Friday, April 29, 2011

AD: Progress until game is complete.

Thought I'd make a small list of what's left to do in the game before I class it as 'complete'. I still have to 'finish' some parts of the game, add things in, and after I 'finish' the game I go through polishing things (and editing things). So really I finish then polish then I class it as complete. But anyway, the list!

To Do (Then game is classed as 'finished'.):

  • Add in remaining 5 small cutscenes to Final level.
  • Add in final half of Final level final cutscene (three finals in one sentence, win).
  • Three more World HUB rooms (one being a bonus room, two being the rooms leading to the ending cutscene).
  • Completion of the ending cutscene.
  • Adding in Bonus levels and all the things related to them (rooms, items, cutscenes etcetera).
  • Implementation of music/more sounds.

To Do (Then the game is classed as 'complete'.):
  • 'Finish' the game.
  • Redo Introduction cutscene.
  • Redo Arcade cutscenes.
  • Redo Quality cutscenes.
  • Test.
  • Polish rooms, sprites, bits of code, whatever that needs fixing.
  • Test.
  • Final touches.

So really there isn't that much more left to do in the game. Hopefully today I get all cutscenes relevant to the Final level done and get to work on the remaining HUB rooms. No ETA just yet, as I plan to do a final beta run right before the game release to a few select testers/real life friends to make any adjustments to the game before the final release.

I'll also most likely die down with the blog posts as I'm really running out of things to talk about relevant to the development of AD.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

AD: Development of Puzzles II

WARNING: This blog post contains a fair few spoilers about the Final level and its rooms. If you don't want to Spoil them I suggest you don't read this blog post.

This is the second part of my 'Development of Puzzles' "series" I guess you could call it. The past blog post talked a bit about the rooms rFinalLevelC and rFinalLevelB, so that leaves rFinalLevelA and rFinalLevelD for this one to touch on!

I know it looks like the Final is another one of those levels were you do rooms in a set order, but the Final level is a bit different. Upon entering the Final level 'lobby' you can choose to go into either A, B or C right off the bat, which means all three of those have to be around the same 'difficulty'. They're not, though. As you saw from the previous post B and C are rather different from each other and aren't really classed (in my mind) as the same level of difficulty, but that doesn't phase me much.

That leaves D, the real 'last' level room of the game (excluding Bonus levels which are unlocked/can be completed at the very beginning [Arcade levels]), and A one of the three 'potential first' level rooms of the Final level.

Now this was a funny room to make. I was toying around thinking of making an Arcade-esque room to begin with, but then for some strange reason I wiped it clean and tried to make a room out of falling platforms (platforms that fall if you stand on them for a specific amount of time). This turned out to be quite the accident as I made a complete room and tested it out for the sake of wondering how it would be. To my surprise it was very difficult, mainly because it required the player to have confidence in where exactly they're jumping and the precision of their jumps, it's VERY easy to just jump not far enough or maybe too far and miss the platform, falling to your doom (well I guess not your doom, but whatever).

I was unsure of whether or not this room would fit well, but after examining it a bit more and it being something 'different' than a regular level room, I decided to stick with it and keep it. It'll prove to be a challenge to those who even slightly begin to think they're not going to make that next jump, because you'll begin tapping the left and right keys mid-jump to adjust where you land, and if you are under confident about where you're jumping too and you move the player too far to one side, restart! I tried to make the room based where it was the players fault for restarting (well it is, really).

It was also probably one of the quickest (if not the quickest) room to make as well, which is always a bonus!

After looking back on the level itself it does make heavy use of precise jumping so it could be called 'Arcade-esque' I suppose, but I prefer for it to be separate from any Arcade levels as they all include multiple obstacles (there are two in this Final level room). I did however find myself addicted to trying the room over and over again until I managed to beat it (I can beat it rather easily now). To tell you the truth it took me around 10 minutes to get the room right, so not too bad at all I think!

The final Final level room, and probably the most difficult out of all rooms in the entire game (which is what I hoped for). Essentially the room consists of two 'game portals', the door leading onto the last cutscene for the level (level completion), a Save Pad and the Exit Pad.

The two game portals will lead the player into two simple 'mini-games' both connected to each other somehow. The 'mini-games' are called Energon and Factorium respectively and do not need to be completed in any specific order.

This mini-game the player is a... Energy collector, blasting good energy (blue balls) with energy capture devices. Bad energy (red balls) cannot be captured and will damage the energy collected if come into contact with it. Of course the game ends when the player runs out of health.

The goal of this game is to beat the original high-score which was set (100 for this mini-game), and as time goes on, it gets progressively harder to capture energy without being hit by multiple bad energy. You'll really have to focus on shooting constantly up into the air and dodging the bad energy when they bounce of the wall below you.
There isn't much 'puzzle' to this room, it's really more reliant on skill (and maybe a tiny bit of luck). The Energon mini-game is probably the more difficult of the two (getting the right shots mean everything). I won't spill everything about this room as I think I want some left to be a 'surprise' I suppose.

Now this mini-game relies on concentration and reflexes. Essentially you have to press specific arrow keys at specific times. The arrow key is signaled by the direction of the arrow pointing on the crate, if it's left, press the left key, right, right key etcetera. The specific time is when the crate reaches the center of the conveyor belt (the screen will turn green signalling you can press the key now). The crate will stay in that spot for a certain amount of time depending how many crates you've 'completed' beforehand. Slowly they'll go to the middle faster and have a shorter time in which you can 'complete' them.

The game requires you to replay it a fair bit as you'll most likely stuff at least one up the first few tries, but if you do what I did, when I beat the mini-game I did a massive leap of joy in my room shouting out "I DID IT!" then I know it's good.
They're not 'fully' finished, but are working and fulfill their purpose, the only things left to do now is to polish them up (which I'll do once I pretty much complete the game).

These two mini-games I'm rather proud of making and hopefully that and all the cutscenes throughout the Final level (there's a few of them!) will make the level exactly how I envisioned it, an epic way to finish the game.

Well this just about wraps up the four rooms of the Final levels, hopefully now that it's done I can get onto the three main things that are left before I go on a polish spree - Bonus Levels, Cutscenes and Music Implementation. I might be throwing up a small Development of Puzzles III blog post outlining the Thought level puzzles, but we'll see what happens!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

AD: Development of Puzzles I

WARNING: This blog post contains a fair few spoilers about the Final level and its rooms. If you don't want to spoil them I suggest you don't read this blog post.

Greetings (finally another blog post from me), as you probably notice there is a massive vest trials: Approaching Dawn logo at the top of the blog now so I won't need to keep posting the logo at the top of each blog post.

This 'post' I'm actually going to split up into two separate posts, both touching on two of the four rooms of the Final level of AD. This one talks about rooms (which in Game Maker) I named rFinalLevelC and rFinalLevelB (I didn't make them in order A-D, I actually made them C, B, D, A which is weird I know). It will talk about the puzzles (the answers on how to do them) and why I made them like they were. I may also touch on the Thought Quality level puzzles on a third part of a post, but we'll see how it goes with just the Final level first.

Probably one of the most difficult things of current level design in AD is that just about the entire Final level is puzzle-based. Now sure I don't have to come up with physical difficulties such as perfect jumps etcetera, but I have to create mental challenges, requiring the player to actually think of what to do. The first room developed of the Final level I nicknamed 'evil colour wheel lasers of doom' shows some of the much more difficult puzzles you have to undertake.
This puzzle is.. different as it requires the player to make use of what I call 'quick-thinking' and mapping. The mapping part is relatively easy - draw a small mock-up of the room on a piece of paper and plot the locations of each specific laser and its colour (there are 12 - red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green etc.), and also to quickly mock-up a colour wheel with all 12 colours (with red at the top - the way of the colours i.e. red -> yellow -> blue clockwise is indicated by a colour wheel found in the bottom corner of the room). The 'quick-thinking' part is to figure out what to do and how to do it. Yes I realize that this room IS a lot more difficult than any other possibly in the entire game, but I want a room like this to outline what this game is all about - difficulty in the form of physical challenges and mental challenges.

What actually needs to be done is for you to check the colour of the laser, perform the action ("Move Laser Colour # spaces anti-clockwise/clockwise"). For example if we have a blue laser and it says "Move Laser Colour 2 spaces clockwise" we would then think "Blue -> Blue-Purple -> Purple" and then find the Purple Laser and trigger it, shutting down a laser. Another thing to think about is what exactly the 'odd switch' does - it resets the timer to a time depending on which laser you're currently on (changing the colour of the laser in the process). The odd switch is required to initiate the next laser after shutting the previous one down.

This can make the room rather tedious and will require the player to attempt it more than once - but this is where I wanted to incorporate elements from previous levels into the Final level rooms. The room requires a great deal of thought and curiosity (Thought Quality level), being able to navigate quickly around the room (Speed Quality level) and the ability to keep at it even if you fail three or eight times (Persistence Quality level). Personally this is what I love about the room is that it gets my blood pumping quickly and is fun (for me - I have a 'love' for those three qualities, which is why I implemented them into the game). People have also said the differentiation between some colours is bad, but I have a solution for that - keep pulling the odd switch until you get the colour you can recognize and one where you know exactly where the switch is. Because none of the three lasers can be the same colour as each other, you will always have to pull three separate switches from around the room. Using this tactic can make the room a lot easier, and it is one that I myself use sometimes.

The reason why the puzzle is like it is now was me simply trying to incorporate all three Quality levels into a single Final level room, adding elements from all of them to the room. The idea itself developed from a simple 'room with three switches' where you pick one, if it's right then you can move on, if not restart (Persistence aspect). Then I added on the Thought aspect, where the right switch requires you to think about a relationship between something and something else (also something that could be generated differently each time the player enters the room) - which is where the coloured lasers, switches and colour wheel came into play. The final aspect to be added was Speed, where I simply added a timer, a switch that can reset that but also changes the colour of the laser, and for each laser you shut down the switch restores less and less time.

This room was really fun to make... not. Essentially it's a giant maze home to three switches. Not a very original 'puzzle' I admit, but I always wanted my game to have a maze it in, generally with it being towards the end (which it is). The creation for this room took a real long time due to the sheer amount of tiles required needed to be placed 1 by 1 (I placed around 13,000 tiles in total for this room).
Oh and did I mention, to add a bit more difficulty, I lowered the light so you can only see a portion of the world around you (similar to one of the Overworld rooms). Hopefully this combined with the size of the maze would mean maneuvering throughout the maze will become a bit of a challenge.

The purpose of the maze is for you to find three switches (all green, on, which makes them harder to find due to the tileset used having the same green colour) so you can unlock the floor near where you teleported in. This means not only do you have to get lost in the maze finding the switches, but you have to find your way back!

This is where I wanted to test out different methods of completing a maze, for the most part the left-wall rule works (where you follow the left wall throughout the whole maze leading you through practically everything also leading you back to the start). But the locations of one(or more) switches cannot be found using this rule so you may have to do a bit of 'blind' exploring!

In all this room was probably the easiest to come up with an idea as I wanted a maze in the game somewhere, and the Final level seemed the perfect place to put it. Even I myself get lost in the maze sometimes, which is completely and totally fun as...

That just about wraps up everything covered in the first part of the post series. I will post the next outlining rooms rFinalLevelD and rFinalLevelA in the next few days, so stay tuned for more!