What is Squillamorph?
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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'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.