Mable & The Wood - February 2017 Update
Sorry about the late update, it's been a crazy few weeks. Moving house has added 2 hours to my daily commute as well as thrown a lot of unexpected house related tasks into the mix. Remind me never to move again...
Anyway, there's a lot to update you on, so I'm going to crack on with it!
As I mentioned in the last update, I've been working on getting all of the final(ish) assets and art in game and polished up in preparation for the alpha release. This is nearly all done now, there's just some bits for the mountain and the backgrounds for the caves and the secret levels need redoing.
I've also done some more testing and been working on planning and scheduling, so I can try and give you all some more concrete dates that are actually realistic!
The boss fights received another overhaul this month, mainly to improve how they communicate their attacks but also adding in some variations on the attack patterns so that you have to react, rather than just predict what they'll be doing:
I also took some time to work on what happens when you kill the boss. I needed to show the absorbing of power from your defeated foe. After a few iterations (I set aside 1 night to do this, and it took 3), I came up with this:
I'm still not 100% happy with it, but it's close enough for now. I find that leaving things for a while before returning to them actually gives you better results anyway, so it makes sense to re-evaluate this later.
You've all seen the small houses, right? Well, I did some bigger ones too:
The one with the white roof needs a change of colour I think, but otherwise I'm happy with these. There's still more little bits of polish to add to the village levels, but I'll add those in bit by bit (things like fences, paving instead of grass in places etc).
The Map in Game
The map is now working in game, and it looks awesome:
I feel like I can really gush about how good the map looks, because it's been done by Maarten rather than myself! There's still some additional shiny new UI and a few other little bits to go in, but this first part of the map is pretty much done.
Most of my time over the past month has been working on getting a lot of the mechanics/hazards working in game. Here are a few examples of some of the more versatile things that you'll see throughout the game:
This is a good example of something that took longer than expected. I had tunnel vision because I was so focused on making it so that you could push them and drop them on enemies...
...and making sure that they could float in the water...
...that I hadn't noticed how ridiculously oversized they were! I could tell something was off with them, and spent ages playing around with their weight and other attributes before Sarah just happened to look over my shoulder and say "Those crates are enormous".
Then it took me about 20 minutes to change them to this:
A lot of the puzzles that you'll be dealing with are related to the relationship between the Sun and the Moon, which will neatly allow me to sneak in some lore through the puzzles (if you care to look).
In previous updates I have shown some of the Sun/Moon mechanics and the pillars in game, but I've been working on some variations of these:
Timed pillars will return to their starting position unless either Mable or the sword (or a crate, barrel or enemy) is stood on it.
These switches don't really belong in the forest. I wonder where you'll find them...
Falling platforms are kind of a staple of platform games, but they're quite interesting to play around with when you have a character that can fly.
It means that while they are a platforming hazard, they can also be used a puzzle pieces. Again, these follow the same rules as everything else - they're triggered by Mable, the sword, enemies, barrels etc. Having this kind of internal consistency is super important to me, to allow you to find your own way of doing things.
Also there's now spiky vines:
As you can see, you can actually destroy these vines as you can with the creatures you meet. I'm not sure about whether to leave this in or not, but it's something that I'll be testing. Currently, the ability to destroy them does make them slightly more versatile so I can use them in a wider variety of situations. We'll see.
There's also been a number of new mechanics added into the caves area:
The giant maggots actually took AGES, but they have some really interesting behaviour patterns that make them really fun to use when designing the levels. They also glow in the dark, which might be useful down in the bowels of the world I guess...
Also, I mean, how do you animate a maggot wriggling?
Everyone loves collecting stuff right?
I was invited to show Mable at the Game Over 2nd birthday celebrations. Game Over are a local Sheffield group who set up nights in and around Sheffield for people go get drunk and play video games. They have a lot of retro games there as well as work-in-progress things from the larger local studios like Sumo Digital and Dumpling (ex Rare folks). So it was an honour to be there!
It ended up being a late, slightly drunken, night.
But I got to test out some of the new levels as well as a few little tweaks that I'd made in an attempt to help people pick up how you play the game more easily:
This is what made the biggest impact. Simply changing the colour of the line to red when it was lined up with an enemy made it so that pretty much everyone understood the combat mechanic as soon as they sat down to play.
I think if drunk people can work out how to play your game, then you can say that your tutorial and early levels are working correctly.
It was a great night - I had some brilliant chats with loads of people and got some great reactions that really made that hangover at work totally worth it...
As I said at the start, there's just a little bit of work left on the mountain, the caves and the secret area(s?) before everything I need for the alpha will be in there. I'm aiming to have all of this done by mid-March, which means that alpha backers will have their alpha build late March or early April (hiccups depending).
I don't know exactly what this means for alpha dates and final release dates, but it looks like final release might end up being in one of the busiest months for games.
If that's the case, it may be that the final game is released to all of you lovely people as soon as it's ready and then released later to everyone else. I don't know if that's a good idea or not, but we'll see.
I mean, the longer the game takes, the better it's going to be. I'm working on this alongside a job that is paying for the roof over my head and the food in my mouth, so there will be no point where the development stops because I'm not being paid. When the funds run out, it just means that I have all of the music and additional art in the game that I need!
Anyway, I'll keep you all updated on that as things progress and if anything changes. If you have any questions then please drop me a message.
Thank you for your support and patience and I hope you have enjoyed this (slightly oversized) update! Please leave a comment and give me a like to warm my heart :)
Until next time, I'll just leave you with this: