Sunday, June 26, 2016

Womp womp, no update today

This weekend I am in San Francisco helping a friend of mine QA her game for its upcoming release on the PS4! If you like platforming, you'll like it. If you like space, you'll like it. If you like cute animals, you'll like it. And, if you like heart-crushingly tragic yet ultimately cathartic stories, you'll really like it.

This week I had intended to do the treatment I did for the first 5 or so levels on the rest of the game. I began working on this on Sunday, after last week's update was done. I'd planned on continuing work throughout Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but I really only had Monday, as Tuesday is always a packed day for me and Wednesday I spent packing (My trip began Thursday after work, and continues into Monday the 27th).

I also thought I might get some work done on the plane and possibly here, in San Fran. Unfortunately, this is not possible. So, no new build this week. Sorry!

I have come to some tentative conclusions about the progression of levels in Pierce. One is that I want to push the introduction of enemies back a bit. I have wall-based concepts, like Wrap and Bounce walls, out of the way early. And I have goal-based concepts, like basic goals, multi-hit goals, and linked goals, also out of the way early (early, in this case, being before level 5 or so). I have modifying concepts like movement, timers, and switches, but they all kind of show up in a rush towards the end of the game, along with boost pads. Enemies are an important goal-based concept, but I think I can wait a little bit longer before introducing them. Maybe I'll introduce moving elements before then. Expect to see the results of this next week.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lights, Camera, and Level Polish

This week's build is up here!

No super-visible upgrades this week, except I've made tweaks to a few of the earliest 5 levels (Most notably, levels 3 and 5). I wanted more of the levels in Pierce to have the kind of composition that the later levels have. Visual balance and focus are important, to me. I was going to revise them more drastically, but I held myself back. I think the existing designs still hold merit, and I'll see if I want to trash them later.

In the case of level 5, I think bringing the wrap walls inwards, detaching the bounce wall, and evenly spacing the linked nodes makes each element easier to observe and learn about. I think the following is a bit more visually intuitive than the previous design:

I particularly went back and forth on level 4, which is the introduction to linked goal nodes. I wanted to redo the level so that it matched the layout of level 3, but with linked goal nodes instead of normal goals. This is a technique I use later in the game to teach boost nodes and switches.

On the left, level 14 introduces Warp Walls. On the right, level 15 introduces Boost Plates

I use a level the player has already solved as an environment to introduce a new mechanic. It doesn't seem to work as well for linked goal nodes. I think I want as little noise as possible in levels in which I introduce new goal types...

I made the main camera and directional light which appear in each scene into prefabs. This was something I've been meaning to do for a while. This way, I can make lighting and camera adjustments once, and not have to adjust them by hand in every scene. I've never needed to, until now. I've adjusted the light intensity down in each level by 40%. It's difficult to get a sense of how bright the levels are going to be after they're built. And lights don't build from scene to scene in-engine, so I'm often playing with un-built lighting while I'm working. We'l see how this looks.

Oh and as always, the charging-up noise is by Javier Zumer. It's being used under this license. I've modified it.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A piece of the Panel Pie

New build is up here!

This week I decided to try to better visualize the player's progress towards clearing each goal. I remember there was a player at Indie City Games who didn't recognize that the goal in one level required 8 hits to clear, so I wanted to find a way to call this out more obviously to the player. I decided the perfect way to do this is to re-use the panel I just implemented for linked goals. Here's how it looks:

In the picture above, the player is about to hit a goal that requires 8 hits to clear. Currently, there are two hits, and the panel is two eighths full.

And here the player has passed through the goal for their third hit. The text shows 3/8, and three eighths of the panel have been filled.

And so on and so on.

Next week, I want to re-examine my level pacing. Specifically, I want to see if I can be introducing new concepts at a more structured pace. I'm thinking a new concept every three levels, with a break after every six levels for a more complex, challenging level.

I should also finally decide what happens when you complete a level and then die. Currently, the fail panel overlaps the win panel, so you technically die.

As always, the charge-up sound is by Javier Zumer. I'm using it and modifying it under this license.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Small updates to an irksome level

New builds is here

Not a big update this week. Hardly an update at all - I was distracted during this week and gone during this weekend. I tweaked level 10 (the very annoying one with two crossed timed walls) to try to make it more palatable. The interval at which the walls swap is longer, and I've moved the goals inward a bit. I also made the middle obstacle much larger.

Hopefully this makes the level easier, and the solution more obvious. So far it's been fairly inscrutable.

As always, charging-up noise is by Javier Zumer, and is being used/modified by me under this license.