STEAM LAUNCH!!!

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.

Map

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!

 

 

5 days from Steam launch and I’m writing a blog post??!??!?!

Yes it’s true. we are 5 days away from launch and I took the time to write a bit about what I’m experiencing. The last couple of weeks have been crazy. We created a total of 14 levels to be shipped with the game. We have a small 20 min experience for our players. Right now it is my task to make sure all the levels get their art and are ready to be strung together in our final game. I’m furiously doing it so that we can have the full experience as soon as possible so that we have a couple days for testing the final build. Oh the crazy that is now. I’m only leaving you with that so I can get back to work.

woot!

18 days and counting…

Like the rest of my blog posts this is going to be short.

But to start out here are some awesome animations that we have added.

https://gfycat.com/GrizzledTintedAlpineroadguidetigerbeetle

https://gfycat.com/WarpedAcidicAmericanlobster

I have been pounding through a couple levels for the final build. It’s coming along, but it’s not a quick process.

I’ve been tasked with putting together the final level. This is to be the longest hardest level in the game, but it still needs to be possible. When putting it together it rose a lot of questions with what we could do with the final level. Mostly I wanted to make a boss level of sorts, but it’s not going to happen in the time we have. So I’ve been creating and iterating on the level. I feel like it is in a good place.

My favorite part of the level is the ending jump puzzle that I’ve creating.

Puzzle

 

The team has been hard at work putting the final touches on the last of our levels, some new animations, some passes on UI, and just making our game shine as much as possible.

Another big news is that Epic Games gave our team a $13,000 grant. We are honored and stunned to be chosen for their help.

 

Going on Steam and then Spring Break?!

So we came back from GDC with a slump in our step. The week between GDC and Spring break was the hardest for the production of our game. With the down time in production, we actually came out being GREENLIT ON STEAM! We are super excited and are now pushing hard towards our publish date on April 16th. With the date bearing down on us, the team is hard at work getting the last of our features in. We are cramming for levels. The panic is setting in and we are running to the end.

I’ve been working on a concept and a layout for a end of game level. something challenging and fun. It’s proved to be a big challenge. I’m sorry these are getting shorter and shorter, but my time is getting more and more limited.

 

Week before GDC

Our team has been working hard this last week. We worked over the long weekend and we plan to work over this weekend, but on the plus side. We have 3 levels! Don’t know how I got it done, but I did. They are being worked on by others on the team to get them cleaned, art-ed and ready to move forward. We have so many little things that we need to get done before GDC, but we have our task list and we are steadily knocking them out one by one. When this week is over I’ll post some screen shots from our game and we will have our new trailer ready!  I will also post pictures from the 3 Levels 🙂

I don’t know what more to post, mostly because I have so much to do I can only give this quick run down of progress.

Hopefully after GDC it will be a little less busy (yeah right).

I’m a Level Designer?!?! O_O

I really don’t have time to write this but I’m doing it anyway because it’s part of the class and for all I know I have followers. 🙂 This week we had some internal playtesting with all the teams in the Cohort. It was really good to see how the other games have come along and how great they are. We also had a sit down with the team about some of our designs and such. We locked down what we are going to be doing with our sprint and charge shot, and now we are moving forward with levels. As for the sprint and the charge shot, we combined them into a dash that destroys inhibitors if you dash into them. We incorporated the bandwidth meter by having the dash cost a chunk of the meter and we are going to divide the meter into sections so the player has a visual queue if they have enough bandwidth to dash. We still have everyone on the team making levels, but we are working on a coherent 3 level experience for GDC. To nail that down, Matt, Tony and myself have put our heads together to come up with a plan. We have each been given different parts of the level to put together. I have been assigned to get the general floor layout of the 3 levels done and my deadline is this coming Tuesday which is why I have a lack of time. As of Saturday morning, I feel pretty good about my Level 1 Layout and I have the beginnings of the Level 2 layout. It’s going to be a lot of work in the next two days to get these two levels done, but I’m excited to do it.

Fixing it all and making Levels!

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*

Breaking all the things

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.

Leveling up!

This week has been difficult on the team. We finally got our new ping ability all the way done and we started testing it with our new level. We quickly were wary that it wasn’t going to work. At the same time we had a Microsoft Game Dev Evangelist visit our program and give us advice the same day we finished it. It was similar to when the designer from Ubisoft came and visited us right after our first iteration. He gave us some good feedback about going back to our previous iteration of the ‘ping’ He also gave us some advice that we’ve been pondering about making the game procedural generated.  At this time we’re not following the advice, but it’s something we’re stewing on.

This week we have been focusing really hard on level design. I put myself on the level design team with Kyle and Tony mostly because I want to expose myself to as much level design as I can and give a shot at it. So far we’ve created three new levels that follow our new design guidelines. I was put over the first level again to give a basic experience to the player. It’s been really fun and a good learning experience to work with the  team. They are insightful and give helpful criticism. They also have had patience with my slow learning.

In a couple days, we will be having EAE day and showing off all of our projects. We are making great progress to have 4 levels and some fun effects to show off!

Finding the Fun!

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!