A lot of good things have happened this week! I mentioned in the last post that we were going to do some play-testing. We did and have got some great feedback from it. Also, I've made a few changes to the website. I've updated the title logo, background screenshot, and colour to be more up to date. I hope you like it!
We wanted to get a few things out of the play test we did this week. Firstly, we wanted to know if the game was satisfying to play. This included how the controls feel to use but mainly if combat is fun. Most players found it relatively easy to control and enjoyed the combat. However, there was a general consensus that the game was lacking in content; not in the form of levels but in the form of gameplay and or mechanics. The combat is very simple at the moment, there is only one attack and that is triggered by clicking. A few players had some suggestions, which we have now had time to discuss and adapt to best fit the game.
One of the suggestions was a change to the way players advance through levels. The idea is to have multiple routes out of levels, with each route being a different difficulty. We have decided that we will try out this idea. The first level of a segment of the game will have three exits, each one being either easy, normal or hard. There will be a series of levels on each of these routes with different enemy variations and level designs. We will still be including small lore based levels but these will now be affected by the difficulty of the path the player chooses. We may also hide secrets throughout certain levels which could lead to hidden levels or collectables, but we're still discussing that
Another thing a few players suggested was power-ups, which we struggled have contemplated before. We weren't sure how we could use them because the player never stays in one form for very long. After some discussion, Connor suggested that we try out something similar to item systems in rogue-like games. I really like this idea because it allows for much more variety in gameplay and, if done right, opens up for more replay-ability. So we now have a collectable power-up/upgrade/item system which we are calling mutagens. We will limit the base power level of the player character. They can then unlock new abilities through the collection of mutagens found throughout levels. We haven't yet decided how we will give these to the player but it opens up all sorts of fun gameplay possibilities. For example, there could be a mutagen that makes enemies explode when you stop infesting them. The one in the GIF increases the jump height of the player. (The visual design is placeholder)
As I expected, the tutorial is a little bit boring. Players pointed out to me that this is because there is little feeling of progression. In our original demo version of the game, we had a tutorial that spanned across multiple rooms. Back then, it was boring because it took too long to get across them. Now it is the opposite. It feels like it takes too long to finish it because there is nothing to do before the main gameplay starts. To resolve this I am going to compartmentalise the tutorial level. It's design won't change much, but the whole space won't be open from the start. Large doors will control where the player can go to begin with. This also allows us to visualise the A.I. characters' control over the world and the player in a more direct way. I am quite excited for this change but it will take a bit of time to perfect.
I've talked about the way we design and make levels several times. The level image system has been great up until this week when I wanted a moving scenery asset in the game. I can't put it in the scene image we render because it has to move but I want to use the same asset with different colour palettes to limit the number of sprites we have. The only solution is to adapt the colour palette post effect shader I made to work with normal mapped assets. I'm no shader wizard, especially when it comes to lighting as I've only made unlit shaders before, but thanks to the Unity documentation and forums I've been able to add normal map support to the shader. This also gave me an opportunity to make another variant of the shader for the enemies, who can now use colour palettes. Yay!
Wow, another long post! There are another few things I've done since then, such as putting some sharks on the menu screen and making some music for the shark levels, but I think that's enough for this post. I hope you like the progress we're making and if you have any feedback feel free to leave a comment!
I'm the game developer for Squillamorph. I'll post here on the devlog as often as I can.