Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb

Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207248)
[ edit ] Added new screenshot and updated version of the game[ /edit ]

Well, now that it's nearly the last minute, I suddenly decided I might try to squeeze out a competition entry between my other projects. It'll be a super-simple mobile-style endless climber game, based on my Robo-Ninja character from a different game. Just started a couple days ago, so there's not much here yet, but at least I have a screenshot:

We'll see what happens!
Re: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207267)
Great to see you decided to enter the compo after all!

And with a different type of game than i expected :) It's always nice to have a large sprite like that whenever a game design allows for it. It breaks up the 2x2 / 4x2 expectation favourably.

How does the wall facades work? Are the indentations something like grapple points or simply decorations?
Re: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207274)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
And with a different type of game than i expected :) It's always nice to have a large sprite like that whenever a game design allows for it. It breaks up the 2x2 / 4x2 expectation favourably.


Yeah, the big character should be fun, although I keep thinking I might have to scale him down a bit to make the gameplay actually work well. Once I add obstacles, it might be too cramped if I keep him the size he is now. But I do want to keep him as large as possible.

Quote:
How does the wall facades work? Are the indentations something like grapple points or simply decorations?

Just decoration. (but the arc also provides a place for my sprite-0 hit so that the spikes at the bottom have a nice smooth bouncing motion, (animated gif here).

Also, my palettes need some work, the current one washes out some of the variation in the walls that looked better in the original source graphics.

Next step is adding obstacles so I can see if the large character is going to work. If so, then I need to go back and spend some time on sprite-chr to see how many frames of animation I can pack in.

(I need to check the rules and see what I'm allowed to do in terms of number of chr banks)
Re: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207328)
Day 5: Added an (incomplete) title screen, and started on obstacles, first focusing on spikes on the side walls. Also added a death sequence. If I can keep this pace up, I'll probably actually finish before the deadline.

Image Image
Re: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207387)
It looks pretty cool.

I think you should find a way to hide the seam though (bottom left and right corners)
Re: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207694)
Day 7. Obstacles draw correctly. Spent the whole evening working on making the attribute table updates for the obstacles work correctly.

Next up is getting collisions working, and refining the main character sprite a bit.


pubby wrote:
It looks pretty cool.

I think you should find a way to hide the seam though (bottom left and right corners)


Not a bad idea. That will come later, if I actually have time for polish :)
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207699)
The current state in which the game is located looks great. What kind of new obstacles do you have to add beyond the spiked walls?
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207706)
Looking neat! :D

Maybe you could separate the red spikes from the blue background with a highlight or outline or shadow?
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#207716)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
Looking neat! :D

Maybe you could separate the red spikes from the blue background with a highlight or outline or shadow?


Yeah, they need something. Part of it is that my palettes need work. There's supposed to be 2 different colors on the spikes, but while testing, I ended up reusing the same color twice in their palette.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208393)
First full playable draft is done!

5 levels, 3 power-ups. Not a big game, but accomplished my goal of having something interesting to submit.
Next I need to go through and pretty it up a bit with nicer music, some sound effects, and possibly more variation in the graphics.

If anyone's interested in testing and giving me feedback (particularly any bugs, or how the difficulty level is), let me know!
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208760)
Looks really nice, love the graphics for the ninja - the palette change in the last screenshot gives it a lot more pop. Is there a timing or a scoring element? Seems like it would really suit a score attack or endless running mode.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208779)
team_disposable wrote:
Is there a timing or a scoring element? Seems like it would really suit a score attack or endless running mode.


My first plan was to make it endless, but it ended up being difficult to get random layouts that were actually fun. So I changed it to 5 hardcoded/designed levels instead. The goal now would be too beat it in the fewest number of deaths.

The almost-finished version can be downloaded here if you want to try it.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208781)
Nice, it feels like a very complete package.

Is the intention that you hop upwards by jumping on the same side? It took me a few deaths before I figured that out - at first I figured that was what the sliding was. It's also a little tricky to control when there are spikes on both sides (although that could be by design!) as the ninja seems to jump slightly below where they are when jumping to the other side.

Also, on the page you link above you've got the text "Nintenda" instead of "Nintendo".

Congratulations on nearly completing it already, you're certainly got much farther along then I have!
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208788)
team_disposable wrote:
Is the intention that you hop upwards by jumping on the same side? It took me a few deaths before I figured that out - at first I figured that was what the sliding was.


Yup. I purposely didn't completely explain that, but did hint at it by mentioning that you could steer your jump. Did you feel like it was too hard to figure out, and should have been more explicitly mentioned?

Quote:
It's also a little tricky to control when there are spikes on both sides (although that could be by design!) as the ninja seems to jump slightly below where they are when jumping to the other side.


Yeah, that supposed to be part of the challenge. But if it feels frustratingly difficult before level 2 or 3, then I made it too hard. Where did it start getting particularly difficult for you?

Quote:
Also, on the page you link above you've got the text "Nintenda" instead of "Nintendo".


Good catch, thanks.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208792)
It wasn't too difficult to figure out, I just wasn't sure if I was missing something. I even checked and remapped up in case there was something off with my keyboard!

I can't really comment on difficulty - I only played through to level two, and I didn't really line up many of the jumps (which I presume you are meant to do) so I died quite a bit.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208900)
gauauu wrote:
Yup. I purposely didn't completely explain that, but did hint at it by mentioning that you could steer your jump. Did you feel like it was too hard to figure out, and should have been more explicitly mentioned?


Not being told how to do a maneuver that's necessary to win the game makes the game difficult, but not in an interesting way. If you tell the player about all the controls/maneuvers up front, you have more room to create interesting challenges.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208904)
Zutano wrote:
gauauu wrote:
Yup. I purposely didn't completely explain that, but did hint at it by mentioning that you could steer your jump. Did you feel like it was too hard to figure out, and should have been more explicitly mentioned?


Not being told how to do a maneuver that's necessary to win the game makes the game difficult, but not in an interesting way. If you tell the player about all the controls/maneuvers up front, you have more room to create interesting challenges.


It just comes down to me trying to provide the most minimal set of on-screen instructions that still explain what you need to know. Did you try the game out to see how it works? (If you did, and found it confusing after reading the on-screen instructions and putting them into the context of the game, then I want to know about it)
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208908)
Finally found some time to try this out!

It is good. I like that you present a change of texture rather early on as if to tell players that they will achieve change.

But regarding the difficulty, i feel the game is working against me in ways that seem a bit too harsh. It's the roundness of the player character and the triangular shape of the spikes that makes me think i can make a jump - only to get hurt. It seems to me, without knowing the facts, that the hit box is a wee bit too high or broad at the top. But it's just a guess.

Level 3 has a difficulty spike a very short while after getting the powerup. It's like the level presents you an opportunity to use the ability, but you must succeed in order to pass, and you don't have time to play around with the ability and get comfy with it before this gauntlet happens.

Else, i agree that you shouldn't need to figure out basic moves. This skill wouldn't be as mandatory and basic if the player character could scale aswell as slide, but if that's not your cup of tea, i think it needs a bit more explanation.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208914)
gauauu wrote:
Zutano wrote:
gauauu wrote:
Yup. I purposely didn't completely explain that, but did hint at it by mentioning that you could steer your jump. Did you feel like it was too hard to figure out, and should have been more explicitly mentioned?


Not being told how to do a maneuver that's necessary to win the game makes the game difficult, but not in an interesting way. If you tell the player about all the controls/maneuvers up front, you have more room to create interesting challenges.


It just comes down to me trying to provide the most minimal set of on-screen instructions that still explain what you need to know. Did you try the game out to see how it works? (If you did, and found it confusing after reading the on-screen instructions and putting them into the context of the game, then I want to know about it)

I already knew about the upward-jump from reading this thread before trying it out, but I sent the demo to a few friends and they didn't figure it out.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208915)
Fair enough. That means I need to change it. I don't suppose you'd have any suggestions on a single short line of text that would clarify it?
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208916)
You could simplify the controls to just the D-pad: Left/Right to jump left/right, Up always jumps up, and Down always slides.
Or at least if Up or Up+Jump had the same effect as steering back to the current wall, it would make the controls more intuitive.

But if you want to keep the controls the way they are, I suppose you could say something like, "Steer jump backwards to jump directly up"
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208917)
Perhaps...

Press B to jump

Press [<] or [>] to
aim at either wall

or

Use [<] or [>] to
aim at either wall

or

Press [*] to aim at either wall

*small d-pad symbol with < and > marked or animated
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208919)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
But regarding the difficulty, i feel the game is working against me in ways that seem a bit too harsh. It's the roundness of the player character and the triangular shape of the spikes that makes me think i can make a jump - only to get hurt. It seems to me, without knowing the facts, that the hit box is a wee bit too high or broad at the top. But it's just a guess.

Funny, I felt like the hit-box at the top was fine, but the feet was where it was too big. Maybe I'll play with shrinking it slightly on both sides.

Quote:
Level 3 has a difficulty spike a very short while after getting the powerup. It's like the level presents you an opportunity to use the ability, but you must succeed in order to pass, and you don't have time to play around with the ability and get comfy with it before this gauntlet happens.


That's a good point. Maybe I'll put a little more friendly space in between getting the item and the difficult place where you have to use it.

Quote:
This skill wouldn't be as mandatory and basic if the player character could scale aswell as slide, but if that's not your cup of tea, i think it needs a bit more explanation.


The 4th level has a powerup that lets you press up to scale walls.

Quote:
But if you want to keep the controls the way they are, I suppose you could say something like, "Steer jump backwards to jump directly up"

I'm leaning towards keeping the controls. Up lets you scale once you get a powerup later, and there are parts in the final level where you have to do more careful and tricky in-air steering, so I don't want to completely change the controls or the explanation of the controls.

I'll keep brainstorming instruction text to try to make it brief but clear.

Thanks for your input!
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208923)
Quote:
Funny, I felt like the hit-box at the top was fine, but the feet was where it was too big. Maybe I'll play with shrinking it slightly on both sides.

Heh.. my draft had a note on that but then i felt greedy. :oops: But yeah basically, if the hitbox can be made to be mostly or wholly within the visible/solid sprite, even at the cost of some visible pixels being outside the box, i think that's preferable in general. Else it feels like the game cheats you, while you're more ready to forgive a game for not registering what seems to be a graze. But it's a balancing act. Too much of either is bad.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#208952)
Here's a new build. Instructions are updated (see below), I've shrunk the hitbox slightly, and tweaked a few of the jumps in the game to make it easier. If you happen to try it again, let me know.

Code:
A to jump.  Down to slide.
  You can steer mid-air.

Hold back while jumping
    to scale upwards.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#209398)
Well, I had some friends come try it on my nes and learned one important thing: it's much easier for people on the actual NES than it is on most emulators. The precision of controls needed is just a bit difficult on emulators.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#209417)
I know that feeling. I kept thinking test builds of CG-2 were too difficult to control, but it was because I was playing on a phone and things like diagonals and simultaneous button presses just weren't comfortable to do.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#209421)
The latest version feels a lot better, anyway! (will test it on hardware some later time, too). ...do i feel a faint tingle of addiction emerging? :o

One thing bugged out; i'll try to reproduce it next time. Basically, the game never started scrolling. A suicide solved it.

I'm not really sure, but one thing i thought would perhaps help with eye-measurement is if the lowest spike block looked something like this:

>>
>

rather than

>>
>>

(or really, something in-between those two)

so that it can ensure the player that you can get relatively close to it without hitting it (which i think is the point with the climb powerup).

Other things i thought while playing that totally are feature creeps and unsolicited advice :wink: :
-Maybe a health counter could help, + introduce some suspense when you only have 1 health left
-Each level could contain 1 health powerup refilling 1 health; perhaps even even exceeding the initial health, but not accumulative between levels (health resets to ...3?)
--That provides another way to vary your levels. Skip ahead or dare a risky jump to get it?
--make it move so there's a time window and eye coordination challenge to it. Slowly floating downards? Dropping rather quickly? Passing horizontally in a hanging arc and bye bye?
--Pavlovian bells: maybe even a chort "chirp chirp!" sound just right before it appears to alert and psych the player of its appearance.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#209441)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
One thing bugged out; i'll try to reproduce it next time. Basically, the game never started scrolling. A suicide solved it.


The current build had a debug feature enabled that causes scrolling to freeze of you press select. I'd guess that's what happened.


Quote:
Other things i thought while playing that totally are feature creeps and unsolicited advice :wink: :
-Maybe a health counter could help, + introduce some suspense when you only have 1 health left


If you're on easy mode, the color of the main character's eyes are the health meter. They go from Green to White. But I guess that's not obvious enough.

Adding a health meter would involve more sprites, but I'm actually almost at the limit on levels with laser beams and multiple power ups.

Quote:
-Each level could contain 1 health powerup refilling 1 health; perhaps even even exceeding the initial health, but not accumulative between levels (health resets to ...3?)
--That provides another way to vary your levels. Skip ahead or dare a risky jump to get it?
--make it move so there's a time window and eye coordination challenge to it. Slowly floating downards? Dropping rather quickly? Passing horizontally in a hanging arc and bye bye?
--Pavlovian bells: maybe even a chort "chirp chirp!" sound just right before it appears to alert and psych the player of its appearance.


I do like the health increase item idea. I'll consider it.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#209522)
fun game, good job.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#209617)
It is much, much better now. Quite addictive, easy to control, and fun. Great job, I quite had a time testing it. I loved the powerups I got to see (latest, the rocket - nice change in the gameplay!).
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#209619)
na_th_an wrote:
It is much, much better now. Quite addictive, easy to control, and fun. Great job, I quite had a time testing it. I loved the powerups I got to see (latest, the rocket - nice change in the gameplay!).


Thanks! If you got the rocket, then you're right at the end!
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#212847)
Since everyone else is doing it (I'm a sucker for peer pressure), I updated the first post with the final competition version.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#221344)
Just an FYI, I ported Robo-Ninja Climb to the Atari 2600. Part of the fun was attempting to directly use as much of the NES code as possible (since they are both 6502), merely replacing the rendering, controls, etc. A good bit had to be rewritten for the Atari, but I was happily surprised with how much I was able to reuse.
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#221359)
That's a nice port! Good work, really love those things :)
Re: Progress Thread: Robo-Ninja Climb
by on (#238663)
I figured with perfectly good C code for this game lying around, I should see what else I could port it to. The Dreamcast port of Robo-Ninja Climb is now tentatively finished. It uses the same C code from the NES (and Atari) versions, and once again just swaps out all the IO code.