The game emulates the 320*200 EGA graphics mode that uses the 16 CGA colors for its palette. I’ve actually only played a few games that ran in this, like Duke Nukem, which used the optional brown color instead of gold.
There’s a lot you can do with these 16 colors, but I didn’t want to use dithering or more advanced pixelart, since it would look more like an Amiga game in style. I was rather inspired by the simplistic look of games like Electro Man, plus I’m not that good of an artist.
You might remember the bright-red and yellow character portraits in Duke Nukem – it’s hard to get a proper skin tone, especially a darker one, with these colors without heavy dithering. The only time you see Adwoa without the helmet is when red sunlight is reflected in her face, providing some context for the high contrast. Thanks to Scott Robertson for help with this!
The only other time people’s faces are seen is in a greyscale portrait, which probably looks better than if I’d tried to do it in the 16-color palette. Speaking of these limitations, the colors used for the Muri suit were chosen to stand out from the background and enemies, and each suit has a different colored visor.
Late in development, I realized that the game – which normally runs in 16 frames per second – may be too archaic (and a bit nauseating) for most people. The low framerate also makes it harder to turn around quickly or react to enemy bullets. After a bit of testing with doubling the framerate and rewriting the code for the player character, I decided to implement a 32 FPS “smooth mode”.
The smooth mode required programming special cases or timing changes for all the logic in the game, which was pretty tedious. I think it was the right decision in the end though, making the game more visually appealing to players who don’t want their retro games that retro. Essentially, it just makes everything move twice as smoothly.
The game asks you to select the “authentic” or “smooth” mode on first startup, but can be easily changed in the options afterwards. It was the only option I considered important enough to ask the player about, since many players never go into the options menu.
The next post will be about sound, enemies and pickups!
Hi there! This is the first of a series of blog posts about Muri’s development.
I started work on Muri in May, with the goal of making a simple DOS-like platform shooter inspired by Duke Nukem and Commander Keen. Unlike my freeware games, this one was made specifically for Ludosity.
Jumping, ducking and shooting is pretty much all you do in this game, with the strongest weapon being used automatically as long as you have ammunition for it. I had a button for changing weapons during development, but testers either forgot you could switch weapons after a while, or stuck with the basic gun to save on ammo and wound up never using their best ones. Being forced to use your currently best weapon improved the pace of the game quite a bit.
There are four episodes selectable from the start, with increasingly tougher enemies and stages. Now that I think about it, I miss being able to select episode (or the equivalent) in most modern games. It’s a good way to separate Muri into distinct and manageable pieces, since nothing is carried over between episodes.
There are some things the player needs to figure out for themselves, like what the “CELLs” do and where to find them, but I think that’s part of the fun. A player often appreciates having figured something out more than being told about it.
There are four selectable difficulties, with the easiest giving you a lot more health and ammo. The harder ones remove health pickups and extra lives, but the enemies remain the same.
I wondered throughout the whole development whether the game should have continues, or even infinite continues, rather than having to start the episode over when you run out of extra lives. But since the episodes are rather short, and it didn’t really fit the arcade-style nature of the game, I decided not to include them. Instead I added secret ways to get through the episodes faster at the cost of a potentially higher score.
The highest difficulty is pretty tough, since you’re allowed fewer mistakes. The first episode isn’t too challenging even on this difficulty though.
That’s it for the introduction – next time I’ll talk about the graphics, EGA limitations and “smooth mode”!
Remar here, ready to tell you about the joys of Nintendo 3DS development! Today Gustav found that the largest factor in our loading times was the loading screen itself, and our new QA guy has recovered from motion sickness after playing our game. Apparently a medical history of motion sickness and stereoscopic 3D don’t mix…
In the graphical department, Anton and I discussed the best way to set a rotating chainsaw on fire. We can’t have clusters of them flying through the air with the fire coming out the wrong end – that would just be embarrasing. For some reason there’s also been an increase of frogs in our concept art and games lately.
During lunchtime and after work, Anton, Mattias and I play assorted fighting games and argue over the superiority of MK9, SSBM, GG:AC, and MvC3, not to mention arcade sticks vs gamepads. It’s the nerdiest time of day, and I think the more “serious” companies in the corridor wonder if we ever work at all. Every time they walk by our room, I happen to be staring at the screen or stretching my arms (such as right now), which probably doesn’t help.
Anyway, developing for the 3DS means a fine balance between interesting use of graphics and plain gimmicks, and in some cases opinions differ. We don’t really “think in 3D” considering that both of our games are 2D, gameplay-wise, so we rather use it as an extra feature. Same with the stylus, it’s just another way to navigate the menues. I may be oldschool, but I think buttons often work best.
Why did we include an Xperia Play in a 3DS post?
That’s it for my introduction – next time I’d like to go more in-depth with one of our games. “Designer” is a fuzzy job title, so I might also just talk about what I do here at Ludosity, and what you can expect if you want to work at a small game studio.
I’ve been dropping the name “Ittle Dew” here and there for the past months, and we’re finally ready for a proper announcement!
Just in time for GDC, we have put together a nice little trailer, check it out!
Hopefully the trailer will show you the gist of the game. Ittle Dew is a fun, warm action adventure game with lots of retro throwbacks, but updated gameplay. The game is still in its early stages, so there are some key features missing from the trailer, hopefully we will be able to show them to you soon also!
As for the “epicsode” thing, we are indeed planning to release the game as episodes, with a nice, bite-sized adventure in each. When you have more than one episode they will tie together and you can travel between them, but they are still independent adventures you can play separately.
Please let us know what you think in the comments!
Bob Came In Pieces is currently 75% off on Steam in conjunction with the great Treasure Hunt we’re running there!
Grab Achievements and win big prizes! Boot up old Bob and get the Build me up Buttercup Achievement today or tomorrow to get an extra ticket towards the big prize lottery at the end.
I think this drive is really awesome and is only something a place like Steam could do. To collect a bunch of Achievements across loads of games in a big Treasure Hunt is pretty much my definition of fun =)
So if you haven’t got it yet, go grab Bob right now! This is our biggest sale yet! 75% off is like.. alot!
It’s about time we start talking about our next project, Mama & Son: Clean House!
Really Shooter and his mother Poor Mama are running a cleaning service business, with Really taking commando jobs on the side. One day, aliens invade (!) and Really doesn’t hesitate for one second, he heads over to their mother ship and begins to mow down the invading forces with his trusty machine-gun. And of course, as usual it is up to Mama to clean up the mess after him.
Clean House features dynamic two-player gameplay where Really takes care of business while protecting his mother, and Mama cleans up the mess and support her son with ammo. You can play with a friend or with AI, (or play both with one controller in hardcore mode). There’s Story Mode and Survival Mode with online highscore, all for less than a can of soda on Xbox Live Indie Games!
Me and Daniel started talking about this idea way back when we chose our bachelor’s project in uni, but we didn’t realize the idea until NoMoreSweden 2009, where it pretty much cleaned house (even though it was called poor cleaning lady then..) Since it turned out so fun and unique, we’ve now decided to bring it to Xbox in full HD!
It’s coming along really well – in fact it’s almost done! It’s currently in playtest phase and will go into certification early next week.
In the mean time, check out these wallpapers our lovely artist Stefan has put together!
Just wanted to let you know if you have some cool heavy metal-kind-of-music that you think would fit our upcoming game Mama & Son: Clean House please let us know! We are looking for musicians that can contribute to the game project. This is for you guys who already have songs finished so we can put them songs in as soon as possible. We are only looking for free tracks since the game itself had had very small budget. Off course you will be in the credits if we use your music!