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Play as an alien plant and escape from a scientific facility, full of secrets and dangerous experiments.
Play as an alien plant and escape from a scientific facility, full of secrets and dangerous experiments.
5,953 backers pledged $144,960 to help bring this project to life.

GUI elements and progress

Posted by Asthree Works (Creator)
70 likes

Here we are with the first 2016 dev report. We practically spend the entire month fixing issues and working on new designs. In gameplay terms, some things were slightly changed -now that we can play with fully-implemented mechanics-, balancing skills, movement sets and behaviors of both Subject W and the enemies.

Besides the tech issues, we wanted to share some designs choices for the GUI, seeing that some of you are curious about the kind of graphics that we use to represent key elements such as the HUD, the skill tree, prompts, etc. Let’s take a look at them and don’t forget to share your opinion, ideas or concerns in the comments, we always listen and learn from all of them :)

Defining an art style

As some of you might recall, we stated from the beginning that User Interface graphics were going to be vector based instead of Pixel Art. We took this decision to have a particular style and create a visual contrast between the game world and the player “tools”.

Our original idea was to conceive a minimalistic design scheme, based on the use of lines and curved forms that resemble organic paths from the nature such as roots, midribs and plant veins.

 HUD design

show Health Points (HP), Energy Points (EP) and the currently selected skill. The HP and EP are represented by the upper and lower leafs respectively. This elements have been changed over time as we experienced different playable situations, trying to find one that was both simple and intuitive.

In the first concepts you can see that the HUD was based on the use of bars. The problem of this kind of HUD is that you need to make a bigger/intrusive design in order to see your status. We wanted to have a simple yet functional game element so we decided that a point system will fit better and give players the possibility to identify the damage inflicted by different enemies/situations and create their own strategies in advance.

For example, if I know that a certain enemy’s attack take away 2 HP, I can put the SHELL skill, exchange HP for EP and avoid being killed.

New skill selection

We showed you in earlier updates the skills wheel that allows Subject W to freeze time and select a certain ability to use. Unfortunately we experienced some functionality problems with this GUI element:

As you can see, the wheel gets cut at the ends of the stages and overlaps with the HUD when the character is inside vents or high grounds.

We came up with this solution, integrating the selection panel into the main HUD and showing the skills available right below the current ability (avoiding overlapping problems with other gameplay elements). Also, when the player is in this mode, the enemies are highlighted so you know their position in advance and determine which ability is better for each situation. It’s still a work in progress, but it will probably remain like this in the final version. Anyway your ideas are welcome too  :)

Skill tree

Players will be able to enhance their abilities thanks to the skill points collected along the getaway. For this feature we designed a tree that reflects the evolution of each skill.

The original concept shows how we visualized the different ramifications emanating from Subject W’s roots. In further versions we’ve simplified the skill tree, coming up with a clearer/understandable version.

In the center of the tree will appear the skill points collected to spend on an already acquired ability. Around the central seed you can see the skills with their ramifications and the leafs that represent the LVL of each ability. The skill points used are shown under the leafs. An info box is displayed at the bottom of the tree, where players can see the action assigned to that level and decide whether to spend points on it or not.

Interaction markers

Some of you are concerned about the inclusion of pop ups and pointers to show interactive areas. First of all, for those that want to have a more hardcore experience, we're going to add an option asking (at the beginning the game) if the player wants visual helpers along the game -If you regret this decision you can change it again inside the game options menu-.
With that said, we designed markers to show interactive objects when Subject W is near them. A button marker has been added above the plant's idle position even if the object is below the plant height, avoiding graphic overlapping of the character with the button. Here are some examples:

I hope that you liked the result  :)
Now I'll leave you with Carlos that will get into detail about gameplay-programming issues.

Demo aftermath

After finishing an stable demo a lot of features were added but were left unpolished, so our priority was to fix all these things before start making progress on other areas. Since then we’ve fixed a lot of problems and I’m going to talk about a few of these, which I think are the most interesting ones.

Fixing broken things

Falling

While building the demo we noticed that SubjectW falling from big heights looked really jerky. To fix this we tried changing the animation first, but it didn’t work. Anyway we left the new animation in there because it looked way better.

After this I changed a little bit the camera, thinking that maybe its movement produced the effect, but that didn’t work either.

After wasting a lot of time I finally found the solution, apparently we needed to tweak an option in the Rigidbody2D component called Interpolate, this option when set to Interpolate calculates the next position of the entity based on the current position, making the motion smoother. When we started the game we set this option to None because it interfered with walking and running, so now the option sets itself to Interpolate when jumping or falling.

Passing through doors

In order to detect the ground and other accidents in the scenery we attached a bunch of GameObjects as children to SubjectW, those GameObjects act as key points for those calculations.

While passing through doors these GameObjects ended up in wrong positions, which caused several problems, like clipping through the floor, and eventually made the game unplayable.

Turns out the problem originated from moving these GameObjects in different animations, a method we avoid as much as we can because it’s a pain to maintain. Deactivating SubjectW mid-animation, to reset parameters and set him on the next room, caused the movement in these animations to stop working and retain the last position they had before deactivating the entity.

Now every time a room is loaded SubjectW is moved to a limbo platform where all the proper parameters are reset and then it’s placed in the new room. This may change in the future if I find a better solution.

Recovering

When SubjectW fell into the ground it used to run an animation for recovering, while this animation was running you couldn’t move at all. After the demo it was clear that, while it was a nice touch, stopping the player completely for such a long time wasn’t a good idea.

Stopping recovery

Recovery while moving

So now we allow the player to move through the recovering, though movement is still halted for a few frames at the beginning to give some weight to the falling and make it more realistic. We also changed the animation, to reflect the ability to move when landing.

The amazing world of cameras in 2D

When talking about side-scrolling 2D games you don’t hear much about cameras and how are they built, at first it seems simple enough, you smooth out the movement of the camera as much as you can and make it follow every single move of the main character until you need the camera to change its location for a cutscene or something similar.

But, like a lot of aspects in game development, the camera is much more complicated than I thought, “smooth and follow” certainly didn’t work for us at the beginning.

To give you a basic idea, these were the obstacles we faced:

  • SubjectW seems to be moving or static for a lot of animations, but in reality it’s the other way around, which caused the camera to be static or moving when you don’t want it.
  • Moving platforms messed with the camera if playing one of the previous animations as well, causing some movements that felt weird and could cause motion sickness. 
  • Moving the camera every single pixel that SubjectW has moved caused small jumps and made the camera stutter too much.

I started searching for proper solutions and to see how other game developers did the cameras on their own games and then I found this video, which saved my life and I strongly recommend if you wanna tackle this issue on your own: http://gdcvault.com/play/1022243/Scroll-Back-The-Theory-and

So how do we fixed it?

For the problematic animations I had to do two things. For most of these animations I made the camera follow a secondary collider attached to SubjectW, which is a box collider that fits itself to the shape of the sprite, not counting completely transparent pixels. The rest of these animations needed a helper to take the place of SubjectW when I wanted the camera to stay in one position.

For the stuttering of the camera I made a window of movement, SubjectW must be a predetermined number of pixels away from the center of the camera for the camera to start moving, this way if SubjectW has moved only one or two pixels the camera won’t follow.

As for the moving platforms, they seemed to solve themselves after the previous solutions, so that’s nice for once.

___

Well, those were some of the things that we've been working on since the last update. Keep tuned for more and don't forget to comment. Bye!

Asthree Works, Kenji Kaneshiro, and 68 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Asthree Works 2-time creator on

      @Kievan Al-Hassan and the rest of backers, thanks to all of you for your great support and your patience. We made great advances last weeks but lot of things needs to be done. Can't wait to give y'all a playable sneak peek :)

      @Alabug The console change could be a good idea for this issue. Anyway we’ll send a survey in the future, asking for the version that each backer selected and look out for a solution for all of you.

      @Neil Dawson we’ve been thinking about this… the thing is where to put the skill name, trying not to interfere with other graphics and stay aligned with the icons (we want to have a HUD without text, so at the side of the bars is discarded and below all the list is a bad idea because the last skill is not related with the chosen one). Anyway we’ll think about this issue, don’t worry :)
      About the radial menu, we considered to keep it in the centre of the screen but it looked out of place and overlapped with the characters.

      @ Thomas herzog We were inspired by games like Oddworld / Another World that have game mechanics and animation sets similar to Prince of Persia, so is normal that it reminds you of that awesome classic :D

    2. Kievan Al-Hassan on

      Take your sweet time and polish up this beauty of a game as much as you guys have to, otherwise where else am I gonna get these great updates to read? :P

    3. Missing avatar

      Alabug on

      Quick question I haven't been able to get in touch with your team for an answer. I backed this game in 2014 at the digital tier for the OUYA. Now that you can not release on the OUYA, I would like to switch my copy to the PS4. How can I do that? Who should I contact?

    4. Missing avatar

      Michael A. Atkinson on

      Great update! Really looking forward to this.

    5. Neil Dawson on

      The usability of the selection interface could be improved by including the names of the abilities. At the moment it looks like the name is only shown after an ability has been chosen, which isn't ideal, better the user knows exactly what they are about to select before they choose, especially if they are in a tense situation! This will be especially useful in the beginning when users are still learning the icons, and also when people return to the game after some time away.

      Jeremy's idea of showing a little bit of the previous icon above the selected one is good too, it will make it clear that scrolling can go in either direction.

      It's unfortunate you couldn't keep the radial menu as they're great for quickly swapping between things, as you develop the muscle memory and knowledge of which direction each one is mapped to. Did you consider keeping it in the centre of the screen like Crysis and Battlefield?

    6. Missing avatar

      thomas herzog on

      if and when this game arrives, it will be gloriously awesome :-) you guys are aiming for the same shock&awe effect the original prince of persia game had on platformer animations, ja?

    7. Asthree Works 2-time creator on

      @Simon Edlund The popus of interactive elements must be above the object, not the character, so the player is able to relate the button to each object (specially if there are multiple objects closer to each other). About floating/animated prompts, I think that they will distract too much. Anyway we’ll give a twist to the look of the button and try to find an homogeneous design (maybe a white circle with a drop shadow or something similar).

      @Jeremy Tudisco we’ll try your idea of showing a little bit the prev. item above the selected one ;)

      @Shai Abraham we posted a gameplay update last month, check it out if you missed it. We didn’t make another one because we were busy building the rest of thing that we posted here.

    8. NouvelleOrange on

      Merci pour cette mise à jour. Elle est très appréciée :)

    9. Shai Abraham on

      Thanks for the update, this has been an interesting read. It's been quite a while since we've seen a gameplay video, and you've reiterated gameplay and graphics multiple times since then - any chance for an updated demonstration? ;)

    10. Rickard Antroia
      Superbacker
      on

      I agree. As a developer, it's wonderful to hear other developers be really honest with the hurdles they face, and the smart solutions they use to solve it. Kickstarter updates have certainly opened up the industry somewhat - along with GDC-talks and similar learning conventions. When one dare to move marketing speech aside, it becomes more clear how incredibly tough game development is - where even what's percieved as an easy design kan be hours or weeks of work.

      Thanks for being open about the process.

    11. Missing avatar

      Sleet
      Superbacker
      on

      Really interesting stuff! Thanks for the update, guys!

    12. Roger Mitchell on

      This is very very encouraging. I'm very pleased to see the game progressing and your team delivering more content. Please be aware of feature creep though. Always better to get a great game out even when it's at 95% complete. Good job

    13. David Desjardin on

      Man, I thought the GAME looked nice. Whoever designed your HUDs and menus deserves an award. That's really inventive....all of them. You did make the right choice and picked the best one, but I'd have been happy with any of those.

    14. Missing avatar

      Greg Gazeley on

      Looking good! Appreciate the in-depth update.

    15. Zombra on

      "Skill tree". I get it.

    16. Jeremy Tudisco
      Superbacker
      on

      Lookin' good, guys! These updates are among the few KS ones I take the time to actually read, and always worth it.

      I feel the skill selection menu could have a little bit of the prev item visible above it while open: even though it'd fall into the safe zone, nobody really has safe zones anymore with their LEDs and 1,000s of Ps.

      That kind of menu to me never feels like it wraps to the other side of the list, so I end up always cycling down because I can see those, so I know where to go. That means that while the in theory wrapping halves the number of buttons I need to press to get somewhere, because I can't anticipate where to go, I just always cycle forward anyway.

      It may too work if the hit display/selection were to move down to the middle of the bar, or just a little down (half an item height) to give it a distincter mode switch into selection mode.

      Or not. It's your game! ^__^

    17. J.L. on

      The seed you sowed is coming closer to fruition with each update, if you pardon the p(r)un(e). That last one was a stretch by any vine, wasn't it? (c;

    18. jorlinn on Linux on

      These details and in-between ideas make good kickstarter updates so fun to read and watch and yours have certainly been worth the ride so far :-) Your team has amazing attention to detail, but please resist the temptation to get lost polishing the game at the expense of basic game development progression.

    19. Simon Edlund on

      The game is becoming much more and better than i had ever thought. Looking forward to it alot. I have a thought about interaction markers. Since the rest of the ui is looking so smooth and organic i believe the design choice for the markers look pretty poor and out of place. Maybe they should be animated and kind of flowing out from the main character?

    20. Kenji Kaneshiro on

      The updates for this kickstarter are always so cool. Great to see the strides and improvements to what you've previously shown. Can't wait to play it!