Post by bryonnightshade on Nov 14, 2015 23:07:04 GMT
Hello, all. I've been frequenting this site for a while, and my favorite feature is "A Critical Look At...". Thus, you can imagine my dismay when Glass Knuckle announced in his latest post that he's going on hiatus.
However, it also provided an opportunity for me to come clean a little bit. Over the past few weeks I've been writing up my own critical look at Mega Man X. I'm not in the games industry myself, but I've been learning from what I've read and watched recently and think I could give it a good go. It's not publishable yet-- I still have several levels to do plus screenshots. Still, this seemed like a good opportunity to throw my hat in the ring and see if the site was interested.
Post by bryonnightshade on Nov 27, 2015 15:37:36 GMT
It occurs to me that I didn't do a good job making my case here. After all, I gave very little to evaluate. So here's a sample, an article (sans screenshots) that I would submit as part of this series.
CHILL PENGUIN Into the snow we go...
The first enemy we encounter is Ray Bit. He's a smallish target that hops around, occasionally stopping to fire. He dies in one shot, but you'll often need the charge shot's larger size to land the hit. We also fight most of them on slopes, making it that slight bit harder to deal with them.
Axe Max is a little harder. He launches two sections of log out at us. He takes five hits, and the log pieces take three but can be knocked out quickly by a charge shot. If left to himself, he'll regenerate the log sections, and the logs can actually be wall-jumped off of. That's a lot going on for one small enemy. Once again the slopes work against us, as Axe gets a chance to hit us before we're tall enough to retaliate. A player who retreats can avoid getting hit at first, but risks respawning the Ray Bits he left behind.
We can quickly find ourselves in a big mess here, with new and respawned Ray Bits coming from multiple directions as we try to deal with the tougher Axe Max. To add to the fun, Bomb Been buzzes overhead. He also only takes one hit, but the slope hurts us again: he comes in too high to hit until after he's had a chance to start dropping bombs, adding to the frantic situation we're in.
These up and down slopes continue with variations on the placement of the enemies, keeping the action frenetic throughout. Players will be happy to transition to the inside of a facility, where Batton M-501 awaits. This enemy behaves exactly as you'd expect for a member of his family, holding on to his perch on the ceiling until we approach, then slowly flying towards us. One hit dispatches them, and the first few spawn directly in front of us, allowing us to easily gun them down and see how they work; after that they spawn on the ceiling and force the player to deal with them. Trying to run past them can get us in trouble, though, because the next series of halls is all about Spiky. Dealing with Spiky can slow us down enough to let Batton catch up.
These screenshots show the different ways Spiky can come after us. In almost every case he has a height advantage to help him close with us. If we weren't trained to hold charged shots before, this is where we learn. The most unfair encounter is in the [third] screenshot, as the Spiky can come down from above with almost no warning. It doesn't spawn until we jump, and the first time we're likely to jump is when we're trying to go up. More Spikies follow, and really there are probably one or two too many Spikies; only the last is in a good position to land a hit.
We're then handed the dash boots upgrade on a silver platter. It's impossible to avoid, not like you'd want to. Some open ground follows, letting the player put his new toy through its paces before starting the action back up.
Flammingle takes a few hits to destroy, but takes so much time to wind up its attack we're rarely in danger from it. Its aggro range is surprisingly small, too, so we can frequently destroy it without it reacting. The pits are also small enough that they're not much of a threat either. At least there are a few Jammingers here to give the last Flammingle a chance. Jamminger is a weak contact flyer like Batton, but his gimmick is a herky-jerky flight path. He's a bit of a troll, too: if he successfully lands a hit, he'll fly off-screen while his "mouth" flashes. It feels like a taunt. Kudos for that.
Ahead there's an abandoned ride armor we can hop into. It attacks by punching and can take a fair amount of punishment, although we don't know exactly how much because it's not displayed. There's no reason not to get into it. The next section would be pretty obnoxious without it, as it's all Tombots and pits. Tombot rises vertically, stops, and then moves horizontally. It can pause once to drop a bomb, but contact is the main worry. As with Bomb Been and Ray Bit, it dies in one hit but is a difficult target.
It's easy to get bogged down trying to swat these things, but all that does is put us in danger from the pits. Alternatively, jumping out of the ride armor at the height of its jump here puts us on this strangely abandoned upper platform. The humps here are invulnerable to our shots and spit out Tombots if we linger. Hm, I wonder why they're here...
This game will feature a number of these short splits in the path. This is the correct way to do it: have a distinct difference in difficulty or reward between the two, then make it non-trivial to get to the better path. In this case, only a keen-eyed player can see that the upper path actually exists, and only one fluent in the use of the ride armor can get up there. The reward is avoiding an irritating combat course. Applause.
Now we're back to moving uphill and our last opponent shows himself. Snow Shooter throws one large snowball down the slope when we approach him, then idles for a bit before performing a slow wind-up shooting attack. He's not much on his own and the snowball is destructible with a charged shot, but once again the topography is as much our enemy as the robots. Bomb Been makes another appearance to add some spice, and if we ever try to retreat out of sight of Snow Shooter he gets to hit us with the big snowball again. Although we face this enemy four different times, the terrain is slightly different each time with a gradual ramp of difficulty, with the last one even getting two large snowballs. The boss door is almost a relief.
This is wonderful level design. Each enemy we face gets a number of different scenarios to play to its strengths. Bomb Been works very well as a supplementary threat. There's hardly a dull moment, because once we engage each of the major segments, any retreat brings a respawn which makes things worse rather than better. The middle section with the Flammingles is the most relaxed bit, and it functions as a breather in an otherwise frantic stage.
The "gimmick" that makes the stage tick is nothing more complicated than slopes. Off-setting the enemies from our level complicates our lives in subtle ways, and ties in nicely with the theme and the background art. Too many levels with snow settings diminish the characters' footing but never do anything with the idea. This one doesn't make a big deal of the snow at all and still makes it work.
I suggest contacting the main site more directly. I don't know if they really remember they have these message boards. I guess since it still exists they do but I haven't heard from them in quite a while.
Which means they probably never got your "audition". This is like one of six fan sites that I believe are owned by the same person.
Avatar courtesy of PreacherDudeRox... remember him? ^^
If you're still trying to get this up, I would message NetOp, as he's an administrator here and works on the main site, like Otaku said. NetOp, LBD and somebody else. It's been too long for me to remember everyone. Sorry about that. Overall, it looked well thought out. Good job. nun