Projects, Updates and Flying Sheep!
Dr. Fastbro Issue #16
by, 10-30-2010 at 10:00 AM (462 Views)
The sort of stuff you'd expect from an Intro...
Time for another dose of LBP for PSP goodness!
In this Issue...
-More fantastic levels for you to play!
-A Poo-Tastic Interview! (Man, that sounds wrong!)
My pick of the recently published levels...
Carniverous Caves by Hellobob5
An fun and well designed cave rocky platformer! With great sticker work and music usage, you'd have to be bonkers to miss out!
[Lovely Winter] by Happyface4
A beautiful winter silloutte level. And it's race level, making it perfect for you highscore chasers! (Hint, hint, Peton_is_bloody!) I strongly recommend this level as a perfect time waster!
Yes, err... quite a small amount of levels this week... So I thought I'd shove in some shameless advertising of my New Level.
THE MAKING OF... SHALLOW SPRINGS
How the professionals do it...
This week I
stalkedinterviewed amazingflyingpoo about his groundbreaking RPG level, Shallow Springs! Now let's get on with it shall we?
Where did your inspiration come from when making the level?
Whenever I make a level, I always try to have something unique about it that will make people feel like the level has something special about it.
While working on Lost at Sea I came up with the idea to make a level where your wife gets kidnapped and pulled into a forest and you had to play through a haunted forest to save her. As I worked on Lost at Sea this idea for my next level kept changing, and I wasn't all to happy with the concept because it didn't have some unique aspect to it that would make it stand out.
Almost immediately after publishing Lost at Sea I came up with the idea to have boards emit which have the thoughts of your character. I hoped that as the player progressed through the level, they could hear sackboy thinking about what is going on, and it could give hints as to what they need to do, or it could give them insight into the story itself.
I was very excited about the idea, but as I began implementing it I found that it would take far too much thermo to actually complete it. I won't go into much detail past this since this sort of leads into a future questions.
While the level has some elements from Silent Hill, it certainly wasn't meant to be a Silent Hill level, and it didn't start out as anything like Silent Hill. It was actually going to be a platformer originally, but I decided to try to make a full blown RPG style level like I had made on PS3 and see how it turned out. Because of that, it had a town and a story and I think that this made it feel a lot more like a Silent Hill level then I even meant for it to since you are searching for your wife. I absolutely love Silent Hill, so I certainly don't mind that people draw parallels.
Did the level work out as originally planned, or were you forced to change/remove sections?
Like I said, I was hoping to use those boards with text on them to tell you sackboys thoughts as you played. By the time that I had built the level to the point that you reached that hole to the right of the start where the black tentacles come out when you grab the ground, it became obvious that I just couldn't pull off what I wanted to. The thermo was rising much faster than I had ever expected.
It seems to me that if you go overboard with stickers, then stickers begin to take up a lot more thermo than they usually do. Maybe it was a bug I ran into, because once I had all the tree stickers in the background (well... bird feet stickers) and all the letters used for the thoughts, it was getting to the point that just a few stickers seemed to make a noticeable difference on the thermo.
I ended up deciding that I needed to change my plan of attack. Instead of travelling through a haunted forest where sackboys thoughts could be read on signs, I needed to have interaction with other characters (for the record, I refuse to have sackboys thoughts represented in text bubbles because it is confusing and it just ruins the feel of a level for me. On a side note, if other authors choose to do it then that is fine!). This is when I decided to make it an RPG style level and build a town with houses that peeled back when you entered them and such,
The level completely changed direction then. I still had the wife disappearing, and some sinister power at hand, but now there was a cult (though the player didn't realize it at first).
I knew that I needed something more than that though. After spending a few days in thought, I came up with the concept of the black and white transition, and that led into the fact that the town was actually existing in a sort of unstable dimension that could pass between the normal world and somewhere else. Everything just came together at that point. I was very pleased with having the black and white transition, because at that time I had not seen anyone use black and white or a transition into it and out of it like I did, plus I still got to include the thought boards at the start of the level which felt unique.
I think that I was able to do just about everything that I had changed my plans to at this point in the process (around when I began creating the black/white transition as you enter the town).
Did you have any difficulty creating a sinister atmosphere without lighting?
Actually, I don't remember having all that hard of a time. If this had been the first dark environment that I had made then I would have probably ripped my hair out. Thankfully I had already created a dark and stormy environment in Now and Then. It was a painful process to do this, because I had made an environment on PS3 in my level LBL#4 which had a pretty cool dark environment with a believable thunderstorm and awesome sound, but by the time I was done with Now and Then I had a good understanding of what I could do and couldn't do. To top that off, Lost at Sea sealed the deal in letting me know what I was able to handle.
In the end, I didn't depend much on the darkness aspect, but rather building an environment that interacts in unexpected ways (and I was pretty happy with that forest at the start as well). My goal was to just have the level feel very strange. For instance, you start off and the first line was something like "I first noticed that something was wrong when I woke up in the night... Jessica was gone and the tent was wide open". This sort of tosses the player into a mysterious scenario that I personally found sort of frightening seeing as I based it off of camping which I love to do but leaves you rather vulnerable.
After this they find that they are stranded, and odd sounds begin to show up as anomalies occur. The idea was to have most anomalies simply disappear quickly to give the player the feeling of "did that just happen?". Some are meant to surprise them (like the hotel room), and others are meant to just make them wonder what is going on (like the eye ball bouncing around at the start and the tentacles). The black/white taking over the world was meant to just add to the mystery of the level, and hopefully to also add to the tension.
With all of this combined, I never found myself wishing to have other tools to work with. I know that no PSP authors have some secret tools that I don't have, so it was nice to embrace what we have and see what I could do with it to make an eerie level.
How did you go about making such an epic boss fight?
I had planned on having the level basically end at the top of the church. I already knew how to do the mechanic of throwing back the fireball, but that was about all I had as I created the entire level. I built the level from left to right, and when I got to the church, I built the monster into the bell tower, but didn't actually have any tech built into it to have it do anything. It would just sit there moving up and down as if it was breathing.
When I designed it, I had originally planned it to be more of a demon-bird sort of thing, but I'm glad that didn't work out because I love how it turned out.
Once I finished the puzzle I went back to the monster and began deciding what to do with it. I really wanted it to be a multistage boss, and I wanted each stage to seem very unique. I already had the idea for throwing the fireball back at it, but I wanted to have a reason for it to throw the fireball at you in the first place, so I decided to include the bell ringing mechanic.
This led into the idea of getting up to the bell, and that led directly into what the monster's first attack would be, which was to bash the roof and knock part of it in onto the player. With these combined elements, I had the boss basically figured out.
It really seems sort of easy, but let me tell you, there is a lot going on back there. I needed to make sure that once the monster beat one side of the bell tower, both sides would reset so that you wouldn't run to the left just to have him immediately beat the left. It would just become a jumbled mess if you just had him attacking non-stop, especially once he began throwing fireballs! This is just one small problem that I needed to account for.
I ended up building all of the mechanics in a single day, and I spent maybe 5 or 6 hours on it (maybe more) because I was very worried that I would forget how the tech worked if I set it down and came back to it the next day. It was amazing to see it finally come together, and by the end of it I really had the tech worked out so I could tweak just about anything about it to make the timing exactly how I wanted it.
I am thrilled that people have enjoyed the boss because I have always wanted to make a boss but I just wasn't sure if I could make something that people would remember.
Overall, how long did the level take to make?
I think that it took around 3 months, but that was during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) holiday here in China. That means that I had no school, which gave me a lot more time to work on it, but it also means that I did a lot of travelling so a few of those weeks had me not using the PSP at all.
I spent more time on this level then any other level on PSP.
Thanks for your time Poo!
DLC, Contests and much, much more!
Ok the big news this week is... *Checks News Sub Forum* Umm... Bear with me! *Checks Contest Sub Forum* Aha! The launch of the new LBL contest: Boss Battle Blitz! If you didn't enter the last contest offering the LittleBigBoffin sticker, then you now have a second chance. All you have to do is create truely epic boss. (Refer to Shallow Sprigs for inspiration ) I hope to see many of you entering! (I know I will be!)
*Throws common sense out the window*
Hey guys! B3 wasn't able to write Randomness this week, let's just say his Halloween Prank went a little wrong. Ok, so it's Halloween tomorrow! The night where monsters (and Politicians) come out to feast on human flesh! So who will you be dressing up as? I know for sure that I'm going as This Guy!
A final quote to round up the Issue...
This week I'm posting a short, sweet and very disturbing quote from The-Questor:
And on that note, it's time to bring another Issue to an end... I hope you guys had fun!Originally Posted by The-Questor
amazingflyingpoo - For allowing me to
Jeffcu28 - For coming up with the "Dr. Fastbro" name!
The PSP Community - For being so awesome!