BEP Blogpost Redux: Naomi

Bio

Name: Naomi Isabella Victoria vos Cruz
Age: 17
Race/Nationality: Aistorian Human
Height: 5’9
Occupation: Knight Cadet of the Holy Order of Saint Alistair

Stats

Offense: Strong
Defense: Average
Range: Average
Speed: Average
Mobility: Low


Now that Brave Earth: Prologue is getting closer to release I figured it’d be time to repost some old posts, only to update them to better represent the current state of the game and world.

Naomi vos Cruz is a young Aistorian noble woman, born the second and youngest child of the Duke of Leone. While outwardly a friendly, kind person, Naomi is both competitive and zealous, quick to give into impulsiveness and anger.

Tomboyish by nature and born a gifted athlete, Naomi soon followed in the footprints of her mother and joined the Sacred Order of Saint Alistair. While formerly a respected military force noted for it’s gifted women knights, time and attrition has left The Order a shadow of its former self, its remnants serving a more ceremonial role. While The Order’s few surviving veterans still dream of rebuilding it to its former glory, with most of the younger recruits being nobles sent there for safe yet prestigious military service, restoring The Order seems almost impossible.

Still, The Order was not without its serious recruits and pressure from them, as well as from their commander (and Naomi’s Aunt), Sabrina Brandt has lead to some concessions from The Church. Due to her family connection and natural skill, Naomi has been chosen as the first to go on a simple mission as one small test in evaluating The Order’s combat readiness. While the mission, the solo retrieval of an outpost report, is not much, it is an important first step.

Of course, once Naomi sees the Outpost burning in the distance, things quickly escalate.

Naomi’s weapons of choice is her mother’s bastard sword, a heirloom of the Brandt family, and a large kite shield. She is armored and durable, but is a bit lacking in mobility. Naomi moves at a steady, patient pace and has no directional control when in the air. She must move and attack cautiously.

Fortunately she has rather strong offensive abilities. Her basic attack is a relatively far reach slash with good damage and speed, but lacks any vertical coverage. While she can dish out high damage against a stationary foe, her basic attack leaves a lot to be desired. To compensate, Naomi has a special attack button which can be used to access 4 different attacks. By pressing the (C) button and a direction (Up, down, Left/Right or no direction). Naomi can unleash a variety of special moves, assuming she has enough energy.

Naomi can have a maximum of 20 units of energy, which she can gain by either killing enemies, or picking up energy gems. She may also find “Ex Orbs”. These orbs, which Naomi may only carry one of at a time, will power up one of her special moves, giving it new properties and allowing her to perform a special air attack. The nature of the orb can be determined by treating the individual symbol as an arrow (figure to the right), making sure you know which move is powered up.

Her attacks, in detail, can be found below.

Radiant Wave: Forward + (C)

Naomi’s Forward+C attack is a low powered, long range projectile While it does half the damage of her normal attack, it is relatively cheap and has a lot of range.

With the appropriate EX Orb, Naomi’s projectiles get cheaper, can be shot faster and can be charged up for large damage. She also possesses an air fireball that goes down at roughly a 45 degree angle. The attack’s recoil can be used to get Naomi to higher ledges.

Dust Striker: Down + (C)

Naomi’s Down+C attack is a ground slide. It is relatively slow, but has a large hitbox that stays out for the entire duration of the move, making it easy to time attacks with. It can also be used to slide under small gaps or under some projectiles.

With the appropriate EX Orb, Naomi’s Slide goes much farther, much faster and much lower. Her hittable area is greatly reduced and she can slide under many enemy attacks and through multiple enemies at once. Her air attack is a dive kick that does as much damage as her basic attack. When she hits an enemy, depending on the direction held she can either jump off and change direction. If she dives into the ground, her dive kick becomes a slide without costing additional energy.

Arc Divider: Up + (C)

Naomi’s Down+C Is an ‘uppercut’ style attack that hits a huge area above her. It’s slightly slow to come out, but hits an area that she could not normally attack otherwise.

With the appropriate EX Orb, Naomi’s Uppercut comes out near instantly. It also throws out a spinning projectile that flies in a parabolic arc as a secondary effect of the attack. In the air, Naomi somersaults rapidly with her sword out, dealing damage to anything that comes close to her, as well as giving her a slight boost in jump height.

Shield: Neutral + (C)

If Naomi presses the C button and no direction, she puts her shield up. Pulling the shield up costs energy, but it can be held out indefinitely. Absorbing projectiles with the shield causes fatigue though, with each shot slightly draining the energy gauge.

With the appropriate Ex Orb, Naomi’s shield becomes a parry. Instead of being able to hold her shield, Naomi must specifically time her parry. The benefit is that she can parry almost any damage source and is rewarded by recouping some energy as well as a long period of invulnerability. The parry might seem weak to the beginning player, but should be extremely powerful in the hands of an experienced player.

Overall, Naomi is Brave Earth: Prologue’s most balanced character. While she lacks the extreme strength the two other main characters have, she also lacks their extreme weakness and a very robust and flexible movelist.

Brave Earth: Prologue – Difficulties

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything let me talk about what I’ve been working on lately. Difficulties!

Brave Earth contains 4 different difficulty setting: Beginner, Easy, Standard and Advanced. The difficulties don’t simply change things like the amount of damage you deal or take, but also things like the amount of pushback you receive from being hit, enemy placement and even on Beginner, geometry. So the stated goals of each difficulty go like this.

Standard: To be a complete, fun but challenging experience for the average player with fun but fair enemy placements and a thought out difficulty curve. Intended to be the first difficulty, even for players familiar with the genre.

Easy: To provide a gentler game experience for gamers who are perhaps a bit lacking on platformer experience. Some hairy situations have changed or removed enemies. The goal is to make the game easier without insulting the player and to provide a gentler difficulty curve, with most changes being earlier in the game. Player takes slightly less damage and knockback.

Beginner: To give hope to those with very little experience in general. The goal is to still provide highpoints and difficult situations for the player, just on a much simpler scale. Damage is drastically reduced and the player receives no knockback from enemies. Filler blocks are used to fill in many difficult platforming segments.

Advanced: In advanced, the goal is to add elements to standard to make a more challenging and fresh experience. Difficulty curve is thrown out the window in favor of interesting enemy encounters. Player also receives additional damage and pushback.

Anyways I’ve set up some examples.

normalplatThis is an easy segment from stage one for the player to get introduced to some jumping. There are pits, but the game assumes most people playing this will have some level of platforming experience and don’t need super introductory platforming early on (Their is also a tutorial stage for that).

easyplatBut on Beginner, these holes get filled in to help new players through it. Not every hole is filled in Beginner, but the exposed pits are chosen much more carefully.

I also have an example of enemy placements for one segment…

standard

This is from the middle of Stage 1 and is a difficult segment for new players. The Zweihander soldiers are real jerks and the bandit enemies come from both directions. The player can trick the second zweihander soldier (a doppelsoldner, for the record) into the pit to spare themselves a difficult encounter.

easy

Easy has a small but significant change. The first Doppelsoldner is replaced with an archer, who still provides a challenge in this situation but is less overwhelming. With that and reduced damage, this section is slightly more managable.

beginner

Beginner has a significant reduction of enemies, removing bandits who ambush from the above and rear. The bottom encounter is completely changed — a mad bomber over flat terrain. Challenging, but with the player’s reduced damage, not a real threat, hopefully providing some fun. The hole has also been filled up.

advanced

Advanced is… tricky. Two archers have been added. Archers below you can fire up to hit you, so now the player has to dodge the lower archer while dealing with bandits above and both Dopplesoldners have firecover now. This segment is completely handleable by an experienced player and not so different from encounters found later in the game. In advanced though, it can happen in level 1 because that’s what advanced is for.

So hopefully with these difficulty options I’ll be able to both give a level of accessibility while at the same time providing a good, challenging harder mode for those looking for a challenge.

Tumblr Roundup

Posted a bunch of BE/Game Dev related posts on tumblr recently, so I figured I’d link them here, if only to help me find them later but also to share them.

I’m very active only tumblr so if you’re interested in BE stuff but also don’t mind me mostly posting Evangelion pictures and bad memes, tumblr is a great place to follow me. I’m definitely the most glib and open there. Even more than on twitter. Generally I try and save this blog for real complete thoughts, but sometimes fun content ends up elsewhere. Anyways…

Post about my earliest games (MZX stuff is super proto-BE stuff)

Quick Roundup of Naomi Idle Animations over a Decade

Sprite Making Process

Level Design Process

Brave Earth: Prologue Update!

Its been almost a year since I wrote an update. Might start posting more too as things get closer (NOT CLOSE, CLOSER) to potential release.

I’ve made a lot of progress on smaller stuff that really helps the game come off as ‘a game’ and not a distant dream. So what do we got?

Saves Games

Saves!

Obviously BEP was going to have saves, but having the system in place and having progress saved did wonders for how I felt about the state of the game. Yes, you have to enter names with your controller, no keyboard inputs. :P

Oh also the menu options are probably close to settled. I had a whole bunch early on but now things are way simpler and mostly focused on visual options.

bepupdate_0000_Layer-6

I might have more ‘retro’ options in the future but Construct’s shader support is a pain. Still, if anyone ever bothers to make a great CC shader for emulating retro stuff, I’d put it in as an option. I don’t care too much about this stuff, personally, so I’m not going to bother writing anything crazy about it. But still, lazy scanlines, yay.

Button config has some recommendations now too!

recommended

BEP is, like a modern game, hands off with saving. Everytime you hit a checkpoint or die, your progress saves. I played around with suspend saves for quitting mid level, but Construct Classic was not having it one bit. Still, you never need to worry about saving your game. So speaking of progress!

Map Screen

Map1

Yeah there is a map. Originally there was this abstract hub level thing going on that gave me all sorts of anxiety because it was abstract and hard to explain and forced the game into a sorta ‘post retelling’ framework, but… well, now I have an awesome map, game is simplier and awesomer looking at one go.

bepupdate_0003_Layer-3

The map updates the conditions of the world as your progress. Sweet! Not a big deal, but a nice detail I think.

bepupdate_0002_Layer-4

The map will also inform you when you unlock characters or extra. Speaking of which, things like the bestiary and other fluffy bonuses are hidden in the world. I figured “kill the enemy to get its entry” was a little silly in a game where you would kill everything at least once getting through it. The book entries are staggered in a way that you can actually find previews of whats to come if on other character’s paths and if you find the books at the right time. There will probably other details too (Like I have a neat continent map that is entirely superfluous but I figure ‘why not’?).

The Hub area still exists as a “Level 0” but it serves a more exploratory, fun purpose and could even be mostly ignored.

library

Here is the Library of the hub level! Sinlen is reading in the back ground. You’ll probably be able to talk to other NPCs there too (Both before and after the game) to sorta get some more plot details if you care about those.

Ugh, a Tutorial I guess

bepupdate_0004_Layer-2

Totally skippable, but its there and describes mechanics or all the characters. Hooray.

As for stage stuff, here’s the intro to Trevor’s first stage (the last part is unfinished and this is an older build, but all the better. You can see it full and proper when the game is done.

Also here, for the heck of it, heres me messing with indoor lightning effects

So What’s left?

Too much still! About 4ish stages (out of 9 already done), which could definitely take a while. Or it might not. Not all the stages are necessarily going to be massive or have complex bosses. In fact I think I need to throw in a few simpler bosses for my sanity. Cutscenes, which are an issue too. I need to work with Neolucky to get some nice, very reusable assets. That’d make life a lot simpler. There are some extras I want to do but I might cut those and throw them in a patch later. So yeah. Game isn’t dead! I’ve been working on it constantly but often I just don’t wanna update about every little thing. Once it becomes time to put the game on greenlight (I really should do that now, but I don’t wanna bother until I have a trailer and I don’t wanna make a trailer until I have enough cutscenes to also draw from).

So no update on release date don’t even ask me. BUT WE’RE GETTING THERE. This is happening.

Horrible hacks and Language Support in BEP

Usually I don’t do too many updates anymore because I’m afraid of just running out of material and showing the whole game off before it’s done, but this should be fun.

So one thing I noticed with IWBTG is that it was very popular in Japan and the Japanese fans of my work are super cool. While this popularity probably won’t extend over to BE:P, I still always wanted the game to be easily localizeable for them. Unfortunately, far too late in the development, I discover Construct Classic doesn’t support unicode. Brutal!

So in the last two days I implemented a hack I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Construct uses the ANSI character set, provides 217 characters. BE:P uses 83 of those characters by default. The rest of the characters are accented letters and bizzare stuff like § or † or even ‡! Really wacky symbols. So most of that could all go. Unfortunatey, even if I used all 217 characters, that would be an insignificant amount of kanji. FORTUNATELY, basically all NES games were written, due to space issues, in kana. Kana lends it’s self better to this, being two syllabic character sets. Between alternative characters and japanese diacritic marks, the set comes out to 100ish characters, just barely squeezing in. In fact this is apparently how any “English -> JP” fan translations end up being done.

So the next step would be keying ansi characters to kana. Fortunately, BE:P doesn’t use a real font or anything so it’s easy for me to make a character appear however I’d like. Characters are searched for on a big key string and that index is used to set the text objects frame. The character key when Japanese is enabled looks like….

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz!/#$&'()*+,-./0123456789:;<=>? @`;€ƒ„…†‡ˆ‰Š‹ŒŽ‘’“”•–—™š›œžŸ¡¢£¤¥¦§¨©ª«¬1®¯°±²³´µ¶·¸¹º»¼½¾¿ÀÁÂÃÄÅÆÇÈÉÊËÌÍÎÏÐÑÒÓÔÕÖ×ØÙÚÛÜÝÞßàáâãäåæçèéêëìíîïðñòóôõöøùúûüýþÿ”

Everything up to ? and ” ” is represented in game in english. @ and ` are controller characters for linebreaks in the dialog engine and everything after that is dedicated to kana. So if we were to search for “©” on this string it would come up as character 120. Frame 120 of the text object is the pixel version of “は”. Easy breezy! The dialog file also has support for easily creating additional text boxes. This is going to be important for Japanese because “kana only” japanese is, screen space wise, pretty inefficient and the kana font I’m using now only allows for 3 lines of text to english’s 4. Still, it ends up looking really nice! Also in this setup, I can easy change the secondary characters. The game can only display one set at a time, but that still allows me to implement all accented latin characters, or Cyrillic or any other non-logographic character set.

Of course this brings up the issue… if construct can’t handle UNICODE, how can I even read the dialog? Oh, well I had to hack together a crummy little python script that’ll read a file and “encode” it into the hacked ANSI characterset setup. So when release is near (it isn’t) I’ll make that available to help people localize the game in other languages if they want without having to resort to dealing with super gross hacks directly.

bepkana2

Not sure if the Katakana is even right, but it’s looks pretty cool!

Scanlines, CRTs, Faux Retro games and whatever

So I was browsing 4chan, as I often do (because I make bad decisions) and decided to drop into /vr/. Without fail there will be a thread about scanlines and NTSC/CRT/RF shaders. I actually find this interesting, because despite not caring about the aesthetic, I do want to have some sort of filter for Brave Earth that isn’t just “lazy scanline overlay”. So I ran into this and found it hilarious.

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Personally, the appeal there for me, is baffling and I’m no sure it’s going t make people wish indie devs were “more accurate” with retro stuff. My first memories as a child involve me playing on my mom’s Atari 2600 and my uncles NES after that. All on crappy old CRT sets over RF. Hell we had one of those hilarious furniture looking console TVs. Maybe it was building sprites in Mario paint, or the better pixel quality of computer monitors and making games in ZZT and megazeux, but the whole “retro means blurry and with scanlines” thing never quite clicked for me. I see thing as pixels. When I play games on the CRT I still use for console games because I’m cheap more than anything, I don’t “see” blurry phosphors. Since our brains fill in a lot of details for us, in my head I’m seeing pixels. So games emulated on LCDs are a plus to me. I like big clunky sharp pixels. Other friends I have look for stuff like framemeisters or buy line doubles and scanline generators to get something closer to what they see in their heads when they play retro games. That’s all cool. It’s awesome to try and recreate things in the past to preserve it for the future. IT’s why stuff like Higan (a super accurate and CPU intensive multi console emulator) are important, even if I will never bother using it.

Still there is a growing number of purists I see getting mad about this stuff. It won’t be a big deal if it was just crazy people /vr/ or those crazy shmup forms or whatever, but I’ve seen even people I know say shit like “this game couldn’t run on the original hardware” or “this isn’t what retro games look like”! I even had one person I know complain that Jamestown had too many bullets for a Neo-Geo game, which is absurd since Jamestown doesn’t claim to be anything. So here are some thoughts on all this, because it’ll probably only get worse once BEP is out (in 50 years).

But old games were designed to be viewed on CRTs!

This is mostly bologna and the thing you need to ask your self is, for any technique, would the art designer NOT have done that if their art was on a LCD or better quality display? Things like dithering come up a lot. Something like say the contra logo… on a CRT the colors blur together more, making the gradient smoother. But the technique of dithering has been used quite often on LCD screens (Just look at Jim’s portrait in this EWJ gameboy port) or in PC Games forever. Acting like LCDs and CRTs is silly — they obviously have visual differences, but there are really very few techniques you’d use exclusively on a CRT. Besides, this is basically any unfalsifiable anyways since we can’t know what the artists were intending or not intending. I would imagine you’d see both artists glad to see their art viewed crisply, and ones who are disappointed by it.

with modern indie stuff where this stuff is thrown around (like with the picture at the beginning of the post)… well, I’ll have more to say about that later, but for now I just wanna say… Play the games on a CRT. Why is it the game’s responsibility to pretend it’s something else? If you plug an NES into an LCD it doesn’t give you scanlines and blur. Internally, for the purposes of this discussion, “retro” indie games and old video games are sending the same thing — an array of pixels. How the device they’re connected to displays them is the displays business.

Besides, this all doesn’t matter anyways. Many greek statuses were intended to be painted, but we prefer clean white marble. Modern statues and modern pixel art reflects that change. Even if it’s not accurate, it’s what most people enjoy and prefer now.

This game claims to be like a (insert console) game but it does this that and the other thing wrong!

If we wanted to make a perfectly accurate game, we’d probably all do what Battle Kid did or what Retro City Rampage tried to do. Most of us don’t. What we want varies. Some of us are just using lo-fi aesthetics as they’re one of the faster style to make while still being a style people respond to well (and remember, making games is hard, especially by yourself. Try it sometimes, it’s fun!). Some care a little bit more about the whole package. When this discussion comes up with people I know, oftne they’re like “Oh but you’re using colors and stuff in a mostly authentic way, you’re okay”… Like, am I? I modified the NES palettes to give me new colors I didn’t have, I don’t obey rules regarding sensible sprite sizes. I have far to many objects on screen at once and like megaman, these already large sprites would need to use MORE sprites just to get the density of color of some sprites.

In fact, adding those extra colors on Naomi was a big thing to me. When I made a mockup and asked people if I should give her more colors (technically possible, but not in the overall picture of the game), people pretty much universally said “Yes. Do it. Why wouldn’t you do it?”. For most people, they want the style up until the point where it interferes with the game. That’s why BEP has a third button. Oh sure I can say it’s start or whatever, but that’s an excuse.

This is the thing with art and fashion. When someone takes stuff from the 80s and 90s, no one (sane) ever goes “OH YEAH WELL IN THE 80S NO ONE WOULD WEAR THEIR HAIR LIKE THAT” because that’s not how fashion works. We take aspects we like forward. We take things that are familiar and transform them. I personally feel that if everyone who made “retro” games tried to, collectively, be more accurate about this stuff we’d be WORSE off. We’d just be wanking nostalgically to things that have already been done, instead of using the past as a spring board into the future… and that’s someone who loves when people maintain history. Making games for old hardware is some awesome digital SCA type stuff. But it’s historical more than anything.

Brave Earth started relatively more accurate earlier on and has gotten progressively more ridiculous in some of the things I put on the screen. But I don’t regret this — when I started this was supposed to be a small free project that didn’t have to move things forward. Now it’s something far more ambitious and better offfor it. It has an identity beyond being “Castlevania but with a sword”. Retro City Rampage also moved on once the shell of the NES got too hard for it to be contained inside and while some may bemoan that all that’s left is a prototype rom, most people are happier for the change. If all retro graphics mean to you is reliving your childhood and everything that comes with it, well… I don’t think much retro indie games are even meant to appeal to you.

We need to understand, lo-fi and pixel art and all that is a STYLE. Do you think the superbrother games are trying to be like a “retro game” and that they would look better if their games seemed more ‘authentically 8/16 bit’? No, and that’d be completely missing the point. People will point to Ridiculous Fishing as being “retro” when the art in the game is composed almost entirely of triangles. There is a huge gradient hereof how these styles can manifest and anyone is free not to like them…but to act like a certain kind of style is somehow more noble is ridiculous. You can still criticize how a style is executed but we have to realize that most of this is a matter of taste and priorities. We all have different desires and developers have different goals. I get driven crazy when games that MOSTLY get it right do things like transparency and sprite rotations, personally. I’m sure Brave Earth will set off people on different issues. But then people will complain that IWBTG doesn’t maintain a consistent pixel density and uses rotating sprites and stuff and it’s like… seriously? Did you miss the point that hard?

The past is a tool and we should not be slaves to it… and that said, I’m still going to try and get construct to do some amount of CRTish effects as a toggle option because I hate my self.

The Sound and Music for Brave Earth

It’s been awhile since I’ve had at update. To be honest, things are really slow. I’m at a weird point where it’s hard to tell how close to done I am. I’d say I’m half way done, but not that it would require double the time since I announced the game to be finished. I could be finished this year if everything comes together. But anyways, still, updates!

Music and Sound were something that have been very important to me. Video games gave me the first songs I legitimately liked as a kid. It’s also one of those things that most retro games sorta don’t get quite right. Lotta cheating. Cheating is okay — sometimes authenticity that only a few people will notice isn’t worth a herculean effort — but being familiar with famitracker, I knew I wanted things to go the right way.

Finding a Musician

It’s not hard to find decent musicians. I had an open submission at some point and got a load of applicants. Almost all of them were decent, but only a few of them were excellent. Some of the best applicants also didn’t fit my style. I find this really frustrating and had a few people I considered picking, but then I figured I was going about this the wrong way. So I went on youtube and searched “original VRC6” looking for people composing music for the japanese Castlevania 3 soundchip (something I knew I wanted used from the get go. That’s where I found Necrophageon. Impressed with his work and hearing several songs of his I would have used if I were able too, I sent him a message to ask if he’d like to work with me on my project. Like many great artists, he seemed legitimately surprised that anyone thought his work was that good. After so much time angsting about wanting good submissions, all I had to do was headhunt someone.

Anyways, Necro as uploaded a few tracks. I’ll share my favorite of his selection, but there is a whole bunch there.

Also on the music team is SKUltra, who seems to be an up-and-comer int the chiptune scene. He begged and begged and begged while I kept giving him difficult, demanding requests while telling him it was okay to just give up. He’s never finched. I don’t have any finished tracks to share, but he’ll be contributing a portion of the music for the game, probably with a focus more on the game’s cutscenes.

Sound Effects

This was a long term challenge. At first I used SFXR. SFXR is an awesome tool for making old retro noises, but they aren’t -nes- noises, nor are they particularly distinct. So for other sound effects, I would look at actual NES sounds and try and borrow their technique and use it to make new sounds in Famitracker. I made -some- decent sounds, but for the most part, not really. So most of my good sound effects came from asking Necro to give me a hand. Fortunately one day, bitching on twitter about sound effects, one of my twitter followers, Ionustron (who is super talented and makes -twist tie scupltures– which are amazing), said he’d be willing to help. Ionustron’s sound effects are RIDICULOUS. He gets an amazing amount of depth and clarity without resorting to DPCM samples. He also made so many specific sounds that I had to change how I handled a lot of sound effects to fit his work. Different hit sounds for armor, meat and bone enemies, different sounds for walking into, out of and through water. Hard to share those out of context, but here are two cool sounds he’s done that I think stand on their own.

This Gunshot noise has a wonderful crack to it I love.
gunshot.wav

An awesome bird screech.
bird1.wav

So I got a lot of talented people helping to carry me on the sound portion of my game and the game would be far worse without them.

Brave Earth Q&A: Answers!

Got a pretty good turnout for questions. Hope this satisfies some of you!

From VioletLinked
How many areas / weapons will be usable in the game?
Can you upgrade and downgrade said weapons?
How many characters will you get to play as?

There should be about a dozen unique stages. Some stages are shared between character and often have paths that are unique to different characters. As for ‘weapons’ and ‘upgrades’ remember, this is not a metroidvania. That said, Naomi has 4 special attacks and can power up one of those attacks at a time. Including air variations, Naomi can do a dozen different moves with her special attack button, though only 5 and a time (only powered up specials have air variants). Sinlen, can hold 1 of 5 spells at a time and each of those spells has a special attack. Trevor has 4 different dodge techniques, but can only incrementally power up his sword, much like a Belmont powers up his whip.

As for the amount of characters? For now I’ll just say 3. I might add extra bonus characters later, but these are the three main characters with their own unique paths and storyline significance.


From Fortinbras
I dunno if this has been covered elsewhere, but since you’re best known for IWBTG, I’m curious what the difficulty level will be.

It has, but no harm in saying it again. I’d say at this point, Brave Earth is harder than Castlevania 3, but not by a lot. To experienced Castlevania fans, Brave Earth might actually be slightly easier. There will also be difficulty sets to help people find their ideal level of challenge.


From Grognor
I know I’ve asked you this before, but I liked your answer so much that I want to share it with everyone! (Also, I forgot your answer)

Will religion be “the real deal” in the Brave Earth series, like it is in most fantasy games?

I forgot too so I hope this answer is still good…

It depends on what you mean by “the real deal”. There is magic, there is undead and there are monsters. There are events that definitely give more credence to the idea of “There might be a creator”. So despite the obviousness of magic and souls and the like, unlike most high fantasy, religion is still an act of faith. Same with philosophical ideas like skepticism. Just because there is magic in the world does not mean we should assume all claims are true, just like, in real life, just because we have amazing science doesn’t mean we can assume all technologies people claimed they invented are real.

These themes will be relatively minor in prologue but will hopefully be an important part of Tower in the Sky if that ever gets made. BE:P will probably have a bit more to say about gender roles, though the NES nature of the game somewhat limits how in depth that’ll be.


From Poki#3
Do you think the self imposed limitations of having it be as close to an NES game as possible limit your creativity, or make you find more creative ways to do things?

Well first, let me be honest: I cheat. A lot. I cheat with resolution (the game is a bit wider than it should be, since NES games are natively ‘square’, and the exact resolution is chose more with resolution multiplication in mind more than accuracy). I cheat with the palette (I edit a number of traditional NES colors to get a few colors that wouldn’t normally exist), I cheat with sprite limits and thusly I can even cheat with colors per character. So I’m not hyper accurate, but I like to be aware of the rules I break and have a reason why. As such the limitation is actually very liberating. I have a lot of aesthetic tools to draw upon and I can cheat them when they are occasionally too strict.

My general rule has been “Would I believe this was an NES game if I played it as a kid?”. I cheat less than that, but if I couldn’t believe it, I know it’s flat out wrong.


From Leylite
It seems like one of the tenets of the game design here is to make it possible for people to go through the entire game without taking damage, and for people to be able to speedrun the game.

So with that in mind, are you going to include your best times in the readme? Just for comparison’s sake, of course.

The game SHOULD track your best times in game. I still have to figure out how to work this across difficulties and stuff like that, but it should pretty much be assuredly a feature. I’m actually somewhat concerned about the game’s fitness for speedrunning and how optimizable it is. But I guess we’ll see. I’ve had some people say that they think the game is very much suited for speedrunning.


From Stew
Will you intentionally leave in a glitch, and try to make the player play around it? (think, shield dash SOTN)

I haven’t found a glitch worth leaving in yet. There was only one that ever came up that was ever an option (think: Zombie Hover) and it was a bit too goofy and unusable to leave in.


From Logo
Well I’m mostly curious about what type of system of hitboxes have you built and how do you manage them since you have a pretty interesting set of moves. Are you using rectangular collisions boxes? Are the timing of the hitboxes run off animation frames or are they timed (ie how do you sync that all up and ensure the moves come out the same each time)?

Okay so each character has 3 sets collision data. One is terrain collision. This is usually a rectangle. Heck, it’s a rectangle even when you’re crouching so you don’t get stuck understuff. That one’s easy. Then you have the attack/hurt boxes, which are a set of image masks that fit over the pre-exisitng sprites. I do them as ‘boxes’ but they’re technically images. Every logic cycle, the attack and hurt boxes set them selves to the same animation and animation frame as the character’s base animation and the player’s position. This keeps everything perfectly in sync pretty easily!


From Yagamoth
Too late for questions? Whatever, I’ll ask anyway:
– What is the focus of your game? Please try answering this question before you read on, I don’t intend to put any words into your mouth.

How scary! I’ll try my best!

I would say the focus of BE:P is in it’s level design and enemy design. Relatively slow, careful encounters, rather than quick, rapid action. I want the player’s actions to have weight. Sinlen subverts this a bit, and Trevor embodies this and Naomi sits in the middle.

I’ve seen a lot of platformers lately. Often they revolve around a single gimmick (for better or for worse). But ignoring the gimmick, the platforming itself is often a bit sketchy and unappealing to play by itself – only the gimmick tries to make the game worthwhile and stand out from the others.
For me personally, I prefer platformers the other way around – the platforming itself should be appealing and make the player want to play the game, just because the controls are THAT good. Super Meat Boy did an excellent job at this. Even IWBTG has (in my opinion) excellent controls – precise and on point with no unnecessary distortion.
If you add a ‘generic’ gimmick on top of that (Say, charge shots and a grappling hook), that’s absolutely fine if it only adds to the gameplay. If a not-so-generic gimmick interferes with the already solid mechanics: For me to accept this as a valuable addition to the game, It has to be incredibly well thought-out, well implemented and interesting enough (=worthwhile). Even a not-so-good generic gimmick can already be harmful for the game if it’s poorly implemented. I’ll probably earn some hate for this, but for example in “They Bleed Pixels” the combat mechanics are nowhere near as good as they should be in contrast to the platforming.

In short, for me a good platformer stands and falls with its controls. How elaborate are BEs controls?

The BE:P controls are probably a tad more elaborate than they should be for the NES premise, but I’d still say it’s relatively straight forward. I think more importantly, you could play Brave Earth without using the special button, especially with Naomi. I think the game is better with the special button (which is why it still exists), but I think it’s important that it isn’t a crutch. Much like how subweapons aren’t a ‘crutch’ of Ninja Gaiden or Castlevania. They exist as a spice. I think the two most important elements are in a good spot — jumping and attacking. I’m particularly proud of the jump, which has the design advantages that come with an old Castlevania games, but an amount of controllability that makes it not feel dated. I’ll have to wait for people to play more to see if I’m right.

The grappling hook in IWBTG is kinda a funny example but I think highlights part of the problem with a lot of gimmick games. They choose the gimmick because it seems neat, not because it suits any design purpose. This can be fine if you build around the gimmick well, but those types of games are a bigger risk. If the gimmick doesn’t pan out, you’re fucked.

People have asked me if future chapters of IWBTG:G will have different gimmicks and they’re always surprised when I say no. The grapple arm was chosen to solve problems I felt existed in making an IWBTG sequel. The precision of IWBTG’s controls meant it was hard to craft new challenges without looking like a cramped, spike ridden fangame. Knowing that I wanted a smooth scrolling screen, a way to open up the game would be nice. Atop while IWBTG is precise, there is very little nuance to the Kid’s controls. So adding a mechanic with inherent nuance would allow me to open up the game without fundementally changing the Kid’s basic controls. The grapple arm fit perfectly and is a mechanic I inherently love. A little off topic but worth talking about.


From Googleshng
I vaguely recall mention of the different characters having different paths through the game. Is the idea that everyone just gets a full on unique game (with heavy resource recycling)? Is it going to be a multiple paths through each level accessed by unique abilities (a la MM6’s jetpack access ladders)? A weird hybrid sort of deal, where people make their way through the same levels, but there’s different enemy placement, and/or the occasional alternate/extra level crammed in for certain characters?

You can think of it as ‘everyone gets a full unique game’ but it all sort of comes together in a more complicated way then that. For example, you unlock Sinlen at level 3 and Sinlen’s path starts at a difficulty curb fitting to that. Also the alternative characters tend to have shorter paths than Naomi’s (which is about 8 levels depending on how I want to count them). Some levels have different paths (Level 3 has Naomi and Sinlen’s path on an alternating sinewave type thing), some are the same levels, but with different abilities, or different times on the stories itmeline. So yeah, it’s a weird hybrid. Hopefully it’ll be cool in practice. Due to my fetishization of level designs and living world, I want it to feel like characters doing their own thing in the same world instead of on their own disjointed levels.

Also, same question for bosses. If it’s pretty much just, “this is level 8, this is the boss of level 8″ people are always cool with it, but for some reason, “this is level 8a, it’s different from level 8b but has a the same boss at the end” that’s somehow psychologically dissatisfying (while changing ONLY bosses, that flies just fine, it’s weird).

There won’t be any shared bosses, at least not in a way that doesn’t make sense. It would not only be dissatisfying, but it would also mess up some of the chronology of the game.

Going all 8-bit retro often pushes people into tossing in limited lives (sometimes even with limited continues). What’s your stance with this on kicking people back to the start of the level/start of the game as punishment for dying too much?

Default game setting will have lives with infinite continues. In fact, once a level is beat, it’s unlocked and you can resume from there at any time. So you might have to restart a stage, but never the game. Also through an option you can turn on the ability to resume from checkpoints after game-overing. I want to encourage people to play in the ‘old school’ style, but they don’t have to.

Kinda related- Difficulty settings. I seem to recall you planning to include them, but how much thought are you putting into them? Just tweaking damage/HP? Altering enemy placement? Changing up attack patterns? Going all Mega Man 10 and including those shame inducing big obvious bumpers in platforming bits? Maybe without being so passive-aggressive about it visually (i.e. just make the pit smaller, don’t throw in big obvious safety bumper sprite)?

Pretty much everything. Health adjustments, some placement adjustments and for certain enemies, AI changes (this will mostly effect the Very Hard difficulty). Easy platforming (and the associated bumpers) are an option that can be toggles individually.

Mind tossing out an animated gif of that skeletal dragon meandering about? That thing warms my cold black sprite loving heart so damn much.

Oh what you mean this?


From Big Ari
s there any truth to the rumor that all of the storytelling will be done through emoji, and gifs of corgis?

That sounds like me and King are making a true IWBTG/Owata crossover!

I guess if I’m posting, I should probably ask a serious question. Are you planning any optional side content like the secret items in iwbtg?

There will be secrets. There’s a whole ‘hub’ map filled with little things. The hub setup is sorta an interactive “menu” you for you to change characters and choose levels (or even try characters on paths they’re not supposed to go on). Chronologically, it exists AFTER the events of the game and talking to some characters on it can give you some insight on some of the things that went on in the game. None of this is required, but for the people who like this stuff, they can dig around and uncover a number of Easter Eggs.

There will also be secrets hidden in the actual stages too. Of course I can’t say too much. :)