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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

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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.

June 23, 2016

Full Mojo Rampage: Console Enhancements

Greetings! This is Rob from Over the Top once again, and this time I’d like to address the differences between the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Full Mojo Rampage and the previously released PC Steam version.

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All of the content of the Steam version of Full Mojo Rampage will be in the PS4/Xbox One version, plus it’ll run at 60 FPS in 1080p.

First off, what all is making the jump from the PC version to the console version? Pretty much everything. All the campaign missions, all the parent Loa, all the mojos, single player, multiplayer…it’s all here, fully intact. And better yet, we made sure that it runs at 60 FPS in 1080p on both consoles. It took a little bit of work, but we got it working, so expect the smoothest Full Mojo Rampage experience you can get.

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Sorry, Ogoun, but you won’t be able to become OP in the console version.

Also, since the PC version has been a round for a bit, we’ve ben able to take player feedback into account and make tweaks to the game so it will be more balanced from the start. Because of the random nature of FMR, it was very hard to test out every possible situation, so in the PC version, you might be able to “break” the game using certain combinations of Loa and pins and mojos. For example, if you chose Ogoun as your parent Loa, and you found some certain special items, you’d basically be able to heal forever and dish out high damage constantly without being hurt. It wasn’t something we noticed while we were testing the PC version, but after a player pointed it out, we were able to ensure that didn’t happen in the console version. And that’s just one example of many, many tweaks we made based on user comments.


The big new addition: Endless mode! How long will you be able to survive?

The biggest difference between the console and Steam versions, however, is the new addition of Endless mode. After you’ve finished the game, you’ll be able to play through this new, never-ending quest to see how far you can get. As you get further into endless mode, the levels will become harder and harder, of course, and this mode will have its own leaderboards to see how far players can get. We already had a lot of replay value due to the randomization and extra difficulties in Full Mojo Rampage, but I’d say that Endless mode really adds a lot of gameplay and you can spend many, many hours trying to see how far you can go. I might be a little biased, but I think it’s a really fun new addition!

In short, the console version of Full Mojo Rampage will have everything that the Steam release had and then some, so I hope you look forward to checking it out!

June 22, 2016

Creepy Castle: Let’s Battle!

Hey, guys! This is Zach here once again to tell you about Creepy Castle. In some of my previous posts I’ve alluded to the game’s unique, action-oriented battle system, but I figure it’s time to go in-depth on this subject, since it’s one of Creepy Castle’s defining features. If you followed our Kickstarter campaign then you already know a lot about the battle system, but if not, this should give you a good grasp of how combat works.

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As you’re exploring the castle (as I discussed last time), you’ll frequently cross paths with stationary enemies blocking the way. How do you get past? beat them, of course. Nothing happens from just touching an enemy, so it’s up to you to initiate combat by moving the cursor to the sword icon and attacking. Sometimes, you’ll simply strike the enemy, causing them to strike back, basically trading blows until someone, preferably the bad guy, is defeated. (If the enemy has only 1 HP, you’ll defeat them before they get a chance to retaliate.)

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Select the sword icon to lay the smack down on your foes.

But most of the time, striking an enemy will cause a duel to take place – essentially a minigame that you could say is inspired by the Bros Items in the Mario & Luigi games, or maybe you could attribute them to the minigames in Mario Party. No matter which way you think about it, it’s a quick, reflex-based form of combat. If you do well on the minigame and earn a perfect, you’ll damage the enemy; if you merely do OK or fight the enemy to a standstill, both you and the enemy will take damage; and if you mess up, you’ll earn a failure and only you will take damage. If the enemy is still standing after the duel, you’ll have the opportunity to attack, and likely duel, once again.

There are nine types of duels in all, and the type you play depends on the type of enemy you’re fighting. (Some enemies only offer one type of duel; others, like bosses, have several.) Here are some of the duels you’ll encounter:

Quick-Draw: This is the first, and the simplest, duel that you’ll come across. It’s a pure battle of reflexes: when the indicator appears on screen, you must press the button to unleash an attack on your opponent. If you’re fast enough, you’ll score the hit without taking any damage. Don’t get antsy, though – if you press the button too early, you’ll fail the encounter. This was the only type of duel featured in the original Creepy Castle prototype, but the addition of eight more duel types brings some much-needed diversity.

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You need fast reflexes to win the Quick-Draw duel.

Struggle: Struggle occurs when an enemy tries to grab you, choke you, or otherwise get a little too close for comfort. When this happens, you’ll have to quickly alternately press left and right to fill up a meter in an attempt to break free. If you fill up your meter before your opponent can, you’ll earn a “perfect.” If the enemy fills up its meter first, don’t give up; your meter will drop a little, but you still have a chance at earning an “OK.”

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Mash buttons with all your might to break free!

Pursuit: This duel takes place on a three-by-three grid, where an icon representing the enemy moves from spot to spot. You must move your cursor to overlap the enemy image, then press the confirmation button to nail him! Hit him three times to emerge victorious, but miss three times and it’s over. There’s also a time limit on this one, so you’ll need to be fast! Fun fact: This duel was mildly inspired by the shooting sequences in the classic Sega CD game Snatcher!

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Don’t let the enemy get away…but try not to miss, either.

That should give you some idea of how combat works in Creepy Castle, but there are still more duel types to tell you about. I’ll explain more about them in my next post!

June 20, 2016

Full Mojo Rampage: Creating a Roguelike

One of the big goals we set for ourselves with Full Mojo Rampage was to ensure that players never had the exact same experience twice. Personally, I love being able to launch a game – especially one that I made – and not know what’s going to happen. We wanted something new and different every time you play, so we designed FMR as a roguelike, with proceduraly generated levels.

As it turns out, making randomly generated levels that are still fun to play can be a bit difficulty, and requires some trial and error. Early on, we constructed large chunks of levels – big rooms, an entire edge of a level, etc. – and had an algorithm to place those pieces randomly to form a square. There were a lot of corridors and narrow passages, too. But we decided this approach just wasn’t working. The square layout just wasn’t interesting to wander around and explore, and the narrow areas didn’t really work well with the abilities that we wanted players to use. So we scrapped that method and went in a different direction.

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The overall shape of each level is determined by a special algorithm.

Instead, we decided to create level shapes that were much more organic. We chose to use a procedure that generates noise on a texture, optimizes the texture, and then results in a shape that’s something like a splash of water on a surface. From there, algorithms are applied to make sure there aren’t places in the level that are unreachable for your character, and also to determine where enemies are placed.

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 Every level is randomly generated but has specific ranges for walls, subdivisions, corridor widths, and dozens of other settings.

But beyond the overall shape, there are dozens of different parameters that can be adjusted or toggled on and off to give a level its character. We can set X and Y ranges to determine if the overall dimensions are rectangular or more square-shaped. How wide should the passages be? Do we want doors that lead to shrines or treasure rooms? How many, and how close to one another should they be? What’s the environment style? Will the level have subdivisions with special parameters? Should the level include lots of walls or should it be wide open? We can also create levels that are mirrored on the left and right sides – great for competitive multiplayer – and set up special areas for boss encounters. There are more than 110 parameters for each level, and we kept testing and experimenting with different ranges for settings and combinations of settings to make sure that levels would be random yet fun, and also distinct from other levels you may come across.

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In roguelike fashion, you’ll lose all your mojos (and your quest progress) if you die, so use them while you can!

As for other ways that we wanted to make FMR roguelike, well, there’s the fact when you die, your quest is over – it’s back to square one as far as your progress goes, and all of your useable items – your mojos – are gone. In some regards, though, we didn’t stick to true roguelike convention. You keep your character level and accumulated experience points when you die, and you keep your pins as well. Even if you fail, it’s not a total loss, because next time you’ll be able to come back even stronger. It’s all of the fun of a roguelike without the most frustrating aspects, and hopefully it means you’ll want to keep coming back for more.