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Hart-Hunt

[X1] Stage concept - Design Discussion

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Let's take the intro stage in New Hard Type. As it is an introductory stage of the hack, I wanted to include a handful of elements (or you could call them tropes) that would be present in the stages, while retaining the original theme of the stage. The tropes to include were: Horizontal linear platforming, Multiple pathing, Expanded, detailed world, Claustrophobic sections (with enemies enhancing the idea), Vertical climbing sections.

So I took the original concept of the highway and expanded onto it. I made a highway, in which you end up falling to the underground area of the city, traveling around the area to get back to the surface to get to your original destination. It conveys into a theme and results in both an open stage with a more claustrophobic interlude, with even a vertical section.

In this case, what did I design first? Did I slap together platforms and enemies and call it a stage? Or did I design entire sections and mesh them together? Or did I instead design the tropes that would be included and explores? Or did I design the entire theme of the stage and then explore and expand onto it?

Basically, an unexperienced designer will do from the former to the latter, while the more experienced designer will try to go from the latter to the former: From the theme to the details, from the design tropes to be explored to the individual jump lengths and enemy positions to be adjusted.

So, what I propose in this topic is to discuss what could be explored in each stage! We have the following map to work with (zoom in the image):

cb632aff16e6b699b2626c4545a12a5d.png?v=5

If you don't remember where each stage occurs within the map, load your old MMX game and check it. What I want to discuss here, is different ideas to brainstorm. An example of something I could work with would be something like:

"Intro stage: Highway like the original. Horizontal stage, possibly exploring multiple paths after falling from an individual jump (should probably include visual cues to let the player know you can fall safely there). After finding the bee miniboss, the floor falls and suddenly you're in an entirely new area, an underground where you need to find your way back up. Then you reach the end of the stage".

That's a bit convoluted. How about something more friendly, more fun to imagine:

"Storm Eagle: You start at the airport, then you jump from ship to ship. Maybe the background moving suggesting that the ships are in movement? In each ship you infiltrate from the rear to the front while fighting the defenses, until you infiltrate the main ship of the maverick army, where Storm Eagle is hiding."

"Flame Mammoth: Slowly descending into a volcano. Etc."

Use your imagination and help me start the designing process!

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Hold on, are we conmbing aspects of the old and new? Or are you saying the old. OLD version of the game? 

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This hack is independent from"Old" Hard Type, but I don't mind (and would be neat) if some of the new designs are sort of inspired by Old Hard Type. Same deal with vanilla, it would be cool to take a concept for a stage from vanilla and expand on it. There are literally no preferences there.

It sounds lame, and it kind of is, but figuring this out in a way that the whole game wraps and explores all of the cool ideas is my main roadblock at the moment.

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Armadillo, I have one. Honestly, I'd like for you to continue to go further underground until you hit some sort of core -- whether its fire or just energy pulse BS that Megaman has in it, Perhaps even adding in a bit where that's what X was investigating, and Armadillo fights him with that in the center of the boss stage. 

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I was actually given a very similar idea, I want to say it was by Yuyu or Nowea in chat, for Flame Mammoth's stage. A stage that's about descending, starting as a factory, and transitioning into a lava filled volcano (Very Mega Man X / Mega Man Zero like). And it could end up as you propose, in the "core" of the volcano / factory.

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Update time! This is going to be a somewhat lengthy post.

Something that's helped me get back and started was to replay vanilla's levels and analyze certain aspects of their theme and design. This is all for personal reference and it's not supposed to be "right" or "wrong", but it's just what I was trying to analyze within the stage.

Chill Penguin:
Theme: Infiltrate base of Chill Penguin in the mountains. Enter a back entrance to the Maverick's factory within the base of the mountain, which leads to a main ascending path leading to Chill Penguin.

First section:
- Exterior
- Horizontal
- With small hills, playing around with enemy combinations and types of attacks
- Enter Cave

Second section:
- Cave
Little room to menuver
- Descending, bats chasing you slowly
- Combining bats and spikeys, ascending with falling spikeys
- Tight wall jump and ascending section to make sure the players knows the mechanic well
- Get capsule

Third section:
- If you die, you get to do the whole level again: To re-experience the level again with dash, or to change levels and use dash in them if you Game Over
- Horizontal section
- Small jumps to learn how to dash
- Combining dash with enemies you already know (Jammingers)
- Introduce Flammingers
- Use them with elevated platforms to get in their range
- Descend with combination of Flammingers and Jammingers
- Checkpoint

Fourth section:
- Get Ride Armor
- Branching path: Either jump off the Ride Armor mid-air, or get into the lower path
- Higher path rewards you with no enemies
- Lower path has pits that require dashing
- Ride Armor awaiting after a pits: If you don't dash jump, you get punched into the pit
- All combined with firefly enemies
- Get into ascending mountain

Fifth section:
- Ascending horizontal section
- Jumps get harder
- Introduce snowballs
- Introduce snowball thrower. He has a blind spot under him
- Introduce combination of the two
- Get to boss room

 

Now! with that said, and after doing the same for another stage (which I'll post some other day) I decided I had a solid idea for what to do on Chill Penguin's stage. In New Hard Type, I'm thinking the theme will be to climb a smaller mountain, get to a cliff at the end, then make a leap of faith jump to a second mountain, which you'll climb, either from the exterior of the mountain or by going through caves. At the peak of the second mountain, Chill Penguin waits.

Here's an alpha preview of the second, bigger mountain. This would be after making the leap of faith jump, and there would be a checkpoint after said jump. You'll notice the cave in the middle that gets you further up. Note the red tiles are spikes.

A4vM98F.jpg

Tell me your thoughts, and let me know if that gives you ideas like these for this stage or any other in the game! Your ideas help me create better stages!

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The only thing is that section where you jump up after the walls seems a bit awkward. I was never fond of jumping up walls in the series like that. It really does beg the question of why you wouldn't have a "climb" feature which is probably why most of the X games strayed away from you having to climb up the walls, but rather be able to jump perhaps once from a wall to reach the next elevation. Other than that, I genuinely like the idea of the Chill Penguin stage. I do have a question though, do you still plan on having the characters go through the stages in the "default" order from the Vanilla game? 

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7 hours ago, Augestein said:

The only thing is that section where you jump up after the walls seems a bit awkward. I was never fond of jumping up walls in the series like that. It really does beg the question of why you wouldn't have a "climb" feature which is probably why most of the X games strayed away from you having to climb up the walls, but rather be able to jump perhaps once from a wall to reach the next elevation. Other than that, I genuinely like the idea of the Chill Penguin stage. I do have a question though, do you still plan on having the characters go through the stages in the "default" order from the Vanilla game? 

I'll tackle both things here. First, looking at that jump onto the higher section after coming out of the cave, it's actually significantly easily to make than having to dash kick off a wall, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

As for the question, no, Hart's just going to do his own thing. Quoted as: "There's no order, that's the actual idea." from the man himself. 

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Exactly. The upgrades will have different locations and orders (haven't decided on the specifics yet), but the whole habing Dash from the beginning is meant ro tell the player about the non linearity of the game. The stages will try to keep a more homogeneous difficulty as well (that doesn't mean easy though) instead of the old Hard Type, where difficulty varied quite a bit more. Bosses will be as tough as they come, though. You will have to earn every single thing.

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I don't get exactly which types of jumps you mean Augestein, and I'm interested. Which jumps there (and maybe in the old Hard Type?) are you talking about?

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The Launch Octopus stage should be thematically all about water.  Fighting in shallow water, deep water, underwater, the surface near water, and (if the game allows it) around moving water like streams and waterfalls are all different.  A good interstitial zone would be a cave system with submerged areas, air bubbles, varying water depths, and moving water that shoves you in different directions effectively limiting you to one-direction movement in some cases.  If the starting area is this central zone, then you can implement metroidvania mechanics and actually finding the boss (as opposed to a miniboss or a dead end with a hard to reach item and lots of enemies) is difficult.  Note that these dead-ends should be conditional, there should be a reason to come back later when you have mobility upgrades (double jump, gliding/floating, dash, dash jump, head bash, a buster upgrade/weapon that can destroy some class of obstacles, limited flying/hovering ability).

Geysers that push you up in the air would be interesting too.

A vertical area with platforms sticking out of a waterfall and streams that are blocked/diverted in some places by other platforms (in terms of fluff, they lead to caves in the background or foreground) would be cool.  Falling wouldn't be lethal, but it would be annoying.

The Chill Penguin mountain you shared above could use a cave system in that empty space, or maybe some floating platforms leading to who knows what.  Your option is either single-path with middling difficulty or multiple-path with higher difficulty but in different ways on each path.

Edited by MysticLord
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On 9/12/2017 at 11:52 PM, Hart-Hunt said:

I don't get exactly which types of jumps you mean Augestein, and I'm interested. Which jumps there (and maybe in the old Hard Type?) are you talking about?

  • I was talking about in the spot that I put in red (hope you aren't color blind). Basically, this part seems kind of strange. Like you're just simply jumping up the wall. No platforms or really anything. If you have a ton of enemies here, it's more annoying than anything else, as being hit in the slightest means that you'll fall back down. I was saying I prefer when it's like a wall with ledges or something. Like every other jump is a jump to maneuver to a different cliff rather than simply jumping up a wall. 

Because when I think of jumping up a wall, I think of something like this:

 

 

Which no one likes this sort of garbage. No one. I'm not saying that's what you're going for, but that's what happens when you have pointless jumps. Things take longer than they need to. 

A4vM98F.jpg

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On 9/12/2017 at 10:11 PM, Yuyu said:

I'll tackle both things here. First, looking at that jump onto the higher section after coming out of the cave, it's actually significantly easily to make than having to dash kick off a wall, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

As for the question, no, Hart's just going to do his own thing. Quoted as: "There's no order, that's the actual idea." from the man himself. 

That's fine. I remember the original Hard Type didn't. I was just wondering if this one was following the same or not. 

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Right. Now that I'm back in development, let's answer this and add something at the end that's unrelated.

On 15/9/2017 at 3:28 AM, MysticLord said:

The Launch Octopus stage should be thematically all about water.  Fighting in shallow water, deep water, underwater, the surface near water, and (if the game allows it) around moving water like streams and waterfalls are all different.  A good interstitial zone would be a cave system with submerged areas, air bubbles, varying water depths, and moving water that shoves you in different directions effectively limiting you to one-direction movement in some cases.  If the starting area is this central zone, then you can implement metroidvania mechanics and actually finding the boss (as opposed to a miniboss or a dead end with a hard to reach item and lots of enemies) is difficult.  Note that these dead-ends should be conditional, there should be a reason to come back later when you have mobility upgrades (double jump, gliding/floating, dash, dash jump, head bash, a buster upgrade/weapon that can destroy some class of obstacles, limited flying/hovering ability).

Geysers that push you up in the air would be interesting too.

A vertical area with platforms sticking out of a waterfall and streams that are blocked/diverted in some places by other platforms (in terms of fluff, they lead to caves in the background or foreground) would be cool.  Falling wouldn't be lethal, but it would be annoying.

The Chill Penguin mountain you shared above could use a cave system in that empty space, or maybe some floating platforms leading to who knows what.  Your option is either single-path with middling difficulty or multiple-path with higher difficulty but in different ways on each path.

About Launch Octopus: The vanilla version of this stage is probably the one that has the least memorable theme. The minibosses are kind of engaging, but that's where the originality of the stage ends. The stage feels empty all around (if you see it in the editor or if explore it you'll see what I mean). And water physics can actually be fun to play with.

My idea for New Hard Type is to direct the theme towards something more similar to Pirate Man's stage in Megaman & Bass (which, in case you guys didn't know, is one of my favourite designed Megaman games):

If you watch the video, you'll see what I mean: Combination of open areas with hazards floating, and closed areas with water physics. And I've had an idea for a while with this stage: Having at some point a branching path, one that leads to fighting Octopus with no water, and another with the usual Octopus with water. We'll see if I can pull it off, I might not be able to due to the engine being hardcoded or something. I can't add new enemies like Geysers or anything like that. I'd be really nice, but I don't have any knowledge with all of the necessary things (sprites, AI, dealing with the game's memory) to do any of that. And, I actually don't want to do that either, because I want this mod to be a reimagine of vanilla's Mega Man X. You can see that in the intro stage, and you'll be able to see that in Chill Penguin.

 

 

About Chill Penguin: There's two caves in the stage. One you can already see at the bottom right of the picture I shared above (it got polished, and it looks somewhat different but the concept is the same), and also at the beginning of the stage you'll have a descending cave with ice on the walls that won't allow you to wall jump. It will add some variety to the stage.

 

And the other thing I wanted to mention. I streamed yesterday some of the development of Chill Penguin, and it hit me that the best order for me to design the stages will be to design all of the platforming in all stages first, and only then work on the bosses. That way, all of the platforming will be designed in a more cohesive manner, and all stages will feel like they follow a more similar thematic throughout the game. And, at the same time, designing the bosses afterwards will mean that the first boss that I mod and the last one won't be that much different (which was a case in ye old Hard Type, because I had learnt a lot more assembly when doing the last boss). That comes with the downside that stages will take longer to be 100% finished (that meaning, stage + boss), but it will make up for having a much better finished mod, and hey, platforming is also really fun to play. Also, it will be a lot faster for me to specialize in designing all platforming, and then moving on to the boss mindset.

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