Sunday, 30 August 2020

3 Episodes Dropped For Ether

Due to how lengthy development has been for Ether and due to other factors, I've decided to drop the idea of having the game split into 3 episodes.

This is mostly due to the fact that what was originally planned to only be episode 1 will be a pretty much full length game in its own right and the story will be able to stand on its own just fine.

I realize I may have overreached a bit and been a bit overambitious as to make 3 episodes of the same length without a full team, so it makes sense to scale the game down like this and instead save the ideas I had for episodes 2 and 3 and merge both into Ether 2.

As a result, I will not release the entire game for free, but I'll make sure to have a short demo available when the game is complete that will be available for free. This demo will consist of the first area of the game to give players a good feel for the game.

At some point, I'll close the public testing phase once I get serious about selling the game. I truly hope you guys will continue backing the project once I reach this stage. The plan is to finish the game and sell it on, with plans to bring it to Steam and eventually.

TLDR: Episode  1 of Ether is going to be the first game to shrink the scope of development. Episodes 2 and 3 will be merged together as Ether 2.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

[ETHER] Graphic artist Kuro joins the team

We're very happy to welcome Kuro to the team. He's already done some work on Ether, having redesigned Proto and given her more of an anime look. He will also be doing designs for other characters in the game.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

[ETHER] New tester build and updates 30/08/2018

ETHER finally launched a new test build today, almost a year after the previous one. A big reason has been that almost the entire game has been overhauled with levels made entirely over again from scratch. The reason? For some reason I decided to make the game in a 640x400 resolution despite the graphics being made in 320x200. This resulted in some weird artifacts that made the game feel a lot less authentic. I decided to change the resolution down to a native 320x200 for this reason but this required everything to be overhauled. It's set me back a fair bit but I still aim to have Episode 1 done by 2019.

Some new features added to the game:
  • Gamepad support
  • Crawling
  • Removed smooth fading in favour of oldschool palette swapping for transitions
  • Shootable crates
  • Using the ship to purchase new weapon modes, system upgrades and supplies
  • Ammunition for all weapons except the standard one.
  • Options menu
  • In-game help manual
  • New title screen
If you are interested in testing the game, please get in touch with me on Discord:

Saturday, 25 February 2017

[ETHER] Update 25/02/2017 - New features, new save system, gameplay fixes

Since the last update I've been working hard on the game and added a ton of new stuff that I hope testers will enjoy. A new build will be ready soon but meanwhile, here's a list of stuff that's been added and fixed so far.

The music tracks for areas 1 and 2 have been expanded upon and worked on further to add more variation and make the tracks longer.

There's now a dynamic camera system in place. Pushing up and down on the keyboard will now not only aim up and down while jumping, but also tilt the camera further up or down to allow the player to view more of the level above or below them. This is to prevent "leaps of faith" and allow the player to attack enemies above and below them more easily.

Some platforms can now be jumped through as well as leaped down from by pressing crouch and then letting go of the crouch key. I plan to get a system in place where you can hold crouch and press jump to do this (Contra style) but have had some problems working this out. This will come in a future update hopefully.

Testers will notice there have been new enemy placements in the early levels. This is to ramp up the difficulty a bit and make them more challenging. Also, in the previous build, enemies would stay dead but now they respawn when you re-enter the level, to allow a bit of creds farming as well as continous action.

This brings me on to the subject of the revamped save system. Earlier the game would use Game Maker's built in save function as well as having persistent rooms. This has been scrapped in favour of a custom save system that gives me more control over the game and prevents a lot of nasty bugs that arose from using the built in save system. I remember distinctly that for every new update, players had to overwrite their old save files because they would be corrupted. This should not happen anymore as the game now uses far more reliable save files that should be more futureproof.

I've also added a proper pause function to the game and the pause menu now brings you back to the main menu if you quit from the game, instead of quitting the entire game.

There have also been a ton of minor bug fixes to the game, so the game now overall feels a lot more polished compared to the previous build.

A new build should be available fairly soon. I'm mainly going to focus my work on the new area of the game now.

Monday, 20 February 2017

[ETHER] 2017 Update: New graphics and features

It's been long due for an update on the development of ETHER, our main game in development.

Took a bit of a break during Christmas and early this year but now we're back in action and working on the game again.  So here's an update on what's been done so far.

After some tester feedback on the graphics we decided to give the tilesets and some of the sprites an overhaul. Here's how the game currently looks:

There's not a massive difference in the base tileset but the jungle tileset has been completely recolored to give a darker "night time" feel as well as more variation in colour. The backgrounds have also been kept to darker EGA colours exclusively to make a contrast with foreground objects. There is also gonna be more palette swaps during some of the levels to add some variation to the graphics.

In addition to the new graphics there has been some new features added. The dodge mechanic that we showed in earlier screenshots is now removed in favour of a more fast-paced action-oriented gameplay. The character now runs at a slightly faster speed, and can aim up as swell as crouch using the UP and DOWN keys for some more dynamic gameplay.

Really looking forward to getting the new build ready. Currently working on the third area of the game which is the safe zone where you'll meet some of the non-hostile characters in the game.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

[ETHER] More weapons and other changes

As you can see by the above screenshots, I've now started the process of adding the game's six weapon modes, which in the end will be purchasable using creds from vendors, so unlike the screenshots, not all modes will be available from the start (for now they are due to testing purposes). So far the planned six weapon modes are:
  1. Standard shots - Medium fire rate, low damage. These will be the default weapon you start with and the only weapon available from the beginning of the game.
  2. Rapid shots - Fast fire rate, medium damage. Slightly more advanced than the standard shots, identifiable with the purple shade of the shots. Fires more rapidly and deals slightly higher damage. Useful for dealing with hordes of weaker enemies.
  3. Spread shots - Medium fire rate, medium damage. Fires 3 shots in one, in a spread out pattern. Useful for hitting enemies that are above or below you and since each projectile is individual, it can also be useful for clearing destructible walls.
  4. Plasma shots - Low fire rate, high damage. Powerful plasma balls that deal higher damage than the previous modes. Due to its power it can penetrate multiple destructible walls, useful for clearing areas. Useful against bosses and more powerful enemies and can make short work of weaker enemies, though the low fire rate makes it a bit useless for quick encounters.
  5. Grenades - Very low fire rate, very high damage. While the grenades themselves are harmless, the explosion is not. Useful for clearing areas or against larger static enemies. WARNING! The explosion can hurt YOU as well so do NOT use this in close encounters.
  6. Sonic shots - Medium fire rate, high damage. Powerful sonic waves that can penetrate walls and also penetrate multiple enemies since it's not technically a projectile, but rather a wave of energy. Useless against destructible terrain because of this, it will pass right through any solid walls, even destructible ones, but very useful against hordes of enemies due to its penetrating effect or large bosses due to its high damage which is equal to the plasma shots. In some cases it might be preferable against enemies since it has a higher fire rate.
The weapons will be selectable with the numeric keys on the keyboard.

Other minor additions to the game after tester feedback:
  • Exit signs in each room
  • Removed knockback when taking damage
  • Improved some of the level designs
  • Removed enemies that aren't killable using the default starter weapon mode.
 So far development is going pretty nicely and I can't wait to get more stuff done. Developing the weapon modes is going to be a very fun and integral part of the game.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

[ETHER] Persistent Rooms and new easter egg

Added a new easter egg today. Can't wait for people to find it once the game is released, I'm pretty sure a lot of oldschool movie fans are gonna love it though, if you don't get it it's fine. :P

Also realized something today. For the longest time, my rooms haven't been persistent which caused all kinds of grief since I am developing a non-linear game where you can explore and go back and forth between rooms. I thought I would have to write some sort of script to keep track of what enemies and objects still remained in a room. NOPE! Turns out Game Maker has a built in function for this exact purpose: Persistent rooms!

I did notice the little checkbox in the room editor and was like "... why have I not used this before?!" It literally fixed the biggest worry I had about the game so far programming-wise but now I can actually make sure that once you kill something, it stays dead and once you pick up an item, it's gone as well. So I'm really happy it was that simple to implement.

Tomorrow I'm going to maybe work on the final level of the jungle area and add in a new enemy type. Development so far has been extremely brisk and I'm looking forward to seeing how this game will shape up in the future!