Friday, December 8, 2017

Mega Man 11: The Return of an Icon


It has been a long 7-year wait since anything genuinely new came from one of the most beloved video game franchises in history. After the release of Mega Man 10 on March 1, 2010 Capcom has only been able to release collection packages of past Mega Man games. However, during a stream in the beginning of December that honored Mega Man’s 30th Anniversary Capcom boldly revealed that a new installment to the Mega Man franchise is coming to modern consoles in Winter 2018.

Game Informer, one of the most recognizable game reviewing outlets, got their hands on Mega Man 11 to see how the new game played, and they gathered considerable information. For starters the art style of this game is delivering more of a modern anime-inspired look, whereas Mega Man 9 and 10 paid tribute to the original 8-bit art style. The selection process of which Robot Master players want to go after hasn’t changed from the 8-bit days as all 8 bosses will be available right from the start.

Mega Man’s controls are as precise and tight as they were in the early games of the franchise. Mega Man can still charge up his shots and slide to avoid enemy attacks. One thing Mega Man games are well known for is the challenge in platforming. In Mega Man 11 players can expect to experience the same kinds of challenges when reaching one platform from another just as they did when playing the original NES games.

Speaking of challenges, Capcom has acknowledged that not everyone is great at playing Mega Man games, so in Mega Man 11 different sets of difficulty modes will be available. There is the Normal difficulty mode, but there is also Superhero mode where Mega Man fans can really test themselves. Players who find Mega Man’s style of platforming daunting don’t need to worry as modes like Casual and Newcomer will be available for them.

While playing a level in Mega Man 11 players will notice slight shift in perspective as they will now have both a slightly higher and zoomed out view of the action. This will help players in preparing for what’s ahead in a level.

In the early NES games it was traditional for Mega Man to change colors every time a new robot master weapon. However, Capcom has envisioned a concept where Mega Man’s helmet will change shape to resemble more like the chosen robot master when different weapons are equipped in Mega Man 11.

Switching between 8 different robot master abilities will no longer have to be cycled through on shoulder buttons nor activated on the pause menu. Mega Man 11 allows players to quickly hot swap between weapons with just a flick of the right analog stick. This also enables the possibility of players to string together varying robot master attacks.

In an exclusive interview with Game Informer producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya and game director Koji Oda described the development process of Mega Man 11 and how some aspects were challenging to address. Their approach to developing the game was to make it challenging but not too complicated while bringing back elements from past Mega Man games that worked. Tsuchiya and Oda confirmed that they had a nice pool of talent to choose from in developers, both young and old, being either avid Mega Man fans or experienced developers who have never worked on a Mega Man game before.

Mega Man 11 marks the return of an icon in the gaming industry who stands alongside Mario, Link, Kirby, Sonic and others as an influential character for gamers who want to test their skills.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What My Future Holds

The title of this blog post is to the point. What my future holds is something that I have been thinking about for some time now. At this same point last year in December of 2016 I wrote to you, blog readers, about how I needed 2017 to be the year where I'd really get something going in terms of game development. Long story short, my boxing kangaroo 2D sidescrolling platforming game project fizzled out for a variety of reasons, and it's highly questionable if I'll ever get back to working on that project.

So where do I need to go now? What do I do? Or how about... what have I done recently?

Game Writing for a Friend

I've been in talks with a good friend of mine in the Columbus, Ohio area about wanting to write narrative for a 3D game. I'm up for the task, but it's just a matter of me trying out the game to get a feel for how it plays and what its story is really about. I need to jump on that soon. I can definitely see myself devoting some time to making narrative dialogue in this 3D game. I promised this friend that I would look into this game, and I will do that.

My Own Game Project

Also, I've been keeping myself busy working on a custom game project of my own. Right now I want to keep the core details of this game project a secret. I will only feel comfortable spilling the beans about this project once I have considerable progress made on it. I can say that I have people excited and genuinely interested, and that's a good thing. I'm putting in the work on programs like Unity 3D and Blender, and as you can tell this work has taken my time away from posting on this blog, so I guess I have a good excuse for not being present on this blog for all of November, huh? ;-)

Starting with Blender, I have had a VERY fun time working on this animation program while learning the ins and outs of it. Blender has opened a new world for me in terms of creativity and what I can show off to people. Creating stuff in Blender like detailed models and nice scenes allows me to have a better grasp on what people are talking about in game development. I watch tutorial videos on Blender all the time now, and I can say for a fact that this was a great decision on my part.

I'd personally like to start sharing my Blender creations with you blog readers very soon, but I'll see how I can fit these kinds of updates on my already busy schedule.

Now with Unity, this program has been an interesting adventure for me take on. Trial and error really explains my adventure with Unity. I've made breakthroughs, and I've also made mistakes. That comes with the territory of getting used to a new program. I'm inclined to say that Unity 3D is a program catered to those who have advanced knowledge on using similar programs. I'm not one of those people.

It's obvious that if you've used Unity in any capacity, you'd know that there's A LOT to learn. There are so many things you have to account for when making your own build for a game in Unity. I capitalized "a lot" because I can't put enough emphasis on that. It helps your cause if you have messed with anything related to computer science in the past. If not, don't worry. Many people learn as they go, and that's the point of Unity.

Here's the truth of the matter. I can't just be a creative writer if I'm going to make any sort of noise in game development. In recent years this has been made super obvious to me. Either you have some sort of experience using programs like Unity and Blender or you're gonna get passed up millions of times by game dev teams, indie and AAA alike. This is the reality you must accept if you're serious about entering the field of game development.

2018 is going to be another adjustment period of time for me, and one that I feel is necessary. If I need to dive into programs like Unity and Blender in order to get the attention of game devs, so be it. The more I learn, the better prepared I will be. The Global Game Jam is having its annual event at the end of January, next month, and I intend to be at the Columbus site of the Jam to do my part on a team. Once I commit to something, I'm not gonna look back, so prepare for more important updates.