Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)

Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211120)
UPDATED - Entry finished and submitted.

Source code:
https://github.com/mojontwins/Miedow_NES

ROM download:
Attachment:
mojon-twins--miedow--1.0.nes [64.02 KiB]
Downloaded 1400 times


description.txt
Code:
Title: Miedow (Cheril's Nightmares)

Author: Mojon Twins

Year: 2018

Players: 1

Description:
After walking into the
shrine, Cheril falls asleep.
In her dreams, a voice
commands her to find her
daughters...

D-Pad: Move around
A: Jump
B: Shoot/Push

You can push some blocks
around, as well as statues.
Move statues to pedestals
to proceed. Find keys to
open locks. Shoot orbs to
light them.

URL:
http://forums.nesdev.com/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=16889

Credits:
na_th_an: Code, gfx, music
Davidian: title tune
Anjuel: title logo
Zemman: testing


---
Original post:
Quote:
Having been uberbusy this year I had to settle on something more simple than my last year entries. This time we have a top-down, flick screen adventure where you control Cheril shooting, dodging, jumping over lava pits, and solving some puzzles which have to do with the classic Sokoban.

It will be CNROM coded in C and using neslib and famitone2. It will use two CHR banks for graphics, and two for map data.

I still have some things to iron out before I can post a demo so you can tell me what you think :) Some screens will have to do, for the moment.

Image

Image

Image

We are aiming for a moody, gloomy athmosphere. The game uses rudimentary yet effective rain and lighting effects and I'm planning to add a boss, if I have the time.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211125)
Hey, pretty pixels! This maid looks somewhat familiar, do we know her from a previous game or does my confused mind playing tricks with me? :mrgreen:
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211126)
She may be familiar 'cause she starred one of our last years entries, "Goddess".
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211128)
I think the HUD would look prettier without the =.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211129)
In fact I think you are right. I will try some combinations.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211131)
Backgrounds are gorgeous, especially the way the floor is lit around the candles and the palette choice for the magenta lake, with the way it contrasts (both temperature- and value-wise) with the dark, cool ground around it.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211135)
I really like the artstyle.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211157)
Thanks for the comments. I know I'm completely breaking the perspective, though. The reason is that I'm only using 32 metatiles per level plus the fact that I've tried to make backgrounds easily understandable, mainly because there are "push-statues over touchplates" puzzles all around.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211298)
Early demo, so you can see it in action. It's level 3.

- A jumps, B shoots. Press B next to a pushable block (i.e. a statue) plus D-Pad to push it around.
- You can jump over enemies (hard to time, though), and you should jump over lava pits.
- The objective is rescuing the maids in the level (just 1 at the end of this one).
- closed "doors" can be opened by "lighting" stones with a hole in them (after 4 shoots, they "light"), or by placing statues over pedestals. When all "lightable" stones are lit or all statues are in place, the "door" will open.
- some closed "doors" have locks on them; those can be opened with a key.

That's basicly it. The game is composed by short levels like this. Some feature exploration. Some are more heavy on sokoban style puzzles. Some feature more platforming (there are slippery floor and spikes for your amusement). Some are more action driven.

In the full game, elements are introduced one by one. First level introduces pushable statues. Second level introduces lava pits. Third level is this one. There are 7 levels currently, the final game will feature 10, most likely. Some are shorter, some are longer.

Hope you like it. Comments are welcome, thanks.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211310)
na_th_an wrote:
A jumps, B shoots

Hm... Is it a de facto standard, mapping A to jump and B to fire? Or did you select this mapping randomly?
(I just wonder, because I mapped B to jump and A to fire and now I feel guilty) 8-)
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211311)
Lazycow wrote:
na_th_an wrote:
A jumps, B shoots

Hm... Is it a de facto standard, mapping A to jump and B to fire? Or did you select this mapping randomly?
(I just wonder, because I mapped B to jump and A to fire and now I feel guilty) 8-)


Yes. The vast majority of NES games that had jump/shoot controls used A to jump and B to shoot. Games that didn't felt REALLY weird.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211315)
Every NES shipped with Super Mario Bros. They decided A = jump. Everyone got used to that. Other games copied this to fit in with user expectations.

Edit. The only game I can think of that maps B to jump is Ooze, from Action 52.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211333)
dougeff wrote:
Edit. The only game I can think of that maps B to jump is Ooze, from Action 52.

Also Werewolf. And boy does it feel inconvenient.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211349)
after play testing project blue on an AVS, i am going to test reversing the controls as well, or at least having the option.

there are a lot of times when you want to hold down A while jumping and press B rapidly to fire projectiles, and it's a bit awkward. enough so that i instinctively found myself reaching for the wrong controls the first time i played it with an actual controller. holding down B while rapidly pressing A is a much more natural movement to make.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211351)
toggle switch wrote:
. holding down B while rapidly pressing A is a much more natural movement to make.



Those of us that grew up with NES are quite used to holding A to jump and mashing B to shoot.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211352)
I think it's SMB:s "fault". It cemented the already present standard, based on that you'd hold fire/run more often/longer on average than jump, so this is how nes gamers learned how to platform from at least then on, even if they don't have a run mechanism. Reverse it and i suspect most NES players will be confused and perform worse.

Options are always good, though.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211353)
I would say neither combination of holding A or B and pressing the other is physically uncomfortable.
Common examples off the top of my head:
* Holding B to run in SMB and pressing A to jump
* Holding A to bounce in Bubble Bobble and pressing B to shoot

I would say that if a game contains both jump and shoot, the most noticeable effect of inverting them (from the common practice of B=shoot, A=jump) is going to be contradicting the muscle memory of most players. The Gamecube version of Megaman Anniversary Collecion is notoriously guilty of that.

However, the option to swap the two isn't a bad idea (are options ever bad ideas?), in particular for obscure famiclone controllers and the like that have unusual button layouts.

Back on topic, I only had a moment to briefly play the demo ROM. Great animation (love the rain, lava death, and reflection on the activated beacons). Will need to play some more as I've only seen the first two rooms.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211355)
I play some platformers, particularly Super Mario Bros., claw style: left thumb on Control Pad, right index finger on B, and right middle finger on A.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211358)
Thoughts on the demo.

-very nice graphics, nice color choices.
-no music?
-you can't turn while shooting repeatedly. This feels 'unresponsive'.
-I got hit by lots of bats when I was in narrow areas with blocks between me and the bat. I suppose I would learn to deal with this if I played more, but I felt like there was no choice but to lose a life.
-4 shots to light up the block seems a bit slow...maybe try 3? I mean 4 isn't very bad, it just seems like requiring 4 shots does nothing but slow the pace of the game unnecessarily. (but who am I to talk?, since I moved things to opposite ends of the screen in Jammin Honey, just so you can't beat a level in less than 10 seconds).
-bats move kind of awkwardly, not very smooth.

-basic mechanics feel good, other than the turning while shooting thing I mentioned.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211365)
Her running animation makes me laugh. :)
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211376)
The animation obviously needs to be tweaked :lol:

- There will be music.
- I'm in the process of changing the "hold while shooting" dynamics so you can TURN while shooting (but not walk).
- Bats need more animation frames, but I'm getting short of sprite patterns.
- Yeah, you are defenceless against bats in narrow passages. The idea is that you should get rid of them in a "good and safe place" and use the time they take to respawn to act quickly. Also, the first thing to do in a room is get rid of the skulls, which are where enemies respawn, before doing anything else.

I chose 4 shoots to light stones randomly. I'm open to suggestions on how to balance the game better :)

Thanks for trying.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#211578)
Cute! I see Cheril won't be running around stark naked this time...
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212812)
... Almost there. I have to complete a couple of tunes and I'll submit this.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212829)
OP updated with ROM, sources, and stuff. Have fun.
I hope there are no game breaking bugs.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212836)
I've been dying to play Cheril's next adventure. This is what i'll have for brunch tomorrow. :)
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212840)
Very nice.

One problem that I had that I think could be easily fixed was on the first screen of the first dream. It took me a while to figure out how to move the stone, and then I moved it in the wrong direction without thinking and pushed it against a wall, which meant that I could no longer move it where it needed to go. Seeing nothing else to do, I had to restart the game. Obviously since it takes about 5 seconds to get there, this isn't a huge deal or anything.

However, since the placement of non-hostile objects seems to reset on a new screen, I figure there could simply be a mostly empty screen that leads to that first screen, so if you screw it up you can go backwards and re-set the scene. As it is, there doesn't appear to be a way to do that? Just a suggestion.

Nice work!
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212843)
Minor design bug: there's a few places where I "fell" into the lava despite, as far as I could tell, entirely being on a diagonally adjacent tile.

Trivial UI flaw: if you somehow acquire more than 9 hearts, you get : and then ⧗ hearts.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212845)
This game looks freaking awesome! It's the tiny little nuances like the lightning and the rain that make this game so cool.
However, I did encounter a couple of bugs that, while not game breaking, are notable:

-If the player jumps while walking into one of the pushable wooden crates from the left or right, and pushes B any time during the jump, then Cheril spontaneously dies like she's fallen into lava. Doesn't seem to happen for all of the blocks, making this bug especially strange. There might be some hidden correlation to something that I'm missing.
-If the player holds down any direction on the D-pad and starts the game while continuing to hold it down, Cheril will stay in her sleeping pose while walking. It's pretty minor and it corrects itself the moment another button is pressed, but it's a bug nonetheless.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212853)
Thanks for the heads up. I'll correct all the bugs for the cart release, thanks.

The funny thing about the first screen is that it was a last time change :lol: I wanted to provide a trivial puzzle as a tutorial but didn't relaize that you can't undo if you get stuck! Oops.

Thanks for playing.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212856)
That title screen is lovely, I love the reflections of the light source front and centre.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212922)
Awesome game. How many levels / dreams do you have? 4?
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212924)
Thanks! There are 10 levels + 1 epilogue (which is a sort of playable ending sequence)
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212930)
Played it up to dream 6 but then unfortunately things needed to be attended to, so i savestated and will return to it next session... ^^


Anyway, comments so far:
Congratulations on the submission!

-As usual, your work is as atmospheric as ever. It's a great trademark you have. :)
-The rain makes for an unusually living and breathing NES experience. You managed to get a good balance between the 'particles' being quite intense and the graphics being very pleasing and non-interruptive. Great work! I Like the ghostly yet warm palette choices, the skeleton reminds me of "glowing in the dark" spooky toys i used to have as a kid. :)
-The leaves on the ground are a beautiful subtheme. They're sufficiently separated from solid simply by being monocoloured, although the blocks speak for themselves too.
-Music fits like hand in glove. Builds up creepy tension but is at the same time kind to the ear and relaxing to listen to repeatedly, which is good in a rather slow paced* puzzle labyrinth.


*for me at least it is somewhat slow paced (which isn't critique, slow paced is just as good as quick paced) - it might have to do with my lack of skill, i'm unusure.

-For influences (if any), i caught a whiff of... sokoban type games, maybe startropics?
-I like the contrasts, highlights and shadows a lot.
-The bedrrom chamber and corridor is my favourite piece, i think the slanted perspective here works great!
[-b]Spoiler:[/b] the new theme appearing in the 6th dream after "cycling through" some other themes before is a nice way to text the player that "now it is getting ramped up!" Well done!



As for critique, most of these nitpicks. If the body of text seems imposing, it's just because i wanted to describe it some and come up with a few ideas.

-It is sometimes hard parsing the perspective.
-I felt the combination of having a skull placed right in front of the maid + the punishment for shooting a made by mistake was a bit too severe. I had hoped the game would give me a moral warning, or maybe take damage as a punishment, but i didn't feel comfortable game over:ing because of it. Maybe a flash of lightning and maybe losing a heart (except the last one)?
-While the rain effect is soothing and smooth, i felt the flashing effect was a little too much, too often. I also got scared it was some harmful game effect i didn't know what it did and why it was triggered until i reasoned it was just the weather. Two ways that could be mitigated, should you want to:
--Consider lightning strikes in the real world. there's first a flash, then a period, then a (usually) low rumble. Unless lightning strikes within a kilometer, in which case it is terrifying and ear shattering. Mimmicking the first "mode" would help make the effect less acute. I think it would reassure the player that it is atmospheric.
--increase the timing between flashes by around a power of 2.
-lava can sometimes be a little too easy to fall into. This seems to be a combination of strict hit detection and sometimes a bit of diffuse borders between ground and holes.
-ice platforms feel a little unexpected in their behaviour. To me I cannot pinpoint what it is at the time, so i'm not sure if this is helpful. But they proved to be a difficulty spike for me.
-in the "sleep" sequence, maybe it would help orient the player telling how many maids there are left in total to rescue? Sort of to define the object of the game further and keep track of progress / stretch left. This is just a personal wish i had, though.
-lastly, the pushing currently requires a specific combiniation of conditionals which made it slightly unintuitive for me to figure it out "automatically"
-being close enough
-walking against it
-pressing fire

it could for example have been looser:
-being close enough
-facing it
-pressing fire

or looser still:
-walking against it
-time up to maybe 10-15 frames of walking against it as to filter out mistakes. Balancing is required.

Either topology has its merits and disadvantages. There are probably other topologies to experiment with, too.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#212952)
Thank you for your post! Really constructive, this is the kind of feedback and criticism I need :-).
I agree with most of your suggestions. Some gripes come from limitations in the engine but I can think I can provide a better experience for the multicart.

- Perspective. I know, it is sometimes top-down and sometimes plain diedric. And mixed in a bad way. The main problem here is that I am limited to 32 different metatiles per level and these tend to run out quite fast. The limitation is there 'cause I am using a RLE derivative with single byte runs which provide good compression and fast decoding (3 bits for the run length, 5 bits for the tile number - works quite nicely with the screens in this game).

- I made the maids flicker (and be invincible) while Cheril is flickering (and not just if you hit them!), to make the player know that they are somewhat connected. Now I see that with so much going on screen sometimes it is hard to notice and one doesn't know if it is sprite cycling flickering or actual invincibility flickering. What you suggest about substracting lives but no the last one seems a good suggestion to me. Also, more forgiving placement would help.

- I had considered delaying the thunder a second after the flash but I ran out of time and completely forgot. I will implement this for sure. And make them more scarce, you are right. They happen too often.

- The original plans involved stuff happening in the intro sequence to each dream (things changing, for instance), but again: time constraints. I have to make something with it. I like the idea of some kind of progress indicator, but I'd like to integrate it with the architecture and not throw in just a counter.

- I definitely have to make more forgiving hit detectors for lava.

Thank you again, I've taken good note. Glad you enjoyed it :)
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#215451)
My assessment in a nutshell: Gorgeously stylish but extremely tedious.

I felt like a lot of the design decisions artificially extended gameplay time without increasing enjoyment.
  • The amount of shots it took to do anything. I managed to play up to the ice dream (although it took me a few sessions and save states). When not pushing statues, gameplay (at least as I experienced it) was:
    Align self with enemy and /or skull. Hold turbo button until object is destroyed. Align self with next object.
    (If I hadn't been using a turbo controller, I would have just replaced hold turbo button with button mashing and definitely wouldn't have made it that far.)
  • The distance between states and their destinations, especially in the first few dreams. (Paths are obvious, just took forever to get them where they needed to go.)
  • The stop-and-go nature of the statue pushing.
  • The difficulty curve of the statue-pushing puzzles feels too light at first. There was definitely a point around dream 2 or 3 when I questioned if the statues would ever be puzzles at all or if they'd continue to just be tasks.

Other issues:
  • Movement feels a bit loose and collision with BG elements unforgiving. This resulted in a lot of times when I'm carefully tapping the controller (while often still moving further than desired) and again, feels a bit tedious. (Esp. in regards to the mines and on the ice)
  • The necessity to press B and toward a statue to move it (Which pretty much meant I was using my standard B button for pushing and my turbo B for shooting)

Some ways to possibly address these:
  • Either a Megaman 4-style charge feature. (A fully charged shot should pretty much be able to take care of anything in one hit.) –or– a much greater delay between shot times and drastic reduction in the number of shots to achieve things.
  • Smooth moving while pushing statues (could replace statue with a sprite while being pushed). This could also allow for pushing to be initiated by the continued press of B while against a statue.
  • Early statue pushing puzzles having shorter distances to cover while still increasing difficulty of puzzle element.
  • A slight acceleration delay at the beginning of pressing a directional button (which could allow precisely smaller movements when tapping the d-pad (for nudging around harmful BG elements / aligning self with statues)

I felt I could make a good assumption about the ending / later portion of the game for assessment purposes, but ultimately found it too tedious in its current state (After a few dreams, my only motivation for continuing was to see the ending / further cutscenes / etc., and I lost that when the ice stages hit.)
I'm hoping a later build can be more enjoyable to play, so that I can appreciate the aesthetics of a full play through.

(Even if not, I'll still power through it one day to see the rest.)
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#215479)
First of all, thank you for the input.

I agree with most of you and Frankengraphics have said. I intend to make a first test build with bug fixes and modifications to the gameplay which are easy to configure (acceleration, number of shoots, initial placement, etc). I could do the charged shoot as well. But smooth pushing would take much longer. I agree it would make the game much better, but it would need radical changes to the engine.

To be honest, I didn't have much time this year to put my game together so many of the design decisions are based around easy implementations. The engine itself is fairly simple.

I'm planning to set aside some time next week to start working in the cart version. I hope the updated version is more rewarding :)
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#217770)
na_th_an wrote:
She may be familiar 'cause she starred one of our last years entries, "Goddess".

Hi. How is your progress in development "Sgt. Helmet Zero" for NES?..
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#217775)
It's one of the games we would like to make but we haven't.
Re: Progress Thread - MiedoW (Cheril's Nightmares)
by on (#217812)
na_th_an wrote:
It's one of the games we would like to make but we haven't.

That's bad. :cry: