Having missed the last few weeks updates due to focusing more on my work and sticking to personal deadlines, I will use this post to go over the past three weeks of development and everything I have done in them.
I have slowly been developing and and re arranging my level to include more varied puzzles and more interesting architecture and environments while also focusing on making the level as clear to navigate and attractive as possible. I have moved the see saw puzzle as, based on tester feedback, it feels a bit complicated to give to the player right of the bat, while also taking up too much room in what should be a clear and open area. I think this will make the game much nicer for new players while also making it much easier to navigate which is exactly what I was wanting to achieve.
I have also made a few changes to the ruins area to make it more clear how to solve puzzles and which routes can be taken by the player, it feels much more like an enclosed and free area now and includes lots of physics based puzzles that utilise my mechanics nicely. I will try and fit the see saw puzzle in here as I want each individual area to have a unique puzzle composition (Canyon=Platforming, Ruins=Physics). Aside from actual changes I have made a few assets in Maya to make the area feel more real and thematic. I made a tiled floor and pillars which I feel make the ruins feel like a much more distinct area that will stand out to players.
Finally I made the basic version of my secret area, that is now going to be a small wooded area full of plants, to give the player a sense of discovery and a bit of diversity to the level.
I also made a new material that allows me to highlight the walk-able surfaces the player can use. I think this simple material will make it much clearer to players where they can and cant go and which directions they are supposed to go in. To make this even clearer I will use special colours and plants once I start my final set dressing pass.
Finally I also developed the pickups by making a simple pulsing emmisive material, adding a point light, making them spin slowly and using a rock mesh instead of a boring sphere. I feel the pick ups look really striking now and definitely entice the player into picking them up when they see them.
I have finally put in a handful of animations that make the game feel much more whole and compliment the gameplay very nicely. This is not an area I am going to focus on in the future so I dont mind them not being perfect but I am definitely glad they are there and add a certain level of polish and professionalism to the game.
I started making sounds with audacity and freesound.com and implementing them into my project. So far I have my sand footsteps, subtle wind, a pick-up sound and a small whir for the characters idle animation. feel just the implementation of these simple sounds has improved how the game feels dramatically and gives me a great idea of how the game will be when its finished.
I made the footsteps, pick up and whir sounds modulate so they sound slightly different each time, making them feel much nicer than just exactly the same sound over and over.
I made the footstep and whir sounds fit by adding play sound notifys to the animations so that the sounds only play at certain times.
The pick up sound is something I’m really proud of because coupled with the subtle controller vibration I added on pickup makes it feel really good to collect the meteorites. It has the perfect Spyro sound that I was trying to emulate, with my own earthy and satisfying twist.
I have also experimented with sound attenuation to make the huge meteor hum mysteriously. Though this was done very quickly I feel this adds a lot to the game and can be used in many ways.
I also spent some time tweaking my characters controller, making the character feel heavier and the jump a little more satisfying. While I don’t think I have it perfect yet it is getting there and definitely feels better than it did before the changes.
I also made a complete overhaul on the pick up and throw mechanic. I started from the ground up with help and created a whole new way of doing it that works so much better than before with little to no bugs. Instead of having the character fire a ray trace to any physics object of the right weight I now tag certain objects “grab”. This lets me choose the specific physics objects that the player can interact with. I also made sure that the rocks you pick up react as you’d expect, in stead of moving with the players rotation they are separate and look and feel much better than how they were before.
I have also spent some time making and implementing a simple main menu. It was really easy having just finished a UI module but I think it looks and works great and I feel a game of this style doesn’t require a complex UI or too much extra content added on to the main game.
I have been making paths the player can follow much more clear by using grass and colour to visually tell the player where puzzles start, what surfaces they can walk on and what directions they can go to find something new. I feel these subtle and attractive hints will help guide the player in a none invasive way, letting me keep the sense of exploration central and allow players to discover their own ways through the level.