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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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...
You should be able to see most of the above in recent screenshots.
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.
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).
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.
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...
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.
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!
The Mighty Git