The world of Chromatic Hue (This post contains Chromatic Hue spoilers!)
Last week I was finally able to finish planning out the world, in its entirety, that I want to create for this game. Considering I want to be done in 4 months, that probably seems a little insane. Since I'm working solo on Chromatic Hue, I'm able to move around between planning and development a little more chaotically than if I was communicating with a team.
That probably isn't the best idea in terms of productivity, because it means I can get hung up at a lot of different places, but it definitely helps keep the monotony of programming the game down to a minimum when I'm able to step back and do some brainstorming on a walk after.
I've had a good idea of what I wanted the first half of the game to be for a while now, but I struggled a bit to fill in the blanks for worlds 4 and 5. I had some ideas that ended up not making the cut, like a world that's mostly vertical, instead of horizontal, filled with pipes and flowing water that you could turn into honey to climb, or lava.
Now that I finally have all of my ideas together in my head, along with the list of which enemies will populate which worlds, let's go over them together. This will end up being the first time I talk publicly about a lot of these areas, and it will also be the first time I've really written any of this down, so this will be as healthy for me as it will hopefully be entertaining to you.
This is the world I've put the most time into, and it also happens to be the first world in the game. Primary Plains is very much the tutorial world for Chromatic Hue; It's this game's Bob-omb Battlefield, Green Hill Zone, Mumbo's Mountain.
The level is pretty straight-forward - There aren't really any tricks, platforming is pretty simple, and most of the puzzles don't take too much thought. The first challenge most players will end up doing is "The Forest of Clouds", which has the player figure out that by changing the color of the nearby clouds to green, they turn into trees that can be walked on.
Harder challenges include the on-rails river ride on a log, and the boss battle with the Color Crop King, which will require the player to travel the entirety of Primary Plains from left to right, like a traditional platformer, rather than starting from the middle of the map.
Speaking of Color Crops, they're definitely the dominant enemy in Primary Plains, as they're as easy to beat as a common Goomba or Motobug. Simply hitting them with any color will transform them into a passive creature that won't attack. Even before they're recolored, they aren't much of a threat. They'll walk back and forth in a set pattern, hoping Hue will simply walk into them.
One of the challenges of designing a 2d "collectathon" was figuring out how to get enemies to behave when the player could be coming from either direction. For example, going back to enemies in traditional platformers, Goombas always walk to the left, since the player is always coming from the right. Most enemies have unique movement patterns that make them a little more erratic in Chromatic Hue, since it's often impossible to predict where the player will be coming from when they encounter a specific enemy.
Up until about 3 minutes ago, this world was actually called Secondary Sea, but I decided Sepia Sea just sounded better. It's a more understandable reference to color, so we'll go with that.
Sepia Sea is a map that's still very much a work in progress. It consists of an area above the sea, as well as a sea floor where Hue can explore underwater. Currently, I have Hue walking on the sea floor, her movement slower and her jump improved, but I think I'd like to actually give her a submarine transformation that allows her to explore underwater areas more like a traditional side-scrolling shooter.
The above-sea part of Sepia Sea is pretty docile - Not many enemies are in the area, with a few loose islands to travel to. Below the sea, enemies are more numerous. One enemy that will be exclusive to the underwater areas of Chromatic Hue is the Arrowana, a group of 3 fish that will swim around Hue in a circle if she gets too close, spinning faster and faster until she gets attacked by a fast moving projectile from off-screen. Either a shark, or a torpedo, most likely. Coloring all three Arrowana the same color will stop the attack.
There are some other fun ideas I have for events that I'm working on implementing into the game, including a wish-granting creature that can only be summoned by collecting the 7 Pearls of Power from the ocean floor.
There's also a sunken ship area full of the skeletons of a long-forgotten pirate crew. There will be a little puzzle solving and platforming in this area, leading up to a battle with one of the big bad guys of the game, Neon. The concert that takes place during her battle will literally wake the dead, meaning when you come back to the ship for the final boss battle at the end of the world, you'll have to deal with moving skeletons as well as all of the previous traps.
Glowing Grotto will be the third world in Chromatic Hue, and is the world I currently have the second most work put into. Glowing Grotto is actually inhabited by creatures from an old project I started on back in the day that never took off. These little penguin-like things are called the Lumino.
They're entirely harmless, and when they open their mouths, you'll see a little orb inside. It's basically a giant light-bulb, and when you recolor them, they'll shine a circular light in the area to match whatever color Hue made them. When the Lumino's light is shining on colored blocks, it will make them disappear, allowing Hue to navigate areas that would otherwise be impossible to get through.
Glowing Grotto will be more platformer-centric than prior areas, and will feature more of an emphasis on exploration, rather than simply moving from point a to b. There will still be a few enemies, including Pit Bats, which will swoop in and slowly carry Hue to the nearest bottomless pit, in an attempt to drop her and make her lose a life.
There will also be jailers who have captured some of the Lumino. Setting them free will mean going along with whatever challenges the jailers come up with, including trivia and puzzle challenges.
Once again, you'll be fighting one of the 3 big bad mid-bosses in this area, Pastel. Because of the way the game will progress, Glowing Grotto will be the only world without a boss battle.
Projection Palace is one of the areas I decided on last week. The palace will be a haunted mansion, and feature very different encounters depending on the time of day in the game (time of day is something that will be set during mission selection). The two missions that take place at night will both involve boss battles, while the day missions will allow Hue to explore the mansion grounds more freely, with fewer traps to avoid.
The master of the mansion is a young girl who's living in the house with her elderly butler. To keep trespassers out, they've set up projectors around the grounds. Ghosts will show up around Projection Palace, and unlike other enemies, won't be able to be recolored. Hue will need to dodge these enemies, as well as more traditional foes, to reach the master bedroom where the master of the mansion is.
After the battle with her, she'll become fast friends with Hue, but as a spirit, she can only come out at night. She'll give Hue her blessing to explore the mansion for the rest of the day, though, and that will take up the majority of the missions in this 4th world.
At the final mission, Hue will make one more run through the mansion at night, arriving in the middle of a tea party between the master of the house and her butler. Hue will find out that the girl has been keeping herself from passing on to the afterlife, literally throwing her halos away every time they appear over her head. The reason for her reluctance is that her butler wasn't quite as well behaved as her, and he knows he isn't going to be going to "the same place as her" when he passes on.
At that point, her butler will plead with Hue to help convince her to move on.
Hue will "play" with the girl during the level's final boss battle, and after beating her, the girl will reluctantly agree to move on to the next world. As she's ascending though, she'll grab her butler and force him up with her. During the end credits, I'd like to show the two of them having another tea party, this time in an afterlife of warm, golden clouds.
The Colorless is going to be a very different type of Chromatic Hue world. When Hue first arrives, it will be entirely devoid of space and time, a blank white area with no shape or form. Hue will then get ambushed by an elite fighting unit called the Rainbow Rangers, six heroes who each use a unique color to fight.
One by one, Hue will enter a mission for each of the six Rainbow Rangers, and each time, The Colorless will be transformed into a platforming challenge based on the color in question. Rainbow Red's challenge will involve rivers of lava and platforming on molten rock, while Rainbow Yellow's will consist of spinning stars in the sky Hue has to lead across.
Eventually, during the final mission in The Colorless, Hue will have a final battle with the entire Rainbow Ranger team.
(There actually used to be a 7th Rainbow Ranger, Rainbow Indigo, who is no longer with the group. The main reason for this is that there are 6 usable colors in the game, and 6 missions in each world, while a rainbow is thought to be made up of 7 colors: Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Orange, Indigo and Violet. I'd like to include Rainbow Indigo as a secret boss somewhere in the game. The forgotten 7th member of the Rainbow Rangers...)
Chroma's Kingdom will be a metropolis in chaos, a world turned red. Evil, red versions of Hue will roam the streets, recoloring everything. Enemies will be plentiful, and the actual missions will probably be very unique to this world, as Hue pushes through enemies to reach her ultimate goal: The final battle with Chroma.
I don't have much more to say about this world yet. It will most likely be the final world I develop, and probably won't be too long. I do know you'll be rematching against the original 3 mini-bosses from the first 3 worlds though, Scraffito, Neon and Pastel.
Originally, I was planning on including them in every world, and having them team up in unique 2-person teams to combine their skills for those later mid-boss battles. However, the way the worlds ended up coming out, I decided to scrap that idea.
I had also planned on this final battle being against just Scraffito. He was originally going to team up with Pastel, and forcibly suck away her color and add it to himself, becoming a giant, hulking monster.
Rather, the final battle with the 3 of them will find some way to incorporate all of their talents. They'll work as a team, and ultimately, as their destiny dictates, be defeated by Hue.
And that, in a nutshell, is the world of this game. For a look at the worlds as I complete them, take a look at my page on the world of Chromatic Hue.
(I finally finished roughs of all the enemy sprites that will be in the game, excluding Chroma. Dropping that at the end of this post)
- Lukas Termini
I think inspiration works differently for everyone. What works for me might not work for you. I know a lot of creatives talk about having a muse - It's sort of an outdated idea now, but back in the day, you used to hear about it all the time. I think I remember hearing the term most often on TV, when an artist would tell a woman she was his muse, that source of inspiration that helped him finish his work.
There are a lot of things I don't understand. Runner's high, for example. That feeling you get when you've been running for a long time, and eventually the pain goes away and you're left with raw energy and a feeling of euphoria. I've never gotten that. Maybe I just don't run enough.
But having a muse is actually one of those weird abstract concepts that I actually understand. I have a muse, and it's definitely the source of all my creative energy. It's almost like a faucet that's usually turned off, but once it gets going, ideas just come flooding out.
For me, inspiration comes from a combination of two things I love - walking and music. I walk a lot, usually about 6 miles a day, as a way of getting exercise at the end of the day. I live in Florida, so it's tough to go out during the day. I like going out at night, when nobody else is around, and I can lose myself watching Youtube videos. The goal is to stop thinking and just let my body move.
But sometimes, I prefer to think while I walk. I'm always listening to music, and I generally find music really inspiring. It helps set the mood for whatever I'm experiencing, so to speak. When I find myself looking for new ideas, I'll put on some appropriate music, head out for a walk, and just kind of slip into my own head.
I'll let the music carry my thoughts, and eventually arrive at a scene for Chromatic Hue. The best way to describe it is I can see the characters in my mind's eye, and I'll watch these scenes just sort of play out. I can force it a bit, when I need to, by concentrating on a particular idea and playing the appropriate music.
For example, last week I went for a walk in the nature center by my house. I wanted to come up with enemies to add to Chromatic Hue, and I was feeling particularly inspired from playing old Sonic games on my Switch. So, I loaded some music from Sonic games on the Genesis and started walking. Before long, I started to sort of "see" these ideas for enemies in my head.
That's how my process usually goes. To be honest, the ideas phase of game design is my favourite. I love brainstorming and coming up with new concepts.
Like I said above, I don't think this method would work for everyone. I think the reason my method works for me is because it combines two things I love, music and walking, and gives me a space to be totally alone. I'm able to let my mind wander, yet still think critically. It's a weird balance, but it works.
I don't ALWAYS want to think, though, and that can be tough. Sometimes the faucet starts pouring out ideas whether I want it to or not! The act of brainstorming can actually be pretty exhausting in its own way, it leaves me very depleted creatively. So, if I know I have to podcast later, or want to work on a project other than Chromatic Hue, I often find myself distracting myself with the aforementioned Youtube videos.
I also can't make this method work for myself if I'm feeling sad or angry. I have to be in an okay place, or I can't let my mind wander enough to start brainstorming. It's sort of like accessing that place where you finally feel yourself slipping off to sleep. It's impossible to do if your brain is full of negative thoughts.
Still, I'm thankful for the ability to "commune with my muse", or whatever you want to call it, as I continue to work on Chromatic Hue. I don't think it has to be related to just creatives - I think most people would benefit from finding that place where they're both thinking and not, where they can let their mind talk to them freely, without effort.
- Lukas Termini
What is Chromatic Hue, and who am I?
Chromatic Hue is a passion project for me that's been a long time coming. Originally, the game was called Hue Adventure, but after a while, I decided I wanted a name that was a little more unique. After all, there are a lot of games out there with the name Hue, and I want to make sure mine stands out.
So, who am I? My name is Lukas Termini, but for game design, I like to use my middle name, Lukas Peace. I first drew the main character, Hue, back in college. I was sitting in class with nothing to do while the teacher lectured about our assignment for the week, and I started sketching on Illustrator. I like making some trippy shapes with the tool, and ended up creating a weird red circle with some heavy black swirls along the outside. That circle would end up being Hue's eye.
I sketched some magnet shape for a head, added a little body and some antennas, and made a little robot. I honestly don't remember exactly when I decided on the idea that Hue would be "Hue", that she would be a robot that would recolor a gray world, but I know it happened quick.
I eventually started working on a little game, something simple, where you aim the cannon on the top of Hue's head and would shoot at gray targets to make them colorful. You could choose the color and it would color them accordingly.
Hue wasn't my main project for a good while - I always worked on other games, relatively simple games, that I never finished. I had a lot of ideas at that age, and always wanted to make games, but I had trouble settling on a project. As soon as I started diving in to the real bulk of a game, my interests would switch to something else.
Chromatic Hue was different. I fell in love with this world I had created in my head, and started designing other characters to fit in to the world. I'd create monsters, villains, allies and environments, all drawn in my sketch pad, that would eventually have a place in Chromatic Hue.
Eventually, I started putting more work into the game, and started taking it more seriously. By that point, I was 23, and I started working at a movie theater. It was my first job, and frankly, it was exhausting, physically and emotionally. It took a lot out of me, and when I wasn't working, I usually just wanted to rest.
Those days, it took a lot to get me to work on Chromatic Hue, which was discouraging. After all, I loved game design right? So why was it so hard to sit down and work on it in my free time? I knew this was what I wanted to do, so why wasn't I doing it?
I started to realize that even work that was fun was still... work. At the end of the day, it was mentally taxing to sit down and spend hours programming a game after a full day at a job I hated. It took me years to learn how to divide up my time in a way where I could work full time and then work for myself. But eventually, I learned how to budget my time a bit better. I'm still not a pro though, and I struggle with time management a lot.
A question I get asked a lot is "How much time have you spent working on your game," but that's a hard question to answer. Because of how often I would work on and off, it's really hard for me to say exactly how long I've worked on Chromatic hue. I've been working on the game for about 5 years, but most times, I would start working hard for about a month and then stop for a half a year, so I suppose if I HAD to estimate, I would say I've put about a year's honest work into Chromatic Hue.
It's taken a lot of time, and I have a lot of work left to go, but I promised myself I would stop working on the game this fall. It's been a long project, and I don't want to spend my whole life making excuses and only working on one game.
I exercise a lot and it takes up a lot of my time, and I'm finding it hard to find time for my game with the amount of time I spend getting healthy. Hopefully I'll be able to make time for both of these things - I have a lot of work left to do on myself and on Chromatic Hue.
Wish me luck!
- Lukas Termini