Scarred By Heaven

28-01-24 -- Preparing For A Demo

Hello! I've never written on a blog before, let alone about game development, so I'm admittedly not sure where to begin. Most of these posts will probably just be me giving updates about and my thought process behind the more interesting things I've been working on in the game. It feels very self-indulgent, but hopefully somebody will find it interesting.

As you can likely tell from looking at the site, the game has already been in development for some time, and I feel most of core mechanics and game systems are in place. Lately, I've been working towards creating a playable combat demo that I can share here, and so I've been adding some final touches and mechanics I'd like to be able to show off.

Most recently, I've added a system for being able to draw consumable weapon items from your inventory to use in fights, in addition to the weapons found in battle arenas and occasionally dropped by enemies. All weapon types have their own attack sets with unique uses and quirks, and I'd like for them to function as more than just temporary power-ups, and so the ability to bring different ones out at your own discretion and mix them into your offense and combos seems very fun to me.

To avoid them being too strong and hopefully create more strategy, there'll be a limit on how many can be drawn from your inventory per battle, probably starting at only 1, which can then be increased with upgrades throughout the game. A similar limit will likely be placed on the total amount of consumable buff/healing items that can be used per battle, as I think it can help balance and add an interesting layer of strategy to an item system that is otherwise difficult to reconcile with a game like SBH. I feel like many action games struggle with having consumable items that are balanced well with the combat system, which I am hoping to avoid here.

This demo creation process has also unfortunately included having to refine the many enemy sprites used in it. While 'finalizing' art assets this early in development is risky and I try to avoid it by mostly using rough 'drafts' of the sprites in-game, I feel like the nature of SBH as a parry-focused game means that having enemy attacks look as clean and accurate to the final game as possible is important for being able to test properly. At the very least, I want to make sure all of the 'wind-up' frames for enemy attacks are cleaned up, and am slowly inching towards that goal. (If only finishing drawings was as fun as drafting them...!)

The second boss fight, Livio, was definitely the biggest hurdle in that regard due to his relatively huge attack pool, and he's thankfully now been finished!

The demo itself is planned to include the game's first handful of tutorial fights and the first two boss fights, all devoid of their story context. I'd like to also have a sandbox-y 'post-game' in which you're able to freely pick fights with the first few early game enemies and play around with various early items and upgrades.

I would love to hear feedback on the game and these posts, but implementing a comment section onto the blog is hard, so I'll try to accompany all of these posts with a relevant video so the comment sections there can be used. This one's showing off the mentioned weapon system, as well as the system for parrying enemy projectiles.

This week I also finished writing up the first four character pages! I am as passionate about the game's narrative as I am about the gameplay, but naturally I won't be talking about the story very much here to avoid spoilers. But these character pages should give you a glimpse into the general personalities and dynamics at play in the early parts of the story if you're interested.

Thank you for reading!

- Topaz