Tag Archives: soul

First Impression: Soul Warrior Merope (PC) ~ Featuring The Developer

SnLGTK

Itch.io pageDeveloper TwitterTrailer

Today I’m going to write a special article. Last year, a friend of mine created a game called “Soul Warrior Merope“. At first, he wanted to create this game for mobile platforms but due to some technical difficulties, the game has been released on PC. I promised him to write an article about the game to promote and here we are. I’m sorry mate that it took so long for me to get around to it, but better late than never. So, I think it would be quite fun to review this game interview style. Yes, interview style. So, I wrote a sort of review where I asked the developer to respond to why he created the game in a certain way and things of that nature. So, introducing Priom from HatCatGames, the developer of this game.

Before I begin, I have to give some disclosure. I have helped Priom testing a previous build of the game while he was developing the game. I only gave him some advice to improve the quality of his game. But, this was when he was still developing it for mobile platforms.

Editorial note: Some friends call me Neko, others call me Jonez. If Priom mentions Jonez, he means me.

Jonez: Before we start, feel free to introduce yourself Priom. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you started developing games. Have you created other games before Soul Warrior Merope? How long was the development process for the game?

Priom: Well, I’m Quazi Fahian Muntakim. Better known as Priom or Bear Gril if you only know me on select social media platforms. I’m currently a university student from Bangladesh and a hobbyist game dev.

As for how I got here, well, I think you bore witness to some of it, Jonez. I love video games always have. Fun fact, our family was one of the earliest to adopt a computer for consumer use in Bangladesh. So I always had a love for games. Especially Side-Scrollers and RPGs.

But I think the want to make my own game for others to enjoy. And to weave interesting stories that can only be done in this medium. I think that idea started in 2012 when one of our mutual friends introduced us to RPG MAKER. And that desire kept growing until I joined the GMTK Game Jam 2017 and felt like I wanted to make something that’s available for just about anyone to play!

8RDZod

Jonez: Visually, this game looks like it was created on the NES or with a sort of pixel-art style in mind. I quite like the visual style of the while. Why did you choose for this visual style? I noticed that the castle has a lot of darker tones and the outside is more colorful. Is the art style inspired by other games or franchises?

Priom: Well again, much like you, I love retro games. Some of my fondest memories come from the GBA, which also had a lot of ports for SNES games. So of course, I wanted to follow that style. Other than that I feel like pixel-art has become an art form in itself in recent times, rather than being a product of limited hardware. So choosing this particular style was a no-brainer.

As for inspiration, I can think of 2. Team Cherry’s “Hollow Knight” and Bombservice’s “Momodora” franchise. Both of them have a cutesy yet somewhat grim art-style which I absolutely adore. Other than that, I have had people mention the castle interiors remind them of “Prince of Persia” for the DOS. I wasn’t exactly trying to replicate that but perhaps it was a subconscious decision, hmm?

Jonez: The game tells a story about a young strong lady Merope looking for two missing children. A mysterious figure called Madd has something to do with it. So, are you in Madd’s castle or lair? How involved is the story, is it extremely present or does it take a backseat while the visuals and gameplay tell most of the story?

Priom: Well, since it is at the very start of the story. I guess I could tell you. The castle belonged to Arthur, the tiny glowing spirit following you around. But he and his people have been long dead. So Madd is using Arthur’s castle as a hideout.

As for the story, I was going for a bit of a free-fall route. The idea was to make an opening with a strong yet simple premise that I can add on to later. So the story’s presence is like that too. Where there’s a lot happening at the start after that you get to experience the story at your own pace while exploring the castle.

I’d like to mention that I do want to make games with more plot later on. I’ve actually gotten into the habit of having a notepad on my person and taking notes whenever ideas pop up.

Jonez: So, you can name your own price on Itch.IO for this game. Basically, the consumer can pay anything they want. Does this decision have a special reason?

Priom: The reason was simple. As this is the first game I made public like this I wanted as many people to play it as possible! It also provides an opportunity for more people to provide feedback. And I have been receiving useful feedback. So it all works out.

Jonez: In some cases, the game is a bit rough around the edges. Like hitboxes of objects only reacting to the tip of the sword or not having a jumping animation. Game development isn’t an easy task and there are so many things to keep in mind while creating a game. What did you focus on while developing?

Priom: Well, the game was rather *experimental* is how I’d put it. If there was anything I wanted to try that could help me further later on then I took it as being worth it. Which might have resulted in some things being a bit subpar than others I’d admit. But I’d like to think even the shortcomings are valuable learning experiences. You don’t realize certain things until others point them out or you relax your mind a bit.

Jonez: Now, I have a sort of related question. Let’s say that you had all the knowledge, time and resources to change a few things in the game. Which things would you change and why would you change them?

Priom: The checkpoint system. It would’ve gone bye-bye in exchange for a more standard system. It was fine at first but it managed to create more and more restrictions as the game got more fleshed out.

As for additions, I would probably just made the castle bigger with more visual lore added. I’d add a better catalog of info and a more informative UI. Along with lots of tweaks for the melee combat from experiences I gained from Game Jams I joined later down the line.

A9Hm_W

Jonez: The game plays like a Metroidvania, where you have to get new abilities and get stronger to progress. Was it easy to find mechanics that set your game apart like using lives for your special abilities or did you had to try a lot of ideas?

Priom: As I said. Soul Warrior Merope was born from the GMTK Game Jam 2017. Which was a 2-day jam where you have to make a game under a theme? The main theme of that jam a single mechanic with multiple functions. The other abilities kind of grew from that original idea.

Jonez: Let’s talk about the music and sound design. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, how did you decide which sound effects to include or not include?

Priom: I think there are 8 music tracks in total. An intro, 5 for the five major areas, the boss theme which has 3 variations based on which boss you’re fighting and a track used for a very specific ending. All of the tracks are long enough so that you’ll pass through the area before the songs loop too many times.

As for sound effects, I actually like to believe that you should have enough recognizable SFX that someone can make a guess as to what’s happening blindfolded. In that sense, I would’ve preferred to add more SFX if I had more time too. But what’s chosen is the ones that are absolutely necessary to convey what’s going on, granted as long as they don’t sound bad.

Jonez: So, you told me once that you were creating the game in YoYo Games’ GameMaker: Studio. Why did you choose that engine? Apart from that program, which tools did you use and for what? Did you run into any trouble?

Priom: Well, I think it was in 2015 or earlier when my younger brother told me that Game Maker Studio’s Standard Edition was free. I was still using RPG Maker at that time but found it rather restricting. I did not, however, have much coding knowledge since my educational curriculum at that time only involved some basic C++ and HTML. So, a programmable engine for free was a generally risk-free investment. After using it I found a YouTuber by the name of HeartBeast who has some amazing tutorials that I definitely recommend for people starting out. And well I kinda just got used to the engine and bought the pro version.

Other than that, I used Piskel & Paint.Net for the art, LMMS+Audacity for audio and my younger brother, who was responsible for some of the art such as the UI and menu icons, used Aseprite.

As for the issues we faced, as time’s going on Game Maker Studio 1.x is becoming more and more obsolete. Google’s new policy doesn’t allow 32-bit apps on the play store anymore which means the game couldn’t be put into the platform. Not to mention, it didn’t provide me with a proper description of why the Android export stopped functioning too. It’s still pretty good for PC games though.

Jonez: The game isn’t that easy, you really have to learn the various abilities of your character and explore around. How did you decide to balance the game?

Priom: Well, that was the reasoning behind letting the player explore around so many of the different areas from the get-go. The game is actually less linear than initial impressions may imply. The idea is that if you get stuck in a certain place it’s perfectly fine to explore another place and through the use of the abilities you have at that moment you might be able to take a completely different route than the intended route of the game.

Jonez: Do you have any plans for the game? Do you plan on updating the game with new content, bug fixes, improvements…?

Priom: Initially, after making the game public like this. I wanted to keep it like that. But I’ve mentioned on twitter recently that I haven’t coded anything in the engine for a while due to my PC being broken. So changing certain things based on all the responses I received might be good for me to get back on track. But that all is uncertain. I do have plans on making larger and more polished games using the valuable lessons learned from the experience of making Soul Warrior Merope though. So I’d like to end this by thanking everyone who decided to give the game a shot. Thank you!

End of the interview

rMFJZW

And with that all said, I found this quite an enjoyable experience to write an article like this. Maybe if I have the time, I might write another one on a different game. In any case, I want to thank my buddy Priom quite a lot for giving me the chance to be a part of his dream and giving me the chance of writing this special article with him.

So, I highly recommend that you give this game a try. It might be a bit experimental and a bit rough around the edges but I honestly think that this won’t be his last project and any constructive feedback you send him, he can use to become an even better developer. On top of that, his very first game is pretty enjoyable and has quite a lot of charm.

And with that, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in a future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

My favorite gaming music #18: Chilling with music

gaymersMore gaming music articles.

So, I wanted to share some tracks that I love in the games I have played. One of my favorite music genres is soundtracks actually. At work, I listen to various streaming websites that play gaming music 24/7. And in this series on my blog, I pay tribute to my favorite tracks. The rules are simple. In each article, I’m allowed to talk about only one track per franchise and I only talk about the original track that you can hear in-game. Oh, feel free to post a comment when you see me posting a song twice. In any case, feel free to also post a comment with your favorite music and/or your opinion on my chosen tracks for this article. So, enough introduction. It’s time to talk about some new music tracks! The theme of this article will be clear very soon. Ready? Go!

Pokémon Gold / Silver / Crystal (GBC) ~ VS. Lance

Pokémon_box_art_-_Gold_VersionMy review

So, back in 1999, you are sitting in your most comfy gaming spot. With a new pair of batteries in your Gameboy Color and with your favorite drink and snack beside you. You prepare for a big event in your Pokémon Journey since you have beaten the 8 gym leaders. Then you go and fight the Elite Four. After a tough fight, you finally end up at the Champion. After you chat with Lance, the battle animation starts. You slide in from the right, and Lance slides in from the left.

This is the final challenge of your amazing journey through the Johto region. The intro of the song gets you ready for a tense fight. But after a few notes, the song gets more intense. You try to focus on the battle and meanwhile, the song playing in the background is making the battle even more memorable.

Your young brain is so focused and drawn into this fight thanks to the atmosphere this track brings. Even when you notice that this track has some repetition in it, you ignore it and you get drawn into the fight more and more. When you defeated Lance, you continue your journey.

Then almost ten years later, when the remakes of these games come on the market, you do the whole journey again. But when you hit the fight with Lance, you get that strange feeling. Nostalgia. The remade track is all too familiar. You start to tear up thinking back of all the memories this game, the remake, the journey and the experience brought you. Well, that’s how it went for me at least.

The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword (Wii) ~ Zelda’s Lullaby

ZeldaskywardswordlogoFirst impression

I always played games on the latest Nintendo Gameboy or I played games on the PC. I fell in love with one series. The Legend Of Zelda series. I remember it well, I was in a big convenience store. I was in the games section and I saw the GBA port of the first Legend Of Zelda game.

I heard rumors about a game series that took the player on an adventure. An adventure to slay evil creatures and rescue the princess. They said it had a big open world full of secrets and dungeons.

The game was on sale. I begged my mom to buy it for me and after I went home, I didn’t play any other game until I had beaten that Zelda game. After that, I tried to collect all the Zelda games. Let’s skip ahead a few years until my graduation from high school. As a present, I got my very first console, the Nintendo Wii. I wanted to buy it since I was extremely hyped for the Zelda games that were coming out for it. I pre-ordered Skyward Sword, and admittedly; I didn’t regret it. I enjoyed myself a whole lot but something happened. When Zelda’s Lullaby started playing in that amazing orchestral version, not only my nostalgic bone got hit… My emotions as well. All the joy & memories I got from the Zelda series got to me. I placed the Wii remote in front of me and I just started at the scene. Tears coming up my eyes. That moment is one of the most memorable moments I got with the Zelda series.

Mirror’s Edge (PC) ~ Edge and Flight

250px-Mirror's_EdgeGames I wished I finished (2013)

I bought this game a long time after it has been released. I bought it for almost three years after release. I was in college studying Computer Science. During a break, I went into the city together with a few students. When we went into a toy and games store, we saw three copies of this game for 5€. We decided to buy it.

One of the students is actually still one of my best friends. His name is MiseryLC. Well, his nickname at least. We both played this game in school during breaks on our school laptops. They were just strong enough. While we felt that the laptop was clearly overheating, we didn’t care. We played this game.

MiseryLC is pretty good when it comes to parkour in games. I’m a complete failure when it comes to pretty complex gaming puzzles. But strangely, this game drew me in. I started to get better at parkours. The game got it hooks in me. But then, I started to encounter the more graphics-heavy sections and my laptop started to struggle to run the game. So, I set the game aside.

But this year, I bought the sequel to this game. Called Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. So, I think it’s time to play through both games again. Just to get to complete Mirror’s Edge experience. It still surprises me that I play a game where the main mechanic is platforming and parkouring around. So, to honor this game because I like it a whole lot, I selected one of my favorite tracks from the soundtrack! Thank you EA & Dice for this excellent series.

Wrapping up

Thank you for reading this article. If you haven’t already guessed it, in this article I selected three tracks that mean a lot to me. Three tracks that have some history to me.

These three aren’t the only ones that have some history to me. But, the other tracks are for another article. I’m curious, what tracks have a personal meaning for you and why? Feel free to leave that in a comment too.

In any case, thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then; take care and have a great rest of your day!