Author Archives: Matt Roszak

New Phone

Hey guys, after using a Galaxy Note 2 for 6 whole years, I’ve just replaced the old dinosaur with a Note 8, and I’ve got mixed feelings about it. The specs are nice; internet browsing is fast, games run smoothly, and the camera looks good (see the photos below). But a lot of the hardware design decisions are really questionable! The main speaker is at the bottom of the phone, so when I’m playing games, it’s always covered by either my hand or my stomach. This wasn’t a problem with the Note 2, since the speaker was on the back of the phone. This seems like a major oversight to me!

I also feel scammed by the advertised 6.3 inch screen size. The Note 2 screen is 5.5 inches, so I’d figure it would be an upgrade, but it’s not! The Note 8 screen is just longer! Videos and games aren’t even designed for such a long screen! And some of the screen space is wasted on reflective curved edges. So if anything, the screen looks smaller than on my old phone! Questionable design indeed.

Annoying hardware aside, it’s nice to have a phone that doesn’t crash when I try to open basic apps like Google maps. I’m still happy I got a “flagship” phone, as it’s partly for market research. Speaking of which, I’m trying to play a lot of little indie games on it – the kind of stuff you’d see on Kongregate a few years ago. Looks like a lot of browser game devs have moved to mobile, and I’ve got some catching up to do. It’s a shame that the mobile market is poorly curated and saturated with garbage, so finding those gems will be tricky. Feel free to recommend some wholesome, non-exploitative games. So far I’m enjoying Super Dangerous Dungeons, Monument Valley, and Cat Bird. I was sceptical of on-screen keyboards, but they work okay if there’s only 3 buttons.

Also I’m really liking the EBF5 Foe Competition entries so far. I thought maybe the rules were too specific this time, but it looks like most people understand what I’m looking for.
garden legoAbove is me and Ronja doing a bit of gardening. We don’t actually have a dog, but I do indeed use a pickaxe to till the earth. Below is us crunching before the launch of EBF5. We forgot to change out of our outdoor clothes, apparently.
office lego

EBF5: Pixel Art Foe Competition

Hey guys, it’s time for a second Epic Battle Fantasy 5 foe competition!

As you all should know by now, the game released on Steam a couple of months ago, but I’m still working on additional dungeons and secret areas. The first foe competition had artists submitting designs for enemies, and then I would animate them and put them into the game. The Voodoo Dolls, Haunted Mirrors, Fallen, and Bomber Cats were all created this way.

mirrors
This foe competition is similar, but a little different. This time I’m looking strictly for old-school pixel-art. The final foe animations will look different from the usual EBF style, and because of this, I won’t need to redraw the art you submit, like I did in earlier competitions. Here’s an example of what your submission should look like:
pixel exampleAnd here’s an example of how I will animate it:
Flash VersionYouTube Version

Requirements

• Art must be submitted in .PNG format, and must include a normal-sized and zoomed-in version, as shown above.

• Art must be your own work, and original. No recolored Sonics!

• Art must include several sprites (animation frames), usually including:
◦ 2 alternating “idle” sprites, that will make the foe look like it’s walking or dancing on the spot.
◦ 1 “hit” sprite, for when the foe takes damage or dies.
◦ 1 or more “attack” poses, used during attack animations.
◦ “Skull” and “bone” particles, for the death animation.
◦ Any projectiles or accessories that may be needed.

• I can add any sprites that are missing, and may edit any that don’t work well. You can write a description of how you think your foe should be animated, if you wish. Animations don’t have to be like the ones shown in my example – I can animate completely different death and attack animations for new foes. So the sprites listed above are flexible guidelines.

• Sprites should be small. Mine are roughly 16×16 pixels, and I recommend staying under 50×50.

• You don’t need outlines for your foes, they will always appear on a black background.

• Your image background should be transparent.

• You don’t need to arrange your sprites in any particular way. It’s nice if you keep things compact, but I’ll be cutting the sprites out anyway. Canvas size doesn’t matter.

• I prefer creatures, not humans. But I won’t rule out humans completely if they’re creative.

• Winners will be chosen for style, creativity and uniqueness! I’ll be aiming to animate a huge diversity  of foes.

Ideas

The goal of this competition is to make retro-themed enemies that will remind players of earlier times. This is not essential, but I encourage you to base your art on that of early games consoles, like the NES, Atari, or SNES, taking into account their color and resolution limitations. You can cheat a little if you wish, or just make up your own pixel art style.

My designs are based on Zelda 1 monster sprites, with the battle background being in the style of Final Fantasy 3. You too should refer to old games that you like.

You should also consider what elements or status effects that your foes might use or be weak against, so that they fit nicely into the EBF battle mechanics. Try to design monster types that have not appeared in the game yet.

You can discuss this competition in the Foe-Competition channel on the EBF Discord.
I encourage people to share work-in-progress and pixel-art advice there.
pixel example 2

Submission

Please post your finished art on either:
• Your DeviantArt (I’ll add it to my collections)
• The Newgrounds Art Portal (use the “ebf” tag)
• The Foe-Competition channel on Discord (type “finalArt” in your post so I can search for it)

Make sure it’s public and please send me a link to it. If you post it anywhere else there’s a risk it will get lost. If you can’t do that, you can email your art to me at kupo707 at hotmail.com.

You can submit as many designs as you want.

Prizes

You’ll get to see your art come to life in a popular game series!
You’ll have your name in the credits.
You’ll get 2 free copies of EBF5. (or my other games)

Legal Stuff

By submitting your art you agree that I can use it in Epic Battle Fantasy 5 and in any possible future games, on all platforms, forever (if you win the competition). I will not own your art and you can still use it in whatever way you like. You will not own any part of the EBF games and will not receive any compensation except for the prizes listed above.

Deadline

The Pixel Art Foe Competition will run for a few months. I’m not sure exactly how long, but I’ll end it when it looks like I’ve got enough designs to work with. Winners will be announced on my blogs as I animate each foe.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

EBF5: Retro Foes

Hey guys, here’s some new foes for secret areas! I’m really happy with how these turned out. I actually made these a day or two before EBF5 launched on Steam, and have been keeping them secret for a while. If you can’t view Flash files, the YouTube version is here.

I’ll be announcing a new foe competition soon!


EBF5: Free Version and Steam Updates

Hey guys, I’ve update the free version of Epic Battle Fantasy 5 on my website. This means that that version is up to date and “finished” now. Not sure when it will come to other websites, but for now you can play it there, and there’s been a lot of changes since it was in beta.

I’ve also updated the game on Steam, going right from version 1.2 to 1.5, so there’s a lot of things that can go wrong, especially with the new saving system. Just so everyone knows: You have the option to stay on the old version if you wish. It might be worth a try if you encounter any major problems. You can go to Steam Client > EBF5 > Right Click > Properties > Betas > Select version 1.2.

PlayStation VR Review

Hey guys, I’ve been playing a lot of PSVR this month, and it’s been a really awesome experience overall.

But let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first:
• It’s definitely not good value for money. Getting the headset and new controllers will cost you almost as much as a new console, on top of needing to own a PS4. A lot of the games that are available are also quite short, so expect to burn through some cash.
• Apparently the VR controllers are out of stock everywhere right now, so I haven’t had a chance to try them yet! For now I’m stuck with games that use the normal PS4 controller.
• Many games will make you feel motion sickness instantly. In most cases you will quickly get used to it with some practice, but there’s some games that many people will struggle with. So depending on your tolerance, you may be limited to certain types of games.
• If you love very high resolution and realistic graphics… you’re not going to get that here. The graphics on VR games are going to look at least one console generation out of date. Each eye only sees half of a 1080p screen!
• Kids aren’t even allowed to play it! I’m assuming no company wants to accidentally discover the long-term health consequences of VR on kids.

All of those points make it a hard sell for most people. But if you’re an adult who has money and only a limited amount of time to play games, then VR offers a huge variety of experiences to try out. So here’s some quick reviews of my favourite games so far. What I can say about all of these games is that they’re really immersive! When you put on the headset you really feel like you’re suddenly in a different location, and that’s a really cool feeling that can be exploited in many ways.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

This is a must-play game. It’s basically a 3D Mario game, which surprisingly translates very well into VR. You are the camera, and the whole gimmick of the game is moving your head around to find secrets and to get different views of obstacles, while controlling your robot like you would with Mario. It’s a game that feels familiar and fresh at the same time, and is easy enough for anyone to try it. It really should have been a launch title, as it shows off what the new hardware can do – both the VR headset and the motion controls on the PS4 controller. I’ve historically hated motion controls in games, but we’ve come a long way since the Wii, and the hardware and game design makes great use of them. The music is also catchy as hell. I can’t recommend this game enough, but it’s really hard to explain why it feels so good to play this.
astro-bot-rescue-mission-screen-05-ps4-us-18may18
WipEout Omega Collection

It’s a sci-fi racing game in VR, and just like you’d expect, it will probably make you feel sick instantly. After a lot of practice, I can play it for a few hours now, but the dizziness never completely went away. It helps a lot if you only look forward – which is probably what you should be doing while driving anyway. About the game itself, well, it’s nothing too special. Since it’s essentially 3 games-in-one, there’s a ton of content, and it can keep you busy for a long time if you want.

Moss

If Astro Bot is Mario, Moss is a lot like Zelda. There’s platforming, puzzles, hack and slash combat action, and a simple fantasy story. The animations and scenery are really cute, and you feel like you’re a giant that’s sitting in a comfy little mouse world. This game should cause you no nausea, since there’s no motion to speak of – you always sit in a fixed place on each map. That makes it another good title to start with. However, the game is really short. It honestly feels like half a game. It’s great fun while it lasts though.
moss-screen-01-ps4-us-10nov17
Resident Evil 7

I was dared to play this one, but it turned into my favourite horror game ever. There’s a few janky moments where you are reminded that you’re playing a video game – like for example when you occasionally see your arms float around detached from your body because you’ve sat back further in your chair. But for the most part it works really well in VR, and all of the horror aspects are more exciting and immersive. The hiding segments feel especially natural, when you’re trying to peak around obstacles by moving your head around. The game difficulty is quite reasonable for a survival horror casual like me. The bosses are creative, the pacing is excellent, and there’s even a decent amount of humour in the game. Overall fantastic experience. Even if you’re too scared to play it yourself, it’s worth watching someone else play it.

Robinson: The Journey

Here’s a sort of adventure game about dinosaurs. It’s quite a casual game – not far off from being a walking sim, but there is fair amount of simple puzzles and platforming. It’s all about exploring alien jungles, climbing cliffs, and scanning weird creatures, while being accompanied by your pet dinosaur and a helper robot. A nice little experience, but once again, this game is very short.

I’ve also recently started Battle Zone and Here They Lie, which also seem to be very good games.

EBF5: Version 1.5

Hey guys, version 1.5 of EBF5 is available on Steam.
To opt-in, go to Steam Client > EBF5 > right-click > Properties > Betas > Select the other version.
I’ll set this live for everyone in a few days if no problems are found.

Here’s a list of changes:
• Added the Chinese New Year holiday quest, which includes 2 new equips and a new skill. (available 18th of Jan)
• Nerfed the Cosmic Gigalith. It no longer does damage when killed, and it has less HP if you save after beating it.
• Buffed the Evil Players, by making cheap tactics less effective against them.
• Added a new music track, used in the 1st and 4th dungeons.
• Reduced foe stat growth after level 36, so players are not punished for grinding at the end of the game.
• Fixed a bunch of minor bugs, translation errors, and made some minor balancing changes, like buffing Snow Cats.
• Someone pointed out that the audio was set to mono rather than stereo, so let me know if it sounds any better now.

This might be the last update for a few months. But I’ve got a lot of new content planned for later!

Future Plans for EBF5

Hey guys, with EBF5 launched, here’s a little road-map of what I plan to do next.

• Sometime this month I’ll release version 1.5 on Steam, which will include some minor bug fixes and balancing tweaks, and the Chinese New Year quest.

• I’m not in a hurry to publish the game on Newgrounds and Kongregate, as I’d like to rest for a while, and it doesn’t need the extra publicity at the moment. I’ll update the free version on my website though, so please yell at me if I haven’t done that by next month.

• I have a lot of new content planned for EBF5, which I’ll release in… I dunno, half a year or more? This includes 3 more optional dungeons and other secret stuff.

• I’ll probably pause my Patreon, as I don’t have anything to post there at the moment. But sometime later I’d like to add more perks, such as a section in EBF5′s Grand Gallery that lists long-time patrons.

• Once ALL of that is out of the way, I’d like to attempt a mobile port of EBF5. Running the game on mobile is no problem, it’s just a question of improving the performance and changing the user interface. I don’t know how it will turn out.

But anyway, I’ll be taking it easy this month and maybe next month too. The only work I’ll be doing is minor game updates, replying to user problems, and legal/accounting paperwork (woo, fun) such as officially hiring Ronja.