Friday, March 28, 2014

Capstone more

The weeks just seem to be melding together.  We're making progress but not as much are we need to, at least in the art department.  We apparently have 100+ assets but we have yet to see about a half dozen in game.  Things really need to start coming together or I fear the worst.

But that isn't fully my worry, I'm busy with programming.  And while on the art department we did end up getting in a few animations for the character which start to make the game feel more alive.  We have an animation as the games starts, an animation for going between 100-200 speed and an animation for going anything above that.  We ran into a lot of trouble scripting the animations together.  Things like scaling the animation correctly from maya to unity,  fixing rotations on parts of the wheel that shouldn't be moving while we are rolling, and actually getting part of the model to shrink and re appear.  This all had to do with parent child interaction issues in unities hierarchy.  But luckily they are worked out and made it into the game.  The mid speed animation does need some work, testers had a very hard time noticing it, but this brings up the question can we afford to make a second pass on them when we still have so much art demand as it is? This weeks friday meeting was suppose to solve that for us but neither of our artists could make it.

Our menu system got another large change giving our level select a carousel effect to allow pictures to visually represent the levels so people can see what they are getting themselves into, we are hoping to get that carousel animated however at the moment we aren't sure if the art pipeline can handle another request like this.  We might just have to deal with static changes for now and hope it's good enough.

Other than that we had miscellaneous bug fixes with ghosts working correctly with our new 3 2 1 start system and some collision issues with our new wheel type objects but other then that theses were the main accomplishments on the programming side this week. Hopefully this next week gets a lot of art in, we definitely need it, as time is running out.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Capstone Alpha

This week was all about getting our game ready for the alpha stage. On the programming front this was filled with many backlog bugs and some last minute features based on QA feedback. Some example of what we accomplished this week are as followed.

Slipstreams are finally getting fully tested, which means many, many bugs are emerging. As such we had problems with players losing gravity when prematurely exiting the slipstream. Players flying out of the slipstream at wrong angles. And just overall stability of staying in the slip. All of these bugs have been “fixed” for now; we’ll see what happens next round of testing.

We decided to add a Slow Motion effect to the gameplay. One of our biggest concerns is giving the player enough time to react to the sudden puzzle elements they encounter after going so fast leading up to them. We added a new way to spend energy to enter a slow motion mode where the world and timer slows down so the player has more time to react the thing around him as long as his energy holds out. We made this effect much smoother and hopefully is another answer to our feedback problem.

On the same front as the Slow Motion effect we added a Early Warning system, this little pop up is to notify players when colored walls were approaching so they knew to prepare themselves for quick reactions, this was once again to help give the players more feedback of the quickly approaching changes in level.

Our game also got a new starting sequence. Up until this point when a player selected a level, it just went. We now added a 3 2 1 start system to allow the player to get ready for the game to start so they can be as prepared as possible for the level to help shave off a few seconds of time.

Air control has been always been a battle while making VXT. We don't want to give too much otherwise they will feel too floaty and lose the sense of a being a heavy metal machine. However it's a big request from testing feedback, we had slight control but we added more to it. It allows more control up to specific speeds we’ll see how testing goes and change accordingly.

Outside of gameplay things,Our menu system got another work over making it more dynamic allowing us to nest levels in groups instead of just having them all in a very long list. Which is just nice for further expansion.

Besides this our actual alpha presentation left much to be desired, we got hammered simple as that, it was a painful experiences as each and everything we presented was wrong, especially the feedback on the design of our levels and on the fundamentals of VXT. There was a lot of criticism some good some bad, but at this point we don't know if it's too late. Grim days seem to be ahead but we shall try our best to make up for it.

Things don't look good,


Friday, March 14, 2014

Capstone: Towards Alpha

After a very "restful" spring break we returned to work with a lot on our plate and not very much time to complete it.  Alpha is exactly Five days from the date of this blog post and we have a few missing holes that will need filling.  First and foremost we really needed to do some fixing on how quickly our player is exposed to challenges and changes in the level. When moving as fast as we were, when a sudden colored wall appeared or some other obstacles players very often did not have time to react.  We have been making small changes to the camera to help increase vision, and moving the camera to the side to give more of the screen for up coming obstacles, and while this helped testers still wanted more.

One thing they we implemented this week was making a speed cap for the player. While our game is all about speed, everything should be done in moderation, there is point when going too fast is detrimental.  This helps us regulate how fast contact will actually reach the player screen.  Hopefully this helps players feel like they have more control at "top speeds" and have more time to react to the incoming terrain.

Next we have two more advanced solutions to the upcoming walls problem, first is another way to spend our collectibles, currently when you pick up orbs you can activate a short speed boost which drains energy to help make up for mistakes or reach greater speed quickly.  This is almost the exact opposite of that, instead of using the boost to move faster, click the bumper button will enter the player into a matrix slow mode time scenario , where time literally slows down around them. This way a player can give themselves more time to react to upcoming obstacles while not taking a time hit.  This will allow for an extra level of advance game play and another choice for the player of how to spend that energy they are collecting.

Our other solution which we will be taking with slow-mo mode to an AB testing session is a sort of heads up alert.  This will have glowing edges on the screen to represent when a active wall is coming up, this way players can prepare if there is a wall above below them or right in front of them shortly.  It gives the player the warning without having to pull back the camera any more and from as far back or as close as we would like it to be.

Hopefully these changes will make VXT even more accessible to players, testing this weekend will tell.

Time to sprint towards alpha!