Sunday, 13 May 2012

Episode 15: Project Monkey - One month into development

        Hi guys! This weekend makes it five weeks since I started working on my first video game. In case you didn't read episode 14 of this blog, let me recap a little. After waiting for my team (a group of friends) to get serious about making a video game, I decided to go solo and make a game all on my own. It's an obstacle course racing game with cel-shaded (cartoon styled) graphics and until I decide on the final name, I'll be referring to it as Project Monkey. Since I'm making the game alone and want it out by December this year, it will be a low budget, simple game that I hope will still be fun to  play.
        Now that the introduction's done, let's dive right in. I had access to a friend's Samsung Galaxy Note so I decided to draw some concept art for Project Monkey. I will upload one image every Sunday from now on until further notice. The images might not look as good as my regular pen and paper drawings as I had to draw on a phone with a stylus but the color definitely looks better than what I could have done on paper and also reflects the cel-shaded visuals I'm going for. Maybe I'll do some black and white concept art with a pen and drawing pad and upload those later.

   Remember this screenshot from episode 14? See concept art below

        Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, Obilicleon!

            As I said in episode 14, each monster will have a special ability, such as flight, to give him an edge in the race. Each monster will also have two attacks to use to slow down the other racers. Obilicleon is a tiger-like monster that walks on his hind feet. His special ability is called "Lightning turbo". He momentarily electrifies his body, giving him a short burst of speed. This will drain the energy bar of course. If the player uses the Lightning turbo to dash into a wall, Obilicleon will perform a wall run which slowly drains the energy bar. He can stay on the wall until the energy bar is completely depleted. Also, he automatically runs on water using the Lightning turbo.
         Obilicleon will throw shurikens or attack with his claws to slow other racers down. I haven't decided whether the shurikens will deplete the energy bar, whether they will deplete a different bar (ammo bar) or whether they will be unlimited (and hence, less powerful). The claw attack will home into any opponent that is close enough and will probably drain the energy bar. So what do you think? I've also hidden some clues to some gameplay elements in this concept art so see if you can spot anything. Come back to this episode on Sunday the 20th of May, Sunday the 27th of May and Sunday the 3rd of June for more concept art and character revelations!

             Update: Six Weeks into Development
                First let me apologize for the five typos I made when I originally posted this episode. I just read through what I posted above and corrected them. I'm surprised they were that many. I just got my first pair of contact lens. I wanted to upload a picture of them but they're grey and not that noticeable in a picture. Now I don't have to worry about my sight disadvantage when playing basketball, I can wear shades or other stylish eye wear just for the sake of it and I no longer have to wear 3D glasses on top of my regular glasses!
         Now, before I get into more Project Monkey details, I couldn't resist doing my own review of Marvel's "The Avengers". The movie has really witty dialogue and really awesome action. Almost nothing in terms of story. Music was the typical action movie music. High in terms of lasting appeal/rewatchability. The 3D effect was only nice in a few scenes. Most of the time, I barely noticed it was there. Overall, a really nice movie. Almost the best you can get in the action genre. However, if you're looking for great use of 3D, a deep plot, or something innovative, I advice that you look elsewhere.

      Put your own caption to this image in the comments section!

                The bat monster is called a Blitch. No, she has no vampire qualities. She's a kunoichi (female ninja) with psychic abilities. Her special ability is flight (duh!) but in limited capacity. The player will have to hold down the flight button to make her glide, and tap the flight button every time he wants her to flap her wings, which will give a short increase in altitude and speed. The idea is I want the player to depend more on her glide ability than her flapping, which is why I made the flapping controls more cumbersome.
         Her two special attacks are, well, I'm not done deciding on the second one yet. That's because I have many of her psychic abilities to choose from and I have to pick just one. The first one is a reflector that automatically reflects any attack sent at her as long as she still has enough juice left in her energy gauge. Maybe I'll map the reflector to a button instead of making it work automatically if I find that it makes the game too easy for someone playing as Blitch. Blitch is slow on her feet so players will want to master her glide ability to use her for races.
           Finally, in case you didn't notice from the red dragon in the backdrop of last week's concept art, there will be non-playable monsters in the stages that will attack players while they race. If it won't cost me too much extra time, I think I'll even make some of the wild monsters that roam around the levels ride-able. Maybe after the player beats one into submission, he can ride it for a while or something. More on that as the game develops.
         This week, I won't be working on the game at all. Instead, I will be learning how to use a different game engine from the one I'm using now. XNA game studio is Microsoft's official stuff for people to use in creating games for Windows, Windows Mobile and XBox360. If I find that it won't be too hard to switch from 3D Gamestudio's Acknex engine to Microsoft's XNA studio, then I will switch and make my game for PC, XBox Live Arcade and Windows Mobile. However, if I find that it will take a while to port my work, I'll stick to making Project Monkey a PC only game.

                   Update: Seven Weeks into Development
               Hi guys! The last full week of May just went by and slowly, we're getting to close to the middle of the year already! Or, as the Mayans would have us believe, to the end of the world. Most people must have broken their new year's resolutions by now. I don't make new year's resolutions because I have no reason to wait for a new year before I decide to be resolute about something. If so, maybe I would have only become resolute about making my first game, with or without other people's assistance, on a new year's eve. Originally, my target was to have the game out by Christmas this year, but I've decided that gunning for the first quarter of next year is much more likely.
             That's because I do this in my spare time, and I might not get much spare time at the rate things around me are moving. My school just called off a five week hiatus (actually, we had no idea how long it was going to be) for reasons I don't want to bore you with so I have exactly four weeks before my first semester exams counting from today (27/05/2012). Work on Project Monkey will stop until after my exams. For the next two months, I will still be making blog posts, but they won't all be about PM (wow! I'm getting tired of typing "Project Monkey"). The annual Electronic Entertainments Expo (E3) is just around the corner after all, and just like I did for CES 2012 earlier this year, I will post my personal highlights of the show (that might be a really long post).
     This is Mmiri. Prounounced Mee Ree. That's the word for 'water' in one of Nigeria's dominant languages.

          This week's character is Mmiri, a water based creature. He has the grace of a dolphin in the water and his gentle-fist kung fu style allows him to shoot shock-waves from his palms when in water. Anyone that has played Tekken 5 (or higher) or watched Naruto has seen this fighting style before, in the characters Feng and Neji respectively. I'm not quite sure of what to do about his movements on land yet. He has the same speed as a human being when he's on land, and in indoor environments where there might be no water at all, he would be at a big disadvantage. I'm still trying to figure out a way to balance it out. Maybe he'll be able to pole vault with his monk's staff, which will give him the highest jump among the non-flying characters.
         As for his two attacks, the first is a small sheet of ice which he places at the feet of the opponent the player aims at, causing them to slip and slide while running. Using this attack from inside a water body, he will throw a spear made of ice instead. His second attack is a strike with his staff, which will only hit players that are close enough of course. Using this attack while in water, he will shoot a shock-wave from his palm instead. If you have any ideas on how to balance the game out so that Mmiri isn't at such a great disadvantage when on land, please post it in the comments section, or send a message to tolu619 on either Facebook or twitter. Thanks! Finally, I wasn't able to check how easy it would be to port my work to XNA Game studio like I said I would in last weeks post, but I'll let you know the results when I do.

           Update: Eight Weeks into Development
                  Hi guys! Today, I played basketball for the first time with my contacts on. I love it! I could focus on my game without squinting or worrying about not being able to catch long distance passes. Now I only have to worry about improving my skills on the court. By the way, I'm a power forward, and I play center sometimes. I'm three weeks away from exams now so I haven't done any work on Project Monkey at all, but I can still reveal a new character every week for the next few weeks. I hate the fact that I always have exams around E3 every year. Even though E3 starts on Tuesday, developers are already revealing stuff or giving sneak peeks at what we can expect
to see from them during the show. I haven't had the time to check out the pre-E3 shows because of school but I'll make out some time this week just for E3.
Goshawk Collage. Or you can just google "Goshawk"
       This week's character is called Goshawk, inspired by the real life birds of prey of the same name. I said in Episode 14 that the characters I will be using for this game are characters I already came up with years ago for a high budget adventure game that I won't be able to make anytime soon. As a kid, two things fascinated me about Goshawks. First, the nice designs they have on their bodies. Most types of Goshawks are blue, my preferred color for most purposes. Second, Goshawks fly through thick forests without running into any tree branches. They weave and dodge effortlessly. Goshawk is the fastest of the flying characters in my game, and while trying to think of a way to reproduce the flight prowess of a real Goshawk in the game, I came up with a game mechanic I call the "Dodge Dash", which I will discuss in detail in another post.
My personal favorite of my own characters, Goshawk!
     In this concept art, notice I didn't draw any wings. Goshawk's wings pop out of his back only when he needs to use them, sort of like the Icarus Wings in God of War. I actually did this because when designing the adventure game, each character had various forms and armor to choose from, and I got tired of redesigning his wings to fit each suit of armour he had. Even though he only has one in this racing game, I decided to carry over the idea of wings that spawn when needed because it looks cool, anyway. I don't have a 3D model for Goshawk yet, so I used the robot model my younger brother made when he was practicing his modelling, which is what you saw in some of the screenshots I posted earlier. Of course, when he's not flying, Goshawk can't run as fast as most other characters, so he's at a disadvantage in indoor areas where there isn't enough space to fly efficiently.
    He attacks by shooting lasers from his eyes. They aren't powerful, but are very fast and can be fired in quick succession. For his second attack, he swings a sword when on the ground and when in flight, he does a speed dive where he crashes down into his target at high speed and immediately rebounds into the air. If used properly, a
player can stop an opponent from overtaking him in a race and immediately continue flying like nothing happened. So that's it for this episode, next week's post will be a new episode about E3 and not Project Monkey. And I haven't come up with a final name for the game yet, so you can suggest any cool names you come up with in the comments section, or send a message to tolu619 on twitter, Facebook or VGChartz. Thanks for reading!


  1. It's a me! d21lewis!!

    Love the concepts. I guess I have to go with the crowd. Either the background needs to be more vivid/colorful or the character needs to be more realistic. It's a little bit of a clash of art styles going on there.

    Still better than anything I'm capable of doing, though.

  2. Thanks. I think I'll try to make the backgrounds more colorful then. I'm not good at making interesting, realistic characters.

  3. mic check 1, 2, 1, 2...


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