Monday, January 24, 2011

AD: The Quality Aspect

Throughout the past few weeks (whilst I've been concepting levels) it has made me come to realize to slow my pace of work down to do things properly and, well, better. Rushing through the creation of levels often leaves it feeling like any other ordinary level room, nothing new and exciting, no new challenges etcetera.

So upon development of my Quality and Final levels I really want this aspect to some through, to thoroughly think of ideas that would make the levels unique when being compared to the Arcade levels.

The Persistence Level
Originally going to be a giant maze, I've changed my outlook on this level and wanted the rooms to repeat - mainly plain and non-challenging rooms which draws its challenge from persistence - the player having to go through 40 rooms. Of course I've only made ten different rooms, meaning some will repeat. It would however, be really exciting to have over 100 different rooms, meaning that if the player does the level 10 times, there's a chance that they haven't seen 6-10 of the rooms, which can come up during their eleventh time: "Oh wow, I've never been here before." But it would slightly detract from the gameplay I want to enforce here - repetition. By having rooms repeat, it'll be easier for the player to get "bored", therefore to complete the level they may have to push themselves into completing it.

The Thought Level
Probably the hardest level to make. The first room of the Thought Level resembles a regular room, in some cases you may also want to try to find a way to know what's in front of you. The second and third rooms however, require some extensive thinking and planning to complete. This is what made it hard for me: coming up with a nice puzzle (two in fact), and using them in the level. The second room entails the player into turning off all the lasers - a relatively simple task. There are 5 lasers, and 5 switches, with each switch changing the on/off status of two/three lasers. It'll be wise to find out what switch turns which lasers and their location as it may be one of the longest (and possibly the hardest) room in the game.

The third and final room of the Thought Level has to do with six coloured statues. Simply enough you have to place them in their correct hole, but it's the journey along the way in which will make it difficult. Placing one in the wrong hole will force you to reset the puzzle, so be very wary about what you're about to do. These puzzles have taken a relatively long time to complete due to myself being the only tester - and it's hard to test if you already know the answer!

Some may say these are hard (and some may refer to walkthroughs to help them), but I find a good game one which takes time and effort to complete, along with it having nice rewards for players who do complete them.

The Speed Level
The last Quality level. This level was tricky to make as it bares resemblance to the "Perfection" of Arcade levels, with some rooms you have to beat the timer (hooray). There is an ordinary Arcade-like room to begin with, then a room where you're constantly falling, and when you're not you're trying to get out before a giant wall crushes you, a room where if you take too long fiddling around, you'll be choked by the poison gas, and another where you may think the wall got stuck... wait until the timer reaches zero to find out!

The last room in the Speed level is one which again - I want to take my time with and really... make it a good one. In fact, because I've pretty much spoiled the Thought level end, I'm not going to spoil this one!

The Final Level
This level is quite funny in that the level itself is split up into four separate areas, where the player can enter any (one is locked until the three previous are complete). These rooms are relatively harder than the previous, and include an Arcade-type room, a Quality-type room (Persistence + Speed), a dark/light room (these darn Immetrumen can't make lights that work!) and of course the final room being a Thought-type room along with Arcade-type and other mechanics thrown in. I won't spoil much about this level, except that it will be... fun, I hope. I really want to spend a while trying to perfect the concepting of this level as, it is of course the Final level!

I guess the Final Level in a way 'acts' as a boss, just that it's not a boss, heh. I actually did want to test my coding skills and actually make a pretty neat boss (requirements being having collected all secrets and unlocked double jump). I doubt this will happen though because the character himself has no combat-mechanics built in and it really messes with the setting of the game - SO, looks like it'll come in the second half of the game series.

The Bonus Levels
Not really fitting to this blog post but nonetheless it is probably best that I say these will be 2 Arcade-type levels which also have Perfection times. Getting them open is a lot harder than the regular Arcade levels as you have to Perfect Mellow Meadows and Craving Cavern for the first Bonus level, and Perfecting the remaining two - Vivacious Volcano and Everlong Everest opens the second Bonus level. Completing a Bonus level grants the player access to a secret (one for each), and Perfecting both grants the player the ability to double jump. This can come rather handy in the other game levels.

The levels will also introduce new mechanics, such as the crushing wall for the Wasteland level and the Core for the Core level (how fitting). With these new mechanics I want to take my time into creating the best suitable level design to make these as much fun as the other levels. They are relatively short (Core continues the '2 room' trend from it's pre-Perfections and Wasteland follows the '3 room' trend from it's pre-Perfections).

Note: The sequence of rooms is likely to be changed before release for some levels.

So until next time - I best get to work!


Monday, January 17, 2011

AD: Belated Christmas and Year 2011!

Merry belated Christmas! Sorry it's late I have been incredibly tied up. This blog is me wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year, but also to outline what's going on early next year with the release of Vest Trials: Approaching Dawn planned to be release mid January.

I plan on releasing VT:AD late January, which means hopefully it'll be ready before then (2-3 weeks should be more than enough to finish off what I have left to do, but I'm not going to rush it).

I'm deciding on how exactly to release VT:AD, and have come up with the following three options:

  • Option A: I release a low quality version (without a soundtrack) to the YoYo Games website. I will then release a version with a soundtrack to Game Jolt. The music tracks will be within the executable file meaning it'll only be one file (two if I include a readme).
  • Option B: I release a low quality version (without a soundtrack) to both YoYo Games and Game Jolt. I then upload the soundtrack by itself to a file-hosting site (in a ZIP folder). The folder will contain all necessary music pieces for the game. If the player wants to add the soundtrack to the game, they'll have to up-zip the folder and move the un-zipped folder to the same directory as the executable file. The only problem with this is that the files are able to be copied/moved etc. the folder will also include the details about rights, copyright etc.
  • Option C: I release a low quality version (without a soundtrack) to both YoYo Games and Game Jolt. Then I upload a version with the soundtrack to Game Jolt. The music tracks, like Option A, will be within the executable file.
These three options should (all) utilize the fact I want a less-intense download (~10Mb) and a more-intense download for the game with the full soundtrack (~30Mb). This should also stop people from complaining ("I'm not playing, I want music." and "File size too big, not going to download.").

I may as well say what's left to do in the game!

  • The Final Level - this (surprisingly) shouldn't take THAT long to complete, possibly 2-3 days once I get the room concepts done on paper.
  • The Speed Level - this level STILL hasn't been finished as I want another nice idea as the last room of the level.
  • The Thought Level - again, I'm thinking of an awesome last room to finish off this level.
  • The World HUB - pretty much complete, just need to add the Bonus level room and the two last HUB rooms. Pretty simple.
  • Cutscenes:
    • New Game Cutscene - I plan on doing an overhaul on the old one to make it a lot more fitting and to reflect the new changed plot.
    • The Ending Cutscene - Probably the largest of all the cutscenes, in this one I'm be using a mock-up character to give the feeling of the way the player actually moves (except isn't being controlled by the player), plus it is pretty graphic-intense so.. yeah.
    • Final Level Cutscenes - these smallish cutscenes for the Final Level should be relatively easy to make, but however somewhat graphic-intense.
    • Bonus Level Cutscenes - small cutscenes which don't really require THAT much new graphical stuff.
    • Game Intro Cutscene (when you begin running the .exe) - just to make it more fitting.
  • The Two Bonus Levels - relatively smaller levels (compared to the Final Level) so should get done within a few days if I concept the layout on paper first.
  • Adding Music - adding music to the game (I have a total of 17 tracks to be used), along with a lot more sounds, possibly some ambient noises to give the areas a better 'unique feel'.
After that it's just testing and tweaking that remain to be done. So until then, thanks!