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Below is the development log for Squillamorph. It is GIF heavy and it might take a while to load them all.
Hello everyone! It won't be long now before Squillamorph launches on Steam Early Access. I've been working hard over the past week to get the game ready for it. Keep an eye out on social media, as I'll have the Steam page done very soon.
Improvements & Optimisations
The main focus of the past week has been on implementing the feedback I gathered at EGX. A lot of the changes are for balance reasons. One of the most prominent balancing issues was a combination of two mutagen upgrades. The dash cooldown reduction and kill enemy on ejection mutagens allowed players to farm enemies for points, as they spawned in. This meant that not only was there no threat of the player dying, as the enemies had no time to attack, but they could very quickly build up points. While I really enjoyed seeing players discover this, I do not want it to be as powerful as it is. To make it less rewarding, I've decreased the number of points the ejection kills give from 100 to 10. If it turns out that it is still too strong I will tweak it again.
There are many other tweaks, and a lot of optimisations. I've removed the preview video/GIF from the main menu, something which was there just for EGX. I find it funny that doing this reduced the size of the build to 1/3rd of its previous size. I also profiled the game, trying to find the most performance taxing elements. I expected it to be the ray-casting done by the physics objects, which I still intend to optimise. To my surprise, it wasn't. The biggest drain on performance is the lighting, which is unfortunate because there is not much I can do to improve it except remove the lights. I will look into more solutions for this a bit later down the line. Maybe some quality setting options are needed.
After the optimisations, I tested the game on my old laptop again. The game ran much better on it this time and this means I have an estimated minimum spec that can run the game, which is required for the Steam page. I expect some lower spec systems will be able to run the game but I cannot currently confirm this. I will be working to get the minimum requirements lower, but probably not before the Early Access launch.
Something I've been meaning to do for a while is work on the way I handle save data. Until now, I have used a method that saves data to JSON text files. This method works really well and I use it for both player saves and the local leaderboard. However, it is incredibly easy to edit the files and cheat the game. So I decided to find a more secure way of saving data. The easiest option was to switch to a binary format, which makes it slightly harder to edit the files. Doing this made me realise how badly I'd implemented the previous saving method. It relied on so many different scripts to function and took ages to unravel. So I've made sure that the new method is much cleaner and easier to alter. It took some iteration, but I got it working nicely.
The new method is slightly harder to cheat with. Even so, I knew it wouldn't be too hard to edit the files after a bit of research. This prompted me to look into file encryption. I did not expect this to be quite as complicated as it is. After a ton of research, and confusing myself to no end, I found a simpler method that I understood and implemented. Now it requires much more effort and research to cheat the game, which I hope puts most players off.
After tweaking their attack fire rate, I decided it was time for another variation of the Kobold. There is already a tank variation, so I thought a weak variant was needed. The upside of this variant is the fire rate, which is considerably faster than the other two variations. This makes it a harder enemy to deal with but it is fun to infest.
I've tweaked a few things to do with the big crushers in the Flopalodon boss room. They were the main source of bugs in the EGX demo. The most visual but bizarre bug was to do with their collision, which caused the player to be crushed when they weren't touching them or near them. Turns out this was because the player was able to move their colliders without visually colliding. A simple changed of a few parameters on the crushers fixed this. I also had to change the way their animation worked as they got stuck in a loop if the player failed to crush the boss. Hopefully, they will work properly now!
There is now a particle effect on active vents, similar to the one used for the level exits. This was added mostly because some players couldn't tell if a vent was active. I have also increased the size of the level exit effect as players did not notice it activating before. Fingers crossed that both of these will be more noticeable now!
That's it for this post. I hope you are excited for the Early Access launch! This week I will be doing more preparations for it and maybe add some new levels. I might have a solid launch date by next week, so stay tuned!
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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 very soon. Stay tuned for updates!