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Ma Kai Quest - a total conversion of "Alex Kidd in Miracle World"
Post Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:23 pm
Last edited by badsector on Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:20 pm; edited 7 times in total


Edit Nov 12:
We took a creative break but are now back at work again. First steps were fixing, polishing and adding some minor stuff and adding a completely new level (codenamed "junkyard") as well as finally writing the complete story down.
I updated some of the screenshots of the original post and hope to present a milestone real soon. Current version number is 0.305 but we will not post any updated ROM patches soon.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
level design and additional assets: badsector
pixel art: thelowestdefinition
music and sfx: Mandulin
KiddEd, custom hacks and support: Calindro

old demo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdj7CHz9O_M
old "Let's Play" video of the demo (german): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ynZBX8Geew
latest public demo release (outdated): http://www.smspower.org/Hacks/AlexKiddInMiracleWorld-SMS-MaKaiQuest-Mod
our old competition entry discussion: http://www.smspower.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=15998
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:32 pm
To get the ball rolling, I'll post some design prototypes I worked on in the last couple of days for some sort of factory themed level. We don't fully know how they will end up in the game, it's just work in progress at this point.
factory.gif (4.02 KB)
factory.gif

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Post Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:03 pm
Great. I love development threads.

The factory tiles are looking good, although I find them a little at odds with the style of the existing levels, which almost have a primeval vibe to them. That doesn't mean it's impossible to incorporate both in a coherent game world: The Monster Land games did something like this very nicely, after all. I fully trust you on this one.

From a graphic artist's standpoint I'd advise against using pure grey for the background, though, as that tends to look unnatural and lifeless unless you offset it with coloured highlights and/or shadows. I'd rather use greyish dark purple or turquiose instead.

On a side note: Will there be a level set in the kind of fiery environment the game's title promises?
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:48 pm
Hey Kagesan,

Thank you for the great feedback! We're not really sure ourselves if the factory setting will really mesh with the rest of the game. I think we will know first if we build a couple of screens with enemies in it. Good point regarding the background, I'll give the dark purple a go! :)

Our first intention with the title was to take the "Miracle World" into Japanese which resulted in "Makai" (world of spirits/strange world). I'm aware that another meaning is "hell" and we're having a couple of story ideas how this could work in the end. Maybe it will be the great mistery to find out what on earth this game has anything to do with hell.
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Post Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:08 pm
The screenshots look awesome, keep up the good work ^,^
Greetings from Berlin to Berlin :P
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Post Posted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 3:45 pm
Thanks a lot and greetings back to Berlin! ;)
I just added the link to a demo video for anyone interested.
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Post Posted: Tue May 10, 2016 11:57 am
We are still not sure about every color and detail, but this is perhaps very close to how the final level theme will look like. 50% of the music track for the factory is done now, too.
Some new gameplay elements are also under discussion with Calindro. This could become a nice little level and I hope, that it fits with the rest of our planned levels :)
factory.png (7.57 KB)
factory.png

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Post Posted: Tue May 10, 2016 12:43 pm
Suggestion: How about creating a very lightweight pattern in the background/empty tile so that it looks more like a solid wall?
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Post Posted: Tue May 10, 2016 1:14 pm
Last edited by badsector on Wed May 11, 2016 9:52 am; edited 1 time in total
Thanks for your input! We also thought about some kind of bricks, but not as a solid wall, but rather just some cracked bricks here and there.
A solid wall could be problematic with some of the objects we are reusing from other levels (like the container or the liquid animation) that do not have a brick structure in the background. It would be easier if we had more than one background layer ^^
We will give some other options a try tonight at our weekly meeting. Our maybe you got another suggestion that could work?
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Post Posted: Tue May 10, 2016 4:40 pm
badsector wrote
We also thought about some kind of bricks, but not as a solid wall, but rather just some cracked bricks here and there.

I think that's an excellent idea, and it will work much better than a full background pattern. Contrary to popular belief, a background can actually have too much detail. ;)

badsector wrote
Our maybe your got another suggestion that could work?

Not really. I think it looks very good. Although I'm still not a fan of using grey for larger areas. I think I'd substitute these colours in the foreground walls:

$3F --> $2F
$2A --> $3A
$15 --> $11
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Post Posted: Wed May 11, 2016 8:50 am
Kagesan wrote
badsector wrote
We also thought about some kind of bricks, but not as a solid wall, but rather just some cracked bricks here and there.

I think that's an excellent idea, and it will work much better than a full background pattern. Contrary to popular belief, a background can actually have too much detail. ;)


We think this way as well ^^ Also we established a very "clean" look for the game with just some small details, so a busy background could be unfitting for our overall style.

Kagesan wrote
badsector wrote
Our maybe your got another suggestion that could work?

Not really. I think it looks very good. Although I'm still not a fan of using grey for larger areas. I think I'd substitute these colours in the foreground walls:

$3F --> $2F
$2A --> $3A
$15 --> $11


We really liked your suggestion and will keep those color changes. We just made a small adjustment to it (your $11 is now $10). When we are finished with the background bricks, we will show you a screenshot.
Thank you VERY much for your valuable input :)
Also thanks to Bock for his input. Every input is valuable to us, since it helps us understanding what the players like.
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Post Posted: Wed May 11, 2016 9:46 am
And not to forget what works in the framework of the system from the viewpoint of seasoned developers. :) it's quite interesting to see what color combinations do and don't work, which is not always obvious. Given the limited colors one would think it's easy to identify synergizing colors in a couple of swaps, but that really seems not to be the case :D
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Post Posted: Thu May 12, 2016 1:16 pm
Awesome, I'll give this a play here sometime today. :D

Looks beautiful!
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Post Posted: Thu May 12, 2016 3:31 pm
Thanks a bunch! Please remember, this is still the "old" 9 level demo but in a newer version with many fixes and maaaybe some new issues. ;)
Please let us know if you find anything. :)
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Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2016 2:30 pm
Hey guys, just wanted to share some screens that should be close to the final factory design. This time for real (maybe)! :D
factory_3.png (5.08 KB)
factory_3.png
factory_4.png (4.92 KB)
factory_4.png
factory_5.png (4.4 KB)
factory_5.png

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Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2016 2:34 pm
Very nice improvement!
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Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2016 2:41 pm
So cool! :D
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Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2016 4:37 pm
Awesome
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Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2016 7:44 pm
So I'm just now getting around to playing it. Keep in mind I've never played Alex Kidd much but there's a few things that could be tightened up?

- Hit detection with your staff/wand could be a little better. Seems like you have to hit rather "high" on your sprite to kill/destroy things.
- Perhaps have a crouch attack like in Lord of the Sword to hit things that are low on the ground?
- A description of what the potions do in the shop or at least an instructions section before the game starts?
- Maybe turn the item selection arrow into a downward pointing arrow?

That said, I love it. Feels out right like its own game and it's really charming. I'll be playing more of this especially as it progresses. Great job! :D

Edit: Removed request for life counter as it's in the pause menu.
Edit #2: P.S. The factory level looks great.
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Post Posted: Wed May 18, 2016 10:28 pm
First of all, thanks for you detailed reply! <3

olaf wrote
- Hit detection with your staff/wand could be a little better. Seems like you have to hit rather "high" on your sprite to kill/destroy things.

Yeah, this is a problem with our choice of weapon. Optically it seems that you can hit higher than you really can. We might play around a little bit with the hitboxes without making them totally unfair.

olaf wrote
- Perhaps have a crouch attack like in Lord of the Sword to hit things that are low on the ground?

We are stuck to what the engine lets us do. In Alex Kidd there is no crouch attack. I think Calindro could implement this, but it would be much work, I think, and we already requested many other things (that could be very cool). So this is not really our priority, although we also really would like to have that.

olaf wrote
- A description of what the potions do in the shop or at least an instructions section before the game starts?

The potions are just some kind of place holders right now. If we really keep them, we will add a description for sure!

olaf wrote
- Maybe turn the item selection arrow into a downward pointing arrow?

This is a silly oversight, and I am really sorry about it. We had to shuffle around some tiles, because we wanted to have different appearances for the same enemies (in this case a rat AND a lobster for the scorpion enemy entity of Alex Kidd). Calindro implemented this feature, but afterwards I just forgot to copy the old/draw a new arrow for the menu. This is already fixed since version 115, I think. I will release a new version when we hit 130 or 140, maybe with a new playable level. We are now at version 126.

olaf wrote
That said, I love it. Feels out right like its own game and it's really charming. I'll be playing more of this especially as it progresses. Great job! :D

Thanks a lot! Although we really like Alex Kidd, we try to make the games differ as much as we can, just to give the Master System an all new game.
We really appreciate your valuable feedback and would love to get some more when we release a new version. And thank you for playing! :)

olaf wrote
Edit #2: P.S. The factory level looks great.

Kagesan recommended the color theme for the outer wall. Without his suggestion it would not look like this. Thank you very much, Kagesan :)
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Post Posted: Thu May 19, 2016 12:33 am
Didn't Calindro completely reverse engineer alex kidd?if so and he released the source code a lot could be added to the engine.
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Post Posted: Thu May 19, 2016 6:13 am
You are right, and he already added lots of stuff for us, but new gameplay features have a higher priority for us right now. There are not many situations where you would need a crouch attack, but we will reconsider it later.
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Post Posted: Thu May 19, 2016 6:49 pm
badsector wrote
Yeah, this is a problem with our choice of weapon. Optically it seems that you can hit higher than you really can. We might play around a little bit with the hitboxes without making them totally unfair.

You're welcome on all the thanks. This was the only thing where there was some confusion though. What I mean is that the staff seems like it should be able to hit a few pixels lower as well too. It seems that the staff reaches *too* high when I expect to hit things just a tiny tiny bit lower by about like a pixel or two.
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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 8:29 am
olaf wrote

This was the only thing where there was some confusion though. What I mean is that the staff seems like it should be able to hit a few pixels lower as well too. It seems that the staff reaches *too* high when I expect to hit things just a tiny tiny bit lower by about like a pixel or two.


I would like to reconfigure the hitboxes for the staff and send you a test version to try it out. Would that be okay?
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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:26 am
badsector wrote
olaf wrote

This was the only thing where there was some confusion though. What I mean is that the staff seems like it should be able to hit a few pixels lower as well too. It seems that the staff reaches *too* high when I expect to hit things just a tiny tiny bit lower by about like a pixel or two.


I would like to reconfigure the hitboxes for the staff and send you a test version to try it out. Would that be okay?

Absolutely. :)
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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:37 am
Attaching an image to what I mean so there's no misinterpretation.

The black box I've drawn around the staff seems to be the normal hit area. However when you're jumping and trying to hit things especially accounting for downward motion after the apex of a jump -- it feels like the red area should be accounted for. It would just make the hit detection a little more forgiving in general. Feels far to precise at the moment.
hitbox.png (368.74 KB)
hitbox.png

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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:14 pm
I just sent you a test version with a one pixel higher hitbox for the weapon, starting at the same height. So it will hit like before, but also one pixel lower.
First I extended it by 2 pixels, but then it felt like being too easy, so I let you test it with 1 pixel first :D
Sadly the hitbox only works for entities (e.g. enemies), not for level objects like boxes or stones. :(
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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:35 pm
The test version seems better to me. Or it's a placebo and I'm crazy. :P
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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:40 pm
Either way, the only thing that counts is that you THINK it works better :D
I think at this resolution even 1 pixel can make a huge difference. Maybe it will feel different again next week or so. If this is the case, come back to me, please ^^
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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:42 pm
badsector wrote
Either way, the only thing that counts is that you THINK it works better :D
I think at this resolution even 1 pixel can make a huge difference. Maybe it will feel different again next week or so. If this is the case, come back to me, please ^^

Absolutely true. And will do. Need to get better at the game first. Perhaps a difficulty menu like Normal = 6 lives, Easy = 12? :)
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Post Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:55 pm
olaf wrote

Perhaps a difficulty menu like Normal = 6 lives, Easy = 12? :)

Thanks for this idea! At the moment you will force buy a continue for $400 if you lose all your lives, but we will consider this when we finished the levels and start balancing again :)
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Post Posted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:20 pm
At least 30 of the ~37 screens of the factory are done. What a bunch of work this level is :D
In parallel we are working on the graphics for the junk yard, but they will take a while.

If you like to, you can have a look at an animation of one the factory screens. You just have to click on the image below.
factory_animation.gif (284.46 KB)
Watch your step!
factory_animation.gif

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Post Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:34 am
oh! so nice! :-D
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:56 pm
This game is so beautiful. I would love to have it on cart :)
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 3:04 pm
Thanks <3
When we are close to completion, we will look around at how to produce some carts or who could do this for us. We were actually thinking about a small batch of produced carts (around 10 or 20, mostly for us and some friends) with case, booklet and some goodies, but first we have to complete more features, music, graphics and levels.
But it is nice to know that there is some interest for the game on cartridge. :) Maybe it could become a bigger batch, if even possible, because right now we have no clue how we could do this.
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:03 pm
That looks awesome, can't wait for the update. :)
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:56 pm
I can't avoid thinking that with all that work (and love) one could merge this with a platform engine and create a whole new game, no ROM hack, no restriction whatsoever on publishing. Incidentally, in our latest coding competition, I'm sure I've seen a platform engine being developed so... why don't you guys join your forces?
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Post Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 12:20 pm
sverx wrote
I can't avoid thinking that with all that work (and love) one could merge this with a platform engine and create a whole new game, no ROM hack, no restriction whatsoever on publishing. Incidentally, in our latest coding competition, I'm sure I've seen a platform engine being developed so... why don't you guys join your forces?
We also thought about that when we saw this particular engine you are talking about ;) But porting everything again now plus coding all the features we are using would delay the game for several months, maybe even a year, I guess. We would also have to adopt another level editor to work with the engine, etc.
But maybe for the next project. I would love to contribute some levels and smaller graphics to others projects in the future.

GAME NEWS: The factory level is "finished" (no boss or new enemy types for now, just the level) and needs testing. Some test ROMs were rolled out to various testers. It has a new gameplay element completely new to the AKiMW engine, coded for us by Calindro. I added a screenshot of a screen using the feature (just without the dirt in the walls for now). Maybe you can already guess what it does.
If anybody has some spare time and would like to test, please drop me a PM! :)

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Post Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:48 am
sverx wrote
Incidentally, in our latest coding competition, I'm sure I've seen a platform engine being developed so... why don't you guys join your forces?

Got a link for that?

Also, I've been playing a bit of v128 on my Master EverDrive just fine. Neat seeing it on real hardware.
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Post Posted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:00 am
olaf wrote
Got a link for that?
It should be this one: http://www.smspower.org/forums/15986-CodingCompetition2016MonkeyLadByEfryNiloctS...

olaf wrote
Also, I've been playing a bit of v128 on my Master EverDrive just fine. Neat seeing it on real hardware.
Oh, nice! :) I just updated to v180 and sent it to you via mail. This one has lots of changes, especially in the cave levels, level 2 and level 3. This time there is lots of WIP stuff in it, so please ignore a still broken boss enemy and a helicopter that very soon will be something else. You won't be able to get to the factory, though. We still have not made the connecting levels :D

EDIT: I sent you a standalone factory level version, too.
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Post Posted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:34 pm
Hey guys, I wanted to show what I have been up to for the last couple of weeks. My goal was to come up with a forest level design that is set in the late hours of the day. I am a fan of "realistic" or rather believable designs, so my first intention was to use colors and shading that is reasonable for dim lighting conditions. Unfortunately that didn't really work well with the limited colors at our disposal. So I just threw "realism" out the window and used colors that suggest a light source where there actually is none, but I believe it looks more consistent with the rest of the game. Without further ado, let's have a look at those:



How do you feel about these two styles? Please let us know!

If you want to keep up with what I'm doing, check out https://ello.co/thelowestdefinition. I'm usually posting pretty much every item, level design or character there.
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Post Posted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 5:53 pm
I actually like both styles. I do think the first one transports the impression of night time better.

If you need further inspiration, though, I suggest you study the first level of SMS Ninja Gaiden. Ingeniously, it uses surprisingly light colours to convey the theme of a dark forest. Never stops to amaze me.
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:58 pm
Another possibility is to go silhouette style entirely -- make the background purple or dark blue, with the foreground pure black with white edge highlights only. This might also look good with the colours swapped (foreground purple).

One could also more strongly infer a forest feel by having a 'layer' of foliage covering over the screen / foreground in places; as if the camera is looking through bushes between it and the player's layer.
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:02 pm
Hey Kagesan, That's really interesting. I just checked it out and have to admit it is quite effective. I'll try to experiment with it a bit further. Thanks for the reference! :)
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:07 pm
Hey Kroc, I tried the silhouette style already and really struggled with it. The problem I had with it was that it kind of looked like ASCII art in the end. I think the foreground foliage might work in some places. We don't have layers at our disposal, but we might be able to create the foliage in a way that it completely overlaps on a metatile basis giving the impression it is in the foreground. I'll see if it meshes well with the rest of the game. Thanks! :)
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:23 pm
Kagesan wrote
I do think the first one transports the impression of night time better.
This is true. But a bright moonlight (when we put in a moon at the end of the level) might also work and could look believable. I know that the first screenshot still looks more "nightly", but I myself think that the look still has to be comparable to our other level styles with not too much disparity.
We had SO MANY discussions about it and they are still going on. :D This is why the last levels take more time than the ones for the demo.

Kagesan wrote
If you need further inspiration, though, I suggest you study the first level of SMS Ninja Gaiden. Ingeniously, it uses surprisingly light colours to convey the theme of a dark forest. Never stops to amaze me.
The level really looks great, but it is rather a dark forest at day. Also we have to have solid backgrounds. Otherwise we can not place destroyable/collectable items into the level :/ (because they always have the same metatile for replacement when destroyed/collected).

Kroc wrote
One could also more strongly infer a forest feel by having a 'layer' of foliage covering over the screen / foreground in places; as if the camera is looking through bushes between it and the player's layer
The engine (and for the most part the Master System VDP per se) only supports one background layer (and one for sprites). I wish we would have more but this isn't the case.
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:28 pm
badsector wrote

Kroc wrote
One could also more strongly infer a forest feel by having a 'layer' of foliage covering over the screen / foreground in places; as if the camera is looking through bushes between it and the player's layer
The engine (and for the most part the Master System VDP per se) only supports one background layer (and one for sprites). I wish we would have more but this isn't the case.

I'm at work, so i can't really verify. But i recall, being able to put tiles in foreground (over the sprites) in Kidded. It is possible. It will cover all sprites though, including enemies, so you have to be careful to not create a cheap challenge.

About the 2 screenshots, i like the first one better. I think it conveys the night time better.

Keep up the good work, dude.
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Post Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:32 pm
Thanks, we will try to :)

Sure you can mark background tiles for foreground (we are using it very often), but you still just got one background layer.
But I think this is not what Kroc even meant. I think thelowestdefinition understood and this is more important than me understanding it. I Just have to keep an eye on the amount of tiles we have left in the tileset for this level :D
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Post Posted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:56 pm
We finally manged to build the tileset and metatileset for the forest levels. Took much more time and tiles (around 80 + the standard tiles) than I expected.
This is one of the first screens of the first forest level. Now we just have to figure out what will work well gameplaywise ^^
forest_ingame4.png (31.75 KB)
forest_ingame4.png

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Post Posted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:08 am
I fiddled a bit around with foliage in the foreground Kroc but couldn't really make it work satisfyingly. In the end - as you can see - we refined the second approach and added the bright full moon to make it a believable scene. While the first screenshot really did convey the night time better it felt disconnected from the whole game just because it didn't have the typical shading from the other levels. As for your recommendation Kagesan, we needed blank spaces where we could put coins and destructable objects so there was no way to make the Ninja Gaiden style work really. Anyways, I hope you are not disappointed we couldn't realize your recommendations guys, but please keep them coming! Have a great weekend! :)
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