Sunday, May 11, 2014

Breaking the Law, Breaking the Lock

One of the reasons I enjoy blogging each weak about the development of Bloodhunt is because even when there's not much to tell (sometimes I have less free time than expected) it's always fun to share how it's slowly growing into a Vampire: the Masquerade Bloodlines demake. Week after week, I try to implement new functionality, draw new pixels and throw in some role-playing crazy ideas, wearing as many hats as I can.
This week I've added some final details to the Lockpicking mini-game. Now the different lock zones for getting dice roll bonus change randomly after each Lockpicking attempt. This means that you can't just "find the good spot" and throw all dice rolls in a row, since the lock reconfigures itself after each roll. It's hard to tell from the animation, but anyways here's a small GIF to prove it.

Also, I've added a botch animation in the Lockpicking dice roll. Your lockpick suddenly breaks and flies away to a random offscreen position. It's not the best animation ever, but I think you can get the idea. Of course, the whole mini-game will feel a lot better with sounds to provide more feedback about which zone you're in.

And at last, Bloodhunt has a main menu screen. Nothing too fancy. Just some buttons and a black background full of randomly generated logos looping through the screen. And in the lower right corner, the official game version. Now we're on  0.1.0 which means there's a long way to 1.0.0 which will be the first release. 

And speaking of crazy role-playing ideas, here's my take on Vampire: the Masquerade combat: a 2D fighting style mini-game. How crazy is that? Instead of real-time combat, I've taken the mini-game approach trying to make a reasonable small mini-game suited to combat. As with the Lockpicking mini-game, my intention is to give a little bit of variety to the dice rolls adding some action mechanics. So I started where all combat begins, with a one-on-one confrontation. Thanks to the long heritage of Street Fighter, combat in video games is usually interpreted as a sequence of button presses and combos that the player has to accomplish to lower the oponent's health until it is defeated. So I just tried to merge the Street Fighter visuals and core mechanics of combos with Vampire: the Masquerade turn-based action and dice rolls. The work-in-progress result so far is as it follows.

But before jumping into conclusions, let's see the combat concept art and how it's supposed to work. First, we can see the player and the enemy bigger than during gameplay, since this combat screen is supposed to be highly cinematic and spectacular. In addition, the player character portrait is depicted on the left side of the screen, with two progress bars indicating her health and blood. The enemy portrait is on the other side of the screen, with a health bar and a guard bar. Both portraits will show the typical emotions of combat (anger, surprise, pain) with the occasional bleeding such as in Doom. The health bar thou is a little tricky. The yellow bar indicates how close is the character to final death. When you take damage, your yellow bar decreases. If the life goes to zero, you're K.O. and the combat is over. However, as soon as you're damaged, your character starts to heal the wound, which is indicated by a dark red bar slowly growing below the yellow bar (see the enemy bar). Characters automatically regenerate up to [Stamina] health points after a wound, but the dark red bar grows at a different rate depending if you're a vampire or a mortal. Vampires regenerate health using blood, so you can only regenerate life if you have some blood in your blood pool (if you don't, you probably have a bigger problem anyways). Mortals, on the other hand, regenerate health "freely" since they're alive, but their regeneration rate is extremely lower. 

That's all great, but how can you control your character during combat? In real-time like a fighting game? In a turn-based manner like in tabletop RPGs? Neither of both. In order to control your character, you have to perform combos of key presses to trigger specific attacks and defensive maneuvers which, in turn, include dice rolls (hurray!). Each time you press a combat key, it's displayed in the space below your character so you can always see your current combo. If you wait too much for the next key, the combo is lost (that's the whole concept of combo in the fighting genre). For now, I'm starting combat with the most basic controls: the cursor keys for the 4 directions (no diagonals for now), left mouse click for attack, TAB for defense, F for feeding and E for picking up or throwing weapons. I guess it will be much clear when I have some animations and combos in a GIF. Probably next week.

And last but not least, here's my first YouTube video. It's just a test to see how well do pixels look in the internetz. For a first test, I think it looks pretty well.

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