This week was mostly dedicated to writing out level flows. I’ve planned out most of Chapter 2 in general terms, and all that’s left to do to complete this phase of Chapter 2’s design is to plan out a few remaining enemies and secret locations and then write up the boss character.
I’ve sort of been saving most of the things relating to this character up so I can give them proper attention, but it’s quickly coming to time when I’ll have to take a close look at him and see who he is, and how he will exist in the game, and what of that the player will see. It’s tricky! But I look forward to it.
In addition to this level flow stuff, I got a bit of animation work done, basically further developing the run-cycle I was developing before by finding a way to transition in and out of it in a way that looks decent. It could use a little work probably, but after some experimentation I found something that should look basically okay transitioning from anywhere in her run cycle.
There’s some weirdness in there, but at this point it’s kind of an issue of minimalizing problems rather than trying to achieve something perfect, because really the only way to do it perfectly would be to have custom transition frames depending on where she is in the animation, and that sounds like a way to make this project blow up way out of control.
This is an excellent demonstration of why short characters with stumpy legs have traditionally been preferred for sidescrolling platformers. Live and learn, I suppose.
The other major thing I’ve been working on is more story-writing. The more I work on these, the more I feel like they’re a really fundamental part of what this game is…
Once, there was a tiger. She was a fierce hunter, the undisputed ruler of her realm, until the day when, while chasing her prey, she slipped, and fell, and broke her leg and many of her teeth. The leg didn’t heal well– the teeth didn’t heal at all.
From that day forward she was forced to hunt vermin to survive– she who had been queen, and my how that stung her pride. One such day, she cornered a serpent, and she was preparing to devour it when it spoke:
“Listen! Do not eat me, mighty tigress! I would only make your stomach hurt, for they say I am full of death. Follow me, and I will bring you to a new land, with a new prey, plentiful and weak!”
Intrigued by his offer and put off by his smell in equal measure, she assented, and followed the serpent for she knew not how long, until she found herself in a far away land.
The serpent showed her her prey:
“Look! So slow they move, walking on twos! So weak they are, no venom, no claw, no fang! They are yours, my queen!”
With great joy the tigress leapt upon her new prey, whom she had no difficulty outrunning or overpowering. She devoured him, and with a full belly she fell into a deep sleep…
She dreamt of walking on two legs, dreamt of talking in intricate phrases, dreamt of creation and destruction and salvation and damnation, and though she didn’t understand why it was so, these dreams filled her with a terrible longing.
She awoke, and immediately set out to find more prey, but just over the next hill she encountered a lion:
“Stop!” said he, “I am king of this land.” He looked at her and could not help but be intrigued by her exotic beauty and power. “I have not seen you before, but you are welcome in my kingdom,” said he, “so long as you do nothing to disturb my peace.”
The tigress looked at him coldly, and walked away without a word.
He was helplessly smitten in that moment. No one understands the full breadth and nature of these connections, but something in her dark and bloody majesty set a fire in the lion’s heart, a fire which might have been love had he not then passed over the hill and seen what he saw then: The human remains, the leavings of the tigress’s meal.
The lion was no pacifist, nor was he squeamish when it came to blood, but he had long since reached an accord with the king of the humans in his land: They let him hunt as he would, and he let them build as they willed. Over time, he had even come to befriend some of them. So it was that when he saw this dead man he became as furious as though it were his own child, there, dead in the dirt.
He raced after the tigress, who was even then devouring another human and marvelling at the strange new visions and thoughts going through her head. She was completely unprepared for the fury of the lion, and when he leapt on her it was all she could do to struggle free and to somehow escape alive.
That night, as she licked her wounds, the serpent slithered up to her. “Listen!” he said, “the lion is racing to tell his ally the human king about you right now! They will hunt you, they will kill you! Unless you do exactly what I say…”
She ran, as best as she could manage with her lame leg, all day and all night, ran to the great human city where the king lived among his people. There, she rolled in the sand until her fur was yellow, and she stuck long tufts of grass between her ears and over her head, and when she saw a small human ride past on a horse she pounced without hesitation.
The city-folk found her on the child, half-eaten already, and ran to tell the king of the crazed man-eating lion that had murdered the prince. By the time the soldiers arrived, the tigress had run.
Such it was that, when the lion finally came to warn his friend of the danger, he was greeted by his allies with a body full of arrows. His heart was cut free from his body and brought to the grieving king, who had his chefs prepare it and ate it that night, salting it with his tears.
He slept strangely, afterwards, restlessly. In his dreams, he saw the noble lion do battle with the tigress, saw the bodies of the men she had killed, and in his dreams he saw how he had been tricked.
He hunted her– to protect his people, to avenge his son, to honor his friend, he hunted her for two years, but he was always one step behind the trail of human carnage she left. She killed hundreds, and with each meal she grew a bit stronger, a bit cleverer, a bit more wicked… a bit more reckless.
One night, though, the king finally did catch up to her. He saw her there, by a river, in the moonlight, devouring some poor soul, and ordered his soldiers to silently surround her and trap her against the rushing water.
The tigress was lost in strange visions that manifested themselves within the reflections of the moon on the water and didn’t notice, but her true friend the serpent bellied up and tried to warn her:
“Listen! You must flee, for the human king has found you here, and even now the jaws of his trap are closing!”
But she was beyond help. All she could see now was prey and, without thinking twice, she gobbled the serpent up. It didn’t bother her stomach at all now, for she was full of death, herself, already.
The soldiers had their orders, and the arrows found their way, thudding home into the tigress’s body. She roared, an impossible and monstrous sound that made many of the soldiers fall to the ground, dead of fright, and made the rest curl up and cry like babes.
Only the king, with the heart of a lion, stood strong against the terror, and as the tigress raged towards him feathered in arrows his blade took her under the jaw and finally ended her monstrous life.
In the moonlight, the king cut her heart out. He ate it, raw, as he looked into the raging fires of her funeral pyre, and he saw the strangest visions flickering in the flames…