@cas_kicks -- tylerdoak42@gmail.com
Tyler Doak / Culture Attack Studio
Aug 012012

Hey, peeps!
I haven’t worked much on Ay Dubs for the past couple weeks. Just been really busy because family was visiting for CHEYENNE FRONTIER DAYS!!!! And I had a weird work schedule because of CHEYENNE FRONTIER DAYS!!!!! And then had to unexpectedly work on days I wanted to work on Aces Wild.
Here we are now, though and I’m almost back into the swing of things.
Did some voice work today. Downloaded a ton of dog sfx, cleaned them up, put them into the game. Then hated them! They were awful. So, then I tried barking myself. It’s much cleaner and nicer, but I’m not a good dog voice actor so it just sounds like, not just a human barking, but Ace himself barking. So it just won’t work.
After that pissed me off real bad, I recorded some voice for the ninjas. It’s pretty typical, but sounds great, hopefully it will sound good in the game as well.
That’s basically what I’m working on! Just a few more things to finish up in the main game. Just revising where needed. polishing up the bosses more. Balancing the battle mechanics.
Trying really hard for August 30th. WHICH IS FUCKING CRAZY!
Stay Tuned, Wilders!

Jul 172012

Seriously over two weeks!? I swore I made some posts. Anyways. Not much to report. It’s kinda slow going as I try and finish up everything.
Wild was rebalanced a bit again. It builds pretty fast now and Crash attacks do a bit less damage relative to Wild. But now using Wild will be better I think (not totally done yet). When you do a Wild Bomber you’re invincible for the moment, then you regain Health while your Wild drains. Landing attacks regains health faster and getting hit resets your Wild to zero during that time. Getting hit normally still raises your Wild.

Trying really hard to get netplay working, but i’m not sure it’s possible. SUPER SORRY TO SAY THAT! But I’ll do my best.

Stay Tuned!

Jun 292012

The past few days I’ve just been touching up little things and working on the bosses. It feels like I haven’t done much, I just played the first few screens and some bosses the game is feeling amazing. I just have to set up a few more things with every boss and the main arcade mode is basically complete!! It’s really quite a feeling!
After that, I will finish up the other playable characters and balance the other difficulties and 2 player for all those.
That’s still quite a lot to do!
I’ve also been in contact with a voice actress and the rest of the cast will be voiced soon as well!

One of my goals was to try and have a game that had a single meter or variable that determined a lot.
For the most part I feel like I’ve succeeded, but throughout development, I’ve wanted to add other little hidden meters to sort of balance the difficulty a bit on the fly. I was reluctant because I felt it betrayed my design goal.
Recently I’ve added difficulty modifiers based on the Bonus multiplier. I felt this was ok because it really only made an impact when you were playing impeccably.
About yesterday it really hit me that this still wasn’t enough. With Wild it was really swingy where the difficulty would Ramp up then die off erratically. This was expected in a sense because my goal was to be able to influence the difficulty as you played. After balancing a bit with the Bonus difficulty modifier a similar thing happened. When you got hit, you lose a bunch of Bonus which immediately brought down the difficulty. Just one mistake! Further, when you meet up with a boss or beat a level, your Wild and Bonus are reset. This, again, kills the difficulty.
I know adding a traditional Rank variable a la Manic Shooters and Godhand will really make a difference. This way difficulty will be able to permeate past these things and be based on a more general account of how well you’re playing and ramp the difficulty as necessary.

Guess I’m off to do all these things!
Stay Tuned, Wilders.
We’re about there!

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!


May 022012

I taught Soccer for a city-wide fitness program yesterday and today! It was way fun, but I haven’t been working on Aces Wild directly.
I’ve been trying to get a shader to work instead of just duplicating all the character assets. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what I was doing back in the day, so I have to use photoshop to get different color palettes. This is really easy, but it makes the file and run-time size huge. If I can get a shader to work, I can have way more color palette options, way less loading and way less memory at run-time. It still wouldn’t be as idea if I new what I was doing in the beginning, though. OH WELLS!

The deadline for the indieCade competition just arrived yesterday. I actually submitted way back when it first opened. There haven’t been many changes to the main game, so I’m still feeling good about it.
A pretty much final build will be ready for the Dream Build Play competition which deadlines on June 12th.
This one might not be public! Super sorry about that, but it’s getting to be the final game and I need to make preparations for getting this bad boy to market.
Don’t worry though! It’s gonna be very affordable!
We’ll see you in a bit, Wilders!

Apr 182012

So I was invited to represent the Games Industry at our school district’s career fair tomorrow!
This means I’ve been working on that and not as much Aces Wild. I have been trying to get netplay to work and am making slow strides in that department. And when I think about it, I actually got several new areas done and am really proud of them!
At work a week or so ago, I was inspired to make two new bosses as well. I feel like arcade mode is getting a bit too long, but these bosses are too good to ignore (hopefully!).
Having netplay and custom levels with a end-user editor are my big final things that are sort of… dark visions. Meaning I don’t know how they’ll turn out or if they will. Everything else–extra modes, extra playable characters, full voice–is in sight and I know how to complete it.
Stay tuned, Wilders! It’s the final stretch!

Apr 092012

Not much to report. Just trying to finish up this bad boy. FINALLY fixed two REALLY annoying bugs. Both having to do with collision detection and response. For some INSANE reason, I had some weird position and velocity changes so sometimes characters wouldn’t bounce correctly and just slide along the ground. It was a fix that took literally a couple of minutes. It just worked!! (too lucky)
The other thing had to do with wall slides. If you started a wall slide, then immediately left and passed over any wall, you’d go into wall slide animation. Similarly I had some strange things going on. I also specified the wrong side of the character when collision happened, so when I did the wall slide call, weird things were happening. I honestly don’t even know how it worked at all considering that.
Other than that, I’ve just been working on some menu things. Nicer looking. Menus for the other modes. Character select. Etc.
Gotta work on some netplay stuff. I really want people to be able to coop over the net. It’s my next big thing to finish.
After that, I have some ideas for a few new bosses. Normally, I wouldn’t even consider it, but… I REALLY like their concept, so it’s gonna happen!
Stay Tuned, Wilders!

Apr 042012

Aces Wild just earned an honorable mention in the indiePub Independent Propeller awards!

Check it out!

No cash or anything :( but still awesome! Also the first post in the comments, not posted by me, is about Aces Wild. NICE!

To update, I’ve been working on a couple new enemies, areas and gameplay modes as well as making more playable characters. Trying to get netplay to work is mad hard! We’re getting down to it so STAY TUNED!!

Feb 242012

Well Coop came together pretty easily. Now balancing 2p versions of everything will be the hard part. Another the hard part will be how to deal with the hit pause. Normally when you hit an enemy or get hit, the game pauses, but that will f* up the other player and feel weird. In smash bros, they make it so only those engaged in the attack are affected. I might have to do something like that.
Oh, new menus too!
Stay Tuned!!

Feb 132012

Soo!! It’s been a while. I’ve just been taking a break. Doing sketches for other games. I’m not sure what I want to do next yet!
There’s another contest in May and hopefully that will be the final build for Aces Wild.
Just gotta keep polishing mostly.
Get the extra modes in.
Get Coop in.
Some of the levels are really bad and some are awesome. The later levels are grossly more fun that the earlier ones, so those early stages need work!