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Katuko's Blog


Matoran game mechanics

Posted by Katuko , in BIONICLE Fighter Mar 21 2014 · 1,370 views
Matoran, game mechanics and 3 more...
A bit of brainstorming has led to some realizations about Matoran, and they may end up as playable in BIONICLE Fighter after all. They don't have powers, and that is what has been the biggest challenge in balancing them. Still, it also means there are fewer custom powers needed for them, which would save on their development time. Here is what they might have instead of a full elemental power selection:

- Matoran will carry the passive elemental traits of their Toa counterparts. Ta-Matoran get fire resistance, Onu-Matoran are a bit stronger while grounded, and so on.
- Slightly higher base move speed coupled with a slightly smaller hitbox compared to other species. They can still be hit easily, but running away should be easier. Due to their small size, certain melee weapons are scaled down for Matoran, and they receive slightly more knockback force but are quicker to get back on their feet.
- Matoran have no Kanohi power. This button will instead be used to activate their special ability. Kanohi they spawn with will not have powers at all. The new engine will distinguish a bit clearer between powered and unpowered masks, by having powered masks not fade out so much when dropped. Alternately, Matoran masks will not fade or change color at all, as per canon.
- Power 1 and Power 2 can be used to switch between extra items carried. Matoran can choose to carry extra weapons, lightstones, and similar objects, some depending on their chosen job/special ability.

Abilities available to Matoran (chosen from a list like any other power would be):


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Workers (and most Matoran types) can choose to carry extra weapons, backup Kanohi, and/or lightstones. 2 slots are available for this. Press Power 1 or Power 2 to pull these items out in-game depending on the slot used. This expends a small amount of energy: 5 points. Matoran don't use energy for all that many things, so this will seldom be an issue, but rapid switching of items can wear out your energy supply.

Special power: Repair. Can repair held items by pressing the Kanohi/special power button. Every currently equipped item (armor, mask, shield and weapons) is repaired by a certain amount decided by the Matoran's number of points in the generic "Power Plus" perk. This is the same perk that controls the strength of Toa elements, for the record, and is thus the Matoran equivalent. Unlike the power of the Kanohi Kiril, using this ability to repair forces you to walk slowly while doing a short animation. The Absorb key can be held to do a much slower, gradual repair that does not cost any energy to perform but still impairs your mobility.

Repair amount: 30% of the weapon's HP per use. 10% per rank in Power Plus, for a maximum of 50% and a minimum of 10%.
Energy cost: 20 points per use.
Use time: It takes 2 seconds to perform repairs, then another 2 seconds before the ability can be used again.

Unique perks:
Skilled crafter - 1 rank. After repairs are done, your items take less damage when attacked for a short period of time. This does not affect the damage/knockback resistance offered by shields, only the speed at which they wear out.
Re-craft item - 1 rank. Extra ability. While using your Absorb repair ability, press the key for one of your items and you can exchange it for another item of the same type. This expends energy like a normal repair would. A sword will become a different sword, a laser gun will become a different laser gun, and so on. This ability completely repairs the item in the process, but the item you create can not be controlled.
Improve gear - 1 rank. Extra Ability. After using your repair ability, your weapons deal extra damage for the next few attacks and your defensive items can withstand a bit more damage. Visually the items will have a faint shine to them. This perk increases the repair energy cost to 30 and the cooldown between each use of your repair ability to 10 seconds. Items lose their improvements if dropped.
Quick fingers - 1 rank. Improved ability. Increases your repair speed to 1 second and reduces the cooldown of your repair skill by 25% (to 1.5s or 7.5s, depending on other perks).


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Guards are used to defending against Rahi attacks, which nullifies the knockback penalty normal Matoran have. Guards can also carry 2 extra items, one each in the Power 1 and Power 2 slots.

Special power: Call Squad. Summons two randomized Matoran NPCs to appear at your location. One will carry a basic melee weapon, while the other will have a basic projectile weapon. These Matoran each have 50% of your current health at the time of calling. The summoned Matoran will gradually lose HP while summoned and do not block attacks. If reduced to 0 HP they will flee and vanish immediately. This happens after at most 60 seconds, less if attacked. They do not drop any items when defeated.

Points put into Power Plus will increase the health of the called Matoran by 15% of your max health per point. Maximum is therefore 80% of your max health, minimum 20%. The duration of their stay does not change, but their resistance to attacks will naturally be greater.

Press the power key again to dismiss your followers prematurely, reducing the ability's cooldown by an amount proportional to the time that was left.

Unique perks:
Steadfast backup - 1 rank. Summoned Matoran stay longer. Does not affect the damage they recieve from enemies.
Strength in numbers - 2 ranks. Each rank adds another summoned Matoran.
Power hungry - 1 rank. Summoned Matoran appear with special powers in their weapons, such as Fire Swords or Cordak Blasters.

Rahi Tamer

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Like all Matoran, Rahi Tamers may also carry up to 2 extra items in their empty Power slots.

Special power: Rahi Follower. A Rahi spawns alongside the Matoran. The Rahi provides special features such as having an auto-attack and serving as a mount. Pressing the power button causes the Rahi to follow the Matoran, while pressing the button again will cause it to attack whatever enemy is closest in the direction the Matoran is looking. By keeping the button held down, a targeting reticule appears which can be used to direct the Rahi to a specific target.

The Rahi that will spawn is chosen at the character selection screen. Rahi have max health equal to their Tamer's max health, and slowly recharges health after a few seconds of not being attacked at a rate proportional to their Tamer's current health. If defeated, the Rahi will retreat and vanish. It appears automatically again a minute later (or the next time the Matoran respawns). If the Tamer dies the Rahi will flee and vanish just a few seconds later.

Press E while standing next to the Rahi to mount it (if possible). While mounted, the power button causes the Rahi to use its standard attack. If the Matoran or the Rahi recieves damage/force that would normally knock them prone, the rider will be forced to dismount. Both melee weapons and projectiles can be used by the Matoran while mounted, but this increases the chance of being knocked off by an enemy attack. Using projectile weapons will also make it harder to steer.

If your Rahi is at less than 50% health and is hit by enough force, it may be knocked down or stunned. At this point, an enemy is able to mount it. They will have a much harder time steering it than you, however, and the Rahi will still be unable to cause damage to its owner. After a certain amount of time, your Rahi will shake the enemy off and return to you. If you have died in the meantime, the Rahi will instead vanish once the "horse thief" dismounts.

The Power Plus perk will increase your Rahi's toughness by giving it a few points worth of armor as well as increased damage per rank of the perk.

Posted ImageNui-Rama - Provides flight, medium speed. Easy to control in the air. Attacks by flying close to enemies and attacking with weak claws. If the Matoran presses the Absorb button while flying, they can pick up a target for a few seconds. This slows your flight speed based on the weight of the target. Press the button again (or just wait) to drop the unfortunate victim.
Posted ImageGukko - Provides flight, quick and steady. Harder to turn around. Attacks by ramming into enemies while flying, which may knock them around.
Posted ImageMuaka / Kane-Ra - Large and powerful. Moves somewhat slowly, but can extend their neck to bite enemies outside of normal melee range. They are hard to knock around, but are pretty much unable to jump.
Posted ImageTarakava - Medium size and speed, with a powerful double-punch attack. The first punch deals decent damage, while the second one also knocks the target away.
Posted ImageHusi - Very quick and lightweight, but has next to no attack power.
Posted ImageUssal Crab - Moves at medium speed and has medium attack power. Extra resistant to knockback force, but can barely jump.
Posted ImageNui-Jaga - Moves at medium-slow speed and has medium attack power. Stinger attacks at close range will cause weak poisoning in addition to their normal damage. At long range, the scorpion may also toss a small glob of poison which does less damage but still poisons. If ridden, the Nui-Jaga can not use its stinger as a melee attack.
Posted ImageFikou - Swift movement speed, weak attack power with mild poison effect. Can not be ridden.
Posted ImageVisorak - Medium movement speed, has a dash attack with medium knockback force. Can jump and climb walls. Wall climbs disable your use of weapons, since you need to hang on tight.

Unique perks:
Come Home - 1 rank. Improved ability. When you call for your Rahi, it will immediately appear at your side regardless of the distance between you. This ability has a cooldown of 5 seconds. If you call your Rahi again during the cooldown it will respond as it normally would, but move a bit faster.
Dramatic Dismount - 1 rank. Extra ability. Whenever you dismount, you do so gracefully. Being knocked off your Rahi will no longer stun you, and if you're lucky you might even be able to land back in the saddle.
Loyalty - 1 rank. Extra ability. Enemies that attempt to mount your Rahi will find themselves shaken off immediately.
War Beast - 1 rank. Ability Modifier. Whenever your Rahi takes damage, it becomes slightly faster and more powerful until it next starts regenerating health. This perk increases the delay before your Rahi's natural health regeneration kicks in and also causes its health to regenerate slower.

Feel free to suggest other Matoran types.


Kanoka disk launchers

Posted by Katuko , in Sprites, Graphics, BIONICLE Fighter Mar 19 2014 · 981 views

So we got the basic disk launcher, and Vakama Metru's special launcher. Now, one is bog-standard, and the other is cool but kinda big. Plus, it's flame-styled, which doesn't fit every character. Thus I felt the need to make some new disk launcher designs that better reflect other shapes and elements.

Posted Image

So there we have Vakama's laucnher to the top-left, and a modified round design to the right of it. Next is a design I added "wings" to, in an attempt to make a cool launcher for a Toa of Air. The spiky one takes some inspiration from Ice, while the last one was modeled after a bats stingrays. I will be making a few more of these, and add them to BIONICLE Fighter as optional styles for the Disk Launcher weapon.

While unique designs could serve as an indicator of a disk's special abilities (like the Rahkshi Staff design does for the power contained within), please note that I will not be adding powers to the disks in BIONICLE Fighter at this stage. There are a lot of things to work out with them, since several of the powers have effects that are not easily programmed and/or not easily balanced. Mechanics have been considered, but they are better suited for the revamped engine.

Here are some characters posing with the new launchers:

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Feel free to suggest other designs, and I will happily take them into consideration. :)

The sprites are free to use for anyone. Credit is appreciated, but not necessary.


So you want to make sprites?

Posted by Katuko , in Sprites, Art, Graphics Mar 02 2014 · 1,263 views

I was asked about to how sprites are created and used. This post is an attempt to explain the basics behind a sprite sheet.
What are sprites?

Sprites are pretty much normal digital images, but they are made at a very, very small scale. The term "sprite" usually refers to the images used in video games and for small animations, etc. The only thing special about a sprite compared to other images is that the sprite is usually made by meticulous work at the pixel level – each pixel being placed by hand, one by one. Being a pixel artist is different from being a graphical artist in other types of digital painting, but the principles of art - such as geometry, light and shading, color palettes, and more - still applies in much the same way.

What image format should we use?

Sprites are usually saved as either GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) or PNG (Portable Network Graphics). BMP (BitMap) can be used, but it's a very big format and does not offer any real benefits nowadays. JPEG/JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), while very common for other image files, is not recommended at all for sprites! JPG is made for keeping photo quality while reducing the use of harddrive space. This is done through compression – the image processing program goes through the image and reduces the amount of info stored as much as possible. For a photo, this still leaves it looking OK, because it has an extreme amount of pixels and differing color values already, and it can stand to lose some. For a sprite, the change in pixels will be very noticeable. A typical sprite has maybe 16 distinct color values, and a single color that is defined as the background – it should be treated as transparent, and never mixed with the main sprite. But when the compression does its work, a nice sprite can have its colors blended together, making it horrible and unusable.

Take a look at this comparison:

Posted Image
This is a properly saved sprite. It can easily be moved across different backgrounds, because even if we save the background as non-transparent it is still a single pure color that is not used anywhere else in the image. Thus we could easily cut away the white or the pink in this image, and move the sprite somewhere else.

But then we add compression...
Posted Image
This sprite is ruined. It has been saved as a compressed JPG, and when we try to cut away the background we find that the white is no longer pure – it has been blended with other colors in an effort to cut down on file size. And it's not just the background that has been blended.

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Shock and alarm! The original sprite (left) had 9 colors – 4 shades of blue, 4 shades of metallic green, and 1 bright eye color. The compressed image (right) has far more colors, and they are visibly blurred and "dirty". If you want to use a different background, you have a lot of work ahead of you. If you want to extract a color palette, you're not getting anything useful. Lesson learned: Never ever compress an image containing sprites or other things you want to keep unchanged. If you save as JPG, use a program that actually gives you the option to set Quality to 100%. If you don't get such an option (like in MS Paint) assume that the image will be blurred and blended due to compression if you save as JPG.

BMP, as mentioned, is a big format. It has no compression, and saves data about every single pixel in the image. It will give you perfect image quality, but the file size makes BMP undesirable for web. People do not want to download a 10 MB file just to see your forum banner, after all. :)

PNG files have no compression either, but the way they save info makes PNG images pretty much a replacement for BMP in most situations. Furthermore, the PNG format also saves an alpha value for each pixel in addition to the standard red/green/blue values, which means that PNG files can have true transparency. This is perfect if you want to make a sprite that feature transparent parts – instead of being forced to use, say, a pink color to simulate transparent red on a white background, you can just up and use red with a low alpha value – thus making it possible to place the sprite on any background afterwards. The PNG format is excellent for sprites, and I highly recommend their usage as the standard format for sprites and other web graphics.

GIF is another small-size image format. It has the option of turning a single color transparent, but no more. It can be restricted to a certain amount of colors, to save space. Nice for sprites, so long as you get to pick what colors to keep and which ones to discard. If you are saving a sprite – which has only a few colors to begin with – saving as a GIF will usually have no effect on its quality. Some programs, though, such as old versions of MS Paint, will force a certain pallette, which may affect color shades a bit. Modern image programs will not do this. While it lacks full transparency support, the prime advantage of GIF is that it can be animated. Making a GIF animated requires an image editing program which can edit individual frames and which supports exporting to an animated GIF format.

Recommended: Use PNG for all sprites except the ones that need to be animated when you post them online. In that case, use a GIF. Otherwise, sprite animations are best saved as a strip of individual images, which the recipient can cut up and use as needed.

What programs and tools do we need?

This guy explains it pretty well. (Read the rest of the tutorial as well, it is excellent.) I have a tendency of being overly verbose. But here goes:

We only need an image editing program that can work with raster images – i.e. normal image files. Even MS Paint can do this, so if you're on a Windows machine you're already set. To work with a sprite, just open a file, zoom in until you can clearly see each pixel (turn on the grid if you want to) and then start placing dots. You can cut and paste and move parts. If you want to recolor sprites, first pick the existing color as your Secondary Color, then the new color you want to use as the Primary Color, and then right-click with the Eraser tool to replace one with the other.

Still, this is the hard way of doing it. Making sprites in MS Paint works up until you need to recolor a large amount of them, or when you need to make parts that overlap each other. Say, you want to paste armor onto a character. Then later you want to move the arm of the character a few pixels left – but naturally the image underneath the armor you pasted on has been lost. You will need to redraw it. And as Les Forges mentions in the link above: You can't open more than one file at a time, so copy-pasting to and from different sprite sheets and image files is a nightmare.

Instead of mucking with this waste of time any further, download a proper program which supports layers and all the proper jazz. MS Paint is meant only for the most basic of image editing needs. Even if you only need to stick image A above image B, you're generally better off with something other than MS Paint. Some people are reluctant to download anything that is not included with the machine, because "this works for my needs". Quite frankly, these people waste time and effort and usually get a worse result from their endeavors than someone who takes a minute to install a proper program.

Paint.NET, GraphicsGale and GIMP are all image editing programs which are up to the modern standard of layers. For example, here you can place your base character sprite on one layer and his armor on another – the base sprite will then be unaffected by anything you do with the armor sprite! Layers allow you to compare sprites by placing them over each other, and they allow you to edit part of an image without affecting other parts. These image editing programs also include other useful functions, such as the ability to change the color hue of an image with a quick drag of a slider, and the ability to apply effects such as blur or brightness adjustment – things that are simply impossible in MS Paint.

Personally I use Paint.NET for my sprites, since it is simple and lightweight and can be extended with plugins if needed. It's completely free to download and use. Others swear to GraphicsGale – a program which also includes the ability to edit animation frames, though that one costs money. GIMP is a free program which is "the poor man's Photoshop" – it has many powerful functions, but it may be overly complex to use if you're only going to make simple sprites. Photoshop is the king of modern image editing, but it is expensive and is not particularly well suited to sprites anyways. For sprites you have all you need in "lesser" programs.

How to work with sprites

As mentioned, all you need to do is to zoom in to a comfortable level, then start placing pixels. There are many good tutorials on how to make a proper sprite, so I'll leave it up to them to explain palette selection, geometry, shading and similar things. The main things to consider are:

* Is my sprite the right size? It should be big enough that you can see what the object is, but it should not be so big that it stretches the page. Take note that if you want to resize a sprite, do so AFTER you are done with it. Make it on a 1:1 pixel scale, save that, then make a separate copy which you stretch bigger. Always scale uniformly – never scale a sprite to, say 150% width and only 120% height. This will make the resized "pixels" look rectangular – a sprite should always have square pixels, even when scaled up for display purposes. Also: a stretched sprite sheet is pretty much useless. A sprite sheet where a pixel is a pixel is perfect.

* How many colors am I using? Don't use too many different shades for a sprite, and don't use too few. Maybe 4 or 5 shades per color tends to be a good balance for classic sprites.

* Are my colors working well with each other? Don't use the standard palette. Don't go Bucket Fill with bright lime on your sprite. Remember to add highlights and shadows to offset the garish color if you do this. If you have downloaded a sprite sheet you will often have an existing color palette to choose from that does the job well.

* Am I using layers? If you need to plece one sprite (part) over another, use a new layer until you're 100% certain you want that piece to look like that permanently. Then you can merge the layers. When you save the final image layers will auto-merge, so don't worry. In your project file you should keep the layers. Imagine placing a sprite into a car, saving, then wanting to move the character somewhere else? Do you honestly want to re-paste the character into a new, blank car sprite (doing all the work over again), or do you want to do it the smart way and just move the layer a bit?

This is far from a comprehensive tutorial on how to make sprites, but it covers the basics of image formats and program usage. Consult other sites and blogs for details in the art of making sprites. :)


Current engine status

Posted by Katuko , Feb 18 2014 · 807 views
bionicle fighter, game and 3 more...
Things have stood rather still the past few weeks, at least as far as game development goes. Due to a slew of school work and other things, I have not found the drive for heavy programming. I have at least completed a new ability or two for the old BIONICLE Fighter game engine, and I will upload these as soon as I polish them a bit with sound effects and stat tweaking.

I have unfortunately not succeeded in fixing any of the crashes that occur on Windows 8 whenever certain abilities are used. For this reason I will instead implement a very sad countermeasure: A Settings button to temporarily disable the problematic powers. This will keep Toa of Lightning from using their secondary, and it will keep the Exo-Pyro boss from using its multi-fireball attack. It will instead fire a single fireball, while Toa of Lightning will get a lesser version of Chain Lightning. Please note that this is a completely optional setting meant for those who have trouble running the game as-is, and once I manage to fix the crashing it will be removed again.

The new engine is still just in the planning stages. There are lots of things that need to be planned in advance, so that I don't run into the issues I have with my current engine: Bloating of file size, slow and inefficient code, and a rigid system that can't easily be added to. I am working on splitting up sprites, recoloring them, and making new position arrays for keeping track of equipped items on your character. This will lend itself to a better and more flexible animation system, but it will also take time to finish. Until I get a system I am comfortable with I can unfortunately not move on to programming the rest of the revised game engine either. However, once the baseline is done, it will be rather easy to port over all the attacks etc. from the current game. While there will be changes in the way the stats work, and in the effects of some abilities, most will stay the same and thus need no real reprogramming.

What you are all waiting for, though, is multiplayer. Multiplayer is finicky, but I am looking at ways to make it work right. I've posted a connection test before, which worked for two players in a simple shooter environment. Once I figure out exactly how to structure the networking to work efficiently with all the things that BF needs to keep track of, I will put together a new demo for you to try.

Keep checking my topic; I will be posting sprites and other tidbits there as they get done.


Flat-color Rahkshi

Posted by Katuko , in Art Jul 03 2013 · 743 views
rahkshi, art, flat-color, digital and 1 more...
Flat-color Rahkshi I felt like sketching something digitally. A few minutes worth of the brush tool, and here we are. One Rahkshi, ready to fry your guts. Flat colors with no shading because I always mess up shading, especially on rushed art such as this. Maybe next time, hah!

I'm bad at aaart. :D


Kanohi masks and other extra powers

Posted by Katuko , in BIONICLE Fighter Jun 06 2013 · 1,052 views
bionicle fighter, game and 3 more...
Kanohi masks and other extra powers

Part of a series of posts about my game.

Up until now, all special powers have shared the same energy bar. This works nicely from a programming perspective, and probably from a player's perspective as well. It's nice and simple. However, it's not entirely in thread with canon, and it limits my options when it comes to programming the strength of each effect and the amount of energy each ability should drain.

Let's take the Kanohi Kualsi, for example. This one lets the user teleport within a certain range. It is meant for bypassing obstacles, allowing a quick get-away, and also to confuse an opponent while also making closing the gap to him or her very easy. It drains a standard amount of energy (10 points) per use, and changes in speed and range depending on the user's stats. However, it has a few issues.

1) There is a brief cool-down period after every use. This is just long enough to make a melee attack straegy somewhat unfeasible.
2) It's dependence on the Mind stat means that people with little Mind not only has worse range and targeting speed, but also less energy to use it at all.
3) With low energy reserves, using both elemental attacks and Kanohi abilities removes the ability to effectively use the other. A character with a low energy pool and low stats in elemental attacks are essentially a heck of a lot more crippled in all aspects than the ones with high stats.

Long story short: Say goodbye to the shared energy bar.

First, I'll remove the air bar from the HUD, as it serves no purpose most of the time. Instead it will appear in a sensible location while underwater or otherwise losing points from your air supply. Taking its place beneath the elemental energy bar will now be the secondary power bar. This bar will be used for Kanohi, Rahkshi flight (more on this later), Skakdi vision powers, and other such things. The primary energy bar will stay the same, keeping track of the energy used for elemental powers, Rahkshi/Kraata powers, and so on.

With the Kanohi separated into their own energy bar, I can now play more loosely with their functionality. A Kanohi power can now be allowed to have both a strong effect and a high energy drain, without me worrying about this removing all elemental power capability in the process. All Huna-users can now throw out some elemental attacks without instantly turning visible again, and I can add proper strengths/limits on other mask powers as well.

Now, as I've mentioned before, stats are being reworked. The Mind stat in its current form will be gone. Toa will, on the character menu, have access to more specific Kanohi perks. Every Kanohi will have an average power level. There will be two available perks for each mask, where one will generally increase the maximum duration and/or times it can be used in quick succession while the second perk will make the power better/stronger somehow. Some utility masks such as Night Vision won't really work too well with a limited duration, so they will instead have something else as the first perk.

To be specific, a typical mask selection may look something like this:

Kanohi Ruru, Mask of Night Vision

Without mask power: Visibility is decreased to a short radius around the user while in dark areas. Only light-giving powers such as fire and lasers will be able to give the user more visibility (at the cost of revealing themselves to others).

When using the normal mask power: Allows the user to see in the dark, although with a deep green tint. Activates automatically once the user enters darkness and uses no energy. If the user encounters bright light while the power is active, they will be partly blinded for a few seconds.

Perks/upgrades (costs 1 point each):
[ ] Night Vision works in true color display instead of a tinted image. Prevents being blinded from sudden light.

[ ] Can see through elemental darkness. Activating the mask power can now cast some light at the surrounding area as well.

Penalties/downgrades (rewards 1 point each)
[ ] Takes a short while to switch between regular vision and night vision.

[ ] Decreased night vision range, making the outer rim of the screen stay dark even while in night vision.

Other masks will be detailed later, this is just one example. May be subject to change before release if game balance turns out to need adjustment.

Now, you may be wondering: What happens if I choose a certain perk, then change my mask in the middle of a match? Well, since masks will mostly be set up to have one perk related to duration and one related to the mask's power level, they will translate rather well into one another. Equip a duration-boosted Huna and you can rely on the masks you pick up to be duration-boosted as well. If not, the perk will be chosen that best fits the spirit of the one you originally picked. This is what happens currently as well, with some masks having their strength boosted (Kakama, Pakari) based on Mind while others instead boost range (Kualsi) or other things.

Furthermore, there'll be a very brief delay on picking up new masks and/or items. A short pick-up animation, nothing more. It's just to prevent characters from running around and rapidly switch masks in the middle of a fight at absolutely no risk, especially since there will be more ways to block attacks with shields.

Rahkshi have always been unable to use Kanohi, which means that half the items littering the battlefield will often be unusable to them. I may allow a Rahkshi to pick up a Kanohi and carry it as if it was a weapon, with an attack then throwing it away. This would be used mostly to deny Toa from getting that mask, or perhaps to toss it to an ally in a team match.

Random idea: Rahkshi could potentially also gain the ability to infect a mask by picking it up and holding it for a short while. Once dropped, the taint would be clearly visible, and it would fade after a while. If a Toa foolishly tries to equip it, it will stun them for a few seconds while they fight off the taint's mind control effect. If a stun proves too much, it might drain elemental energy or mask bar energy instead. After this, the mask will be completely cleansed and usable again.


Now, Rahkshi flight. Currently, Rahkshi can fly at will at no penalty. This makes them pretty much immune to fall damage and allows them to reach any location on the map without trouble. Basing their flight off what is seen in the movie Mask of Light, and what seems to be their tactics in other media, I have decided that the Rahkshi will have their flight style changed. A tap of the Kanohi button (which is not used for anything in Rahkshi) will make them switch into flight/glide mode. In this mode, they hover above the ground and travel at a higher speed than normal. They can fire off their projectile powers, but are more limited in terms of melee attack.

Also keeping with canon, a Rahkshi's staff will allow propulsion, thus making them able to take full flight. Otherwise, they will not be able to gain as much height or speed. Gravity will still pull the hovering Rahkshi downwards a bit, though it will not crash into the ground and take fall damage. Due to the way powers and stats will be set up, the staff will no longer have the +1 level boost. It will keep the ability to channel a weaker version of the set Rahkshi power (or full-power if wielded by the proper Rahkshi), as well as be a formidable melee weapon with good range and decent blocking capabilities.

While flying/gliding, the Rahkshi cannot block. It will be as vulnerable as it is while undefended on the ground, though its lock threshold will still come into play: An attack that breaks the threshold will also break the Rahkshi out of flight mode. This enables immediate combat, but also forces a drop instead of a graceful landing. Since switching back takes a second or two, the Rahkshi may very well take fall damage unless it has enough time before it hits the ground.

So, a Rahkshi with a shield may still be a bit more secure in flight mode, at the cost of not having the extra propulsion a staff will grant. Still, you'll have a hard time running from a Rahkshi that's chasing you in flight mode. Take advantage of its inability to defend instead and blast it down!

"Flight" will take the place of Kanohi perks on the Rahkshi's character menu. The stats you can choose to upgrade/downgrade will be maximum flight time before recharge as well as the maximum speed/"jump boost" of flight.

Other species

There's been some planning recently for new species, since so many seem to want them. This is perfectly understandable, and since the new engine is planned to use a more modular system for powers and such, I can take the liberty to introduce Skakdi just by giving them stronger weapons and weaker elemental powers, heh.

For Skakdi, their vision powers would take the place of Kanohi powers.

Vortixx would have some sort of weapons or tech to be equipped instead of a power. For ease of programming and balancing the game, this could allow me to map the Miru's levitation power to simpel Vortixx jetpack graphics, and so on.


Banners for BF:BV

Posted by Katuko , in BIONICLE Fighter May 28 2013 · 1,196 views
banner, signature, game and 1 more...
Instead of filling up the main topic with lots and lots of banner images, I'll use this blog post to list them all. If you feel like linking to my game topic, you can copy the content of the appropriate code block below and paste it into your signature. This will produce an image which you can click on to reach the topic.

Topic URL:

Banner images on top, code box below. The image size in pixels and the size of each file are shown to the right of the image.

Posted Image 300px × 65px, 39.08 KB (40021 bytes)
Posted Image 300px × 65px, 43.48 KB (44527 bytes)

Posted Image 350px × 60px, 42.95 KB (43980 bytes)

Posted Image 500px × 66px, 61.19 KB (62655 bytes)

Posted Image 350px × 80px, 52.69 KB (53950 bytes)

Posted Image 350px × 60px, 41.47 KB (42468 bytes)

Posted Image 300px × 65px, 43.01 KB (44042 bytes)



BF:BV - Blocking attacks

Posted by Katuko , in BIONICLE Fighter May 28 2013 · 829 views
bionicle fighter, game
Blocking attacks

Part of a series of posts about my game engine.

Question: What is a major game mechanic has been planned since the very beginning of the game, but hasn't yet seen the light of day?

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Answer: Shields! I skipped programming this because I didn't have the right sprites for the blocking animations, and I figured it would be easy to add the functionality later. That turned out to be wrong. I should have put it in at once even if I had to use placeholder images, because right now the current game engine is very inflexible in several ways; not the least of which is animation replacement.

So, I've made some simple sprites that will be used for shields. Heck, I even fleshed out the shields themselves, so that instead of just "Kopaka shield" and "Kopaka's Nuva shield" I know have Nuparu Mahri's shield on hand as well as a work-in-progress Rhotuka shield.

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So, with the graphics coming along, let's take a look at how blocking will work in the new engine.


Right off the bat, let me say that I have decided to steer away from the way equipment has worked up until now. Equipping a shield will no longer cost a stat point. Instead, heavy shields will slightly slow down your character by their weight unless you spend a point on strength or shield proficiency. This shouldn't be all that noticeable for an average character, as the ability to block properly will certainly offset the slight speed decrease. However, if you reduce strength or speed in order to gain points to use on other things, then the shield might be a bit too much for some characters. We'll see how it goes, and I'll adjust balance accordingly.

Lighter shields can be carried without a movement penalty, though they are not as resistant to forceful impacts. So where a heavy shield might weather a fireball completely, a light shield may still allow the enemy to knock you backwards a bit with the force of the explosion. Alternately, a light shield may not protect you completely from the heat or ignition effect.

You can defend yourself with a shield, your weapon, or your bare hands. Naturally, actual shields will be best at blocking. They will eliminate all damage that does not break their threshold. If an attack does break said threshold, you will be forced out of block and into a brief stagger animation. During this very short period of time, you can be hit normally. Finally, if an attack overwhelms your defense or strikes during the block-break stagger, you may get knocked down. Otherwise, the most that can happen is that you get pushed slightly backwards.

By default, shields will have 100% Damage Reduction from the front while active. Weapons will lie at 50-75% of a standard shield block, depending on the weapon(s). Bare hands will have something like 20-30%. Moving while blocking will be possible (such as stepping backwards away from a foe), but will lower the stagger threshold so long as you are in motion.

Kanohi Hau - Mask of Shielding

The Hau would need to change in order to accommodate for shields as a method of protection. The Hau will continue to let you block perfectly (no stagger chance) even while on the move, so long as it is active. It will keep projectiles and explosions from even reaching you. Just as it is activated, it would have a short "burst" of energy, which reflects projectiles and push back enemies that happen to connect with melee at that moment. This is in contrast to the current function, where the mask is either useless (get attacked constantly by something you cannot run away from) or overpowered (run into someone with it active and they get knocked into the air over and over).

While blocking, the mask will auto-activate at a low level for no cost. This will halt mask recharge for as long as you are blocking, however, and will not reflect anything unless you manually active the power (and thus expends mask energy).


What YOU can do to help develop BIONICLE Fighter!

Posted by Katuko , in BIONICLE Fighter May 18 2013 · 4,804 views
bionicle fighter, game and 1 more...
Shortening development time is good!

Those of you who have been following my work-in-progress fan game already know that programming games is a lot of work. It's insanely fun to piece together a game, but it's still work, and work takes time. Now, I've got a lot of time on hands, sure, but sometimes I wish I could spend more time on some things and then have someone else to do the rest. So far I've been working alone on my game, because I am quite frankly the only one with enough insight into my own head to know how things should end up.

Still, I can't do it all myself. I might be a jack-of-all-trades of game-making, but I am not perfect. I could use some help in several places. That's where you come in.

DISCLAIMER: I will be asking for some creative input on things such as map design in the list below. A natural process of game design is to brainstorm ideas, and there is always A LOT of ideas. Tons of them. So many that they can't all be used, and some are flawed from the get-go due to game balance, technical feasibility, etc. You are all free to post comments, critique and ideas; but please remember that I am in charge of this project, and as such I have the final say in what goes in-game or not.

I can say right off the bat that I will be sticking to the main Matoran Universe (the setting of BIONICLE from 2000-2008) and thus not include any direct Bara Magna references, alternate dimensions, crossover content, and so on.

Also note: This is a completely free game. There is currently no development cost, and there will be no income from the game even after it is 100% done. Therefore, I can't offer any payment to those of you who wish to contribute, but you will have my gratitude, a spot on the credits list, and the knowledge that you helped develop an awesome BIONICLE fan game. I hope that's enough. :)

Now, for the list of what I do need help with. I will keep the list updated and cross off items as they get done.

Stuff that is needed:
IMPORTANT: All sprites must be made in the same style as the Rayg 2.5 sprite kit. Size, proportions, the amount of color shades, etc. are all vital. Even if you're not able to make that perfect sprite, though, your half-finished sprites can also be useful as a starting point for some other spriter!
Characters and item sprites
  • Animation: Toa "hurt" pose, falling forwards and getting back up.
  • Animation: Rahkshi "hurt" pose, falling forwards/backwards and getting back up.
  • Animation: Rahkshi walking/running. (Proper leg poses, more Mask of Light styled)
  • Some Kanohi do not have rotated views.
  • Basic melee weapons such as swords, axes, and so on. Please, nothing extravagant here.
    Just basic equipment, such as this.
  • More shields, preferably with rotated views.
  • Nuva armor fitted to Rahkshi poses. This will require some reshaping of the armor itself since Rahkshi have wider torsos. Armor fitted to Vortixx and perhaps Skakdi would also be nice.
  • An arm motion for any character, where it looks like they are putting something (ammo) into their gun-type weapon.
  • Skakdi walk animation for the triangular feet (Used by Zaktan, Thok and Avak).
  • Improved version of Hahli Inika's Laser Harpoon. The available sprite is not really set-accurate at all.
Graphical effects
  • All sorts of energy beams and spheres, for use as attack graphics.
  • Small sprites and graphics for use as particles: flame bits, smoke, ice crystals, laser bullets, etc.
  • Imagery for use around the screen edges when you get hurt.
  • Regular red "hurt" pulse.
  • Frozen solid: Sheet of ice, like a frosted window.
  • On fire: Flames.
  • Poisoned: Green liquid glow of sorts.
Interface elements
  • Icons representing various skills, such as using a weapon or shield, or being affected by a certain power. Will be used for perk selection on the character menu, and in-game for representing your status. Size should be 24 x 24 pixels and 32 x 32 pixels. Providing higher resolutions would of course be fine as well, as I can scale them down when necessary.
  • A set of buttons for the main menu, preferably blanks so that I can have whatever text added as needed (for settings, menu selections and so on).
  • Icons that can be used for representing team affiliation. Providing various sizes for different uses (menu, HUD, floating over someone's head, on the scoreboard...) would be nice.
  • Improved HUD elements such as energy bars and weapon icons.
  • Health bar (Around 200-300px long, horizontal, not too thick compared to its length): Regular (red), poisoned (green goo), burned (orange glow) and choking (light blue fade/bubbles). Shape should be rectangular, but can have some elements such as a slight tilt to the shape or rounded corners; whatever looks good.
  • Energy bar (Same style as the health bar): Regular (some form of swirly pattern, preferably provided separately so the bar can fade between blank and animated pattern); will be glowing in the element's color, but make it whatever base color you like).
  • Kanohi/special power bar: Similar to the health and energy bars (some form of light pattern on it) but a bit thinner. This bar's color and purpose may also vary a bit.
IMPORTANT: Map design should seek to allow a variety of different characters. (A sky-based map with no ground to stand normally on is a bit limited, for example.) Sketches work, but a Photoshop-file with a finished map would be crazy awesome.

GIMP can export to PSD format, which is for Photoshop. If you export to this format, I can open it, but any layer groups you have made will be flattened to a single layer. Thus, make sure that you use single, visible layers for the finished stuff you want exported to PSD.

Otherwise, I'd like one big image of the entire map as it should look, and then separate files for the individual objects. Ground/terrain as one, background elements like trees/rocks as their own files, etc. For stuff I already have, such as teleporters, just make a mark of where they should be. They are objects in my game project file, and thus should not be included as part of the background graphics.

Brickshelf cannot handle the PSD format (or most other special formats, for that matter) unless you ZIP the files first. If there is a problem, you can send uncompressed files to me via e-mail or Skype (PM me about this), but a ZIP would be the best solution even then.

If you have any ideas for map elements I have not programmed yet, you may include notes about them as well. This could be something like a geyser taking the place of gravity jump pads, mud or quicksand that slows you down, periodic bursts of lightning from damaged machinery, etc.

For reference, Karda Nui in full is roughly 5200 pixels wide and 3600 pixels tall. The Codrex is 520 pixels in both directions, and the small fort on the ice map is about the same width. Mangaia is 3000 × 1000 pixels.

A character is about 45 pixels tall, with Exo-Toa about 75. Any tunnels or low ceilings should be at least 50 pixels tall to ensure that the character doesn't get stuck somehow. Add a bit more if the ground is uneven, so about 60 pixels room then.

Map graphics and map design
  • Karda Nui: Improved graphics (swamp water, vegetation, vast cavernous backdrop, etc.)
  • Kini-Nui: Mountain background, fores background for parallax scrolling, trees and vegetation.
  • A sketch for the interior of the missing Ta-Koro fortress.
  • Map layout sketches for other maps you might think of.
IMPORTANT: Sound effects must be free of noise and scratches!---------------

Current contributions:

Big thanks to all of you!


Game engine design

Posted by Katuko , in BIONICLE Fighter May 15 2013 · 951 views
game, bionicle fighter and 1 more...
It's already been a few years now since I started work on BIONICLE Fighter. I went in with confidence and pride, as my kinda limited platform engine began to evolve into a proper game, and I could stand and say "yes, people actually like my game". And indeed, the game is good. It's got a lot of stuff to play around with, but there is also a major problem that's stuck for a while: "Playing around" is pretty much all you can do.

Current status of the game (version 12):

You pick your character, either Toa or Rahkshi. Each has a lot of cool powers to choose from. You can customize your character's color, and you can choose what mask and weapon they wield. There are a few maps to play on, with computer-controlled players that attack you and each other. One map even has a few Rahi, Exo-Toa and a boss to fight.

At no point are you able to actually win. You play until you get bored, that's it. The online multiplayer that I work my game balance around has not yet been implemented, despite a few connection tests I've run. Many powers have not been programmed yet, basic game features such as blocking and scoring points are not there, and I am lacking quite important graphic assets.

This is not a post saying I'll be giving up so don't get your panties in a twist yet. :P

What's become apparent is that my current game system is rather severly limited when it comes to adding new mechanics, because I wrote what I knew first and then forgot to make room for what was to come. Adding new character animations gets wonky, adding new character abilities are a hack, and I copy-paste way too much code to be efficient. Some people have trouble running my game properly, and the ones that do run it are probably waiting for some nice, major addition that makes this game even more awesome already.

So, we're going with an ENGINE REWRITE. (Yay!)

Why? Three reasons.
1) What is already in place can be reused, but also made more efficient.
2) There will be room for basic features that should have been there already (and new stuff).
3) I can more freely experiment while building the new engine, without breaking anything in the old one.

I have compiled a list of things that will change or get added in this new engine. Some things (such as missing elemental powers) might pop up in the old engine, in the meantime.

= Menu =
  • In-game saved character list (as opposed to the pop-up file browser).
  • Animated character/power preview.
  • More options for setting game resolution etc.
= Characters =
  • Stat points replaced by more balanced perks. (Details here.)
  • More options for game modes etc. as these get added.
  • Weapons and armor no longer cost points, but have other ups-n-downs.
  • If sprite availability permits: More playable characters. (YOU, yes YOU, can help!)
= Gameplay =
  • Blocking available. (Details here.)
  • Different types of melee attacks. Sword slashes, axe swings, etc.
  • New status effects that are missing, such as being slowed down or silenced.
  • Darkness in unlit areas. Night vision and similar powers have a reason for existing.
  • Kanohi no longer drain the energy bar. Instead, they use their own, separate bar. Rahkshi will use this bar to limit their natural flight time.
  • Levitation will allow long jumps and gliding, but not the current form of "slow flight".
  • Proper flight powers will be available.
  • Knockback effects will not be so annoying and/or spammable.
  • When knocked down, you will be able to choose when to get back up (with a short animation).
  • Armor will be using a threshold for blocking damage instead of being a percentage reduction. This means that you will get more consistent damage reduction (always -20 damage points per attack taken, for example) instead of the current form that is highly variable depending on the incoming attack.
  • Support for game controller/gamepad input for those who might prefer that.
  • Jump-through platforms, moving platforms, etc. will be programmed from scratch.
  • Ice physics/sliding fixed.
= Powers =
  • With the change of stats into perks, the formula for calculating elemental/power damage will be simplified. Upgrading the relevant perk(s) might add new abilities for your particular power.
  • A regular fire spray will no longer ignite spontaneously, while ice sprays will not freeze at random. Instead, the application of heat/frost causes these effects after a short while.
  • Some Kanohi powers reworked to "burst" on and then have a short cool-down after being shut off. The mask cool-down will (unlike present) be separate from other powers.
  • Due to stats being reworked, Toa and Rahkshi will both use the same way (perks) of increasing power. This will also make eventual in-game power-ups like the boss-dropped Overcharge affect Rahkshi properly as well.
  • Some powers will be able to be charged for extra damage/effects. Disintegration, for example, is currently a fire-and-forget 100 damage beam. For balance purposes, this might have the base damage reduced but then be able to be charged to max depending on the Rahkshi's level.
  • Some attacks may change a bit depending on the directional key pressed at the same time. For example, Up+Fireball could make the fireball fly in a short arc instead of zooming straight forwards.
While I rebuild my game in the shadows, I can continue to release content updates for the old engine. In the game topic I will also release small test files for you to give me feedback on. I have already done this with the Kanohi Kadin, a mask I know you have been wanting for a while. It's probably not going in the old engine due to issues with the movement, but I will make sure that such features are already in place once the new engine rolls about.

I will soon make separate blog entries for specific mechanics such as stats turning into perks, the idea behind blocking, new power/Kanohi behavior, and how network programming is coming along.