Flame Sword #26: Over a Year Later

It has been over a year later since the project has updated. It has been almost two years since I last made a new level, and that level was cobbled together from tough sections I’d make to dazzle Twitter with. There are so many new things that aren’t used, so it’s time to throw 1/10th of them into a new level that I call City Catastrophe… or Catastrophe City, I haven’t chosen yet.


The first new thing that this level shows off are combines. Those are the colored platforms you see shifting beneath the player. The colors represent the X value for anyone wondering. They are called combines, because they combine a lot of elements into one objects. While these first few are only combining simple blocks into big platforms, the combines can bind spikes, switches, wires, collectables, death blocks and anything else to them. When the combine moves, they all move, because they are combined together as one.

The combines use the same systems as the moving platforms. They can move along an invisible guide, using speeds set by the guides, they can stop, they can be triggered by switches. It all depends on what the combine’s brain is told to do by the invisible guides or the player’s actions. The other interesting facet of using wires with combines is that now wires that aren’t connected can close a circuit between an open gap of wires to make switches work that wouldn’t normally work.


Coming back to the game after being gone so long, the lack of screen transitions was glaring. Bing you’re at a new area! Poof you’ve appeared! Rather than make a traditional fade to darkness and fade from darkness, enemy shadows were added to make the transition look a bit more lively.


This was my third time making the order blocks and after making this system so many times, making these felt far easier than they ever did in the past. Simply put, they are blocks that are assigned 1 – 10 with only two appearing at a time. The brain that controls them keeps track of their order making those with the next number appear, and making those with the number of the longest blocks disappear. These blocks have been the bane of some player’s existence for decades. With that in mind, they may not end up in a level made for players, but like a lot of elements in this level, they were made on a whim, because they use the same type of brain that the combines use.


There’s not much focus on it in this level, but the game now has an inventory system that you can see when the player collects 3 stars. Those stars appear on the HUD at the top right. Currently stars are to open locks. Locks cover switches and require you give things from your inventory to open the locks and make the switches work. While it’s not shown in this video, these three stars unlock a door to reveal a secret short cut.


Remember that talk of combines being able to combine a bunch of singular elements as one? This is an example of that system. The death block elevator combines dozens of death blocks. The brain of the combine is then told by an invisible guide to move up. While people really don’t care for auto scrollers, this felt like a good demonstration of the combines.

During the sequence, there are two other uses of the combines, which are more obvious, the green platform and the orange platform that has spikes on it. Although it looks like the spikes aren’t animated during this sequence. If this section looks remotely challenging, it was far more brutal. For anyone wondering why this section is devoid of foes, it originally had enemies, but death blocks kill enemies too, so the roof of the elevator would be killing enemies and dropping their husks.


Get near them and spikes pop out a third of a second later. Well technically anything can pop out of them. These traps can be stuck over any surface, so one way platforms can have them, floating platforms can have them, ice platforms, and so on. This makes them versatile and better yet, they automatically point to open air. Easy to set up.

Oh but here’s the twist. Remember the brain of the combine, and the brain of the order blocks? That same brain can control when they are automatically triggered. Rather than only having 2 numbers active at once, this calls 8 out of 10 numbers at once. Giving a chance to dodge the spikes that are triggered. This is perhaps a tough example and it should be toned down in the future. Since the order block and trap brain is it can be set to time intervals, it might make things easier to lower the speed that traps are triggered for this specific demonstration.


It’s tough to see with the ceiling and floor collapsing, but if the combines are touching solid objects, they have friction and fall slower. This is better seen before the save point with the blue combine lodged in the ceiling. Speaking of that, when you see a combine slam into the ground and shake, that’s the invisible guide telling it to stop. Otherwise it would go through the solid object, because the guide told it to.

You may also notice the combines trembling. This is the guide telling the brain to make the combine tremble to warn the player that this combine will fall.


I’m not all that happy with how this elevator turned out since it’s mostly a dodge death blocks section. The enemies don’t add too much to the section. However, these are just thrown together sections to ensure that I don’t forget that elevators are a possibility with combines. It’s also the section with the least thought put into it, because this entire level took far too long to construct, and test, and tweak. However, it felt like there needed to be something more to buffer the path to a challenging area, but I wasn’t going to spend a day on just that section.


This makes the thirteenth complete demo level for the game. It’s only a demo, and these demo levels are to keep everything in a game to play it, so I don’t forget that it exists. Going a year without playing the game, I forgot so much, so it was amazing to replay everything I had forgotten about. There’s still plenty more new elements to fill another 8 levels, but I felt I had to show off the latest level. I think the speed run time brings the entire set of 13 demo levels up to 55 minutes.

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