What is Squillamorph?
Squillamorph is a 2D pixel art platformer. Gameplay consists of wave-based survival action, with the player fighting off a range of interesting and dynamic enemies. The player controls a small parasitic creature with the ability to 'infest' enemies, taking complete control of them. Find more information about the game on the About page.
Below is the development log for Squillamorph. It is GIF heavy and it might take a while to load them all.
Below is the development log for Squillamorph. It is GIF heavy and it might take a while to load them all.
Hey everyone, this update contains some exciting new additions to the game! However, I need to start by saying that the video update won't be happening any time soon. I've talked about making one for some time but I've got so much to do for Squillamorph, and other projects, that I just don't have the time to make one to the quality I'd like. Nevertheless, the posts here will continue.
In regards to these posts, I'm trying out a slightly different layout because I think it makes things easier to digest. Anyway, onto to the updates!
The best change, in my opinion, is the new HUD! Connor finished creating it recently and it instantly made the game feel more complete. Obviously the game still has a long way to go but the HUD is one of the most important parts of it. I'll quickly explain the information it highlights. The highest piece of information is the current number of lives, made clear with a heart symbol. The middle number is the current wave of enemies, which uses a symbol we intend to utilise throughout the game to represent enemies and the wave system. The lowest number is the points count, which uses a symbol we will associate with points. Finally, the image will represent the current creature the player is infesting, or just the base character as shown in the GIF.
We may end up changing the placement of each element, once we've done some more play testing, but for now I think it works great.
Level Design Updates
I've now got all of the current levels up-to-date and working well. They still need testing but they are all working mechanically. Some of the levels have gone through some design changes. Let's take the second tutorial level as an example. This level introduces the player to the main wave-based gameplay after learning the basic mechanics. It is a simple level with a horizontal layout. The player would spawn and fall onto a door that blocked the level exit. They would then have to find what we call a 'fuse', an infest-able machine that they can deposit points in, to open the exit door.
The original layout of the level did not make this easy for the players to figure out. Now that I've made the changes, the player must use a fuse to open a door, which leads to the level exit, and then use another fuse to activate the exit. This layout should teach the player how the levels work in a more understandable way than before.
I've been working quite a bit on the enemies this past week. I've started making a new variation of the Flop Shark, a larger and slower shark with more health and a powerful bite, which will add another interesting dynamic to the shark levels. Perhaps the most important, but the least noticeable, improvement I made to the enemies is the hands/feet. I've changed the movement of them to be smoother and I've started attempting to make their placement better. This was especially important to do because I've begun to make a much larger enemy which needs good limb motion, the boss for the shark region, the Flopalodon.
We are not ready to show this boss yet but the fight is fully planned and it is beginning to come together! Ideally, it will be complete, in a rough form, by next week. Then I will be able to show a preview of it!
For some time, I have been thinking about ways I could make the camera more dynamic. We have camera shake which definitely helps but the camera is always locked to the player character. I did try having the camera smoothly follow the player but because of sudden movements, like the helix dash, it actually looked anything but smooth. We could have a track for the camera to move around on in each level, keeping the focus on the space the player is in, but this would mean we have to set one up for each level. I then decided just to stick to the fixed camera, but the other day I had an idea. I came up with a system that keeps the core camera movement locked to the player but moves around in the direction of the most open space. This is almost what a camera track would do but it dynamically adjusts to any space rather than being limited to a set path.
This still needs a lot of testing because, while it is more dynamic, it might make aiming slightly harder. So we might not keep this but I thought it was worth mentioning!
That's it for this post. I hope you are as excited about the progress as I am! Thanks for reading!
Hey everyone, I'm sorry I missed last Sunday's post!
The video update is not yet ready, I'm going to try my best to get it done for next Monday. There are a couple of reasons for this but the main one is that I've decided to make some big changes to the game's level design process and this has taken up most of my time.
Progress on the Kobold is going well! The art assets are now in the game and its mechanics are almost complete. Something we might still add to it is a tail but this won't be until I've got the basics finished and the problems ironed out. The biggest problem by far is the legs. They are much better than they have been before but there is still something weird about them. I think it might be because the body is not affected by their movement so I might try adding a subtle bobbing motion to the body. Either way, this is going to be a very fun enemy to infest and fight with when it's done!
As I've mentioned before, I have created a specialised level designer project for Squillamorph. The output from this designer is a set of images, one for each layer of the level. Up until this point, I have thought this would benefit us because we could directly edit the level in Photoshop. However, the downsides of this method have begun to outweigh the positive aspects. I'll list a few: The time it takes to make a level with the current method is way too long, the process is complicated, the output images are massive, tweaking the design takes too long, and I had to write a really complicated guide to be able to use it. To sum it up, it needs to change.
I've spent a large amount of time creating a new and much simpler level designer. This one doesn't use any overly complicated image rendering, which means the levels will now use lots of smaller sprites and tile-maps instead of a few large sprites. So far, I've been able to almost finish remaking the existing levels, which already shows how much faster it is to use. I've also been able to use a few parts of the old designer, which has helped.
Although I put a large amount of time into something that isn't needed anymore, I did learn a huge amount while making the old designer.
New Level Effects
The new level design process allows us to easily make more layers of parallax. However, my existing parallax system wasn't great. So, I did some research and found a much better method that we can even use in the editor to place parallax assets more accurately.
Another new effect I am testing is depth of field. This isn't a custom effect, but one in the Unity post processing stack. We might be using it to help convey depth in the levels now we have more control over the placement of individual assets.
That's it for this post! There's about the same amount as a 1 week progress post because I was running and taking part in a game jam this past week! I really enjoyed it and learnt a few things that I'll can do for Squillamorph.
Hope you like the progress we've made, thanks for reading!
Hey everyone! In the last post, I said that there might be a video dev-log starting soon. There will not be one this week but I expect to get one done before the end of this month.
I have made some minor tweaks to the level designer project. I found out that I had not finished one of the functions of the render process, so I added that in. I also made some minor tweaks to the prefab assembly step of the level design process so that it is more automated. The designer is now at a point where we can really start making levels, as I have started to over the past week.
This is something I should have done from the very beginning but haven't until now. I have created a test room level to make it easier for me to test mechanics and enemies. It is very simple but worth mentioning because you will see it in one of the GIFs in this post.
The Kobold aka. 'Root-Toot-Point-&-Shoot'
I needed a break from system improvements and tutorials this week. So, I started creating the next enemy, which was the only other normal enemy besides the Flop Shark in the prototype demo. This enemy is called the Kobold. Originally, it was called Root-Toot-Point-&-Shoot, but this name is too long for us to work with so we renamed it. The above GIF is of the old version in the prototype.
So here it is now, in an early development form. The Kobold currently has one ability, the grenade throw which you can see in the GIF. This grenade does not deal damage but launches any creature away from it. The idea is that they will use the grenades to get up to higher areas. This will be one of the hardest things to get working properly with the pathfinding but I've got some ideas in the works for that. The other hardest challenge to solve with this enemy is something I have struggled with since the demo, leg movement.
The legs will work in the same way as the arms of the Flop Shark, but they pose a much greater challenge because they shouldn't logically go above the hips of the creature. I have some idea of how to do this but it is going to take some time to perfect. It gets even more complex when I realise that the Kobolds will need to climb in some situations. I am tempted to give them an arm to use in this situation to make their climbing look more plausible. Obviously, they wouldn't be able to use both arms here because one of them is a gun. I have not got the gun attack setup yet but I am looking forward to the fun chaos that might create!
I have started designing a few new levels to be used in the Flop Shark region of the game. They are still early designs and may change but I thought it would be good to show at least one of them!
Other tweaks include changing the tutorial screen that used to appear when infesting a creature to a name screen. This might change again but I think it is interesting to have something appear the first time you infest a new creature. We've also started creating a menu to show the Mutagens you collect and a proper HUD to replace the boring text placeholders I'm currently using, very exciting!
That's it for this post! I hope you like how the game is going. Thanks for reading!
I'm the game developer for Squillamorph! I'll post here on the devlog as often as I can.
I'm currently looking at an Early Access release this summer. Stay tuned for updates!