Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by ShantaeVocaloid on Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:10 pm

Paragon-Yoshi wrote:I am still wondering why nobody seems to have been giving this second thought. :/

'Cuz it'd be an interesting way to introduce Shantae newbies to the characters.

Besides, the Shantae games themselves seem to be heading this way anyway, after...well, you know what happened. In my opinion, keep the characters, but make them unlockable.

The Shantae characters can be unlocked by completing Shantae songs, and the Mighty characters can be unlocked by completing Mighty songs. (No idea how you'd unlock Alta, though.)
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:36 pm

Two reasons why adding in extra characters is for the better.

First reason is because it's a fan game, and the main purpose is to get the word out on Shantae, but she is part of WayForward. So why not include other WayForward characters, with Shantae being the lead. This way, players will have an opportunity to get a better understanding of the other characters. I like Shantae a lot, she's a great character, but I also like Risky, Rotty, Sky, Patty, and Alta as well. In fact, my favorite WayForward character of all time is Luna.

Reason two. If Shantae is the only character dancing in a game that's primary about dancing, then this game will become one-dimensional. Remember how I asked for other song choices and the majority of them were songs that fit "Shantae", but some didn't fit the dancing theme? Same here, but with the art. Having a lack of variety in the music, art, and animation could cause people to lose interest in Shantae before they even get started with one of her original games. By bringing in her friends, co-workers, and Risky, people can see that there's more to this character and WayForward.

Besides, who doesn't want to see those other characters dance? Rotty's a zombie so when I think of her dancing, I think of Thriller dance steps. Patty Wagon's a cyborg, she could do the Robot. You said it yourself that Risky shook her booty right before Shantae entered Twinkle Palace... Risky could dance Burlesque!!! Now tell me, do you REALLY not want to see that happen?

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by Nai255 on Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:59 pm

I like the new HUD. It's only natural in dance games that the input cues are gonna obstruct the action in the background in some way or another, and this seems like a good setup so far.

different characters with different dance styles, AND custom tracks?
sounds pretty ambitious, but if you're able to pull it off, it'd be interesting

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by ShantaeVocaloid on Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:45 pm

MikeHarvey wrote:Two reasons why adding in extra characters is for the better.

First reason is because it's a fan game, and the main purpose is to get the word out on Shantae, but she is part of WayForward. So why not include other WayForward characters, with Shantae being the lead. This way, players will have an opportunity to get a better understanding of the other characters. I like Shantae a lot, she's a great character, but I also like Risky, Rotty, Sky, Patty, and Alta as well. In fact, my favorite WayForward character of all time is Luna.

Reason two. If Shantae is the only character dancing in a game that's primary about dancing, then this game will become one-dimensional. Remember how I asked for other song choices and the majority of them were songs that fit "Shantae", but some didn't fit the dancing theme? Same here, but with the art. Having a lack of variety in the music, art, and animation could cause people to lose interest in Shantae before they even get started with one of her original games. By bringing in her friends, co-workers, and Risky, people can see that there's more to this character and WayForward.

All good points. I wonder why I didn't think of that...
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by Paragon-Yoshi on Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:08 am

MikeHarvey wrote:Two reasons why adding in extra characters is for the better.

First reason is because it's a fan game, and the main purpose is to get the word out on Shantae, but she is part of WayForward. So why not include other WayForward characters, with Shantae being the lead. This way, players will have an opportunity to get a better understanding of the other characters. I like Shantae a lot, she's a great character, but I also like Risky, Rotty, Sky, Patty, and Alta as well. In fact, my favorite WayForward character of all time is Luna.

Reason two. If Shantae is the only character dancing in a game that's primary about dancing, then this game will become one-dimensional. Remember how I asked for other song choices and the majority of them were songs that fit "Shantae", but some didn't fit the dancing theme? Same here, but with the art. Having a lack of variety in the music, art, and animation could cause people to lose interest in Shantae before they even get started with one of her original games. By bringing in her friends, co-workers, and Risky, people can see that there's more to this character and WayForward.

Besides, who doesn't want to see those other characters dance? Rotty's a zombie so when I think of her dancing, I think of Thriller dance steps. Patty Wagon's a cyborg, she could do the Robot. You said it yourself that Risky shook her booty right before Shantae entered Twinkle Palace... Risky could dance Burlesque!!! Now tell me, do you REALLY not want to see that happen?

All good. But it still doesn't help, if you put them into tasks that are not their thing.

There are other ways to introduce characters.
Like making them appear in the different backgrounds, while Shantae is dancing.
Or by making character profiles unlockable.


I'll stay by it: A character choice would be a bad idea for this game.
Characters like Rotty or Risky are just not made for dancing.
And forcing those tasks upon them would be stupid and probably detrimental to the game.
Not every game is made for character selection.

Like I said before: Shantae is the only dancer in the series, besides the genie's who taught her dances.
And it'd be stupid to give new players the wrong idea.

And the variety in this game comes from the different songs and dance-steps that Shantae performs and not from multiple characters.
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:18 am

Paragon-Yoshi wrote:
I'll stay by it: A character choice would be a bad idea for this game.
Characters like Rotty or Risky are just not made for dancing.
And forcing those tasks upon them would be stupid and probably detrimental to the game.
Not every game is made for character selection.
Like I said before: Shantae is the only dancer in the series, besides the genie's who taught her dances.
And it'd be stupid to give new players the wrong idea.

I know that the chances of Sky or Rotty dancing is slim to none and Risky would never dance at all... in the official games. But do keep in mind that this is a fan game, so having WayForward's characters acting out of character (just for the fun of it) is more than acceptable. Not to mention, WayForward themselves would more than likely add in the extra characters for the same two reasons I mentioned before. Plus, they do lots of 4th wall jokes and random oddities every now and then and some even make it into the games. For example...



But even so, it's still far to early to focus on extra characters at this time. So lets move on.

Now that the temp design has been updated, I think we have the proper guidelines for building a small playable test demo of the game. I'm curious to see if the gameplay would work as expected. If there's any bugs, errors, or conflicting information in the HUB design or gameplay mechanics, then it would be better to know sooner than later. Not that I'm in a rush or anything, but I'm just so pumped to see how this game will play out. In the mean time, I guess I should get started on rough animating some of Shantae's dance moves.

Also, I'm going to need some suggestion for extra content. Things like...

Dance Parlor/ Background locations: Scuttle Town, Water Town, Outer Space???, anything
Dance Floor designs: like wooden floor, a puddle of water, a planet, anything
Spotlights: plain spotlight, Police light , Bat Signal, anything
Cursor: a dot shape, a star shape, a heart shape, anything
and SFX: Disco Ball, Lasers, Fire, anything

Sky's the limit, so mention whatever you think would be cool to see or add in. Don't hold back...

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by Nai255 on Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:53 am

Backgrounds and dance floors? Let's see:

* Scuttle Town Docks / Coastline
* Dance Parlor
* Xtreme Island
* Ancient Water Shrine
* Twilight Pumpkin Patch
* Sunset Oasis
* Pirate Ship
* Heavenly Clouds
* Underground Fire Temple
* Planet Land
* Techno Disco

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by BlutaufKlaue on Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:28 pm

Paragon-Yoshi wrote:I still say have Shantae as the only character.
Since it isn't even sure whether or not the others can dance.
(And no, Risky's brief butt-shaking before the Ice Temple doesn't count)

IMO it'd just look stupid to see Risky dance.
And I figure it has the same effect on some other characters.

Once again, there is no need for a character selection.
Shantae only is a safe bet.
Since she is the only one in the series who can surely dance (besides the genies) and we don't make other characters look unnecessarily stupid.


I am still wondering why nobody seems to have been giving this second thought. :/

Are you serious? One word: SSBB. Since when could Olimar fight? Since when could Zelda, Mario or Peach fight? Exactly. It's a fan game, it's supposed to have a sense of humor. Seeing shantae the whole time would easily get boring.
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by Paragon-Yoshi on Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:34 pm

MikeHarvey wrote:I know that the chances of Sky or Rotty dancing is slim to none and Risky would never dance at all... in the official games. But do keep in mind that this is a fan game, so having WayForward's characters acting out of character (just for the fun of it) is more than acceptable.

But you also want this game to be an introduction to newcomer-fans, right?
In that case, I think it's better to not give them any wrong ideas.
Like dictating that Risky and the others can dance with this game, when in actuality they can't.

Sometimes less is more.
A character selection is just not necessary.
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by .Luke on Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:34 pm

I think an unlockable Rotty Tops, for one, wouldn't be too far fetched, since she is pretty competitive and athletic for a zombie; I'm pretty sure she'd try to out-dance Shantae if the opportunity presented itself. Besides, if we were pull off Harvey's idea for an animation system, (Much akin to something like Rayman's, just with limbs.) reskinning Shantae's parts for Rotty and then making new head animations wouldn't be very difficult.

And while I do agree that it might be a bit out of character for Sky or Risky to dance, I think we can come to a fair compromise on that one through downloadable skins. Meaning characters like Sky, Risky, or even Heaven-forbid Bolo, wouldn't be included in the initial package, but for those who care for that sort of thing can get the extra skins. Besides that, it would take the initial load off of our goals, so extra character skins could come later while we focus on getting Shantae in working order first. We could "finish" the game's first complete release and consider add-on content if we're in a position for that to later on.
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by BossFight on Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:43 pm

Maaan... I don't know about you guys but I think seeing Bolo bust some moves would be awesome.

I've got to agree partially on both Paragon and Luke's points. Shantae is the titular character and dancing is her defining trait so in no way should she be "one of the options" when you first start. But, like Luke says, unlockables would make the game more interesting. As long as the other main characters are unlockable, it should be perfectly fine.
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by Paragon-Yoshi on Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:33 pm

For some reason, I think you don't get what I want to say.

But fine...
If you really want to go this way, then go ahead.
But don't say I didn't warn you. -_-
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:40 pm

Paragon-Yoshi said: For some reason, I think you don't get what I want to say.
But fine...
If you really want to go this way, then go ahead.
But don't say I didn't warn you. -_-

You're worried that people who play our little fan game will get the wrong idea about the characters actions in the official games. I get it. However, it's up to the newcomers to want to dig deeper into the official games. I'm not going to hold back a fun idea (that's an extra option) just because people might think differently about the characters roles in the official game. To compare the roles of the characters in the Shantae series with our fan game would be like comparing the roles of Mario characters in the Super Mario series to the Mario Kart series. Same characters, different roles.

.Luke said: I think an unlockable Rotty Tops, for one, wouldn't be too far fetched, since she is pretty competitive and athletic for a zombie; I'm pretty sure she'd try to out-dance Shantae if the opportunity presented itself. Besides, if we were pull off Harvey's idea for an animation system, (Much akin to something like Rayman's, just with limbs.) reskinning Shantae's parts for Rotty and then making new head animations wouldn't be very difficult.

And while I do agree that it might be a bit out of character for Sky or Risky to dance, I think we can come to a fair compromise on that one through downloadable skins. Meaning characters like Sky, Risky, or even Heaven-forbid Bolo, wouldn't be included in the initial package, but for those who care for that sort of thing can get the extra skins. Besides that, it would take the initial load off of our goals, so extra character skins could come later while we focus on getting Shantae in working order first. We could "finish" the game's first complete release and consider add-on content if we're in a position for that to later on.

Extra skins would be an awesome and fair compromise, but even so, I'd still prefer to give them there own dance moves so that they are not just preforming the same dances as Shantae and could maybe show off a little of there real personalities through there own dances. But I don't wanna focus on that until this game is complete and all the extras are made into DLC (if we even decide to make them at that point, well see once we get there I guess). I was just curious to know how the other characters would dance if they could.

BossFight said: I've got to agree partially on both Paragon and Luke's points. Shantae is the titular character and dancing is her defining trait so in no way should she be "one of the options" when you first start. But, like Luke says, unlockables would make the game more interesting. As long as the other main characters are unlockable, it should be perfectly fine.

Well... I didn't want the extra characters unlockable because I didn't feel it would be right to make people work extra for something that was going to be added into the game later after it was made. It just feels like it would have been double the work on the players part to download the extras and then earn the gems and buy them or something like that. Having said that, I see your (and Paragon-Yoshi's and .Luke's) point.

Shantae's dance animations will come first and she will be the only dancer when the game's released. Hopefully, we'll add in extra characters after the game is made. They'll be made into DLC and unlockable if it happens.

I'm working on Shantae's animations and all the basic pieces of art for this game now. The custom stuff will come later.

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by .Luke on Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:36 pm

I have to agree with the point on Mario Kart, all logic goes out the door to create a fun multiplayer game. I mean, under normal circumstances, Peach wouldn't be allowed to participate in such a brutal kart racing grand prix, and I know Bowser definitely wouldn't play by the rules! "Hey, who invited the Air Ship?! BOMBS AWAY!!!".

Also, all this talk of extra characters got me thinking. Should we add a two-player mode? Player 1 would control Shantae, while P2 takes the role of brunette Shantae with green eyes, (Like her prototype variations.) and both dance side-by-side for the highest score. With a simple enough HUD, things shouldn't get too cluttered, and if we are able to include extra characters to the game, then that would be a perfect application for them. And if we do, there could even be support for the second analog stick so that two kids could share a 24-button controller to play against each other, using the triggers as buttons. I think that would even encourage some players to control both Shantaes at once for an extra challenge! =P

And if we're going to plan that far ahead, then I have to rethink how I'm going to go about the animation system, because that means more of it will have to be external and open to modification, instead of static/hard-coded and locked to one character. It's no trouble to do, but if we need to future proof the game for additional content, then I need to know now instead of later; nothing worse than a complete rewrite of a large chunk of the engine, just ask the Brawl devs! They decided too late to add online multiplayer and had to delay the game's release an entire year just to make sure the physics would cooperate. (Wasn't even worth it with all the intense lag and hiccups, IMO. Bots on Nasty mode are usually more competent anyway.)
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:32 pm

.Luke wrote:I have to agree with the point on Mario Kart, all logic goes out the door to create a fun multiplayer game. I mean, under normal circumstances, Peach wouldn't be allowed to participate in such a brutal kart racing grand prix, and I know Bowser definitely wouldn't play by the rules! "Hey, who invited the Air Ship?! BOMBS AWAY!!!".

Also, all this talk of extra characters got me thinking. Should we add a two-player mode? Player 1 would control Shantae, while P2 takes the role of brunette Shantae with green eyes, (Like her prototype variations.) and both dance side-by-side for the highest score. With a simple enough HUD, things shouldn't get too cluttered, and if we are able to include extra characters to the game, then that would be a perfect application for them. And if we do, there could even be support for the second analog stick so that two kids could share a 24-button controller to play against each other, using the triggers as buttons. I think that would even encourage some players to control both Shantaes at once for an extra challenge! =P

And if we're going to plan that far ahead, then I have to rethink how I'm going to go about the animation system, because that means more of it will have to be external and open to modification, instead of static/hard-coded and locked to one character. It's no trouble to do, but if we need to future proof the game for additional content, then I need to know now instead of later; nothing worse than a complete rewrite of a large chunk of the engine, just ask the Brawl devs! They decided too late to add online multiplayer and had to delay the game's release an entire year just to make sure the physics would cooperate. (Wasn't even worth it with all the intense lag and hiccups, IMO. Bots on Nasty mode are usually more competent anyway.)

This... is... GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If only it where possible to have two mice operate on one computer at the same time so both players could use a mouse, but having two people use the analog sticks from the same controller is an INSANELY awesome idea. I say we go for it!

I'm really curious to know how 2 player mode will work out. What if both Player 1 and Player 2 could share the same stage, dance floor, spotlight, and game screen? Each player could control there own cursor and follow the same Spotlight (just like how they move their own analog stick but share the same controller)!!! If it's VS and they share the same controller, then one player could sabotage the other by moving the controller itself and cause the other player to move the analog stick somewhere they didn't want, like two dancers trying to bump one another off stage!!! This is so cool!!! I'm gonna lose sleep now, I'm so pumped!!! I'm gonna need to design a bigger stage for this am I!?!

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by Paragon-Yoshi on Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:16 am

Urgh, I think I am getting sick...

Seriously, kart-racing is different from dancing.
It doesn't just depend on whether or not a game is a spin-off, but also what they are supposed to do in it.

I will still stay by my point and say:
- You will give players the wrong idea, who might wanna dig deeper into Shantae.
- I'd look outright stupid for other characters to do belly-dancing, even though it is not their thing.


However, I am all for skins.
Where it is still Shantae, but with a variety of different customes.
It's a great way, without having to switch to inappropriate characters for the dancing-task.



But the uncritical thinking of this topic gets me really worried...
It's like everything is being taken, without even thinking for a second what impact it could have.

I mean god, I don't want to insult the game or anything.
No, if I post criticism, I do it to CONTRIBUTE to it.
And it find it kinda... inappropriate that is is just brushed aside like this.
Please, take the time to think about whether or not it is valid.
And do not resort to comparisons a la "Well other's did it, so we can do it as well.".
Think of the game as an individual and not as "One among many".
Think whether or not this might have a counterproductive effect.
Because this is exactly what worries me. :/
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by .Luke on Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:41 pm

Your concerns are noted, and I feel your criticism is adding a lot of positive feedback to the discussion, but don't mistake us for pre-teens clammering to emulate "what's cool/hip" if you think we're absorbing every idea that enters the topic without scrutiny. If we all felt something wasn't natural for the series or couldn't agree on it, we wouldn't go with it. It's Harvey's project anyway and we're happily along for the ride, but if you're not interesting in staying on the bandwagon, that's okay.

Besides, extra characters are still just a thing we may or may not do on the side, and even then it might be limited to multiplayer to avoid cheapening the single player experience, which is a good point you've stressed plenty of times in this topic. Seriously, it won't be the end of the world if RottyTops breaks a leg on stage for a change, or for Bolo to show the ladies what he's made of. =P Even character bios could be included next to the character select screen to make it apparent that those characters weren't born belly dancers, or are only guaranteed to just dance in the ways they know best. (Like Bolo could have some moves inspired by disco, and Rotty could simply break dance.)

To be fair, I think it would be the least natural for Sky and Mimic to dance, but it might work okay for Rotty or Bolo. I don't even know what Risky would do, but we could always include a Risky costume for Shantae we get that stumped! (Much like how Peach always had a Daisy costume in Smash Bros, since both characters were just that similar in appearance during the 90's, it was a simple reskin of the same model.) I think the idea of costumes would be a lot of fun to play with, and easy enough to skin if Shantae is going to be animated in segments instead of whole frames.

Now, if we were to make every character in Shantae's universe playable, as opposed to maybe two others, for whatever dumb reason, that would be another story. (Sonic '06 I'm looking right at you!) So many things would have to be gimped to make certain characters work, like strapping Mimic in some kind of Dance o'matic 9000 robot just so he could keep up with the beat, albeit with a few parts flying off during more intense steps.

MikeHarvey wrote:If only it where possible to have two mice operate on one computer at the same time so both players could use a mouse, but having two people use the analog sticks from the same controller is an INSANELY awesome idea. I say we go for it!

I'm really curious to know how 2 player mode will work out. What if both Player 1 and Player 2 could share the same stage, dance floor, spotlight, and game screen? Each player could control there own cursor and follow the same Spotlight (just like how they move their own analog stick but share the same controller)!!! If it's VS and they share the same controller, then one player could sabotage the other by moving the controller itself and cause the other player to move the analog stick somewhere they didn't want, like two dancers trying to bump one another off stage!!! This is so cool!!! I'm gonna lose sleep now, I'm so pumped!!! I'm gonna need to design a bigger stage for this am I!?!

Wow, I'm glad you like the idea. ^^ Operating systems do actually support multiple mice, but Game Maker doesn't have any functions for that directly. I may have to look for a library to provide that kind of functionality, if one exists, because I sure don't know where to start on writing one; I'm not familiar with the Delphi language! Then there's also figuring how to where to arrange both mice comfortablely for each player; a lot of smaller desks and tables wouldn't make that setup particularly easy.

If we were to include multiplayer, I think providing WASD controls for Player 1, so P2 can use the mouse, may work, because not everybody is going to be guarenteed to have a USB controller, or in some cases even be aware their XBOX controllers can be hooked up to their computers. Obviously, it wouldn't be anywhere near as sensitive as a mouse, but with momentum/acceleration/deceleration mechanics, like what console games do for analog sticks, it could work. If both players want to be seriously competent against each other, they'll either get two controllers, share one, or use a joystick for one and a mouse for the other anyway.

And I don't think you'll need a bigger stage if the background is designed for the whole screen, and I haven't thought about them sharing a spot light to follow. This kind of two-player mode will work just fine on one screen, even though I could do splitscreen, if necessary. And heck, there could even be a coop mode for the highest score too, since a lot of little kids, in my experience, aren't the best sports at losing. XD


Also, there is something I totally forget to mention! D: External graphics will be using the GIF format for animated images, because I'm afraid PNG isn't supported by Game Maker, and neither is alpha transparency in sprites. (You can make sprites become transparent in-game, but the images themselves can't be.) So this means you will need make sure your sprites don't have anti-aliasing along the outer edges of their lines, or you could clean up the anti-aliasing outside the sprites later on. You can use anti-aliasing inside the sprites as much as you like, however. Shantae doesn't need every color under the rainbow, so I don't think you'll bump into any issues with indexed coloring, if the frames are cleanly drawn. GIFs have a limit of 256 colors, but you're not limited to one specific palette, because it creates a 256-color palette for the image based on what colors are in it.

Granted, Game Maker 8 does support APNG files (Animated PNG images.) and alpha transparency in all its 32-bit color goodness, but I'm too broke for a new Game Maker license right now, and I think it even cuts support for Windows 2000 too. ;__; What I need to know is if you're willing to deal with this limitation, or will we need to cut support from older Windows boxes to make the process of building art assets much smoother. There is a libary for making PNGs functional in older Game Maker versions too, but I could never get it to boot outside of spitting ASM errors at me.
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by Paragon-Yoshi on Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:59 pm

.Luke wrote:Your concerns are noted, and I feel your criticism is adding a lot of positive feedback to the discussion, but don't mistake us for pre-teens clammering to emulate "what's cool/hip" if you think we're absorbing every idea that enters the topic without scrutiny. If we all felt something wasn't natural for the series or couldn't agree on it, we wouldn't go with it.
Good.
I wouldn't want this to become another dictatorship-fanbase like the Sonic fanbase.
It still serves as a prime example what a simple uncritical fanbase can turn into.

It's Harvey's project anyway and we're happily along for the ride, but if you're not interesting in staying on the bandwagon, that's okay.
It's our project. But Harvey's idea.
Small but vital difference.

Besides, extra characters are still just a thing we may or may not do on the side, and even then it might be limited to multiplayer to avoid cheapening the single player experience, which is a good point you've stressed plenty of times in this topic. Seriously, it won't be the end of the world if RottyTops breaks a leg on stage for a change, or for Bolo to show the ladies what he's made of. =P Even character bios could be included next to the character select screen to make it apparent that those characters weren't born belly dancers, or are only guaranteed to just dance in the ways they know best. (Like Bolo could have some moves inspired by disco, and Rotty could simply break dance.)
Ah, here we go.
I actually agree with different dance-styles for different characters. Rotty and Bolo would indeed be able to fit.
But Sky and Risky remain a problem here.

But like you said:
To be fair, I think it would be the least natural for Sky and Mimic to dance, but it might work okay for Rotty or Bolo. I don't even know what Risky would do, but we could always include a Risky costume for Shantae we get that stumped! (Much like how Peach always had a Daisy costume in Smash Bros, since both characters were just that similar in appearance during the 90's, it was a simple reskin of the same model.) I think the idea of costumes would be a lot of fun to play with, and easy enough to skin if Shantae is going to be animated in segments instead of whole frames.
Which is why costumes might be the better bet. It's easier to do, doesn't require much re-coding for different dances and it's safe.
Which is why I prefer costumes over characters.

Now, if we were to make every character in Shantae's universe playable, as opposed to maybe two others, for whatever dumb reason, that would be another story. (Sonic '06 I'm looking right at you!) So many things would have to be gimped to make certain characters work, like strapping Mimic in some kind of Dance o'matic 9000 robot just so he could keep up with the beat, albeit with a few parts flying off during more intense steps.

Well that sounds stupid.
A machine to dance? COME ON!

Also, Mimic is not Dr. Light or Robotnik. He doesn't build massive contraptions out of nowhere, like they do. Wink
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:34 pm

.Luke wrote: To be fair, I think it would be the least natural for Sky and Mimic to dance, but it might work okay for Rotty or Bolo. I don't even know what Risky would do, but we could always include a Risky costume for Shantae we get that stumped!

I was thinking that Rotty could do Thriller, Bolo doing Disco sounds fun, Risky could do Burlesque, Patrica Wagon could do the Robot (or Popping), Luna could do the Wave... The list goes on, but that's all I got for now on the other dances. Costume are fun too. There could even be holiday themed ones.

Also, there is something I totally forget to mention! D: External graphics will be using the GIF format for animated images, because I'm afraid PNG isn't supported by Game Maker, and neither is alpha transparency in sprites. (You can make sprites become transparent in-game, but the images themselves can't be.) So this means you will need make sure your sprites don't have anti-aliasing along the outer edges of their lines, or you could clean up the anti-aliasing outside the sprites later on. You can use anti-aliasing inside the sprites as much as you like, however. Shantae doesn't need every color under the rainbow, so I don't think you'll bump into any issues with indexed coloring, if the frames are cleanly drawn. GIFs have a limit of 256 colors, but you're not limited to one specific palette, because it creates a 256-color palette for the image based on what colors are in it.

This is good to know. I'm working with vectors for the digital line art and coloring to guaranty smoother lines and crisp coloring, which will be kept at a simple and solid Flat, Shade, and Highlight, so no gradients or anything like that. I can convert the PNG into GIF in Photoshop and leave the anti-aliasing unchecked. Once the GIF sprites are made, I'll figure out how to go about animating those? I've animated with vectors on a very small scale (nothing like what I'm doing now,) but I never animated with bitmap or raster images before.

I was hoping that I'd be able to work large and then scale the images to fit on screen correctly, but now that the final pieces are going to be bitmap an not vector, should I work differently?

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by .Luke on Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:13 pm

You definitely know more about dancing than I do, I've never heard of Burlesque before! (Ah, what would I do without Wikipedia? =P) Glad you like the idea of Bolo doing Disco, and Rotty pulling some Thriller moves would be pretty cool, but I'll need to actually watch Thriller on Youtube in a minute to know exactly what you mean. I'm no hater, just never got around to listening to any of Michael Jackson's songs. XD Only seen bits and pieces.

As for creating sprites in GIF format, it shouldn't be much different from pure vectors outside the post-processing stuff. Compiling animated frames with layers is a little complicated for me, so I just use Microsoft GIF Animator for that. MS doesn't host the program on their servers anymore, but you should be able to get it here : http://www.snapfiles.com/get/msgifanimator.html

It's a freeware program for the GIF format that I recommend 100% of the way, it's pretty easy to use and works on all versions of Windows after 98, which I know from experience. (It even runs flawlessly in WINE, so I use it from Xubuntu most of the time!) Just remember to copy/paste your frames into the project file from your clipboard while using it, I don't remember the Insert function handling colors very well. You don't have to worry about making the GIF loop forever, modifying individual frame speeds or changing draw methods, Game Maker ignores all that and gives you control over how the GIF is played instead. Default settings for all frames in the Image and Animation tabs will be just fine.

EDIT : Forgot to ask, you're still doing all the frames in segments, right? It's still fully possible to go that way.

SON OF EDIT : Forgot to reply to Paragon!

Paragon-Yoshi wrote:Good.
I wouldn't want this to become another dictatorship-fanbase like the Sonic fanbase.
It still serves as a prime example what a simple uncritical fanbase can turn into.

Yeah, seeing as we're probably the first Shantae fan forums in existence, that's definitely a direction we want to avoid. I don't ever want us to be too dictorial or laid back, (And the latter can backslide into the former quite easily, as you said.) just a cozy place to be a Shantae fan. ^_^

Paragon-Yoshi wrote:Well that sounds stupid.
A machine to dance? COME ON!

Also, Mimic is not Dr. Light or Robotnik. He doesn't build massive contraptions out of nowhere, like they do. ;)

Don't worry, I know that! XD I just pulled out a quick example to help get across the absurdity of Mimic cracking his hips on stage. I mean, with enough thinking we could make him work, (Jazz, maybe? =P) but it's realistically difficult to see happening!
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:50 pm

.Luke wrote: Forgot to ask, you're still doing all the frames in segments, right? It's still fully possible to go that way.

The body parts will be animated in 8 segments (Hair, Head, Chest, Hip, Arms, and Legs). I'm doing that to cut down on time spent on animation and to make the body easy to construct. Customization for like errors or costumes will be far easier too. I'm not sure if it would be better to combine the pieces first and animate Shantae as a whole and put the full body sprite in the game, or to leave her body in pieces and build her in the game. What do you think would be best?

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by .Luke on Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:50 pm

Why would the hair need to be separate from the head? o_o Anyway, as long as I keep each limb attached by two origin variables to the torso, and handle them in the draw event entirely instead of the step event, (Since that would have the body parts lag behind the torso!) it shouldn't be a problem holding it all together, since the limbs will be animated and won't require any movement mechanics on their own; I can leave that to the torso. (Although I may have the leg sprites do a floor check to make sure Shantae has some sort of gravity, like knowing which foot falls first, etc. Effectively creating an oversimplified rag doll.) So getting it to work won't be half as complicated as the first Rayman's animation systems. I think the arcade feel this would create will interesting to watch in action! =P

As for how the animated segments should be drawn, the safest bet would definitely be to test it with all segments compiled, but if you think about how many frames Shantae will have, that would be highly impractical, redundant, and tedious to separate into pieces later on. Once I have a basic version of the animation system setup, I think it would be best to send you a stand-alone version of that you could test new sprites on. It would be simple to test with, all you'd have to do is put the sprites of her body parts in a folder it provides you, and maybe a few external variables in a text file to tweak for deciding how the torso moves, and the animation speed of each limb. You could click on it afterwards to watch how Shantae dances in front of a grey background, but the color could be changed in the text file too. I think it would be a useful tool to provide with the game itself for anyone who wants to skin their own characters for it, once it's polished with a nice UI and all that.

Deciding what to do about testing segments in the meantime, though, I can't say for sure. This is a big enough problem to halt your progress if you're not sure how the limbs will move in action. You could be stuck testing your first few animations the hard way by compiling them manually if I don't hurry up and get that functioning. Looks like I'm going to be busy tonight, time to pull out all the soda and crank up the music! =P
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:08 pm

Thanks for the info. I got most of the body parts set up, all but the head, hair, arms, hands and feet. Once I get all the parts done I'll post them here for reference. Oh, when I said Hair, I meant her ponytail lol. Now that I think about it, I'll try a mix of both hair ideas and see what works best. Most of the body segments will be made up of smaller segments anyway so I'll give that a shot.

If you want, I could focus on the HUB first and get to the animating later?

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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by .Luke on Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:56 pm

I think the animations should definitely be first priority, but yes, we should figure out what to do about the HUD, because I can't really write any scripts for it until we know how the information is going to be displayed. (The way I write things is tied to a lot of visual elements.)

Oh, separating her ponytail from the head would probably make sense, so Shantae's hair could flow with the body independant of her facial expressions on the head.

Also, I'm already building up ideas for the animation system, so I'll dump my thoughts here, because you will need to know how it works too, and it gives everyone the chance to criticize how it's handled.

//The only truly "moving" part will be the hip section, since it's the center of motion on the body. Tieing everything to the torso would be too tedious.

While Shantae's sprites will be stored in the *Working Directory/Resources/Shantae/ folder, her animation script (skn_shantae.cfg) will be in the game's working directory since Game Maker's too dumb to open text files in any folder outside root. It will look something like this on the inside, and be fully modifiable from any text editor of your choosing. (I recommend Notepad++ for it's INI syntax highlighting, and it doesn't require installing.)

Code:

[sprites]
//Directories For Shantae's Sprite Graphics
shantae_l_leg="/Resources/Shantae/L_Leg.gif"
shantae_r_leg="/Resources/Shantae/R_Leg.gif"
shantae_r_arm="/Resources/Shantae/R_arm.gif"
shantae_l_arm="/Resources/Shantae/l_arm.gif"
shantae_torso="/Resources/Shantae/torso.gif"
shantae_head="/Resources/Shantae/head.gif"
shantae_hair="/Resources/Shantae/hair.gif"

[dancer_stats]
dancer_name="Shantae"
dancer_style="Belly Dancing"
dancer_moves=6

These first lines represent to the engine where the character's frames are stored, because keeping something as simple as directories hardcoded is a bad thing if we ever want to change that or support custom dancers. All frames related to a specific limb will be kept in one GIF file each to cut down on the number of files to read in-game (Because reading hundreds of files creates a lot of delays. It can be more instantaneous with fewer files.) and number of writes during the game's installation. Especially great for players unpacking the game onto a thumbdrive or SD card to play on another friend's/relative's PC, increasing the lifespan of their media and creating less clutter/fragmentation on the drive's partition.

There will be more information for dancer_stats, but generally it provides the engine the character's name and dance style in string forms for printing out on-screen in a character select menu. Great for customs and additional characters. Bio's could be written here too.

Now here's where things get tricky.

Code:


//Headers for the dance moves

[dance_anim_1_0]

legs_min=32
legs_max=64
arms_min=32
arms_max=64
torso_min=5
torso_max=10
head_min=2
head_max=5
hair_min=32
hair_max=64
steps_max=84

//Origin or Anchor values for body parts

l_leg_orig_x=96
l_leg_orig_y=156
r_leg_orig_x=96
r_leg_orig_y=156
l_arm_orig_x=156
l_arm_orig_y=32
r_arm_orig_x=156
r_arm_orig_y=32
torso_orig_x=128
torso_orig_y=156
head_orig_x=48
head_orig_y=16
hair_orig_x=8
hair_orig_y=12
hip_x=96
hip_y=128


If that was all Greek to any of you, that was a hypothetical part of the header for her first dance animation; this sequence will have to be repeated for the other five dance moves before we get to the real stuff below! The "min"'s and "max"'s stand for the beginning and ending frames of a specific animation. Although all sprites for each limb would be crammed into their own files, their frames will still be organized in a legible cascading manner.

Notice how there was a zero at the end of dance_anim? That designates the first "tick" or step in the animation. Since everything is going to be timed with the beat of the music, I'm giving the user as much control as possible over how a dance move is executed. You can define what changes or stays the same between steps (or seconds) of an animation! Do you want to change which arm animation is used in the middle of the dance move? You can do that! Do you want the character's hips to sway left and right, or stay stationary? Your wish is granted! Do you want the head to bob? Just modify the head's x/y origins! The possibilities are infinite, and don't require any physics or gravity so long as you take care not to do anything too unrealistic, that much is left up to you, the content creator.

But do we have to be THIS verbose for every freaking second of animation?! We do for the first step because that defines everything, but every step afterwards, of course not! That would be silly and drive the file's size from a humble 28k to 2.3MB or more, eating up tons of RAM too. :O

Here's the trick to doing that, but it's going to be difficult for me to explain. If you want the chosen animations and origins to say the same, and just want her body to move, (Like say she's in the middle of jumping through the air.) don't type in that info for the next step. Remember, the hip's movement controls where the whole body is going.

Code:


[dance_anim_1_1]
hip_x=56
hip_y=48

[dance_anim_1_2]
hip_x=58
hip_y=52


Does it make sense now? The game engine will return the other values you didn't give it as 0, and continue using the information you gave it last time. So everytime you give it new information for a step, that info is updated and reflected in-game! Don't forget, this was just for the first dance move, other moves would be labeled as "[dance_anim_2_0]" or "[dance_anim_6_48]".

Since everything I program is just too dumb to know when to stop, steps_max tells the game engine, "okay, that's all the frames for this animation, time to start from the beginning so I can loop it again!". So in reality, you can have as many or as few frames as you want in an animation before it stops and loops again! I don't provide it animation speed variables since the game engine will handle that.

The best part is you can ignore steps too. So like say there's a huge, empty gap between [dance_anim_2_24] and [dance_anim_2_36], the game engine will return all values as 0 and continue using the last information updates instead. Useful if you want her to stand still for a moment before leaping into the air or something. I may eventually include "tweening" in the engine so the transition between frames is smoother, like animated frames in MD3 models for Quake III, meaning fewer steps you have to compile!


Now how is the engine going to save all this information for later use once the game starts? We could stream it from the file easily without saving tons of variables into memory, but that involves keeping the file open at all times for reading while the game plays, which is bad if we want to include two player modes, since both would need to stream separate external scripts. (Game Maker can only have one text file open at a time in each step.) I could always have them read their own scripts every other step away from each other, but that sacrifices accuracy roughly 50% and would save multiple copies of the same script into RAM every time they're opened/closed for writing. Extremely bad on performance and I/O usage, creating lag and eating up RAM like there's no tomorrow.

So to make that work, I can let the engine read the script and save all values into memory, maybe even in a stack if it would help with memory usage. To make this work I would need to keep even blank values from each dance step too, but I might be able to come up with a less redundant solution in later versions of the engine. In the meantime, that will be the way the engine stores dance step values.

How this all integrates into the game, you say? I haven't thought that far ahead yet! Since Shantae and friends will be dancing non-stop after their initial hand-waves, keeping dances triggered won't be terribly hard; it's switching dance moves that has me boggled right now! XD

Er, well, that's all I got right now; I'll get to putting that into execution later tonight for our animation tester binary. ^_^ I might need to create a graphical UI that we can use to anchor parts onto Shantae's body for each step in the dance, it could be complicated handling all of that in text form! Not impossible, though, since it does give you maximum control, but a UI would be less fuss. =P
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Re: Shantae Ret-2-Go!: A Shantae dancing fan game project

Post by MikeHarvey on Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:41 am

WOW!!! My mind is blown right now!

Ok, lets see if I got this right. You're saying that the hip will be the only part of Shantae that moves freely and the other parts will be connected to the hip (or other parts connected to other parts connected to hip, etc...). Also, the frames of animation will start and then end at a specific frame so that the body doesn't just move around all over the place at random frames. Finally, the single segment image of a body part will be selected from a directory and then placed in game automatically to the position it is to be.

I hope I'm saying it right... This is fantastic stuff!

Hmmm... I noticed you mentioned that going from one dance to the next may be a problem visually. I tried thinking of a way to make the different dances link and flow together like the dance steps do, but the animation would be far to complex and trying to link every dance move to every other dance move would be a real pain to tackle. I think the best way to handle it would simply be to not link the dance animations together at all. I designed most dances to be capable of linking together animation wise if they sway back and forth (like Quarter Swing into a Quarter Swing going the opposite direction for example) but most dance moves just won't link together quite like that. In the official games, Shantae's belly dancing doesn't link together ether, and looking at this scenario, I can see why.

You also mentioned tweening in the game is possible, right? If so, that could really help smooth out some of the dance animations. I'm still thinking that most of the animation frames will need to be independently drawn sprites (key frames, plus some inbetween frames) for each part of the body, because if we use tweens to much then everything may end up looking odd or lifeless. All and all I'm glad tweening is an option.

I'm all most finished with the basic body pieces for the front of Shantae. Once I get those done, I'll post what I got for review and get started on the side and back of Shantae, and then work out some inbetween angles.

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