Shattered Realms [Prototype]

edited in Projects
(Formerly 2D Beat 'em up, aka Brawler)

I wanted to make a 2D Beat 'em Up style game like the Streets of Rage and Dragons Crown, but with the combat mechanics you'd find in modern day fighting games like Guilty Gear and Marvel vs Capcom. I also drew a little from Devil May Cry in that you have a Style Gauge (top left). The more varied your moves, the higher your Style Rank goes and the more damage you do . I realize that the mashup of these two genres could lead to it being a hyper niche game, but these are the types of game I want to make, so my fate is sealed :)

The purpose of this prototype is to test whether the combat on its own is fun, as it would be the core component of the game. So please have a go, whack out some combos and let me know what you think.

The game has keyboard and controller support, so just press "Enter" on the keyboard, or "Start" on the controller to start using them.
The team of super amped individuals:
Pieter - Programming, Game Design
Dawid - Art, Visual design
Malcolm - Concept art & Key frame animation
Ben - Character and enemy pixelart animation
Deon - Music, SFX
Ruan - SFX and SFX implementation
Dorianne - Producer, Community Manager

Download to latest build below.
Shattered Realms on

If you are getting a "d3dcompiler" error, chances are it will be fixed by just downloading and installing the latest DirectX End-User Runtimes.

(Movelist assumes player is facing right)
WASD: ^ v < >
J,K,N,M: Jab, Kick, Jump(Accept), Special(Cancel)
Spacebar: Dodge

Alpha Trailer


  • Do you need character design?
  • Can I just say that I love the hell out of the construction-line proto artwork? That's great :) And it makes it obvious how much of the polish and heaviness of contact comes from camera movement and good hit effects. This is rad.
    Thanked by 2pieter BenJets
  • @dislekcia Thanks man, a lot of time was spent on making sure the hitstop and screenshake gave good impact, glad it shows. Btw, the prototype has about 170 frames of animation :P

    @DominatorIXS It's a little early in the development to start with world and character design. But if you would like to do some character designs for the game for fun, please go nuts, I'd love to see what come up with ;)
  • The gifs have a really great feel! :D Great job, man!
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Yooooo, this is exactly what I was trying to explain to a lot of people. You got an artist onboard yet? Cause if not I am more than willing to help out! I will find the time damnit! This is peeeeerfect!
  • Hitpause!!! That's awesome :D Conveys really well :) Well done! :D
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • edited
    @Pieter this is fantastic! Your best prototype so far!
    Love the polish in animations and weight, now just more more more...

    I think few prototypes convey gameplay this well so early, cannot wait to see it with parallax background effects and what not, later when your done and happy with core combat.

    In terms of combat, I really like the fact that the style-o-meter incentivises play variety! Will make good spectator game, hope to see this one day as 2 games:
    1. PvP prototype with polish at Friend Ship arcade and then
    2. something different with say deeper single player using the engine, so stylized :) natural combat must be used everywhere!
    Will be a good next step to test what current gamers prefer.

    Feedback Gameplay:
    1. Feeling?
    A: When I play the animation is so believable and feels SOLID.
    In terms of more effects, even just a little more dust effects or a few breakable terrain pieces will make it feel great.
    Even now at prototype stage I'd like it, will also give lots more depth feel since you can move up and down the plain.
    Q: Why did you decide to use up and down plain movement, since it adds extra button for jump?

    2. Is it fun?
    A: Feels like it will be, not yet. I didn't have opponent, or concerns/constraints or goals to make me stress like HP management, etc.

    It did give me a smile, when I got a combo attack working in mid air! Surprised me.
    Think it is the D+D+Kick (Knee and Flying Kick move), just check depth when its drawn; if your happy with it)

    I'm sure combat has a lot more to it than I've seen, since I feel I need to play this against you for a whole 2 hours to go through and master the probably need someone whom is really good with these games and see how they react. Since I'm generally not good playing these type games, I feel a bit overwhelmed on <keyboard> to play alone.

    This is great, I want to see more of this one, rather than the other prototypes!

    At this stage, it sometime gets tricky to keep having *FUN* when the dummies are stuck against a wall. Maybe some can re-spawn in middle or centre of room for testing. Give me more to hit, so I can feel it longer haha

    @Mexicanopiumdog like the Audio as a start also, without it there would be no feeling. Would like to see when there is more, with ambience, etc. later.
  • edited
    This is REEAALLY rad so far. I loved that there were so many move combinations to try, I was really impressed that there were so many options.

    I did find the controls quite intimidating. I guess I had the same thing only worse when I played Shank 2, although Shank 2 only had one plane of movement (which made things simpler) but they used up an entire XBox controller of keys, which made the first half of the game one long tutorial.

    Although of course these controls make more sense on a controller. I don't think I'd have a problem on a controller.

    I think this could be better than recent brawlers with long combos (like Charlie Murder).
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Thanks @EvanGreenwood, the vote confidence means a lot! You are right though, being an action game, it plays a lot easier on a controller, the keyboard support is just for convenience of testing. But I am going to try and keep it at only 4 buttons, and the moves have been made deliberately easy, in order to remove the execution barrier so players can move straight to doing combos. Just had a vision of an arcade cabinet for SFA and aMaze...

    @Elyaradine, @Tuism and @davidstrauss Screenshake High Five _|*|_
    Boysano said:
    Q: Why did you decide to use up and down plain movement, since it adds extra button for jump?
    There are a variety of reasons why Beat 'em Ups use this, but my primary consideration is that I would like to make this a 4 player co-op game, and with that many players plus enemies on screen, things tend to get quite busy if you're working in only a 2D plane. It also give interesting movement options for the player, and for that I gladly sacrifice a button for jump. Also, pretty much only pure 2D fighting games (like Street Figther) can get away with using up as jump, I've rarely seen it used as such in other genres.
    Ps. I challenge you to try and pull off the combo in the first gif. It's J, J, J, K, M, >+N (jump while holding forward), J (air), J (air), J (air), K (air), M (air). Tip: During the hitstop of M (on ground) you can hold forward, press jump and then press jab, this will buffer the commands and they will come out immediately after the hitstop finishes.

    Thanked by 1dislekcia
  • edited
    pieter said:
    Ps. I challenge you to try and pull off the combo in the first gif. It's J, J, J, K, M, >+N (jump while holding forward), J (air), J (air), J (air), K (air), M (air). Tip: During the hitstop of M (on ground) you can hold forward, press jump and then press jab, this will buffer the commands and they will come out immediately after the hitstop finishes.
    OMG. All the <3

    This kind of juicy input wrangling and finesse-friendly control is where the joy of designing in this sort of game comes from. And the joy of playing in neat ways. Have you played Vanquish?
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Hey @pieter I hope you're still working on this cause it looking pretty cool. Just watched this video and reminded me of your prototype.
  • This looks incredibly promising! Bravo @pieter! So excited to see this project going further!

    Seeing the gifs, my first thought was just "Holy crap! @dawidstrauss has to do art for this game!". Was then pretty great to see him offering to get involved! Would be such a perfect fit!
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • edited
    @dislekcia I played the Vanquish Demo, but unfortunately I played it like I would Gears :( I feel so robbed that I wasn't aware of the deeper gameplay style. It almost sounds like you should play it like Devil may Cry and less like a shooter. But what a wonderful article on the game, so much food for though on how to strengthen the core of your game, and culling anything that doesn't support it. Thanks for the link.

    Hey @Pomb, thanks for linking the video :D Graphics play an important role for sure, but I think what the author of the video really wanted to convey is how important "game feel" is. How much impact does the combat have, does it feel nice connecting with a fierce attack. Graphics plays it's part, but to a much greater degree good animation, screenshake and hit stop. If you don't have those, it doesn't matter how pretty or HD the graphics are, it will just feel limp. And further to that...

    @BenJets I literally took one look at @dawidstrauss 's work and said: "This man needs to do the art!". I couldn't believe that I found someone with such a fundamental understanding of what I'm trying to achieve with this game. He's currently drawing up the roughs (much better than my stick men) for the first player character, called the Bullet Elf. I've spent the last week drafting the GDD to get a good overview of the project so I don't code myself into a corner with the upcoming alpha demo.
    Thanked by 1BenJets
  • Oh man, this is mega impressive, love your idea of implementing style in a meaningful way.

    If you feel daring ... you could laugh off the concept of health levels entirely and think about making the game oriented around "score attacks" in various ways. It could work for PvP (successfully land the widest variety of blows in X time to be considered the winner) or PvE (enemy "health" is only reduced when you successfully land a new move against them, tougher enemies require a wider variety of moves, or explicitly learn from / punish techniques you've already used, etc).

    It would lead you a little bit further in the "here be dragons" area of the design map, but from what I see that may be even more of a reason to try it. ;)

    Additional games to look at for this paradigm:
    - Bulletstorm (for a good economy of move variations and rewards/unlocks)
    - Batman Arkham games (challenge mode, and how move variation is incentivised/scored there)
    - Arkham City (Dr Freeze bossfight that firmly demands player variety)

    Just my 2c though, keep doing what you're doing. ;)
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Hey guys, Just thought I'd post some sprites I;m working on for this yet un named brawler. Will post more after the meetup next week.
    Please note, these are NOT final, nor are they final production quality.
    They are for feel, hence the harsh black outlines, no secondary animations etc. So please be gentle.

  • I love the character. What are those things dangling at the back?
  • @dawidstrauss
    Nice smooth animations, you got some skills!
    Though, I'm not sure if it is a girl (60% bikini top) or a boy (40% face) since hair looks unisex to me and kinda dragon ball z. Ooh, imagine the power-up animations!
    I like that your characters do not need huge arms to be cool, and mostly that they have this punk style which is easier to identify with *hopefully*; since I do not really know what young people like these days. At least, it should make the game original in style and story.

    Hmm, since it doesn't have a name yet, will it have a story? @Pieter

    Looking forward to this game!
  • @sugboerie those are ponytails. it will be alot more apparent in finals.
    @boysano thanks, that's what I was aiming for actually, so I'm glad it hit for at least someone lol.
  • image
    as before, not final. just a bit more
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • edited
    Dude, them Strong non-binary characters! Nice work @dawidstrauss you're really inspiring my "strong womyn" heart. :D
    Thanked by 2dawidstrauss BenJets
  • @sabrekitty thanks so much :) thought a lot about it. Just want to make something rad. Glad it's coming through ok.
    Thanked by 1Sabrekitty
  • Hey guys, just letting you know the reason for the quiet is that we are readying the latest build for the make games meet up this week. So please play it and give your feedback this wednesday.
    Afterwards I will be uploading more gifs and jazz etc. so they have a little more context ingame.
    Thanked by 2BenJets dammit
  • Can't wait to see it!
    Thanked by 1dawidstrauss
  • edited
    Hey guys, I'm very existed to present you with the newest version of Brawler, now with the gorgeous art of @DawidStrauss. This is also the version that we will be showing at the CT Meetup, so if you can't make, just download it here:

    Brawler Build 27

    The game now supports 4 Player Co-op, so grab a friend or two, plug in some controllers and beat down on some land sharks. Press Start on the gamepad or Spacebar on the keyboard to join in at the title screen. Then mash the jump button ("N" or X).

    The inputs for the moves have changed, so be sure to check out the revised movelist in the OP.

    I'll update with some animated gifs of gameplay later in the week.
    Big thanks to Deon van Heerden, @Greg and @Andrew_Sound_Foundry for providing some fantastic music for the stages.


    Ps, the game WILL crash at some stage. Doing my best to find a fix for it.
  • Hi @pieter. I finally got this working. I was unable to launch any game maker games, and was a bit stumped as i didn't get any errors, they just didn't launch. After days of trying to figure out what was going on, I finally found out it was my anti virus blocking it for some reason.
    So if anyone is struggling to run this just check if it's not you anti virus.

    Anyway so I finally got to play it!
    I played twice until it crashed. the second time it took a lot longer before crashing and I managed to get through 5 or 6 levels.

    I really like the feel of the game and the gameplay is really cool! I love the fact that it feels like a fighting game with the special moves!

    The music, sound and graphics are all awesome so far, and everything really works together to give a perfect feel to the game!
    Well done to everyone involved! :)

    Just some feedback:
    - I found myself mostly using forward-forward-kick, and bunching enemies up to take them all down with one special.
    It may be a good idea to have like a special bar that fills up while you fight, like the style bar you currently have, but have the special move drain that bar so that you can't just spam special moves the whole time.
    This could give the player a need to use normal attacks more and can add a little bit of strategy into the fighting.

    - I also found it a little bit too easy. This may be fixed a little by limiting the special moves like I said above. Also i didn't find that it was really a problem for the player when you get surrounded. It's too easy to just kick left then right and repeat. I tried to figure out why, and I think that the enemies are stunned just a fraction of a second too long after being hit. I mean that if you hit an enemy it easy to turn around and hit one behind you, and then turn back and hit the first one before he can recover from the previous hit. Having them recover just a little quicker will for the play to maneuver and thus make the gameplay more varied.

    But those are just my thoughts. hope it helps! :)

    Well done again!
    Thanked by 2dawidstrauss pieter
  • edited
    @Pieter Looks like it has lots of potential. Those "depth" movements reminded me a lot of days-gone-by spent feeding 20c coins into a Double Dragon machine. Good times.

    It works great on my Dual-Stick controller. Keyboard is a bit more challenging.

    It also hinted at more freedom than the standard straight up/ flat 2d action games at the time. Especially environmental interaction drew me in as it added more to the game-play than standard fighting moves. I always felt the environment was under-explored in similar titles since. I speak under correction. because I am not very knowledgeable in fighting games per se (although I once managed in getting a house mate throw his PS controller in one such game, which was both odd and exhilarating at the same time :)

    Are you planning for the environment to play a role in the combat? (Pickup weapons/Kick a pillar etc)
  • So good seeing the progress on this last night! Such an exciting project!
    Thanked by 1dawidstrauss
  • @karl182 Thank you for taking the time to play and provide feedback ;)

    - Those "Shadow" moves will most definitely consume a resource, the mechanisms for which are already in place, but they were disabled for this build so it's more of a "Practise Mode" for players so they can experiment with combo routes without being hampered by a resource.

    - The enemies are quite stupid at the moment, you're right. I'll work towards making them more of a challenge, but for now they'll just have to be practise mode punching bags :D

    @konman Thanks for the feedback. @DawidStrauss and I have already started talking about how the background will be intractable in some way. Having the environment influence the combat would really help strengthen it. However it would be more in lines if traps, spikes, exploding barrels and rock pillars.

    There aren't any weapon pickups in the game, characters just have access to those they start with. Variety will be given in the wide array of moves that are available to each of the characters.

    Also a big thanks to everyone who gave it a try at the meetup. You are all super stars :)
    Thanked by 2dawidstrauss karl182
  • Wow very ambitious!

    Played until...
    ERROR in
    action number 1
    of Destroy Event
    for object Base_Move:

    Data structure with index does not exist.
    at gml_Object_Base_Move_Destroy_0
    Thanked by 1karl182
  • @pieter Awesome that sounds good, but I must say even with the enemies being mindless punching bags it is already a lot of fun! Can't wait to see more!! and +1 for environmental interaction!! :)
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Can I just say how impressed I am with how this game design is being approached? Methodically, with much thought etc. It's impressive to see someone stand up for a focused feedback session already having detailed explanations but also with a notebook on hand for taking in more info. I can't help but expect this to be a success. Nice work!
  • This was a highlight of my first meetup last week. Looks really cool, even at this early stage.
    Keep up the good work guys!
    Thanked by 2dawidstrauss pieter
  • Just letting you guys know I'm still busy drilling out content. So hopefully the next time you see something from this,it'll look like a million bucks. Or at the very least have a name. Lol
  • edited
    Just a quick update video for those who haven't / can't download the demo.

    In other news, the latest build is running stable at last! Busy adding in all the latest art done by @dawidstrauss. Should have a new build ready at the end of the week :D
  • @Pieter, do you guys have any composers locked onto the project yet?

    I'd love to give it a go if there's still space. Hear examples of my music composition work on this page:

    Cool tracks would be "Video Game", "Arcade Medley", "Epic Trailer", Symphonic Rock"

  • Hi @JuicedRobot,

    Yes, the very talented Deon van Heerden is helping out with the music and sound effects for the game.

    Listened to the tracks you mentioned (and a few others) and it sounds really good. If you would like to meet some of the developers in Cape Town, I'd really recommend you come to the next meetup. You might even want to pop in on the 8 hour jam tomorrow at the Bandwidth Barn! People always need sound for their jam games :)
    Make Games Minijam 16th of April
  • Hey Pieter, thanks very much for your response.
    Glad you've found someone!!
  • Love the animation you have completed so far. This could turn out really good.
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Looks really awesome. I like the air juggling upward and then downward, nice control.I am very interested in where the game goes:)
    What would be cool to see here, is some sort of trap mechanic perhaps. Where the player chucks an emitter or something on the ground and then it activates when the enemy is close etc.
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Looks awesome :)
    Looking forward to seeing more.

    Well done :)
  • edited
    I present to you...

    The Spirit Summoner build! Download below!

    Shattered Realms v0.0.1.10 (MediaFire)
    Shattered Realms v0.0.1.10 (Dropbox)
    Shattered Realms - Character Movelist

    I still need to add the ability to purchase moves while ingame which is one of the gameplay elements I want to test and see if it feels right (for now you just have all the moves from the start).

    Lots of things were added though:
    * Pushboxes - You now push against enemies making air combos much easier.
    * Rank Enhancement - Some moves are now enhanced based on how high your rank is.
    * Dynamic Music - Intensity increases with Rank (Thanks Deon, your music rocks!)
    * Pallet Swapping - Bullet Elf can now have pink hair :)
    * It doesn't crash any more! (No jinx)
    * Character Select screen
    * Spiff Title screen
    * Characters now have way more cancel options during combos.
    * Bits and bobs

    Spirit Summoner Gameplay

    @Dipso, wait no more :)

    @Jurgen, check out Up+S and Up,Up+S of the Summoner. The are basically short term air traps.

    Enjoy the latest build, and please give me your comments, ideas and suggestions below.
  • @pieter, Awesome game:D
    Because I was itching to play I didn't learn all the moves, so when playing I discovered a few moves that helped me to kick robo-shark butt. I like the combos where you end up launching the sharks into the air and then knocking them to the ground the most.
    The air traps are great, would be cool if they could send the enemy flying in a certain direction with some sort of activation command, like remote control or something for example: toward you or away from you etc.
    What also would be cool to see is:
    - Teaching the player the moves by unlocking them mid-game, perhaps like a memory revisited or visualization for example: Like Vagrant Story for the psone.
    - When dashing, being able to dash into the background and foreground.
    - I'd prefer if I could move a bit quicker when walking.
    - raised platforms
    - holes to fall or knock enemies into.

    When I learn all the moves, I'd pretty much be untouchable I reckon. I wonder what could thoroughly challenge me when I have so many moves at my disposal?
    For example: maybe a boss fight could reflect a move on a certain level that still has to be learned. Then after having faced the technique and conquered it, one has access to either it or something similar for example: like megaman gaining the power or technique of the defeated boss character.
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • Download link seems kaput for me :(.
  • Strange /:| I've added a Dropbox link for those struggling with the MediaFire link.

    Shattered Realms v0.0.1.10 (Dropbox)
  • @Jurgen Thanks for all the great feedback, and sorry for being such a slouch with my reply.

    I've actually thought a lot about the suggestion you've made about being able to dash up and down, weighing the pro's and con's, making little simulations in my head.
    Being able to move out of plane is really powerful, it negates the attack you're dodging, and any subsequent follow up attacks, making you "invincible" for the duration of your opponent's attack sequence. It also effectively ends enemy engagement (until realigned) which affects the pacing of combat. The only way to counteract this is to have attacks that are diagonal across the playing field (or some vertical plane component), which explodes the possibility space for attacks. This makes it more akin to games like God of War or Devil may Cry where you can attack in any direction. Being out of plane with your opponent is very powerful, so it should'nt be easy to attain. (Sorry for spiralling off on a tangent)

    That said, I have given the player plenty of tools to be evasive while remaining in plane with the opponent:
    - Jumping negates all ground based attacks, and staying airborne while juggling can have you avoid a lot of potential ground based attacks.
    - Dash has 10 invincibility frames on startup. The Summoner's telleport has 25.
    - Dodge has 25 invincibility frames on startup. (New, will be in next build)
    - Air Recovery after being air juggled has 50 invincibility frames, which mean you can do uncontested air counter attacks.
    - Burst which breaks you free from any attack, pushing enemies away and has 80 invincibility frames.
    - Super Attacks are all invincible on startup.

    Out of plane dodging is not a bad idea by any means (which is why I gave it so much thought) but I don't think I'm going to be able to manage the complexity that arises from such a combat system (I.e. to lazy).

    I'll play around with different movement speeds, and see how they feel. Good feedback.

    As for raised platforms and holes in the ground... think I'm going to go with I'm to lazy here as well. I could probably make an argument that they don't really add much to the combat, but the complexity that gets added to collision checking, AI and stage generation (which is procedural) makes me have little panic attacks. I don't yet own enough cats to compensate for that amount of anxiety :3

    Teaching the player through tutorials, boss fights and general progression of the game still has a long way to go. I'm keeping that to one side for now and focusing only on the combat since it's at the core of the game, so until I feel I've completely nailed that aspect of it, there's no point in me working on other parts of the game.

    Oh, and don't worry, the game is going to get harder. So much harder :)
    Thanked by 3critic Jurgen dammit
  • Boss Mode Activated! (EGE Build)

    Some quick notes on the EGE Build.
    - New background art
    - New character art for summoner
    - Stage progression ending in a tough boss fight
    - Ally revival and health pickups.

    EGE Build:
    Shattered Realms v0.0.2.0

    Look forward to seeing everyone at the Expo :)
  • Hey @pieter
    Gave the game a quick spin this morning before knuckling down to my day job :D - very cool man good job!. Ganna jam a bit more later to see if I can nail some of those combos!

    Good luck for your show at EGE, i'm sure it will be well received - If I have a gap this weekend I'll swing by and show my support :)
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • @Psyinx Thank you for the support, it's always great hearing back from people who enjoy our game. Really hope to see you at EGE, they've got some really cool stuff this year :D

    We've already received some great feedback, and are going to have an updated build for tomorrow (mostly a reduction in difficulty :) Also fixed a few bugs here and there, nice having so many playtesters putting the game through it's paces.
  • So. I'm glad to see that someone has gotten to a game idea that has been in my head, and put it into a screen... with controls... and then multiplied it by the power of KICK-ASS.
    You got my day 1 money.
    You fellas are a blast to be around. The EGE Zangief mirror match with Evan VS Salie was too hype. Your buddy knows his stuff.
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • i want to try this out but I run into the following error even before the "insert coin" screen. "C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\d3dcompiler_43.dll is either not designed to run on Windows or it contains an error."
    I know this is a problem with my PC and not with the executable. Any advice? I've downloaded and replaced the .dll and reinstalled DirectX 12 but to no avail.
    Thanked by 1pieter
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