Nicalis Blog


August 23, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: Adventurous by Design

Hey everyone! Joel here again with some more behind-the-scenes chatter on Ittle Dew 2. This time I’d like to tell you more about the world you’ll be exploring in the game, and some of the decisions that influenced that world’s design.

If you’re familiar with other classic action-adventure games, or the first Ittle Dew, then you know the general premise: lots of dungeons, a nice big overworld, and lots of enemies to crush and puzzles to solve along the way. Naturally, we want to keep things varied and interesting, so there are a number of fun and, um, unique locations to visit. The dungeons include places like the Trash Cave, an art exhibit (where pretty much everything is is destructable), and even one that’s set in some dude’s flooded basement! It starts as a regular basement, but slowly transforms into a pirate-themed desert island with sharks and cannons and stuff.

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While in the art gallery, be sure to mind your manners and…smash everything you see!

As for the overworld, you’ll travel to spots like Pepperpain Prairie (which has rivers of hot sauce and peppers), Frozen Court (a permanently snowy area where enemies with gigantic magical swords roam around), and Star Woods (where a beautiful forest is half-covered in sad-looking trash bags and rivers of sludge that are coming from the aforementioned Trash Cave).

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The adventure turns hot and spicy when you venture onto Pepperpain Prairie.

Originally, the overworld was a lot more open, without any major obstacles or detours, and it was mostly just a way to get from one place to another. But that wasn’t satisfying, so Daniel, our expert level designer, rebuilt a lot of it and blocked off some paths so you could never just run through in a straight line. There was a lot of creating and testing to make sure it was fun and the difficulty felt right. Also, to make sure it didn’t feel like going through the overworld was ever a chore or that you’re wasting time, we’ve included warp spots at all the major points of interest so you can quickly travel there for subsequent visits. (Likewise, there are shortcuts in dungeons for easy backtracking, too.)

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Need to get somewhere fast? You can warp to all the major points of interest after you visit them once.

On the other hand, we also wanted to make sure that exploring was worthwhile, so there are lots of secrets and optional items off the beaten path, as well as a few sight gags and bits of lore about the game that only astute players will discover. You can find hints for just about everything too, even if the clues aren’t obvious or necessarily near the secret in question. And while I’ve talked a lot in the past about how important it was that the game be nonlinear and that you could go anywhere at any time, that’s not completely true – aside from the final dungeon, of course, there are some mysterious black obelisks that…well, I’ll let you see for yourselves.

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Why, yes, I do believe this is…a clue!

There’s plenty to see and solve and destroy in Ittle Dew 2, so I hope you have fun playing it and discovering the world for yourself when it’s released in the not-too-distant future.

August 18, 2016

Creepy Castle: What Lurks in the Castle

Creepy Castle: What Lurks in the Castle

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As I’ve mentioned before, one of the key ingredients in a nonlinear exploration-based game like Creepy Castle is to make sure that the world is fun to explore. It’s more than just good level design – you also need to fill the locales with interesting characters to encounter and intriguing things to discover so players will want to explore every nook and cranny. I’d like to think I’ve accomplished that with Creepy Castle, so here’s a look at just a few of the enemies and items you’ll come across when you play the game.

Enemies

Monsoon

1-monsoon Monsoon is a somewhat mysterious character that you’ll come across multiple times in the game’s first scenario. Wearing a flowing cloak and a horned helmet, Monsoon is one of the castle lord Darking’s lackeys, and he’s the first boss you’ll face. Yet, there’s clearly more to him than your typical villain. Although he’s intent on carrying out Darking’s will, he also knows that something strange is afoot, and he seems to share a history with Moth.

Stickbug

2-stickbugAs his name implies, Stickbug is indeed a giant stick bug. He’s actually one of Moth’s closest friends, but he’s fallen on hard times and enlisting as a boss for Darking seemed like a better way to go than selling his body to science. He’s probably the least-qualified guy around for being a villainous henchman, so he and Moth will surely be able to patch things up regardless of what happens when they fight.

Mimic

3-mimic    Ah, the Mimic! It’s an RPG classic! It looks like an ordinary treasure chest, but when you go to open it – SURPRISE! – it’s actually a monster! Luckily for you, if you decide you don’t want to battle a Mimic, you generally don’t have to, but then you won’t be able to get whatever treasure that may be hiding beyond him.

Vampire

4-vampire  The only thing you need to know about vampires is that they have a crazy-high amount of HP, and defeating them is next to impossible… or is it?

Possessor

5-possessor I don’t want to spoil too much about Possessor yet, but he’s one of the major villains of the game. He’s sort of an homage to Dracula from the classic Castlevania titles, and he’s one of my personal favorite baddies in the game.

Items

Keys

6-keys  There are two types of keys in Creepy Castle: normal keys and red keys. Normal keys are usually used for getting to the next required area, while red keys tend to lead to optional parts of the map. You’ll have to search far and wide to find everything!

Phaser

7-phaser The phaser is a device that lets you phase through certain doors that are otherwise impenetrable. Who needs a key when you’ve got one of these things?

Ice Rod

8-icerod Some parts of the castle are filled with water, and unfortunately for Moth, he’s not a very good swimmer. However, he can equip the ice rod to turn the surface of the water into a hard, icy floor that he can walk on, thus allowing him to reach new areas and find hidden treasures. It works on lava, too!

Light Rod

9-lightrod  As you might suspect, the light rod lights up dark areas. Sure, you can stumble around in the dark without the light rod, but you probably won’t get very far since you’ll also need the rod to activate some contraptions in the darkness.

Hookshot

10-hook SPROING! Yes, it’s the hookshot, a grappling-hook-like tool made famous by a certain green-clad adventurer. This hookshot, however, attaches to certain points on the ceiling, and you can then climb the chain to reach distant platforms. Some of the attach points are on moving platforms to ensure that things stay interesting.

Jump Boots

11-jumpboot   It’s true: the heroes in Creepy Castle can’t jump. At least, not unless they get these boots, which enable characters to hop over two-block gaps. This item doesn’t appear in the game’s initial scenario, but it shows up later on.

Crosses

12-cross The only way to level up in Creepy Castle is to collect these little crosses that are hidden throughout the environments. At first you only need one to increase your level, but then you’ll need two, then three, then four to keep leveling up. Leveling up is also different from other games: when you increase in level, you don’t get perceptibly stronger, but enemies’ health bars get smaller.

Food

13-foods  What kind of a retro-inspired video game would this be without delicious foodstuffs to replenish your health! There are more than 45 types of food items, and while the kind you get from any given treasure chest tends to be random, you can acquire a veritable buffet of goodies, including a burger, fried shrimp, a cheese wheel, pizza, corn dogs, a roast chicken, ice cream, and a donut (it’s actually a rice ball; old-school gamers will understand).

Did that whet your appetite for exploring Creepy Castle? You can look forward to all this and more when the game hits Steam in the not-too-distant future!

August 8, 2016

Creepy Castle: Music in the Castle!

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Hey guys, this is Zach again, and this time I want to talk about something that’s especially important to me in a video game: the music! The right music can make a good game great, and make a great game something truly memorable that sticks with you forever.

I can’t actually think of any moments in video games that I consider to be truly great where the music was not playing an integral role. Phoenix Wright lives by the pounding beat of one of its Cornered themes filling you with adrenaline as you finally begin to break apart a murderer’s false testimony. Yoko Shimomura’s touch is incredible enough to make the wacky melodrama of Kingdom Hearts something you can be excited for with tracks like Forze Del Male, and beautiful enough to conjure emotions in places you might not expect, like the Final Battle Theme of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.

I’d say music is the most nebulously absorbed part of a video game – we tend to care more about what’s happening in a dialogue box or the action on screen – but at the same time, in some ways it might be the very most important part.

So, obviously, making the right soundtrack for Creepy Castle was incredibly crucial to me. I wanted something that was memorable and motivating, based in rock and metal, and at the same time had the proper retro sound to go with the old-school visuals. Ideally, I wanted something like the old Capcom or Konami soundtracks of the NES days. There was just one problem: when I started making Creepy Castle, I didn’t have any musical capacity at all. Fortunately, my friend Marius Schneider from Germany is a great composer, and he’s been helping me with Creepy Castle since its very first two-day-game-jam incarnation. Marius has a Celtic approach to music and a background in guitar, and his music is a perfect fit for the upbeat and catchy nature I’m going for. (He’s also very talented at writing and world-building, and he’s helped a lot with the story of Creepy Castle.) He originally wrote nine songs for the original Creepy Castle prototype.

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Marius cites the Marble Atrium theme as one of his personal favorite tracks.

As the game expanded and after the Kickstarter was successful, we found ourselves with the opportunity to do a lot more with the soundtrack. Marius went back to those original nine tracks and tried to make them a bit more unified, expanding some songs and rewriting large parts of others. We also kept finding reasons to include new songs: unique themes for certain characters, new areas, specific enemies, etc. It happened organically, without a particular plan, but in the end we expect there to be more than 60 unique tracks in the game!

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Fun Fact: Sometimes the music would influence other aspects of game design, like I might make an area more labyrinthine if that’s the feeling the music gave me.

That’s a lot of music for one person to handle, so in some cases Marius went into his personal vault (so to speak) and dug up unfinished and unused songs he’d written over the years, polishing them up or using them as inspiration for new tracks. One that especially stands out is a mysterious, Egyptian-sounding theme that has found a new home as the theme of an important area in Scenario 3. In addition, I’ve been working to improve my composing skills since the Creepy Castle prototype was built all those years ago, and they’ve reached the point that I’ve been able to add to the soundtrack as well. I’m probably only writing one song for every 10 that Marius does, but I’m glad to contribute tracks like the Ghost Palace Boss theme.

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Marius didn’t originally create this song for Creepy Castle, but it ended up being perfect music for exploration.

While I’m very happy with the songs I’ve made and Marius’s tunes are amazing, there’s one thing about the Creepy Castle music that had always bugged me a little, and that’s the fact that we weren’t creating authentic chiptunes. Ever since we started making the music back in 2009, we did stick to rules like limited channels (two lead, another for bass, another for percussion), but we just exported the sounds as MIDI files, then fed them through a program called GXSCC to make them sound like they’re being generated by an an 8-bit sound chip. It’s OK, but it’s not ideal, so eventually Marius began redoing the music the proper way with tracker software.

Unfortunately, the going was slow, and we still had a lot of other work to do on the game, so remaking all the music was somewhat impractical. Luckily, Nicalis introduced us to musician and remixing genius RushJet1 – who I’d already been a fan of for years – and he’s remixing all of our songs into proper chiptunes. Better still, he’s even contributed a few original tracks to Creepy Castle, and collaborated on a few more. One of my favorite tracks so far, which was somewhat inspired by Yoko Shimomura’s emotional, imposing boss-fight song from Kingdom Hearts 2, is called “Wanting All the Things You’ll Never Have,” and it wouldn’t have been possible without Marius’s fantastic bass track or RushJet1’s instrumentation.

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This track was very much a collaborative effort and is one of my favorite tracks in the game.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this look at the music of Creepy Castle! If you want to know more, you’re in luck – there’s a jukebox option in the game, and each song has a bit of commentary from the composer. I hope you look forward to checking it out!

July 27, 2016

Creepy Castle: One Game, Four Scenarios!

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Hey, this is Zach again. I’m here to tell you more about Creepy Castle, but I also want to tell you that Creepy Castle is just the beginning. What I mean by that is that while Creepy Castle is the game’s title, it’s also just the first of four scenarios you’ll get to experience when you play the game (as you’re no doubt aware if you’re familiar with our Kickstarter campaign). Each scenario has different maps, enemies, and items – though there’s an overarching story tying everything together, each scenario is a distinct adventure. Here’s a breakdown of the four scenarios you’ll encounter.

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It all starts with the first scenario, the titular Creepy Castle.

Scenario I: Creepy Castle
As you can probably guess, Creepy Castle is the core scenario of the game, and it introduces all the key gameplay elements: exploring nonlinear environments, using items, and engaging in various types of duels. You play as Moth, the wandering swordsman, who is indeed a giant moth; he has come to Darking’s castle to learn about the mysterious events that are taking place, and to put a stop to them if necessary. Along the way you’ll meet characters such as Darking’s lackey Monsoon, Moth’s friend Stickbug, and the enemy general, Butterfly. This scenario should take you a few hours to get through, and once you’ve completed it, you’ll be able to play an alternate version of the scenario in which you’ll play as a character named Sir Bee.

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The second scenario, Ghostly Mystery, takes inspiration from classic action games.

Scenario II: Ghostly Mystery
If the Creepy Castle scenario is an RPG mixed with an exploration-based adventure like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, you can think of Ghostly Manor as being an RPG mixed with classic Castlevania. It’s much more linear, plus it’s divided into six stages, each one filled with enemies to fight and boss encounters to overcome. You might even cross paths with some enemies that are inspired directly by Castlevania. In this scenario you play as Butterfly (yes, she’s a giant butterfly), the enemy general from Scenario I, and you’re trying to find out what happened to Moth after the previous scenario’s events. In fact, if you want to see what Moth was up to first-hand, you’re in luck, since he’s the playable character in the alternate version of the scenario.

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Scenario III, Depth, is all about exploring vast, nonlinear areas.

Scenario III: Depth
Whereas Scenario II was focused and linear, Scenario III: Depth, goes the opposite way: big, sprawling, and massive. It’s somewhat inspired by La-Mulana and Tomb Raider. You once again play as Butterfly, and though there isn’t a lot of story or lore here, there’s a lot to discover. You’ll have to collect numerous keys to get from one large area to another, and you’ll find them by exploring, solving puzzles, or by defeating enemies; getting all the keys isn’t required, so you’re largely free to choose how you want to proceed. You’ll also gain access to new items to aid in your adventure: a jump item for hopping over gaps, and a grappling hook for latching onto things, including moving platforms. In addition, I decided to spice things up so enemies and items respawn whenever you save your progress; both are finite in the other scenarios. I expect this to be the largest scenario in the game.

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The fourth scenario lets you take control of the galactic-traveling Ant Queen!

Scenario IV: Due Exaltation
The fourth scenario brings the adventure to a galactic scale, quite literally. Playing as the Ant Queen, another character introduced in Scenario I, you’ll go into space and journey to various planets to tie up the plot threads remaining after the other three scenarios. Like the first scenario, Due Exaltation provides a well-rounded experience, but it’s bigger and the duels will be more challenging. I’m still working on this one, but there will be at least four large planets to explore, as well as a few small ones, and at least one new item to help with navigation. Plus, there’s an alien mafia!

Kickstarter backers may notice that originally there was a different scenario planned in lieu of Depth, which was to be called Brotherhood. I still haven’t fully figured out the story I want to tell in Brotherhood, which is why I decided to move ahead with Depth instead. Ideally I’ll be able to reveal more about Brotherhood in the future, but hopefully for now these four scenarios will suffice.

July 19, 2016

Creepy Castle: Looks Like Retro!

Creepy Castle: Looks Like Retro

scen1-freezing a lake

Hi everyone! This is Zach again to talk some more about Creepy Castle. This time I wanted to discuss the visual style of the game. All it takes is one look at a screenshot to notice two things: 1) it has a very low-fi, retro art style, and 2) it doesn’t really look like most of the other retro-inspired games that are out there.

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There’s something about pixel art that’s timeless, huh?

So why the old-school visual design? I guess the answer is simply that I like it. I’ve always been a fan of retro games and pixel art, so I just went with what I enjoy! Unlike a lot of pixel-art game creators, I didn’t want to go for the look of any specific classic game hardware, so I didn’t try sticking to an NES color palette or anything like that, but I did get a lot of inspiration from the Japanese MSX computer, as well as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. Even though the visuals weren’t directly informed by classic hardware restrictions, I did set one rule for myself to try to create some visual cohesion: only two colors for each eight-pixel-by-eight-pixel tile, which tends to give the game a somewhat monochromatic appearance. If you look closely you’ll notice I break the rule occasionally, but I think I did a pretty good job of sticking to it most of the time, and only bending the limitation on tasteful and hard-to-catch occasions. Influence from old PC games is also one of the reasons why most of the game takes place against a black background; the other reason for all the black, of course, is that most of the game is set in dark dungeons and caves and the like.

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The game’s look isn’t based on anything specifically, but the MSX and ZX Spectrum were big influences.

Another thing you’ll likely notice right away is that the window for the playable action- the viewport, if you will- is somewhat small compared to the size of the entire screen. Technically, there’s not really any strong reason for this either, but it’s just something I remember fondly from classic games like Dragon Slayer, Xanadu, and other Falcom classics (as well as Commodore 64 games like The Last Ninja). These old games would have a window for the gameplay, accompanied by separate windows alongside it containing various information, and I wanted to include an homage to that, in addition to simply enjoying the aesthetic.

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The smaller gameplay window is a throwback to classic action-RPGs like Dragon Slayer.

To be honest, this is probably the most I’ve thought about the game’s look since I started making it. For the most part, I just went for what felt right and it kind of happened naturally. I’d like to think it’s a lot like the early days of game making when developers were never afraid to be experimental and pretty much anything was OK, even if it was totally crazy. These days things tend to be a lot more homogenized, especially when it comes to larger publishers, but I think there’s a lot to be said for doing something a little different that stands out from the crowd.

Of course, if there are some things you don’t like about game’s the visuals, there are ways you’ll be able to customize its appearance, but I’ll get into that more in a later post.

July 18, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: Time to Fight

Hey! It’s time for another update on Ittle Dew 2, and this time I wanted to discuss one aspect of the game that we really focused on improving when compared to the original, and that’s combat. As I’ve mentioned before, some players felt that combat seemed tacked on in the original game (which is true to some extent, since initially it was going to be purely a puzzle game), so we’ve made strides to make combat more fun and fluid with the addition of 360-degree character movement and a dodge/roll that offers a small window of invincibility. More responsiveness means more fun!

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Ittle’s new defensive dodge adds a new dimension to combat!

But beyond those additions, the action primarily revolves around four weapons/items you can use to clobber your enemies in different ways. At Ludosity, we love the Zelda series, but we feel like they tend to go overboard with the items and weapons you can get, so, just like in the first Ittle Dew, you’re limited to four of them, each mapped to a different face button. It’s not about the size of your inventory; it’s how you use it! These items can be used for both solving puzzles and bashing bad guys, but we’ll discuss their puzzle-solving uses at a later time. (Besides, all Ittle really wants to do is the bashing part.)

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Sometimes simple is best – like smacking your enemies around with a stick.

So what do you have in your arsenal? First up: the stick. Nothing too fancy, but when it comes to inflicting blunt force trauma on vicious wildlife and other bad guys, it definitely gets the job done. There’s also dynamite for times when a big explosion is the only way to show your enemies how you truly feel. (If you played the original Ittle Dew, you might remember bombs were in that one; bombs were big and took up physical space when you placed them, but dynamite is smaller and can be walked over.) Then we have the Ice Ring, which freezes enemies, and the Force Wand, which shoots out balls of, uh, force.

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When you need to bring the boom, unload the dynamite!

Some weapons are more effective than others on certain enemies due to their built-in strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes it makes strategic sense to use a particular weapon. For instance, some enemies are rather fast, so it benefits you to punch them with the Ice Ring, which will cause them to slow down, and then smash them to pieces with the stick. These weapons are upgradable, too! As an example, the simple stick upgrades to a fire sword, and then later to something even better.

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Feel free to yell things like “Chill out!” or “Ice to meet you!” when you attack with the Ice Ring.

There are a few passive items that will improve your combat skills, as well. A protective amulet will decrease the damage you receive from enemies, while a special headband will allow you to inflict more damage on enemies.

So there you have it: pretty much everything you need to know about combat in Ittle Dew 2. I wouldn’t call it super-complex, but it just feels right, and it offers what we believe is the right amount of depth for an adventure game. Have fun bashing baddies!

June 30, 2016

Creepy Castle: Let’s Battle! II: Burning Fight

Hey there, this is Zach again. In my last post I introduced you to Creepy Castle’s combat system and discussed some of the duel types. This time I want to tell you about some of the other duels you’ll encounter as you get further into the game.

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Parry: Like the Pursuit duel I mentioned last time, Parry takes place on a three-by-three grid. This time, though, the grid display represents the location of incoming enemy attacks. These attacks take the form of icons with rapid countdown timers, and you must target each icon with your reticle before the timer hits zero to deflect the attack. As you deflect the attacks, a meter fills up on the left side; once it’s full, you win. Fail to block three hits, though, and you’ll lose this duel. You’ll also have to be on alert for grey feint icons; if you target a feint icon, it’ll also count as a miss. Part of the inspiration for this minigame came from the rhythm game Elite Beat Agents, and although it wasn’t really an inspiration, the parrying in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is sort of similar.

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Target the exclamation-point icons before time runs out to block the incoming attacks!

Shove: I’d consider this duel to be the most like a typical video game quick-time event. It’s basically a sumo wrestling match in which you’re trying to push your opponent back and knock them out of bounds. A string of input commands appears at the bottom of the screen; if you enter these correctly you’ll knock your foe back, but if you mess up you’ll get pushed back instead. There’s also a time limit on this one, and if neither of you get shoved out before it expires, the contest ends in a draw.

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Channel your inner sumo strength to knock back the enemy.

Teleport: This one is kind of like the cup game in which you put a coin under a cup and then quickly slide the cups around, with the goal being for someone to guess where the coin is hidden. Only instead of cups and coins, it’s an enemy moving rapidly between several locations, and you have to identify the spot the enemy ended up at when he stopped moving. The number of teleportation spots varies by the enemy, as does the speed at which enemies teleport.


Can you spot which enemy is the real deal?

Siege: Siege is another duel that uses a grid for movement, but this one draws its inspiration from classic 2D shooters. Projectiles come at you from the right, and you must move up and down on the grid to dodge the incoming shots. Different enemies have different firing patterns and types of attacks, so this duel can feel quite distinct from one encounter to the next. For instance, there’s one enemy who can fire big, burning, meteor-like projectiles, as well as a volley of three fireballs, plus smaller, faster projectiles; I’m especially fond of that one. In fact, right now this is probably my personal favorite type of duel.

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Siege takes inspiration from old-school shooters.

Maze: Think Pac-Man and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the duel is about. A small maze is randomly generated, and you’ll have to move through it and pick up some collectibles while avoiding the enemy. Coding the random maze creation has been one of the trickier aspects of programming the duels, but it wasn’t too bad.

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Unfortunately, there are no Power Pellets to help you here
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Slider: Basically, there’s an indicator moving across a slider, and you have to press the button when the indicator crosses over strips, kind of like in a rhythm game. When you successfully hit the command button while over a strip, your bar is incremented. Catching the strip over red regions will increase the bar a bit, and if you hit the button while the reticle is over a golden “perfect” region, it will increase by a lot. If your bar is close to full by the duel’s end, you’ll snag a perfect, and if it’s next to nil, the duel will end in failure. This is the last type of duel I have planned for Creepy Castle, but you never know what could happen before it’s all said and done!

There you have it – a full list of the types of duels you’ll encounter in Creepy Castle. I think it’s safe to say that they’re not your typical RPG battles. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy playing them once the game is released!

June 29, 2016

Ittle Dew 2: The Jump to 3D

Hey there! This is Joel from Ludosity again to go behind-the-scenes on Ittle Dew 2. This time I wanted to discuss one of the big changes to Ittle Dew 2 that I only briefly touched on in a previous post: the switch to fully 3D visuals! That’s right; the hand-drawn 2D graphics from the first Ittle Dew have been lovingly rebuilt as fully 3D polygonal models.

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Though the first Ittle Dew (left) was all 2D, we opted for more flexible 3D graphics for Ittle Dew 2 (right).

There are a few reasons that we decided to make the leap to 3D. For one thing, because the scope of Ittle Dew 2 is so much greater than that of the original, and our team is fairly small, it was far more efficient to build the game in 3D. Sure, a single 2D pose or animation of a character is a lot faster to create than a polygonal model, but when you’re talking about animating many different characters that can move in many different direction, the work involved adds up fast. The more animations something needs and the more directions it’s seen from, the more efficient 3D becomes. Additionally, Ittle now has complete 360-degree freedom of movement – which just wouldn’t have looked or felt right in 2D – to allow for smoother control and better gameplay possibilities.

That’s not to say that switching to 3D wasn’t without its challenges! While polygons are more efficient in a lot of ways, they’re actually more work for static backgrounds and objects that only appear once, so that required us to be more selective in what we built. (As our artist, Anton, put it: please take an extra look at Cyber Jenny’s computer before destroying it.) Another thing to consider is that Ittle Dew 2 uses a pseudo-overhead perspective most of the time. That’s easy enough to deal with in 2D since you can always cheat the details, but it can sometimes look weird in 3D if you’re not careful with the models. Furthermore, we wanted the graphical style to look as similar to the original Ittle Dew as possible.

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We experimented with a lot of things to make sure that Ittle Dew 2 had the look we were going for. Around the time we started going 3D, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was released for the Nintendo 3DS, and we saw that it used slanted character models to help give the illusion of 2D artwork, so we tried that, but it was really hard to work that way, so we decided not to use that method. We did, however, build some models in unnatural ways so they look good from an overhead view, such as dungeon walls and some of the characters – when viewed from a more traditional angle, for example, some of the characters’ facial features might appear higher on their heads than you’d expect so they look good from a top view. We also used a shader to add wobbly black lines around the character models so they look like the character art used in the original Ittle Dew! Overall, it took some trial and error, but we’re very happy with how everything looks after the jump to 3D.

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This was one approach we considered for making the visuals look good from an overhead perspective, but it ended up being too tricky to work with.

Aside from the benefits mentioned above, full 3D graphics allow us to add other cool stuff to Ittle Dew 2 as well. For one thing: alternate costumes! They don’t affect the gameplay, but we included them because it’s pretty easy to do in 3D. (They’d require us to redraw every frame of animation in 2D!) We’ve also been able to beef up the number of enemies in similar fashion by reusing skeletal structures or animations, or in the case of the Jennies (that’s our pun on “generic enemies,” for the uninitiated), they’re all based on the same “blank Jenny” template model. Another cool thing we were able to do is play around with the camera angle a bit – there’s one part of the game that kind of resembles a sidescroller!

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We used a special shader to outline the characters to help give the 3D models a hand-drawn feel.

In the end, we’re quite glad we decided to make the switch to 3D, and I think you’ll feel the same way, as it really allowed us to play around and experiment with many visual elements in the game, and it enabled us to create something that’s bigger and better than would have been possible before.

June 28, 2016

Full Mojo Rampage: Release Day!

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It’s launch day for Full Mojo Rampage! Get your voodoo on as the game is now available on PS4 and Xbox One in the US and Europe! To celebrate launch day, we have one final blog post that talks about Multiplayer! First, a brand-new trailer, and then – on with the blog post!

Greetings! Rob here again, and this time with an important Full Mojo Rampage public service announcement: friends don’t let friends practice voodoo alone. Well, sometimes they do. Actually, Full Mojo Rampage is pretty damn fun in single-player mode, if I do say so myself. But the point is that you don’t need to play solo, and that’s why there are multiple ways to enjoy the game with friends.

First of all, there are the campaign quests. As I’ve talked about before, there are four story campaigns, and any of them can be played in cooperative multiplayer for up to four players. This is where you can take advantage of different characters’ skills and use complementary parent Loa to form a balanced team to wipe out the enemy, or utilize other tactics. When playing in multiplayer, the random level generation follows the same rules as in single-player mode, but we don’t want the game to be too easy, so the difficulty scales as you add more players: the enemies are tougher, they have more health, and they hit harder.

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Four players can join forces to play through FMR’s campaign mode.

Plus, when you visit a shrine and receive a reward, we don’t want you fighting with each other over who gets the prize, so usually we’ll give out four rewards when there are four players. But how you use them is up to you. Most of the time, everyone will want their own item, but other interesting situations could arise as well. Some of the items you get at shrines are really strong, so if you wanted, you could let one player take all the items and sort of become a powerhouse to lead everyone else to victory. There are lots of tactics you can try out in cooperative multiplayer!

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In cooperative multiplayer mode, enemies hit harder and have more health.

Second, we also have a competitive multiplayer modes for up to eight players. We didn’t feel that we had to reinvent the wheel here, so we stuck with tried-and-true concepts like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag, which is especially fun if you play in teams of four against four. My favorite is probably King of Mojo, which is your king-of-the-hill mode, where one character is king, and you have to hunt him down and defeat him. I admit, we didn’t try anything too crazy or experimental, but I think what we have works well and is a lot of fun to play.

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Battle it out in eight-player versus modes such as deathmatch and King of Voodoo.

Whether you’re playing co-op or competitive, single player or multiplayer, campaign mode or endless mode, I think there are a lot of ways to enjoy Full Mojo Rampage. It’s been a tremendous experience making the game, and we’re very excited to finally be bringing it to console audiences with help from Nicalis. I hope you all have a chance to try it out, and on behalf of all of us at Over the Top Games, we’re very appreciative of your support.

June 24, 2016

Full Mojo Rampage: Meet the Loa Part 2

Launch day is almost upon us! Before the weekend we wanted to talk a bit more about the Loa in the game!

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Previously we introduced you to Baron Samedi, Maman Brigitte, Loko, and Ghede – four of the parent Loa that you can enlist to customize your character’s play style in Full Mojo Rampage. Each one brings something different to the table in terms of both abilities and personality, but those are only half of the Loa in the game. Here are the other four!

Erzulie: The flirtatious Erzulie is the Loa of love and beauty, but she also draws strength from tragedy. As your parent Loa, she’ll grant abilities suitable for both support and attack, including an anger field that slows enemies, and boomerang-like tear projectiles that cause damage both coming and going.

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Erzulie’s tear attack will leave enemies crying.

Ogoun: The Loa of war and fire, as well as the patron saint of blacksmiths, Ogoun supports a risky but aggressive play style. With Ogoun as your parent Loa, your attack spells will consume your health, but killing enemies can also restore it, as well as grant bonuses to some other stats.

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If you’re willing to sacrifice your health, Ogoun can unleash some deadly spells.

Lenglensou: Lenglensou is a righteous, wild Loa known for drinking bulls’ blood and having an obsession with sharp objects. He grants enhanced resistance capabilities, including a shield, and you can unleash a swirl of fire. Max out your rampage meter and you’ll transform into a giant, invulnerable bruiser for a limited time.

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Lenglensou is the most defense-focused Loa in the game.

Agaou: A violent force of nature, Agaou is the Loa of thunder, lightning, storms, and earthquakes. Though he’s probably the most powerful Loa, he’s also the riskiest to use. If you choose him as your parent Loa, your health and rampage meters will be one and the same, and though you’ll have a lot of power and increased chance of landing critical hits, doing so is the only way you can only restore health, and the meter drains when you’re not attacking. You can also create a decoy of yourself to confuse enemies.

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Agaou is incredibly strong, but very risky to use.

By the way, early in development we had plans to include nine Loa, but we decided that the initial eight offered a good balance and lots of variety, so we never got around to finishing the last one. Hopefully the descriptions of these eight over have left you eager to try them out and decide which one suits you best once the game hits PS4 and Xbox One.