Bigosaur blog

Dark World Update for Windmill Kings

Here's some new content for Windmill Kings:

This is the continuation of the main game story. After you deal with the black wizard and restore the order in the kingdom, you may think that everything is done.

But no. There are more black wizards in the cult and they decided to strike back. They captured all your allies and cast a spell on you that made you forget all the magic spells. Your friends are kept in dungeons and fortresses deep inside the underworld.

Explore the Dark World, rescue your allies and re-learn the secrets of magic before you take on hordes of new enemy types.

The black wizards have somewhat different minions. They are slighly stronger than your army and don't require special buildings to upgrade. The battles in this mode will test every ounce of strategy you can muster.

The Steam version of the game will launch in January 2020 with this update included. Nintendo Switch version will be updated in the meantime, I hope mid-December if all goes well.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2019-11-20

Windmill Kings

Here's a project I have been working on for some time. It's a real time strategy game for 1 or 2 players focusing on quick battles.

The Story

Once upon a time, there was a king. After a glitched teleport spell created a clone, there were two kings. The evil black wizard betrayed the real king and the clone took over the throne. Help the real king rally the troops and get his castle back.

Single Player Campaign

The game has two modes. In campaign mode, you play as the real king who starts with a small amount of gold and an army of knights. You roam around the map and fight different enemies to convince them to join your forces: Archers, Healers, Ninjas, Champions, etc. You can also conquer windmills to get more gold to finance your army; and mage schools which provide you with useful spells like Meteor Shower, Freeze Enemies, Earthquake and Summon Giants. The campaign ends with an epic battle where you use all your forces and magic to defeat the clone king and recapture the castle.

2-player versus game

In versus mode, two players play a battle with all the units and magic unlocked. You can pick the size of the battle, starting with a small skirmish with just two towers and ending with a total war with two castles on each side. You can also play this mode single player versus computer.

Gameplay

The battles happen in real time. You pick which troops to create and send them to destroy the enemy fortress while defending your own.

The game offers variety of tactics: Send knights and champions to attack the enemies in close combat. Archers are weak, but attack from distance, so you put archers and marksmen behind the knights. Afterwards you can recruit healers and clerics who can fight, but also heal other units. And you can add spies and ninjas who sneak past enemy lines and demolish their buildings. And finally there are giants who are hard to stop, but you can use some magic to make it easier. All units have an upgraded variant, that requires that you construct a building during battle. You can also demolish enemy buildings to prevent them from recruiting upgraded armies.

The computer AI is completely transparent - you can see how much gold and magic points it has and what exactly is it doing. This makes every battle feel fair.

There are two difficulty settings: Easy mode for casual players and kids, and Normal mode for players who are experienced with real time strategy games.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2019-09-24

Seeders Puzzle Reboot

It's been 4 years since I released my first Steam game: Seeders. I took a hard look at it and from this point of view, I was able to see all the shortcomings and problems it had. There was no character animation, and graphics has been lacking detail. Although the puzzles are good, the visual looks were poor. But even some puzzles, although they had good ideas behind them, were executed poorly. Players had to spend too much time actually doing the thing once they figured it out.

I decided to give a major revamp to the game. Big enough to set it up as a separate product. This time, it would be the game I really wish I made in the first place, but I just didn't have enough experience at the time. The new version is called Seeders Puzzle Reboot. Here are all the changes compared to the original Seeders Classic game:

Improved graphics. Some of the graphics used to look really plain and boring. If you played on 1080p screen or larger, you could even see the textures repeat. At the time I made the original game, I was impressed by simple graphics of games like VVVVVV and Thomas Was Alone. What I learned since is that although consistency is more important than graphics fidelity, the original Seeders had consistenly poor looking graphics. It actually took less effort than I anticipated to bring the graphics into good shape. Too bad I didn't see this as a problem in the original game.

Character animation. The old game had almost no character animation. Out main hero would look stiff and it would make the gameplay look stiff and boring as well. As I gained a lot of experience animating Son of a Witch, I put that to use. The gameplay now feels fluid and the main protagonst feels alive. There was a lot of work to be done, because there are 16 wearable hats in the game, and each one was drawn separately, so I had to make that work with animations.

No ambiguous puzzles anymore. For some of the puzzles seemed hard or impossible to execute, because the puzzle setup would lead the player into thinking that some of the solutions is possible because you might barely be there. It seemed like you can solve it in some trivial way only if you were precise down to the pixel. Based on discussion I had with some players on Steam, there were even some puzzles that could be cheesed that way. I redesigned all those puzzles to make sure it's obvious that the easy/wrong way is not possible, and players have to think of something else.

Hardest puzzles are optional. Some of the puzzles were really hard to solve (for example, the machine that moves parts of the level in level 3) or execute (falling through the laser-protected hole while a beryillium pipe is falling at the same time protecting you). And for some, it took a lot of time to repeat if you made an error (like those 4 alien robots at the start of level 5). All those puzzles are now optional, you can do them to get more wearable hats. Because of these changes I had to draw more hats, so there are 17 in the game now (default + Jason's + 15 to collect).

More Co-op puzzles. While the co-op mode in the original game is fully playable, it felt like some of the puzzles were really lacking co-op support. Now, many of the puzzles are still the same a single player, but you have to solve them in different ways to enable two players to go through. This is especially visible with lasers in level 5, where you have to pass the vehicles to each other, or carry the other player on top of spaceship, etc. But I also added more co-op only puzzles (i.e. you won't get to see those in single player) and some of the existing puzzles were redesigned for co-op by removing some pieces which made them trivially easy or adding some pieces that made them more interesting. I also left some of the tricky puzzles from the original mode to be available only in co-op mode, as I expect two players to be smarter collectively.

Music improvements. The main menu music was just too intense. It's a catchy tune, but I really started to cringe every time I launched the game - and I had to to that hundreds of times during testing. I replaced it with a nice, relaxing tune that sets a nice atmosphere, but never gets boring nor annoying. I also migrated my audio mixer code from Son of a Witch, so now all the songs have normalized volume. It was all over the place in the original game and you usually had to adjust the music volume between levels.

Added missing sound effects. One of the reasons the game felt stiff and boring was because there were next to zero sound effects. You would push a rock or a metal piece and they would feel like paper cutouts instead. You would jump on top of spaceship and there was no sound. I have added over a dozen missing sound effects and coupled with music volume fixes I wrote about above, playing the game now feels like you are really there and your actions have impact.

General polish. There are lot of small things that make the game look and feel nice. Simplest things like menu transitions, subtle animations when you select menu items, etc. I built these systems for Son of a Witch and now I migrated them back to the Seeders engine as well.

Seeders Puzzle Reboot is that great puzzle adventure game that the original Seeders was supposed to be from the very start. I just wasn't experienced enough at the time to make it this good. Seeders Puzzle Reboot will be exclusive to Nintendo Switch for now.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2019-07-02

Paladin / Alchemist / RPG / Arena update

A free DLC-sized update is coming out on March 21st. At first I wanted this to be a separate DLC, but I decided that splitting the player community is a bad idea and earning just a little bit more money isn't worth it. I want everyone to enjoy the same game.

New features:

  • new RPG game mode where you keep all gear and restart the current level when you die
  • new Endless Arena mode where you fight waves of enemies
  • new hero: Paladin, who has divine shield and does double damage to undead
  • new hero: Alchemist, who has a Golem companion, and prepares potions
  • 8 pets with new effects: Crocodile, Mouse, Bee, Monkey, Whale, Cow, Ladybug, Cat
  • 3 new random potion effects: Cold blood, Veteran Elixir, Astral Projection
  • 6 new special effect items: Ghost orb, Critic’s Shield, Paladin Shield, Alchemist’s Visor, Halo, Ancient Voodoo Doll
  • 10 new weapons: General Sword, Cripling Katana, Executioner’s Sword, Dark Slayer, Splitting Axe, Paladin Sword, Alchemist Sword, King Cobra Staff, Snow Tiger’s Paw, Steady Shot Bow
  • 6 new achievements
  • 2 new allied troop summons: Baby Yeti, Stone Golem
  • added a new blocked challenge room in the forest
  • added a new challenge room with baby dragons
  • added a new challenge room in the ice level (it’s a surprise)
  • added a quest room in the ice level to unlock the Alchemist hero

Gameplay balancing:

  • allowed summoning mercenaries into boss fights (except the final boss)
  • removed slowdown effect from Heavy Boots
  • Retort no longer creates mana potions
  • only one Retort shows for sale in shops
  • removed poison immunity for the final boss
  • significantly increased Poison Cloud spell damage
  • Poison Cloud effect scales with enemy size
  • improved AI for Snail, Ram and Snake pets
  • using teleport staff twice returns you to the starting point
  • fixed runestone drops in various barbarian challenges

Bugfixes:

  • Ethereal bow now shoots through barrels and boxes
  • Dog pet doesn’t take mercenary’s beer in the tavern
  • Foundry doesn’t melt mercenary’s beer anynore
  • Thief and Ringleader don’t jump on allies when confused
  • fixed bug with item drops when Yeti Elder and Earth Golem roll
  • fixed drawing position when Barbarian is mounted
  • fixed rare sound effect bug with Yeti babies
  • fixed position for some of the teleportation animations
  • fixed text showing last level seed instead of control hint after player dies
  • fixed occasional crash on MacOSX
Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2019-03-14

Replaying hero unlock quests

Some of the players asked me how to replay quests that unlock heroes. You can do this by clearing the achievements that unlock them. To clear the achievements, you need too enter the DM mode. DM means Developer Mode or Dungon Master, whichever you prefer.

  • Start the game and press T to open the chat box.
  • Type /dm1 and press Enter.
  • Type /ca ACHIEVEMENT_NAMEsee below to clear the achievement. For example /ca EYE locks the skeleton hero.
  • Type /dm0 to exit DM mode.
  • Close the game completely and start it again.

Here's the ACHIEVEMENT_NAME for every hero:

  • Sorceress: /ca PROLOGUE
  • Druid: /ca DUCK
  • Archer: /ca ARCHER
  • Pyromancer: /ca FIREMAGE
  • Skeleton: /ca EYE
  • Rogue: /ca ROGUE

Barbarian challenges achievements are named BARBARIAN1 through BARBARIAN12.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2018-11-21

Big Son of a Witch update

Version 3.7.3 is online:

- new hero class: Rogue. Special ability is to use the sneak attack as the special attack with any melee weapon. You can still use the weapon's regular rage attack if you use it in the off-hand slot. He also has a special item that can unlock any door (except boss room doors), so you can unlock treasure rooms and escape tough battles
- Added a bunch of new achievements
- New potion: Vampire blood (get HP from kills. Multiple potions stack)
- New potion: Pickpocket (earn extra gold until you get hit. Stacks)
- New potion: Confidence (deal extra damage when full HP. Stacks)
- Added a new combat item: Sticky bombs. You can plant these as traps. When an enemy walks into one, it activates.
- Added a new pet: Racoon, who randomly drops sticky bombs across the room
- Added a new special room in the castle: the Gallery Room. This room is filled with enemy portraits and you can pick your favorite enemy to do double damage to them.

New NPCs:

- Join the Vampire Slayer NPC in the catacombs and help her kill a vampiress or the vampire boss for reward
- Dwarfs now sell stuff in the ice level
- Dwarven Blacksmith shows up sometimes and gives you ability to smelt weapons into runestones which are used to upgrade other weapons
- Mercenary NPC in the castle tavern gives you an item which can be used to hire mercenaries for fixed amount of gold. DON'T TOUCH HIS BEER!
- Vampire Sword now gives HP while hitting enemies (instead of on-kill)
- A Redhead Warrior NPC might challenge you for a duel on the battlements

Tweaks and improvements:

- Redhead Warriors in the desert now buff their swords before doing the petrify attack
- Disabled invulnerability frames for revival in dungeon shops
- Reviving in regular game now gives 41HP instead of 61HP
- Celestial Hammer rage attack now strikes all enemies in the room
- Darkness, Confidence, Money is Power, Mega Boost effects scale the skill percentage instead of adding to it. For example, if you have 50% melee and 100% darkness, it results in 100% melee skill (not 150%).
- fixed bug when the remote player could join the game twice (i.e. two heroes would show up) if (s)he pressed the button twice too quickly
- fixed bug then Steam library is installed in a path with non-ASCII characters
- minor fixes and tweaks to UI
- updated some of the translations
- dialogue in the intro story now supports translations

Have fun playing!

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2018-09-21

Son of a Witch launches on Switch September 4, 2018!

August 22, 2018 -- Son of a Witch, the adorable action roguelike that won over hearts with official selections at IndieCade Europe 2016, IndiePrize 2017, and Game Access '17, is about to launch on Nintendo Switch on September 4, 2018.

After 3 years of development and a successful launch on Steam where it currently holds 92% positive rating, the game is about to hit the console platform where its couch co-op gameplay will shine. A new release trailer highlights the magical hack and slash hijinks players will be able to enjoy in solo, co-op, and four-player sessions.

Son of a Witch recalls the compulsive replay-ability of your favorite roguelikes but wraps it all in a charming package, making it a lot more welcoming to a wide range of gamers than your standard fare. But don't let the cutesy graphics fool you: Son of a Witch offers deep mechanics that reward constant experimentation and learning. Son of a Witch boasts over 120 unique weapons and items to discover. Players will only find a small section of these in each run, meaning the game is completely different every single time you play. There are also 7 playable characters with wildly different skill sets and abilities, over 20 bosses to beat, and 30 pet animals to find.

Bigosaur is expecting the game to be even more popular on Switch, because players often like to play in couch co-op setting on the console. Milan Babuškov, creator of the game, said "After completing Castle Crashers for the second time, I started thinking: what would make a beat'em up game more replayable and interesting in the long run? Inspired by some roguelike games like The Binding of Isaac, I added procedural map generation and over a hundred different magic spells, items, weapons, quests and game mechanics that you can combine in interesting ways. Always having a new map to explore and weapon combos to discover is the reason many players already have 100+ hours in game on PC. I'm excited to see the community feedback on Switch, as it will be a great motivation to continue improving the game in the future."

Son of a Witch will launch on American eShop on September 4, 2018. Check out the release trailer here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQY-P-vkLck

About Son of a Witch

Key Features

  • Explore non-linear procedurally generated dungeons
  • Fight your way through random encounters with monsters and a selection of 24 bosses
  • Find shops, treasure rooms and challenge rooms
  • Complete NPC quests to unlock playable characters
  • Get help from one of 26 cute pet companions
  • Drink random potions to power up or increase the challenge
  • Identify and use powerful magic scrolls
  • Every weapon has some unique ability or attack type
  • Every item you find has its use or special mechanics
  • Single player and up to 4 player co-op
  • Three diferent play styles: melee beat'em up, magic shooter and archers sniping enemies from the distance
  • Permadeath. A new world is created every time you start the game, so it's always fresh and interesting to explore

Game information

Title: Son of a Witch

eShop page: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/son-of-a-witch-switch

Genre: Fantasy, Indie, Co-Op, Roguelike, Hack and Slash, Dungeon Crawler

Developer: Bigosaur

Publisher: Bigosaur

Nintendo Switch release date: September 4, 2018


Screenshots, graphics assets: http://sonofawitchgame.com/media.php


Contact information

Milan Babuskov, Bigosaur switch@bigosaur.com


Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2018-08-22

Steam release!

The first complete version of Son of a Witch is now released on Steam. After almost 3 years of development the game is finally complete. We have gone a long way since being featured by IndieCade and greenlit by the Steam community. With almost weekly updates it has been an exhausting but also a very enjoyable experience.

This is the first release that covers everything I planned to make initially, and much more on top of that. But, this is not the end. There are many more things to come. During the development both the players and myself got a lot of new ideas, so you can expect to see some big updates in the future: more weapons and items with new effects, more mounts, more pets, more special rooms and NPC quests, and more magic.

The next step is porting the game to Nintendo Switch. I plan to do that over the Summer and have the game ready for late August or early September.

After that, I plan to have one big update with new content, most probably for the holidays by the end of the year.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2018-05-16

Mixing beat’em up brawler with bullet hell shooter in a single game

The initial idea for Son of a Witch was to build a game that could be easily described as Castle Crashers meets The Binding of Isaac. I wanted to have endlessly replayable beat'em up experience with much deeper mechanics and ranged combat. But how do you combine two pretty different play styles?

Beat'em up vs dual stick shooting

In beat'em up games you have to line up with the enemy vertically to hit them. In a bullet hell shooter like Enter the Gungeon you can shoot in all directions. These two simply wouldn't work well if you just mashed them together, so I introduced some modifications. The main one was restricting ranged combat to the horizontal direction. You can shoot to the left or to the right. This goes for arrows, thrown weapons and orbs (magic projectiles similar to tears in Isaac). With some upgrades you can get spread shots, or mirror the projeciles on the other side, but the basic targeting is to the left or right.

Having to line up to attack with both melee and ranged attacks made the combat easy to read and perform even when there are different types of heroes and enemies fighting. The standard vertical evading of melee hits now works for ranged projectiles coming your way as well.

Level layout

Beat'em up games usually have horizontally long, linear levels. There's almost no exploration, you just head to the right. I wanted to give the players that great sense of exploration you get from roguelike games: the map is randomly generated and non-linear. Sometimes it branches, sometimes it loops back. You are guaranteed to find a treasure room on every floor. There are 2-3 shops and often special rooms with NPC quests or mini-game challenges. Even if you find the boss and exit to the next level early, it's worth exploring the rest of the level to find better gear and level up your heroes.

During playtesting I found that most players like exploration. The only problem could appear in 4-player co-op games when sometimes the players would spend too much time arguing which way to go. This is especially visible for situations when many new players join the game and just want to move ahead without discovering all the subtle mechanics the game offers. For such players, I added a Party Mode which features a linear level layout, but still gives you random weapons, shops and NPC quests.

Balancing ranged and melee combat

Initially the ranged characters had a huge starting advantage: they could hit an enemy without them striking back. If we just took your standard beat'em up monsters and threw them in a game where all the heroes are ranged, it would be really hard to provide a good challenge to the players. Either the enemies would have to be very fast to close the distance or they would have to have a lot of health to survive until they can threaten the player. Because of this, the enemies in Son of the Witch were designed differently: many of the enemies have range attacks and melee-only monsters serve as live protective moving shields. They usually walk in front of ranged characters and try to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the players while the ranged units are attacking them from the distance.

Having more ranged enemies results in having to do more dodging in Son of a Witch than your regular beat'em up game. There are often some projectiles coming your way and you have to evade them. Since the projectiles are only flying horizontally, there's less dodging that your regular bullet hell requires. So, this mix is somewhere in the middle and you don't need inhuman dodging skills that some of the bullet hell shooters require.

With all this said, you might still feel like the melee heroes are at a disadvantage. To balance things out, I added more mechanics that give melee fighters an edge in some different areas: While magic ranged attacks only deal damage to the enemies, the melee attacks also stun them for a second, interrupting their attacks or magic spells. If you use a weapon with the quick attack (all swords and some axes) you can stun-lock most of the enemies and just keep attacking until they die (or some other enemy hits you). Beside this, melee weapons have special rage attacks that can knock down enemies and stun many of the bosses.

One of my design goals was making sure that melee and range heroes synergize when playing together in co-op games. Having different combat mechanics actually works really good. The knights can stun enemies and keep the ranged attackers busy while the mages shoot them from the distance while buffing and healing their allies.

Knights can use magic too, just not that effective

Beside magic projectiles, there's a wide range of magic spells. There are many different magic staves and every staff has a different spell effect: poison enemies, set them on fire, freeze them, slow them down or speed up your party, shoot lightning, create magic turrets that shoot at the enemies on their own, create obstacles on the screen, teleport yourself into safe spots, etc. Son of a Witch allows you to have multiple weapons at the same time, so you can combine different spells during the same fight.

The magic is very powerful, so at first it seemed like the mage heroes would once again be much more powerful. To balance that out, I allowed for melee fighters and archers to also use the magic items, but with less efficency. For example, the Snake Staff will buff a weapon with poison, but the damage the poison has a base value that does scales with the heroes Magic skill. So, a Knight hitting someone with poisoned sword would inflict 3 poison damage per tick, while a mage doing the same would do 5 poison damage per tick. Another example would be the Earthquake staff that knocks down all the enemies and breaks the rocks with usable items weapon upgrades. When a Knight uses the staff, it would knock down everyone and break 2 rocks on the screen. When a mage uses it, it would break 5 rocks on the screen. Some other weapons work completely the same. For example the Teleport staff just teleports the hero regardless of the level of Magic skill they have.

Item and weapon drops

When you mix two different play styles, you need to make sure that the player gets upgrades and powerups they can use. If I'm playing a mage hero, I don't need a triple-damage upgrade for an axe type of weapon. This can be a big problem for procedurally generated games. If you leave everything to the random number generator, your game won't be enjoyable.

In Son of a Witch, I solved this problem by rating every item and weapon in melee/magic/ranged category and then multiplying the drop rates with the skill levels of heroes in each of the categories. For example, let's say we have an item with a drop chance of 10% and it's an item only used by Melee characters. Let's say it's a single player game, and the player selects a Mage hero, who has 30% Melee skill. At the start of the game, we reduce to drop rate to 30% of the original, making it on 3% chance now.

You might wonder why don't we disable it completely? It's because it's really rare that a weapon or item is completely useless. Even if you are a mage, having a sword available could be useful to do some quests (for example, when the pricess is attacked by goblins, the stun-lock ability of the swords is really useful) or complete some NPC quests easier. Beside that, the game gives you many upgrades during a run, so you might sometimes decide to switch hero class or become multi-class at some point and having at least some of the weapons available helps.

By the way, Son of a Witch launches on Steam today. Check it out.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2018-05-16

Past blog entries


Son of a Witch | SoaW graphics, screenshots and .gifs
Bigosaur.com Website Home Page Bigosaur.com Website Home Page Blog main page YouTube channel Twitter account Google+ page Facebook page