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thegamedesigner
10-06-2007, 12:14 PM
Hello, my newest game is done except for this last round of testing.

Mech Builder is a fast paced action/arcade game, where you blow up waves of monsters, with a large array of cool weapons. But the best part is that you can open up your mech's internal circuits. Hook up switchs and shields, sensors and sliders, weapons and engines, all right down to the wiring. Everything you do in the circuits affects how you mech moves, shoots and teleports!

This version of the game is the full testers version, and as such, has everything that is in the full game. Everything is in its final state, so if you don't like the music, the models, the texures, anything, tell me, or I won't even know that it needs changing.

I have done the best I can with it, and can't see any problems, and I am looking for testers. If you want to be listed in the credits as a tester, download the game, play through it, fill out the 'MechBuilder_reviewform.txt' as much as possible, (its in the game folder), and email it to me at 'thegamedesigner@hotmail.com'.

I will also gladly put you in special thanks or testers if you give me a solid piece of advice or comment on the lag, level difficulty, or boss voicework. If so, email me at the above address.

System reqiurements -
-At least 256 ram,
-Windows ME / 2000 / XP / Vista and
-DirectX 9.0c or above.
-3D video card with 32MB video ram or greater (32+ MB),
-1Ghz or faster processor (this might work with lower, but good luck!)
-118mB free hard disk space (Note: with updates to the game, this might increase a bit)

Anyway, please enjoy my game, post any comments, complaints, suggestions, ect, here, or email me at 'thegamedesigner@hotmail.com'.

Thanks, and enjoy.
Michael.

Download here (http://www.akithgames.com/MechBuilderBetaTest.zip)
Website (http://www.akithgames.com)

http://www.akithgames.com/mb_ss1.GIF
http://www.akithgames.com/mb_ss2.GIF
http://www.akithgames.com/mb_ss3.GIF

DayDream
10-06-2007, 01:05 PM
I just looked at the screenshots and the idea of the game sounds interesting... My 1st impression is an really bad colour and GUI-scheme... but I am going to download it and give it a spin...

Wait... 185MB - what are you doing ?

thegamedesigner
10-06-2007, 01:15 PM
Hello,

Your right, the size is too large, I will lower the size. Its mostly the music, if I can dump one, and change the others to .ogg, that should work.

What do you think would improve the GUI? Why does it look bad?

Mikademus
10-06-2007, 01:22 PM
Hello,

Your right, the size is too large, I will lower the size. Its mostly the music, if I can dump one, and change the others to .ogg, that should work.

What do you think would improve the GUI? Why does it look bad?
http://www.akithgames.com/mb_ss2.GIF

Well, I don't know... :P Seriously, the colour scheme (white backdrop with mono-colour icons) is painful to look at (white is glaring), a bit boring (the icons are very, very not alive), and it is really confusing (and I'm quite the hard-core gamer, really!).

The screen real estate is not well managed; at fist glance buttons, messages and stuff are placed a little everywhere. And the GUI-controls section looks a bit Windows 3.11.

You should clean up anddo something more aesthetic and game-theme-aligned with the entire screen, which seems to be quite central to the game.

thegamedesigner
10-06-2007, 01:33 PM
Ok, I can see what you mean. I have looked at it too much, and it sorta hides in plain site if you know what I mean.

Any suggestions? I saw that you did a great mockup for locomongul, daydreamer, would you do me the honor of something like that for the circuit screen?
I have to work around the icons, since they took forever to do, and are animatied, ect, but I could change the colors in photoshop, just not the style.

What do you think of the other gui, the green and black, the health and ammos bars, ect? Any comments on that?

Thanks for all the great, to the point, comments,
Michael.

MrGoldfish
10-06-2007, 02:28 PM
Wow i've never thought of using a node based system like that in a game. It could open up some pretty cool game ideas. Like instead of having health that decreases, when you take damage random links between nodes get unlinked and parts stop working; the player would then have to jump back to the node screen and fix the damages to be able to continue at full power. Kind of replaces the health pickup system used in most games. Interesting idea :). Downloading the game now.

thegamedesigner
10-06-2007, 03:13 PM
Ya, I was going to have that in this, with emp weapons knocking out parts, and parts the recived too much power becoming a 'broken' part, a fused mass of metal, but that could still transfer power, so you had to have buffers to stop power overrides. However, I changed it to keep it simple.

What do you think of the GUI? What do people think? Does it just need a slight graying of the background, to keep it from being to bright on the eyes, or a total overhual? What about the parts? I have tried on them, they are about as exciting as basic switchs and IFs and WHILEs can be, but I am very willing to hear ideas on them.

I don't want a color scheme, of all things, harming the sale of this game. I am well versed in photoshop, but need feedback on the GUI of the circuit, the GUI of the action top down shooter, and the GUI of the menus.

Also, I think I may have made a mistake posting that circuit screen, that is one of the most complex circuits in the game, and most are much simpler, it may be rather daunting. - There, I have changed it to the one the player first sees on starting the game.

ChrisP
10-06-2007, 03:52 PM
It's not just the colour scheme that's the issue - it's the entire graphical look. There's no visual interest at all.

Not being a real artist myself (I merely dabble), I don't have any particular suggestions above what anyone else has mentioned. I do think that you'd be doing yourself a favour if you contracted an artist.

Good luck with the game, it looks like it could be interesting. In an extremely hardcore way. :)

thegamedesigner
10-06-2007, 04:58 PM
I have converted the music to .ogg, and that lowered the file size to 99.6 megs for the zip. I think I might be able to shave off another 20, but that will take a full days work, and its night where I am.

Heres another screen shot, its my main splash screen.

http://www.akithgames.com/splash.gif

TimS
10-06-2007, 05:38 PM
I can't imagine any reason why this game is 99 megs... or even 79 assuming you shave 20 more. What is taking up all that space?

Also -- game crashed for me just after starting the tutorial. (Vista 64-bit system)

MOST importantly -- you need to find an artist. From the company logo through the title screen and right on into the in-game graphics, it all looks like it was done in MSPaint for Windows 3.1 and like it was created by a programmer. There's really no amount of "photoshop proficiency" that will save it. Games need ART, not proficiency in art tools.

Let me know if there are some log files or whate'er that will allow you to fix the crash issue and I'll try it out again. I'd like to see what the game mechanic plays like!

I can try to break down what, specifically, is wrong with the graphics... but any artist would probably be able to give you a better idea than I, so ask them first.

-T

DayDream
10-06-2007, 08:48 PM
I agree... it's the whole art style - or lack of it - in the game that made me turn it off before I even got into a proper gaming mood...

You have a rather technical style game - you should not stress that aspect even further - try and add some atmosphere and emotions into it. E.g. a post apocalyptic kind of scenario - instead of the lush green fields - would help. There is way too much saturation in the ingame screen to focus on the main action.

To give you an idea of the atmosphere I mean - here is a mockup of the title screen based on your mech image.

http://spriteattack.cator.de/mocks/MechBuilder_1a.jpg

thegamedesigner
10-06-2007, 09:22 PM
The overwhelming consensus being that I need to overhual my art, and that the way to do that is to get a artist, I shall bow to the wisdom of the group. :D

Ok, how does this work? Is this the sort of thing where I hire an artist for a set fee, like I have up untill now? Or does this enter the dubious realm of paying a percentage of the profits?

And that aside, since that screen is, I must say, awsome, would you like the job daydreamer? If your not doing anything else, and so forth. Or if not, do you know someone who you can advise?

I think that all the 2d stuff would have to be redone, that is the GUI for the top-down shooter part, the menus, the texture on the floor (grass) and the scorchmarks for the explosions. All 2d stuff, not requiring modeling or skinning, mostly GUI and screens. But if one needs doing, all of it needs doing, so its a big job.

Thanks for all your comments (keep 'em coming, I still need lots more feedback on the flaws that I have missed). I shall one way or another hire an artist and overhaul my art.

Michael.

DayDream
10-06-2007, 09:46 PM
What do you think would improve the GUI? Why does it look bad?

Something like this for example ( I didn't add all the elements - the weather is too good and I am about to hopp into the pool... :) )

http://www.spriteattack.com/mocks/MechBuilder_ingame_1a.jpg

jlv
10-06-2007, 09:52 PM
I'm not sure that Daydream's title screen is better. Looking at the original I'd expect the game to be a Chipwits/Robot Odyssey style game. Daydream's screen would make me expect an action game. I haven't played it yet so I don't know which is more appropriate but I'm guessing the original title screen gives a more accurate reflection of what the game is.

DayDream
10-07-2007, 12:22 AM
I'm not sure that Daydream's title screen is better. Looking at the original I'd expect the game to be a Chipwits/Robot Odyssey style game. Daydream's screen would make me expect an action game. I haven't played it yet so I don't know which is more appropriate but I'm guessing the original title screen gives a more accurate reflection of what the game is.

-

Either my taste has gone down the tube lately and I am just earning my money doing game art by luck or there is a mystical side to the original screens that I just couldn't see... but that title screen really does not generate sales at all...
My approach to game dev might be very different from yours - as I am seeing the game as an enjoyment as well as a source of income... and on that side MechBuilder as well as Loops and a few other indie titles really lose it - which is a crying shame... That's why I am posting here and spending time doing art for games that are not mine - a "what's wrong with this gui?" kind of question is hard to answer in a few lines...

-

Mikademus
10-07-2007, 04:41 AM
Again, drop the idea of 0xFFFFFF (all-white) backdrops. It is unbelievably straining to view and I get a splitting headache from it. Further, I must stress again that you need to make some auto-layouting of the components in the node composition mode, or place them on a ersatz mech or something, rather than just let everything be where ever, it looks like Microsoft GraphEdit atm:
http://www.stuffware.co.uk/japanvbi/images/graphedit01.PNG

I agree to an extent with jlv, daydream's splash mockup belies the game style a bit. On the other hand I do agree with daydream that the techy side should be toned down, but not totally, however!

As for the node screen mockup, it again is better to an extent, dut the monochrome-CRT blurred look makes it unpedagogical and eyestraining. Aye, the military cross-grid is ok, but I think something like a low-contrast stylised circuit board would be more suitable.

Qitsune
10-07-2007, 05:11 AM
From looking at the screenshots (the file is still a bit big for me to install on my machine atm) I think there should be a way to put at the GUI at the bottom and integrate them together in a solid coherent object. It's even easier due to your theme, you could make it look like the dashboard of a mech.
There is no reason why your gui couldn't look as good as these
http://www.gamershell.com/static/screenshots/2973/47837_full.jpg
http://www.planetdiablo.com/diablo2/gallery/screenshots/act3_4.jpg
The Codename Panzers one is packed full with info and not very art intensive but clear, coherent and fits with the game. The Diablo one is more artsy but it helps the mood of the game (in case you never played Diablo II, the red sphere is your life and the blue, your mana, they empty out when you get hit or use magic, it's not just globes looking pretty and being useless.)
http://www.gamedb.com/games/01006/screen1_lg_01006.jpg
Fallout, here again the gui matches the theme and mood of the game.
I don't think building a decent gui should cost you that much, it would probably be well worth your investment for the increased quality of the screenshots (people look at screenshots before buying!)
I hope this helps.

thegamedesigner
10-07-2007, 06:41 AM
Hello,

I do think the thing here is that I am looking for a better style rather then a better layout.

I like how the GUI in the game is arranged for the most part. However, I do think that the art needs to be redone, and the size lowered. I can work on lowering the size, and the art does need an artist.

I have fiddled with various ways of not having the icons all over the place, but that tends to remove something from the gameplay. I had a grid, and then a picture of a mech with various boxs on it to click and drag parts to, but it needs the freeform-ness to really capture the circuits game play. (Rather like widget workshop, a old maxis game)

I think that the title screen daydreamer posted is very good, although somehow working in the circuits (maybe the simpler one) or something might be good. Since I don't want the people who play this type of game passing it by as a total action game, and the people who do play action games not playing for very long because of the building of circuits. The key with it is to try to attract the right group. However, the title screen is the most focused on art. It does not affect how the game plays at all, but does affect the sales through screen shots, first impressions, ect.


Either my taste has gone down the tube lately and I am just earning my money doing game art by luck or there is a mystical side to the original screens that I just couldn't see... but that title screen really does not generate sales at all... - I agree, the title screen needs to be much better.


My approach to game dev might be very different from yours - as I am seeing the game as an enjoyment as well as a source of income... and on that side MechBuilder as well as Loops and a few other indie titles really lose it - which is a crying shame... - What does this mean? I don't understand? Do mean that the game is not fun, not a source of enjoyment?

The circuit mockup from daydreamer is very good! However the parts are not clear enough in that bright green. I get a headache reading 'number generator' on that one part. The parts do need to be clear.

What do you guys think of my ingame GUI? With the health bars, ect?

And how much do people think this would cost to get done? I have maybe just under 300 USD left in my budget of a 1000, so I would have to add more. But how much more?
I suppose a solid list of what needs to be redone would make that clearer.
At least - Title screen, loading screen, menus, circuit GUI, ingame GUI, victory screen, death screen. Parts would each need to be changed, but since that is mostly simple, its no big deal.

Thanks for all your feed back, its good to hear a bunch of views, since this stops me getting trainwrecked by a single vocal person, since this is a area that I am not sure on. Please keep the critques coming! :D

Any comments on how the game plays? Any lag issues? Your feedback is very good, most of all now, which is the best time for when I can take your ideas and really affect the game with them.

Thanks,
Michael.

jlv
10-07-2007, 04:07 PM
-

Either my taste has gone down the tube lately and I am just earning my money doing game art by luck or there is a mystical side to the original screens that I just couldn't see... but that title screen really does not generate sales at all...
My approach to game dev might be very different from yours - as I am seeing the game as an enjoyment as well as a source of income... and on that side MechBuilder as well as Loops and a few other indie titles really lose it - which is a crying shame... That's why I am posting here and spending time doing art for games that are not mine - a "what's wrong with this gui?" kind of question is hard to answer in a few lines...

-

I am not saying that your graphics look bad, what I am saying is that they don't portray what the game is. His original screen, however ugly it may be, actually caught my interest because it looked sort of like a modernized Robot Odyssey (http://members.aol.com/fractal101/odyssey.htm) game. Your replacement screen, while much prettier to look at, gives no indication that the game is any different than any of the other thousands of robot shooter games out there.

Don't take that as a knock on your artwork, because your art really does look awesome. If you ever have the time for it, I would love to see a step by step write up of how you do that stuff.

thegamedesigner
10-07-2007, 05:01 PM
Hello,

I think I agree with jlv in the single line, he put it very well, very clearly -
Your replacement screen, while much prettier to look at, gives no indication that the game is any different than any of the other thousands of robot shooter games out there. However! I do not wish to complain nor insult what is a very cool piece of art, and done for free in order to help me. So no offense meant.

I have been doing lots of learning at a very fast pace. I have decided (and tell me what you think of this choice) that I need to hire a team artist. A single flat payment, and a percentage of the total profits. I need an artist who has a reason to work on the game and a stake in the profits. I have decided to increase the budget to make this work, and will be posting in the help wanted section of this website.

I should have had art earlier, but didn't. Oh well, I'll try to roll with the punchs. However, the game IS mostly done, although I will be tweaking it and testing its levels.

btw: I have a few tricks that will reduce the size of the game to about 50-60 megs, which is a little too large, but far better then before, and a reasonable amount.

Thank you all for your various advice, I will be back with better art, and I will renew this forum thread then.

DayDream
10-07-2007, 05:45 PM
It would look nice to have a scrolling semi transparent column of icons continueously scrolling below the glow of the logo and mech.

sjohnson243
10-08-2007, 03:35 PM
Hello,

I think I agree with jlv in the single line, he put it very well, very clearly - However! I do not wish to complain nor insult what is a very cool piece of art, and done for free in order to help me. So no offense meant.

I have been doing lots of learning at a very fast pace. I have decided (and tell me what you think of this choice) that I need to hire a team artist. A single flat payment, and a percentage of the total profits. I need an artist who has a reason to work on the game and a stake in the profits. I have decided to increase the budget to make this work, and will be posting in the help wanted section of this website.

I should have had art earlier, but didn't. Oh well, I'll try to roll with the punchs. However, the game IS mostly done, although I will be tweaking it and testing its levels.

btw: I have a few tricks that will reduce the size of the game to about 50-60 megs, which is a little too large, but far better then before, and a reasonable amount.

Thank you all for your various advice, I will be back with better art, and I will renew this forum thread then.

Hi TGD,

First off, let me say, I like the concept, I just have a few things that nag me so far...

1) Zombies? I'm in a super advanced war machine, and first thing I kill.. Zombies? Just didn't seem to fit to me.
1a) The blood from the Zombies, just seems like blood for the sake of blood, I mean, it didn't seem to add anything to the "feel" after about 15 minutes the whole area is about all red.. seems a bit much.
1c) How can a big bad machine of death get hurt by a zombie? :)

2) Landscape needs SOMETHING, Its just ... Green... Maybe some trees, Obstacles? What about burnt out wrecks, old cars, something.

3) I find the main menu kinda wierd.. If I click "Tutorial" I go straight into the game... If I click Scotty or Ninja mode, I have to click play.. I had to go dig in the help files to see why I wasn't getting cash when I dropped into scotty mode on accident. Perhaps have 1 "Play" button, and then when you click it, another menu pops up.. Tutorial, Scotty, Ninja or Regular.. When you mouseover either it throws a description of the gametype on the screen somewhere.

4) Weapon effects, and the like.. I wanna feel like my mech is firing these big ubar cool guns, I dont DISLIKE the machine gun for a level1 tech, but the laser really needs work, the lil red line just doesn't scream "COOL!" to me.

If this was a free game you play on one of the gamesites, that would be one thing, but for retail, I think ya need some more polish!

Dont get me wrong, I admire what you have done, and think its a GREAT concept, it adds a twist to the ol' shootumup genre, gives it a bit of strat. I like that.. I just think there is some room for improvement.

I'll keep playing thru, to try to get some of the different weapons and levels and then maybe try to get back tonight or tomorrow. :)

thegamedesigner
10-08-2007, 08:01 PM
Hello sjohnson243!

Your test playing is very helpful.

Your right that the grass comes off very green. Also the zombies are green and the GUI has many parts that are green on it. The blood helps to even out the color, but since I will be redoing the art, I will change some of that.

I can change the scotty mode and ninja mode buttons to jump right in to the game, but then you can't combine them. I can add a mouse over option, and might try this. Thanks!

I will work on weapon effects. They are a large part of top-down shooters, which have a high highjump pole because most are in 2D, and hence they make really cool weapon effects to counter that, since weapon effects can be easier in 2D.

I am not sure about the laser. I will need to think of a way to make it cooler.
But the machinegun's bullets could be improved.
"I wanna feel like my mech is firing these big ubar cool guns," - I will work on that, thanks.

"just doesn't scream "COOL!" to me. " - every weapon SHOULD scream cool, so I will also work on this, thanks again.

This feedback is great. I really do hope that you play as far as the first boss and get back to post here. I get the feeling that the boss is too cheesy.

The level directly after the boss has the first EMP weapons, I would love your opinion on those too!

There are 22 various types of monesters, from EMP weapons, that affect your power generator's output, to drones, that will adapt their shields to counter your weapon frequency, so it does no damage.

Thanks again for your feedback, I will keep improving the game.
thegamedesigner.

sjohnson243
10-09-2007, 05:55 AM
Once you hit F1 in help mode when you are working on the circutry of the mech, how do you close the help screen?

Whats a "Rush" level? Perhaps have the level name, "Rush" and then a description of whats going on below the name?

I got to the boss level, and there are a few problems there... it appears that the boss pops on a random spot on the battlefield, if you are off the screen when he pops, you get stuck off screen. What till you get to the where it says, "The Boss" and then start going any random direction until he spawns, sooner or later you will get locked up outside the screen and he cant move...

I think the boss is a big alien, but his chatbox *IS* a little cheesy - not sure off the top of my head how I would improve it. his HP bar goes all the way across the screen and it just kinda blocks ALOT of my vision, so it makes killing him kinda difficult - Zombies have a tendency of getting into the red line, and I dont see them until they are slapping me.

Is it possible to make your mech "shake" a little when you fire the machine gun? give it something, make it feel like a big weapon. Maybe the laser give a little smoke off the barrel when your firing, and when it hits something... I noticed also, when I get the laser, I have no reason to ever QUIT shooting, I can hold my fire button down indefinately, maybe have it build up heat or something? I dont know, just throwing ideas out. :)

Shoe
10-09-2007, 06:15 AM
Looks nice! Just needs more polish!
P.S
I love Mech Builders! Ill give this a try!

sjohnson243
10-09-2007, 12:35 PM
While not the quality of Daydream. Here is a quick splash screen I thru together, I need to tweak it quite a bit to get the colors right, just wanted to have a go at playing artist. :)

Have to take the daughter out, will finish playing with it when I get home.

By the way, AWESOME work Daydream.

http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/9106/testsplasmy7.gif

thegamedesigner
10-09-2007, 06:56 PM
Thanks for your feedback. I am reading every little bit of it, it is like gold.

The f1 help menu now says "press f1 again to exit help menu"
The name "Rush" was only meant to name that level, it has been changed to "Zombie charge".

The boss teleporting, and you getting stuck offscreen will be fixed.

I would love any ideas anyone has for improving (or rather decreasing) the cheesy-ness of the boss on level four. His chatbox does break style a little.

I can either fade the health bar to the point where you can see through it, or move it to some part of the screen or shrink it, or a combo of these.

I like your idea for making the weapon shake, I will look in to that. I can at least attach a peices of camera shaking code to some BFG type weapon.
But I see that you mean recoil, to give the feeling of using a big gun. I will work on it.

I think I will make the laser pulse, and glow and spark, to give it some feeling.
However, half the point of the laser weapons are that they don't have to reload. Its one of their bonuses. Go in to the circuit and remove the key switch (the left mouse button one).

All buttons will have a small mouse over text now. It can display on the left half of the screen.

Thanks for all your great feedback and ideas.

sjohnson243
10-09-2007, 09:28 PM
Thanks for your feedback. I am reading every little bit of it, it is like gold.

The f1 help menu now says "press f1 again to exit help menu"
The name "Rush" was only meant to name that level, it has been changed to "Zombie charge".

The boss teleporting, and you getting stuck offscreen will be fixed.

I would love any ideas anyone has for improving (or rather decreasing) the cheesy-ness of the boss on level four. His chatbox does break style a little.

I can either fade the health bar to the point where you can see through it, or move it to some part of the screen or shrink it, or a combo of these.

I like your idea for making the weapon shake, I will look in to that. I can at least attach a peices of camera shaking code to some BFG type weapon.
But I see that you mean recoil, to give the feeling of using a big gun. I will work on it.

I think I will make the laser pulse, and glow and spark, to give it some feeling.
However, half the point of the laser weapons are that they don't have to reload. Its one of their bonuses. Go in to the circuit and remove the key switch (the left mouse button one).

All buttons will have a small mouse over text now. It can display on the left half of the screen.

Thanks for all your great feedback and ideas.

Personally, I have no idea what it takes to program a game, but I would look at making some sort of UI where the bottom part of the screen looks like a mech dash or something, maybe have a "radio screen" in the middle, you could have "Incoming Transmission..." and have the radarscreen in the bottom type out what you want the boss to say... You could also put the health bar beside the small "radio" in the middle... No idea if its feasible, just thinking of ways to solve those issues....

3DRT.com
10-10-2007, 11:36 AM
Great idea. Nice to see good use of a mech model. :)
Terrain definitely needs some work on it.