Build 7 is done, here are the changes and some GIFs!

This is another big update to Readapt which you can download here, the updates keep getting bigger so here is a bigger wall of text than last time but I’ll drop some GIFS here too.

Gameplay

  • Added a test phase at the start of each round where players can freely experiment with weapons, abilities and movement. Players are invulnerable and everything will reset after this phase ends. The length of this phase can be customised to 0, 5 and 10 seconds under the main menu options.
  • One round mode has been removed. Instead players can change the starting number of stocks or maximum score in the player select menu. This is also represented visually on player sprites.
  • Spiral Shot has been replaced with the Curve Shot, which slowly curves away and alternates direction every shot.
  • Some weapons now have their own internal modifiers that effect how they function, such as the reverse remote shotgun which can now randomise to be forward facing.
  • Replaced the normal blaster weapon with a weapon which shoots 4 projectiles that randomises between shooting in a cross or X shaped pattern.
  • Constant movement player modifier added.
  • Added slight knock back on damage away from the damaging object.
  • Screen shake, pointer recoil and player kick back effect has been added when firing weapons, each weapon has it’s own value.
  • Super kick back modifier added which triples the normal effect.
  • Momentum based player movement modifier added.
  • Environmental objects will move more predictably and will now only be squares and rectangles.
  • Sprint ability added a variation on the dash ability and is a sustained rather than a burst increase to movement speed.
  • Swapper ability added  that swaps player position with what it hits, a variation of the teleport ability.
  • Player modifier added that shifts player size in real time between large and small.
  • Added boost pad modifier for environmental objects, should pull objects to centre and redirect according to the direction of the arrow on the boost pad.
  • Blackholes can combine during both stages, resulting in bigger black holes with an updated duration.
  • Self destructs are now distinguished from normal kills and are shown on the results screen.
  • Added a Base Defense objective, bases can take 3 hits and will become smaller, destruction of a base will result in a player’s death.
  • Super power ups added as a sudden death mechanic, will periodically spawn in the centre when round timer ends and include increased projectile size, super speed, health up, reduced ability cooldowns and reduced size.
  • Two stage homing weapon added first stage is non lethal and fires in a straight line, when activated will briefly target the nearest object and become lethal.
  • Added a limited view modifier which darkens the screen except for around players and key objectives.
  • Replaced the time manipulation ability with a new two stage Time Field ability. The first stage deploys a circle area guide on the player’s position and upon further input turns into a localised field that distorts time. This ability can randomise into a field that slows or speeds up objects.

    feedback2
    Projectile trails are back and now players have trails which gives a better sense of motion and speed. The increased visual feedback when players shoot, get hit or die gives these events more impact.

Visuals

  • Player health states have been changed to be more visible.
  • Death particle effect has been added.
  • Projectile hit animation had been added.
  • The screen shakes and a slight time delay (20-30ms) has been added when players are damaged.
  • Player sprites will flash when invulnerable (during the test phase and for a second after being hit).
  • New player sprites and bigger player pointers.
  • Reintroduced trails for players and projectiles which interact correctly when positions shift quickly.
  • Round time is visualised with the background filling in.
  • Cooldown pointer and capture point progress visuals have been changed.
  • Vectrosity guide lines replaced with sprites for bomber weapon and blackhole ability which should eliminate the possibility of lines that do not clear properly.

    swapCross
    I had issues with transparent sprites and had to change how capture progress is shown. The X shot weapon and swapper ability is also on display here.

Sound

  • Shield activate sound has been shortened.
  • Charge sound and release now has more bass to give it more oomph.
  • Sounds for shotgun and triple wave now have their own sounds instead of being the single version sound played 3 times simultaneously.
  • Added sounds for new weapons and abilities.
  • Successful capture sound has been added.
  • Player death sound changed.
momentum
The new player momemtum base movement which is subtle visually (but can defintely be felt when playing) and can be observed by watching the blue player’s trail.

AI

  • Round will no longer end when player dies for the capture the point objective, instead the AI will attempt to capture the point to end the round normally.
  • AI can now target each other and will prioritise targets according to distance.
  • AI will no longer  use abilities or weapons when there is nothing to target.
  • AI uses the boomerang weapon properly now.
AI
AI can now shoot each other! I actually die first here against 3 AI.

Balance

  • The long and thin environmental objects are slightly wider.
  • Block ability object is now bigger and square instead of rectangular.
  • The modifier that causes environmental objects to create smaller objects are now less small.
  • Single wave shot duration increased.
  • Modifier restrictions added, boost pads will not move and be normal in size.
  • Inactive bomber projectiles and black holes can be destroyed.
  • Environmental objects can only spawn a total of two additional objects on destruction.
  • Time limit for rounds scale according to number of players and AI.
  • Environment object movement will randomise alongside with other environmental behaviours. This means that objects cannot move and have other behaviours beyond their surface properties.
  • Environment object placement is specific to number of players.
  • Upon activation the boomerang projectile will rotate towards the user instead of apply a 180 degree turn to it’s current direction.
  • Sudden death for the defend base objective will always be a super power up and not walls closing in.
  • Orbiter ability removed, not as useful or fun as other abilities and does not interact well with warping boundaries.
  • Multiple black holes and homing projectiles can be created by the same player.

User Interface

  • Selected menu button is now white.
  • Increased deadzone for controller input in menus.
  • Input for P1 allows for both controller and mouse/keyboard by default, this can be toggled to controller only in the main menu options.
  • Added various tool tips explaining controls and various options .
shiftingSize
Blackholes can now combine and be destroyed when inactive.

Bug Fixes

  • The bomber weapon will now remove itself properly when hitting boundaries that do not warp.
  • Extended the period that the bomber weapon explosion persists, which should fix player collision issues.
  • Orbiter and Blackhole sound effects have been rebalanced and shortened. The black hole initial sound should no longer repeatedly play when the round is ending.
  • Shooting the shotgun with the shield ability active should no longer conflict when players have altered sizes.
  • The reset option in the pause game menu will now correctly show notifications if enabled.
  • Projectile interactions with blue and white shields have been fixed.
  • The correct sound now plays for block and shield ability when players activate them.
  • Notifications for the last round will no longer show briefly before the start of the next round’s notifications when show modifiers is enabled.
  • Charging during the test phase and firing at the start of the round is no longer possible.
  • Walls stop closing in when round has been completed.
  •  The end round time slow effect should now always occur.
  • Restarting a game should no longer pause time during the test phase.
  • Weapons that require additional input now properly reset when projectiles expire.
  • AI ability sounds for held abilities should now work.
  • UI text should no longer show when the game is paused.
  • When a game ends notifications should no longer be shown over the summary stat screen.
  • Multiplying modifier for environmental objects no longer multiplies all at once and should now continue to multiply properly if under the maximum limit.
  • Weapon fire is no longer possible when game is paused.
  • Player abilities that use holding down the ability button should no longer deactivate before the ability button is released.
  • Shield size now scales proportionally to player size.
  • Environmental objects positions and rotations should propeperly reset after the test phase ends.
  • Capture progress will stay complete when someone has won the round and no visible progress should be seen at the start of the round.
  • First to kill objective now assigns score properly, self destructs wills no longer end the round prematurely and will now end if only one player remains without a kill occurring.
  • AI correctly triggers the internal cooldown for abilities that can be constantly maintained.
  • Shield ability will no longer disappear when ability button is released when the game is paused.
  • Cooldowns for blackholes combining now work as intended and prevents infinitely big black holes that last forever.
timeField
Introducing the new time field ability, you can also see how the round timer is shown by the background filling in.

Phew that’s it for now I’ll probably post up a gameplay video later on in the week.

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Changelog for Readapt Build 6

This post will list all the changes contained in build 6 which you can get right here.

UI and Menu Improvements

  • Arrow keys can also be used in conjunction with W, A, S, D keys in menus.
  • Added a start game button in the player select menu to replace an additional input button to start a game.
  • Colour of the UI has been adjusted for player select screen and gameplay for better visibility.
  • Player select screen layout rearranged and menu size increased to be more visible and easier to use.
  • Added an option to return to player select screen when paused or at the end of the game.
  • If the show modifiers option is toggled on they will be shown during the countdown.
  • Now tracks number of rounds and displays them at the end game summary screen.
  • Numbers for start of round countdown removed, but sound remains.
  • Music and sound effect volume can be customised in the option section of the main menu.
  • All player settings are saved and will be recalled when returning back to the main menu  or when the game is launched again.

Gameplay Changes

  • Different game modes can be selected at the player select screen including Score (default),
  • Stock (players start with five lives and lose one per death) and a single round mode.
  • Speed setting added to player select screen with 3 settings (Slow, Normal and Fast).
  • Players will reset to original positions when round starts to allow time to experiment with movement.
  • Added modifier to change shape of environmental objects.
  • At the end of rounds the walls can close in fast and pause at periodic intervals.
  • Added modifier to rotate environmental objects.
  • Different number of AI can be selected and is compatible with all modes.
  • Repel ability now inverts direction when they collide and can now modify to light blue.

Visual Changes

  • More visual indications of who is capturing, color of player forms a square ring around the point.
  • Place holder black hole animation added.
  • Altered score overlay for players to make health values clearer when at maximum stocks.
  • Readjusted colours used for randomised backgrounds to make them easier to view.
  • Projectile trail removed, as it would often clutter up the screen.
  • Player sprites at the player select screen should reflect the value of the health setting.
  • Player sprites should appear or disappear according to number of players or AI selected in the player select screen.

Balance Changes

  • More delay added to delayed player pointer.
  • Reverse shotgun projectile size increased.
  • Increased cooldown for the charge weapon when not charging.
  • The repel ability now to originates from pointer rather than from the player.
  • Projectiles destroy themselves on contact with white objects.
  • Added a slight rate of fire cooldown to the rapid trigger weapon.
  • Boomerang weapon grows in size immediately on return.
  • Ghost ability internal cooldown increased to discourage activating and deactivating rapidly.

Bug Fixes

  • Updated to Unity 5.
  • Optimised music quality to reduce file size.
  • Menu music now plays when quitting from gameplay.
  • Music only re-randomises when restarting once during gameplay.
  • Music no longer overlaps when re-randomising.
  • Music continues to play properly when the game is paused.
  • Hit boxes of players are more accurate and properly represent their sprites.
  • Line paths are no longer partially hidden by the capzone.
  • Clicking on various UI elements will no longer highlight them  incorrectly.
  • Lines used for black hole, bomber or player paths will now properly remove after each round.
  • Fixed an issue where AI obstacle avoidance would remain active when players were playing.
  • Countdown beeps at start of rounds are now more accurate.
  • Music intro and looping during gameplay now syncs properly and the timing is independent of time scale.
  • Game pauses correctly if paused immediately after the countdown at the start of the round.
  • All abilities the require held input is now correctly used by AI with respect to cooldowns and their pointers will now show when they are using abilities and when cooldowns are active.
  • A game can no longer start if no AI or players are ready.
  • When a round is ending players can no longer die.
  • Stocks will now properly reset when choosing to restart the game at the end for stock mode.
  • Default player preferences now default to correct values when game is first launched.
  • Reflector ability correctly shows yellow instead of grey filling player points when in use.
  • Fixed a bug where player one did not win when multiple AI were defeated in stock mode.
  • Added AI behaviour to allow use of two stage abilities.
  • Cleaned up obsolete references and code.

Phew that’s everything! As promised there will be a gameplay video this week showing how all these changes manifest in the game. Thanks for checking out the changes and as always let me know what you think.

Music and Press Coverage

I am pleased to announce that music is being made for Readapt, courtesy of the talented Tyler Johnson. I  got in contact with him on TIGSource after checking out his work on SoundCloud and was impressed with his variety of styles ranging from retro chiptunes to more modern music.  Some of my favourite tracks include Phermones (a chiptune track) and Aftermath (gave me a cool Mass Effect vibe).

So it was pretty awesome when he got back to me saying that he thought that the game was cool and he was happy to work with me. It’s always interesting collaborating with creative people from different disciplines and Tyler is no exception.

Initially we thought that an electronic minimalist soundtrack might be a good fit for the game, so Tyler sent me some demo tracks for the main menu and gameplay.

Main Menu Demo

 

Battle Loop Demo

 

After I added them into the game I liked how laid back the menu music was but found that both tracks didn’t quite fit the existing sound effects. This problem was most apparent during gameplay. After discussing this with Tyler I thought it might be an idea to try a chiptune soundtrack. You can check it out below.

Readapt Battle Loop 1

 

Readapt Battle Loop 2

 

This style of music works better as my sound effects are generated using Bfxr which would not be too out of place in a chiptune track.

I’m pretty happy with how the new soundtrack is shaping up, you can expect to hear these new tracks in the next upcoming build along with a host of other changes and more content.

In other news Readapt got featured in AusGamers Indie Friday Feature. It’s a neat weekly feature that highlights independent Australian games that are released or currently in development. I’ll continue to contact more journalists as development progresses in order to get more coverage and feedback. That’s it for now, expect a new playable build soon.

Thoughts On A Game Dev Talk, Protodive And A Comic Legend

Phaw, that was a week already? Man that went fast. Contrary to what I said in one of earlier blog posts I couldn’t resist adding a bit more content to my game. I know, I know, it means that I have to push the public test release a little bit back but on the upside it will also give a little more for players to test and give feedback on.

Projectile Trail
I added projectile trails during the week (not to mention other top secret things) which gives a better indication of direction and speed. It took a lot longer than I expected, as drawing dotted lines ( or any lines for that matter) in Unity 3D is not easy and required using a store asset that I bought called Vectrosity.

Aside from my usual business, I managed to attend a “post-mortem” game development talk about Puzzle Retreat which was held in the city. The game is a puzzle game for smart phones, created by Voxel Agents, a local indie developer who are most well known for their Train Conductor games. They shared some interesting insight to what worked and what didn’t, with the added benefit of hindsight. The game is free, revolves around simple rules and includes 60 puzzles, which meant a low barrier to entry and as a result, over 3 million downloads. They also showed off some of the development tools that they built from scratch which enabled them to create new puzzles quickly. One tool even showed order of moves for a solution and report number of possible solutions as the puzzle was being made.

Unfortunately their free to play model, which sold additional puzzle packs for a few dollars, was not attractive enough for most people to convert into paying customers. Another point was made about metric data and how too much non-specific data collecting can be a nightmare to make any sense of. Big budget developers can devote entire an entire division to player metric data collecting and analysis but the sheer scale of that endeavor is too much for most indie developers. Instead player data collected should be on focused and targeted queries.

While the talk wasn’t specific to my efforts (as my game is intended for a different audience and platform) but it was interesting to listen and learn from another game developer. Aside from that I did more legal and business-y research and finalised some paperwork. I have decided that while my game will be firmly attached to my name, it is sensible to setup a small business for tax purposes. I decided to call it “protodive” which means, quite literally: first dive. To me it describes the moment when you jump into something for the first time and the excitement that comes with that. Such a description applies to my current line of “work”, when I play a game, read a book, listen to a piece of music or experience anything new. I am a big fan of the open world RPGs, particularly those crafted by Bethesda Studios and I’m always super giddy on the first play through.GenieIn other news, it was sad to hear of the passing of Robin Williams, I am a big fan of his work (Good Will Hunting is still one of my favourite movies) and I love the hell outta his Genie in Aladdin. I can only offer my condolences to his friends and family. On a related note if you are or know someone who is depressed please seek professional help or talk to someone about it. Depression sucks but always know that others struggle with it and cope with it, more often than not with the help and support of others. 

On happier news, the Should I play This Game Podcast will be returning from our 3 week hiatus. We will be recording a new episode this Sunday night and a new episode will be out soon, which you can find on the website (link on the right) and subscribe to on iTunes. I’ll probably update the blog with a small post when it’s live. Until then I’ll be busy getting my game up to testing standards (I still intend to put it up on IndieDB and the TIGSource forums), you can follow me on Twitter @thephampire and watch this space for future updates.

Recharge and Readapt

I decided to take a small break last weekend from working on my game. Usually my week mostly consists of sitting in front of my computer working (including weekends). I try to be social at least once a week and stay active (I run when the weather and motivation permits). I also have other hobbies aside from video games, I’m an avid reader and owner of a kindle (I’m reading The Witcher books at the moment) and I enjoy noodling around on the piano.

While working on my first game is exciting and interesting, I try and mix it up when I decide to take small breaks during the day. Sometimes it’s not enough and I had a strong desire to shake up my routine. So I went skiing. It was fun.

Over a period of 3 days I didn’t obsess over my game. Before I went on the trip it would always occupy a constant part of my mind, when I was doing chores around the house, showering, running or even trying to sleep. It has it’s upsides, sometimes a new idea or solution comes to me and I cement it in my mind before jotting it down in my notebook. But as you can understand it can be draining, so a short trip over the weekend with friends was just what I need to recharge. I think the only time when I thought about my game was when someone asked what I had been up to.

We drove (a four hour trip each way) in two cars as a group of six to Mount Hotham and stayed two nights. It was my second time, so the experience is still novel and even for the experienced in our group it was an exciting and good time.

IMG_0178
IMG_0174 Top Image: A view from our accommodation. Bottom Image: At the top of the summit. 

I stuck mostly to the beginner courses but I did dip my toes in an intermediate course a few times as my technique slowly improved. I found that as you get more confident and build more skills you can enjoy skiing a lot more. Anyone interested and uninitiated in skiing should limit their first time to a day or two with a more experienced friend or family member. Going as a group has it’s advantages, the more the merrier and it can keep costs reasonable. Discounts on lift tickets and on gear hire are usually available so it pays to do your research in advance.

For anyone working on a game, my advice is look after yourself both physically and mentally. Game development takes time and effort but it shouldn’t impact too negatively on your life. Take regular breaks, hang out with friends and consider taking a break where you can really forgot about your work.

After the trip my sleep schedule normalised. No longer am I staying up past 3 AM or waking up after midday. I feel less anxious, more motivated and hopeful about my game. For the longest time I had struggled to find a name for my game. I have decided to call it “Readapt”, a fitting, if rather straightforward name. On reflection it describes not only what players have to do constantly in-game but what I’ve done to get to where I am now. I think that’s a topic for another blog post though.

Recently I have been working on a main menu screen (among other things) and making it functional and scale to different resolutions, below is what it looks like now.

mainMenu

It’s pretty basic and needs some work, but it’ll do for now. Oh and I’ll keep to a weekly blogging schedule, I find it helps me process (and hopefully it’s not dead boring to read). So stay tuned and more importantly, be well.

Colour Blind Friendly Game Design

I’ve mentioned in my first post that this is my first game. I’ve learnt a lot and I’d like to share ones of those experiences with you here. In my game various elements are randomised and assigned a specific colour. In older versions of my game all red objects would harm players and could be destroyed with one projectile hit, while orange objects were neutral and would require two hits. I had colour coded essential information and expected players to be receptive to this information. Only during this last week I realised that people who are colour blind would be at a constant disadvantage, which was not intended from a design standpoint.

In my home country of Australia, almost 10% of males and less than 1 percent of females are affected.  So there is a need to make my game more colour blind friendly, but I’m not colour blind, so how can I improve my game?

Some quick internet research lead me to a program called Color Oracle (link: http://colororacle.org/) which applies a colour blind filter to your screen. It supports three forms of colour blindness and most importantly the program is free. The only downside to the program is that it only applies the filter to a single frame and therefore does not support videos or gameplay. Having said that, it is perfectly adequate for my purposes.

Reading more about the topic I realised how important different shapes, symbols, icons and even lines (solid, dotted, dashed) are to the colour blind. Anything well designed (most maps for instance) take all of this into account.

I also have a friend who play video games and happens to be colour blind, he graciously answered my questions on the topic and gave an insight on how colours are harder to distinguish while moving.

Armed with this information and a perception altering program I began to change my game.

Shape and Colour Comparison
On the top left is the old art, the top right is the new and slightly improved. The bottom row shows them with a colour blind filter applied (Deuteranopia).

The players are squares with a triangle “pointer” that shows the direction the player is facing, it turns from yellow to white when an ability cooldown period is in effect. I changed the colours to make them more distinct, light blue rather than red is the lethal colour and grey makes a better background colour.  The colour blindness being simulated above is the most common form and limits colours to blue, yellow, white and black. So it makes sense to convey important information with colours that are perceived well.

You may have also noticed that I changed the shape of the pointers, below are how the four players are currently represented in game. I have assigned a different shape “pointer” for each player.

new_players
While some of the player colours (red, orange and green) can be hard to tell apart the symbols are clear and distinct.

As you can probably imagine it is an improvement from all players having triangle pointers. The player colours could use extra tweaking as green looks too close too similar to the background and I have yet to fully implement this approach to all other aspects of my game, but it’s a start.

I recall talking to my friend about his frustration about games that relied too heavily on colour (some colour matching puzzle games) and how happy he was to find that Battlefield 3 had a colour blind option. I don’t want my game to disadvantage players just because they are colour blind – not to say that my game won’t frustrate people. My game is designed to surprise and disadvantage players through randomised mechanics, but they are applied and felt equally. I simply want my game to be played and enjoyed by everyone, with or without the ability to see colour.

It’s Alive! First Blog Entry

Hi I’m Paul and this is my blog. I will try to keep this updated as I work on my first game: a local multi-player, versus, dual joystick shooter. The game is scripted in C# on the Unity 3D engine. Nearly all aspects (from weapons to movement to environment behavior) will randomise for each round. The aim is to adapt to multiple randomised elements and defeat the other players. More details and screenshots coming soon.