Monthly Archives: September 2013

Changelog for v0.16a

  • -Widened Zuka’s collision box. Provides better margin of error for platforming. Prevents Zuka from getting caught in places that she shouldn’t.
  • -Made world map travel slightly faster and improved the controls.
  • -Added two new enemies. The Grinder and the Sifter.
  • -Added a new control. Using the [PLANT] control, you can stop Zuka in place and aim in all directions. You must hold the [PLANT] button to crouch and aim upward. If you aren’t holding it, you can aim diagonally while standing by holding up or down.
  • -Improved walljump control. Instead of firing into a wall, you tap the jump button when the flashing gun is intersecting a solid object while holding the up button. You can walljump using only the gun on the side Zuka is facing, which inverts when a walljump is performed.
  • -Zuka’s head floats up and down on the world map.
  • -Improved appearance and animation of pickup items
  • -You can no longer pick up items while dead.
  • -Added a case to autotiling script for tiles that have “floors” so that the floors do not appear under other solid tiles.
  • -Fixed a typo in code that caused Actors to be drawn in the wrong order compared to other objects.
  • -Fixed the formula for how many chocolate diamonds are required to boost max health. More diamonds are required.
  • -Added animation events to NPC behavior queue. (But there’s no animation to use it, yet!)
  • -Added randomly appearing treasure chests!
  • -Pickup items can’t be taken until a split second after they spawn. This is so you can see what they are before you take them if they spawn on top of Zuka. Which is likely to happen with treasure chests.
  • -Messed with/added some weapon related sound effects.
  • -Reduced instability caused by pause screen switching.
  • -Zuka can no longer walk off the edge of the stage.
  • -Corrected an issue that prevented Zuka from uncrouching under obstacles that were a pixel too low.
  • -Improved behavior of projectiles. Will make it easier for me too add new features to them later.
  • -Nerfed collision size of gas-based projectiles.
  • -Added some pathfinding stuff to the stage controller. For now, it’s used to ensure that randomly-placed objects on the world map can be reached by the player. May also be useful for A.I. later on.
  • -Added minimap functionality to the stage editor and world map.
  • -Optimized dragging out tiles while holding the mouse down.
  • -Increased draw depth of solid tiles to prevent a case where characters and objects could appear behind them.
  • -Changed stage size restrictions when making a new stage. Total tiles are taken into account. A warning will be given rather than automatically clamping the size of the level without telling you.
  • -Enemies will now be destroyed if they travel too far off the sides of the level, rather than just the bottom.
  • -Zuka can now change her facing in mid-air.
  • -Objects in the level editor now have the possibility of being manipulated via middle-click, rather than just mousewheel.
  • -Pause screen background now works on all resolutions and has some extra effects.
  • -Fixed bug that caused clouds to move fast and when they shouldn’t be.
  • -Alt+F4 now closes the game.
  • -Enter key will now work on radial menus even when gamepad mode is on.
  • -Added intro text for stages to let you know the objective
  • -In the world map, a button will float over Zuka’ head to indicate that she can visit that area.
  • -Altered HUD for overworld.
  • -Implemented “Hours” counter.
  • -Completing goals no longer removes control from the player until the transition starts, so you have a chance to collect loot.
  • -The invisible exit/goal triggers are now visualized by a floating sign.
  • -Added Miss Faraday’s A.I. relays as the goal for certain stages. Destroying it finishes the stage and gives you more time to complete the game. Replaying a relay stage you already beat will replace the relay with a normal finish goal.
  • -You can now choose to exit non-elimination stages near the start without finishing them.
  • -When inspecting a stage on the world map, you are now shown a thumbnail of the stage, the stage’s title, and icons representing your accomplishments there.
  • -When moving between world map and stages, the next area will now be loaded into memory AFTER the transition effect finishes, so you don’t experience that annoying pause.
  • -Added two new weapon parts. Thus adding the game’s first special shot effect and a new projectile type.
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Progress Report

I’m working on the turns system. There were a few challenges I saw with the game related to this.

First, it may frustrate the player if they make it too far without managing the turns they use correctly and they fail the playthrough at a later part of the game as a result of running out of turns. Without any feedback that tells the player they are managing their time correctly as they go, their efforts will seem futile. Plus, even if the player were to mismanage their turns very much early on, it would only affect them a long way down the playthrough.

Second, the stages themselves so far only have a goal of “get to the end” or “kill all the guys” or what have you. There is not yet a reason for Zuka to complete stages in the context of the story. So it becomes difficult to understand which stages you should be doing and when for the optimal experience.

Third, there is no death penalty at the moment.

So I decided to have Zuka start with a small number of turns, allowing her to earn more as certain stages are complete. If you mess up early, you will fail early. This is more conducive to allowing the player to learn how to play well. You can see this mechanic at work in a lot of racing games with time trial modes, where you are rewarded with extra time as you pass checkpoints.

This ties into the stage goals as well. The idea will be that in most levels, Zuka will be able to find a machine, that once destroyed, delays Miss Faraday’s conquest and gives you more turns to move on and complete the playthrough. The player will be able to see their remaining turns and have a better idea if they have time to explore or if they should hurry to the next turn-earning activity.

As for the death penalty, I would like to implement a “lives” system. You are allowed to perish as many times as you have lives with no penalty until they run out. If you run out of lives, you are carried back home on a stretcher and suffer a turn penalty. Your lives are then returned to a default value. Stages closer to Zuka’s home will punish death less in this case, since you spend fewer turns returning to those stages. This is why the overworld is designed the way it is, with later levels located farther from the start.

So there will then be four kinds of “currency” in the game to manage that are earned via different kinds of activities. I do enjoy a game of this kind that has lots of collectibles that aren’t just there to be collected, but actually do something.

Scrap is used to upgrade Zuka’s weapons and abilities and buy items. It’s earned by defeating enemies and finding treasure chests.

Chocolate upgrades Zuka’s health pool, with diminishing returns. It is earned by solving optional puzzles and tricky platforming segments in stages.

Lives give the player more chances to fail levels they are unfamiliar with, mitigating risk. They can be earned by defeating bosses or bought from an NPC for scrap.

Turns allow Zuka to explore more content and eventually complete the game. It is earned by any activity that sabotages Miss Faraday’s progress, which is the driving force of the narrative.

It is also my intention to surprise the player with other random one-time opportunities to earn or trade between these “currencies”.

The intention is for the overall game to involve a simple board-game level of strategy, randomness, and resource management.