Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Dev diary. - The Descent

Hello everyone! After week off i took when finished second version of demo i feel like its time to take a new breath and continue with Awaken. I used the free week to watch how the demo is doing both on kongregate and newgrounds. Rating were not very good, in fact not even average with about 2.5 half stars on kong and 3 stars on newgrounds but got quite a lot of excited revies, lot of opinions on how to make the game better and i think big portion of low ratings came from disapointment of the lenght of the demo, missing ship upgrades and to general work in progress feel like no mouse controls for now, inability to turn music and sound off etc. I ve been quite disapointed how the demo is doing, but after couple of days i realized i could not expect more couse of the state in which game is right now and while beign encouraged by more and more 4+ ratings i decided to resume working on this as i belive the game will be great when finished. 
Just to sum above, the second demo release can be found on Kongreate and(if you like achivements and want to get couple of them) on Newgrounds. Dont forget both sites require login(you can sign up via facebook on kong)if you want to compete in high scores table.
And what am i working on right now? As most of the "code-core" of the game is almost finished and have just to add more bullet patterns and enemy behaviors i decided now its a time to work on the graphics both level backgrounds and alien/post human ships. As you probable allready noticed there is huge animated gif below showing work in progress on second level named "The Descent" where you take your ship down through abandoned mining shaft as it seems the source of alien infestation. 
Pipe lines, elevator rails and leaked pollution are the most noticable visuals of this level. I wanted this level to have kind of "head down descent" feel and make it scrolling much faster but i realized its stressfull enought for the eyes allready and have to be careful with it as i dont want players to get sick when playing.
Not much happened this week as i did not touched computer till yesterday, but i promise i ll keep the news comming and hopefuly finish the game by summer.

See you next week!   

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dev diary - Demo refining

Hello everyone, i know its not sunday, but i ve got one hour left before i ll have to go to work whitch is not enought to start working on something new, but its too much to do nothing. And thats why i would like to share the progress on Awaken.

I gathered some stats from the demo i released on sunday and feedback i can read from them gave me a lot of ideas what needs to be done, what could be done, and what players would appreciate.

First and most important finding was that most players will not read instructions, even if half of the main menu is covered with them. Thats why a little help window pops up now on the side of the screen every time you start new game and remains there for couple of first enemy waves.

Second finiding was unclear game hit/shield/autofire mechanics, that i consider biggest fault of demo release and its now fixed by added tutorial mission whitch can be accessed from main menu. I was considering to force player to do the tutorial before he could start a new game, but i dropped that idea as i dont like to force people to do what they dont want to.

Third improvement is adding some feel to handling of the ship. Before this adjustment, when you pressed movement control the ship began moving to desired direction by constant speed, when u released the key the ship stopped moving. Sure it worked and i was thinking i ll leave this as it is. However i was thinking about adding some momentum to the ship before and when friends started suggesting me to do so when i released the demo i have decided to give it a try.
And it feels great, giving the ship handling some feel and sense of weight. I ve been careful not to overdo this feature and when you press the control key it takes just 0.1 second to get to full speed in that direction and it takes same time to deacelerate. I was surprised how even that little was able to change so much about the game.

Fourth and one of the most important of major changes is the rework of the scoring system. In first release it worked quite simple. You killed, u got your score, u got some bonuses for combo kills. When you died 2.5K of score was deducted and u continued to play. Idea of the penalty was to reward skilled players with bigger score and credit earnings after the mission is done. And on the other side not to punish less skilled players so much and let them finish the mission if they are doing reasonable well.
However its unclear and now i see it was stupid. New system brings in score multiplier whitch grows over the time and gets reseted every time u take hit. The respawn after death is beign replaced by old fashioned lives system for now as i cant find anythink better for now.

There ll be a lot of little changes as well. Like darker background to make enemy bullets more contrasting. Difficulty tweaks, boosts of certaing things, nerfs of enemies, few graphics improvements... you know the ussual stuff you found in patches for every game;-)

The goal of this first patch is to tweak difficulty so more players would be able to get to the end of first mission and kill the first boss as right now on kongregate only 12 players of 350 been able to achieve this.Dont know how many of them really tried as im sure big portion of players quited the game right after start as they did not know how to start shooting(yeah, autofire will be now set to ON by default), but almost all of my friends testing the game reported difficuly issues so hopefuly tutorial and some ingame adjustments ll help to solve this situation.

Again, thanks for reading and see you by sunday by rerelease of the demo;-)


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Dev diary. - Demo released!

Hello again! After hard week which started by terrible toothache, followed by xbox purchase(had to to forget about that tooth somehow)and spiced by couple of sleepeless nights i managed to resume work on the demo on friday.  I keept cursing my self since then till now for promising demo within today but here is it, and now its up to you, players to judge if its fun to play.

Demo contains preview of first level of the game and your Orca is equiped with basic laser and couple of gun drones. Not much for now, but for there are tons of purchasable upgrades planned in full version of game, but if you are reading this diary regulary you allready knew that.
Game changed a lot in past few days, i ve concentrated mostly on gameplay, interface and a lot of little thing that are not noticable first but can make a huge difference on how the game feels.I must say game is completely different than week ago and i hope its walking in right direction. But why keep talking about the game while you can actualy click link below and try flash version of  it your self? Thanks for reading and hope you ll enjoy the game;-)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Dev diary. - Moar bullets!

Hi again friends! Im back again with sunday update and most important update of today is that i ll make it to release the demo during next weeknd. Still dont know when exactly, would love to throw it to the wolves by friday evening, but still there are few issuess that needs to be solved and polished before releasing to public.
During the week i ve been working on various fixes and additions, to be honest i dont even remember them as too many changes happened, but whats important the game plays a lot better right now. Most important was: adding noticable small explosion to indicate the enemy was hit by player(this little change added great feel to the game), improved torpedo explosion, combos now recharge shield and finaly made boss of first level.

Yesterday i tought the game is almost ready and started working on the main menu as i did not wanted to find out on friday evening i ve got demo level ready but have just blank screen as menu with "start" button. Did not messed around with it too much, background is scrolling in parallax and enlarged Orca with gun drone are changing perspective depending on mouse cursor location. There are just few buttons on the left bar for now, but that ll hopefuly change during summer as i plan campaign, arcade mode, challenges etc.

However while i was quite happy about the menu today i started intensive playtesting and found out im not fine with the gameplay game provides right now. I was getting desperate, thinking the game ll sux hard and all the work was for nothing(well that can still happen). After couple of hours playing Jamestown and Danmaku i finaly found out whats missing in awaken. Bullet patterns!! I completely forgot about them, had just few types of bullets, all looking the same, just different by color. Couple of hours later, i feel much better as gameplay is getting more interesting and not becoming that boring after two minutes. Still got couple hours of work ahead of me working on more variety of patterns, but i think the game is walking in right direction and hopefuly players ll think the same.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Awaken - Meet the LX-76 boss

Hello shmup lovers! Today i would like to introduce you the boss of first level, the LX-76 submarine. Yes, as soon as he appears on the screen your ship sensors ll recognize ancient, more than two thousand years old ship design from earth, whitch belonged to first unsuccessful expedition to neptune. However ship does not want to be friends with us and has tentacles growing form inside. As LX is first boss of game i did not want to make him hard, but not too easy as well. The boss fight if done properly should take about two minutes with basic ship equipment. 

Boss have 3 types of attack. First is frontal attack with curved bullet pattern comming from its two hulls. Pretty easy to evade as boss stops moving when shooting. Second one is small aimed volley of bullets  just to annoy player bit more. Third and most dangerous attack is torpedo strike. Boss fires small torpedo from one of its wing every 15 seconds. It going really slow, but explodes in to ring of bullets whitch can eradicate player quickly if he remain careless. These theree attacks are repeating throught whole fight, however there is change when boss hitpoints are below 50%. The second, not too dangerous small aimed volley ll become much more annoying as it triples in size and become serious threat. 
Right now few testers were given the game to test difficulty of the fight and hopefuly i ll be able to release the demo next weekend. See you on sunday by regular dev diary update and have a nice friday!