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9/21/04
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Obsessed? With StarFox? Nonsense, I'd have to do something crazy like get a StarFox tattoo.... on my back.... below the dragon.... right above the ribs and nerves.... where it hurts the most.... to show how much I love it.... wait a minute....

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I've made little games before in Director and the like for school projects/fun, worked on HL mods, created card-based games, but this is the first "real" game I've ever started, as much sense as that makes. I loved beat-em ups growing up and I always imagined making one with an intricate combat system as well as RPG stats, similar to the old DnD Capcom BEU games, but more robust. I had just started using flash purely for animation, and while I've never been good at illustration, I had been getting pretty good at animating. I began animating sprites for the characters from a collaborative fanfic project a friend started for use in a beat em up game, with little to no knowledge on how I would ever program it. With at least a basic idea of what I would need in terms of graphics, I went about creating animations for different player and enemy characters. I figured once I learned how to program, most of the artwork would be there already.

It wasn't until about a year and a half later when I decided to seriously pursue turning this collection of animations into a game. I made it my senior thesis, citing the challenge of working with other people's character designs as good practice for a real game production job. With a very limited grasp on Actionscript, (I had made one website and one simple database) I went about attempting the creation of a game engine. I didn't get very far. After reading a large part of Flash MX 2004 Game Design Demystified, which became my programming bible, I contacted another Newgrounds artist, gavD and asked for some help. A few emails later, he set me up with a very basic controller and I was able to move a character around with keyboard input. The code still looked like an alien language to me, and I approached a professor who had Flash experience to help me decipher it. After a few short sessions, I now had the ability to program combinations of attacks as I had planned. This was where I learned that there was a difference between = and ==.This engine has since undergone countless recreations, and even in its latest state, it's very primitive compared to my new BEU engine I'm working on.

At this point, I'm just going to finish the game as I originally conceived it; as a three level demo featuring four playable characters from the start. If I ever continue the full game, it's definitely going to be different from how I originally planned it, and it's going to use a new engine. This entire process has been a huge learning experience; both in production habits as well as execution of concepts. I realized after testing why most BEU games featured one basic attack button. Or at least, why they didn't feature FOUR different basic attack buttons with a separate block and magic button. I wanted a much more in-depth battle system, and so rather than make the combos a sequence of mashing the same button, I made the combinations work based off button sequences. The sequences were the same for each character, but the timing differed. I also experienced my first frustrations of people skipping the clearly labeled tutorial, and then complaining about not being able to perform combos. For the final game, I intended to create a practice mode which walked players through combinations, but I might just settle for significantly reducing the amount of tutorial screens. I guess I had that old NES game design in mind, as I effectively created an entire detailed booklet of instructions.

Concerning the actual game itself and what you can expect... while not the genre-redefining combat I imagined, there will still be plenty of fully-animated attack animations with different strengths and effects for four different playable characters (and perhaps some unlockable characters). There are also around 6-7 enemies from Secret of Mana including a boss enemy at the end. As I mentioned earlier, each character has four basic attacks: quick "A" style, strong "A" style, quick "B" style, strong "B" style. Depending on your character, A style attacks might be punches while B are kicks, or A could be stabs and slashes while B are hacks and bashes, etc. There are also several combo types, each branching off either a quick or strong attack of either style. The typical combo proceeds as follows: Quick, Strong, Strong with either forward or up held down. These can be performed with either A or B style attacks (with the exception of projectile characters, whose A set is simply ranged attacks). The forward finisher is more powerful and knocks foes back while the upward finisher knocks them down, giving you more time before they attack again. The other main combo is Strong, Quick, Quick. This is mostly meant as a quick follow-up to a strong attack, as it doesn't knock the enemy down, but it can close up the opening presented after landing a strong attack.

I also felt as though a defensive option would further deepen combat. I've found more success with this addition than my combos, where each character seems to have that one combo that's just better than the others. The block feature has worked out quite well in testing, which deflects most attacks with a large damage reduction. I will probably not include dodging in the final demo unless I find it works without too much tweaking. I originally planned to include a dodge that could only be performed in the split second or two after blocking an attack. This would totally negate the damage rather than reduce it, and allow for a quick follow up riposte attack, performed automatically when finishing the dodge if an attack key was pressed. It seems a very odd system and I'm not sure why I imagined it working this way rather than always allowing the player to dodge. Oh well... my decision to include it will be solely based on the difficulty of implementing it; if it turns out poorly, I'll just eat it with the rest of my design choices that didn't turn as I expected. At this point, I just want to put this project to bed.

One feature I am a bit proud of to this day is the working RPG and statistics system. Each character has their own stat breakdown falling into these categories:
Vitality - Maximum HP and health recovery effectiveness.
Attack - Damage dealt and general strength.
Defense - Damage taken and ability to defend attacks.
Agility - Movement speed and quickness of attacks.
Skill - A number of smaller aspects like crit chance, hit boxes, ability to escape holds.
Magic - Maximum MP and general spell effectiveness.
Spirit - Defense against magic.

Although there won't be the opportunity to grind in the demo and every character will essentially accrue the exact same XP by the end of the game, I still have them set up to scale uniquely with each character depending on their starting stats. These stats also come into play with the engine, applying modifiers to damage done, damage taken, life increased on item pickup, movement speed, etc. Another feature from the actual SoM game that I've incorporated is the charging special technique system, performed in this game by holding down Strong A until your bar fills up. Releasing it will unleash a powerful attack dependent on how many levels were charged up. This can be upgraded with the character's weapon which also updates the appearance of the weapon; however for the demo, I'm probably limiting it to one weapon level.

As far as the storyline goes, I decided not to really get into it for the demo, as the full game was going to feature a unique path and story for each character. The story the game is based off of, however, takes place 10 years after the events of Secret of Mana, with the unexpected reemergence of mana. The Elemental Spirits choose a collection of new heroes to stand against an old enemy. With the help of Randi, Sage Luka, Purim, and others, they may be able to prevent cataclysm once more.

So that's basically everything there is to know without actually playing the game. I'm happy to say I think my drawing ability has improved quite a lot since this game, which isn't saying an awful lot. I'm still pretty happy with a lot of the animation in it though. I also wish things like layout and design didn't elude me. That being said, here, have some screenshots.

Edit: Wasn't aware it was gonna mash the image down to that shit size. Click the links for larger screens.

Claude doing some gardening on a Lullabud.

Though it might look like it, that Chobin Hood is not teaming up with Dae against the Buzz Bee.

Niko stretches high to kick a Blat in the face.

It's an inside joke that Terran is useless when werewolves are around.

Game Preview - New Testaments: Secret of Mana


Recent Game Medals

Medal #2 5 Points Reach level 2. Medal Stats.
Medal #1 5 Points Welcome to Asslevania! Medal Stats.
Medal #6 5 Points Don't skip the intro. Medal Stats.
Lab Rat 5 Points You woke up, you were flushed, you escaped... Medal Stats.
Multi 9 5 Points Got a x9 Multiplier Medal Stats.
Donkey Pieces 5 Points Blew up a dead-alive donkey Medal Stats.
Multi 5 5 Points Got a x5 Multiplier Medal Stats.
Together At Last 25 Points Here my heart can rest. Medal Stats.
Spread Some Amour 25 Points They were meant to be. Medal Stats.
Wolfen Grave 25 Points So much for that appetitive for destruction... Medal Stats.


Total Medals Earned: 184 (From 42 different games.)