This last week has been a bustle of tuning, tweaking, and iterating on levels and mechanics. After finishing another iteration of the enemy mechanics, I spent a night with our lead designer, Tony, going over our metrics and tuning values. I learned a bit more about designing which was a good experience. For this week, Our game had an iteration on most of the levels and we almost have our new wave emitter/Premonition – ‘ping’ ability in the game and ready to test out.
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!
And we’re back with another awesome year in the Graduate EAE program! During the summer recap: I worked in the GApp lab again during the summer running three project: Oppy Animation, Oppy Runner, and Nanotubes v2. They went really well and it was a super intense summer, but we pulled through and delivered our games. Also during the summer we worked on our Thesis game. We didn’t put as much time as we would have hoped, but we still got stuff done and we narrowed down our theme for the game and some of the mechanics. We narrowed down to our premonition mechanic, a different camera mechanic, and our death tiles. We basically had all of the code done for those during the summer and we have spent the first week of school getting them into the game. We now have to play test it and start really playing in the space that we created. We know that the game is missing something to really make it wow and stand out. Over lunch today our producers were able to bounce ideas around, and next week we are going to start the week with a Design meeting to continue bouncing ideas around the whole team. The goal of the meeting it to end in a place that we can iterate and play with new stuff in the game. We don’t want to add a million mechanics, just find a couple more that work super well with what we have. On the Gapp lab side of things, we are changing things up in the Gapp lab and are going to be doing a total of 5 project in the Gapp lab. The project I am running will be a game helping teenagers understand the importance of taking care of the air quality of Utah. I have a great team and I hope just praying that the new approach we are doing in the gapp lab will be successful. I’m going to be there with a bunch of awesome student developers that have created some awesome stuff. We are going to push for greatness! As we push ahead in the thesis project, We are looking toward an Oct 31 deadline for submission to IGF. It’s a huge goal, but not impossible. We keep moving forward. More details to come as the semester progresses and more on my position in the team as a producer/engineer.