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Nastier Progress Update 1
Date 10/29/2010    Tags Nastier    (0)

Between other projects (and playing a lot of Super Meat Boy), I've been putting as much work into the follow up to my first game Nasty as I can. Nastier has been in active development for about a month and half now and has seen a lot of improvements already. The below image highlights the larger levels, more attention to level details, and a few of the graphical updates to the game over the first Nasty.

For Nastier, we started with the base engine from Nasty and then brought in a lot of the code changes we did for Abudction Action!, Hypership, and my future platformer project (which is likely back-burnered for the time being). With so much reused code, I was quickly able to get playable, full featured game running and focus on tweaking and improving the gameplay within. Its interesting working with old code (I hadn't touched the Nasty code in over 8 months prior to this project) and really shows how far I have progressed with my game development skills. Almost every day I work on Nastier, I complain to myself about the idiot that coded Nasty (that idiot is me).

There are several big changes to note in Nastier. First, the levels are no longer single screen affairs. While the levels aren't huge and the game still maintains its "clear all enemies, moved to next level" mentality, being able to have larger scrolling levels really opens up how each level can be designed. The ten levels designed so far for Nastier are a lot more unique and interesting than most of the 100 levels in the first Nasty. It's my goal to make all 50 levels in Nastier unique, interesting, and challenging. The first Nasty had 100 levels, by cutting that in half for Nastier I can give each level twice the attention which means for twice the fun (I hope). It also spaces out the boss battles more evenly, with one coming every tenth level.

2 player co-op was fun in Nasty but for Nastier, we had to up that to 4 player co-op. I had originally considered doing this for an update to Nasty but felt the level designs wouldn't fit four players and without some drastic changes, a solid 60 fps wouldn't be possible. This feature is really one of the driving reasons for making Nastier.

In order to accommodate scrolling levels with multiple players, the camera in Nastier had to be drastically changed too. In Nasty the camera was stationary. In a single player Nastier game, the camera stays centered on the player. In a game with multiple players, the camera moves to the center point between the active players. Should any of them be off-screen at this point, the camera will zoom out so that they are all displayed. In many ways, this is a lot like the camera in games like Super Smash Brothers. The camera still needs some work (it's very jerky when a player dies and respawns) but it is mostly working and working well, helping to facilitate some really fun multiplayer games.

In addition to making bigger levels, I wanted to make each level more involved and last longer. Many of the levels feature a lot more respawning enemies than levels in Nastier. I wanted to make Nastier a lot more action packed and adding more enemies per level to mow down helps tremendously in this regard. I have made the enemies a bit weaker this time around which gives you a better sense of power and makes up for the fact that there are many more enemies in this go around.

I just recently finished up most of the intro cutscense for Nastier. I believe it does a good job of presenting the basic storyline while at the same time giving the gamer a few good laughs (featuring a Star Wars reference and an R.E.M. reference). The presentation of this cutscene is a lot nicer than the one in Nasty was easier to make on account of creating a cutscene class that works much like an object in Flash (though not nearly as full featured). I will also be adding short cutscenes before each boss battle, likely just some basic (but funny) dialog between the characters and the boss.

I've been aiming to do a play test for Nastier soon but I've still got a lot of stuff I want to finish first. I've got three pages worth of "TODO" items, many of which I want to have finished before doing any play testing. I don't want to send Nastier out for feedback now and then have people complain about the very items I already know about. I want new stuff, ideas, and thoughts and I feel like I'm wasting people's time if they're just going to comment about what's not right.

Part of the play test delay also has to do with expectations. Nasty didn't do so well sales-wise though many people did rather enjoy it. Abduction Action! did much better in sales and people thought it was funny and pretty polished. Hypership has been killing in reviews, so many people really, really like the game. Because of the general upward progression of awesomeness in my games so far, I do sense a good deal of anticipation and high expectations for Nastier. In the past I've been more willing to put out incomplete games to play test to get feedback but now I don't want to disappoint people whose first impression of Nastier is an unfinished work. Though right now even in its unfinished state, I feel like Nastier is heaps of fun more than Nasty.

Right now Nastier has ten levels done. This is how many I want to have for play test and I'll be working on getting these first ten levels (and all gameplay within them) polished to my high standards. When that's done, then Nastier will be ready for that first elusive play test... hopefully sooner than later.

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