Early Demo Trailer

Ok I admit I’ve neglected the blog for a while but I’ve been hard at work on Readapt. I’ve just finished putting together a trailer for an early demo. I have always intended to make a demo to go alongside the full release and this also gives me the chance to get more feedback. The demo features a limited selection of modifiers that are currently in the game and I am thinking of cycling some of the content in future updates.

The trailer I put together shows off the game in motion at 60 frames per second. It’s actually the first video I have edited together too. The other videos I have uploaded are pretty simple in comparison as they consist of raw captured footage with some voice over. Like any first effort it took a little longer than I expected – I also spent a week redoing a lot of game audio. I’m fairly pleased about the result and I felt like I learned a few things about how to put together a trailer. I recorded the footage with OBS and I looked for an open source or free video editor that would be more useful than Windows Movie Maker. I stumbled across an open source program called Shotcut which seemed like what I was after.  I’ve always like open source software, it’s free and can often outdo paid programs – I’ve also had good experiences with VLC and Open Office.

At first it seemed like a good experience, Shotcut is a little lightweight in terms of features when compared to professional paid programs but it was easy to pick up and start editing. But then Shotcut would start crashing. All the time. As far as I could tell Shotcut struggled with displaying short cuts to text or struggled with the framerate. Performance also started to chug so I thought something was wrong with my PC. I’m running an i5 CPU and CPU usage was extremely high, so I thought I didn’t have the horsepower to edit video at this quality. After some research though I came across complaints from other users about stability, so I decided to salvage the work I had done and try a different program. This involved exporting clips in small chunks so I could use them later, a task which Shotcut could handle without too much drama.

Next I tried a video editing program called Davinci Resolve, which is a paid video editing program but also happens to offer a “lite” version which has less features. Luckily none of the extra features were required for what I had in mind. I can’t recommend Resolve enough, it’s stable, more featured than Shotcut and had a more streamlined workflow. Resolve also ran great on my machine and seemed to leverage my hardware more efficiently than Shotcut. In hindsight this shouldn’t be a surprise since Resolve is a professional level program and Shotcut is largely being worked on by one person. Now that I had a program that would not randomly crash all the time I could stay focused on editing and spend less time cursing at my monitor.

It’s been nice writing again on the old blog, I want to do another post about a few game development videos I found interesting and helpful. I mentioned them in passing on the Should I Play This Game podcast and I have some thoughts and lesson I want to share.  That’s it for now, check out the trailer and the demo and I’ll be back in a week.

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Build 8 of Readapt is here! Changelog + GIFS included.

Download it here. Despite wanting to put updates out on a more regular basis I seem to be doing the opposite. But at least Readapt looks and feels more different with each iteration.

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Shifting player size modifier and env health state visuals.

 

Here’s what new this time.

Gameplay

  •  Scaled size, movement speed, projectile speed and duration scaled down as 4 player matches could get too crowded.
  • Starting positions have been adjusted due to arena size, players will spawn in front of their bases for the defend the base objective.
  • No teleport abilities will randomise when players are path restricted in movement.
  • Defend objective does not randomise with path restricted in movement.
  • Player pointer location scales dynamically with player scale.
  • Gravity well effect only randomises when env objects are normal in dimensions.
  • Set and recall teleport ability has been added.
  • Added explosive modifier for environmental objects.
  • Added shifting shot weapon which changes in size over time.
  • Repel projectile terminates when hitting env objects.
  • Different shapes for the bomber weapon to randomise between have been added.
  • Rectangular environmental object modifier removed.
  • Shifting player size modifier added that alters player dimensions over time.
  • Environmental modifiers now alters how they are arranged.
  • Show modifiers option is toggled off by default.
  • Boost bad modifier for environmental objects has been removed.
  • Survive objective has double the chance of occurring compared to other objectives.
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Explosive environmental object modifier in action.

Visuals

  • Player and score overlay sprites updated.
  • Colours changed for different surface properties.
  • Slow time effect reduced when round ends to ensure smoother camera shake.
  • Projectile trails colour matches player color.
  • Capture point visuals have been restored.
  • Gravity well effect on environmental objects is now visualised with a circle showing it’s area of effect.
  • Hit particles added. Death particles have been reworked.
  • Black hole visuals have been replaced with particles.
  • Aspect ratio is now forced to 16:9.
  • Environmental object health states and outlines have been added.
  • Objective UI text simplified to single words.
  • Cleaner buttons and labels have been added to menus.
  • Scaled projectile trail width with projectile scale.
  • Death shake amount reduced.
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New particle effects!

Sound

  • Boomerang sounds tweaked, shortened and should no longer clip.
  • Hit sound should no longer clip.
  • New ghost activate and deactivate ability sounds.
  • New wave sounds.
  • Speed power up sounds shortened.
  • New curve shot sound.
  • New ghost ability sounds
  • New base damage sound.
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New bomber weapon shapes that include squares, semi-circles and triangles.

Balance

  • Internal cooldown for sprint reduced.
  • Ghost ability drains slower.
  • Cross shot projectile moves quicker.
  • Time field ability accelerating effect has been increased.
  • Power up spawn position is now randomised around the centre.
  • The larger a black hole the smaller it’s duration.
  •  Walls close in a little slower when round time expires. Staggered movement for walls has been standardised.
  • Movement momentum speed increased.
  • Wave weapon speed increased and projectile path is more curvy.
  • Player fast movement speed modifier nerfed slightly.
  • Defend objective objectives health has been reduced from 3 to 2.
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Restored capture visuals and new gravity well visuals.

Bug Fixes

  • Remote shotgun and bomber weapon can no longer be activated when game is paused.
  • Reflect ability cannot be deactivated when game is paused.
  • Self destructs statistics should be accurate now. Self destructs for player 3 and 4 will also display correctly at the end game summary screen.
  • Player positions will correctly reset in 4 player games.
  • Player positions should reset properly when path restricted.
  • AI wins for custom score limits have been fixed.
  • Angular drag increased to prevent constantly spinning AI.
  • Initial stage of remote shotgun now correctly destroys when colliding with players or neutral surfaces.
  • Taking damage correctly gives one second of invulnerability.
  • Disabling the test phase no longer plays all countdown sounds at the same time when the game begins.
  • Cross shot projectile now removes correctly when hitting neutral surfaces and cancels out when hitting other projectiles.
  • Music now randomises properly after resetting game more than once.
  • Boomerang projectile can no longer be returned when game is paused.
  • Activated bomber projectile collider is now the correct size.
  • Black hole effect now works correctly when combined and it’s position is consistent with the pre existing black hole’s location.
  • Explosions for bomber projectile and environmental objects no longer move.
  • AI hit detection should occur normally after a round with the ghost ability.
  • Environmental objects correctly take damage from non projectile sources.
  • Initial stage of the reverse shotgun will correctly reflect off objects.
  • Fixed a bug where AI would not shoot bases when no player targets are left.
  • Environmental objects can no longer duplicate when paused.
  • UI sounds now work correctly in the pause menu.
  • Constant collisions of players into environmental objects no longer incorrectly does damage.
  • Health power up no longer increases player health beyond the maximum limit and player sprite correct displays the effect.
  • Power up that shrinks player size now works as intended.
  • Bomber weapon now damages player bases correctly.
  • AI hit detection should occur normally after a round with the ghost ability.
  • AI now utilises the tele projectile and dash ability correctly.
  • Dash ability cycles properly after the first use and shows correct cooldown.
  • Dash ability correctly works in conjunction with speed power up.
  • Time fields now effect AI movement correctly.
  • Wave projectiles now turn according to time scale.
  • Neutral block ability now correctly has 3 health.
  • Abilities are no longer incorrectly disabled when a player is the only one left.
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Player specific colour trails help show who is shooting and is useful when vision is limited.

Thanks for checking out this update of Readapt, send any feedback at me here or on Twitter. I’ll be updating the IndieDB page tomorrow and expect a new gameplay video too.

A new build of Readapt (finally) and a list of changes.

I’ve finally gotten to a point where there is a new playable build of Readapt. I have probably sat on this one for too long and should have gotten it out earlier. I know some developers do weekly builds, I wonder if I could do that too.

You can play the web version in your browser here, its about 100MB, or you can download the standalone version (zip or rar).

If you like surprises you can skip reading and start playing!

So whats new in this build?

Music created by Tyler Johnson has been added to the main menu alongside nine gameplay tracks. The track number will show at the start of each round so players can give feedback on music they hear.  Music will randomised with the background colour, which is a nice change because I was getting sick of staring at grey. This also has the surprising side effect of changing the main screen colour occasionally, which I like too much to fix. I also experimented with tying the pitch of the music with game speed but I found the results quite jarring.

The ability system has been overhauled to allow for partial ability use by holding down the ability button whilse also supporting the old ability functionality. The player pointers have been updated to reflect this change. When an ability has been used but can be used again the pointer will drain like a meter with a yellow colour. Continual use will eventually empty out the pointer which will turn the pointer grey and black. At this point an internal cooldown is triggered, when the pointer turns yellow or completely white again the ability will be free to use. Some abilities will trigger a full cooldown as soon as they are used (like in the previous build). This probably sounds terribly confusing but hopefully is easy to grasp in game. Basically white or yellow is good to go while grey or black requires some waiting.

New game modes (first kill wins and capture the point) have been added and will randomised with each round. Hopefully this will keep players on their toes and prevent settling into too much of a rhythm or play style. The default mode where the survivor wins encourages a more defensive approach, hopefully these new modes will encourage and reward different strategies.

Stat tracking has been implemented and will display a  summary at the end of the match showing score, kills, deaths and captures. As new interactions are introduced they will be tracked and reported here.

Playing with AI is still an option but only against three AI opponents at once. AI has been reworked for the new ability system and now correctly uses weapons and abilities that require non-standard input. I have yet to add mode specific behavior but they are fairly aggressive (which works well for getting the first kill) and they can capture the point faster than normal as a group and will win automatically if the player dies. This is intended to balance out the fact that the AI is still stupid and will likely result in a lot of suicides. This is currently not a big problem as Readapt is intended to be played against other people. This mode helps out with testing and will need further work if I intend to keep AI in the final release.

Deaths are now made more obvious as they slow time for a brief period, allowing players to re-assess the situation and change their priorities accordingly.

The menu system has been simplified and has been supplemented with a player select screen, which defaults to 1P vs 3 AI. Additional players can join by pushing start and the match will begin when player one presses start or enter.

A slight visual change has been made to the bomber weapon, which now shows the each player’s pointer in the middle of the projectile to aid in identification.

The boomerang shot fires normally but now inverts direction when the fire button is pressed again, rather than relying on an inbuilt timer.

Some abilities have been re-balanced generally with lower cooldowns to allow more frequent ability use.  The orbiter object is significantly larger to make up for it’s difficulty of use.

Various ability and weapon objects are now removed correctly when the player or AI dies. However the circular dotted line guide for the bomber and black hole still persists occasionally.

New environmental object modifiers have been added including:

Rectangular shaped objects which provide interesting cover as players can push and rotate them.

A duplication modifier has been added which will duplicate the number of objects up to a certain limit. I tested larger object limits but AI pathing becomes too resource intensive.

Previously there was a modifier that made objects move in a circular motion this has been fixed and now works correctly.

The web player version of this build can be played directly in your browser and will not require downloading first.

I think that about covers it, various other small bug fixes and issues were also addressed but are too numerous to mention. Looking back on this build the large majority of changes are rather system oriented and with the next build I am looking to improve on adding more modifiers in each existing category.

Got feedback, suggestions, problems or bugs you noticed? Let me know I’d love to hear it.

 

Testing Readapt With Friends

I’m really glad I decided to set a date to test Readapt with a bunch of friends. Since the game is a local multiplayer game that supports 4 players I knew it would super useful. I managed to polish off the short list of features and fixes I mentioned in an earlier post which I am pretty happy about considering I spent nearly two whole days restructuring major parts of the player scripts.

 

Having said that it was still a mad rush to get what I wanted done, I did finish adding things around midnight the night before the Saturday test session but unexpected bugs persisted. Those bugs included not being able to navigate within the pause menu, missing sound effects and not being able to restart after someone had won. So the morning of the test session I had a small list of bugs (that I knew about) to fix before I had to leave for the testing session which was held at a friend’s house.

 

Conveniently I have a group of friends who all more or less live in the same area which takes about 40 minutes with traffic to drive to, so it made sense to hold the session over there. All up I had 12 testers (including myself), so I decided to hold three 4-player session around 20 minutes long, I would take notes for the first two and play against three others in the last session. After each test group finished playing I would ask my friends to write down what they liked, didn’t like and any suggestions they might have.

Disclaimer I didn’t take any photos so this will be a giant wall of text. Sorry!

Within the first round I realised that the game might be too confusing as my friends spent half of the round figuring out what had randomised and how to leverage what they figured out. This also involved a lot of laughing and screaming at themselves and others, along with a handful of  “Aha!” moments. Early in development I had considered surfacing what had randomised in each round but I thought it would make the game too easy. The feedback I got told me otherwise. While players enjoyed the novelty and variety presented by the game, being confused in a combative and competitive scenario for too long is not fun. I think it was easy for me to take for granted the amount of confusion I would be inflicting on new players. since I know the game inside out.

Prolonged confusion is not a fun state to be in, which is why getting lost is always a bad time and the primary reason why I hate mazes. So I’m thinking of signposting major things that change at the start of each round like weapons, abilities, players, boundaries and environmental objects. I’ll also include an option or a “hardcore” mode where such a feature can be turned off once players become more familiar with the game or want more of a challenge.

Feedback also pointed to some information that was not visually represented well enough. The boundaries that border the screen often have properties but were too thin and not noticeable enough. In addition when players were on one health it was hard to see the player sprite. Another point that came up was that it was hard to tell if players were still alive as there is no death animation, a player simply disappears and a sound effect plays. I think that these issues arose because I developed these aspects on a computer monitor sitting less than a metre away while the game was played on a TV with people sitting a few metres back on a couch. So I’ll have to make visual cues including death animations and who won each round more obvious in future builds.

There were also some balance issues which I found interesting. One weapon is chargeable by holding down the fire button, the charge time is increases projectile size, duration and speed. You can also not choose to charge the weapon at all which fires a small projectile, the problem was that at the time a small projectile would cancel out a fully charged one. Obviously this lead to some serious balance issues as my friends quickly exploited this fact and that I had not implemented a slow rate of fire (as I thought that most players would spend most of their time charging) which lead to everyone shooting all the time. This issue was made so obvious and so quickly that I was a little embarrassed! The AI I coded to use this weapon would pick a random float number between 0 and the maximum charge time, so it would rarely shoot successively without charging at all. Thankfully the solution was rather simple, I’ve added a cooldown period between shots and made larger charged projectiles destroy smaller projectiles but not themselves.

Oh and there were a bunch of bugs on the day too. The ghost ability which lets player move through objects would not restore the player colliders properly, player one’s score showed up on all characters, input for player 3 was broken for one particular modifier which restricted movement to a path and one of axis of movement was incorrectly inverted for player 3 too. Despite this the game was largely playable and most importantly it didn’t freeze or crash and as one of my friends put it “was more stable than Battlefield 4”. I expected some bugs since I added, restructured and fixed so much code that it was pretty likely I would miss things or make mistakes.

Some of my friends suggested power ups to pick up which I am a little on the fence about. From a design standpoint I like how players are on equal footing despite the randomised elements as they are applied equally. Adding power ups would skew this balance but I could use it to encourage players to actively move around instead of hanging back.  I also noticed that some of my friends talked to each other while filling out feedback sheets, which lead to some repeated feedback. So I’ll probably have be a totalitarian dictator and impose silence among testers next time.

There’s more feedback that I could discuss but this post is already super long.  Next time I should also record my friends playing so I could re-watch gameplay footage in my own time. In other news I recorded another episode of the Should I Play This Game Podcast on Sunday, which has our first email ever and benefits from my new mic. I was pretty tired at the time though, so I apologise if I seem off-point or sleepy. The podcast is already up for your listening pleasure so you can download it from the website or find it on iTunes thanks to Mike’s speedy editing. For the next week I’ll be working with the feedback I have gotten so far and I aim to put a build out next week so you guys can finally get around to trying Readapt for yourselves.