Monday, May 11, 2009

Current Status:

Got a bit of work done on this crazy nighttime plane ride I was on. Added the last of the originally planned new features in. Essentially where I am right now is the basics of all the objects are in. There's a lot of work to be done refining them and tweaking their behavior and some will probably get completely revamped in the future (balls come to mind, I'd like to add boxes too and that would require an overhaul because the balls were pretty much hacked in there at first). I also swapped out the flathead placeholder with a new one (the character from the original). It's still a placeholder though, all the art is getting revamped from scratch, and most likely in a new style. Jon is able to start work in a week or 2, so we might start seeing some more interesting, less tech-y screenshots by then.

We keep coming up with potential new ideas for the game. As a partnership we can do that, whereas a large company working on something like this would still be in the "planning" phase of development. Another plus for small teams! There's so many good ideas that could work with this game, in fact for a lot of them we're simply borrowing from common platformer elements and adding the lighting mechanic to them. It makes them feel new again really, and hopefully it all works logically. I don't know if you've played one of my games from last year, Blockslide 2, but that is probably my biggest released game to date (biggest, not best). Course, that was the problem in it. It was TOO big, and most didn't draw on common elements of similar puzzles. Instead, I opted to creating new rules for many of the 25 or so block types, and how they interacted with the other blocks. That's hundreds of interactions, and many of those had completely arbitrary rules (ice slid on grass but not on ice was probably one of the worst). 25 levels in the tutorial wasn't even enough to cover everything, and most people thought it was the whole game.

That's not to say the game wasn't good. By all means if you managed to learn the rules of it, the 150 puzzles in it plus the editor and the (about 800 by now) fan network puzzles were challenging and entertaining to solve, and well made. The barrier of entry though is just through the roof, and as a result, nobody enjoyed it but me and a couple of other people who cared enough to learn the rules.

One of the main goals of the design of the original Closure was to keep the new mechanics to a minimum. We had the lighting, and the pedestal behavior really. Keys were derivative of most platformers, and I'm not sure where No Drop Zones came from, but their behavior is extremely self explanatory. We had other ideas for it, but the limits of flash kept us in check for most of development. Now we have what feels like unlimited power to work with (even with no real graphical optimizations, I can still push 60 FPS on 1980x1080 resolution fullscreen) we have to keep ourselves in check with how much new stuff to add.

So how much stuff do we add in that's completely new? Really, nothing much. We have the lighting and the pedestal behavior inherited from before. Most of the new features we're adding are basically derived from traditional platformers, specifically the ones that can be made interesting through lighting. I want to avoid Blockslide syndrome as much as possible. The less we have to teach people, the more we can focus on actually designing good puzzles and telling interesting stories.

One of the things we've been struggling over in the design is what to do with No Drop Zones. In the original, they were a side effect of the engine. I had to decide what to do if you drop an inverse orb or key inside unlit ground, considering they weren't effected by light due to a need to have them shrouded in darkness, unlit ground still counted as ground. We basically decided to just not let you do that. A simple extrapolation from that concept, what if I make ground that never gets lit up? We get an area where you can't drop orbs. In the first game, that was how it was implemented. There's a spot where we discovered later you could drop an orb on top of one of the zones and it would sit there. That's not how it's implemented in the new one. Anyway the need for them is great, as a lot of puzzles work best with no drop zones, but we need to figure out what to make them. "No Drop Zone" is very much an outcast of the design of the original game. It's a very technical and boring thing compared to everything else in the game. It's sorta like calling the lava in mario "No Walk Zones", or spinies "No Touch Boxes", which is technically what they are. Problem is, nothing we've come up with as a potential solution to this is logical. Rainy areas was one idea but that makes no sense.

Which leaves us with 4 options:

1. Get rid of no drop zones period (least favorable idea)
2. Keep them the same (less than favorable)
3. Find a good mask for them (we're trying but it's extremely difficult)
4. Replace them with something that has the same effect on designing puzzles (ground that breaks orbs and keys you drop on it? Perhaps but there's still some limits there.)

So that's the current status of the game. It's still early and there's a lot to be done both graphically and mechanically, but it's already more than the flash version was. New video soon, I just have to make a few more test levels and record them.


Blogger Katz said...

Maybe for no drop zones you could make them barbed or electrified ground...
or they could be made of a cloudy/ghostly substance where only the main character can walk...
and everything else is absorbed by the ground mist(if dropped).

May 11, 2009 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger tech guy said...

I don't really understand why you have to shy away from "no drop zones" ... There are legitimate "no parking zones" and used identically (with slashed lines, to boot!)

On the other hand, you have glue/handcuffs/glove/body magnet? Something that indicates that the orb is stuck to you.

May 27, 2009 at 9:54 AM  

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