Before I start, I want to reiterate that I'm completely new to game development, Darkhouse has bugs and I'm not sure how to fix them, and I don't really know what I'm doing in general.

I just updated Darkhouse with an HTML5 format, along with a couple other changes and bug fixes. Google Chrome, and probably other browsers, have began disabling the Flash player in preparation for when Flash shuts down in 2020. This made Darkhouse playable only in the Newgrounds player, but I was having some issues with some of the controls in the player. The Enter key would cause the game to freeze, and while you can use L or Z instead (depending on your control scheme), just pressing enter once and breaking the game is not an acceptable bug to be left in Darkhouse. The pause button (esc) also didn't work in the player.

I had tried to update the game with version 0.3.3, which removed Enter as a control, added P as an alternate pause button, and also fixed a bug I had found that could have potentially crashed the game in locked rooms. But I couldn't get the Newgrounds player to run the new version.

At this point Darkhouse has become almost unplayable in Flash, so I added an HTML5 file to run instead. I was trying to wait until the bugs in HTML5 were fixed, but this version is playable and easier to run than Flash now, and it doesn't crash anymore like it used to (I still don't know what happened with those crashes, or why they're gone now). The big problem with HTML5 now is the low quality sound and music. I've tried everything I know to try, and I think I just have to wait until Stencyl releases a new build that fixes the issue, because this problem has happened to other people as well. The loading bar is also missing, and the game can sometimes lag during boss fights. I've changed the damaged effect of bosses to tint using one of the colors from their health bar, instead of using invert and adjust hue, so that might help a little.

Again, this is the very first video game I've created. I have never coded or programmed before, and I have no idea what I'm doing. I had a vision for Darkhouse when I started making it, but I decided to set my standards to what I can do right now instead of what I'm not experienced enough for. That's why I call it version 0, because while Darkhouse is playable and beatable (it has an ending), I still want to come back to it after I've learned more and become better at making games. I continue to update Darkhouse because I want to make it the best game that I can make. But until I have more experience, I'm limited by my current knowledge of game development.

It's worth noting, though, that for my first game, I think I did a good job. A lot of people have enjoyed Darkhouse even with all of it's bugs, and thanks to them for playing it. Some people have gotten past the 2nd boss, and one person even cleared Level 3. So I will continue to do everything I can to make Darkhouse a fun and challenging game to play, with no bugs or problems, and make it the best game that I can.

This is version 0.3 of Darkhouse, and it has some significant changes. It introduces new graphics and a new difficulty mode, which I will talk about in this post. You can play Darkhouse here, as well as view the full changelog for this update.

The first and most obvious update is the graphics. Several tiles and tilesets, almost all backgrounds, and a few enemies have been redrawn. Enemies are now brighter and more colorful compared to darker and duller tiles and backgrounds. Previously Darkhouse had bright and colorful tiles and backgrounds, a weird design that didn't look good. There was little variation, and especially in the darker themed Level 5 it was very hard to see enemies and bullets against the similarly colored environment. These graphics changes should make enemies easier to see, and they should make the game look a lot better as well. I've tried my best to keep the monochromatic theme of each level, with some color variation.

The next and probably most important change is the addition of Easy mode. Darkhouse now has 3 difficulty modes to choose from, and they determine how checkpoints function. In Easy mode, there are checkpoints in the middle of every level, where the doors are locked and you must defeat 10 enemies to progress. After this is done, the checkpoint will activate, and you can go set it. In Normal and Hard mode, these locked room checkpoints are never activated. Normal and Hard mode are the same as before.

One thing to keep in mind is that since Easy and Normal mode will keep your checkpoints even after Game Over, you can always leave the game after setting one and you will come back with 3 lives when you start again. In these modes, checkpoints are permanent, resetting after the game is beaten, and a Game Over results in the loss of score instead of progress. Hard mode is the difficulty of Darkhouse when it was originally released, where a Game Over resets all progress.

The first end goal of Darkhouse is climbing to the top and finding it's ending, and Easy mode makes that goal much more attainable. But the second goal, like many other arcade games, is to get the highest score. High scores will be set by completing levels and defeating enemies and bosses for as long as you can without receiving a Game Over. Because of this, Hard mode can be a great way to set a High score, by starting from the beginning and climbing as high as you can with the 3 lives you have. Enemies in later levels are also worth larger amounts of score when defeated, rewarding a players determination and skill.

This update is probably the most significant so far. Darkhouse's graphics has been greatly improved, and Easy mode will allow players to reach even closer to the game's ending. I'm excited to see what people think of it once it's finally revealed. I'm still open to more suggestions for improvement as well, and I'm always looking for bugs to fix.

July 6, 2019

Darkhouse v0.2 has been released. It adds 2 new features, medals and a new game mode. The new mode, titled Normal mode, will save your checkpoints even after you receive a game over. This makes the game more forgiving and less brutal, and the old version where checkpoints are lost can still be played in Arcade mode. The decreased difficulty should still provide a challenge, but now you have a much better shot at climbing higher and potentially beating the game, if you can defeat the final boss.

Also in this update are medals. You can unlock increasingly difficult medals as you play the game for gaining score, defeating enemies, and completing levels. These achievements, along with the new game mode, make the game feel more rewarding to progress, and will hopefully be a more fun experience to the player.

I've thought about my intentions for the difficulty of Darkhouse for a while. Darkhouse is meant to be extremely difficult, fair and rewarding to skill and patience, yet still brutal and unforgiving. It was designed like old arcade games such as Pac-Man and Galaga. In those games, your goal is to try and achieve the highest score you can, and get as far as possible, because when you receive a game over, you start from the beginning again. Old arcade games were rewarding to skilled and determined players by posting their highest score on the scoreboard for everyone to see. But at the same time, that design for a game can make an unpleasant experience for the player, one where they don't feel like they're improving or making progress, and either can't or don't want to continue playing as a result. I don't want to make a game that makes the player feel that way.

Because of this, I've decided to work on a new update for Darkhouse that adds a new game mode, one where checkpoints are saved after a game over. The current game that will delete your progress after a game over will be called Arcade Mode, and the new one will be called Normal Mode. The game will still be very difficult, but now you can complete levels and defeat bosses without having to go back and beat them again when you lose. You can just start where you left of at the last checkpoint.

This new game mode will provide an easier experience for players, and will be more rewarding to progress. I want the game to be enjoyable yet challenging, and there's so much more to Darkhouse that I really want people to see. So I believe this update will implement that idea better than previous versions of Darkhouse. Arcade mode will still be available for those who seek a real challenge, and it will be a better way of achieving a high score. But a more forgiving game mode will allow players to see more of the game, and more importantly, it's intriguing ending.

June 19, 2019

A new update for Darkhouse is now available. Version 0.1 is the first update to add new content to the game, and it features a new screen visible after pressing Start on the home screen. From this screen you can choose between the normal game and a new game mode called the Practice Minigame. This mode is unlocked once you reach the first locked room in Level 1, and higher level minigames are unlocked the same way for their corresponding level. So once you reach the locked room in Level 2, you'll unlock the Level 2 minigame, and so on.

The new mode doesn't save your score to the scoreboard, though you can still view your score in the top right corner like normal. It is intended to allow players to practice their skills, or to play just for fun. That way, if you lose in a higher level, you don't have to go through every preceding level to get back and get familiar with the difficulty of the harder level.

A couple bugs were also fixed, and as always, if you find a new bug in the game and I haven't included it on my bug list, let me know about it.

June, 8, 2019

Darkhouse was made in Flash, because it has worked well and there were not very many issues with it. One problem that did show up was that Flash doesn't recognize the Enter key as an input. I didn't previously know about this issue, so I released Update 0.0.1 with an alternate attack key, among other control options.

I still expect more bugs to be found over time, but overall, Flash has worked great for Darkhouse. The main problem is that Flash is being discontinued next year. Newgrounds does have a workaround, but HTML5 games are still preferable. But Darkhouse doesn't work in HTML5. It has a lot of issues that make the game unplayable, and I'm not sure how to fix them. I have a couple ideas, which I'll get to later in this post.

One problem with HTML5 Darkhouse is the sound. All music and sound effects seem muffled, as if the quality suddenly got worse. It might have something to do with the fact that, at least in the game engine I'm using (Stencyl), HTML5 requires sounds in both .mp3 and .ogg formats, while Flash only needs .mp3, but I'm not sure if that's the issue.

Another problem is that during levels, the game occasionally lags and freezes for a moment. This might be because in the enemy AI a lot of things are happening, and there are a lot of enemies. I might need to simplify it or optimize it so it doesn't reduce performance. Again, I'm not positive this is what's going on here.

The big issue, though, is that Darkhouse crashes in HTML5 very frequently. It doesn't happen immediately, but after spending too much time in one scene, the browser goes black for a moment, then reverts and the game goes black and can't be interacted with. No error messages pop up. The music still continues to play, and for some reason if you right click and then click on "View page source," the game returns to normal, but it will still crash if you remain in one scene too long. So if you frequently move from scene to scene, either on the menu or in game, it won't crash. Because of this phenomenon, I had previously thought the issue was with the boss, because you remain in that scene longer than other scenes since your fighting the boss. But after further testing, the game will crash in this way on the Home screen, the Settings menu, while the game is paused, and during boss fights. It doesn't look like it will crash in the Scoreboard menu or during an unpaused game.

My best guess is that my drawing code is causing the issues. In the Settings menu, and while the game is paused, I draw boxes for the user interface, a black one on top of a slightly larger grey one. When the game is paused, I also draw a black, transparent box over the whole screen (not including the pause menu) to dim the screen. I also draw a box on top of a slightly larger box to make the player and boss health bars. Stencyl doesn't recommend that you draw shapes on top of each other, though, saying that it wastes processing power. But this hasn't been an issue on Flash, and I don't draw these boxes on the Home screen, where the game still crashes. I have also experimented with more complicated drawing code to avoid drawing shapes on top of each other, but the issue persists. However, I've also tried a boss fight scene with no health bars, and it did not crash, or lag, which leads me to believe that the drawing code is the problem.

The Home screen is the only place where I don't draw shapes and the game still crashes. On that screen I draw text only, and I have a lot of code setting text attributes to make sure everything works. The code in the Settings menu works the same way. They're the only two scenes where you can navigate the menu instead of just pressing "Back to exit," for example.

If these are the issues, then I have a few ideas for how to work around them. For example, in the Scoreboard scene, I use a background for the list of scores instead of drawing boxes, so I could do the same thing for everything else. And for the menu screens that feature navigation, I could simplify them to only operate where a specific key is assigned to each menu item instead of the scrolling and selecting currently in Darkhouse. I don't like the idea of removing that feature, though. For example, I'd have to make it operate with "press Z to start," or "press X to view scores." I can do that, it's just not as cool as a functioning navigation for the menu screens. That being said, the pause menu doesn't feature navigation, because it didn't work. Since the game is paused, attributes don't change in real time, so it wouldn't update what item you have selected on it's menu.

I don't know if this is the whole story, either. HTML5 is different from Flash, and there may be other problems and things that cause problems that I'm still unaware of. I'll continue to experiment with some of the ideas I've stated, and I don't know if they'll fix the issues or not. I'll also post updates on what I find if I discover anything new, especially if it contradicts something I've previously said. I'm still very new to game development, so if you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, please let me know. I want to make Darkhouse the best game that it can be, a fun, challenging, and bug-free game.

June, 4, 2019

Welcome to the Lunar Lighthouse, a website that features games and other creations made my me, Imminent Death. Along with the launch of this website I've also released my first game, Darkhouse. It's a platformer designed like a classic arcade game where you fight enemies while climbing a tower, falling to your death when you're defeated. It's the first game I've ever made, and since I've never coded or animated before, there are probably several bugs and design flaws. So I'm calling the first version of Darkhouse version 0.0, and I plan on finding and fixing any problems I can in later updates. I'll keep a list of known bugs, and if I can't fix an issue I'll put it under a separate list of bugs I can't fix.

Darkhouse is meant to be a difficult and unforgiving game. You can only take 10 hits and you have 3 lives to climb as high as you can, and you start from the beginning after losing all lives. But the idea I have for this game is not something I can make with my current skill level. I will fix what I can for now, but at some point after I've learned a lot more about making games, I'm going to remake Darkhouse in what I'll call version 1.0, with better coding, animations, music, and gameplay. My goal is to make Darkhouse the best game it can be.

For now, though, I have a twitter account where you can send me any bugs that you find using the hashtag #DarkhouseBug. I'll make sure any bugs that show up are shown in the bug list, and I'll also post small updates if necessary.

As for the Lighthouse, I'm using google sites because I also don't know how to make a website, and I don't own a web address. I might switch over to a new site if I ever get one, and if I do I'll post an update here with a link to the new site, and just leave this one as it is at the time. But for now I'll use google sites because it's simple and easy, and it can embed HTML code so I can put my games here. (edit: It looks like this method doesn't actually work. I know the classic version of google sites could put .swf Flash files on them, but I'm not sure when/if google will update the new sites with a similar option.)

I don't know what else I'll do with the website. I have a lot of ideas, so we'll have to wait and see. I'll definitely be making more games, so expect more to play in the Arcade. Game development takes a lot of time, though, so keep that in mind.

I don't actually have any idea what I'm doing.