Graphic and behavior improvements
August has flown by and we didn’t even notice! We spent most of the last month testing the mechanics and polishing endless things. The design of some levels has been made with block sets -rough stages with no final art/tiles-, checking that everything runs smoothly and enemies work as they should in all kind of situations.
Among debugging and many other things, we also made other improvements regarding visual elements and animations. Wanna take a look at them?
New reactions for a single state
On the last update we posted a set of poses for the guards, giving variety to a unique behavior through different animations. Following this idea we’ve made new stances for the scientists in situations where they may overlap. In this example you can see all the possible animations for a scientist going from a panic state to a relaxed one.
This prevents that all the scientist in a room execute the same animation once an alert ends, adding realism to the game.
Natural dialogue system
Another behavior added to these characters is the possibility to execute completely randomized dialogues. To do this effect, we have developed a script that choose an animation depending on the role and pose of the interlocutors. 9 different dialogues were made, each with 3 possible gestures and another 3 switches from one stance to another.
To get a better idea of how this works here’s a simplified diagram:
Now if two characters are assigned to talk several times, their conversations will never be identical, just like these two below.
We’ve also been working on key elements of the gameplay as we test the levels with interactive assets, gradually balancing the core mechanics. This is extremely important in order to obtain a well-designed system, even more if you keep in mind that the player has different paths to advance through the map and can decide whether to go unnoticed or face the enemies with his abilities.
One of the things that we changed is related to the hearing distance and sight of the scientist. Previously, these characters were able to detect sounds no matter what they were doing, even focused on their tasks. This carried several problems like this one: anytime you made a noise in a crowded area ALL doctors stopped working on their tasks and went looking for you, which end up in a weird proceeding. It was extremely difficult to go unnoticed.
Now they aren't able to spot you if they’re at work (as if they were “in the zone”), wich made them look more natural and also allowed us to create a wide variety of stealth strategies.
A lot of interactions between characters were added too, making the NPCs react to a greater number of factors depending on the scenario, objects and characters around them. Here's an example of the actions made by a guard when he discovers a fallen comrade.
We have also taken a great step forward by developing our own collision script that automatically crops every frame from a sprite sheet, avoiding to manually adjust each box collider per animation and saving us a lot of time.
Now that the colliders adjust themselves to the sprites it’s easier for us to attach external elements to relative positions. For example, the status bubbles are positioned automatically two pixels above the enemies without us having to adjust them manually in every frame.
Time to scold us: graphic enhancements
Wait! Before you think that we’ve lost hundreds of hours polishing stuff, I must say that some elements were made long before the Kickstarter campaign and showed a lack of detail in comparison with the rest of the enhanced sprites. We remade a few graphic interfaces for larger monitors, displaying more elaborated menus with animated graphics and visuals.
We upgraded a pair of scenarios too, like this one that act like a checkpoint/save-state. These natural enclosures were designed as chill out areas for the people inside the facility, but our green friend can use them as shelters to plant its seeds. If W is killed during its getaway its pollen spreads through the air, pollinating the seeds in the nearest garden and resurrecting it.
As we continued to develop new stages and situations, we were feeling that this shelters looked a little bit outdated in comparison with the rest of levels and needed some improvement. We've also added more depth to some stages to make it easier to follow the plant. As you see right here W is hard to spot from the background.
To give a striking look to this areas we looked for examples of natural landscapes with a more refined aesthetic, taking inspiration from the colors and composition of traditional Japanese gardens, with its bright colors and strong tonal contrasts.
With some pics selected, we reduced different images into the game’s resolution, isolating the dominant colors and creating a set of harmonic palettes.
Preserving the structure of the stage we drawn a garden with different heights over the planter where we’ll distribute the main elements. To provide a “Zen” touch to the stage we've also added an artificial waterfall behind a glass.
A great variety of trees and shrubs have been designed so every shelter room looks different from the others. The color ranges degrade from red to green with intermediate brown tones that helps to blend the different shades.
Lighting also plays an important role in the composition. To give an overwhelming feeling we focused the attention on a single luminous point in the center, using the same energy source as the special lamps where W recharge its skills. To create a higher contrast the overall brightness has been reduced, adding more depth so the character stands out.
This is the final look of the stage (click on it to have a better look). The tonal difference and the glowing sparks bring out the colors, giving an odd yet outstanding look to this levels. The combination of these elements also serves to represent, somehow, W’s home in the stars.
That feeling of tranquility and comfort is enhanced by the soothing sound effect of the waterfall along with the theme composed for this end.
Extra: art from a different perspective
I can not lose the opportunity to post a couple of drawings made by Carlos to explain the enemy behaviors. It looked so adorable that I needed to redraw them. I present to you Neckboy and Longmuscle. Sorry Carlos, we love you anyway.
PS: and now a really good piece of art sent by one of our Paradise Lost fans, Blake Stevenson. You can check more of his fun work right here.
We love to see how different people represent Subject W, so feel free to send your drawings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope you like all this stuff and, as I always say, thanks for your patience with the project, we are doing our best to not let you down.