EG was my first foray into creating my own original game. No more messing around with roms (Massimo) or making game fanfic (Evil Dead). It was time to pull up my sleeves, flex them finger muscles, and get down and dirty.
I started EG like I started with Massimo, by setting up a contest over on NeoGAF. This time the contest was for anyone new to game development to learn and create a game within a year's time frame. I also partook in the contest as motivation to do the same (like last time I excluded myself from the final voting). I was thankfully with a job at the time in which gave me enough downtime to study programming and begin building an engine to make a game in.
At the time I decided I want to focus on XNA and the C# language to start building my game. It took me about three months to get a decent grasp of coding and getting a character functionally moving and jumping around the screen correctly. During the process I had grown attached to my little character (dubbed "The Marshmellow Monk") and ended up building a game around it instead.
Thus came EG.
The core of what I wanted the game to be remained intact: a game with an interconnected world that evolves and changes its gameplay style the further you get. While some inspiration is obviously Metroid, I wanted to try a different approach to the "interconnected world" design by influence of the Amiga game, Shadow of the Beast. Sprawling levels, filled enemy and obstacle variety, and changing layout that gives the player a sense of journey and progression.
The world of EG is loosly based off of a short story I wrote a while back involving a evolving egg shaped planet. In this game you play as EG, an intentionally blank character that appears onto a seemingly empty, egg-like planet. As EG progresses the planet evolves. In a way making this game would be a reflection of how my skills as a game developer grows. With each area I pushed myself more and more to try and learn different things and represnt that in the look and layout of the level.
The look of the game was reflective of that too. The spritework started off as basic stuff. Trying to go for a bit of a timeless "less is more" approach (of course timeless is subjective). Even though the overall theme of the game is egg-like, most of the level layout consisted of 16x16 squares with no slopes (could never quite get that working). So even though the ground was flat I tried to keep with theme as much as possible by keeping the visual style of everything around the character rounded. Rarely you will see a hard edge in the game.
As mentioned before, the game starts basic. You just move, jump, and climb. Even the levels start in basic black & white. There's even a secret if you go backwards the game can become even more basic! As you progress further eventually your moveset evolves, gaining rolls, melee and projectile attacks, dashing and sommersaults, shields, warping, etc. The level design starts becoming more elaborate and lush too, eventually turning in a colorful world that's a mix between styles of the old Amiga aesthetic and the classic Mario style. Enemies became larger and some of the AI more complex as well.
So what happened to this game? Well I worked on it for years and got a quite a bit of it done. I got six full sized levels completed (not including the connecting areas), all the movesets and items functioning correctly. Had up to 50 unique enemies (each with their own AI patterns), a warp zone, save system, secrets and more all working well. Then I got laid off of work. That took a big hit to my motivation. At the time I was brain wracking over a stage design and was feeling particularly burnt on that one area. So when I was let go it hit me pretty hard and I needed a breather.
I shifted my thoughts over to 3D and VR game design and took a detour to learn new things and eventually come back to EG with a refreshed mind. My break took a little longer than it should've and soon I found myself in a new job with less time available to work on my projects. When I did go back to EG I ran into several stumbling blocks that stopped its progress. One was XNA becoming defunct and I was having issues installing the game on some computers. The second was that because this game was representative of me learning coding at the time, it showed. Over the years I had gone through to rewrite and clean up a lot of the code as my experience improved, but I never did a complete overhaul to simplify a lot of the early fat that comes from being an inexperienced programmer. Because of that, going back to the game was like looking through and endless forest of pages to just to change something.
So I had to take a step back again and reevaluate what I wanted to do. I spent a lot of time on EG, and was very proud of what I created. Of course I didn't want to let it go. I decided to take up learning a couple of these easier to handle game engines (Unity and Unreal Engine 4). I found Unity better suited for what I was doing and built a new foundation for a 2D game from scratch (which became the +AB Engine). I still have yet to do the long process of moving all the EG assetts over to Unity. In the meantime I did end up getting a midi keyboard and composed a bunch of my own music for EG's early areas (in place of the C64 and Amiga tunes I had there originally).
And that's where this game stands currently. About 40% complete in XNA and waiting to be moved to Unity. Do I want to do the time intensive process of moving everything over? Or do I want to put my attentions to one of my other game ideas?