March / April 2019 Recap
Its been a bit longer than usual, but we haven’t forgot about you! Statistically speaking, we have accomplished more in the last two months than any other two months so we’ll use that as our excuse for skipping a month’s blog. Yeah.
Although we have done quite a bit, I’ll try to keep this a bit shorter and sweeter and get to the juicy stuff. Without further ado, check out the progress we have made:
A few major mechanical changes have been made to make the game feel even more fast paced, and allow for more diverse movement options.
Since our first time showing off the game, we have had a few design meetings and decided it made sense to change the aiming quite a bit. We gathered valuable feedback about the difficulty of hitting shots, and realized that joysticks just aren’t precise enough for our current aiming system when paired with the fast paced gameplay we are trying to achieve. With this in mind, we went through a couple iterations of auto-aim systems (1337 h4x0rz) which ultimately landed us on what we call “sticky aiming”. Sticky aiming requires the player to aim directly at another player in order to shoot them, but once you place your laser sight on a player, it will remain on that player until they leave your sticky aiming point of view or you move the joystick too far away from them. Right now this angle is about 30 degrees away from the character on any side to break the sticky aiming.
As you can see in the example above, sticky aiming is not the only improvement to the aiming system: you can now aim without moving! Since aiming and moving share a single control stick, this requires you to apply half of the full pressure on the horizontal axis of the control stick…apply more than that and you will move while continuing to aim. Ignore the legs running in place in the above example…we’re working on a more permanent pose for stationary aiming 🙂
To continue the theme of promoting a fast paced game, we have modified an existing ability and added a new movement ability!
The jump kick ability for initiating character switches has changed to be “hitscan” rather than physics based. What this means is that a hit will be detected immediately when the player pushes the button to execute the move, rather than having to land the move by moving a certain distance across the screen. This should accomplish two things for the player: 1. Make the game faster paced and more responsive, and 2. Guide the gameplay to be more in line with utilizing your movement abilities to avoid another player’s sights. We will continue working on this functionality, but are happy with our first pass results!
And the new movement ability is…drum roll……………………………WALL RUNNING! This ability is perfect for roleplaying neo from the matrix, as it allows you to run up walls for a short duration, and chain that into a wall jump, jump kick, overhead shooting jump, whatever matrix-esque moves your hearts desire. Again, this is very much a work in progress and will continue to be improved and polished.
One last addition has been made recently in terms of movement abilities….the most standard movement ability that probably should have already been in the game (oops)….sprinting! Like moving fast? Of course you do. Now you can move faster (you just can’t shoot while doing it).
If you glanced at the screenshots above, you probably realized pretty quickly that a lot has changed in the art department. We have new and far more detailed character art, new badass lava platforms for our first world, shiny new bloom effects, updated powerup and recharge stations, and a lot more…
Our development strategy from the beginning has been to lay the groundwork first, and keep iterating until we are happy with the results. For this reason, every piece of art seen so far has been placeholder and non-detailed art used to get a feel for the game and lay the foundation for more detailed pieces of art. That being said, we have finally gotten around to making artwork a bit closer to the final thing, although we will keep making small changes and improvements. Check out some of the new artwork below!
Along with simply detailing existing artwork, we have been hard at work on the overall mood of the game and have been running tests to see how to approach that. Our goal is to light the entire game using mostly real-time lighting which means that all of our 2D art needs to be normal mapped. We have experimented with normal map generators and landed on the idea that hand painted normals will simply look and function the best, so we have been running tests to find the best method of creating those. Below is our fist normal map and test in the game engine.
As you can see above, some of the angles of the normal map do not reflect the light as we would expect, and some of the portions of the art are a bit too detailed for the map. In the coming weeks, we will create the next test using the same art asset and continue iterating until it works as expected. Then its on to mapping all of the other assets and lighting our game up!
Along with real time lighting, something we are already utilizing in the engine is bloom. This really makes the lava look like bright flowing lava, and the colored lines on the character suits look a bit more like bright neon lights. Although we like the effects on the platforms at the moment, we think it is a bit too bright and orange so we will be creating grates and vents to overlay on top of the current platforms. This should also create an awesome glow effect through the small holes of the grates / vents once we animate the lava in the platforms flowing 🙂
BLOOM!!! (And yes, some of the platforms are a bit unaligned, we’re on it!)
After adding aiming animations into the engine, a lot of our existing animations broke since we needed to add IK to the arms. This means that we spent a lot of time reworking existing poses and animations to make sure they work again! That’s not all that we have been up to…we created a slick new recharge animation when you are recharging your weapon, a dope recharge station animation for when you pass by the recharge station, and a new idle animation. Check them out below!
Along with making vast improvements on the artwork and continuing to iterate on our look and feel of the game, we have started polishing passes in the animation department as well. As you’ll notice above, we cleaned up the idle animation and put a little extra love into it with a chest breathing effect. We also have two different idles to choose from with a gun inspection animation to go in between idle loops to break up the monotony of long looped animations like this. We will continue looking for ways to do things like this with other animations and loops, and have been talking a lot about how to add “character” to our animations. We really want you to feel connected to the character and feel like an athletic futuristic badass.
We hope to have some information soon on when and where you can play our game. We have big plans for releases a bit into the future, but in the meantime we will be taking our game to any and all shows that we can as soon as it is ready. Keep following here and on our social medias linked in the right sidebar to stay up to date!
Until next time.