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Hey everyone! Just a short update because I am going away for a week and don't have as much time as normal to write this!
I've been working through a list of fixes and improvements for the existing game content for a while now. While this is all necessary work, I just had to do something different this week. So I revisited what will be the next enemy in the game, the Kobold! It's been ages since I last worked on it and I wanted to complete it's core functionality, which I have done! It feels really fun to play with but definitely needs a ton of testing and balancing. I'll give a quick recap of them as I can't remember how much I talked about them before.
Their attack is very different to the current enemies because it is ranged. The laser beam they fire will go through everything except walls. This makes controlling them a bunch of fun because you can line up shots to hit multiple enemies at once! The ability of the Kobold is to throw a grenade sort of object. The grenade deals no damage but launches any creatures away from it on detonation. When I finish working on it, they should use the grenade to reach the player if they have to get up to a high platform. It works in a similar way to the Flop Shark leap ability.
I'm very excited to keep working on this enemy as I've already had a blast testing it. Should be a lot of fun when it has its own levels!
Hey everyone! The past week has felt great for progress! I've worked on a ton of improvements which have made the game feel much more enjoyable to play. I've started to really enjoy testing it! Anyway, let's start with the level design changes.
I've nearly got all of the Waste Processing levels, that's the Flop Shark region of the game, to a playable point. The last level of the region isn't ready yet but the other three are almost finished. After testing them in sequence, I noticed there was something that didn't feel right about the first level. At the events I've taken the game to, I've only included this level so that it doesn't take too long for players to reach the boss. I made the level a bit larger to make it interesting without having to add more levels, but this now feels strange with the other levels being a bit smaller. So I've shrunk certain parts of the level while managing to maintain the overall design.
Another aspect of the first level that I originally thought would be a good addition was an unlock-able shortcut back to the player spawn point from the exit. However, I found that players were more interested in unlocking this optional and empty passageway than unlocking the exit. While I do like levels that loop around, and will probably use this sort of design later in the game, I no longer like the idea of it being in one of the first levels the player will experience. Removing it has actually made the level feel much more streamlined. I'm pleased with these changes, especially as I enjoy playing the level more now that it is compact and simplified!
I've got a new level to add to the list. This is a level that will appear at the end of each region. I want to reward players for completing regions to make them feel good about making progress. This was always going to be done with the Mutagen upgrades, which I've talked about before, but until recently I was not sure about the best way to do it. What I've come up with is a choice between three different Mutagen upgrades that the player will be able to identify through their symbols. I used to show what a Mutagen does using text that appeared when the player got close to it. However, I think that it might be more interesting to let the player guess what it is or learn to identify Mutagens by their symbols. I think I will make the reward selection random for each play-through when I have more of them, but for now it is the same every time. Hopefully, this will promote replay-ability and make replaying the game more interesting.
Tweaks & Fixes
As I've already said, I have done a lot of testing over the past week. This has led to the discovery/rediscovery of a bunch of bugs and issues that I am working my way through. One that has been irritating me for a while is the player appearing behind parts of the Flop Shark arms. It wasn't too noticeable but drove me crazy when it happened. I fixed this when I found that the enemy materials still use 3D space sorting rather than 2D sorting layers. Another issue was that enemies would damage themselves if the player infested one while it was attacking. Enemies would also continue attacking if stunned during an attack. To fix this, I added an interrupt to the attack animations. There are many other fixes but I've mentioned the main couple that were irritating me.
Before finishing the post today, I should mention that I'm going away next week. This means that the next post might come out at the end of this week instead of next Monday. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this week's post!
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Hello everyone! It's been another good week for progress on the game. I've been busy working on the backgrounds, tweaking the infest mechanic, and making exciting new features! I'm also trying out a wider GIF size. Let me know if you like it!
After writing last week's post, I decided to do some more research into other pixel art games and how they handle backgrounds. The most common way to make backgrounds seems to be using tile-sets just like the foreground. However, I don't want to use traditional repeating tiles in the background of Squillamorph, like it has had before, because there are a ton of tiles to cover and it looks very repetitive. Then I found an interesting method of creating panelled walls in a 3D game. A tweet I saw from the Prodeus Twitter showcased this method of having panels appear according to the rectangle they created. I then found that a similar method is used by the developer of Megasphere to quickly create pixel art backgrounds. I decided to give it a go and see if it would work for Squillamorph.
Despite finding these examples with relative ease, finding any other examples or explanations was nigh impossible. I realised I would have to devise my own method. I started by figuring out how to compare rectangles. I needed to do this so that I could draw a rectangle of any size, using a sprite renderer, and have the sprite change to one that matches its size from a sprite sheet. The method I came up with compares the diagonal size of the rectangle I make against those on a sprite sheet. It then swaps out the sprite on the rectangle for the matching sized sprite on the sprite sheet. I soon found that I could not do this accurately without snapping the sprite's position and scale. The result is seen in the GIF at the start of this section. I am very happy with this and find it much faster to make decent backgrounds now!
I've made a few little changes to balance and improve the infest mechanic. I've now added the ability for me to decide whether an enemy is infest-able or not. This is a really nice improvement for as it means I've been able to stop players from accidentally infesting the 'fuses', the machines you deposit points into, once they are full of points. It has also let me stop players infesting the Test Dummies with no swords in the tutorial. Enemies which are stunned can no longer be infested either. This was for the sake of balancing considering how easy it is to stun enemies now. This change has also allowed me to create a new one time infest machine.
Up until now, I haven't made the Mutagens a massive part of the game. They have appeared as floating symbols which are collected upon player contact. The only collectable Mutagen in any of the levels, for now, is the wall jump in the tutorial, which was supposed to teach players about them but ended up needing more explanation. This was especially prominent when players moved so fast that they couldn't see the text that told them it was a wall jump before collecting it. So to solve this, I have now made Mutagens something that the player will be forced to see. This is done by making them infest a machine that plays a short animation to apply the mutagen. Then, similarly to the tutorial screen that appears upon infesting an enemy, a screen telling them how to use the applied mutagen will appear and the game will pause while it is there.
My reason for showing a screen that explicitly describes the ability is that this has worked really well so far for the enemies. If you are a developer, I am sure will know that making a tutorial is hard. Every time I show the game and thought I'd made a decent or improved tutorial, I've had to explain it to the player anyway. I don't want to end up explaining everything with a bunch of text because it is boring and doesn't work. Currently, the only bit of the tutorial that players don't forget about, is the screen that appears when they infest an enemy for the first time. I think it might be because it is the only time the gameplay completely stops which forces the player to pay attention. Obviously, I won't overuse this because it might break immersion. I will be looking to improve this method as time goes on, to incorporate it into the game world in a diegetic way.
I'm the game developer for Squillamorph! I'll post here on the devlog as often as I can.