Midwest Lost Post #1
This is my second time writing this post because I pressed ctrl z on accident at the end of my (very long) first attempt and apparently tumblr doesn't have a redo button. I am going to scream. Anyway, Midwest Lost is a souls-like set in the American Midwest in which you play as an angsty teenage boy with a big fuck off sword. My main inspirations for this project are the mainline souls games (also bloodborne psx), metal gear rising revengeance, and kingdom hearts 358/2 days. The best way I can describe my goal for this project is that I want it to be a fun, earnest, introspective, and emotionally raw teenage drama with a focus on atmosphere, narrative, and cool bossfights. As you can probably tell this project is the most early in development of the three I'm currently working on.
I'm not going to go into too much detail here because I want to avoid talking about spoilers, and, also, anything is subject to change at this point. The gist of it is that you are playing as an emotionally troubled teenage boy who (figuratively and literally) hides behind his big ol' sword. His ultimate goal is to leave his dead-end home town behind and make a better life for himself. The first obstacle of many in this goal is the protagonist's abusive stepfather who serves as the introductory bossfight of the game. I have a lot of ideas for bossfights that I am extremely excited about, but I'll avoid talking about them here so that I can show them off when they are more developed (one of them I'm excited about is a mom van). The game is likely going to be 50% exploration of a vibin small town and 50% fighting bosses, so most of my effort is going into those two things. The game's story is going to take place in chapters with various time gaps between them. This will allow me to set different chapters in different seasons, and, most importantly, it will let me set a chapter on Halloween night. The last thing I'll talk about in regards to the story is that, as absurd as the subject matter may get, I want to avoid the game feeling irony poisoned at any point. I want the game to feel earnest as that is how I'm feelin' while making it.
Mechanics to Appease a Goopy Goblin Gamer Brain:
I would describe my enjoyment of games as a medium as belonging on a spectrum where the left has experiences that touch me in an more complex emotional sense, and the right has experiences that are pure serotonin injected straight into my soul. The souls games sit comfortably in the middle. This is because the atmosphere, storytelling, and general vibe of the souls games is really harrowing and beautiful, and the gameplay gives me the kind of intense brainworms that lead me to play through it twice a month. Before working on my current three projects, I hadn't really worked on something that I intended to necessarily be fun. In a way, I'm sort of getting out of my comfort zone by making something so mechanically heavy. It's been a nice change of pace to learn that I can focus on atmosphere and gameplay without either of them feeling creatively unsatisfying. Something you must know about me is that I have an immeasurable fixation on dodge rolling, and I think it's one of my favorite mechanics of all time. All this to say I put a dodge roll in my game, and I think it's feelin' really good.
Animation is Hard:
(But if I'm being honest, I'm getting there.)
Souls-likes are sort of unique as a genre in that animation is extra important in them. In something like a platformer you might have a bad jump animation that makes the gamefeel all wonky, but the jump itself will still work the same. In contrast, a 3D-Action game like Dark Souls is very dependent on its animations to control timing, spacing, and telegraphing on top of the gamefeel. Before starting this project I didn't really know if I had the animation chops to pull something like this off, but heading straight into the deep end has, I think, really helped me improve my animation skills quickly. The moment I got the stepfather's "lunge + spin knife around" attack implemented (as pictured above) I got a lot more confident in my ability to probably make this game feel pretty dang fun. Recently, I had to make 8 different strafe animations and it strangely didn't feel like a chore at all. I'll talk about that more next week since it's related to the mechanic I'm currently working on.
The main healing items in this game are a variety of energy drinks, coffee brands, soda, etc. that each have their own unique effect. In the above gifs you can see the two that I have currently implemented. These are the green and blue varieties of in-world brand "Vlade Energy". The green one is the most basic heal item, and it's the one you start off with. It allows you to take two sips per can with each sip healing a good deal, and you can roll out of the drink animation at anytime; however, cancelling the animation also discards any sips yet taken while still using up the can. The blue one stacks a passive buff on the player that allows them to heal by dodging through enemy attacks. I'm really happy with the presentation of the heal mechanic with the fun particles, the sfx (take my word for it I guess), and the animation of the protagonist throwing the empty can away.
The game currently has none. I'm looking to commission a bunch of artists to fill up the soundtrack with some banging Midwest Emo or songs that otherwise have an indie feel. If you make music and are interested in doing a song or two please hmu. It'll be a p long while before I'm actually worrying about getting music in the game, but I thought I'd mention it. There is also gonna be some fights that have tracks way outside of the Midwest Emo genre, so don't be afraid to hmu if you are making different types of stuff.
I wish I could talk more about this project, but I'm gonna have to wait until it's further along. Next week I'll be talking about my strafing / sidestepping mechanic that I'm currently implementing, so I'll see ya then. I'd like to end this post by mentioning that the amazing portrait of the main character seen in the health UI was commissioned from lonesomnia. I cannot stress enough how much I love how that piece came out.
Jaune x Dark Souls
Jaune: Alright, go in kill the thing, ring the bell, and be the chosen undead.
He enters the fog, and see’s a half-woman half-spider demon.
Chaos Witch Quelaag
Jaune: Oh no, she’s hot!
Quelaag stabs Jaune through the chest.
Jaune: Oh no, it burns!
The spider mouth vomits lava onto Jaune.
Jaune: Oh no, this does not subtract from my arousal!
Jaune enters the fog wall once more.
Jaune: Alright, go in kill the hot spider lady, ring the bell, and be the chosen undead.
Quelaag waits in the middle arena with a enormous fire-ball.
Jaune blocks as the fireball scorches the arena, and heats up his armor.
Jaune: Damn, I really am into this, I wonder if dying so much as affected my inclinations?
Quelaag dashes towards Jaune, but he is paralyzed seeing her bouncing breasts.
Jaune mid being cut up: Oh well, saw something nice.
Jaune goes through the fog wall.
Jaune: Alright, go in kiss the hot spider lady, ring her bell, and become her chosen mate!
Jaune: Wait, I think I said the wrong thing...
A giant fireball hits Jaune.
Jaune enters the fog.
Jaune: No, I said the right thing. Death is just a inconvenience in the pursuit of happiness.
Jaune waves at Quelaag: Hey, I like you!
Quelaag: *Horrific spider-like demon chirping tongue*
Jaune: Oh, we might have a problem here.
Some time later
Jaune reappear with a pyromancer’s flame.
Jaune: Hey I can do fire too!
Quelaag seems to almost amused by the armored human wielding small spark of fire.
Jaune dodges her stab, slides between her spider legs.
Only for Quelaag to crush him under her weight.
Jaune sits next to the hooded woman, his pyromancy teacher.
Then pulls her hood back.
Jaune: Hey you look like Quelaag!
Quelana: She’s my sister.
Jaune: Can you teach me how to talk to her?
Quelana: Why? She’s in your way, and is a menace.
Jaune: I think she’s hot.
Quelana: You’re an odd one. Alright.
Jaune appears before Quelaag again.
Jaune speaks in the tongue of Fire-Witches.
Jaune: Hey! I think you’re sexy!
Quelaag: Die intruder!
Jaune: I can understand you! We’re making progress!
Jaune stands over Quelaag unharmed, having completely memorized her fighting style. The Chaos Witch entirely exhausted, and no longer able to stand, panting with tiredness.
Quelaag: So, this is the end. Forgive me, Sister.
Jaune moves closer, his hand moving to his side, and brings it up to Quelaag’s head.
Jaune: Here, you look tired. Wants some Estus?
Quelaag looks at him confused, then takes the Estus.
Quelaag: Why? I have killed you so many times.
Jaune: Because, I like you. I don’t want to see you harmed.
Quelaag feels blush across her face for the first time in millenia.
Quelaag: Such a stupid human.
Jaune drags his teacher by the cowl.
Quelana: NO! No! You can’t make me! This is insubordination! Treason!
Jaune: You’re going to talk with your sisters, and that is final!
Quelana: The student surpasses the master! I give, don’t me do this!
Jaune throws her before Quelaag.
Jaune: Alright, time for some family bounding.
Quelaag and Quelana look at each other. Quelana looks scared, and Quelaag hovers above her.
Then pulls her into a hug.
Quelaag: I missed you sister.
Quelana:... Me too.
Jaune stands behind them crying with a big smile.
To be continued.
I am still very curious in what your take of the ideal invasion npc could be. You very much are onto something with the idea they could be more
I need them to improve on the Maldron concept. Make them smart. Make them retreat to mobs, use the area, change weapons (use a greatbow at a distance, use a melee weapon at close range for example) Camp near chests, doors, levers and treasure. Give them less health but more healing flasks so it's easier to kill them in one combo but hard to chip them down. Make them the biggest threat of the area besides the boss. That would be a good NPC invasion mechanic.
But what would be a PERFECT one!? MAKE THEM TALK. Imagine a guy shooting you with a greatbow at a distance from the safety of mobs and SMACK-TALKING you. You get to him and he RUNS AWAY. Even if he's like the first and the weakest invader in the game and not even that much of a problem, imagine how memorable that encounter would be. He'd be loveable bastard like patches. Or just a bastard who's a real pleasure to make shut up!
Or imagine like. Any other archetype of invader. The one who bows at you and accepts the duel, but once you start ganking him he runs away and fights a normal invasion. He starts out his fight talking about honour and finally meeting a worthy opponent
The guy who leaves items at ledges to lure people in. The guy who messes with elevators. The guy who does no damage and dies in one hit and gives 1 point of currency for killing him, but he is very hard to hit because he's trying his best. If you fall he laughs at you, and if you find him and try to kill him he audibly panics because he doesn't know much except trapping, and if you chase him for a bit he falls off the ledge himself.
Want some edge? Make a dude with a deep voice and dark heavy armour and an edgy sword and a tragic backstory, make him mumble something under his breath while he's fighting you for VaatiVidya to analyze. Make him extremely fucking strong and scary and haunting through the entire game. Basically make him Forlorn from DS2 but actually good and not just annoying.
There are so so many ideas. Imagine encountering ALL OF THAT during your playthrough and not wanting to invade maybe at least once? Imagine the stories. Imagine the tension. Imagine the memes. Not only that, invasions like these will prepare the hosts to real invasions with real players and deprogram from some really sickening habits like standing around the bonfire/site of grace waiting for the invader to engage and get ganked. The NPC just wouldn't do that because it's an enemy in the area. Just like invaders are meant to be.