Ascend. - Project Demonstration and Development Thread

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Jul 12, 2020 at 12:37 AM
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Good evening to you! I must thank you for viewing my humble post, as I have little to offer as of now.

I present for your enjoyment a short demonstration copy of the mod I am developing. It came to me that I must create this work two years ago, and for two years I had ceased my work. It is my dedication to provide for you, if you find yourself so pleased to, updates on this project; which I hope to make biweekly on this thread.

There exists very little of my vision to experience at the moment, as I began creating this project in June of two-thousand and eighteen-- but was forced to abandon it due to life circumstances only after a month of work. After two years, I wish to continue work on this meager project. Here I will summarize the features of my project:
=The work is set in a separate lore, as to not try (and very much fail) to imitate the original style of Pixel.
=The difficulty of this work is higher than the base game. The difficulty is additionally based on what the audience desires. This most difficult challenges are optional.
=The work is intended to grant great freedom of choice. It is generally nonlinear (Crafting, Bartering, and Rewards allow a variety of options when it comes to weaponry.)
=The work explores the mechanics of the base work, though with additions of its own (See the crafting system).

What I present here should demonstrate the core concepts, as it is intended as a hidden tutorial. I do hope that you enjoy exploring this work. The core draw is that this project is not trying to replicate Cave Story. It is a beast of its own whims.

Currently Developing: [Updated: 14:16, 14-7-2020]
1. Begin work on the Roguelands.
2. Continue to rebalance the Landing Caves.

Last worked on Project: 31-7-2020

Here you may find a demonstration copy of my work: [DATED: Definitely Not Today. VERSION: Blithe]

I have in my mind much more than what there is. Thank you for your time.
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Jul 12, 2020 at 1:35 AM
Best Cow
"Life begins and ends with Nu."
Join Date: Jun 27, 2013
Posts: 2585
Age: 26
Guess it's time to test this out, since it took 2 years of development.

Immediately we have a problem. Hoo boy.

Anyway, let's begin playing it.

The platforming in this section could use some refining, the timing on jumping to the lower platform is a bit too perfect for my tastes, a bit of leniency can be used.

This area is a dick move. The area's already claustrophobic in its own right, so the only logical sense is to run under the critter and keep running. But the lower areas prevent a straightforward walk and can cause you to die.

Uh oh. Stinkyyyyyy

Yeah no, this area is shit. There's hardly any room to dodge the critter, and even if you do, you need perfect timing just to be able to jump to the save room platform. Otherwise, you'll end up in the lower area and be forced to die to a critter.

This is going to be a long one...

>goes to save room
>has health refill good for only one use
>full health
>you're forced to take damage here

Or you can you know, not have that critter there. That'd be a more inviting thing to have people want to keep playing your mod. 2 years of development, and you mean to tell me there wasn't time for beta testing?

There's way too many enemies, this isn't I Wanna Be The Guy. The timing allows for a fast paced type of gameplay, but with the limited space it allows, you can't even focus on that.


RPG elements... Go on...

Let me SLEEP, goddamn it!

Oof, why does the Level 3 Polar Star have such a short range? If the reason is it's because of the claustrophobia that's so far all over the mod, then that is extremely redundant.

I'm not allowed to snipe, either.

There should really be a save point before that area. It's already a chore to have to walk all over again just because I fall trying to shoot the bat and progress.

What the actual fuck.

We really need Seasons to play this mod, tbh. I have really big problems with this mod.
=The work is intended to be of a fair difficulty, but it is not intended to bring excessive challenge.
The difficulty in this mod is definitely not fair, most maneuvers you have to do just to be able to survive are frame perfect, and provide no elbow room to take a breather. If you wish to make a Nintendo difficulty mod, Ordeal Pillar is the best mod I can recommend to you that shows you how it is done. It even provides save points before more difficult areas in the mod, to prevent frustration.

Note: Looking into the OP more, it is more clear that it is intended to be a demo. It's a bit misleading though, as it was stated that it's been in development for two years. You can build a whole game within 2 years, what I would very well rather do. I am curious to see how the crafting system can go, though from what I saw there doesn't seem to be anything built that is focused upon that feature.
Jul 12, 2020 at 1:47 AM
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Thank you for trying out this project so hastily after my original post!

I will take your criticism of the difficulty with weight. It was tuned only to my own liking, which I had the hubris to assume was not too high. Frustration is an emotion I hope to avoid, and it seems it brings a high barrier of entry to the design of mine. I will work to adjust this aspect. (Drive Link changed; minor update to remove blatant bullshit).

(Allow me though to bring to attention that it is not the Polar Star. Additionally, if you would like to see the crafting mechanism, there is a manual found in a cave which can be used for that purpose.
The manual can use the Broken Engine and the Star of Sirius to create a Machine Gun. Additionally, if you instead salvage the health station, you can use the metal to increase the ammo of the Machine Gun. The crafting experience will change what quality of metal you receive from salvaging, which changes the amount of ammunition received by crafting.

Additionally, I will take the note to reword my original post, as it is true that I have not worked on this project in two years, rather than having worked on it for two years.
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Jul 12, 2020 at 6:51 AM
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Honestly, despite the issues with difficulty, I kinda love this mod.
The levels look really pretty- one of the best looking caves I've seen in a mod -and the fact that you've put even a basic crafting system into a cave story mod is kinda blowing my mind. I shudder to think at what your TSC is going to look like if the mod were to continue.

That said... yeah the difficulty is kinda off the charts. I wouldn't say it's completely BS difficulty, it's just at a level way above "not intended to bring excessive challenge". The initial jumps are a big stretches to tiny platforms, very precise for the first obstacle of a mod, and the following critter section, while really neat, is something more out of an "oops you lost all your stuff half way through the game" scenario. As Serri said, the uneven ground in the critter section isn't helping matters either, since it prevents many an escape route under a jumping critter. Also these falling spikes are very cool and I don't want them to exist in level 1.

The balrog boss could also use a lot less health too, really huge bullet sponge even with level 3 (which you won't be able to keep 'cause getting close enough to use it is a bit of a death sentence). That said, the fact that all of his projectiles are destroyable makes it better than it would've been otherwise. Also, one time I somehow managed to make it into the balrog boss chamber without killing the door in front, or taking damage. I didn't feel like testing my luck leaving the room though, and died to the boss, so I can't tell you what happens when you leave.

The upper section I actually found to be a bit of a pushover. Maybe I'm just more used to Curly's super predictable pattern, but that second boss just wasn't much of a challenge... again, a little bit of a bullet sponge because of the high health, but not quite as bad as with balrog since there's no bouncing random balls. The dialog up there was kinda interesting, but I'm ultimately still confused as to what's going on. Also, I hope you're aware that jumps out from a 1 tile tall space are possible, 'cause I was able to reach the save point on the left in the safe house, and the broken door it connects to.

I also cheated my way into the door on the right from the starting area (not sure how you're supposed to make it there legit... I-frame abuse? Spike jump? Something for later on in the mod?), and if you can make the bartering as good as you've made the crafting, I'm sold.

About the polar star edit, I don't have any inherent problem with what you've done to it, but I think it's usage at this point in the game is not the best choice. If you're going to have a weapon with a trade off as you gain XP (like this polar star edit, the nemesis, or even the blade to some extent), you need to leave the player room to lose health so they can level the weapon back down without dying. Because right now as soon as you get this thing to level 2, that's about where it stays, since taking any damage probably just means you're dead.

My last note is about the dialog... it's so wordy. I do think it's pretty well written, but I really don't need to hear my character say "ok, I'll stop doing what you told me to stop doing" after I choose "no", closing the textbox is just fine by me. You might want to consider skipflags, txin's speed text hack, or just cutting back on your word count outside of cutscenes.

So yeah, I love the aesthetic, love the mechanics, don't love the execution. I hope to see you continue this mod at some point in the future!
Jul 12, 2020 at 12:11 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 25, 2019
Posts: 206
OK, I'll be playing this one since I heard it has nice environments:
-I see they've already mentioned the fullscreen problem, so I'm not gonna say much about it.
-These places are very nice to look at.
-The platforming section at the beginning is a bit annoying just because you move sooo slow and it kind of tricks you by making you think you can do jumps that, in reality, require a good amount of precision.
-It wouldn't have hurt to put a save point in this room:
-There's also not enough space to dodge the critters, which is kind of huge problem since you only have 1 HP and no weapon.
-Yeah, this isn't exactly "fair". I fell and was killed immediately. There was nothing I could do about it.
-Same here.
-Love the design of this place. It's just really cool.
-I'm gonna stop here.
-I can tell you followed Pixel's format for mapping. The maps look REALLY nice and you clearly spent a long time on them. That said, the level design needs to be reworked.
-I gotta be honest: despite the frustration, I enjoyed part of this mod and I hope to see a more complete and polished product in the future.
Jul 12, 2020 at 1:06 PM
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gave this a shot, didn't get too far (died to the balrog boss after not saving for a while and gave up because i had to go do other stuff), might take another shot at progressing later but here are my thoughts right now:


- the level design itself is really cool, i like the maze-ish, cramped feeling
- interesting atmosphere, i'm curious to learn more about what's happening story-wise (but unfortunately not enough to push through the difficulty)
- crafting thing seems interesting


- yup, the difficulty. the downside to the levels being cramped is that it's very hard to navigate while dodging critters - the bats are annoying but manageable, since they don't follow you. lessening the amount of enemies or giving the player more starting health might be a good way to improve on this?
- save point before bosses, or at least some warning - i know this just sounds like i'm salty about losing progress (...and i am, a little), but almost all bossfights in cave story take place right after a save or are foreshadowed (ie. monster x) so you know what's coming or aren't impacted too much if you die (ie. omega). however, i will admit i wasn't paying full attention to the environment at that point, so i may have missed a nearby savepoint or just got unlucky
- speaking of the balrog boss: less health would be good like bray said, considering you're fighting with lvl. 2 polar star at best
- also speaking of the balrog boss - you forgot to put FLJ on the chest, interacting with it during the fight gives you another life capsule and restarts the bossfight
Screen Shot 2020-07-12 at 9.49.20 pm.png

complaints aside, this has a lot of potential and i'm also interested to see where this all goes in the future!
Jul 12, 2020 at 5:00 PM
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Join Date: Jun 27, 2018
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Dear Brayconn, Flake, and Eli,
Again, and I Will speak this to all who bother with my project, thank you. It means quite a bit that you have given me your time and thought.

It seems very clear now that the challenge given in this work is not at a reasonable level. This is due to assumptions I made of myself. In the original work, the manner in which I completed the Sacred Ground was not what many would call "graceful", or "a display of any skill in the game whatsoever". This led me to assume that I was mediocre. However, due to the necessity of testing my own work, I had to get good at this work, making myself blind to the difficulty. I do not enjoy works which create a barrier of entry high enough to warrant ridicule, and so what I have presented goes against my own beliefs.

The platforming in the Landing Point is intended as a method to set expectations. I am under the assumption that anyone who has the will to search through the public forums of this work to find a project of little acclaim will have much experience with the work of Pixel's. It is intended to tell the audience through experience "I do hope you are versed enough in these mechanics, and that this project will be of higher difficulty than the original.".

I will be adjusting the challenge presented in the Cavern however. Expect a new release by the end of this day.

Note: I do not understand the fullscreen issue. What is the problem, and how may I fix it?

To Brayconn,
On Mitte's abode, you are correct in your first two guesses of how to enter the area. There is exactly one pixel in which you may make standing to the left of the spikes. This is the only manner to enter the area without arms nor health. If you are curious once I have released an updated edition of my project, I implore you to enter the shop without dying, or without weapons.
Additionally, I will think about the design of the Star of Sirius, and make considerations on my writings.

To Flake,
Due to popular demand, I believe that your suggestions for additional save locations will be notes. I still agree with my original intentions with the save locations. It still feels right to me. However, many others have shown me that I am an outsider of opinions. I am considering implementing a feature which allows the choice of placing additional save locations.

To Eli,
I am a frugal mistress when it comes to save locations. Thus, I did not find myself so inclined to place one before the ambush. However, I plan to use the monstrous doors to donate this in further editions. I will take your note, and reduce the health of the Sentry, due to multiple suggestions.
Additionally, I must thank you for your note of my mistaken programming. I will implement a chest which does not produce unlimited items.

Thank you all.
Jul 12, 2020 at 5:17 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 25, 2019
Posts: 206
Note: I do not understand the fullscreen issue. What is the problem, and how may I fix it?
Basically, it's a problem when someone wants to take a screenshot of your mod. You know that program called DoConfig? To solve this issue you just need to open it and go here.
That said, good luck with your mod. It really has lots of potential.
Jul 12, 2020 at 5:31 PM
Best Cow
"Life begins and ends with Nu."
Join Date: Jun 27, 2013
Posts: 2585
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640x480 windowed is generally a preferred way to play the game in. Full screen is a bit fucked on some computers, and sometimes not every color will render on that mode (Full 32-bit can allow that, but people will probably still complain about that).

Also, 60fps > 50fps.
Jul 13, 2020 at 9:04 PM
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heres how it went for me:

i didn't take any screenies at the start, but the jumps were a bit misleading in the first room up until the door for me. not bad, just took me a bit of extra thinking time.
the enemies before the first save room weren't a problem for me, although maybe that's only because of how used to i am with japing critter ai. after i saved and got that two hp though, i turned right back around.
at first i couldn't tell if it was intentional that you could get here like this because of how clearly it seemed to be laid out, even has a spike if you wanna try and do the spike jump at 1 hp without even needing the save room.
oh look, a free nemesis. (after obtaining it i loaded and ignored it)
as well as a free way up without needing to find another heal. convenient?
i went up, and the guys spared me. since i was sequence-breaking i got pretty scared when the boss music started playing, but it looks like pacifist is a proper option, which is pretty cool.
i swear, the exploits seem so intentional. i made the pixel jump to get up here, but it doesn't look like i can interact with the door.
"well alright, time to see what is after the first save room now", i thought.
but it seems like that isn't gonna happen. good thing i made a backup of my save from over there.

not gonna put in a bunch of screenies for this because it's mostly the normal game but:
artemis is so polite, even asks if he can save.
i like his reactions to beds and tables. dude is just a funny guy
because i, too, am funny, i'll skip the polar star and see how far i can get pacifist
uh oh
and if you go to the right of here you just kinda. fall back to the start. bruh
looks like i'll need a weapon after all. wait, so are the skips from earlier actually intended?
no idea if you put flags on any of these guys, so i'm still not killing anything. it is getting increasingly difficult not to, though.
got the handbook and then died trying to leave, so i went back to the eyedoor again. if kills are being counted, hope this guy doesn't count as one.
aaaaand then i got stuck on the boss. considering the short range of the weapon at lv. 2, i doubt it would even help if i gave up on my pacifist.
after looking at some other posts it looks like after beating this guy you can craft the machine gun, and presumably use it to get to all the places i went to at the start.

maps are pretty cool aesthetically but cramped in some places, specifically the path to the handbook
making it very difficult is fine by me, but like
then you are gonna want the game to be a lot faster between retries. quick respawn, <TUR, etc.
the boss in the eyedoor is balls, but the sprite is cool
i like all the bots, maybe that's just because i didn't have to fight them
and just like what other people said, 60 fps would be nice
Jul 13, 2020 at 10:03 PM
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Dear Espeon78,
It brings a swell to my creative soul to see someone find the intricacies of the demonstration edition so quickly!
The pacifist route is entirely intentional. It is marked by acquiring no weapons. I unfortunately cannot track when NPCs are terminated. I will use this opportunity that many things that are not in the original work, such as i-frame abuse, is intention in this game. In the Pacifist run, some options are not made available (Such as the Hideout behind the eyed door), while others are opened up (Skipping the Colons battle, and bargains with Mitte. Additionally, in future editions, perhaps try a minimal run, one without weapons, HP upgrades, and items.
The door in the safehouse is intended to be reached normally. I thought the one gap jump would be not of a high challenge. It is nonfunctional, as their lies the Roguelands, an area I will be working on next.
Oh, and I adore your translation.
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Jul 14, 2020 at 8:32 PM
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oh, that's pretty cool then. i'm so used to the exploits being unintentional or prevented that i didn't think they would be used purposefully.
very interested to see how it continues, because i really like pushing how minimalist a game will let me go