I wasn't able to make a full platforming level this week, like I originally planned. I was able, however, to implement Suzu's standing, running, and jumping attacks. Check this out:
Suzu is supposed to be blindingly fast. The challenge now is to design levels which encourage fast play (at least when you're playing as her) and still remain playable.
Since today is Screen Shot Saturday on Twitter, I decided to take the animations that Daniele Lasalandra (aka @TheBlindLynx) created for Musume and put them in a short demo. The result is below. You'll see the idle, run, jump, and standing attack animations on display.
The platforms, buildings and clouds are placeholders, from assets I already had. They will be different in the final game.
I hope to have some proper platforming action to show in about a week. However, it's nice to see the project coming along with this new art style.
Musume has a new composer: German video game music (VGM) artist Jana Honing, who goes by @Quthulhu on Twitter. Jana has a knack for capturing the feel of Super NES music, which is exactly what I am going for with the new look.
Below is a snippet of her music for the game's first level. Give it a listen. I think you'll like what you hear.
Creating the graphics for this game has been a struggle, to say the least. I've tried just about everything, but was never happy with the result.
My latest efforts with Live2D aren't working out like I hoped. Making a single model is expensive and time-consuming, and multiple models are required just for one complete character. Luckily, I've found a solution, one that I tried to go for in the beginning of this quest but was unable to find a good collaborator. Well, it looks like I've found a good collaborator now.
These three pixel animations were created by daniel5terre (Fiverr.com), who also goes by @TheBlindLynx on Twitter. He's a pro pixel artist based in Italy, and seems to have a real knack for translating Suzu's looks into pixel form.
This is the style I'll be using going forward. It's economical and quick, and it looks good, which is music to the ears all indie developers.
This CoVID pandemic has put the brakes on a lot of things, but I'm still plowing ahead with work on Musume, even though I haven't posted on here in a while.
Right now, I'm in the middle of building the framework for the game in Gamemaker Studio 2. The more I work on the game, the more it seems like GMS2 will be the way to go to make the game I want to make.
Also, there's more Suzu art on the way. Right now, Xesxus is working on her running model, which will give me the ability to create run, jump, dash, and backstep animations.
More to come as the work comes in.
I've been experimenting with Live2D all week, learning how to rig and animate 2D models. Below is my first attempt at animating Suzu's idle stance.
It isn't perfect, but looking at it, it actually isn't bad for a first attempt. I need to add deformers to make her hair move more naturally, and I need to add eye blinks as well, but for right now, she's moving.
I'm still trying to find my way around Live2D, the animation program I am currently using to animate Suzu's new idle model. Thus far, I've rigged her head, ponytail, arms and legs with simple bones so that they can move.
It's simple stuff, but once I add some eye blinks and more hair movement, she should look pretty lifelike.
I'll be posting animation frames soon.
Today, I thought I'd give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of Musume, and talk about where I am in the animation process with the new character models.
This is a screenshot of Live2D, the animation program I'm using to animate Xesxus's drawings. Right now, I'm just getting a feel for the program, but I've already done a little bit of rigging. Suzu's arms are now rigged and can be moved; you can see their rig trees in the lower left hand corner of the screen. I also did a simple rig of her ponytail (it can now move left and right), but I plan on doing a lot more work on her hair once I get a better grasp of Life2D's deformation system.
Ultimately, this rig will produce the frames of animation that will become Suzu's idle stance in the game.
It's exciting to be working on this. I spent almost a year trying to find an artist who could make in-game character models that look like Xesxus's art. It finally dawned on me that the best way to accomplish that goal was to have Xesxus create the models himself. He may be a concept artist by trade, but I think this will really help the game look great.
I'll post animations as I create them. For now, however, here's the big version of the picture above. You'll notice that her ponytail and arms are in slightly different places in the below picture, which is what Suzu looked like prior to me rigging and messing around with her model.
In my previous post, I wrote that I was changing the direction of Musume's development, and that it was going to be very similar to one particular 2D action title on the market. I didn't say which game it was, but I left a drawing as a clue. Here is a slightly revised version of that drawing, which depicts Suzu's idle stance while in combat:
A commenter named Yelvu wrote that Suzu's stance reminded him either of either Strider or Muramasa: The Demon Blade (re-released as Muramasa Rebirth for the PS Vita, which is the version I have). He was wrong about Strider but 100% right on Muramasa.
When I wrote that Musume's new direction would follow one particular game, I fibbed. It's actually two games. Muramasa is one, and ICEY is the other. Both are some of the most fun action games you can play, and if you haven't played them you're missing out.
I won't say any more because I want you to check out these games for yourself. If you do, you'll have a clear idea of that the final version of Musume will be like.
From time to time, I hit obstacles in the development of this game. Sometimes, they're small (what's the best way to code a jump?), and sometimes, they're big (this game engine isn't working out; I may need a new one). Just recently, I hit an enormous wall.
The problem? The game, as it's currently shaping up, is going way too far from what I originally envisioned. I put together a short prototype of the beginning of the first level - you can see it in earlier blog posts and on the videos page - but as I worked on it, all my heart went out of it. I realized that making a conventional platformer just isn't something I want to do, which is a problem given that this is ultimately a passion project.
So, I'm changing the direction of Musume yet again.
It will still be a 2D action game with platforming elements. However, the emphasis will be much more on the action part. There's one game in particular that I'm seeking to emulate, but I won't say just yet what that game is. I will, however, give you one small clue: Suzu's in-game model is changing, and below is a preview - drawn by Xesxus - of her idle stance. I'll have more info once this picture is finished.