This last week has been a blur. I’ve had more work than time and it all needed to get done before April 16th at 2pm. I worked my tail off to create the masterpiece below.
That is a compilation of all the levels we have. It makes a consistent stream from start to finish and with hopefully increasing difficulty. We compiled it and ran tests. Tons of tests so that we knew it wouldn’t crash. We worked hard and finally published.
Publishing on such a big forum like steam causes me anxiety only because I’ve never received feedback from that large of an audience. I’ve heard and seen how the video game community is and I expected the worse. Of course we got negative reviews, but for the most part they are positive. We’ve had almost 70k plays in the last 4 days and we are getting more press than ever. (you can see that on my portfolio www.jameshulse.com)
With the big relief of launch behind us, we are planning a bug patch for the end of the semester and working on our thesis defense. Oh joy!
It’s been a long week of talking to people and showing off our game.
At GDC, Rachel and Tina presented the game for the Intel student showcase. It went really well. I played the game while they presented. Though we didn’t win it was a great experience and the audience loved our game.
we are now on Steam Greenlight. We have received some great responses and feedback on Steam. The team is super pumped to move forward to the end. We are in a place that we need to take our mechanics and make a cohesive solid experience.
The big thing is to talk to the team tomorrow in class and get rolling towards our thesis defense!
This last week has been crazy. The TLDR; is that I put together two levels, implemented a bunch of the art onto our inhibitor, and tried to get some MoCap into our game. My team has been working hard. The Faculty has chosen our game to represent the school at the Intel Showcase at GDC this year and we’ve kicked things into overdrive. We have most members of the teams working on levels or concepts of levels. Our artists have been getting new textures and assets to us quickly. We’ve had some design hiccups with the charge shot feature that part of the team isn’t too sure on and the other half really wants it in. My only concern about it that I’ve raised to the team is that it is going to require that everyone works more than we are. The team said that they are willing to put in the time so we are going for it. My goal moving forward is to get enough levels created by myself and other team members that we can start piecing together a solid build so that we can start really delivering on our narrative. We have most of the pieces we just need to start putting it all together.
On a side note I’ve been applying to lots of jobs and hope to get some responses from them. *crossing fingers*
So we jumped overboard. We put in all the new mechanic completely which broke all our levels. This weekend I put together a tutorial level so we officially have one level! I worked from simple sketch that Rachel gave to me of teaching the player and rifted off of it to come up with a simple level. Right now it’s a very linear level but it is the tutoral so I’m not too worried about it.
What I am worrying about a bit is that we don’t have our levels anymore, but it will be good in the end as we push forward building levels with our new mechanics. I am of the opinion that none of our previous levels are going to work with the new bandwidth meter and the inhibitor mechanics. They may be able to be modified, but in their current state they didn’t really fit in my opinion. We’re still pushing to get the theme more involved in the game. The team is working really hard and although we weren’t a finalist for IGF we are still working hard to get an awesome game before the end of the year.
Also our game has been getting some great press from notable sites like indiegames.com and WIRED. This has brought lots of excitement and drive to the team which has been good with the moral hit of not being a IGF finalist.
Retro Yeti is back from break with a vengeance! Our design lead went to EA in Florida and is now working remotely so he stepped down as lead. Our Art lead also stepped down seeing as she was working as both staff for our program and art lead for our game. So things have been changed up a bit, but we didn’t miss a beat. We already had an iteration in mind and a plan of attack to get us there. We are only a week into the semester and we are ready to work the new ping and inhibitors into our design. I’ve stepped up more working with Level design which scares me a little seeing as I feel it is one of my weaknesses. I’ve been watching lots of games and getting references from everything I can to help. We have a plan to get more of our theme into the game and to really deliver the theme to the player.
Our new ping works like a flashlight now. It has a meter that will recharge when the player is running on a fast section. If you hit slow tiles the meter will go down and the radius will diminish. When the meter hits 0 it is a fail state. With the new mechanic we have added a new level item of inhibitors. Like the boss shots that create slow areas, the inhibitor will fall from the sky and reveal an area around it. When the player enters into the inhibited section if their ping is on it will convert the area to slow, so the player has to toggle on and off the ping to avoid the hit to their bar.
We find out Tuesday if we are an IGF Finalist. I’m trying not to be nervous because the odds are against us, but one can always hope.
It’s official. I’m now on the 100th iteration of the enemy ISP character in the game. We are changing it to be more scripted sequences that the level designer can plan out. This will help us be more careful in our level design and what the player will experience.
We are also doing an iteration on the premonition ability. We wanted it to be more of a server ping that the player has to keep going to have a ‘good connection’ to the server. This will make the area which is revealed grow based on how well the player keeps the ping going.
These two ideas could drastically change things for our game, and we are hoping it’s for the better. We are also tackling problems with resolutions, quality, disorientation, and the ever looming 1st or 3rd person decision.
Some other big news for our game is that we are already starting to get press about our game. We have a theme of protecting net neutrality and it is starting to become a big issue. The President of the United states has come out and stood with Net neutrality making our cause even stronger.
Moving forward we are going to build more levels, iterate on problems we find, playtesting the game!
We are one week away from the IGF deadline and things are getting crazy among the members of Cohort 4. We are all working hard and spending extra hours in the lab to get things up and running for next weeks submission. Our team has been working hard getting the final touches on our game. We are adding art, effects, cutscenes everything we hoped would be in the game. The most recent addition to the game is adding the Boss that I’ve been working on and iterating on for the pass couple of weeks. We had a good change to the levels taking out all the slow tiles. We had lots of feedback that the normal tiles felt enough like slow tiles. With that change, we changed the boss to change Fast Tiles and Normal tiles to slow tiles. To make the boss actually affect the game, I had to do another pass on how the boss works. So I wrote an algorithm that will search for spots further ahead in the level according the speed of the player and it will launch bomb attacks to change tiles to impede your progress.
This actually went really well with the theme of net neutrality. The boss or the big cable companies are trying to control and slow down the connection of the once free running user. So instead of trying to kill the player the boss is trying to convert everything to their slow throttled internet.
Another feature I had to add was that the player could convert the tiles back. We are still in discussion on how this is to exactly work, but the boss/enemy has added a great level of depth to our game.
This last week has zoomed by. My personal tasks were iterating on the boss a couple times. I did probably 3 or 4 iterations on the boss mechanics and I feel like it’s in a good spot to get us some fun gameplay, but the easy setting for the boss is going to need some tuning. Our team has been hard at work making levels and adding everything in the game. We started playing through all the levels as a whole and we’ve started putting art, lighting and backgrounds into the levels. These tweaks made our levels come to life!
Here’s a sneak peek at what we have. We need a little more life to the level, but it’s coming along! Another big event that happened this week was a big playtest that the whole cohort participated. Our team got a lot of positive feedback about our game and had a lot of good suggestions on how to fix our game. We left the playtest feeling really good about where the state of our pre-alpha Alpha was. I’m excited to work this week and take our game to the next level!
This week Retro Yeti has made some awesome leaps and bounds. We had a design brainstorm at the beginning of this week to try and make our game a little more fun. We wanted to give a reason to the player to left click. It was a cool effect, but many people would run through the level without using our mechanic. The answer we came up with seems simple enough, but it hit us like a ton of bricks.
Make the Tiles only work when using the ability!
We made this change and FUN happened! The game started being challenging and fun! My next task was to fine tune the level that I built. So I took some pieces of other levels I had started and put them on the level that we had in the build. After playing it quite a few times. I started stripping pieces out and tuning what was there. I got it to a place that I like it and had our lead design Tony sit down with me and the level and run through it. He made several great suggestions and I was off making more changes. In the end the length of the level has been cut in half, but it is a lot more fun and has decent flow to it. I’m pretty proud of it though I know that It will probably be changed more in the future.
With the new iteration of the mechanic in place, I added my boss to levels and started playing. I played with the difficulty of the boss and found that it seemed really fun. So I started grabbing others to play through the level and see what they think. Everyone that tried it liked it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was getting there. I got some good suggestions, but the part that gave me the best feeling is that people didn’t just play it a bit and quit. They kept playing until they beat it. It was a fun and interesting challenge. Even our professors, who were against the idea in the first place, were having fun with the boss challenge.
My next tasks are to design a level specifically for the boss and also fix a lot of things with the boss. Our game is coming together and it’s exciting. All the extra time and work is starting to pay off!
Our game is progressing really nicely this week. We’ve uncovered a few key areas that we need to focus on and we’re working hard. We’ve been pushing making levels to discover what works and what doesn’t work in our game parameters. So we’ve gotten more than just three of us creating levels now which I think is going to help us learn and get closer to an even more amazing game. Today also we have a build done and ready to release into the wild for playtesting. We have posted the link to the build on several gamedev forums to ask for feedback on our preprealpha build. We’ve already received some feedback about punishing the player a bit for spamming our revealing mechanic and focusing on good level design. Hopefully we get more feedback to sift through to make our game even more amazing.
One idea that our team has tossed around is having an enemy or a boss scenerio. This was worrisome because we didn’t want the ‘boss fight’ to take away from the gameplay we have or add tons of new mechanics that made it feel like it’s not part of the game. It kept being brought up and no one was doing anything about it so I jumped on it and made a small prototype of what a boss could be. Our game is about the pace and flow of levels with getting to the ending pillar of light at the end of the level. Riffing off of the idea of getting to the light pillars, I build a boss that was connected to all the light pillars on the map. When the player runs into a lightpillar it cuts it off from the boss and once all the light pillars are gone the boss is destroyed. The boss has minions that spin around it and then throw themselves at the player. They show the player where they are going to land so the player can adjust his path and dodge the incoming minions while also traversing the arena-like map. I also added an Easy, Medium and Hard mode to the boss that adjusts the AI and speed for the minions. This is going to take lots of iteration to make the boss fight feel fun, difficult and fair. The one concern I have is launch tiles because when you hit a launch tile you don’t have full control over the player. The player shouldn’t be outright punished by the boss for choosing to use a jump tile. Another concern I have with it is the Level Design that has to go along with a boss fight will take lots of extra time and iterations. We are just getting to a small understanding of the Level Design for our other levels, but this is another beast. My next step is to pump out lots of scenarios that the boss can be used.
A couple other ideas I want to prototype with the boss is that the minions don’t attack you but attack tiles and turn them into death tiles. This would make level Design even more crucial as we don’t want to make the level impossible only more difficult if the player doesn’t complete it. Another idea was that the minions wouldn’t permanently change tiles, just neutralize them. With a little more time and testing, we’ll see where this idea goes.
(boss in the sky with his minions) (all art is UE4 starter art stuff)
The next step in our overall game is to get in art in the build which I feel is going to be a long process. Also lots of level Design needs to happen. I’ve been reading lots of articles on gamasutra and other such sites about methodologies of Level Design and how to really focus in on making my personal stuff better. My next step in my research for that is contacting actual developers and getting input. I’m scared to do that, but I think it needs to happen to improve.
We are 2 weeks away from our ‘alpha’ igf date and 6 ish about from our submission date. Team Retro Yeti will make it!