Thursday, May 27, 2021

Maze-Kun (PC-88) Game Rip

With the end of May upon us, I thought I'd go and post a soundtrack I ripped earlier in the month just so there's some activity in times where it's really, really hard to be productive with the state the world is in (even if my home state is making progress).

This is Maze-Kun, a puzzle game from 1989 that has a heavy Sokoban feel. It was released on both the PC-88 and MSX2, but as the MSX2 version is really hard to find, this rip focuses on the more easily-accessible PC-88 version, containing all seven tracks. In all honesty it's not exactly something I'd call "my favorite" when it comes to game music and the less I can say about... whatever you'd call the Pro Level theme, the better. Needless to say if I was ripping these for personal use like what I've been doing on my original Mac for a decade, it would just be the Beginner level theme and the title screen, however for the sake of providing a complete product and especially now that I'm posting these online, I'm pretty much required to do a full rip no matter my personal opinion on one or more of the tracks.

As usual you can grab the entire thing at this link.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Game Devving: Where to Start?

So this June I'll be grabbing a copy of Game Maker for my birthday in the hopes that I can learn how to code games in it and come closer to producing the full-fledged and massive Aozora's Adventure games. Despite this it'll take quite a fair bit to get the Aozora stuff going and before then I'd prefer to focus on projects that are more easily solo-able or don't require as much of a large team of people assisting in the games to have a chance of finishing. That said I likely won't be jumping in immediately and just spend some time messing with it occasionally due to things like pandemic fatigue and a few other factors still looming over since last year in addition to some other projects.

I've assembled a small list of possible projects that could be good starts for my programing adventures, some with sample mockup screens or sprites.

  • Super Mario Bros. Extra Special: A full-on remake of the NEC-PC8801 and Sharp X1 title Super Mario Bros. Extra Special with a whole helping hand of additional features including the ability to play the game as if it were converted to the NES (similar to how Super Mario Bros. Crossover did it and not at all like the NES port that outright butchers it due to engine limitations). Alongside remade physics to make it play closer to Super Mario Bros, you can play the game as Luigi with his SMB2J moveset intact, with PC-88 (with actual blue pixels for sprites, plus dithered or not), Sharp X1, and NES graphic options, more imaginative uses of Special's exclusives and items, and a bonus world to discover.
  • Mega Man Puyo Puyo: It's pretty much in the title: A Puyo Puyo game set in the classic Mega Man universe. Based on Puyo Puyo on the NES, Puyo Puyo Tsu and Super Nazo Puyo, you ascend the Wily Tower as Mega Man, take on a lineup of Robot Masters one after the other as Proto Man, or solve a variety of Nazo challenges as Bass. Of course it's in the series' iconic 8-bit artstyle and the Puyo would be redrawn to match the Mega Man sprites (the ones pictured here are a mockup). To emulate the color limitations of the NES/Famicom, the Puyo colors can be set to be based on the characters currently dueling and the stage background instead of the default colors, and running different character/stage pairs results in different combos.
  • Diamonds and Even More Diamonds: Perhaps the one "fangame" project concept I have on the mind that requires a bit more explanation; it may be more familiar to those of you that grew up with a Macintosh in the 90's as the PC versions were vastly overshadowed by many other games. You play as a ball and ascend/descend automatically while you control the horizontal movement of the ball, changing colors to destroy bricks and eventually breaking apart diamond blocks. This would be a large expansion to that core concept, bringing in both new levels and objects in addition to ports of the original levels from both Diamonds (and More Diamonds) and Diamonds for Kids. It would also come with an editor much like the original game for players to create and share their own levels.
  • Paku-Chan: A Pac-Man clone and likely the first product to feature Aozora's Adventure characters, in this case Paku-Chan and Ball-Kun. It would replicate the original Pac-Man's game structure and design but feature loads of extra content in the form of new mazes each with their own high score tables, characters with fluid movement, and an expansive and detailed maze/mazeset editor. The enemy AI would also get an update from the original to be more modern such as a little more randomization but not as much as Ms. Pac's ghosts to deter players from going after patterns and no more ability to phase through the player on rare occasions. The ghosts also undergo different appearances as the player progresses.
These would come somewhat later due to their complexity and for being, well, mostly Aozora-focused:

  • Otaku-Ball: A project with quite the history behind it (being a celebration/mashup of different Breakout games) and mostly already existing in LÖVE, but with the project sitting in limbo for a few years and coming out differently than some of my original plans for it, I'm considering a reboot the project with some new character art, new music and sound effects, a new and more colorful UI, some new block types and enemies based on other breakout titles than just the first Arkanoid and Electranoid, including a gallery of boss fights.
  • Aozora's Adventure: The actual first Aozora title and a much different beast than what it was originally envisioned as 10+ years ago. It was stripped down heavily, becoming a NES-style game and a homage to many different titles released for it and the Famicom. It features gameplay reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3, a large variety of level themes, enemy encounters styled after Kirby and Mega Man, and a lineup of unique bosses to face. Perhaps the biggest change to the gameplay system beyond the more competent enemies is the B button changing from activating your character's run command to throwing a punch-punch-kick combo by default, or performing one of several actions depending on the transformation you obtain. There are also simple fighting game-style commands you can input (similar to later Kirby games) to perform different attacks per transformation.
  • Rock-Aozora: The "other" first Aozora title. While Aozora's Adventure is a Mario clone, Rock-Aozora is a Mega Man clone but with a few unorthodox movement options added on- namely the ability to freely aim your shots in eight directions as well as crouch to dodge certain attacks without having to commit to a slide. It also contains some very powerful special weapons, some of which were changed quite a bit since the original "pitch" I wrote ten or so years ago. It might be preceded by a simple three-level Mega Man fangame to test the waters of making Mega Man projects considering there's at least... several other Rock-Aozora games I'm planing to make afterwards.
I don't really have much of anything else to add, in part since I'd rather not overwhelm myself with ideas considering how much time I plan to spend on Aozora alone once I get the game-making process going. Plus the task of writing down everything to prep each project and being able to eventually lead one with multiple contributors (whenever they be coders, sprite artists, level designers, testers, etc.) with myself still serving as the main driving force and main programer/level designer of the project. Especially so with highly ambitious game ideas like Aozora's Adventure III and the 3D-based ones.

Anyways I'm gonna leave it at that just so I'm not dedicating days to just one blog post.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Long Stance on Conventions

Normally I would have a larger post planned out but it's not quite there yet. So in the meantime I'm making a different post to fill the void while I work on art and possibly prep another blogpost on some plans for when "gamedev season" begins.

In what feels like a repeat of last year, conventions are currently in an interesting place. Due to the ongoing pandemic last year continuing into this year and the vaccines just starting to make the rounds, conventions are still being postponed and canceled. As of this writing, two of the four major cons I usually attend announced they would either be converting to an online format or canceling entirely. And to be honest even if they were held in person I would still not want to go with all the new cases flying out left and right.

For me, a convention isn't really a convention if I can't attend it IRL since it's impossible to translate an entire convention into an online format. Conventions are about the social experience, the dealer's room and artist alley, the cosplay, and the panels. Most online conventions, as I've seen them do across 2020 and the first several months of 2021, can only replicate the panels aspect of a con (with one attempt at a virtual artist's alley I've seen) and if you're someone like me who's more into the interactive elements, these online cons sadly just can't capture the same magic.

Looking back, I always attended cons first and foremost to meet and support artists, meet up with friends that I otherwise wouldn't be able to see, and explore the settings of each convention. You cannot come up with an even greater/cooler landmark to host a convention than the Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken (I will miss you so much), the Atlantic City Convention Center, the Cradle of Aviation, and the Javits Center. Most of the panels I would see had a greater purpose than just the content on show- in those cases it was to support friends or an internet personality I really liked or otherwise supported. They were an extension to the convention trip, not the trip itself, is what I'm saying.

Either way I don't expect to get back to a convention for a good while, and if I do it'll be something local or smaller scale that won't really be worth bringing up until it becomes safe enough in my terms to return to a big-name convention. Plus there's a few things I need to attend to first in regards to my physical form which has been suffering since the pandemic and lockdowns were initiated. If anything comes up regarding major conventions, I'll let you know otherwise.