The past week
During this week, we have gotten ahold of one of the books our examiner recommended, although we have not started reading it yet. We can’t push this task too much ahead of us, during our next work-week we will need to read the text so we can complete the research for Part 1 of our Bachelor’s Thesis.
Second text draft for World One done
Michael has finished the second draft of the texts for World One, the draft has been implemented and tested on two play testers. The test was made spontaneously and without any preparation, but still gave us some insights on how the text was interpreted. The gameplay worked well for the testers without too many uncertainties, both managed to complete the game within a reasonable timeframe. The tests revealed the need for a “Continue” button when text appears on screen, pausing the game and letting the player choose when to continue.
The Intro for the second draft (world one) can be read below. The complete second draft is split into Intro, Mid and End with each part being equal in length.
Fire. It reminds me of my time in the streets. They said the demonstration was for the good of all, that everyone participating would get an eternity in warmth and peace. All I could see from the tears in my eyes was the fumes and scorched meat.
Ice. My fellow streetwalkers turned on me after I left the group. The place I left for wasn’t any better of course, no one would trust a former believer. “How could you be so gullible!?” they exclaimed in cynical distrust. Seemed pretty convincing at the time, I thought.
With this text, Michael has tried to take the essence of what it could be like to switch from one world view to another, leaving as much as possible up for interpretation by the reader. Michael envisioned a religious demonstration made on the streets of a large city, with the main character breaking free from the religious group as the leader’s promises do not hold up to reality. The main character tries to find a place to belong which shares his mindset of right and wrong, but is not socially accepted in any other place. The story is told using an inner monologue where the main character is contemplating previous events in his life.
Level design done and movement tweaks
Michael finished the level design for both worlds this week. After trying out some different designs, he decided to make it easier to move with the red-green and blue-red pieces, since even we ourselves would get stuck too often in our levels with these pieces. The combined pieces were meant to be “stronger” than the non-combined, which is also why we opted to go for this change. The new movement pattern for the red-green piece can be seen below.
The red-green piece (selected) can now move to its inner spaces as well, which makes a lot more versatile and viable in different puzzle scenarios. As the picture shows, we have started implementing the final art assets for the pieces in-engine.
Camera movement and Board creation
Michael has spent parts of Thursday and Friday on juicing up the game, i.e. making the game feel better to interact with. He started by adding a cinematic for the introduction of the game, making the camera slowly move downwards revealing the fire and ice. He also added the Spawn animation for the board spaces, making them fall down randomly from the top of the screen. These smaller parts of polishing up the game is extremely important for player immersion and experience. If the game looks and feels good to the player, he/she will have a much easier time with engrossing themselves in the experience.
Implementing the background art for World One
Michael began this week by merging Carl’s background assets with the mechanics and levels. This proved to be harder than expected, creating errors in Michael’s classes that tried to access the classes put on Carl’s assets. Michael eventually fixed the issues, the main problem being that there were two child classes on Carl’s assets that inherited from the same base. This is an issue we haven’t run into before, but we will take the lessons learned with us into the creation of world two. Michael created a system where the BackgroundHandler will look in two specific folders for the background’s animation and idle prefabs, as long as Carl names the prefabs properly, they can be placed in these folders and be easily loaded into the BackgroundHandler.
Finalizing art for pieces
Throughout the weekend Calle has been hard at work with the pieces. This Monday one piece was done, the red book, but now all six of them are finalized, the first three being the basic pieces and the other three the combination pieces.
Two posts ago we discussed what the pieces could represent, but the time to conclude design had come and functionality had to be taken into consideration. The choice to color-code the pieces, covering them in a general color, came early. They could rely on things such as silhouette and design, such as simply calling a piece ‘the book’, but to make it simpler for the player to remember what is what color-coding is a good choice. With pieces combining things can quickly snowball and become convoluted.
The choice to make the pieces in 3D was decided when Calle looked at his options. Unity provides neat frame-by-frame 2D functionality, but the problem was not the game engine itself but the method. Frame-by-frame often results in choppier animation than tweened (3D-animation), which did not fall in line with the games art. Calle had tried making frame-by-frame work for the background to world one, but concluded that static frames fading in and out gave the smoother result. The chopping attracts attention and distracts from the otherwise subtle movement in the games art, which is not something Calle wanted. There are programs which tween 2D sprites, but Calle is familiar with 3D-animation and time is of essence.
One backside to making the pieces in 3D is the contrast between the pieces and the background, which is in 2D. Calle worked on a solution, as a consistent art style is important for the games immersion. The 3D pieces are simply treated as 2D sprites, meaning that they are painted on from a specific angle, the one the game has locked throughout the game. As the camera will not change angle anytime throughout the game, this was possible. The red piece is seen below, first from the correct angle and then in other, faulty ones.
More dynamic objects within the pieces, such as pages turning in the book, had to be treated as regular 3D-objects. This did however not ruin the overall 2D-look of the pieces, which now all animate smoothly and “juicy”.
Work begun on the board
The board which the pieces are to be placed upon has also started taking shape. The problem Calle was facing was its colors and how they were to be treated. With a background consisting of red and blue on each side, and pieces ranging from red, purple and green, it was hard finding a suitable color for the board. A white board would help the pieces pop, but looked uninteresting next to the flames and ice in the background. A dark board had a hard time defining some of the pieces and hid their shadows. The solution was a transparent board:
This board is not final, but it conveys the idea pretty well. Each “brick” in the board is easy to read, it doesn’t steal attention from the pieces or the background and it actually shows the background. This was a problem Calle had to face sometime; the board hiding the oh so pretty background. With a transparent board the player may see it better, and it helps bring its animations onto the board where the player will spend most of his/her time looking.
Special board bricks such as the win brick and the blocking brick are still to be done. There is also crucial HUD to be made, and some more pretty effects for the pieces would be nice, however there are more pressing matters at hand. Following this Calle will finalize the board, with all the bricks ready to be used. This means that world one will have, more than last times almost, all graphical assets ready.