Jack Razor- Turrican-Style Platformer [Demo Available]

Edward Morley
01.06.14
Hello Fellow Turrican Fans!
In late 2011, a few friends and I started working on a Turrican-style platformer called "Jack Razor: Distant Dimension". It focuses on a boy with mutant powers, and one of the exciting things about the game is that you can get extra abilities using the points you collect through collecting diamonds and killing enemies (plus, there are lots of 1-ups). These abilities will open you to new parts of the levels that you would otherwise not have access to. They aren't required to beat the game, but we wanted to give the player even more reasons to go and explore to their hearts content. Plus, if we forced the player to explore, then the sense of freedom associated with such a course of action would be greatly diminished; we don't want that. Jack will also have vehicles to ride in the final game to spice things up a little, like a Jet Ski and a Hover Board, for example.

I have uploaded a demo containing the intro stage (which serves primarily as a tutorial with some cool twists added to keep things interesting) and the first world (which is where it starts to get more exploration-heavy) here:

http://www.mediafire.com/download/icuiwg1l9zhaab9/Jack+Razor+Distant+Dimension+Demo+1_3.zip

The Zip folder also contains mp3 files of a couple of songs that will be in the game, but aren't in the demo.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Liam Fay
01.06.14
Really interesting! I'm actually developing a Turrican Clone myself (Also on a $0 budget) so here are some tips:
1) Use pixel art. It's much harder to do, but after some practice, it's still hard, but also very fun. It will look much better in the longrun, not that the game looks bad in the first place.
2) Improve on the programming. Dealing with enemies is fine, but I found platforming extremely difficult, because of the programming. The jump itself is fine, but if I try to change direction in midair, I stop moving, and I have to wait a few moments before I can move again. Really, if you try to press any of the arrow keys within a second of eachother, you lock into position for a few moments. Try to improve on that.

What program are you using? I'm using Game Maker Studio: Standard. I've actually been able to do some really impressive stuff with it. If you're using Game Maker Studio as well, I can teach you a few tricks.

And BTW, the frame rate, at least from what I've played so far, is smooth!
So overall, I'm interested in this. Could use some improvement, but overall it's pretty good!
dark
01.06.14
Well there is a lot of good stuff here, and a lot I really like, particularly that you managed to really capture the feeling of an old school platformer ala turrican or metroid, the music, the graphics, I felt like I could've been playing this on my Snes.

The jumping system took a while to get used to, sinse sometimes it seemed you would walk along slowly, and then rocket into the sky for no reason, I also wish the game had some look up and down buttons sinse with you constantly in the near center bottom of the view jumping between platforms on the same horizontal level was rather harder than it should've been sinse you couldn't see your destination (the float ability made up for this partly but only partly).

I absolutely loved the speaking tutorial panels. As I am visually impared and can't read text this is the first time I ever got a tutorial which worked, which was great! indeed if you want to voice more stuff in the game that would be awsome.

It might also be nice to distinguish forground and background elements a bit, sinse while I really liked the contrast on most of the game, and the fact that there were a lot of large and very easily visible characters,things, occasionally background and forground elements could get confused, particularly with those floating clouds at the top of the first level.

Do you also have plans to add extra enemy explosions, hit and damage sounds? sinse as it stands there were points when i wasn't certain whether I was being damaged or not, for example does jumping on enemies hurt you or can you jump ontop of enemies to kill them mario style.

The only thing I couldn't work out was the power up and weapons system, sinse it seemed sometimes I picked stuff up and got a bigger gun sometimes not. It also seemed all I could do was walk left and right, jump, shoot and duck which was a little disappointing sinse it would have been nice to have more abilities to play with.
I'm not sure if I missed something somewhere in terms of buying things with pointts as you said, or if I missed some abilitties somewhere (I tried all the obvious keyboard keys but no luck).

Lastly, what is the deal with energy, powerups and saving? I finished the tutorial, explored much (possibly all), the first stage and got to stage two, picking up one ups and such along the way.

I begin the second stage, fall down a hole then am suddenly at a sequence where I'm floating down avoiding large red enemies, about three hits in and I'm dead and right back to the start, which was irritating.

Edward Morley
01.06.14
Thanks for the feedback!
Liam:
I'm glad the frame rate remained consistent. I'm actually trying to put as little stress on the hardware as possible while still pulling off what I want. That way, more people can play it, including myself (I have pretty low performance machines).
To answer your question, I'm using Game Maker 8 Pro. If you have any further tips, I'd love to hear them. As for pixel art, you'd be surprised how much of it there is. While many of the main sprites (such as all of the Jack Sprites and enemies) were done in flash. Most of the other ones were done in Game Maker's Image Editor. It's just not quite as apparent seeing how I'm working with a higher resolution (720p). We decided not to go the "neo-retro" route because so many people are doing it and I thought it would be nice to see an actual HD 2-D Platformer as opposed to the low-res ones we see so much; Ryan and Chris (the other people behind the project) agreed. We wanted the game in general to be like an updated Amiga game, so I felt that such a decision was important.
I'm still playing around with the actual coding (I'm much more into level design than I am with coding so it's a little bit of a challenge for me). At the moment, I'm still focused on putting in new assets and making new levels. Afterwards, I'll definitely try to improve things more. The game has gotten a lot better over time, so I'm under the impression that it will continue to do so.

Dark:
I'm very happy that you got the old school platformer vibe; that was largely our intention. I think the looking up/down idea is great; I'll definitely try to implement that! I'll definitely put in more voice clips where necessary. Essentially, the direction I'm taking with them is to push the player in the right direction; getting them into the mindset necessary to progress through the game, but without insulting the player's intelligence and while still using the level design to teach the player this stuff as well.

With the weapons, there are two main weapons, a Quick Shot (Q) and a Flame Beam (F). One of Chris' ideas was to have different enemies react differently to each one (like having some enemies be impervious to flame and so on). Thus, giving each enemy it's own identity and putting the player in more of a strategic mindset. I have a sheet with all of the planned enemies, but evidently, most of them aren't currently in the game yet.
There are also three extra abilities. The Flame Dash, which allows you to shoot horizontally across the screen. This serves as an attack and to make it to platforms that you otherwise wouldn't be able to reach just by jumping. In the demo, you are awarded this after the intro stage so players could get a taste of how the exploration element will work in the final game (where it'll be much more involved).
The two others are the Super Jump, which allows you to jump great distances; allowing you to take quicker routes and reach areas you would otherwise be unable to, and finally, there is the Super Beam. This allows you to break through certain barriers; opening new paths.
Saving will happen automatically after each world. In the falling section, you have to shoot the obstacles in your path. Your comment reminded me that I forgot to map the fire button to 'Z' in that mode, whereas in the demo, it's just 'ctrl'; not both buttons like in the other modes. I'm sorry about that. I'll also tone down the damage you take in that mode as well, and perhaps alter the game design a bit so the player has a better idea of what's going on.

Again, to both of you, thanks for the feedback, and I'm definitely taking your suggestions into consideration!
Liam Fay
02.06.14
Having enemies react to different weapons is actually an ambitious idea...very clever!
And by Pixel art, I didn't mean retro. What I had in mind is something like Jazz Jackrabbit 2. Take a look of it on Google Images, it doesn't look retro at all, yet it still uses pixel art.
dark
02.06.14
Yep, the game certainly felt retro.

Glad to know about the other weapon and the abilities. I'll try F and q for weapon activation, though you might considder instead of switching with keyboard letters having control activate the flame shot and shift or alt the quick beam if your only going to have two major weapons in the game, sinse I personally always prefer using major keys as controls.

heck, while space for jump is okay, you could always just go with up arrow as jump and use space for another weapon.

Level Design was certainly something I liked, lots of false trails, extra routes to explore and little secret areas, all the good stuff I'd expect in a Turrican style level, so no complaints there.
dark
02.06.14
Hmmm, I can't get either this flame beam or this flaming dash you mention to activate. I've tried pressing Q and F indeed I tried every key on the keyboard but other than z and x being yet more alternatives for shoot and jump nothing seemed to do anything.

Appologies if I'm being incredibly dense.
Edward Morley
02.06.14
I'm very happy you like the level design! That's generally where I've been putting most of the focus. Actually, the Quick Shot and Flame Beam are activated by collecting the powerups with those letters on them. The Flame-Dash is activated by holding shift and then using the left/right arrow keys, and is there after the intro stage. I'm sorry about the confusion; I'll do my best to make this stuff more clear in the final game. I don't think you're being dense; it's kind of my job as a game designer to make this stuff very clear in the game. So, if anything, it's my fault.
dark
02.06.14
Thanks, good to know.

I also believe I might have got the wrong idea, sinse when you were talking about two main weapons I thought you meant the player could switch between them rather than them being collectable extras.

All of these sorts of things are fairly easy to fix with documentation, or just having a bit more to the tutorial.
Edward Morley
06.06.14
I figured out why the controls temporarily lock sometimes. It's actually a result of pressing both the left and right arrow keys at once. I'm trying to tweak it a little; primarily playing around with the timing in which Jack stops. Worst case scenario, I'll put a tip on screen before the game starts telling the player how to avoid this (it's one of those things where once you know what's causing it, it happens surprisingly little; at least for me and some other people who have tested it), but hopefully, it won't have to come to that.
dark
06.06.14
I didn't get issues with the controls locking up, my only real control problem was that sometimes I'd try to jump up and across and end up jumping streit up instead, though I was never sure whether this was due to me not getting the controlls correctly rather than a game issue.

I also found the flame dash, very nice move, although the way it scrolls to the edge of the screen then the screen suddenly flicks over and Jack is just standing there was a little disconcerting. I also assume there will be some more sound effects and animations added, sinse right now having the dash silent was a little weerd.

Some more weapons to play with could be fun, either collectable or as part of your arsenal, though if it would be a pest to add too many more fare enough.
Liam Fay
19.06.14
I did a little gameplay video on what I thought of the game. You can check it out here:
Here's the video!
Edward Morley
20.06.14
Thanks Liam! I left a comment and gave the video a like!
Edward Morley
23.06.14
I'm currently in the process of improving the controls and fixing other bugs. So far (after a lot of new strange bugs), it's actually getting better. However, I still have things to iron out. I'll try to post an updated demo when I'm finished.
dark
23.09.14
Any news on the game? As I said above I really liked this one, particularly the design of the levels..
Edward Morley
10.06.15
Hello, once again! It's been a while, but I am very pleased to announce that I'm currently wrapping up Jack Razor!
I want to thank you guys so much for your feedback as it really helped. The "pg up" and "pg dn" keys pan the camera up and down respectively. Though, if you want me to map those functions to different keys, I'm open to suggestions. I have also significantly improved the controls and have designed many stages within the past year or so.
At this point in time I have to work on finishing:
-Enemy/Collectable Placement
-Hub World
-Voice Acting
-Animated Cutscenes
-Minor Bug Fixes and tweaks.
I hope that the game will be finished by Holiday Season this year, but I won't be sure until I start working on the cutscenes (as that's, thankfully, going to be the most intensive thing). In the meantime, I will upload a few maps of the stages and you can even listen to the stage themes here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXl4PPCSOv8
dark
12.06.15
Hi.

That is awsome news, as I said above I was wondering how development was going sinse the demo was great and I definitely like the soundtrack, a hub would would be good too, it's probably my liking for metroid and Mega man but I always like the idea that you are progressing around a large area or world or teleporting between stages whether you have choice or not, (robo cod was great for this particularly with the secrets hidden in the overworld factory).

Btw, will the soundtrack either be downloadable or possible to get from the game? It sounds great and I do like collecting soundtracks to games I have to listen to when I'm not playing, so having a copy available in og or some other player friendly format would be handy if possible.
Edward Morley
16.06.15
I'm very happy that you like it! I intend to release the full soundtrack in some form or another (including boss themes, cutscene music, and other things of that variety). I might sell it for really cheap or even just have it as a free download. Though, evidently, I don't have any concrete plans aside from my intention. There will definitely be a sound test, though.
As far as hub world goes, you are brought to it after the intro level. From there, you can go to the shop to purchase the special abilities with the points that you collect as well as other things (including bonus content). It's also where you save your progress after completing each world. Though, you can go through the game in one sitting without going back. I'm also trying to see if I could include a bonus stage that can be unlocked by collecting giant diamonds placed in secret, hard to reach areas (that can only be accessed by using all three special powers) in each world. This stage, of course, would also be accessible through the hub world. It's optional, but it adds depth to the game and incentive to do different things in the game itself, which I feel is a good and non-invasive way to extend playtime.
dark
18.06.15
Well I do prefer saving myself just so that you don't get annoyed with having to go through levels you've already finished again and again.
Hidden stuff would be good especially if it was tied to unlocking new areas, one thing I do remember liking in the demo was the level design that had so many corners to explore, and again with a hubworld you could add in extra locations and stages and such.
I'm also looking forward to the bosses sinse decent turrican style bosses aren't something we've seen for a while, or rather the ones in T2002 have been over used.

A soundtrack would be appreciated, sinse it is something I enjoy.
Edward Morley
07.02.16
Work on Jack Razor is well underway. To compensate for the delay, I'll release a new demo with improved controls featuring a new level.
2015 was a crazy year for me and my family so I had to put the project on hold for a while.
dark
17.02.16
Awesome, I'll be looking forward to it, as you might have gathered I do like what I've seen thus far .

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