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ROM Hack - Alex Kidd's Janbarik Jaunt, Development/Playtesters
Post Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:31 pm
Hiya,

A few years ago I found KiddEd and was in contact with Calindro and another rom hacker. I started a lot of work on an Alex Kidd in Miracle World ROM hack, and had squintillas of good ideas but didn't get beyond a few planned out levels. Over a couple of years I made several small segments and fleshed out many ideas but simply put they were on far too high a difficulty curve to justify as a first release.

I'm planning to bosh something basic out within the next 4 to 6 months, with an intended difficulty above the original game. I've started work in the last week on two levels. As a speedrunner level gamer I am concerned that what I see as normal gameplay might be challenging or off-putting to the core audience. I can compensate that with 'advanced extension challenges' at the end of levels, so a casual player can take his riceball, but the pro can test himself. I also plan to include a medallion system for difficult patches, so the player can come back to the game and try to gain more and more, or can play the hard parts that match his strengths but not those which involve his weaknesses.

I'm wondering if any of you guys are interested in helping me by level testing the stuff I make. I have enough material right now that before going much further I'd love some wide feedback so I can peg the difficulty.

Ideally I'd want a few people encompassing

-A couple of people who found AKIMW challenging

-Someone who speedruns generally

-Someone skilled at puzzles in Zelda and other style games

-Anyone who enjoys rom hacks

So I can get a balanced opinion, lest I make it too hard. I'd be more than willing to give these people a say on level design since or ideas they would like to see. Without constructive feedback my work would be pointless. I am aware that Alianger's two hacks were viewed as difficult. I am certainly going to pitch the difficulty below Bro No. The idea will be to challenge those who found AKIMW comfortable, by extending the physics and introducing new gameplay ideas around the mechanics of the game, similar to Mario Bros Lost Levels. This mainly involves the physics being way faster with squatting, and a more powerful jump, tougher puzzles and tighter challenge segments, and also attack rooms at the end of levels.

Calindro advised me that someone called Gordman on here might be interested ^^
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:54 am
Cancelled due to lack of interest
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I will play and test if you want
Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:39 am
Hi:

Normally I read the forum at the weekends because I do not have to much free time.
Please consider to keep the post open a bit more time to collect more members.
I think play games and tell my opinion is the only thing I do well.
AKMW is a game I played millions of times and I can finish it with the first live, I am not good playing RPG games, I prefer plataform or jumping games, sorry I don´t know the correct word for this games.
Feel free to contact me to test.
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:05 am
This is a low traffic forum, we encourage contents over high traffc and as a result don't expect to see dozens of answers overnight. I think honestly one good way to get feedback would be to post beta roms (with a date and small version number). Thought I hope you'll also find someone to help more directly if that's what you are aiming for.
Good luck! Looking forward to play the game!
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:45 am
It's always a pleasure to try new KiddEd hack. You should participate to the annual SMSPower competition of this year: http://www.smspower.org/forums/16959-Competitions2018DiscussionThread
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:25 am
Lol, well I have a small segment of 2 levels here. Music is not my own and comes from several [hopefully] obscure games. A few notes

-Physics are much more fluid on squats. Jumps are more powerful, and may feel loose at first but if you can get used to stopping it's a little tighter than the old akimw physics.

-You can now preserve momentum off walls which allows for higher jumps in tight areas, and also zig-zag jumps. At the first part, you need to hug the left wall, then the right, then should be able to mount the platform. It does take a little getting used to. It also gives a little oomph from standing starts, so that you can jump and then fly from vertical a fair distance.

-Ghosts can be eliminated by spawning 2 moneybag boxes before collecting the cash. I am particularly interested whether you find the ghost chase segment after you get the ring to be balanced - it's way cleaner than my past work, but notice there's an alternate path. The game itself plans for paths and also intends to be just above AKIMW in difficulty [think NES games], with advanced challenge sections after the 'end' of each level. This along with a sunstone collection system for tough bits should hopefully accommodate more people along a difficulty curve.

The castle is intended to be harder as a measure of where testers' limits are. The cyclical attack room with monkeys should be a good challenge. Once you do that, go back to the room above and go right. You should see a narrow hallway opening out to a clump of spikes. Run up to the gap, tap left and jump, and barrel right, near the top of the jump. This is a stop and go mechanic that again utilises the conservation of velocity in differing shapes. If you struggle on it that's expected, I am more curious whether you clear the first couple of colums of the spikes as if the initial jump is valid a lot more structures open up.

My hope is that you will find play balanced but fair - if you struggle, practice the physics more [the jump over 3 colums of foam like many other issues is more about timing than anything].

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:31 pm
Seems like most of jumps are impossible to make without changing the physic.
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:34 pm
Wha? They work fine for me. Physics should be 64/48 to 512 for everything, check that and then see. Can you manage the first jump in 0F?
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:15 pm
Last edited by Revo on Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
Can't manage the first jump. Ask Calindro the last WIP version of KiddEd, you'll be able to change the jump duration.
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:28 pm
The jump was completable without any modification...this is the first I've heard of jump duration, I was sent the wip on Mar 4 but I wasn't advised about jump duration.

Not sure why you're having a problem with it, it just takes a few minutes practice for the wall jump timings. I'll upload a little video of me doing it tomorrow.

Anyone else?
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 5:01 pm
Ok I did it, pretty difficult, I like it. Here a little video:

You should definitely enter the competition ;)
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:47 pm
Hi Arbiter,

to be honest I´m a bit glutted with Alex Kidd hacks because some people are going to physically sell them as official releases. But that´s nothing against Calindro (by the way, I´m not sure if his advise was ironic or not) or anybody who is playing with this nice editor, ´cause in the end it depends from how people are using it (see Revo´s Duke Nukem or Mai Kai Quest, which is hopefully still in the making). After watching Revos video of your game, it looks fun so far! The ability to use a wall to reach higher places is a nice idea. This ability needs a new animation - maybe you can make it that Alex´ foot is touching the wall while performing this jump so the player will learn about this move´s existence. You´ve already created new tiles and stuff which is pretty nice =)

Normally I write articles about new or unreleased games for classic platforms (I play them on real hardware only), but at the moment I am not very active (not even on my site) since I suffer from different ailments. Don´t know if I´m generally helpful; the programmers on this board are much more helpful than me =) But I will keep watching at this thread from time to time.

Cheers,
Marco/Gord
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Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 5:49 am
Excuse me, Revo.

You posted work belonging to someone else on Youtube, didn't set it as private, and didn't ask my permission first. That's totally out of order, please take that down. I posted here because it was easier than getting people to email me. I do not expect people to upload the absolute bare bones of what I created. I would certainly upload a trailer in my own time when I am ready to do so but I want the minimum number of people to see what I have so far, I want to avoid people being spoilered for parts of the game, and I would hope for both our sakes that casual YT viewers don't now think you are the author.

I am astonished that a person who made a ROM hack as pleasingly difficult re jumping as Duke Nukem, would say they can't make a jump like that. Perhaps with ROM hackers being very skilled and dedicated I wrongly conflated sms hack fans with mario rom hack fans who tend to enjoy things with a technical difficulty bent. But from what you did it looks like you didn't read my notes above which explain you have to zig zag jump, walljump left to right to left. Though also it looks as though your clip shows the game playing faster than 50fps, also notice that I give myself a couple of lengths further on run-ups before squats. Here's a clip of how I do that without any change in jump duration.



I would appreciate if you retry that method, with your jump duration set at 22, and tell me how you find everything including the jump tower in the castle. Once one is used to the physics the only real stumble is the occasional miss, analogous to points in Janken's castle that required some precision. Do you think the ghost chase at the end of that level is balanced as it stands? I had a bad habit in the past of not breaking such things down into chunks [which led to my first ever level design being 26 screens of ghost chase all at once], whereas this one might eat lives occasionally but nothing worse. I might put one level as right-to left where something harder than this is involved as a segment, which would be near the end of the game. When I started this hack I used an edition that had no jump duration mod, so I am yet to research the ramifications of a 1, 2pt increase to it, though at first thought it might be helpful for 3x2.5 jumps, or 2x2 jumps. All I know is I tried JJ with +80 -64, and a few other jump settings, but none of them worked.

3 people played and so far, one hates it cos of jumping, one seems not to have read *how* to jump, and a third decided to tell me it's Kaizo. Perhaps now you see why I have been tempted to not bother. What I've made is nothing like NES difficulty games, nowhere near. I qualify that I am a speedrunner of games, but see attached my 2 year old design on kaizo levels, then the difference will be clear. Jump 24 24. When you try that, please feel free to use savestates, I am very curious how far you get before trying too much and giving up. Be aware that the item box after the seahorse is what I call a compass flame. Hit from next to the box [not a character length away], and a flame appears that will circle the box's origin. Such flames have a special property in that they do not despawn on vertically scrolling the screen. Indeed I use this in the JJ hack too though in a much more forgiving way.

Gordman, thankyou for the tiles comment! I'm pleased with the pace I set so far because the JJ hack beta you see here [do give it a try] was about 5 days work, which is a far greater pace than I have managed before. I need to redesign the ghost box to have the same recognizable symbolism as the green help arrow. ie these things to be as recognizable as real world hazard signs or road signs. I seem to be decent at tile limited 8x8 designs. Sprites are something I haven't worked on before, I tried to make the scorpions design the same as its hitbox but it would need extra manip hence the current meshuggenahness. I had considered shrinking Alex's sprite to just the hitbox but it's way too small.

But what if I change Alex's gi so that a coloured stripe through the middle represents hitbox horizontal dimension. The player still has to understand the game's hitboxes, the spikes in particular have some non intuitive tolerances [and changing them would confuse AK players too much perhaps not to mention my levels are calibrated on current designs], but it gives a slightly clearer indication for tough spots. Any thoughts?

Calindro modded the crown room ghost remover [entity 61] to cost U100 for me. I realised this means I can smooth out difficulty by adding 'help' paths, which should mean people who have a weakness on [ghost chases, squats, etc etc] can have modular opt-out, then try the other paths as replay value. I'm planning to add sunstones such as in the illusion maze in hard to reach places, as a points system - again, replay value, but also when I have a full beta I can use that to calibrate what sections are too hard or need changes. The U100 tile also allows for a black marketeer concept where I can greatly expand the use of certain items, meaning one is no longer limited to what's in the level's shop[s].

The current plan involves a backstory I wrote which a writer friend quite liked. Following the first game, would be a second with all the kaizo mindfuckery, just for fun. The first game, I am hoping to put a castle shaped level in with a lush jungle/forest, with multi-screen high trees that you have to climb. I also plan for a pyramid [timed squats into tight spots, block punch puzzles, then inside with puzzles to access money areas. A south pole level [hopefully I can design some cute killer penguins], a graveyard. 3/4 uses each of bike and peticopter, and a couple of appearances [with twists] for ox and bear, and the janken match enemies [though depending on public outcry I may make the janken bit just stone stone stone].

For those of you familiar with cult British tv, I have also got a number of ideas from the tv show Knightmare. Also zelda puzzles, all sorts of stuff. I am pondering a way to include something in a reasonable way, called the corridor of blades.



My thought so far is that this would require use of a long fall in a vertical level, and perhaps I could replicate blades by a series of gradually widening spikes from one side [staggered triangle] to let people have reaction time. I can however see a problem with this in that death point respawns might be irksome, so I may save that for the kaizo game where you are on one life but 99 continues, which seems a better fit.

I'm glad you think it's competition worthy, I'll have to see how far I can get though time is now against me. Music is from other games, I'm curious whether the pieces are brand new to any and all of you as I'm quite pleased to have found a source of sn76489 music. I do however at completion intend to request a couple of pieces from any volunteer. If anyone is reading who is interested in composing for the game, I can PM you the details of what I'm after as soon as you like.
AlexKiddAdvanced.ips (135.53 KB)

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Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:00 am
Ah ah you're funny guy. Too bad for you that you seems serious.

I played without modification (so jump duration is 22) and at 60Hz (I call 50Hz cheating).
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Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:07 am
Revo wrote
Ah ah you're funny guy. Too bad for you that you seems serious.

What do you find funny about what I said?

I played without modification (so jump duration is 22) and at 60Hz (I call 50Hz cheating).


No wonder you couldn't do it then, no clue why you think 50 is cheating and I was under the impression you're from France, but you're playing the game with only 5/6ths the time windows to perform the same movements. I'm from the UK, I have no real way to make the hack optimized for 60Hz and I would presume most of the potential audience is in continental Europe or Brazil.

I'm gonna go have a Frank Grimes moment now. AAAAAAHHHHHHHH! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!
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Tried but I don´t play
Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:13 am
I tried this morning both ips and I feel that is a extreme hard hack.
Trying constantly the jump for me is frustating and I can not pass the first screen in both ips.
I thing the dificult may be increased during the game and give the player the opportunity to learn how to do high jumps while is enjojing and playing the game.
Sorry but between the hacks and me there is no conection and I don´t feel it playable.
In my opinion there is necesary a conection between player and game and the game may teach the player with new difficulties or abilities during the game.
This is my opinion after more than 2 hours, reading, playing, reading again, and continue playing.
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Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:23 am
I give up. Byeski
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Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:29 am
It's common to make this kind of super hard hack (new jump mechanic notwithstanding), and I feel the comparison to "NES hard" is not really fair - NES games aren't really any harder than other systems of that generation, and they are not as unfair/hard to pass as this, in general.

Having said that, if that's what you like, why not. If people say they have a hard time (because you require learning the new thing before you can escape the very start) then that is just feedback that it's not for everyone. Commercial games would usually build up the tricky parts, but then again this is just a tech demo so throwing you in at the deep end is not a sin.

More than anything, though, I'd say you should do it for yourself. If you like it, and you enjoy making it, then it's great. If you need praise and validation from others then you will have a harder time.
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Alex Kidd Advanced (was Janbarik Jaunt)
Post Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:27 am
First, were you guys playing with a d-pad, or were you using separate direction keys? Because I'm designing on laptop I'm used to hair trigger changes of direction, which might go some way to explaining issues.

What I posted wasn't intended as the first level of the game - I'm a weirdo cos the way I work best is to set the hardest possible version of things first, then tone down afterwards. I had an idea that just wound up enabling a double wall kick, and went from there. This gives me an idea of the limitations of design with the physics, etc, as well as giving me plenty of material from which I can deconstruct/simplify out into better designs. To my mind, it's easier to make something hard then simplify it than vice-versa, since I can always make later, wholly separate releases, of difficult stuff - either a brutal hard, or a series of assault courses, etc. I was always doing this for myself, but I want the end result to be fun for its audience, in the vein of challenging games.


I still argue what I posted isn't super hard though - I grew up on c64 games, badly designed platformers with collision detection that was off, etc. It's partly psychology; if a high jump is presented with a long run up area, the player has way more spaces where his jump can fail,

I think the main obstacle seems to be the wildly different physics - since people are used to AK having lead weights in his jumps, the idea of preserving momentum for wall kicks, banana jumps, all this stuff becomes like tacking a foreign language on to a base design which gives people cognitive dissonance of expectations. This is to be expected, and is a function of me being a speedrunner, and being blinkered by my own levels of practice in the designs before playtesting by others. I wonder psychologically would people find the physics easier to grasp if the game was presented as outside the Alex Kidd series. Did any of you have a feeling that you were playing an assault course, or as though the levels were like the tv show Ninja Warrior? Perhaps I watched too much Gladiators as a kid xD

I don't want to go too far the other way and need a tutorial level necessarily, or anything too artificial, though if people think it would help, I can certainly do that.

I have been working plenty in the last couple of weeks on a tentative first level. I noticed how claustrophobic my designs tended to be, achieving the same directed flow of play as the original but tending towards Monaco not Monza, and I am working on expanding that out towards more open environments. I also found a wonderful book thegamedesignforum.com/features/RD_SMW_1.html that goes a long way to further breaking down the idea of elemental gameplay which I wish to incorporate. In the past I would tinker endlessly with executed designs, but now that I have a solid amount of level, I can reduce it to a simpler form then get some evaluations.

One quick question: I don't want to burden the player with signs everywhere, but do you think it would be helpful to have a different colour at first, for sections of wall where you have to wallkick over something? See the attached image.
Wallkick.png (433.85 KB)
Wallkick.png

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Alex Kidd Advanced patch
Post Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:46 am
A patch showing current progress starting in level one, other areas are not ascending difficulty. Currently waiting to hear back from an AKIMW speedrunner who is interested, hopefully he can give me an idea how to calibrate the upper limit of the game design.

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Post Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:08 am
I have now created a blog at Alex Kidd Advanced https://alexkiddromhack.wordpress.com/
where I hope to detail progress and get feedback on designs, and other aspects of things. Any comments or complaints about what you see would be most welcome. Equally if as a forum you feel there is no hope for the project, do say, and I can be quiet about it.
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:14 pm
Your game truly is some fun with its interesting physics and some interesting new game mechanics! Good job! :) And not to forget the awesome catchy music. Did you compose it yourself?

Unfortunately it's a bit rough around the edges and could use some more love here and there. Maybe someone can help out with proper graphics?
You should be able to solve some issues such as the wrong graphics for the cloud of dust and the bricks from breaking a block using KiddEd. I can help you with that. And I can also help you with the graphics of the bee. Just let me know. ;)

Anyways, this game is definitely worth a try for everyone looking to find something new and to find some fair challenge.
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