A Few More Tweaks to the Game

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve probably seen the little game I’ve been making in Clickteam Fusion. I’ve been taking it in baby steps, from a very basic time-survival game with some sprite centring issues, to a more entertaining little piece where enemies actually give chase and keep the player moving.

Here are the latest tweaks:

The changes this time include a few minor things like fixing that sprite issue, and altering a few speeds and sound effects. A test animation for the sword attack was made but not enabled due to issues getting the attack conditions to execute properly. There are a couple of bigger changes though; first, I’ve added larger, slower blobs, created when two smaller units collide. This adds a little bit of variety and surprise to longer games that keeps it interesting. Second, I’ve added randomly spawning hearts that give the player a life. This theoretically lets games go for longer, as well as giving you the option to play more strategically. Sacrificing a life to clear a path. Probably the most obvious change, however, is that I added some very basic floor and walls graphics so it wasn’t just white space.

I’m iterating right now, adding little features one at a time, and rebalancing as I go, but I think it’s a good idea to have a target “finished state” in mind. It’s a first project and I don’t want to get in the habit of iterating it forever. I’ll learn more getting the game to good state and then moving on to a new project. With that in mind, the ultimate goal is to include a basic attack for the character, replace all the stand-in art with nicer, animated sprites, and clear up a couple of the more fiddly issues like enemies spawning on top of each other and getting stuck there. Once that’s all complete, I’m going to stick on a title screen and a better looking high score table and declare that version 1.0!

And as usual, if you want to try version 0.3, here’s a link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ollkvdwjitu3k8f/TinyAdventure0.35.exe?dl=0

What 2016’s Doom and Batman: Arkham Asylum Have In Common

The latest entry in the Doom franchise was a critical and commercial success last year, bringing the series back to its roots for a lot of the die-hard fans who weren’t as sold on Doom 3. It’s easy to see why, with its focus on pressing forward, and fluid gameplay that felt almost like an arcade game at times, Doom took the best of modern design and augmented it with a core of solid, mechanics driven play. It’s a violent, exhilarating experience, where you’re likely to be attacked repeatedly by rooms crammed full of demons ready to tear you apart. It should be overwhelming, frustrating, hard to stay on top of, but it never is. And I suspect Batman: Arkham Asylum is the reason why.

The Arkham series is about as far from Doom as you can get, the games are very story driven, thematic experiences, that deal more with psychology, character, and set pieces. Arkham Asylum is probably one of the strongest video game narratives in the modern era. But I want to talk about the Free Flow Combat System.

Free flow Combat System

Free Flow was introduced in Asylum and while it has been copied elsewhere, it’s only the Arkham games that seem to have a good feel for it.

Oh, and it’s sort of amazing.

See, the crux of combat in these games is that Batman needs to feel like a martial arts master capable of taking on five, maybe even ten guys, at once and without breaking a sweat. The problem with that is how to give the character this proficiency without expecting the same proficiency from the player. You could just make the goons go down really easily, but that wouldn’t be satisfying. Enter, Free Flow.

At its core, Free Flow is insultingly simple. One button to attack, one button to counter. Hit the attack button and Batman will trigger an move, wait until the game signals an incoming punch and hit counter. Follow these simple rules and, until pretty late into the game, most encounters will be solvable. Even the weakest players can master two buttons. But embrace the combat system and you find a world of flexibility that encourages you to think about fight differently. The goal is not to pull off the most intricate individual moves, but to plan how you’re going to string those moves together, and win the fight in the most incredible ways.

As you progress, Batman’s gadgets will get added to your combat arsenal, with each accessible from a simple quick-fire button; as your variety increases, the elaborate possibilities of the fight do too. What starts as a game of punch and counter soon becomes a rush to plot out a string of devastating moves. Punch, counter, stun, plant explosives, punch, dodge, detonate explosives, grapple enemy, throw batarang, finishing move. The game encourages you to approach each fight like a routine, winning isn’t up for debate, you’re Batman! What matters is how quickly, or cleverly can you do it. The more variety you throw in, the more XP you’ll claim at the end.

So what has this to do with Doom?

Well, Doom kinda does the same thing. Things are tweaked a little differently, of course, this isn’t a martial arts, super-hero game; the game wants to give the player a feeling of pure brutality. A lone super-soldier prepared to mow through these demons. And mow he does. While Doom is a shooter, melee executions play a huge part of the game. The marine will be surrounded by enemies in little arenas throughout the campaign, he will then be encouraged to hot swap weapons, take them out phase by phase, and stay alive. Health is scarce. It should be difficult, but play up to the mechanics and a familiar flow starts to emerge.

doom 2016 screenshots

Every time you weaken an enemy enough to stagger them, they become susceptible to an execution, performing the execution makes them drop health, you’ll need this health to survive the trickier waves. You’re surrounded by enemies, some tough, some weak, but focusing on the toughest enemy is rarely the best strategy. Often better results can be found by planning a route through demons, take out some mid-strength foes with a half decent gun, execute a tiny imp or two for health and ammo, aim your big guns at the biggest demon and if it damages you, harvest a few more imps. Like the Free Flow combat system, rarely is a battle in Doom about thinking about taking down one enemy, or firing the best gun until something dies. It’s about planning a path from one foe to the next, using mechanics intended to preserve the flow of the fight.

The two games doesn’t have much else in common, but this approach to combat is something I’d like to see more games try.

If you know any other games with similar systems I could add to this, leave me a comment. I’d love to know about them!

Finding Good Tutorials for Clickteam Fusion 2.5

I posted here a few days ago about my first impressions of Clickteam Fusion (spoilers: they were fairly positive) but I was a bit thrown after that because the rest of the tutorials in the package aren’t that great. One covers how to apply basic physics to objects which is fair enough, but the next appears to be written for an old version of the software, and I hit a roadblock pretty fast.

Part of the problem seems to be that the software has been using the same tutorial format since it was called “The Games Factory”, and a lot of the resources on Clickteam’s site date back to this time. And the tutorials aren’t just PDFs, they’re project files that include premade assets and animations you’ll often need. Often these aren’t easy to load into CTF 2.5 or the Steam version.

Oh and the software’s pretty popular in France too, so sometimes they’re in French. More to learn, zut alors!

I’ve been scouring the web to gather them together, and these are the best sources I have found, together with the strongest individual tutorials. In my experience, the better lessons to go for use general instructions combined with assets already included in CTF, no fiddly loading involved. After a few tutorials, sample files are pretty useful. These are often projects that just illustrate how to create a single effect like bullet-time or flashing after you take damage, and are often ingenious.

The only other advice I can give you is to still try Tutorials from older versions like The Games Factory or Multimedia Fusion. The software hasn’t changed so much, and while you might hit an obstacle, many of them can be completed in CTF 2.5. If you do get stuck, you can always move on to another.

If you’re really in a rut, just try a few things. I’ve found you can often pick something new up just by applying a few conditions here or there and seeing what the result it. You can’t do any damage just playing around.

On to the list!

Clickteam’s Own List –

This is a repository of Clickteam’s own in-house tutorials, and they vary a LOT. Take a look at the PDFs included with the lessons and see if you can find the Objects it uses in the preinstalled libraries, if you have them installed already then it’s just a case of hunting them down when you need them.

I can really recommend “Catch the Fruit” for total beginners. It’s very simple and makes a good follow on from the first ChocoBreak lesson. There’s a lot of overlap; controlling characters, assigning score, but a few differences here and there that add to your knowledge. Better yet, the assets are all found in CTF 2.5 so you can start immediately.

Nivram’s Examples – 

Castles of Britain CTFNivram’s Examples is a huge list of sample files, hidden away behind a site all about British Castles. It’s a really fantastic list of different projects that demonstrate different effects you can produce in the software, ranging from little animation flairs, to clones of entire games and software. Not all the samples will be useful to total beginners, you need to be able to decipher exactly how the result has been achieved once you get it open, but picking something simple and studying it can be hugely education.

I can really recommend Homing Missile Example, and, Satellites Example, for simple but applicable effects you can pick up from the project file.

The Daily Click – 

The Daily Click is one of the more fun entries on this list, acting as a showcase for really great CTF and MMF games, as well as a repository for tutorial. The site has an active community for feedback and peer review, as well as a rating system for any articles or project files submitted. There’s a lot of different stuff here, but the presence of real human beings exploring it along with you means that the cream rises to the top pretty often. It’s a good place to sign up and ask a few questions, then share your results.

Often the best stuff can be found here by sorting Articles or Projects so highest rated appear at the top. However I can really recommend the articles Handling Duplicates, Pixel Art for Total Noobies, and, Active Objects, Active or Passive?.

And Finally

Salvage’s FNAF Series –

FNAF CoverNo conversation about Clickteam Fusion would be complete without a reminder that this is the software that made Five Nights at Freddy’s possible. If you’d like to give Scott Cawthon a run for his money and make your own FNAF (Because Steam doesn’t have enough of those yet, right?) then this tutorial series is actually very enlightening and shows how you can achieve the same results.

Recommended? All of it.

And that’s it, the whole list. These are the best resources I’ve found for Clickteam Fusion 2.5 and MMF 2 tutorials. For the most part the ones I’ve listed work, though it can be a bit tricky to get all the assets. If you know any better ones, please leave a comment!