Mighty Tactical Shooter

Turn-Based Tactical Side Scrolling Shoot 'em up - In Development.

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Monthly Progress Update 1

A lot can happen in a month, especially when it's your first month of Kickstarter funded development.

First off, if you're a backer then by now you may be sick of me thanking you. Unluckily for you I'm not sick of saying it :P So... Thank you. Fully and sincerely.

TL;DR

One month of dev, the game is better, it'll get better yet, everything seems on schedule.

For anyone who wants a deeper explanation here's a run-down of the past 4 weeks of development...

Seamless Replay

Being a turn-based shoot 'em up means there's a lot of stop/start in the game-play. This is great for tactics but makes for poor viewing, except that the game lets you do cool stuff you'd love to show off. If only somehow you could have a replay that omitting all the planning. Also it would be great if you could save it as a movie and upload the awesome thing you just did to your favourite movie sharing site. You could even call it... Seamless Replay.

It was a not-quite-reached stretch goal in the Kickstarter, but it was close enough that it had to go in. It took two weeks and a fair amount of fiddling with different techniques.

Buddy Love

The three AI Buddies that form the ships interface were supposed to be quite easy to attach to. They are the games emotional latch.

Of course, it was easy for me to be attached to them - I knew what they did, how they acted and what their future held. I was a proud parent, but blind to their faults. Everyone else saw them as blank faced emotionless sprites who went beyond enigmatic and out the other side of bizarre.

In order to try and inject more character into the Buddies we added eye animations. They blink, they look hurt when damaged, they look angry, and happy. In theory this should make it easier for us to identify with them.

Eye Eye Eye!

We also added voices, but limited it to running out of power and sustaining damage as these are key events in the game. Opinions in the team differ about the voices so we're waiting to hear back from the Alpha testers to see if they think it adds anything to the game.

I've no doubt the buddies will need yet more character, but it's a good start and it's getting closer to the vision I have for them.

UI and Control

There was some common feedback from both the many shows we exhibited at this year and from our Kickstarter backers. My guesses at what others would find intuitive were on the money in some places, and waaaay off the mark in others.

Here are the stand out issues that have now been addressed...

  • The game runs 50% faster - I only intended to make it faster for testing purposes, but the difference was astonishing. It stopped feeling ponderous and sluggish and started to feel more shmup.
  • Weapon cancelling and toggling - previously once you deployed a missile, gravity weapon, laser or main weapon it stayed deployed. If you swapped you lost the previous weapon. Unwittingly I was being super harsh on people new to the game who just wanted to experiment in order to gain understanding of the game. Now you can remove deployed weapons from your turn and toggle the main weapon at no cost.
  • Staying 'still' - this was a very popular request. Your move normally consists of travelling the path you've described on screen. The amount of time that passes depends on the length of the path. But... what if you wanted to stay exactly where you are? Previously, you couldn't do it. You had to zig-zag. Now if you double click the ship without making a path you'll stay in the same spot for a fixed amount of time. I'm still not 100% on this, but it may lead to a better solution.
  • Lock to mouse for aiming weapons - missiles and gravity weapons now 'stick' to the mouse when selected. This saves a hunt, click and drag, and also means I can stop worrying about wearing people's fingers down to the bone.
  • Path Highlighting - it's now easier to pick out the path your working on when your screen is filled with missile, ship and enemy paths all overlapping.
  • More information on screen - Sometimes a picture is a thousand times more confusing than words. I'd cleverly embedded all the info you needed about the ships status into the dashboard. "Cleverly embedded" turns out to mean "easily ignored and misunderstood". Oops. So now we've got text info about Gun and Shield buddy on screen at all times, and you can mouse over parts of the dashboard to get more info about plugins and Repair Buddy. Now that this information is more obvious it's easier to see the effect of your choices on the ship's systems.
  • Simplified damage and power visuals - damage to the ship shows on the power corridor. This damage causes restrictions of the the power from from the power core to the Buddies. Damage is now limited to certain areas for clarity, and power flow is more obvious.
  • Repair Buddy shrunk - oh noes! Actually it's added a certain cuteness to Repair Buddy, but that wasn't the reason for it. The simple reason was that Repair Buddy was obscuring too much of the power corridor as it's zipped up and down repairing.

You should be able to see most of the above in recent screenshots.

Inventory and Fabrication replaced with Plug-ins

It was hard to let this one go. I put a lot of effort into a clever and inventive inventory and fabrication meta-game system. So clever and inventive that it defied both explanation and fun. That's game design! Every idea can look good viewed through the lens of a biased mind, sometimes you need the reality to sit in front of you for months screaming "I'm no fun!" until your I'll-polish-it-later tinted sunglasses fall off. Message received and understood.

That whole Inventory and Fabrication menu has gone now. It is replaced by Plug-ins on the power corridor.

Plugins

Some of the plugins are re-charged by the power core, some require nano dust supplied by Repair Buddy. Get too banged up and trigger happy and Repair Buddy will be swamped with too much to do and you'll be forced to dodge and hide (oh, the indignity of it all).

Close up of Plugin Status

Currently you can't pick which Plugins you want attached, but this will be implemented soon and adds to the tactical choices in the game.

I'm happy with the changes. I'll be getting most of what I wanted from the old system in something that's a lot easier to understand. It's a fair trade.

New Boss and Environment

Pipsi has been working on adapting the winning designs from our Design-A-Boss competition (we only ran this at show events). The first one to get to pixel stage is a lovely circular boss whose concentric rings rotate independently.

Here's a sneaky peek...

Proto Boss

She's also been working on the Cellular level environment. No pictures yet for this one, it's under wraps until Pipsi is happy with it.

Under The Hood

I also upgraded all the software dependencies for the game to the latest version. This caused an unanticipated problem which solved an unnoticed problem. I'd unwittingly scaled the game at a level that caused the 2D physics engine major precision problems. In Unity 4.3 this went unnoticed, but when I upgraded Unity started to complain loudly. I was forced to scale everything up by 10. Oh how I cursed... until I started to notice that many of the little quirks I'd put in the "to be solved later" column were now solved.

The main difference the player would notice is that the hit boxes for collisions now feel correct. The main difference I notice is that I could remove lots of fudge code I added to work around these problems and quirks.

Ok, talk to you next month for the next public update!

ttfn,

The Mighty Git