Sunday, January 03, 2016

Devblog: Crawling Through Vents, Fighting With Words and Taking Stock

I haven't really done any work on this game since Fallout 4 came out back in November. Fallout 4 took up most of my free-time throughout November and December, with the rest being taken up by all the shopping and parties and dinners and general-get-togethers that Christmas brings with it. It's been a fun couple of months (some random bouts of nausea aside, but I'm taking medication for that now!) but it's really time that I start working on this project again. Not that I don't find working on this game fun, it's just that I've really saddled myself with a lot of tedious tasks to do. In any case, I really want to get this project finished by the end of this year. It's been going on for far too long now, it's actually kinda ridiculous!

Crawling Through Vents

People who actively follow the "Whatchu Workin' On?" thread will remember that I was working on the vent-crawling minigame back at the start of November. These sections are handled in a style similar to the dungeons in the first Phantasy Star game, in that you're shown a first-person view of what's immediately in front of you and then get to choose which direction you want to travel in. It's really easy to get lost in these areas, so it's really up to the player to keep careful track of where they're going so that they don't end up going in circles, and that's where the challenge in these sections comes from. Hopefully people aren't too put-off by what is a fairly old-school approach to labyrinthine puzzle design, but I've always liked dungeons that are set up in this kind of manner.

What I've basically done is update the graphics for the vent-crawling minigame so that it has an overlay like all the other minigames do. This means that I don't need a message-box based tutorial, since those are kinda boring and also feel pretty damn cheap. I also needed to tweak how the images were displayed because the wait-time between them was far too long, and I've also updated how the vents look since they were pretty ugly previously. It was never going to be something that would take a long time but I'm happy that it's done. Here's are some images that I hope is self-explanatory, with the second image showing an example of a new sewer-tunnel minigame that works in exactly the same manner:

Fighting With Words

Another thing that I've been doing is bringing the "convobattles" (which are basically rock-paper-scissors in how they work) in line with the aesthetic applied to all the other minigames. This actually entailed a lot of work, more than I was originally expecting when I set out to make these improvements. When the "convobattles" were first implemented, only dialogue from the opponent that continued the "convobattle" was shown as an image. All other text was shown using a normal message box, including all instances of Cheska's speech during these "convobattles". This meant that each "convobattle" only needed 3-5 images producing. When I started updating the graphics, I quickly decided that all the dialogue should be shown in speech bubbles so that the same aesthetic was maintained throughout the course of the whole "convobattle", which meant that loads of new images needed to be created. It ended up being pretty tedious work, but I'm happy with the results!

I'm also happy to say that all the "convobattles" in the game have now been updated, which was something I only just finished doing on New Year's Day. The ability to avoid combat by getting these minigames right is going to play a big role in how different players end up experiencing this game, because many battles can be avoided if you get the associated "convobattle" right. I'm not currently planning to have your success rate in "convobattles" have an affect on the ending, but it's something that has come to mind in the past. Definitely something for me to think about as I come to implement the closing scenes of the game!

Taking Stock

All the blog posts I've made since starting to work on development of this game again have been about updating things that were already implemented. Whether that meant replacing minigames with whole new minigames, updating graphics or simply adding more instances of under-utilised minigames, I've essentially done a lot of work without getting any closer to finishing this game. But that's okay! Why? Because this game is a hell of a lot better now than it was when I came back to developing it!

I'm pretty happy with where the project stands at the moment, but my next target is probably my most important since my next target is the battle-system. Frankly, the "interaction" system I've implemented needs to work a hell of a lot smoother and I'm sure that it can. It seems a long time ago that I was updating all the battle-animations, but I'm pretty damn happy with them and there's definitely nothing wrong with how the battle-system works from a traditional RPG stand-point. It's just that the "interaction" mechanic is the one mechanic that's meant to differentiate Sore Losers: Riot Grrrl from other RPGs with turn-based battle-systems. It's supposed to reward you for being inquisitive a lot more than it currently does. The mechanic is severely under-utilised and, if I'm being perfectly honest, it's implemented in a very cheap manner. Simply put...