Author Topic: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics  (Read 2120 times)

Thalanor

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Hi there! I would like to take the opportunity to introduce Cogito Colony, a project I am working on in its early stages (everything shown so far is WIP).

An ongoing devlog is also found on my twitter, where new stuff regularily gets posted too!

Overview - A fresh take on classic metroidvania elements

So far, so good - the focus is on mostly non-linear exploration of a 2D sidescrolling world, with the map expanding both horizontally and vertically (with about a 2x weight on horizontal). Many elements that have stood the test of time will appear in this project too, such as dedicated save/restoration points, a map, and largely unhindered exploration. This project however will aim to keep "doors" as well as skill-based barriers of entry into areas down to a minimal amount if possible, in order to reduce dead ends whereever applicable. Instead, different enemies and thus implicit difficulty depending on your chosen playstyle are supposed to make you consider exploring other parts of the world first, without an actual leveling system.

The Setting - a hearty amount of cyber with a decent bit of punk

The planned world is based on a colonized planet in outer space, with areas ranging from rich native flora to glistering cityscapes, run-down industrial areas and claustrophobic underground passages, all interconnected. You play as Lynn, a cybernetically augmented protagonist with a basic kit of combat options including melee attacks, a dash and a ranged attack that you can freely upgrade. Upgrading is done via a simple but effective modular system - you will have up to 16 equipment slots (0x0 - 0xF), with individual pieces ranging from size 1-4, sometimes just boosting a particular value additively, sometimes changing how an ability works at its core. At every save-point, you can freely change your entire setup, as long as you found or crafted the equipment pieces you want.

The Art - a modern take on low-resolution

The game will play at a native resolution of 640x360 (360p 16:9), with several scaling and fullscreen options available. The reasoning for this is simple at its core - the lower resolution will allow for a higher abstraction level in design, while at the same time acknowledging modern aspect ratios and providing more detail than the classic 320x240 or SNES resolutions. The game art will not be true pixel art - in fact, the rendering pipeline is already rather complex, with ambient and dynamic lights, weather effects, realtime soft 2D shadows, optionally postprocessing and generally a large array of (settings adjustable) rendering methods that determine the final color of an individual pixel using modern shading and a full 32-bit palette while preserving a hint of retro appearance. This is also true for animations - most animations will run at a full 60fps, and important parts like the trails rendered by Lynn's signature weapon, the plasma blade, are not only physics-based in the visual department but also work this way in gameplay - if it looks like you hit it, you did hit it! And if you happen to be flying backwards as a result of a heavy enemy knocking you back while swinging your blade, then it will look just like that, drawing a trail based on the real physical position of your blade. Most of this is rather hard to describe - a few animated GIFs from early development probably better show this!

The Soundtrack - From neoclassical ambience to epic church-organ tracks

As an unique twist compared to most sci-fi settings, the soundtrack will not actually be electronic music as one would expect. In fact, I find that the areas you will explore in the world of Cogito Colony are all supposed to carry a specific flavor and atmosphere that is best reflected in what will amount to an unorthodox, but coherent soundtrack - from ambient strings and piano tracks for peaceful and melanchonic settings to choirs and church organ tracks (based on real samples) for epic key moments and getting the smothering vibe of towering skyscrapers across. I will be composing the entire soundtrack by myself, and while I am still learning, I have probably years of time left to do just that, given that release of the game is *very* far away still at this point ;)

The Development - solo, no crowdfunding planned yet, no publisher responsibilities, "it's done when it's done or maybe not"

The title says it all - when the project will actually be completed is not foreseeable at this point. It could even fail. But I am not planning to take any money for it either before it becomes rock solid or even just not at all, and I'm not going to expand the team beyond just me - the main motivation for doing this game is actually as a hobby that combines artistic and engineering elements into a fun mix, with no clear timeframe given and no answering to any other entities, so yes, I can selfishly say that "I'm doing this for myself" - but if it actually ever completes, one thing is for sure: It'll be done with love ;). And one thing right from the start: The game is being written in a completely custom, java-based engine, using openGL (lwjgl) and essentially implementing most things from complete scratch to get the exact result I want. This also means that consoles or other release options are excluded right from the start, but linux may just happen without much extra work! If you hate Java with a passion though, you will not like it - don't worry, I'll optimize where possible ;)



Cogito Colony on twitter

Jubal

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2017, 03:13:54 PM »
As I said yesterday before, um, interruptions - nonlinear sidescrolling is great! I don't know the metroidvania genre so well I guess as fighter-type games tend to be lower on my list (my usual preferred genres are more towards strategy, puzzle-rpgs, and roguelikes). I do really like the sound of the setting here, though, I'd definitely like to give this one a try at some point! :)
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bigosaur

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2017, 09:55:16 PM »
I like some metroidvanias (Axiom Verge, Guacamelee) and some not that much (Ori, Hollow Knight). I love exploring and using new abilities but having too many things to go back to can turn into a chore especially if you have to draw your own map. Guacamelee does this perfectly buy showing you exactly where you could reach what on the map, while axiom does rather poor job of offering only two user-set markers when you can have up to 14 active unfinished-business deadends at a time - at least that many I got at one point after deciding to draw my own map.

So, if you change your mind and decide to lock a lot of stuff behind new abilities, make sure your map system supports it well.

What has been posted so far looks rather good. I love the backgrounds and the character movement. Will there be some ranged attacks or melee only?

Enemies look strange when you hit them, somehow floating in the air feels odd but I cannot pinpoint what exactly.

Looking forward to see updates.

Thalanor

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 10:07:57 PM »
A lot has happened since the last update :D Most graphics (and this goes triple for animations and gameplay) are prototypes as the project is still at the beginning of its development stages. I definitely plan a functional map system either way! Here is some recent shots:








Jubal

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 11:26:20 PM »
Ooh, the new stuff looks good, well done!

I'd be interested to see more of the enemies: the player stuff & background looks very cool, what sorts of different enemy types/strategies will you be up against?
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Thalanor

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2017, 02:47:55 PM »
As far as enemies go, there is no actual content yet - the only enemy is a placeholder that literally uses the same animations/skeleton as the player character (and later on human NPCs). Basically, I'm developing "bottom-up" in that a lot of work especially until recently was engine work. The plans for enemies are still very rough, but now there is actually enough support for them in the engine to soon start fleshing out the plans :)

However, some other essential stuff comes first. I'm actually mostly done with something that is 100% essential both for gameplay and for developing content - a clean and helpful map system for orientation (as was also suggested above). That means I can soon start building actual levels (like tutorial/beginning of first area) and from there on develop enemies depending on what turns out to be fun and fair to encounter at a particular place in the game world :) Enemies are all of mechanical nature and as such I can get pretty creative with their design. I'll show the map view soon.

In terms of combat/gameplay, I'm designing the player abilities and their upgrades first, and then design enemies according to them. For example, some enemies are just meant to be fun punching bags with a little currency drop attached, but others are easier/harder to deal with depending on your upgrade layout for the player abilities. You already have a light melee attack (fast), a heavy melee attack (long animation, but heavy damage), a dash attack (costs 1 energy), and a boomerang-style weapon throw (costs 1 energy). By equipping upgrade modules you can hen specialize into playstyles, give yourselff all around buffs and the like. Maybe even some "hacking" stuff, or stealthing through certain passages, a bit undecided yet. Definitely high support/focus on fluid action gameplay (next to exploration/platforming).
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 02:55:32 PM by Thalanor »

Jubal

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2017, 04:40:23 PM »
Fair enough, that seems a reasonable way around to do the designing :) Looking forward to seeing more!
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Thalanor

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2017, 01:34:55 AM »
I finished the map system. Its meant to be clean and provide quick orientation of where you are in the (already explored) world :)

https://gfycat.com/WhirlwindDefiantKatydid Edit: got updated! see link below

https://gfycat.com/FloweryAdolescentDrake

You can adjust the zoom and on the furthest zoom levels, it will display an abstract room connection graph (and later on an outline of the world), while zoomed in a bit closer you get a detailed outline of the terrain of everything you have explored already, and the room you are currently in is also live rendered.

« Last Edit: November 24, 2017, 08:59:58 PM by Thalanor »

Jubal

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2017, 07:33:32 PM »
Looks good! Definitely succeeds at being clean/working with the theme etc.
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Thalanor

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2017, 11:01:28 AM »
Thanks! Recent "visible" progress contains some new animations and implementing classic platformer mechanics:

https://gfycat.com/SmoggyAdmirableBat
https://gfycat.com/RichTerrificCoyote

Animations will be continually refined and added upon as new functionality makes it in :) I'm content now with my homebrew animation framework and confident I can use it for somewhat fluid movements for Lynn, NPCs and enemies alike.

As far as invisible progress is concerned, a few older bugs have been removed and development switched to using git for more frequent backups.

Jubal

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2017, 04:36:32 PM »
Anim improvements are always good, nice to see more happening :)
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Thalanor

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2017, 08:52:46 AM »
While everything and ever is always subject to change of course, I'm zeroing in on a first completed version of the main theme for the OST!
https://soundcloud.com/thalanor/ego-cogito-10

JeffNevington

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2017, 08:24:49 PM »
Hehe, the organ is excellent. Have you thought about making the music dynamic? (In the sense of having music change according to the action)

Thalanor

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2017, 10:31:38 AM »
Thanks! The above piece is just the "title theme" and may appear in varying versions in other parts of the game, but there will be a lot of other tracks for gameplay. As far as that is concerned:

- Bosses will all get their own unique battle theme, of course.
- Special, scripted sequences (if there are any) likewise.
- Normal gameplay areas will mostly have their unique ambience and background themes going on. Because of the frequency that basic enemies are being encountered (and defeated!), dynamic transitions *might* end up being too jarring, especially when SFX blasts at full force during intense combat.

More goodies!
Stresstesting - https://gfycat.com/MarvelousQuarterlyArachnid
Even faster room transitions - https://gfycat.com/ImperfectTallCopperhead


Jubal

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Re: Devlog: Cogito Colony, a Sci-Fi metroidvania with some unique mechanics
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2017, 11:27:34 PM »
I really like the title theme, good work! :)
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