Corrupted Memory

May 27, 2019 in Screenshots

Hi folks! I bring you grave news. 🙁

Lenna’s Inception has ğ̸̢̛͍̠̈́̎̾̒̓̒͐͋̾̈̅͂͠litched out. But there’s still hope! Each time you defeat a boss, you’ll restore a corrupted memory bank–a short cutscene revealing a new part of the story.

Here’s a preview of one:

There are eight to find in toţ̸̗̼͇̜̞̩͙̝̜̫̯̣̥̼̃̎̓̍̂͊̓̉̃͌al. It’s only by restoring all of the corr̶̡̲̺̣̪̻̱͉͎̪̠̼͍͎̉̔̑̀́̄̓̑u̷̖͈̜̼̮̬̝̩̭͖̲̓̉͆̋̉̆͆̍̽͘͠ͅṗ̷̢̨̡̼̬͎̣̗̫͎̻̣̼̀͜ͅted memory banks that you’ll learn the origin of the glitch and be able to fix it.

(The game is fine̵͍̓, don’t worry. We’re aiming to release a big content patch for beta testers in the summer, at which point 10 out of 11 bosses and almost all cutscenes will be in the game.)

Curious how these glitch tiles are made? Let’s zoom in on those tiles in the middle:

On the left is the tile in its natural state, and on the right is the same tile, glitched.

In Lenna’s Inception we generate authentic-looking glitch tiles by reading from the wrong position in the tilesheet. A tilesheet is a big old grid of individual graphics, like this:

In a typical tile-based game, each grid space in an environment has an index (a number) that gives you its position in the tilesheet. Usually that position is sent straight off to the GPU for rendering the tile to the screen, but in Lenna’s Inception, if the tile is glitched, it first gets shifted 8 pixels in each direction.

The result is that the ‘wrong’ pixels get drawn to the screen. Since the tiles are 16×16, they’re being shifted by 8, and the Game Boy hardware supported 8×8 tiles, what gets drawn to the screen is vaguely reminiscent of Game Boy glitches: a random-looking jumble of 8×8 sections.

There are a few other effects we use as well. One of them is simply not clearing the screen buffer between frames. Where there is transparency in glitched tiles, the previous frame shows through. This can make it look like tiles are stretching, or like menus are showing through behind the environment. Sometimes it means the player character leaves trails!

Control freak

April 15, 2019 in Screenshots

Hey everyone! We’ve been working on some small quality of life improvements for the next update. Among other things, we have an improved default control scheme, a simplified HUD, and some dynamic camera movement.

From the beginning, the control scheme has been consistently present in feedback from players. We’ve made some changes to the defaults to help keyboard and controller users feel more comfortable:

The equipment menu has been redesigned to accommodate this:

We’d like it if you’d comment with your thoughts on these controls!

The biggest change here is that there is now a pair of dedicated buttons for swords and shields. Altogether, there are now five buttons you can bind to different items. Showing all of these on the screen all the time would leave very little room for showing the world, so we took an axe to the already-chunky UI. In the end, we decided that the sword and shield didn’t need to be shown on the screen anyway, since you rarely need reminding what they’re for.

But the redesigned HUD did free up space for something I’ve wanted to add for a long time: camera movement! Since the beginning, we’ve had a fixed camera: maps are split up into rectangular screens and only one is visible at a time. The camera would only move while transitioning from one screen to the next. There are a few good reasons for doing that in a top-down action game–it ensures everything relevant to the player (doors, enemies, etc.) is visible on the screen, and nothing important is hidden by the HUD.

But in the upcoming v0.13 the camera moves in the direction you’re looking, or when you approach the edge of the screen. Check the GIF out. I spent a lot of time trying different ways of responding to the player, and different movement modes and amounts. I feel pretty confident that this makes the game look and feel more dynamic… But it can still be disabled if you don’t like it.

That’s all for now!

On Porpoise

February 19, 2019 in Screenshots

Today I’d like to introduce, Sandolphin, the “Serpentine Dolphin” Archangel. In v0.13 of Lenna’s Inception, you’ll meet her in watery dungeons. To beat her, you’ll need to master swimming, and perfect your timing of dives.

 

Sandolphin’s interests include swimming, crossword puzzles, and vomiting starfish. You should dolphinately watch out for those starfish. If you see one heading your way, be prepared to dive!

Finally, we have a new title screen to share! The background scrolls over the overworld, displaying some of the types of locations you might visit early in the game. Of course, since it’s generated, you probably won’t see those exact locations when you actually play.

Tuna in next time to read about changes we’re making to the controls to save you from having to constantly switch items!

Shady Business

January 7, 2019 in Screenshots

Happy new year everyone!

We’ve got a couple of new things to show you today. First up is the introductory cutscene of the second player character.

We’ve already shown how the game allows a second player to control Shadow Lenna, a character with all the same abilities and stats as Lenna. Starting in 0.13, Shadow Lenna can be unlocked near the beginning of the game. Certain cutscenes have special dialogue for Shadow Lenna that you’ll only see if you’re playing co-op.

In other news I’ve scrapped the CRT shader we had before and written a new one. It’s best viewed fullscreen, so be sure to click below for the full-size version.

The same scene with the old shader can be viewed here. The difference is night and day.

There are a few effects the new shader applies:

  • Barrel distortion
  • Scanlines
  • Color bleed

Barrel distortion serves to magnify the center of the screen, making it appear like the curved surface of a CRT screen. For the curious, this can be achieved in a couple of lines of code – it’s a transformation of the position of the pixel being shaded:

Scanlines and color bleed I implemented together. It helps to look at a zoomed in section to understand how it works:

This is a composition of two layers. The base layer is a slightly darkened version of the original texture, scaled up by nearest-neighbor (i.e. without interpolation):

On top of that–and if you’ve ever seen a CRT screen from very close up, you’ll recognize this–each of the red green and blue channels is drawn as a radial gradient. Each gradient is offset by sub-pixel amounts, creating a triangular pattern of red, green and blue blobs:

As you extend the radius of those gradients, they blend and start to reproduce the original colors of the image. Extending the gradients outwards, beyond the original pixel, until they blend into neighboring pixels creates the appearance of color bleed. This can be seen around the edges of the yellow fire sprite below: red bleeds out down and left, and green bleeds out up and right.

If the gradients are squat ovals instead of perfectly round, pixel blend into each other horizontally more than they do vertically. That means the space between neighboring vertically-aligned pixels is (relatively) darker than the space between neighboring horizontally-aligned pixels, creating the illusion of scanlines.

All together, this makes for a fairly simple, efficient, single-pass CRT shader.

Season’s Glitchings

December 19, 2018 in Screenshots

Meet the latest boss we’ve been working on, Santaquiel, Archangel of Ice and Unwanted Gifts. He has a major weakness to fire, but be warned: once he’s fixed you with his icy stare, he’s a cold-blooded killer. Definitely do not accept any presents from him.

We’ll be posting again in the new year with more info on the new bosses, cutscenes, and our new CRT shader. Until then, spare an occasional thought for Lenna’s students, who are trapped in a glitched out school where not even Santaquiel can get to them. 🙁

I squid you not

March 2, 2018 in Screenshots

Since our last post, we’ve been busy with a number of things!

Here’s a preview of subterranean squid ‘Tentaluchus,’ our newest boss:

You’ll find Tentaluchus in the dungeon where you get the bombs. You know the drill… 😉

Read the rest of this entry →

0.12 and the future

September 20, 2017 in New Version, Screenshots

Hi everyone! A new version is available today! Also included in this post is some info about future plans for Lenna’s Inception.

v0.12 update

v0.12 is now stable and available for download on itch.io and Humble. As always, you can get it by following these steps.

If you’ve been playing recently on the unstable branch on itch.io, not much will have changed. The ‘unstable’ branch is intended as a preview of the features I’m currently working on. Compared with yesterday’s unstable branch version, the only change in this new version is a handful of bugfixes.

For everyone else, here’s a quick run-down of the new features:

Local co-op

Local co-op has been completely revamped. The second player now controls Shadow Lenna, a character with all the same abilities and stats as Lenna herself.

Read the rest of this entry →

0.11 now stable

March 29, 2017 in Announcements, New Version

Version 0.11 of Lenna’s Inception is now available on itch.io and through humble.

Among other things, this version includes a new boss, new minigames and new side-quests.

For a fuller list of changes and some screenshots, see my previous post.

Instructions for updating

Upcoming 0.11 features – minigames, side-quests, bosses

March 23, 2017 in Screenshots

I’ve been working on the next update for a while now, only sporadically tweeting progress screenshots. Here’s what to expect in 0.11!

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Now available: Beta10

September 30, 2016 in Announcements, New Version

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The beta10 update is now available. It includes new areas, story events, various graphical and map generation improvements, and fixes for some serious bugs affecting Mac users.

Get it here.

See my previous post for the full summary of improvements:

Lenna’s Inception has come a long way in the three months since beta9. Beta10 is almost here, so here’s a quick roundup of screenshots and information I’ve been sharing on twitter!

The storyline has been mostly implemented. Just the endings, and the optional side-quests are missing right now. The laboratory and palace locations have been redesigned and reimplemented, along with hand-designed puzzles you’ll need to solve to get through them.

The laboratory has fallen into disrepair:

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Read the rest of the changes »