I haven't created a post in a while. This is mainly due to me working hard on Nitronic Rush.
Nitronic has come a long way since our gold submission to DigiPen. We always considered the gold submission to be a beta for us and we are still in our beta phase. Nitronic Rush still needs more levels to become a complete game. It also needs a bit more technology development to feel right to the player. One of these technologies is an arrow or some sort of object on screen that directs the player back to the track if they get off course or fly off the track. There is a chance that flying may be taken out of the main game. Worst case is that it becomes an unlock-able once the player beats the game, or it's only available in certain modes. Flying in the game is just not up to par with the rest of the game and it breaks levels. Players can pretty much bypass anything with the flying. We're working on changing that. Truly, the only thing that can fix flying is the mechanics that it is bound by. Level design can't do much as it would be an infinite process of figuring out how to box the player in to not be able to fly. The best idea, but the idea that would take the most time to implement would be to have flying be a power-up where the player has to get something or go through something to get flying and then they only have a certain area in which they can fly.
Outside of our troubles with flying, we did not get into the PAX 10 competition. The entire team's morale dropped when they heard the news. We assume that we did not get in due to the game not being finished and the lack of levels in each difficulty. The problem with difficulties is that people tend to think that each subsequent difficulty is roughly the same in level layout but harder whereas in Nitronic that is just not the case. Each level in each difficulty is unique. I built every level so we technically have 6 levels, but 2 per difficulty. More than likely, the judges played one difficulty and that was it. Because of this, the team and I have decided to move all the levels into one difficulty, except the hardcore levels which are pretty damn hard for most. That gives Nitronic 4 levels to play and possibly more after I finish overhauling the current levels. That's where we are right now. I thank you for reading!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
This week we actually playtested the Beta level with a larger audience, rather than just having specific people test the level. Players still thoroughly enjoy the game, but there is always room for improvement. While watching testers play the game I noticed that many had trouble with the flight controls.
The handling of the car was too responsive and rotated too quickly. Since the physics programmer was there he noticed it as well, and felt, as I do, that the flying controls should move towards a sweeping motion. Right now the car just rotates on its vertical axis when you move the left joystick right or left. Outside of the flying controls, testers wanted more feedback from the game, such as a completion meter for the track, and an indication of what tricks the player is doing. One tester mentioned that they wanted a point system for the tricks which should definitely be done as it just gives more feedback to the player. But if the trick point system was made then it would have to have a purpose, I wouldn't want there to be points that the player gathers and can do nothing with them. An answer to this could be done simply by having a high score system at the end of each track that rates the player on their speed, and tricks. I should also mention that the player only receives feedback on the trick that they are doing when they land it. The player should also be receiving some feedback before they land the trick as well so that they are fully aware of what they are doing.
Testers also gave feedback on the HUD and had some interesting ideas. One tester mentioned that we may want to go for a HUD more like Split Second, where the HUD is actually displayed on the car rather than in the corners of the game screen. This is an interesting idea, and is plausible to do now since we have artists. I've already spoken to one of our artists about the idea and they are willing to create a few concepts for it. Another idea a tester mentioned was to allow the player to hit a button to slow down the car's rotations to have a better chance of landing a trick. This is a great idea and I will definitely be speaking with the physics programmer about getting this mechanic in as it is something to make landing tricks easier for the player. Beyond testing, our game still needs a tutorial and it also still needs controller hints for the player when they are upside-down or when they are getting close to going off of a jump. When I say controller hints I just mean that the button the player has to push would pop-up on the screen so that the player knows what they need to press in order to get the car to do what they want it to do.
Friday, March 18, 2011
With the beta level I wanted to create an environment that felt more intense, and was more menacing to look at. I feel that I was successful to this end, but not without the help of the rest of the team members, especially the artists. The artists came up with the color scheme, and many of the models that are in the beta level. When I tested the level, testers were telling me that I should make the level even more difficult than it was at the time of the playtesters. I also wanted to know how the visual appeal of the city was. Testers wanted more dynamic objects in the game, more vibrance. So, I placed fans down and scaled them to be able to fit the road within them. This added a lot more dynamic movement in the game, but it wasn't enough.
I needed something to give life to the game world. This is when I noticed that our graphics programmer was working on a quad that had parallaxing textures that looked like traffic moving in one direction. I decided that I would put that into the game, and it gave the game a more lively feel. Things were moving around in the game world, and they are not there just because the player is there. Dynamic movement was still not enough though. I now needed lighting to make the game more vibrant in itself. So, I placed more lights into the world, and changed the alpha of many object textures to make them more vibrant. To give the game an over-the-top feel, one of our team members created a glass road that gives that "wow" sound in the crowd that our team was looking for.
With the beta level, I really wish I had not assumed that I would have time when I got to school on the day of the beta presentation. I found that I had no time to tweak some things in the editor to make the level feel better. Luckily, the level was already laid out and was playable. But I should have planned for the worst and worked on the level more before the beta presentation. Next time I will plan for this and be prepared for the worst. The thing that came out of creating this beta level and receiving the beta presentation feedback was that our car needs to have better controls and we need to have more people playtest the level. My focus for the gold milestone is to get the car to feel better, and to get a tutorial into the game. If the tutorial needs to be dropped then so be it. The controls for the car are paramount when it comes to a game based-on a driving a car. I'll keep you updated on any more playtesting that is administered for Nitronic Rush or any interesting design issues that pop up.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This video seems to be travelling around like wildfire. I noticed that a lot of my friends are posting it on Facebook, and I felt that I should post it here. This video is definitely spot on when it comes to the video game industry. You still have to love it to do it though. 80 hours a week is too much to spend on something you do not enjoy. The "knowing that a game idea is going to be fun" thing is also an extremely important part for a game since it's expensive to prototype games, though the gaming industry is getting better at it. DigiPen had a company day for blizzard a few weeks back and one of their guys was showing off how quickly they could produce prototypes, roughly 2-3 weeks, and it's possible to only have 1 or 2 people working on it. This cuts down on costs and if the idea doesn't work out, well, at least there was not an entire team dedicated to the idea.