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Christmas Time Heroes
Author: Strife Submitted: 24th December, 2010 Favourites:6
Genre: Platformer Downloads: 488

Edited By Strife on 1/9/2011

UPDATE: Version 0.98 is out! I've uploaded the download link accordingly.

Thank you for all of the feedback so far!

* * *

The date is December 24th. A group of explorers and peacekeepers known as the Spectrum Force have stumbled upon a mysterious blue moon, and it appears to have ties with the Christmas holiday. Upon reaching the surface, they learn that a civil war is about to begin between the spirited Fawnful and the jealous, militaristic Rednoses, who are being led by a man known as Lord Sled. The Fawnful are on the losing side, and it's up to the skills of Indigo Sun and Violet Star to balance the scales and figure out what's going on. Can they stop the fighting in time for Christmas?

Christmas Time Heroes plays similar to my previous platformers, but there is a bigger focus on combat, the levels are more open-ended, and the enemies and bosses are more difficult to compensate for its short length. This is by no means an easy game. Each of the two playable characters - Indigo and Violet - have a different play style, so it's definitely worth it to try out both of them.

There are 3 stages in total: Holiday Hill, Sleighbell City, and North Pole. Each stage has 3 different missions to complete, and all of them can be unlocked and accessed through a central hub area. At the end of each mission, you'll receive Spirit points based on how well you did and how much time you took, among other factors.

:: Features ::

● 2 playable characters with unique abilities
● 5 different elemental powers for each character
● A plethora of shiny items and powerups to collect
● Dozens of enemy types and 3 distinct bosses
● A modest story that ties each stage together

Happy Holidays, everyone! =D

Review This Download

 (17.57mb )

Posted by HorrendousGames 25th December, 2010
Rated :

It was pretty, but not really much else to it. The joystick was all messed up, and there were several things I was not able to do without using the keyboard (for instance, advancing the story, and charging my beam, etc.) It would've been nice if you didn't have to sit through the story again after dying. But either way, good luck in the competition.
Posted by HorrendousGames 25th December, 2010
Rated :

By the way, what do you use to animate your sprites, if I might ask? I hope you aren't doing them frame by frame.
Posted by Bibin 25th December, 2010

Good production and graphic work. I have a feeling you won the competiton.
Posted by Strife 25th December, 2010

HGames - I don't have a joypad myself, so I was unable to test the joystick compatibility in time for the competition. Now that you've tested it out for me, though, I have a better idea of what needs to be adjusted, so thanks for pointing it out. Also, you can skip cutscenes by pressing the Esc key. It's only mentioned in the readme file, so I should probably mention it within the game as well.

As for animating my sprites, they're indeed done frame by frame, with the exception of the bosses. The bosses are actually multiple active objects snapped together, and I move their limbs around with trigonometry. It's really quite fun - I should make a tutorial on it sometime if I have the time.

Bibin - Thank you!

Also, guys, if you downloaded the game yesterday, be sure to grab the updated version I just posted. I fixed a rather embarassing oversight on my part. ;
Comment edited by Strife on 12/25/2010
Posted by HorrendousGames 25th December, 2010
Rated :

I'll check it out again. I didn't know about the skipping cut scenes, but I also didn't read the entire readme.

As far as the joystick goes, there were a few other things wrong with it, but I honestly can't remember.

Animating frame by frame is a waste of time for sprites like these, you could've saved a lot, and I mean a lot, by using a program that allows tweening (with the exception of flash, flash just looks like garbage when you get rid of the vectors). Some of the animations you've got would still require some editing to get the same look, but all in all you would save a ton of time. You've already got the art part down, some time saving techniques can only help you, where as I've got some awesome time saving techniques, but if I needed something to look gorgeous, I can only go to falsetto.

The boss effects are awesome, I always wanted to do some sprites like that, but never took the time to give it a shot.
Posted by GamesterXIII 25th December, 2010

I think this game could have benefited from some more thought into the game-play mechanics. I felt more like I was running a pure obstacle course than anything and didn't really have much drive to continue playing.

The physics felt a bit odd too me (a bit slippery maybe?), but they weren't too bad.

The presentation overall is very good and there are a bunch of subtle things that greatly improve the aesthetic value.

I suppose a lot of it has to do with deadlines and such .

Posted by Bibin 25th December, 2010

HG - the sprites' fluent animation was one of the better parts about this game; tweening is why we have such horrible animation in movies these days: the effort not put into animation always shows.
Posted by Strife 25th December, 2010

I've been interested in trying to learn how to draw vector art, since it seems like it would go well with my style of shading. On the whole, I guess I feel more comfortable doing it by hand because I have control over every pixel. Combined with the lack of shading, I can pull off some really expressive animations that would otherwise look weird.

But, time-saving techniques would be a life saver in certain areas, so I would definitely be open to trying out new things in the future. ^^

Gamester - Given the deadline, I did indeed experiment a lot with the level design in this game, precisely so I can get feedback on what works and what doesn't work. Holiday Hill and Sleighbell City are my attempt to make open-ended stages not unlike the 3D Mario games, while North Pole is more linear like a typical action game stage.

Also, I think I know what you're talking about with the physics. Do you mostly find the weirdness in the way that the player character interacts with obstacles? It may be due to the fact that the player's walking/jumping velocity act independently from the velocity they receive from knockbacks, speed boosts, springs, and other outside forces. I only did this because it was interfering with the slide/dash ability.

I would like to build on this engine and reuse it for another project in the future, so any tips to refine it would be appreciated.
Posted by Pan-tosser 25th December, 2010

I really like the look. the purple girl looks like star fire from the teen titans. which is cool with me.
Posted by HorrendousGames 25th December, 2010
Rated :

"HG - the sprites' fluent animation was one of the better parts about this game; tweening is why we have such horrible animation in movies these days: the effort not put into animation always shows."

I agree 100%. Most people think that just because you have nifty tweening that little effort needs to be done. There is always a downside to any kind of technique or technology that surfaces, but that doesn't make all it's uses bad. Cell phones are great for keeping in touch, but there are plenty of people that pay more attention to the phone than the people around them. The issue with doing frame by frame however, is not just that it makes it easier, but changing things is much easier. There's nothing worse than doing a frame by frame animation and having to change it. Like I said, Strife has awesome art, he can only benefit from learning new animation techniques. Which is also another point that After Effects is 99% of the time used specifically for editing movies, not many people use it for character animation, just as all my art is not done in After Effects, it's always good to know what weapons you have when you go to war, as well as how to use them for when specific situations arise.

"I've been interested in trying to learn how to draw vector art, since it seems like it would go well with my style of shading. On the whole, I guess I feel more comfortable doing it by hand because I have control over every pixel. Combined with the lack of shading, I can pull off some really expressive animations that would otherwise look weird."

Tweening and vector art are two different things, just making sure you know that. For instance, some of the techniques that after effects allows me to do will let you do the pixel style that you've already got, but allow you to edit it much easier.

By the way, I forgot to rate the game. Just to recap, I did enjoy it, don't let my comments fool you. The game play was a bit ush, but it still didn't spoil the experience.
Posted by Strife 25th December, 2010

Ah, okay, so tweening is different from vector art. Good to know.

When it comes to pixel art, going back and making changes to every frame of the sprite is definitely very tedious and time-consuming. If I wanted to, say, give Violet Star a helmet (which I've thought about doing), I'd have to make changes to every single frame of her animation set. I could make said helmet a different active object and snap it on top of her base sprite, but that can be complicated as well.

What program(s) would you recommend for tweening? Is there something out there that would work well with pixel sprites, or would I have to chop my sprite into separate body parts first?

Thank you for the info and rating, H. =D
Posted by HorrendousGames 25th December, 2010
Rated :

I've been learning the ins and outs of After Effects, if you're interested, see about downloading a demo and I can give you some tutorials over skype or something. Otherwise, most other editors that allow tweening are Flash or in house editors, someone else might know more about other programs.
Posted by ELC_Games 26th December, 2010
Rated :

Wonderful job with this! I really enjoyed it, and can't wait to see some of your future stuff. Also, I would love if you could make some sort of tutorial on implementing trig to create a multi-segment boss like that.
Posted by MasterM 26th December, 2010

this looks epic as fuck
Posted by ELC_Games 27th December, 2010
Rated :

Whoops, forgot to give you a rating.
Posted by Tropik 27th December, 2010
Rated :

I hate long dialogues! But pixelart is nice!
Posted by Strife 27th December, 2010

Thanks ELC!

Also, Tropik, you can skip cutscenes by pressing ESC, which is something that I should have mentioned in the game itself. ^^; The only time I wouldn't recommend skipping the dialog is in Mission 2, because the second soldier tells you how to beat the stage.
Posted by JetpackLover 29th December, 2010
Rated :

Really great art I must say and I like that it's frame by frame. The animation isn't too crazy but the way you use what you have really goes a long way. I get a Megaman x4/Knuckles Chaotix/Sonic 3 vibe from your game. Not a bad thing in fact I love it.

Heres a list for easy digestion stating what I liked and didn't like.

What I liked:

1.You reused levels but made them different missions. I love this kind of level design because it's efficient and can still evoke a totally different feel to it. Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts used this brilliantly(I'm aware there are other examples)

2.Your animations and overall art is fantastic. I found it interesting that you chose not to shade them. It's a welcome change to pixel art that I'm sure would probably not go well with a lot of pixel art purists.

3.Your player rotations are excellent. I love the spring jump.

4.The controls are decent for the keyboard and you made the customizable so no complaints here.

5.Multiple characters is always a plus in my book.

6.Having that Megaman X4/Knuckles Chaotix/Sonic 3 feel works well

What I didn't like:

1. Cheap ass enemies with little ways to combat them fairly. You managed to make tough enemies that are made only tougher by your placement of them in the level. These are cheap tricks that I do not appreciate. Especially so early on in the game. In mission 2 the first enemy you combat is a jumping mechanical spider...that can attack you from off screen with ZERO warning. Not cool.

2.Enemies have too much health/your attacks don't do good enough damage. The charged shot should just murderlize anything in your way and that goes double because it takes an energy meter to use it. If I have to use my energy to attack it better be a damn good one.

3. You introduce different enemies all willy nilly without letting the player acclimate to previous ones. I got my ass kicked by the cannons. Their firing rate is quite ridiculous indeed. You need to make sure your players are properly grokked before introducing new concepts. Might I recommend a game design site for you <A

4. You didn't give any of the enemies besides the spider any tells. And by tells you didn't give any of the enemies animation for telling the player when they are going to attack. For example you could've made the spike wheel guy take time to rev up before charging at the player. This gives them time to react. It makes it fair and still provides difficulty because it relies on fast reaction times and proper knowledge of the enemies rhythm.

5. The joystick controls are lacking in function. I'm using a 360 controller and I can't do charge attacks with it and there is no button to advance dialogue. Other than that it seems to work so it's just a small fix.

Overall I liked it and while I may have rage quit I'll start playing it again to give the game it's fair shake.

I'm gonna give you a 5 cause the game has heart and soul just needs better execution. I could give you a 4 but naaah.

(edit) I can't beat the first boss or seemingly even damage it with violet. Whats going on here?
Comment edited by DudeHuge on 12/29/2010
Posted by Strife 29th December, 2010

Thanks, DudeHuge! You have no idea how much that helps me.

One of the biggest hurdles I find myself facing with my games is the difficulty curve. As the developer, I'm already "grokked" in all of the required skills and I know the enemy and object placements by heart, and this makes it really hard to determine the difficulty of the game without beta testing from other people - which, due to the competition deadline, I could not afford to spend time on.

If I were to go through and modify portions of the game to make them less frustrating, this is what I would most likely do based on your feedback:

1. Remove the cannon enemies from Holiday Hill and replace them with laser turrets.
2. Limit the distance that the ornament spiders can cover with their jumps so they cannot immediately land a hit on the player from offscreen. On a similar note, the firing rate of all projectile-based enemies would be reduced to about 75% of what it is now.
3. Double the damage of all of Violet's charge attacks, as well as the damage Indigo inflicts when he hits an enemy while dashing.
4. Make Rednose speeders rev up for a second before coming at the player.
5. Figure out what's causing that bug with charged attacks not working on joysticks.

Does that sound about right? Due to real life, I may need to wait a while before releasing a new version, so hopefully you guys will still be interested by then.

As for the first boss with Violet, you can only damage the torso area, but it should otherwise work fine. I find that I have the easiest time taking it out with the Bubble (green) element.
Comment edited by Strife on 12/29/2010
Posted by JetpackLover 30th December, 2010
Rated :

Thanks for listening!

Good luck!

oh wait a few things I forgot to mention

1.The players don't have invincibility frames after getting hit.(though this could be by choice I don't know) This is bad because you can get hit multiple times with nothing you can do.

2.The first boss doesn't show that it's taking damage for example it doesn't flash or respond to damage. Makes it hard to tell if I'm hitting it.
Posted by Strife 30th December, 2010

The lack of invincibility frames is by choice, yes. What I could do, possibly, is add invincibility frames, but only have them stop the player from getting knocked back rather than blocking damage. This would still make things fair in case I decide to make another Time Heroes game in the future with multiplayer, which I'd really like to explore if I have the time.

As for the first boss, if I make it flash, then I see no harm in making all of the other enemies in the game flash when hit as well.
Comment edited by Strife on 12/30/2010
Posted by Strife 30th December, 2010

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, new version up! You can find a list of changes in the text file I've included in the ZIP.

(Sorry for the double post, by the way. )
Posted by JetpackLover 1st January, 2011
Rated :

Wow great changes from what I've played. Just being able to charge while using a gamepad improves my skills in game. Unfortunately I haven't had time to check out all the changes but I'm looking forward to seeing them for myself.

Oh and about making a tutorial on modular animation using trigonometry PLEASE DO!

Posted by Strife 9th January, 2011

You're welcome, DH.

Anyway, new version up, boys and girls. :3
Posted by Dave C 16th February, 2011

yes strife teach me some trig, lots of flashy effects there i'd like to know how to do.
Posted by alastair john jack 20th February, 2011

I enjoyed your graphics, although the level design felt a bit like sonic (which I think is a mess) I prefer just linear levels.
Posted by UrbanMonk 29th July, 2011
Rated :


I know I'm a little late, but I've had some free time so I'm playing everything I missed,
Posted by Strife 30th July, 2011

Thanks, Urbs!
Posted by twiterror 22nd May, 2012
Rated :

This is obviously just a regular game modified to look like it was made for the Christmas compo. I rate this with 1 star for fraud.





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