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MiniDoom2 gets a full Soundtrack

For miniDoom1 we used fan made music from cover albums (“Dark side of Phobos” and “DoomII: Delta-Q-Delta”). Awesome music indeed, but maybe not appropriate for every level.

This time the will have a complete soundtrack, this means that every level will have its own music according to its theme.

Responsive music and transitions

The music in some levels will vary according to the environment such as electric blasts in level 2 that will trigger an electric guitar, it will also slow down when opening the weapon select menu and other effects such as that.

Also the music will have a normal version for the normal or platforming sections of the levels and another version for the closed fights that will be much more aggressive and fast.

Here’s a really small sample of the music with some gameplay.

A third member joins the dev team to take charge of music and other aspects of sound design! He is very talented and will give all the music the Doom flavor it deserves.

Oh and don’t worry this won’t delay the game further, he’s already been working on the music for months.

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Go to hell

As we mentioned before half the game takes place in hell. We wanted to make a nice transition from mars to hell. So we made a portal loosely based on the one from Doom2016!

I’m quite happy with how it turned out, the artist went ham on the concept and came up with a room that was way bigger than the camera so you have to walk around the room to get the full view of it.

The full room, it’s the end of level6 and the first half of the game.
It has some nice lightning effects in-game but I removed them for the capture because of the camera-shaking too much.
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Respawning Enemies and Game Progress

During playtesting respawning enemies seemed to cause confusion. People usually play rushing through the stages and killing any enemies in sight, but when required to navigate a stage or backtrack a bit they would start killing enemies that respawn without realizing that they had already cleared that area.

Some of the new decorations and graphics.

This made me rethink the whole respawning enemies deal. Was it really necessary? What’s the point of enemies respawning anyway? I couldn’t find a reason to leave it in game. So now enemies behave much like items. They won’t respawn if you leave the room, but they will respawn if you die of course. The only exception to this is killing rooms. Once you clear a fight you won’t have to do it again even if you die before reaching another checkpoint.

About game progress

More new objects to interact with

I realize there has been a lack of updates recently, sorry about that. We have been advancing steadily but we can’t share many of the things we are working on right now because many of them would spoil the game.

We are currently polishing level design and completing missing graphics. And damn it takes a long time! We also have someone helping out with music and sound (hope I can share more on this soon).

What is this?? I just cant tell you 🙁

That said I will find something or other to update every week, don’t want to stay silent. More stuff coming soon, see you next week.

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Level Design

Turns out making levels is pretty hard. Specially figuring out whats gonna work. So whats the design process like over here? Well let me give you a brief tour:

When designing a level first we decide on an overall theme for that level, also which new weapons or mechanics need to be introduced there. Next think about which enemies will fit that level and will go well with the new weapons.

To keep the game fresh each level has some unique hazards or obstacles (like the jump pads from Doom2016), or a unique layout (like a vertical descending level for example). I’m not gonna go into each one of them; don’t want to spoil the game.

A shitty sketch photographed with a shitty camera

Next is to roughly sketch the level in paper. Its good for visualizing the whole route. Here it gets tricky since its hard to come up with something new (or at least different) for every room in the game.

Thats the room editor

Then its translating the sketches into the game editor, and everything usually changes a lot! When a room is done, a quick play to check for errors. I don’t usually place textures or graphics in a level before testing since changing the terrain would mean repainting everything all over again, and we don’t have the time for that. A pity since graphics change the experience and tests become less reliable.

Not the room editor; its a composition for the artists to get the layout of the level

And that’s how we do things, pretty standard I suppose. But that’s what we have been doing right now; finishing what’s missing in the last few levels, and revisiting the old ones. See you next time.

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Mini Update

Hello! We aren’t dead, we just went on a small trip to a comics and videogames convention here in the third world. We prepared the first 2 levels for people to play and test.

From all the gifs you might have noticed that I don’t usually apply textures or tile sets to levels while I test the game. But for this I had to decorate the levels and they are looking very nice.

The artist has been slowly producing new graphics for every level, so that each one looks and plays uniquely.

Here is the last room of level 1: The Hangar just before the exit. Here you face off with the first pinkies. Everything still subject to changes.

Bare essentials for testing

Dressed the place a bit more interestingly

Does it look cluttered? In game looks rather fine. Camera is much smaller

We’ll be back with more news soon!

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Secrets and score

So the score screen is lot different from the classic Doom’s, this one is a lot simpler. This is to save the score you get and display it in the overworld map too.

Classic Doom score screen counted kills items and secrets in a percentage basis. Then it counted your time vs a level standard time. We wanted to take this into MiniDoom if possible but ended up making some changes along the way.

Ye olde screen

We don’t use percentages because we wanted to store and display your score for each level, and to display a score in 5 different parameters was a lot of info on the screen. So the score is just one parameter that goes from 0 to 5. If you meet one of the scores’ criteria for that level (like enough kills) you get one point to your score.

Also the “items” score parameter had to go. Its no fun to go grab every last health bonus, this isn’t Banjo Kazooie.

The score parameters

hmmmm dat screen melt

Kills: Of course you will be awarded this point if you kill most of the enemies you encounter. Summoned enemies (like lost souls from a pain elemental) don’t count towards this score, however enemies that respawn do count.

Deaths: If you die too many times in a level you won’t get this point.

Time: Gotta go fast. This score gives a margin for time wasted dying the allowed amount of times.

Difficulty: Playing in any difficulty harder than normal will award this point.

Secrets: You do not need to find all secrets in one go. All secrets you find are saved and you won’t need to find them again if you want a good score.

You can check your score and secrets from the overworld map

So since “Score” is one whole thing from 0 to 5 to get a perfect one you need to do all 5 things at once, you can’t get “kills” in one go, then try for “time” the next time you play. Except with secrets, take your time exploring.

Secrets

We want to include a lot of secrets in the game and we needed a way for players to know which secrets they already found and which are missing. So we use a collectible item to mark this: Runes.

Runes dont have graphics yet hehe… they will probably look something like that (Doom2016)

So secret areas may contain standard pickups or some other secret thing, in these cases the area will also contain a Rune. Runes do not respawn once picked up, so you will have a better idea of where you have already been if you reenter a level looking for secrets. Secret areas may also contain small upgrades to your total life, armor, or ammo; these count towards the total secrets found for each level. And of course they don’t respawn either.

Runes do not do anything by themselves but collecting them will unlock extra cool things in the game, if you are into that sort of thing.

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The Overworld Map

Let’s talk about how the overworld map works. First of all this is not a final version of the map, it will still change in its graphics and layout. In the design of the map we obviously based it on the super Mario bros 3 overworld. You navigate it in rails and you unlock the way by clearing levels.

This is the tentative map for the first part of the game: Mars. It consists of 6 levels and 2 trials.

However here you can replay any level you clear. This has a couple of uses, when you select a level you can chose a difficulty to play it in. So you don’t select a difficulty at the start of the game, but on each stage. This gives the player a lot more flexibility. Right now we have decided for 3 difficulty levels on start: Too young to die (easy), nomal (normal), and Ultra violence (hard).

The Runes are a way to quantify how many secrets you find, more info on that next time.

There are also 2 more difficulties to unlock: Watch me die! (very hard), and Nightmare (nightmare). Higher difficulties will raise the amount of enemies and damage you receive. I won’t get too much into it right now because they haven’t been properly balanced yet.

You can also go back to a level to search for secrets you might have missed or to challenge yourself on obtaining higher scores. Both will be tracked and displayed at the start and end of every level. I will explain more about how the score and secrets system works on the next devlog.

You can also quit a level at any moment. But lose your extra ammo, as if you died

So now tell me what you think about the Normal difficulty being called “normal”. Is it a good decision for the noobies? Or should we just call it “Hurt me plenty”? Would it maybe add too much text and confusion to an already cluttered selection screen? The logic here was that when you read “normal” you immediately know what’s up. Is it just boring?

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Checkpoints and Keys

Life before checkpoints

Previously the game used keys as a sort of checkpoint. Once you got a key and died, you didn’t need to get it again and could just access the next area of the level. This was a clever shortcut I took to making checkpoints since the game was made in a rush.

We even have fancy new doors for each key.

This had a side effect though, all restricted color doors had to be around the starting point so they weren’t frustrating to get to after dying. Levels in MiniDoom1 had to be modular and all grow around the starting room this meant they couldn’t really be very different. BUT NO MORE!

And a gorgeous hell themed door set.

Life now

The implementation of killing rooms (fighting challenges) meant that a quicker retry method was needed! So yeah now we do have checkpoints, there are many in each level and you will always find one before a challenging battle.

Can you tell where we got inspiration for the design? I bet you can.

Keys still restrict access to areas and in some levels you will have to get a key then backtrack to a central hub to its color door. But now it’s not a necessity so levels are much more varied. One even follows a linear structure of checkpoints and fights where there are no keys.

The forced suicide problem

MiniDoom2 has no “lives” you can die and respawn infinitely; dying will respawn you with full health and a little ammo. This also meant that if you reach a checkpoint with low health it was better for you to kill yourself and respawn refilled. I hate this in games, especially the megaman series where it’s mandatory to game over after every boss just to refill your extra lives…

I like my marines well-done. (sorry about the mouse)

So yeah, there were 2 ways to go about this. 1: Don’t reward the player for dying (respawning with low life or ammo or no BFG ammo OR implement an extra life system). 2: Just fill the player’s health and ammo at each checkpoint as if he/she died and design the levels accordingly. I obviously chose the second option because it led to less player frustration.

This means that at every checkpoint the player is refreshed and between checkpoints there has to be a challenge according to that. I actually like this a lot, the progression is designed checkpoint to checkpoint and not necessarily as a whole level where the player can’t die. Every section of the level can be challenging and interesting!!

See you next time.

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The Game Maker Studio 2 switch

Recently we pooled some resources and bought Game Maker 2 (MiniDoom was made in Game Maker Studio 1.4) we did this mainly to work with a few audio plugins, which will allow us to modify sounds and music in real time. Here are some thoughts about the switch to 2.

Everything is nice and ordered now

So how is this upgrade relevant? This will hopefully be better for game stability (Less likely for bugs to come up) and supposedly better for hardware detection. I gotta say, how the workspace works is A LOT better, you can have multiple tabs and objects open at once, and just scroll through them. It also looks a lot better.

So far xBox360 Gamepad seems to work perfectly 😀

The main reason to change the software was to use audio plugins that will allow us to modify or add filters for our sounds and music (Specifically the WWise plugin). We are very excited about this part and will give more details as soon as we can.

Level making just got way easier with box selection (yeah that dint exist before…)

For anyone interested in Game Maker Studio 2. Well it’s definitely better, but most of its changes are just to the interface. So nothing revolutionary, but it makes the level design a lot faster. And I’m really liking the workspace. Is it really worth paying to upgrade? Well in our case it was, but it won’t always be the case for everyone. I’d recommend searching youtube for more detailed comparisons between the versions if you doubt switching.

More things to come, see you soon.

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MiniDoom2 Cover 01

Well here is the first attempt to make a fake box art for the game. Nope, the game wont exist in any physical form, and yeah, it doesn’t really need a cover… But it looks cool! And was damn fun to make!

So I took Inspiration from the old Mega Man covers where there was a bunch on enemies in the back and some ridiculous terrain haha. Also tried to keep the cartoony style as best as I could.

As I explained in our facebook page; I want to make an open gallery in the website for submitting cover arts or just fan art for MiniDoom, I’m sure someone out there can give it a more deserving treatment.