ReTurtle, ReVised

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September 13th, 2013 5:41 am

In this post I want to describe the changes I made to the game for the post-compo/post-jam/bonus-week-version of the game (wanted to write this earlier, but has been a busy week for me). You might also call this the post-mortem part two (here‘s the actual post-mortem), since it will be mostly about what changes I would have suggested to myself. The changes also were an exercise in making a game more audience-friendly, so I would really appreciate any feedback on how well I did. If you didn’t get to play my game yet, you might want to try it now, to avoid any bias.

I might also post a few example-runs later if there’s interest, showing how to beat the silver- (sub 6s) and gold-times (sub 5.5s). Especially beating the gold-time requires some mastery over the mechanics of the game (the shield gets important at this point).

A new look

The main menu and the boss were on top of the list of things I didn’t like the look of, followed by the stage and the player.

It's the first time you actually see what you controlled in my game, isn't it?

It’s the first time you actually see what you controlled in my game, isn’t it?

First the boss was changed. I wanted him to look more like the sketch I made during the design-stage. With less pressure this time around, I approached everything a lot less awfully inefficient. The heads are completely detached now, which allowed me to add new effects in the actual battle. I also added these holo-rings I originally dropped because they would have to be tuned (to not obscure the boss) and animated. This time I also was able to add the health- and time-display to the boss.

Like a boss?

Like a boss?

Next I made a new main menu, which took the most time, simply because I need yet to learn how to properly setup a scene with all plain-white objects. Redesigning the main menu was also a good opportunity to experiment with scene-transitions in Unity. So I used it as some kind of playground.

The stage would still need some work, so it could provide the player with some landmarks for positioning, but I had to draw a line. Will definitely redesign it if I ever pick the game up again.

Feeding it back

A lot of information didn’t make the cut for my original entry, which in turn made it hard to approach the game.

In the main menu I now have set up a simple progression-path of three steps. I’d be curious how well these new instructions work for someone just picking up the game. I still probably don’t tell clear enough that you can shoot faster than you should.

I also increased the amount of information in the actual battle at various places. I added auditive and visual feedback to the enemy/player/shield getting hit, I also added the actual ring-display for enemy-health where it was supposed to be. For both shot damage and shield-reflect I’ve added popup-values to inform about the effect of charging- and shield-mechanics more directly. The time-display on the boss is a nice gimmick, but I don’t feel it has much actual value.

On to gameplay

For the gameplay itself there are two major clusters.

The first one is based around making player-characters destroy each other on contact. The reasoning was that I didn’t like some of the most effective strategies being based around putting your characters on top of each other. You could for example place all of them in the bottom right corner once the first grenade is launched, and for a while everyone can shoot from this safe spot at the boss. Related to this change is also a new starting-position for player-characters. In this layout only the third one is in the path of the first batch of enemy-bullets. While it’s not a major change, I think it hurt the compo-version that you had to move your first character right away, or got killed within two seconds (and killing the player within the first two seconds is not the best message you can send).

Yeah, not exactly making the game easier

People found my game hard, so I obviously had to increase difficulty. Logic?

The second batch of changes is based around the upgrade of my ordinary seconds to fancy Marvel-seconds, now with 60% more time per second for 36% more hype. One of my biggest issues with the compo-version was that the boss moved really fast, not letting you setup any shield-tricks. Also the player’s projectiles were so slow it was hard to hit over longer distances. I distributed the additional time between the part before and after the laser-sequence (which means they get 80% more time each). The laser-sequence is just as long as before (but with more pew). I think this change makes gameplay more methodical and finally I could at least myself start building shield-setups. To keep the boss interesting I added more projectiles at various spots (through you might argue it could have been the drop in difficulty the game needed). Of course one could claim I just made him shoot more fireballs because the heads can now rotate independently, but… Look! A three-headed turtle!

Sneaking in Features

I silently added support for the XBox360-Controller to the game (last-minute-change, so only battle, not menu, sorry). Use left stick to walk, right stick to aim, A/RT to fire, B/LB/RB for Shield, Back to retry (same use as ‘r’) and Start to return to menu (same use as ‘m’). Might be only useful on Windows though and need some proper tuning.

Conclusion

Unfortunately I still had to limit myself on what I would add to the game. I do have some ideas for two or three additional bosses. One could teach you the basics of the game while the others could properly cover unexplored aspects of the existing mechanics and add new interesting patterns to move characters through. On the other hand I always have a bunch of projects just as interesting and waiting for me to continue them, so back to Ministry of [redacted] for now (or the unnamed Roguelikelikelike).

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