of South America. As I love my heritage as a Nordic citizen, I made some homages to Norse mythology and some puns. In a town of thieves, I put a sword called “Steal Sword”, and there is also a book called “Meteoro Log”. I tried to have some humour, for example the item which decreases water type damage is the Towel, which can be found in a shower.

 

The characters had mostly exclusive weapons, but some, such as the Swordstick, could be used by both Hoston and Kruller as the former used swords and the latter rods. The armours were usually for either sex, sometimes both. The ultimate weapons and armours were exclusive to each character and were named after the best equipment in some fave RPGs of mine, as an homage. These could only be obtained if you completed sidequests. Because they were few and it was hard to put those in the end of the game, I came up with the solution of the item called Master Key, which you could find at various places throughout the game, mostly at optional caves. With the Master Keys you could find eight of the best armours and weapons at the end of the game, and the last ultimate weapon and armour could be found at the end of the multi-part sidequest also at that part of the game.

 

The uses of the items were often inspired by other 16-bit RPGs. Their abilities were very varied and brought a lot more to the table than just changing the stats of the characters: For example: decrease this elemental damages, make character faster, 100% chance to escape, half MP usage, heal HP and many other things.  But the stats were important – I didn’t want the items to just add attack or defence when you came to a new town, so I fiddled a bit with other stats as well so the player could think a bit before actually purchasing – sometimes skipping a weapon might be the better option.

I had many ideas for usages and Fonzie programmed most of them and came up with some other ideas, such as the books which teach spells. One book I made, I managed to integrate into the story a bit: the Nurse Notes for Alina, a book given to the party by the missing doctor at the end of the game, which resurrects dead characters.  I won’t spoil anything, but the dialogue when you get it fits the story like a glove. Other than that, there were also some story items which served no other purpose than pushing the plot forward.

 

When the items were done, I used a tool to put them into the game, give them the icon they needed, stats, price (in shops), select who could equip the and their abilities. I also updated Fonzie’s icons to make sure no item looked like any other. Of nearly 250 items, they were all unique in both look and ability, though some were quite similar.

 

And when this was done, I made the shops, which was simply adding all the item numbers to a string and a set price level. I also placed the chests in the game. Seeing as it was I who made the items, these last two tasks was something only I could do, I think. If you are wondering why there are so many herbs in the game, it’s because it was the standard item which I changed when I wanted something else in a chest. Which I most often wanted, naturally.

 

That’s all for now!

Take care,

 

/Zebbe