Development of Project ALX has officially begun. We have our first draft of our concept document, story draft, an initial commit of the codebase, some experimental levels and mechanics to play around with, and concept art for the first monster designs.
In summarised form, ALX is a story based, high action, hybrid platformer/shooter/RPG featuring a two-legged mech with a hovercraft mode. We'll fill in the details (and there are a lot of details already) later, let's kick off with some concepts!
The first thing to nail will be the boss design and the systems to support it. Bosses are comprised of multiple parts. The player can shoot down a limb or an attachment, which will have AI of its own and will continue to attack the player of its own accord. The original host continues without its new limb until enough parts have been destroyed for the player to attack its core. With the core destroyed, the rest shuts down.
The sheer size of these bosses means it will be tricky to implement on the Mega Drive - we'll almost certainly use up all sprites, and will instead need to sacrifice a plane when a boss is on screen. We intend to switch the game (via some visual effects and dramatic cinematics) into a "boss mode", where the background layers revert to a lower detailed, darker version on a single plane, freeing up tile space and Plane A exclusively for boss use.
The image below shows our first test scene for a multi-component boss, with animation and hierarchical movement via a root node. Each individual sprite is a game object, the core in the centre and drones on the end of the limbs are AI objects with their own independent thought. A root scene animation node controls their positions as a whole (and the entire boss advances towards the player as one unit) until a component is shot down, after which its AI takes over and it advance towards the player individually, whilst shooting.
All four drones must be destroyed for the core to take damage, then destroying the core will cause the remaining limbs/joints to fall under physics, and they all explode on impact with the floor.
Doesn't look like much (the programmer art doesn't help, there!), but the systems running under the hood are already quite complex, and allow for a lot of configuration.
Proposed Art Style
ALX will span several locations as per the design doc - some on-world, some off-world, spanning cities, jungles, factories, and office blocks - but the first setting we'd like to experiment is a run-down 80's style Neo-tokyo.
We've trialled various styles along these lines to try and head in the right direction, and we think it will work out nicely. We plan to have this test scene reworked via a commission artist next (we prototype art using free/purchased asset packs first).
We also have Alex's basic operations working. She can enter and exit her mech, move, shoot, and enter and exit hover mode. It's already fun to hover around! We also have some basic drones working that you can shoot down. We'll take some video footage once we've tweaked it a bit.