What a difference a week makes. For some reason, (unbeknownst to me), I was feeling under quite a bit of pressure last week. The game was moving along slowly, I had spotted a few potential large bugs which had slipped through the net and I was starting to realise I had a real uphill struggle working by myself to progress this game to where I wanted it to be.
This week I’m feeling good again, and it’s mainly through realising that as we are a small team we can change things very quickly and make the development process as smooth as possible. A good example of this is that I managed to get my hands on a really pretty looking explosion animation which looked awesome, but it never really sat well in the game itself. Couldn’t put my finger on why, but I think it’s down to the art styling of the game. It was way too “real worldly” for the feel and look of the game and so, it’s gone… That kind of decision, whilst occasionally tough to make actually really affects how the game plays (and it’s very much for the better).
There are various other examples of “cool things” I threw in at the beginning of the game that haven’t made the final cut. I feel I have to ask myself things like “yeah, it’s cool, but does it feel right”? The way I feel is that if I am even asking myself that question then its out. If there is any doubt as to whether a feature/effect should stay then in my mind it shouldn’t be in there, or at the very least it should be open for discussion as to whether it should be in there!
So, what stuff have I been working on this week? Well the explosion effect has changed to something much more in fitting with the game (as stated), the HUD has changed a little and now keeps track of the “score”, has cool down timers for the main machine gun and nano-tech and also shows the nano-tech selected. I’ve also started work on the profile system and stat tracker. It’s an interesting area and one I’m looking to develop a bit more. The idea being that after each match you can see the stats, so stuff like bullets fired, bullets hit %, special weapons used, fuel used etc. etc. most of which doesn’t affect how you play the game, but combine this with a profile system in which all these things are tracked per player over time you can build quite an impressive profile of statistics to brag about.
These profiles will be unique to each player, so the more you play the better your profile becomes. Also toying with the idea of a levelling system which would be fairly easy to implement and hopefully aid in the longevity of the game by giving you access to different weapons/nano-tech etc. the higher level you are. What is important here is that whilst the new weapons need to be cool, I don’t want them to be overpowering. So if you get a level 50 vs. level 1 match, the level 50 player shouldn’t be able to use his “OMFGMissile” to obliterate the newbie. Also considering adding visual tweaks and stuff to higher ranked players – a bit like Warhawk on the PS3; so as you gain experience and levels you can customise the look of your ship a bit more so people can tell you are that level (rather than you have to openly brag about it!).
Lots of stuff to consider here and will need a bit more thought/planning before I even attempt to implement it.
Also this week I have implemented the new tile set, and it rocks! The old tile set we were using was one I dug up from the internet somewhere and whilst it did its job admirably it just wasn’t good enough for the game itself in so many ways. Good old Phil has come up trumps again and come up with a really great tile set which fits really nicely in the dome and looks the business. A little bit of scaling work is required with some of the tiles, and I also need to recode bits of the map editor as this was very much built around the old tile set but other than that it looks much better than previously.
I also need to start work on the customisation options. The theory here is that you can control and set the actual physics of the game. So for example, if you wanted Jupiter levels of gravity then you could do so, likewise if you wanted no gravity (or even reverse gravity) you could do that too. Despite this being quite fun to test I need to give it quite a bit of forethought. An area I have to give careful consideration to is the effect that picking certain options has within the actual game itself. For example some of the ships don’t have the most fantastic acceleration in the world and if gravity was set very high then technically they wouldn’t be able to take off. Sure, its funny at first but it would get annoying quite quickly! Also if you selected no gravity how on earth would you land to refuel/repair! Would it be sufficient to simply display a warning message when certain combinations of settings are picked – i.e. high gravity, slow ship etc. Or do I need to build in another failsafe to prevent these selections being picked in the first place? Decisions, decisions!
As the festive season approaches however the day job gets busier and busier as does my social life, so time is even more restricted on the development side of things at the moment which is a pain. When I’m on the up all I want to do is spend time developing, having said that sometimes a break is a good thing. It allows my mind to wander a little and come up with new, fresh ideas that I can test. So whilst I’m busy playing L4D2, Assassins Creed 2, Mario Kart Wii and New Super Mario Bros Wii over the Christmas period, my mind will be wandering trying to think of new things to bring to Blast! (and that’s also my excuse for being rubbish if I meet any of you guys in any games over the Christmas period)!
Ooh yes. Its my Birthday tomorrow too (the 8th) – all presents gratefully accepted!