Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's Not Over


Alright, so some things happened and I wasn't able to post all the parts I wanted to post in the series about what was updated in Showdown Academy. Then some other things happened and I turned my Internet off, leaving me disconnected from the world as far as Showdown Academy is concerned.

However, a lot of work has been done to the game. So much, in fact, that I'm not going to post the last blog series. The information that I wrote up is far too outdated at this point to even be worth mentioning.

I am still developing Showdown Academy, and do not have plans to stop. I'm going to re-upload all of the old demos very soon and I am going to be working hard to finish version 3. Stay tuned, because it's going to be good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In Preperation For Demo 3, Part 1


It has been a while since I've written anything on Showdown Academy, and I've got a lot to write about. Demo 3 is essentially a real demo of the game, less of a system test and more of a how does it actually play kind of thing. I'll write about some of the most recent changes in a few parts. But before I get to writing about any of that...

A "Preview" (a review for a game that is still a Work In Progress) of v2.9 was supposed to end up in issue 14 of GM Tech Magazine, though it never ended up in the issue because the editor felt it was too "dated". How the most recent version of a game is too dated is beyond me, but whatever... Demo 3 will hopefully get previewed in a following issue. I did get my hands on the preview, and it was quite positive. There were some complaints about a lack of combos, but one thing I'd like to say is keep playing! v2.9 does have some serious combos hiding in there, many of which have been toned down (which is a good thing) for Demo 3. SDA does have combos, you just have to make them yourself. No Dial-a-Combos here.

But for the Demo 3 information, I figured I could leave this post for changes to the game's fighting system.

One of the first things I ever did was add 1 frame (there are 50 frames per second in Showdown Academy, 60 in a typical fighting game) of throw invincibility (and throw invincibility only, nothing else) when coming out of block stun. This single frame is after block stun is over, and will carry through to anything that happens after block stun. This was needed because throws could easily be abused and used over and over (mindlessly) to win a match in v2.9. Now, in Demo 3, throws are still very powerful but are not simply a mindless assault. Some thought has to be put into the use of a throw.

Most fighting games have buffers. Buffers for everything. Everywhere. Sort of. They're useful in certain situations to make the game feel smoother, or to add an actual strategic element to the gameplay. v2.9 of SDA doesn't have enough of them, but Demo 3 will have more, and better buffers. What a buffer basically does, is it gives the players a chance to "store" some inputs while doing other things, and these inputs are then used later. Sort of... they can also simply store that information for a set period of time and free it, meaning you still have timers and things on special moves. Which is what I've done in the new demo during times like hit stun and block stun. Before, special move inputs could not be done at all during these times. But with a buffer, you can now start your special move during your hit frames. Yay smooth gameplay.

Half Circle Motions... were all messed up. I don't even know how to describe them in v2.9, except that they needed some fixing and some short cuts could be found to lessen the length of the actual motion (to less than a half circle). Well now they are true half circle motions. This is a good thing for Aroon, who relies on half circle motions for his Forward Knee... and his Super.

Super moves are one of the newest additions to a character's arsenal in Demo 3 and they should end up being really fun to play with. A super meter has been in the game for a long time and has been reserved only for EX moves, up until now.

Guard Damage used to run on a universal system, where certain types of attacks would cause a certain amount of damage to the Guard meter. After some discussion, these values are no longer universal types and each attack has its own Guard Damage value.

Normal moves no longer build super meter on whiff (on use of the move, though whiff usually refers to the use of a move that does not connect), but build extra Super on hit to compensate. Special moves now build more Super on use than they did before, but build less when they connect (a trade off that might sound simple at first but some thought did go into this). Throws no longer build meter (as they shouldn't). Dash Attacks build meter on hit, but do not build meter on whiff (when used). Getting hit gives 1 more Super to the defender than before, and blocking a hit now gives Super (half of the Super received when getting hit). And also, loss of Super from Counter Hit has been increased. Lots of crazy super shifts and adjustments that make for slightly better gameplay.

Some good news for Jiro players: Jumping attacks can now be done after a Wall Jump, whether or not a jumping attack was already done before the Wall Jump was performed. Wall Jumps can also cancel a jumping attack, so you can do attack, wall jump, attack. I say good news for Jiro, because Aroon can still not wall jump.

A pretty big bug in the past occured when a throw and an attack met at the same time. This meeting caused some strange animation and movement glitches and the only workaround I had to this was to make Throws immune to attacks. This means a throw will always win over normal attacks. Obviously it would be more ideal to have normal attacks win over throws, but I'll have to take even more time to come up with a workaround.

Next time I will post more on a few different bug and character changes to go along with the general gameplay changes of today's post.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back To School


I wasn't sure how I was going to present this one. At first I was thinking about another post with some music at the end. Nah, not yet. Screenshots? Nothing really special to show off this time. So I'll just get straight to the details.

One of the first things that was complained about in v2.9 was a bug with Aroon's Air Forward Knee. If the player pressed both a Punch and a Kick button while doing the move (as opposed to just Kick), then he would stop and the screen would continue to scroll on straight out of the stage. After looking into it, I realized that this bug was in all of the special moves, but it was only noticeable in Aroon's Air Forward Knee since he was off the ground and in a jumping state. Jiro's EX Ball Lightning also used to be unblockable... That's all fixed.

Another bug that has been fixed is the problem with crouching getting stuck once in a while. I've been trying to figure that one out forever... The dust created during pushback faces the direction its supposed to now. There was a problem where it didn't flip if the player was facing the opposite direction when hit.

While on the topic of visual effects, the blood sprite is being improved and the dust effect from falling is as well.

Each attack now has separate hit lengths and block lengths when they connect with the opponent. Before, the block stun time was completely based off the hitstun time. Now its all separate, giving a lot of extra control over all of the different attacks. It has also improved the usefulness of blocking quite a bit. Crouch blocking an electricity attack will result in a proper crouch block now rather than a standing block, but getting hit by one while crouching will still put you into a standing hitstun.

Air pushback and juggling has been cleaned up, its a little less wonky now. Feels sooo much better. Uh, new sound for a few of Jiro's electricity attacks, but it probably won't be all that noticeable.

Joystick sensitivity has been increased for the better. Puling off special moves should be much smoother now. This of course also affects anyone using an analog stick.

Throws have undergone a huge revamp. There are still a few bugs to work out, but here's the gist of it:
- Throws now whiff if the opponent is in hitstun
- Can no longer AR out of a throw
- Normal throws, ground and air, now have a 12 frame period (50 fps) once the throw connects where the defender may use the same throw (CC for a forward/back+CC throw, LL for a forward/back+LL throw). A tech throw will result in half damage from the throw, extra float, and the defender will land on their feet
- Hold variations have a period at the start, after connecting, where both players can mash buttons to try and sway the throw their way. More hits are rewarded if the attacker mashes better, less hits are rewarded if the defender mashes better

I wonder if I should go into more detail in the future about how things actually work. Hmm...


Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Return Of Cycle


I often work in cycles. I'll implement some features, tweak, then bug fix, wash rinse repeat. Basically, I've been moving back into wash lately.

Sounds that didn't utilize any stereo effects previously, such as echo or reverb, have now been converted to mono. It doesn't save much space at all, but what the heck why not. The sound that plays when you perform a successful block now gets weaker when Guard gets low, it gives the player a better sense of what is going on and just helps add another layer of unneeded audio/visual cool-ness.

The character player icons (the green and blue boxes that let you select your characters) have been changed. I haven't provided a screenshot because it really needs to be seen in action, it really is an improvement over the old ones. The Guard meter flashes once it gets low, and the Super meter displays a new graphics making sure you fully realize when you have 100% Super.

On the gameplay side of things, you can now Special Cancel. This is probably one of the most important gameplay tweaks SDA has ever had. When you think of Canceling in a fighting game, this is what you think of. A Normal with Special Cancel properties connects and you buffer the motion for the desired Special move quick enough to end the Normal early. Finally.

Dashes also have "in-air" frames now, which doesn't really affect much other than the reaction on hit, and of course could possibly open up juggle opportunities. Throws now have more defined throw ranges as well. Various portions of the game no longer freeze during hit pause (such as the Timer!). To top all of that off, Sweeps are no longer affected by the current push and float values in the combo (they actually reset them). So a sweep will always behave the same, no matter when or where it was performed.

Another big gameplay change: Crouching hitboxes are shorter. Want to crouch under Aroon's punches? Go ahead.

Oh, and Jiro has a new kick. Mhm.

Thanks to Carnivac (Carnivac Games Website) the player now has some really cool options dealing with resizing the screen and even some scanline features. Pretty awesome.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Going Good


And going strong. Seriously, it has been a good month or so since the release of of v2.9. And by good, I don't mean in time frame. It really has been a good month. Let me tell you why.

Amongst all of the typical small hitbox tweaks, and random small stuff where there is really just too much to list, I've been working hard on improving the overall play of the fighting system. The major change is one that should make fights more varied and interesting: multiple body hitboxes.

These are the blue hitboxes you see when you have hitbox display turned on. Before, only one large rectangular hit area could be applied to various animations. But I've modified this portion of the game engine, and it now allows me to apply up to 3 of these hit areas on any given animation. This really is awesome, because it allows me to give new shapes and designs to various attacks. Take for instance Jiro's standing Close Kick. He would kick pretty high, leaving quite a large area of empty space underneath his leg. Perfect for a sweep attempt. Well, I wouldn't go for that sweep attempt anymore. The changes allow for that area to be completely void of a hitbox, he can now only be hit overall on top of his sprite, and only on his standing leg. These changes should really allow me to apply deeper strategy.

Of course that really isn't all, or it would have been a boring month. A few other small (but important) tweaks have been made. Lots of Normals now have lower damage output. Its not much lower, most only have about 1 or 2 less overall damage. But, this goes hand in hand with the new lower block damage, and shorter block stun. Before, all of these in combination made defending virtually useless. The game was a constant rushdown attempt (which is probably what made Aroon feel so powerful). But these changes help reflect a slightly more defensive game. I know you will all enjoy it more.

Recovery from Guard Crush now restores 21 Guard (which is 1/3 of the total Guard Meter), whereas before it only restored 15. This increase feels much more fair and rewards the attacker a little less than it did before.

Certain moves were unblockable before, due to an overlooked design flaw. I've figured out how to work my way around this flaw, and the following moves are no longer unblockable: Jiro's Circuit Kick and Dash Attack, and Aroon's Dash Attack.

Just thought I'd inform you.


Friday, June 20, 2008

SDA Demo v2.9


I said changes would be for a later update, well... here they are, in the form of a new demo.

Over 140 updates in the form of changes, additions, and bug fixes were made since v2.3a, so there is plenty of new stuff to sit and try out and even gawk at. But enough babbling, here's the link:

This time I've included the sounds with the game file, still a smaller download than the last demo!