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Tyler Doak / Culture Attack Studio » Feedback June 2012
Jun 162012

I’d like to start by saying I wish I would update more often! It was one of my New Year’s resolutions and I was really inspired today to work harder at it.
From Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

For the working artist, the very best writings on art are not analytical or chronological; they are autobiographical. The artist, after all, was there.
The best writing about art depicts not the finished piece, but the processes that created it.

I’ve also felt I had some fairly good things to say about the goings on, work done and processes in our art, games and design culture. I have several article topics at the ready and hope to work on them soon.

In competition news, I didn’t make the deadline for Dream Build Play. I just didn’t have the time or motivation. I work on Aces Wild constantly, but I just didn’t feel that drive. I wanted to actually work on the game and not fumble through the nightmare of deploying to xbox (though eventually I will have to!). I’m only slightly saddened by this though. I feel the build was very solid but I was not impressed by the games that ‘beat’ Aces Wild last year. Except for the winner, Blocks that Matter.
I’ve had a couple of jurors have difficulty running the game for indieCade, but I believe at least a couple got it working. I hope they enjoy it!

As always, the build was way too hard. This became readily apparent when two awesome bros tested out my game recently.
I’ve had significant difficulty getting people to test it. I blame the barriers of actually getting to the game: filesize, xna framework, xbox controller. And of course, me not being very good at asking people yet.
They had great things to say and I am sincerely grateful to them both.

The game itself has a few changes.
-In accordance with the difficulty, I’m working hard on keeping an Easy Mode that’s actually less brutal.
-An additional difficulty level. Now we have Calm, Sassy!, Wild!! and Maniac!!!
-Just this moment I made it so if you whiff an attack, you can still cancel/combo into another action, just two frames later than if it had connected.
I mentioned in a tweet that this is a very old rule since the first days (hours even) of Aces Wild that I wanted to adhere to. I see now it could benefit from it.
I was worried that it would become too mashy or easy. First impressions: It still requires you to dodge at the right times and doesn’t really add too much mindlessness. Just because you’re attacking, doesn’t mean you won’t be hit. In fact, you are very vulnerable if you attack without thought. It reduces stress from whiffing enemies that were from a lack of ‘skill’ (IE mechanics/physics intricacies) or randomness in the environment or how you struck the enemy. Which is great! It also means certain evasive maneuvers from enemies require you to pay a bit more attention or you’ll throw another attack and be hit yourself.
-Additional Bosses are about done. One particular boss was a ninja who threw ninja stars. These would stick into the ground, walls and ceiling and damage you if you touched them and you couldn’t dodge them. One playtester hated him partly for him being early in development (one simple pattern) and mostly because it is just really annoying to avoid the Un-Dodgeable hazards. For now I may just replace him with a boss I was going to use as a pre-boss to the final boss. It might work out best this way. The shurikens stuck in the environment was an idea I was really excited about, but I’m quickly noticing it’s cracks and flaws.
-Barkley Bones is now the first level boss. He has a lot of flash, but isn’t too difficult. Which seems great for the first level. He now summons low HP, un-armored dogs at certain points in the battle instead of standard dogs.
-Skyrunner was the 2nd level boss who threw the shurikens. I’m gonna try the other new boss, Reina Serena here instead. She fights with a sword and umbrellas that attack independently. She’s really hard right now, but I think I can turn her into a good learning experience for the 2nd stage.
-Leslie Ruter originally had a younger brother named Herman. Actually, Leslie was originally much smaller and wasn’t even a boss, he was a simply a playable character named Herman Leslie. He quickly became a boss as his assets (which are many) seemed to be going to waste. I realized I was designing poorly and had no larger opponents. That’s when Leslie grew up into Leslie Bernard and his old self became Herman Bernard. I changed their name from Bernard to Ruter as it fit the theme and their design better–Ruter means Diamond.
So at this point in development, I still wanted Herman to be there somehow. I’ve decided to simply make Herman a palette swap of Leslie. And you fight them at the same time as the third level boss.
-The third level is the resurrection of an old area: The On-Ramp. Essentially it is a new area that bridges the Warehouse to the Highway.
-Gene Jackson used to have swords that would fly around and attack independently. This was merely a quick and easy implementation to make an unfinished encounter seem more interesting. He was supposed to fight in bursts of aggression and evade and counter your attacks often. This is what he does now and the independent object gimmick is saved for Reina.
-Crash attacks don’t use up as much Wild and they increase your Bonus (which is a score multiplier) if you KO an enemy.
-Rapid attacks give you Wild when you strike an enemy and more when you KO them
-Drive attacks give you Health when you strike an enemy and more when you KO them
I want to find a way to have Drive attacks not require Wild. Using it is fine and good, but I don’t like them being locked away.
-New homing attacks are being more seriously developed. They’ve been there since the early early days, but are extremely hard to balance. I believe I’m on the right track toward a good solution
-Bonus increases enemy aggression

That’s mainly it for changes. Just working toward completion! WHICH IS REALLY FLIPPIN’ CLOSE!!! I can’t even believe it! Balance Iteration Balance Iteration Balance Iteration…
Other than that, a voice actress approached me about doing voice work. I had wanted to do this much earlier on, but I feel it will make more sense as a final polish step as it doesn’t have too much bearing on the mechanics.

I’ve been working crazy hard on Aces Wild but I relax by working on concepts for my next game. It will be one of two or both concurrently!


3 Responses to “Feedback June 2012”

  1. Gabriel says:

    Great hearing about all these changes. Also happy to hear about Drive attacks not requiring Wild, I think it would be way better gameplay-wise, you could string together more awesome combos like in early builds (although this may be offset a bit by enemies actually recovering instead of bouncing around like way earlier). Sounds like a great idea, I don’t have any advice on how to do it though..

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Crest says:

    Tried 2 player with a friend in debug build which was kinda awesome. Basicly working but simply looks like you haven’t finished the feature yet: Camera focused only on player 1, both characters using exactly same colours gets a little confusing and health only ‘absorbed’ by player 1 also. The game didn’t pick up on a second xbox pad and had to bind controller buttons to keyboard keys to emulate the feeling. We never found the frame stopping to be a problem. I presume 2 player is lowish priority at the moment, but when it came together it really did shine.

    Following progress on this has been immense. Controls and mechanics have been getting better and tighter. I really appreciate the amount of options you have during combat. Aces Wild is a piece of gameplay art, setting the bar higher for indie action game developers!

    ..I did miss the backflip kick….

  3. Tyler says:

    Dang, man!! That’s so nice of you to say. Things like that really help me!
    Right now I’m trying to get arcade to a pretty complete state, then I will fully incorporate 2p and balance arcade mode for co-op play.
    Ace’s moveset is constantly changing, but I’m doing my best to keep it varied and balanced so expect any missing moves to be there in the end.
    Thanks so much, man! I hope you’ll enjoy the game when it’s done!

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