Dulce et Decorum

Dulce et Decorum on Steam

This was my first fully released project, which I started development on around 2018, and released March 2022. All the coding and design was done by myself, with assets such as the 2D sprites, music, and sound effects being purchased.

Dulce et Decorum is a 2D platformer-shooter made in GameMaker Studio 2 that is quite short, only about an hour long. The gameplay consists of traversing through about 11 levels of a certain area with enemies in each level, which can be defeated or not depending on the player’s choice (but defeating the enemies will provide experience towards a level, increasing the player’s stats). Each area culminates in a boss battle, with the bosses gaining more mechanics as you travel. The first boss has a standard attack and a bullet hell mechanic that will occur every so often, the second boss has a harder bullet hell mechanic to deal with, the third boss will have this harder bullet hell mechanic in addition to dropping spikes from the ceiling which will damage the player if they are hit, and the final boss combines this all with a tracking projectile that has a chance to spawn on hit, that will slow the player’s speed and attack speed if it connects.

The player’s main combat consists of three different combat modes. The first is a pretty standard projectile that can be fired, dealing medium damage and having medium speed and defenses. The second mode has increased durability at the cost of speed, and a projectile that will deal more damage, but only has a limited range. The third mode has increased speed at the cost of durability, and its projectiles will apply a damage over time effect to those it hits (damage being reduced if it ticks while you’re in combat mode 1 or 2). By switching between these three modes, you will receive a short buff that will allow you to periodically heal from damage dealt. The goal with this system is to encourage the player to weave between these three styles of combat depending on the situation, for example you may want to switch to the third combat mode when you predict the next tick of the DoT effect, to ensure it does more damage. You’ll want to traverse speedily with the third combat mode through the level, but if you find it hard to dodge you may want to switch to the second, more durable combat mode to ensure you take less damage. If you have issues with range but want to still deal a quicker burst of damage, you may want to consider the first combat mode. Being encouraged to weave between them, letting the DoT tick and deal damage no matter the combat mode, and encouraging dodging projectiles but punishing if you fail to dodge, all intends to incentivize the player to try out all three modes depending on the situation.

As far as movement, the platforming aspect has a lot less to do with the game than the combat. You can double jump, wall jump, wall grab, and… that’s about it as far as special movement mechanics. Bullets do provide pushback though, so jumps can be made easier by firing beneath you.

The level design is sadly nothing spectacular. I spent a lot of time coding the fundamentals and designing then tweaking the core gameplay loop, but not knowing much about good 2D level design, this was an area I rushed through compared to the other aspects of the game. The levels vary in size, offering a linear path to the next level, with only the rewards of experience and health potions for exploration. Given that the bosses were designed to be possible at the first player level, no one would blame you for simply rushing through the levels to the bosses.

All in all, I’m proud of what I made, and it is a fully released game that people have bought and reviewed. However, I definitely see areas for improvement and growth, and have already made strides to do so.

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