Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beta stage testing has begun!

We are well and truly into the development process now, with our beta stage and testing beginning earlier this week. So far, we've tested about eight people, each with interesting observations and ways of playing our game. Overall, we have had good feedback about the game, with players complimenting the game's aesthetics, control scheme and ideas.

A few of the most important things that were frequently brought up:

1. We need to communicate the level objectives more clearly to players.

2. On the same note, we need to be able to show the players exactly what the aforementioned electricity boxes do.

3. The user interface needs a bit of work. Several users found the goo meter quite hard to notice.

4. Costs of the traps are not particularly clear. This ties in with point 3.

5. The amount of time you can hang on the grappling hook for needs to be made explicit.

It's all a matter of fixing these particular issues and retesting next week. Good luck to us!

Monday, August 22, 2011

On the verge of change.

We are on the verge of change, my friends.

Another week meant another meeting with Matt and Ross, the course tutors and masters of feedback. Their analysis of the game indicated that while we are on track as far as assets and programming are concerned, the game is still lacking where fun and dynamic gameplay is concerned.

At this point in the process, it's a question of improving what we currently have rather than adding new features. So after much debate and discussion over a few hours, these are what we have narrowed them down to:

1. Allowing the player to easily dismantle and rebuild traps. This allows for error on the player's behalf. The game will still encourage careful thinking of trap placement, by only 'refunding' players with half the amount of goo that they had to spend to make the trap.

2. A point that was brought up by Matt was that the player doesn't seem to have many opportunities to see the fruit of their work. Due to the way the camera works, the player needs to be standing very close to an alien in order to see it die. As a result, the camera should focus on the last alien of the wave dying (possibly with slo-mo).

3. A peashooter/projectile type trap. This has been animated in the past, just never implemented.

4. Points that need to be defended for certain stages. In this case, one of the levels will have electricity boxes that power the house. Players need to them back on if they are deactivated, but if they are all deactivated, it's game over.

5. A counter telling the player how many aliens are left. It gives players a more definite goal rather than having them believe that their efforts are aimless.

6. Pre-set hiding places. Although the new grapple mechanic makes the hiding trap that the player can set down feel useless, we still want to keep the option of hiding open to players. This will come in handy in one of the levels (sneak peek coming soon!).

7. A single-use trap that kills all enemies in a large radius.

8. Fix for traps to trigger when the centre of enemies reach the middle of the trap. This lends more meaning to concepts like 'the Fido alien is too fast to be hit by the Drop trap', etc.

9. Use of hammers to close doors. Again, the full implications of this will be revealed in our levels preview sometime in the future.

10. Player should not be allowed to run through aliens as it makes avoiding them too easy.

11. Making supply stations that allow the player to regenerate health. Especially useful during longer levels.

12. Allowing the player to instantly drop traps. This allows for greater movement of the player.

13. A trap with the purpose of attracting aliens. We particularly liked the idea of it being a model of Timmy.

Here's to a cram session ahead!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back from the blogging dead

It's been quite a while, hasn't it? The last few months have certainly been hectic. That's not to say things have quietened down at all; we're gearing up for our game's publication and launch sometime in early November.

So what has happened on the development front in the meantime?

1. We pitched our game to a group of industry professionals. This was the real capstone of the first semester of development. The best thing is that we received a lot of helpful and constructive criticism, which is helping us to get on track with the work that we have to complete this semester.

2. What this translates to for us right now is lots and lots of polish and functionality. Balancing enemy waves, prettying up the UI, implementing tutorials - things that make the game usable.

3. The next major point: giving the game some oomph. One of the major points of criticism we received at the pitch was that the game does not feel as engaging as it could be, so we're working to rectify that. As a result, we are currently working to implement a number of elements that will change the way the player experiences the game.

4. Ceiling grappling. This allows the player character to hang from the ceiling for a short period of time in order to avoid the aliens on the ground. However, players will still be vulnerable to Flier aliens. We're considering using this mechanic to allow the player to hook onto upper balconies so that they can jump between levels without using stairs.

5. Backdashing. We have decided that the player character should no longer be able to run through aliens as this makes life far too easy. And we're all masochists around here. So for split-second maneuvers, we have backdashing, with the added feature of letting Timmy do minor damage if he swings his weapon on backdash.

6. Multiple levels. The player will now have the opportunity to leave home and explore multiple other areas in the local neighbourhood. Maybe there will even be the chance to take down the big bad... ?

There is one last thing that we haven't been able to decide on: the game name. A lot of us are in disagreement about Awien Ambush. Any bright ideas out there?