Monday, June 8, 2015

Official Dead Gear website has launched!

Go check it out, peeps! Very excited to finally get the ball rolling!

In addition, if you want to hear me yammer on about stuff and occasionally things about Dead Gear, then follow me on twitter:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Sorry for the long wait! There's been lots and lots and lots of changes and updates!

Expect a new brand-spanking-new website for Dead Gear to be popping up by next month! I'm very excited to push it to the web and get the gears turning!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays

It's been a hectic winter at work, trying to push out a game before the Christmas deadline (we missed it, oh well.) But in the week and a half I'm taking off after Christmas, I'll be able to get a ton of work done on Dead Gear, so I'm very excited. I finally bit the bullet and got a personal Pro license of Unity as well, which is nice because switching between Pro at work and Free at home annoyed me. I've been able to greatly increase the visuals of several aspects of the game, such as a really nice depth of field effect, and soon: dynamic 2D lighting and shadows.

Here's a look at the new dialogue UI and one of my wonderful wife's portraits. She'll be doing all portraits, and hopefully some promotional art as well.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dead Gear Update!

Hey everybody!

It's been a busy year, for me especially. At work, I'm busy doing game and level design work on two separate game projects; at home I'm working hard on a webcomic with my wife, and of course, Dead Gear.
Development has its lulls and sprints, but I think that's just part of the indie experience™.

That being said, there have been a metric ton of huge changes to Dead Gear since our last update. Time for a big photobomb. Remember, just click on the photos if you want a better look at them. Also! Very soon I will be putting up a nice website for the game (it's about time). You'll be able to see it at when it's up and running. I've had the domain for over a year, but just haven't had a chance to use it yet!

The revised title screen! Soon I'll have to animate those ropes and the sails.
Updated title image! Now we have the main symbol of Dead Gear in there (haven't added the words to the animation just yet) spinning around, and it looks pretty nice. As always, the title screen slowly fades from day to evening, to night, to morning and to day again. 

Another big change you probably noticed is that Illyia is now... a redhead!

You look a little different, Illyia.

I did a complete revamp of Illyia's sprite and color scheme. As you can see here, I'm still using her old portrait that has her old colors and outfit.

The biggest reason was visibility. I really liked Illyia's old purple/blue color scheme, but there was one primary complaint that I heard from pretty much everybody: she was hard to see. Her sprite was missing some needed oomph, and to make matters worse, I tend to use blues and purples as shadows in my backgrounds. As a result, Illyia blended way too much into the scenery.

With her new light blue, red and gold colors, she really pops out from the scenery. I also like to think that this is a nice change thematically; she is generally always the warmest colors on the screen. Her warm colors represent warmth and life in a cold, hostile environment. It felt nice.

Those little flowers spin so fast that they create a soothing blue light. They only appear underground.

Will the mystery ever be solved?
Added some extra foreground elements to the airship ruins.

Everywhere you go, there's a chance of seeing a ruined city in the background...
More characters! Who are they?
Another outside shot with the city in the background.

A shot of another zone, the Greenlight Mines.

Adding the roots and crystals gave everything some much needed pep.

Stop it, Illyia can't breath underwater!
Stranger danger.
Pretty! I really am fond of the spinning flowers on the roots.

I also began making an effort to bring more light, color and contrast into the drab colors of the current environments. Adding bright blue crystals, orange roots, crazy spinning blue cave flowers underground, and flashing yellow and green light sources did wonders. I also began adding more foreground and layered background elements where I could to increase visual interest.

And then, there's the gameplay mechanic changes. I redid a pretty significant portion of the entire beginning 'tutorial' section of the game to highlight the new mechanics:

Spikes! Be wary of them, as they instantly kill Illyia.

Wow, death via spikes is pretty bloody.


Respawning at the last save station.

All of her lost BYTES, right where she last died!

There are no game overs in Dead Gear. Instead, when Illyia dies, she is immediately respawned at the last savepoint she touched. However, she leaves 75% of her current EXP (called BYTES) at the location where she died. If she wants it back, she needs to go back to where she died and collect her lost BYTES. If she dies before then, then it's lost forever.

If this sounds familiar, then it should be! This is essentially an adapted version of Dark Souls' bloodstain mechanic; which was also recently used by the excellent game Shovel Knight (which you should be playing if you haven't already). The catch is that upon defeat, monsters will only drop EXP a certain number of times before stopping entirely, meaning that if you lose a lot of EXP without sending it, it's gone forever. So be careful!

You again!

Another big aspect of this system is that it is tied entirely into the game's lore. Unlike the game-story segregation that most other games have; I want death, and respawning to be completely acknowledged within the game universe, and even be a central plot point. Illyia will be dying and respawning for a very specific reason, and it's up to the player to uncover why. Dead Gear has a robust storyline with multiple branching paths and tons of drastically different alternate endings (almost any NPC and story character in the game can die or be saved in some way. No plot armor for anybody, and that's a promise), so I hope that hardcore players will try to achieve them all. (and you better believe there's a special ending/achievement for going through the game without dying once.)

Costs go up globally with every upgrade. Yes, that cost of 1 is just me debugging.

In another similar vein to Dark Souls, Illyia does not level up automatically. Instead, at any save point, she can access the Upgrade Screen and spend her EXP (called BYTES) to raise five different core aspects of her stats: Health, Shield, Attack, Magic, and Memory.

I'll be rebuilding all menus to have a really cool layered 3D look with the new Unity GUI!

This is where Illyia equips any programs she has acquired.

This brings me to another new feature in Dead Gear: Programs. Illyia can find programs and equip programs that affect how she plays. For instance, if she finds and equips the program that grants Double Jump, she can now jump again while in the air. But here's the catch: each program requires MEMORY to run, and Illyia only has so much MEMORY (although Max Memory can be leveled up with BYTES!)

There are many kinds of different programs. Some boost HP, some boost attack range, some expensive programs may even completely change how different magics and attacks work. For example, Illyia has a basic Fireball spell, and she has two different programs: FIREALT1 and FIREALT2. Equipping FIREALT1 changes the spell to fire two fireballs at the same time.

Equipping FIREALT2 allows you to charge the fireball, and release it as a giant fireball with a big explosion!

But both require a hefty Memory. This allows players to create different kinds of builds with Illyia to better fit their own playstyle, with a lot of cool combinations that I hope players will have fun exploring.

Nothing as intense as Macintosh-era ASCII art, Illyia

That's the spirit

who's a cute little AI? It's you!

WISP shines and sparkles when he's happy.

Another thing I'm sure you've noticed is the cute little ball following Illyia around. His name is WISP, and he's a tiny personal Artificial Intelligence that speaks only in diamonds, hearts, spades and clovers.

Illyia gains him early in the game, and he grants Illyia a rechargeable shield to protect her from some attacks, as well as scooping up any BYTES that fall from enemies.

This is the first available hack. Some of them are fiendishly difficult. The Xs wiggle so the screen doesn't look so static.

In addition, later in the game; some doors and containers will be electronically locked. WISP can enter the locks and 'hack the mainframe' to grant access, through a pretty cool snake-based minigame.

There's a lot more I want to tell you, but dang, I don't want to give it all away, either! I'll just post some extra screens.

Here's one of the save stations.

Illyia's wind magic! It's a crazy bouncing ball of wind. Super fun.


Well hello there.

Well, that was close. I'm sure I'll be seeing you again...



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another Trove of Dead Gear Screens

Hey guys, sorry for the long wait; I've been busy heavily revising and polishing the very first portion of Dead Gear. Here's a big bunch of screenshots to take a look at! Click on the images to zoom in on them, but keep in mind that the image compression's a little on the heavy side.

Daytime Title Screen

As you can see, I've redone the original title screen. I liked the idea behind the original, but it was too barren for my liking. So I zoomed way in; showing Illyia waiting on the airship. The airship slowly ebbs down and upward, and the sky still shifts from day to night, to day again. I'm playing with the idea of maybe adding more characters into the title screen as Illyia meets them, might be a cute touch.

Delicious exposition
Yes, you did.
Harrison in the intro

I decided to move the very beginning of the game into the ruins of the ship itself, and established the character Harrison right off the bat, instead of 30 minutes in; giving the player some urgency in the story.

You might also notice that I did away with the small box portraits to do more full-body portraits. I felt too restricted to the tiny boxes, and letting me expand past them allowed me to flex some more art muscles.

You might also ALSO notice that I've jazzed up Illyia's base sprite. Her original sprite was too desaturated and as a result, would often blend too easily into the backgrounds. I increased her sprite size, gave her a more saturated blue for her hair, added detail to her clothes, and gave her a hair ornament. (Which isn't in the new portrait yet!)

Illyia Ph.D

Tutorials? In MY metroidvania? Yeah, maybe.

There are tutorials! Don't worry, they're mostly just tiny blurbs like this about which keys to press.





Combat is finally in! Enemies can damage Illyia, Illyia can cast and equip magic to attack, and it's pretty fun!
Take that, enemies that have no AI and sit there idle.

I'm a fan of this room.

I'll get you one day, sleeping bird

Portraits for everyone!
Much of the very beginning is fairly new; and not in my original design. I felt that the player needed to be eased a little more into the system. It's a little easier with console games and more actiony metroidvanias; there are only so many buttons to press and your demographic are people familiar with the genre.

WIP sprite for the first big boss; testing out the size

Exploring the ruins of the airship

It's flooded!


What a mess.

Hopefully this quenched your thirst for updates! I'm still working hard as ever on Dead Gear.