Looking For Feedback On My Beat 'Em Up, Aztez!

(Just moved this from general discussion!)

Hi SRK community! My name is Ben Ruiz and I’m the lead designer and artist on an upcoming game called Aztez. It’s being independently developed by myself and one other dev. We’re about a year in and we’re aiming for an early 2014 release on PC/Mac/Linux, and maybe a console or two if we play our cards right. We’re far enough along that we have playable builds that do a decent job of representing the game, and it would be nice to start collecting feedback from skilled gamers such as yourselves.

The problem is, I cannot fucking find beat 'em up communities online! I just can’t do it. Since fighting games have a non-trivial amount of overlap with beat 'em ups, I figured I’d try my luck and see if you magnificent lunatics would like you to break it apart and tell me what you like and don’t like. I’m trying very genuinely to create something great here, and that can’t be done without solid player feedback. Anyway, check out this video we recently released:

So with that on the table, how interested are you in being a part of this? If there is serious interest, I’m willing to create a special build for use here in this forum so that you can sink your teeth into it. I would be tremendously helpful but I can’t spend the time maintaining a build and answering questions unless I’m going to get feedback out of it. Hit me with your thoughts! xoxo

And all you need to know about me is that I’ve been developing games for about 8 years now. For Aztez, I’m doing all of the art (character art, environment art, animation, effects, etc.) and all of the combat design. I’ve been writing regularly about beat 'em ups and game combat experiences on the Aztez blog (link in sig) for years now. I grew up in the AZ Golfland and played every arcade game the late 80’s and early 90’s had to offer, and I’m getting a Neo Geo cab for my birthday next month. Haha!

Animation looks great, action looks interesting, I’d like to test it out but can’t promise to spend much time playing it.

How can people get their hands on test builds?

I’ve been looking forward to this for a looooong time you practically disappeared for a while .I wish the sound effects weren’t too generic but recreating the sound of the macuahuitl cutting would be hard

What he said

Alright, some interest in playing it is what I was looking for!

Here’s a download link to a playable PC combat build from about 2 months ago. A TON has happened since then, but mostly with other weapon sets. This one is a decent representation of how the Macuahuitl (sword) plays out. It’s a relatively simple structure that lets you play with 4 of the lowest level enemy types in a variety of missions.


So do me a solid and drop your honest feedback right here in the thread; the good and the bad! The SRK’s community’s feedback is very very important to me so the more honest the better. :slight_smile:

Worth mentioning that this game was a part of Evo 2012’s Indie Showcase.

I think the game looks fantastic.

Hey thanks so much! Give it a go and tell me what you think! If you happened to be at EVO and played the build, it has made MASSIVE steps forward.

Art style reminded me a bit of the Xiao Xiao series from way back when but it looks interesting and will give this a shot later today.

Okay I played it for a bit. Graphically it’s fine, no complaints there. Maybe you can do some Madworld shit and have everything get redder and redder. A little bit of slowdown I think. But it’s an early build so yeah.

Control-wise: I would completely remove those Dash buttons. I think they’re completely worthless. Instead make Dashes a double tap left or right motion*. Way easier and much more intuitive. Might limit your combo options slightly but it frees up some space and makes it easier to play on a keyboard. Make the Parry/Counter-attack just Defend+Grab or something like that.

Otherwise it looks really good dude. Any plans for online or a level editor?

*I have this thing: I really hate how modern beat 'em ups (both 3D and 2.5D) have this need to use almost every single button on the controller. I just find it needless and over complicates something that should be intuitive and fairly simple (but not so simple obviously). And it all just boils down to the player finding one or two combos or one special move that gets the job done. It’s just a waste. Castle Crashers did this right in that it’s a four button game and the other buttons are just used to select items and weapons. Nothing more. Look at Capcom’s AVP; it had 3 buttons and there was so much shit you could do in that game.

^ I agree, reason why I hate Fifa games now days. Bring back the good old days of Virtua Striker!

Interestingly enough, the dash buttons have been completely polarizing! Some people love the directional thing and some people hate it, and some people just want options. Obviously -options- is the best course of action, so I’d like to give people the option to A. keep it the way it is B. use one button combined with directional input, or C. make it a double tap on movement input. I’ll have you covered eventually, I promise! :wink:

No plans for multiplayer or editors. BUT if the game does well and I can afford to keep making content for it, I’d LOVE to make some multiplayer. Co-cop AND versus AND some party modes.

That’s an interesting point you’re making about contrived input schemas! For me, it breaks down like this: there have been three ages of beat 'em ups. The first one was born in the arcade and was very pure and straightforward. The 2nd age still lived in the arcade, but they were designed for more sophisticated players who could handle more technical experiences after developing a mechanic vocabulary after 10+ years of arcade play. The third age, ushered in by Devil May Cry, introduced the highly expressive console combat experience and created room for the overly complicated beat 'em up with too many buttons and a fuck ton of mechanics. Haha!

Personally, I love the games from all ages to death! But I’m designing Aztez the way I am because I get a distinct thrill from having lots and lots of ways to pound people (and this is actually influence from AvP, i,e, my most cherished beat 'em up of all time, so I’m glad you brought that up). But if you’re a purist who prefers 1st and 2nd age sensibilities, Aztez is not likely to give you what you want. It’s just very difficult to create as many mechanics as I want without utilizing a lot of inputs, but also not implementing mechanics that require 3 or more simultaneous inputs. That has been a goal from the beginning as a way to not overwhelm people who don’t have extensive action game experience.

Anyway, hope that all makes sense and thanks a ton for the feedback! Keep it coming!

Biggest problem I had with the Dash buttons aside from being inconvenient on a keyboard is that if I need to Counter/Parry something and I have to hit the dash in the appropriate direction. It’s one of those things that your brain can just fuck up pretty easily. That, and I’m just against a button for dashing. Also, I forgot to mention that jumping felt very unresponsive. I also think there should be a health bar for the enemies.

I thought Castle Crashers hit that middle ground between old school arcade and new school DMC shit with it’s combat system and your game felt more like that rather than DMC or even Shank. So I think it’s heading in the right direction there.

Have you considered that instead of just giving your character a ton of mechanics available all the time to instead break it down on a level to level basis? Like in Capcom’s The Punisher where you automatically bring out your gun to shoot dudes after going hand-to-hand in the previous section. You could go half way and have different weapons available on the ground that can be picked up by you and the enemy and that opens up your combat options. But like in the old school games the weapon will break or run out of ammo. Then there’s Double Dragon and Battletoads shit with platforming levels and various gimmicks.

To bring up a 3D beat ‘em up (and really the only one that I kinda’ liked) X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Right at the start you have access to this pounce move. It doesn’t instant kill the goons but it does good damage and stops them from sniping you and there’s really no downside to doing it. So I can just keep doing it on goons on opposite ends of the stage with no risk. It’s fun to just dive through the air and claw the fuck out of dudes but it gets boring really quickly. A move like that would be better if there was a real risk vs reward thing going on like it was made riskier or depleted stamina or whatever but if I landed it I could do a ton of damage or instant kill a low level guy. That kind of thing.

Edit: I read your post on the eras of beat 'em ups. Well researched but where is Splatterhouse??? Come on! :smiley:

The demo you gave is very fun i like it i could definitely see myself playing this after the final product comes out.
I like the combat system reminds me of God of War
I like the design
Very Fun

Things i didn’t care for.
Don’t like dash buttons for each direction (easy to mess up especially while parrying like Louis said)
Being able to cancel all your attacks with the block button or dash button.
The dash shield attack being able to be looped infinitely.

My biggest concerns with the small time that i spent with the game was the last two points which where being able to cancel all your attacks with the dash or block button and the dash shield attack being able to be looped infinitely. My problem with being able to cancel everything with the block or dash is that it teaches the player to not commit to their attacks if you just randomly swing and can get away with it then where is the challenge in the game? Same goes for the dash shield attack if I can just line up all the enemies and keep doing the dash shield until they get enough damage to die then that isn’t really fun as well. I know this game is still in the beta stages so these problems probably already have been addressed but I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in. But overall really fun game I hope it does well when it finally does get released I can tell that you have put alot of work into this game.

I feel as if the game would be deeper if you could crouch and if there were high/low attacks.

Agree that having dash buttons for each side is dumb. Just use a general dash button that does a forward dash on it’s own, but a backdash when use with back+dash.

Agree that block cancelling is dumb.

Combo system needs some more rules to prevent infinites. Aside from the dash shield infinite, you can dimply do AAAA 2A, 2B, AAAA 2A, 2B over and over again. Problem is that standing A simply restands an opponent, they should at the very least be in an aerial hit/juggle state.

I just did a 10 man(!) corner carry with the aforementioned infinite and the camera just started bugging out in the corner. Also, the combo counter needs some tweaking, it just kept stopping at 60 or occasionally 70 even though everyone was still getting hit.

Almost forgot about this, but for the love of all that is good, please add in DPad support. When I plugged in my Razer stick, I kept wondering why I couldn’t move until I figured out that I had to switch it to “Left Stick” mode. Had I plugged in my custom however, I would not have been able to play at all since that one only has DPad and not analog inputs.

This is just a personal thing but there is quite a bit of black blur effect for every hit, maybe tone that down a bit for clarity’s sake. IF you have a lot of enemies you are hitting this could get a little messy. It looks very cool though altogether. And as always, more blood is fine, I think. I like the screen turning red idea someone had. I didn’t try your build though but the combat looks really fun. Good luck.

You said your favorite beat’em up ever is AvsP, so that’s a good start. I’ll give you some feedback later.

Wow it’s a pretty great start, I love the violence. I wish we had more games like Capcom’s Shadow of Rome. I’m interested.

Corner infinite: AAAAA, 2A,2B repeat. Last two hits are OTG.

The art style and animations are purchase-worthy alone. Not big on the dash button.