Saturday, November 24, 2018

Introducing the Princess from the Clouds!

On this blog, I've only talked about Hell City, as that's the only location that's actually in the game, unless you count the Fourth Dimension, better known as the Special Stages. However, I still have plans in my head about other parts of the game, the most recent ideas being for the levels that take place in the clouds. Yeah, the clouds, y'know, that place that I composed a song for a long time ago but still haven't gotten around to adding to the game proper?

Anyways, getting to the point, I didn't have ideas for the sky levels, just planning to make them open areas where you have to do precise platforming, jumping from cloud to cloud. Not even the boss was planned out, just the music that would play in these levels, Atmospheric Glide (formerly "The Skies"). However, recently, an idea started coming to mind, the urge to create a new third little girl who'd be found in these levels, with her being a part of the overall story with her own unique things about her. Everyone, meet Peppermint!

Yes, I know, she has that skin tone...
This is Princess Peppermint, the first dark-skinned character I've created! In my game's universe, the darker-skinned humans originate in the sky, where their skin tone makes it naturally easier to see them on top of white clouds. Lighter skin tones originate down on the ground, respectively. Unlike American TV shows that just shoehorn in dark skin tones to indicate their racial diversity, Peppermint was created just due to my personal want to design a girl with this skin tone.

She has strange green hair with curly bangs and two oversized peppermint circles attached to it with two long bangs going down the sides of her face. This, along with her skin tone, was done to make her look foreign compared to Mary and Jane, coming from a different part of the world than them. Her normal outfit is a light-yellow dress with red stripes that go down the front then spread out similar to the lines on a peppermint.

Her dress is different than Mary and Jane's outfits, as it has short sleeves! These and the dress itself end in soft, cotton-like white stuff, which makes the dress more comfy. Her shoes don't have as much detail, but they are the same light-yellow color, with green gems on top of each, which match her hair color.

Princess Peppermint lives in Cumulus Peaks, located in the clouds. She is the current princess there, though during the story she isn't found at the big place the royal people would be found at, but rather guarding a path that leads to there. She doesn't have weapons in the traditional sense, unlike Mary or Xane, but she has another way to protect herself...

Peppermint has a magical melodica, given to her as part of being the princess, handed to her on the day she was declared one. With it, she can play small "melodies" that cast spells on her target, whether that is an object or another person. Though these spells are nothing major compared to the Origin Master's powers, things such as stunning her enemies and forcing them to move in a certain direction are possible thanks to her instrument.

At the moment, the melodica is basically the real Yamaha Pianica P-32D/E, a light-blue rectangular instrument with 32 piano keys on its front side and a black handle on its backside. A small mouthpiece is attached to the left side, which Peppermint uses for more reliable airflow when playing melodies. To the left of the keyboard Cumulus Peaks's insignia, a light blue circle with a round, yellow sun placed near its center. A long, white cloud overlaps the sun, placed at an angle, hanging off the edges of the overall insignia.

As stated before, this is based on Yamaha's 32-key Pianicas, melodicas that use piano keys rather than small buttons. I was inspired to bring this melodica into my game when I saw an anime girl named Kaori playing it in Your Lie in April. I didn't watch it, but seeing that odd but neat instrument gave me the urge to replace the magical recorder that was planned for Princess Peppermint to use previously. That will still appear in the game on display in one of the buildings in Cumulus Peaks, but it won't be used by her.

After I made this 3D model, I got a light blue Yamaha Pianica P-32E myself! Why would I be after this harmonica-piano hybrid? Well, four reasons:
  • It's a neat instrument I haven't heard of much. Sure, I saw it in WarioWare DIY, where it looked like a light-blue Pianica (and sounded like a harmonica), but I didn't see it in high-quality until Your Lie in April included it.
  • It looks kinda cute, like a little light-blue piano with a mouthpiece on the side. It's probably the "toy-like" color that gives the Pianica its cuteness, but unlike others, I like its color, even if a pink one would've fit Kaori's pink dress a bit better.
  • Just like how I like owning the weapons magical girls like the cute Pretty Cures use, I wanted to own "Kaori's melodica" myself. (Unfortunately, since I got the P-32E, the back of my Pianica doesn't match Kaori's melodica. That melodica has two markings on the back near the mouthpiece, which are positioned exactly the same on the P-32D. I guess I didn't think those indented parts would be moved in the latest P-32-series melodica...)
  • Of course, the biggest reason for getting this melodica is because I plan to have Princess Peppermint's instrument-playing to be recordings of me playing the real instrument. As they are only short series of notes, I won't have to play much. With the way Kaori, Peppermint, and I hold the melodica, you can't see the piano keys, so I won't know what keys I'm pressing!
Yes, I know how to play the piano, so that knowledge can transfer to the melodica, but I have no clue how Kaori seemingly knows exactly what she wants to press with her limited vision...unless it's because she's an anime girl that doesn't exist.

...I bet I just made someone start crying about her, so I'll end this blog post here!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Development Worries and Updates

This post is pretty negative compared to my usual post, so read only if you wish to see the bad side of game development.
Whoa, how long has it been? Sorry, but sometimes, I forget to update this blog. I believe I'm becoming too lazy to even write a blog post lately, even though that's easier than other work I haven't been doing, working on Mary's Magical Adventure. Anyways, let's get to the updates about the game! It's been a long enough wait for this!

Indie Game Troubles

Work, Work, Work...

 Let's just start this blog post with the negative, as I have to get it off my chest. If you want to develop your own indie game, take it from me: It's way harder than photography and, "music theory" aside, even harder than playing music on an instrument you aren't familiar with! You'll start off with many ideas, things you can't wait to put into the game. Sure, at first it's easy because there's barely anything in your game to keep track of, plus it's easier to take it easy at that point.

However, as you start really developing things, you start raising your standards, like improving the game's textures, lighting, and overall look. Problem is, doing this only increases the amount of work you have to do from then on to put something in the game, as placeholder art and basic shapes would look very out-of-place beside finished assets. This is one thing that affects me, as I've done just that over the years, adding and improving textures, even redesigning Mary. This isn't even mentioning the music, which initially improved with song after song, beginning with The Nightlife for Rooftop to Rooftop. However, since the music is so high-quality, like the textures, this presents me with a bit of work that I have to look forward to doing, which I rarely do.

All of this has made me too lazy to add much before hitting the invisible walls that an artist hits when in an "artist block". As a result, not much new is here for those who have been checking the Xane's Development group on Facebook or kept up to date with the Facebook and Google+ pages. For readers of this blog, it will seem like I've done more than I've really done, due to these blocks and laziness. Hopefully this can be bypassed and work can resume going full speed, but with how I'm a single developer with no team members, this will be way slower to finish, and will probably take a big chunk of my life to finish, to earn barely any money to make up for it.

Legal Potential

No, don't worry, no companies were dumb and threw a cease & desist letter at my face, thankfully, but, you see, I read /r/gamedev on Reddit and people on there mention that any indie game developer should get two things before releasing their game, an accountant and a lawyer (and said lawyers sometimes make posts there). The first, I assume, is just to make sure your money is all in order. However, the second one made me really start thinking: I have no lawyer. This would be a big problem, should Mary's Magical Adventure get released then have legal trouble for whatever reason. Additionally, lawyers can handle getting trademarks registered, so things like "Mary's Magical Adventure®" can be used, like Intel®'s legal symbol obsession! There's a third thing lawyers can help me with, and with how lazy I've become, I'll probably need it...

Work-for-Hire Contracts

Yes, they can write legal contracts in that confusing Legalese English variant that somehow is more legally-binding than actually-understandable English! Since I barely seem to feel like doing work lately, I'd like to pay others to make things like character art, animated parts of cutscenes, and even music for me. It sounds straightforward, but trust me, reading that subreddit reminded me that even if the commissioned person gave me their finished work, they still own the legal rights to it, so they could backstab me after the game is released and cause a lot of trouble and wasted effort from me. With a contract, this is eliminated, as their legal rights are forcibly transferred to me, so I can use them in my game with no problems, the way it should be by default (but isn't, unfortunately)!

Anyways, hopefully you understand the problems in my head now, knowing I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want this game to be released but I don't feel like working enough anymore... How about we move on to updates?

The Many Minor Updates

Compare Rooftop to Rooftop (1-2) and City Street Run (1-3) in both of these videos. The top one is the first video on the newly-created Mary's Magical Adventure YouTube channel while the bottom is the last gameplay video on my personal channel. You may notice most of it is the same, but there are some small differences...
There's really too much changed to be explained in a blog post, but I'll show comparisons of a couple things here, anyways. It's up to you to find the other differences between the videos.
v1.95 - Did someone paint the ceiling black? Nice try, whoever owns this place.
v2.0 - Now this looks more believable! Want to follow the coin arrow up there?
One subtle difference between v1.95 and the upcoming first demo is this secret room found in Rooftop to Rooftop, hidden in the room down the hallway with the three trolls. In the older version, the holes in the ceiling where panels are missing were just pure black ceiling parts, raised slightly above the panels that didn't go missing. Nowadays with how much more detail I put into levels, this seemed too simple, so I converted the ceiling into 3D floors then added an extra "floor" above, hiding a Powerup Coin and upgrade!

You can get up there with Mary's upgraded Air Dash, Xane's multiple jumps, and Mary's Hammer Jump upgrade, the latter used in the newer video. In case the player couldn't see this obvious secret, an arrow of coins was also added below the "ceiling" to encourage players to try going up there. Yes, in a way, this is now a secret within a secret.
v1.95 - A Gex tile texture was used for many floors in the third level.
v2.0 - Not only is this more legally-safe, but it's high-res and has nice reflections!
The second change to point out is...well, new textures. You see, like the legal stuff mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, using assets from other games could cause problems for Mary's Magical Adventure, so I've replaced some textures since the old video. For example, the checkerboard tiles seen around City Street Run, most obvious in HCPD HQ. Notice how nice and shiny that floor is! If you play MMA and want reflections like those, get the Materials Mod, which adds realistic PBR reflections to some surfaces around the levels.

v1.95 - Most textures here come from SRB2. Also, note the background.
v2.0 - This dimension is more realistic now! Goodbye, trippy rock sky!
This particular change goes even further than just replacing level textures; All Special Stage textures were also replaced, just in case Sonic Robo Blast 2's developers could legally do a thing when their game's not an official Sonic game.
v1.95 - Who cares about soap? We've got a meeting, guys!
v2.0 - Soap's on the table, in Mary's inventory, and more! Don't underestimate soap!
Returning to the video, there's another obvious difference that can be seen when Mary goes to the HCPD HQ: When she visits the meeting room, there isn't a Soap Box on the table! Out in the hallway around each corner? Same thing, no soap in sight! Soap Boxes were a recent addition, added to represent my fear of soap. In Mary's Magical Adventure, soap is harmless unless there's enough of it, in which case it becomes deadly! Soap Boxes are this game's equivalent of explosive barrels, but you can push these boxes around before hitting them.

You can also purchase soap boxes to carry around. This can be seen in the new version's inventory, which shows the Soap Box as the first item. Additionally, magic was added as both a form of ammo and a timer for Mary/Xane's transformation. Collect at least 25 magic and you can transform, but you will lose the magic gradually over time.

Well, there's more to talk about, but due to that intro section, this is already pretty long, so more development-related stuff will be included in a second blog post. See you then!

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Devil of File Sharing

You may have heard of the many iffy file sharing websites from years ago, such as Rapidshare, and may have thought they sucked, but I've been personally dealing with the worst one...and unlike other websites, they haven't changed one bit. That place is called 4shared.

Yes, during that first paragraph, you may have thought of them, as they had silly restrictions that make you question who would support their company, but as of recently, I've seen they are worse on the inside than the outside.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

TrackMania 2: Lagoon Track: Lightning - Loop Cross

A couple years ago, TrackMania Turbo was announced as the next game in the TrackMania series, with multiple environments to race in, including a completely new one, Rollercoaster Lagoon. I was sorta excited for the latter, as it had rollercoaster pieces that allowed your vehicle to stick to the track. Ah, the possibilities for said pieces were basically endless, but only one thing stuck in my mind: "This really reminds me of another great game series..."

Friday, July 27, 2018

TrackMania 2: Valley Track - Secluded Forest

For anyone that only owns TM United/Nations, yes, this is what TrackMania 2 looks like!
Whoa,'s been years since I last played any of the games in the series, let alone made a new track! Well, as of today, that's not the case, because I made my newest track, Secluded Forest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The frustrations of forced e-mail subscriptions

It's time for a rant! Well, sorta, as there isn't much to say about this problem, but it's something that needs to be improved! Hopefully, you already have the general idea in mind, but I'll talk about it anyways. Unfortunately, I've written this after I've unsubscribed from some of the newsletters, so there will only be one picture.

Y'know websites like EFF and DemandProgress? Well, you may see petitions on there to sign, and it seems easy enough! That is, until you see the first part of the problem, that you have to enter your information. Sure, that may help with indicating what part of the United States you're within, for when the government hopefully sees them, and that's fine, but look closer, near the "sign" button...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Mary's Magical Adventure's soundtracks

Do you sometimes question why every song in Mary's Magical Adventure has a normal and 8-bit version? If so, that will require another trip to the past, as while the chiptune music wasn't in earlier "World of Kirbycraft" versions, there were multiple soundtracks to choose from, using basically the same ACS code as Mary's Magical Adventure v1.95! Come with me to the past to see where it all began! It'll be a long post, but it'll be fun...

The World of Iffy Music

In the beginning, there was no menu, and Xane declared it was bad.
Back in the first downloadable version of World of Kirbycraft (click here to view alpha v1.0's release info in a new window), believe it or not, the soundtrack system was already implemented! It wasn't obvious because no music played by default and there were no menu options to change the soundtrack yet, but there were two commands you could type in the console to listen to the three strange soundtracks:
  • puke 254 # - This runs script #254, which sets the "requested song" variable for the current player to the number specified at the end. Here are the songs in v1.0:

    1 - Ocean Base Zone Act 1 (Sonic Advance 3)
    2 - Miscellaneous #1 (World of Kirbycraft animated series)
    3 - Miscellaneous #2 (World of Kirbycraft animated series)
    4 - Miscellaneous #3 (World of Kirbycraft animated series)
    5 - Uther's Lab (World of Kirbycraft animated series)
    6 - Mysterious (World of Kirbycraft animated series)
    7 - Special Stage Completed (World of Kirbycraft/Mary's Magical Adventure)
    8 - We Can Do Anything (Ojamajo Doremi, sang by Onpu)
    9 - Otomehakyunitomarenai (Ojamajo Doremi, sang by Doremi)
    10 - Dokidoki no Maho (Ojamajo Doremi)
    11 - Half Point (Ojamajo Doremi, sang by Onpu)
    12 - Arigato (Ojamajo Doremi, sang by Momoko)
    13 - Tempest Valley Zone (SRB2 Mystic Realm)
    14 - Aerial Garden Zone (SRB2 Mystic Realm)
    15 - Special Stage (Sonic Robo Blast 2 v2.0)
    16 - Jingle: Fight (Tomodachi Collection)
  • xane_soundtrack # - This chooses which soundtrack is used during the game. Changes to this apply after closing the console. Here are the three soundtracks:

    Normal (0) - This is the standard soundtrack, how the game was meant to be heard. The other soundtracks were added for anyone recording videos for YouTube and other websites picky about copyright. (Famous by Puddle of Mudd was going to play during the final boss battle, similar to the movies that preceded this game's creation, after all!)

    MIDI (1) - This soundtrack is, as its name suggests, comprised of MIDI versions of the songs. Video game music used VGMusic MIDIs while the Doremi songs used the MIDIs that were used in SRB2 Demo 4. The neat thing about this soundtrack is if a keyboard is connected to your computer, it can play the MIDIs while your computer handles the sound effects. Xane did this with his Yamaha PSR-E413 once and it was a neat experience. If a song was "copyrighted" in the normal soundtrack, like Famous, it would instead play a similarly-awesome song from a video game.

    Weird (2) - Who even knows why this soundtrack was added to the game! This soundtrack uses MIDIs that were forced to use a Pok√©mon RSE soundfont that mainly contained drum samples. While some songs were neat to hear, most sounded like someone loudly hitting a drum near your ear endlessly! Just...listen to this weirdness; The folder this soundtrack's contained in may be named "3_INTERES", or "interesting", but this soundtrack is mostly called "weird" for good reason!

Later Versions

It's supposed to say "Standard; May cause strikes on YouTube!".
Anyways, now that that's out of the way, now you know about the first three soundtracks that were added to the game. In later versions, an iffy-looking option was added to the options menu, but no new songs were added beyond those sixteen.

Starting with v1.6, after the game was renamed to Mary's Magical Adventure, the two soundtracks you may be familiar with are the only ones in the game, the weird one removed from the game.  At this point, the MIDI soundtrack was still in the game, but only had iffy recreations of songs like "The Nightlife" and "Jingle: Fight", the latter being notable because the MIDI version of it inspired the chiptune version, which in turn inspired the normal soundtack version to be replaced, essentially kicking out a copyrighted video game song. Nowadays, this jingle is named "Burned Bridge".

After this version or a later one, the MIDI soundtrack was removed; If an easy way to make MIDIs from modules ever exists then Xane will try using it. Don't mention OpenMPT's MIDI exporter as it isn't that good, especially with long waits which throw the whole MIDI out of sync. (Hopefully I'm not confusing that with XM2SMPS, a Sonic custom music converter...)

Odd Drums

One thing that may seem weird in the chiptune soundtrack are the drums, so I'll talk about them. You see, the chiptune soundtrack isn't pre-rendered or faked in any way; The file the game loads this music from is an NSF file named CHIPTUNE.nsf (NESMUSIC.nsf in older versions). This is a file made using 0CC-FamiTracker, which makes Famicom music.

One limitation of NES/Famicom music (other than the oddly-specific channel sounds/behaviors) is how the samples are compressed. The NES/Famicom plays really-compressed DPCM samples, which only store the difference between each chunk of each sample. For whatever reason, it can only store if the waveform goes up or down one on each frame, so things like drums become very hard to make out and voices...those developers shouldn't have tried putting voices where they don't belong, in DPCM; As I said in the fourth World of Kirbycraft movie, "You can't understand this. DPCM sucks!".

This is what causes the drums to have their odd sound in the chiptune music in Mary's Magical Adventure, though what makes them really bass-heavy (easily heard with good speakers like ones found in vehicles) is unknown to me. How different are the drums when heard by themselves, you may wonder; Well, here's a comparison using a drum loop from a new song, starting with the chiptune soundtrack:

You could probably tell that was a bunch of Roland Sound Canvas samples and a really noisy sound three times. I'm sort of a hypocrite, not liking Sound Canvas' cheap-sounding samples, but I still use those samples in 8-bit music because they are so clear despite the compression! Anyways, here's the samples I used, though in their original, uncompressed forms:
Notice how the Sound Canvas samples stay pretty much the same but the other drum sounds way different. I'm not absolutely sure about that drum sample's source, but I got it from Fight Trap, another one of my songs which I assume it comes from.

Anyways, thanks for reading this very long post; Hopefully this makes up for the recent absence of blog posts!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The flaws of World of Kirbycraft's level design

The first level of MMA, Isle Hell City. Believe it, this design has flaws.
I have concerns first-time players aren't going to know what to do. Why is this? Well, my game is very different than other games that use GZDoom as their engine. Also, try playing the first level and see if you can complete it. Yes, today, we'll compare this level to older World of Kirbycraft levels and newer ones from Mary's Magical Adventure to see how each stands in linearity.

In the beginning…

Okay, Stupid Hills might be as flawed as Isle Hell City…
One level was made for the earliest World of Kirbycraft versions, this grass level. There are multiple paths but most of them just lead the player down what feel like corridors with grass textures slapped on them. You can't go on top of the walls, so you can't take shortcuts. It didn't help the level felt very generic. Here's a map of the farthest I got making this level before realizing how bad it was and scrapping it, the version in v1.4.5:
Full map of Stupid Hills (2-1) from WoK v1.4.5. The mouse cursor looks nothing like my wand cursor!
Just looking at the map, it'll confuse you! It's obvious the level would lead you to the top-left corner through one of the many paths but all of the paths, as said before, are just corridors and each path overall feels separate, with no way to change paths easily.

The right side is a secret cave area where a Special Stage entrance could be found. The problem with this area's the same as the other paths in this level, it is separate with only one way back onto the path, unlike later Mary's Magical Adventure level design that makes it quick to return to where you were before finding the secret area (and with ways to switch paths unexpectedly). Overall, I'd say this level design is mostly linear, even with the multiple paths.

Building the city

After this level, I began designing Hell City. In these early versions, it was ugly but anyone can tell it's the same place that's in v1.9!

This level was based on City Trial from Kirby Air Ride since I liked that island's freedom to go anywhere, anytime. Also, I made this because World of Kirbycraft was a machinima series that used Kirby Air Ride gameplay, most of that being City Trial.

While the other level I was making at this point in time, Stupid Hills, was very linear with bland corridors and weirdly-placed secrets, restricting the player's freedom, Isle Hell City was the complete opposite, letting the player go anywhere they wanted and allowing them to try out their weapons and abilities.

Its open and free design proved to be a problem, though. In Kirby Air Ride, there wasn't a place you had to drive to to win, so everything looped around if you followed a path around the island, even through the underground area. In World of Kirbycraft, though, the goal was a set location you had to run to, so I converted the underground area into a tunnel that led out of the city.

I knew the player would just run there and complete the level within seconds unless I gave the player an objective to get the key to exit the area but due to the level being open, I couldn't do that, making the player find a key. This is what made me introduce the HCPD and the GTA-esque Wanted Level system, which keeps you from leaving the island until enough of them are killed. After this, the player would have to get five Wanted Level stars, grab a green key from a cop, then open a room in the HCPD and leave quickly.

There are many problems with this, though. Nothing really tells the player to do this, so they could get lost on the island, the first level of the game, which has very different gameplay from every other level in the game! Also, nothing says you have to get five Wanted Level stars, get the key, then exit. Other levels don't require that many steps to complete them, either; In other levels you just have to find keys to open marked doors, kill monsters, and find secret areas, then once you have a good amount of them found, run to the exit, much better.

With my level design today, which feels open and free but is really linear, Isle Hell City's confusing, fully open level seems pointless to keep in the game. Before talking about my plans for this level, let's compare to the other two levels in the game.

Magical level design

Without thinking much, you may think Mary's Magical Adventure's level design is the same as the older World of Kirbycraft versions, but you'd be wrong! My newer level design is more open than the older level design I made years ago but still ironically does a better job at leading the player to the exit while feeling like it isn't subtly doing so. By comparison, the old level design felt like it was trying to force you down paths, some of which led you to secrets as they were their own paths, while with the current level design, secrets are only off to the side of the main paths, preventing the player from getting confused upon entering secret areas.
World of Kirbycraft v1.4.5 - Stupid Plains (2-1)
Mary's Magical Adventure v1.9-dev - City Street Run (1-3)
Compare the map on the bottom to the one above it; Although I haven't marked anything on either map, you should be able to make out a path on both, but notice how many paths appear to branch off into nowhere on the World of Kirbycraft map! This isn't just because that level was never finished, but those are he secret paths.

Looking at the bottom map, you can see a lot of the areas that lead nowhere are just out of bounds areas for polyobjects (bottom-left) and the view from Xane Corp.'s window (upper-right), but you can see the level starts at the left side and goes down-right to the end at the bottom. With the World of Kirbycraft map, it starts at the bottom and ends up at the top-left.
In fact, watch me go through all of the non-Special-Stage levels in the current version of Mary's Magical Adventure; You'll see how most of the levels have a logical path but the first level doesn't, with Mary running everywhere to fight HCPD then returning to the building to open the room and escape. Really, this video is the best proof that the first level stands out in a bad way compared to the other levels.

The future

This was the level design I had to deal with outside of Isle Hell City as I felt I couldn't do any better, but the other two levels I've since made proved me wrong. Therefore, in the future, I have plans to get rid of the first level entirely. It's so out of place with the random cop fight (which the Battle Arena minigame handles better, anyways).

One problem that comes to mind is that this level is used for the Small Hut internally, so I can't fully get rid of it, but what may happen is I'll just remove all areas not related to the Small Hut and minigames then make a new level in place of Rooftop to Rooftop, pushing that level to the next slot, and so on. It made no sense that the supposed first level labelled "1-1" wasn't able to be re-visited...

Another problem is that this level's random cop battle was what made the dispatcher start making the cops follow you through the other levels, ending with a confrontation with the dispatcher himself. Removing that initial battle will make the dispatcher not seem like a battle the player could see coming, but it's planned that during the new first level, there will be cops that the player can kill. Killing one would make the dispatcher magically know your character killed the cop. (Well, it makes no sense how the dispatcher always knows exactly where your criminal is in Grand Theft Auto games in my opinion so this is just as illogical!)

At one point in the first level, there'd be a big button your character would land on that would forcibly kill a nearby cop, which would be done so the player would commit a crime that sets off the dispatcher, no matter if they killed a cop before this or not. For Xane, he would break out of jail during his story so the dispatcher would have a different reason to not like him. As the player ends up on Uroboros, the dispatcher would be heard alerting the cops on-board that the criminal that killed cops is there. I suppose this would fix the issue with removing the dispatcher's initial "encounter" with the player.

A good thing about making a new first level is that I can properly teach the player about different gameplay elements that I couldn't properly tell the player about in Isle Hell City. During Xane's story, he gets thrown in jail for suspected murder and for resisting arrest. After breaking out of jail, the player's taught about his three unique abilities:
  1. Kirby puffs
  2. Drop Dash
  3. Xane's claw
Meanwhile, during Mary's story, she's hanging out at home, drinking the juice she got from Mary's (the restaurant). She looks at a picture and realizes just how nice of a city she lives in...but then the Origin Master arrives and destroys a nearby landmark (or something). This scares Mary, who then runs away from her home. During this, she's taught about her three unique abilities:
  1. Air Dash
  2. Mary's crying
  3. Umbrella flight
After this, the paths would merge, allowing Mary and Xane to reach the big building that starts off 1-2. If no alternative path's made for Xane, the basketball court he visits in 1-2 will be made available to both characters and Xane would start the level at the same place as Mary.

Well, that's all for this time! Maybe one day the first level will be consistent with the other levels...

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Challenges in Mary's Magical Adventure

Let me tell a story about an interesting part of Mary's Magical Adventure that dates back to just after the name change from World of Kirbycraft, v1.6. There was a mysterious place that Mary could visit, planned reachable at the end of each level. Its name was the Hall of Challenges.

The only challenge programmed wasn't the best idea...
In this mysterious brick building in the sky, which was planned to be viewable from the outside in a later sky level, Mary could use switches to unlock gated-off openings to past levels. When she returned to the level she chose, she'd be given a challenge based on the difficulty the player chose. Should she complete it, she would be rewarded the great Powerup Coins, which would reward her with temporary upgrades...

Okay, let's end the story-like writing here! The Hall of Challenges wasn't as good as I was expecting it to turn out during development, but it was a good idea. It allowed me to reuse levels I spent weeks working on with minor script adjustments. The thing is, being able to be sent off to a random location after each level didn't make much sense (even though a similar thing is allowed in later versions, warping to the Small Hut).

Additionally, completing special stages in v1.6 advanced you to the next level, so if you chose to challenge a special stage, you wouldn't be able to visit the Hall of Challenges. This was done because the special stage is a separate map that the player is warped to, which made the game forget what happened in the proper level. These reasons are most likely why the Hall of Challenges was removed after v1.6, since special stages were modified to allow returning to the special stage entrance the player used.

If you think this looks hard, the wind makes it harder!
Since it was removed so fast, only one challenge was created, though other types were functional if forced on. As shown in the second picture above, it was a unique challenge; Mary had to survive for a certain amount of time (which varied depending on difficulty) while really fast versions of the yellow HCPD officer chased you around. In v1.6, the newly-added wind was enabled at power level 3 in 1-1 and Mary couldn't Air Dash while crying, so controlling your movement to escape the cops was nearly impossible! If you died, the dispatcher insulted you then you returned to the Hall of Challenges; Failing any challenge would just return you there.
Congratulations! You got the Heal Coin...I think!
This is the Damage Coin's DECORATE properties.
If you completed one, you would earn up to five Powerup Coins depending on your difficulty and the challenge type. If you already completed this challenge, you would only get half. After this, you would advance to the next level. Although nowadays these coins are easy to come by, able to be purchased from the Small Hut and found within the levels, back in v1.6 they were your reward for completing challenges. In fact, even in v1.9 they are sometimes referred to as "challenge" internally even though this version of the challenges is no longer used.

So wait, you're telling me Jane never noticed that rug?
But wait, what do I mean by "this version"? Well, reader, the challenges are planned to return in either v1.95 or v2, the ZDoom Demo. If you've looked closely inside the Small Hut, you may have seen an orange rug with a "C" on it. This will toggle challenges, which will make the challenge description and completion status appear when changing levels using the two switches beside the teleporter.

This is how it was planned ever since the Hall of Challenges was removed, but only now am I adding the changes to make challenges work! The rug doesn't function yet as that's the part the player will interact with. You'll step onto that rug to toggle challenges. Using the level change switches, you'll see whether this challenge has been completed before and what the goal is. After this, using the teleporter will warp you to the level you've selected, only with a challenge enabled (indicated with a timer on-screen). Said timer is separate from the timer that appears during speedruns, so you can still do challenges during them.
"Luck bonus"? Is this random or based on something? You'll have to find out!
Completing a challenge will reward you with normal coins, as Powerup Coins are hidden in the levels now. You get a set amount of coins depending on the challenge type but bonus coins are rewarded based on an additional condition that is determined by what challenge type was completed. For example, "run to the end of the level" gives you coins based on how much time you had left on the clock while "kill monsters" gives coins based on how big your combo was upon completing it. (Don't think of using a Combo Coin to cheese that, mind you.)

Anyways, whoa, this is a big blog post! Look forward to when challenges return to Mary's Magical Adventure, player! They will be back in v1.95 or v2, whichever is the next release.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

My Little ElsaGate #4 - Abuse boys, only boys!

Let's return to the My Little Pony ElsaGate series that spans many channels! Why did I wait so long to do this? Well, let's just say that once you see one of these series, you've pretty much seen all of them; Just swap out the cute Twilight Sparkle design for a girl from a different series and you have another series. Every ElsaGate series is made up of characters from the franchise they're ripping off put into certain roles; There's always:
  • A man who is married to a woman but easily falls for another woman (Flash Sentry)
  • A woman who is married to the man but gets easily angered if the slightest wrong thing happens, even assuming her own husband does things without evidence, like in #2 (Twilight Sparkle)
  • A second woman which tries to hurt or kill the man's wife and take him for herself (Adagio)
  • One or two kids who are very young and look like their parents (Baby Twilight Sparkle and Baby Flash Sentry)