Project Neon - Status Update, September 2020
👋🏽.. Hello everyone!
First of all, we hope every single one of you is doing well out there. It's obviously been a rough year for many, so we really appreciate the ongoing interest in our project despite all the craziness.
As we get closer to our initially planned release date, we thought we'd owe you a bit of an overview on the progress we've made on all fronts of the game's development. We hope this will help ensure everyone that we're still here, committed as ever and heads down on crafting a kick-ass game for the Neo Geo.
On a high level, we're happy to report that the game already came a long way since the early prototype we shared with the community a while back, especially over the last couple of months.
That being said, there's still quite a lot of work ahead of us before we can call the game not only complete, but also be truly proud of what we ship!
So let's dive into it...
Level artwork 🏜, ~99% complete
Success! All the amazing level artwork from @sonreirblah has already made it into game, including some beautiful animations and FX layers! You know.. rain, dust.. freaking asteroids... the usual stuff ;)
The only small thing left to do is making the transition between different scrolling speeds a bit more smooth (let's say things always get a bit more hectic towards the end of a level).
Getting these in place has been one of our bigger focus area over the last couple of months. In fact, we decided that having all levels completely in place was a well needed prerequisite before we could continue work on actual enemy designs, , placement and patterns, etc.
Enemies 👾, ~50% complete
Working on getting all the different enemy designs and patterns is pretty much our current focus area. As part of this, we almost completely reworked how we "script" enemy swarms across the levels, including adding support for mobile ground enemies... so yeah, boats and more incoming!
And to make doubly sure we have the right amount of focus and bandwidth from on, we're happy to announce that we recently welcomed the awesome @dinopokey as our first dedicated game designer to the team! 🙌
We also decided do another round of investment into the existing and new enemy designs.
Bullets patterns 🎯, ~90% complete
Similar to our new approach on how to script enemies, we completely revamped the way we do bullet patterns. Catering for everything from targeted shots, to beautiful bullet patterns. Spirals, spreads, sweeps and all that..
Above is just a small preview on some of the things we already have in place. We're still adding to our arsenal of patterns as we continue work on the individual enemy and boss patterns.
Endbosses 🦉 🐸 🚀, 30% done
While we already have 3 of the 5 end bosses in place, we still have two (already designed) bosses to add and some enhancements we still want to do on the existing ones. Together with the minion enemy work, this is going to be our other major focus area for the next couple of months!
Intro 🎬🍿, ~95% done
As teased previously on Twitter here, and here, we're happy to announce that we pretty much have the complete intro sequence(s) in place! The only bit left here is putting a small animation and adding the already prepared music.
Music and SFX 🎶, ~80% done
Talking about music, we're happy to share that thanks to the incredible efforts of freezedream, we're steadily progressing towards the completion of the games soundtrack and sound effects.
Here's a new WIP for the Sulfur Planet stage for you to check out:
There are still a couple of things left, mostly around the boss stage loops and fleshing out more details around the existing tracks.. but hell yeah, we're getting there! 🤟🏾
Player Weapons 🔫, 40% done
Based on the same work that we mentioned above for the enemy bullets, we reworked the power up levels of the initial player ship weapon.
Disclaimer: We're using a debug shortcut for demo purposes here. You'll of course still have to fight for your extra powers in the actual game ;)
We still have to design and implement the four other weapons that you'll be able to collect from the stage bosses 😎
Sound driver, 30% done 🔉
As mentioned previously, we unfortunately had a bit of a setback in terms of the sound driver. Due to some hard to debug issues that only appeared on real hardware (not on MAME or MiSTer) and some missing feature we were longing for, we decided to put some major investment in developing our own sound driver.
As some of you may know, there's currently no open-source sound driver for the Neo Geo that actually supports FM music. So we hope to change this soon for the good of everyone. We're already in talks with the Deflemask team to see if we can work together on this as well, so we won't have to compose tracks in two different projects anymore.
Given the great amount of time and efforts that already went into this, it's getting quite tempting to just switch to PCM based music to finally get this road block out of the way. But for now we decided to give this another go, with the foundations of our own driver already generally working.🤞
Even though it's still a bit early, we already started doing some first in-person testing with friends on the new enemy patterns throughout the first stage. We're also in contact with some trustworthy, renown shmuppers that will help us to ensure we find the right balance between fun, challenge and overall greatness :)
Physical release stuff 🏋🏾♂️
Last, but not least, we already started preparing all things physical for the release. This includes everything from having a full stock of high-quality MVS/AES cartridge shells and AES snap cases, as well as having some high quality, true to the original templates for the labels and inserts.
Release date 📅
While the whole team is optimistically working towards a release in December, we're sad to say that the actual release will likely happen sometime in the first half of 2021. The main reason for this, as you might have noticed in the updates above, is that we are constantly reinvesting and iterating on every aspect on the game until it reaches the quality bar we set ourselves for this project. So while you might be saddened by the delay of the game, trust us if we say that the bit of extra wait will be worth it!
And to make sure we keep everyones excitement up, we'll soon start to share more updates on everything mentioned above!
Full steam ahead 👊🏽
- Team Neon