2016/06/14

Getting an education: Followup

TL;DR Minish Cap is cute and fun, but not nearly as well designed as Link to the Past

So I finally completed Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and despite its many qualities, I do have some major gripes about it.

Playing A Link To The Past back to back with The Minish Cap does give some interesting perspective on the design of both games, the major point being how well designed A Link To The Past is.

Without getting into too much detail, the major concern is regarding game flow, both in the implementation of game mechanics, as well as the game progression, The Minish Cap feels clunky, unintuitive, and at times over complicated.

Graphics are very cute though
Game controls, for example, do not feel as well mapped. The game works on the basis that certain actions, like jumping or sprinting, are triggered by assigning an special item to either the A or B buttons.
In theory this allows for more movements than the control layout might allow, but in practice means that very useful abilities, like sprinting (which greatly reduces travel time) require using one action slot, instead of binding it to a shoulder button as the older game did.

Then there are horrible elements like the matching game, a minigame used to unlock secrets or advance the plot, but that quite often has you running around completely lost trying to find the character you need to match pieces with.

Or, worse yet, the collectible figurines you obtain through a dispenser with an increasing change of failure, which results in massive amounts of time spent grinding the currency needed to get them all.
Protip: There's a red rupee buried just left of Link's home entrance, use the Mole Mitts to dig it up, enter and exit the house, and repeat until full, then go buy shells at the town store to use for figurines.

Not to mention that the best shield in the game, as well as the last figurine, are only available after you complete the game (defeating the final boss), thus making the shield particularly pointless.

All in all, though, I enjoyed both greatly, and The Minish Cap does improve on many things, and had some very imaginative ideas.

2016/05/10

Getting an education

TL;DR -- Zelda games good - Must simplify design -- 

Funny story, I set out to make a hybrid of classic Zelda games and DooM, without actually having played through any of the classic Zelda games.

As a kid, I had my trusty NES, and the only Zelda game I ever had was Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, which doesn't quite fit the bill as far as top-down games are concerned.
I rarely got to play the original Legend of Zelda, mostly when at friends' houses, and I personally never took a liking to it back in the day, I sincerely preferred Zelda II (which sounds like heresy to Zelda fans nowadays).

In any case, now I have an old second-hand Gameboy Mico (GBA) I've been slowly adquiring games for, which is harder than it seems, not because the games are not to be found, but because the collector's market results in obsecenely marked-up prices.

So I finally got my hands on two Zelda titles: A Link to the Past and The Minish Cap.

I've played all the way through A Link to the Past and quite enjoyed it. I'm even considering writing up a review or something. In any case, it did give me a lot of perspective regarding my current struggle to develop my silly little game.
I'm currently playing through The Minish Cap, and I'm linking it a lot too, although with some reservations (yes, the written review idea might be worth it). Still, it really is helping me shape up some ideas.

Funny fact, I originally used Link's Minish Cap sprites as a basis for the design of my own sprites!

As for the original Legend of Zelda, I got it too (classics series for the GBA) but... There's something about it that just doesn't engage me, and after wandering around for a bit I tend to lose interest.

Additionally, I also played through Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, which, despite being an RPG, has a level design pretty much exactly as I intend my game's design to be, and I got to experience the confusion such layout generates first hand.

I generally have a tendency to over-engineer, and this project has greatly suffered from it. After playing this games, I'm of a mind of restricting myself to replicating what these games can do, and then look into complicating matters. You know, the advice everyone gives you when you start out... The advice even I give out to others. 

Self-criticism is hard.

DooM fangame: Content Malcontent

TL;DR -- Limiting myself to shareware content --
It's been a while since I last posted, and you don't really care why, so let's jump straight into the thick of it.
I need constraints. If I'm let loose on a project, I just start adding cool features or endlessly debating over tiny details. Debating with myself. Yes, it's as silly as you'd expect.
So, I found myself a neat constraint. It's not a new idea, mind you, but it hit me hard again with the latest kerfuffle regarding content-id on Youtube and how trigger happy some corporations are regarding their IP, which was compounded by the imminent arrival of the new DooM game.
My idea is to work exclusively with "open" content, which has lead me to limit the contents of my DooM fangame to just the contents of the Shareware versions of the original.
This means that only maps, monsters and items present in the Shareware versions will be reflected in the game which spans only the Knee-Deep in Dead episode of the first game.
This is still a lot of content, to be honest, so I've also decided to cut back on "nifty" gameplay ideas, and keep it simple.
Now, I don't know if, from a legal standpoint, this offers any protection at all from a cease and desist order, but I guess it won't be seen as harmful as using content not freely available.
In any case, using less non-original content means it'll be easier to replace it if I ever get in trouble about it.
Onward to doing some work and posting some screenshots!

2016/04/06

miniDooM: Mocking it up, by hand

Very minor update to share a little mockup I made up.... By hand.


Will this result in me dusting the project off and doing something with it? Hopefully.