Monday, September 20, 2010

AD: Progress Report #3

Welcome to the third Progress Report. I've decided to change the intended 'design' of the PR to outline exactly what I'm going to do before the next beta release. Because of unfortunate events I've had to delay the release date... again. So I'm not fixed on a date now, it's out when it's out. This PR will have a few different sections outlining aspects of the game such as Graphics, Music, Design, Levels etcetera.

Improved Graphics
Well before the YoYo Games release I was working on upgrading some of the game's graphics to keep up with the new 'trend'. This included revamping the 'real dungeon entrance' and the dungeon doors. Of course there's more to be done however!

I plan to implement more types of HUB doors instead of keeping them all very similar and repetitive. These will include dungeon and temple doors along with a revamping of the outside world doors. On the subject of doors I'll also be looking over some of the level doors and 'sprucing' them up so they look much cooler!

The Quality level tilesets are in the making so for now the place-holder temple set (which is coloured to either purple, blue or red for persistence, thought or speed respectively) will be shown in the three Quality levels. They will be upgraded at a later date when I plan to upgrade more of the game's graphics.

Extension to the World HUB
Now, this part of the game is most likely going to have a few changes here and there between the graphics, and the cleaning up of a few HUB parts which look out-of-place. This includes changing the 'laddercase' at the beginning of the dungeon to something which is more fitting, along with changing some of the tiles so it looks more pleasent.

I'll also be implementing the bonus level rooms, however they will not be playable (most likely not playable until the last beta). This also means more cutscenes will be shown but more on this later!

As of yet the World HUB ends at the Quality 'main' room, I expect to stretch this to a further room, namely the room just before where the final level is located. This will also introduce my new lighting mechanics (which aren't that complex to make, hehe!) that I've had sitting there doing nothing for the past month. I'm very excited about making the upcoming HUB rooms as we're nearing the end of the game!

HUB and Level Transition Change, Plus Changes to Saving
The transitions between the level rooms and the World HUB rooms were a bit... Generic. So I'm now making some changes to them! Upon exiting the level room via the start pad or the next/finish pads you'll now see the same "cutscene" as the death cutscene minus the whole screen flash, hopefully this'll smoothen the transition from level room to level room (also note this will occur upon appearing back in the 'level select' area and in the cutscene rooms if completing the level for the first time).

The Saving 'notice' will also change. You'll now be greeted by some particles and a flash to know that you've saved along with the scroll-down bar. This also makes the transition look much better when loading a game from the Pause/Main Menu.

The World HUB transitions are yet to be decided, but a quicker transition from one room to another is most likely to occur.

Stone Slab Modifications
I wasn't very impressed with the current Stone Slab feature, mainly because it currently just takes you to another room that displays the 'secret'. I want to change this to a sort-of Mini-Game feature with each Stone giving a higher difficulty Mini-Game challenge each time to beat the previous. Still yet to be decided what type of Mini-Game, but it'll most likely be something small. This will probably not make its way into the next beta but the Stone Slabs will show a blank slab after the new beta.

The Almighty Quality Levels
Ready to test your abilities to their maximum? Perhaps a level which requires your speed to manoeuvre quickly through a room before being crushed by a massive solid wall, or a level which requires you to think about your every move before you move after you move!

If you're not into those perhaps you'll have fun with the persistence level, travelling through room by room, hang on a minute, haven't I been here before? The persistence level takes approximately 20 minutes to complete with you needing to complete 40 smaller rooms, testing your endurance and well, your persistence!

These levels will also have differing HUD's than the Arcade levels, along with different Beginning and End screens, no more timed levels! (Well, except for the speed levels.)

These are the next three levels in the game dealing with specific qualities. Because of this some of them (namely persistence) won't be as fun, or might not be fun at all - which is the point. I hope to get all three of these done along with their cutscenes so that then there will be seven of ten levels complete!

The New Introduction Cutscene
Another thing that I'm really not happy with, the way it begins feels... unnatural. This will be going under an overhaul where some new 'dialogue' takes place that will hopefully make things a lot smoother. This also means you start in a new room! Perhaps Dareo will speak less formally and more self-confident about his to-be endeavours.

More Sounds Added
I plan to increase the amount of sounds in the game, most notably to the Arcade cutscenes. The pulsing of them along with the power beam will both have sounds added to them. I also plan to add a few background sounds to the game in the HUB areas such as bird tweeting outside, and mysterious noises from inside the dungeon. Some old sounds will also be going under the knife such as the Saving sound, the 'Select' sound and a few others.

If all goes well I'll also be adding sounds to the Congratulations and Level begin screens to give a more polished feeling. No music at this time sorry guys! I do plan to get in contact with a musician after the release of this beta so that they can work with more/make more songs at once. A few of the tracks that I need made are the main menu/pause menu music, world hub music (for both inside and outside), Arcade level music and Quality level music.

Other Small Additions
There will be a few more small additions to correct old bugs/oddities. Some include changing the Main Menu background to better-fit the new graphics/better screenshots, adding a blank Secrets and Map menu so they can start being worked on ASAP.


With the fifth beta release we will be nearing the end of the game! It's so exciting to see I've almost finished A game. So with the next beta being released comes the daunting task of creating the final and bonus levels, add a few last areas, the Secrets and Map menus and let's not forget the ending cutscene!

So until then, thanks for reading!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

AD: The Quality of Persistence

Lately I've been playing RuneScape (unfortunately old habits die hard). But I think that this will benefit Approaching Dawn a fair bit! Considering the whole basis of the game was developed because of RuneScape, I've been now working on getting my Runecrafting to 99 (at 95 at the time of the blog post, no, this won't turn into a RuneScape blog either), and whilst doing so, people have been asking me: "Where do you get the patience from?" except it isn't patience at all - it's persistence. Now looking into the second Quality level, at first I was going to make it a maze, a giant maze which would test the player's persistence. But, seeing as I've run a good 1000 laps in the past week (for those who don't know, Runecrafting is the creation of Runes used for magic, you create them by using things called Essence and binding it with the energy in a specific altar to create Runes, you often have to follow a path to the altar, and will then bank, restock with Essence and go back again), this got me thinking about the different elements that I could put into the Persistence level.

Now, I've thought up a set 'path' that a player can take throughout the Persistence level, as creating a maze would ultimately lead the player to finding a guide and to cheat. Instead what if I made the player continue doing the same path over and over again twenty, thirty or even fifty times? I really want this game to be different in aspects of level design so I really want something that will force people to work to beat the game, and not just look up a guide to say "go left, right, up, right, right, up" etcetera.

I'm now thinking about merging the both and creating some aspects of the level repetitive whilst continuing the maze idea with some aspects. Such as the player completing the lap 'forty times', but with each time the player completes the room, it chooses the next room randomly from a list (there may be 10 different rooms created each offering different 'paths' to lessen the amount of repetition) which the player must then complete. If I can make each room a suitable size and 'fun' in an aspect, then it might just create the unique Quality level I'm looking for.

Unfortunately I half-wrote this blog a few days before it was posted, so half of this stuff is out-dated. Luckily though school-work is almost over and done with for the third term and I should be back to my blogging self in no time.

I've concepted seven of ten rooms which will be used in the Persistence Quality level. These have just been quickly done in paint, and a few consist of a few game gimmicks I've played throughout the years, some are just plain boring and straight forward, whilst some require trial and error and planning.

I plan to make this level approximately 10-20 minutes long to really sink in the feeling of persistence. Of course because of this I'm going to be using save points throughout the level for those who can't do it all at once (like a save point every 10 or so rooms completed).

Something else that I have been working on for the past week was the last tileset 'used' in-game. This was also the longest to create (mainly because I wanted to capture a specific feeling). I do have an incomplete screenshot of the new tileset handy so I'll throw it up. Remember though, this will likely change before its release (which won't be for a while anyway).

As you will notice the background isn't done, nor are the small decorations from within the tileset. They will be finished soon however.

Of course I still need to complete a fair few things, so expect another "Progress Report" coming up sooner or later outlining what is left to be done!