Mable & The Wood - July 2017 Update
So, not surprisingly, it’s been another crazy month! This little fella turned up on the 17th, so that’s been a bit of a distraction.
I had quite a bit of work scheduled in for June, and have got most of it done. The only exception was the mini-boss for the caves (the lava demon), and the landmark art for the caves (the lava waterfall – lavafall?). I did, however, tweak the schedule a little bit since the last update and have finished the new mountain area instead! This is just because it was much easier to fit in level design than pixel art, so I shuffled things around a bit and spread the art out across June and July (rather than all being in June).
So, the mountains. Sounds like a good place to start!
The transition from linear levels to a more open structure has been pretty fun to tackle!
Apart from the forest, which is now more of an introduction area that leads up to the Spider boss, each area now functions more like a Zelda dungeon than simply a series of linear levels. Some areas are locked off, requiring you to explore the area and find your way through. This fits a lot better with the way that you control Mable with the different shapes, as the different shapes allow you to solve puzzles and reach different parts of the map.
The game as a whole is also set out in a similar way: killing the spider boss gives you a new shape that makes it possible to reach the mountain, where you get the stone form that helps you reach the caves, where you get the mole form that helps you reach the swamp etc
However, I’ve also designed the areas so that there are ways to circumvent this. I didn’t want to break the internal rules of the game world, so there are not ‘pretend’ walls or anything like that. For the observant (or experimental) amongst you, there are routes through the world that do not require you to kill anything or anyone. Alternatively, you can just use these routes to play through the areas in a different order (if you’re not of a pacifist persuasion).
By having secret routes, it also allows me to spread the disparate parts of the story out across the world. So you might not meet certain characters, or might miss certain events (there are some things that you can do that trigger flashbacks, for example). But that’s enough of that, I don’t want to give ALL my secrets away!
In last month’s update, I mentioned that the design was complete now for all of the shapes. What I’ve done is mapped out all of the different ways that these can be used and the way that they interact with different parts of the environment. It’s really important to me that these are both orthogonal (different shapes enable unique things that other shapes don’t) and combinable (with different shapes’ uses and with the various sword powers).
This has meant some rework has taken place on the shapes that are currently working in the game. Spider form only required some very minor tweaks (you can now stand still and aim for one thing), but the stone form has had a complete overhaul.
Its use was previously very limited: you’re invincible, wind can’t blow you, and you weigh things down.
Stone form still has all of these elements, but now you also dash a short distance in one of 8 directions when you change form. This can be used to squish enemies, which is pretty neat:
I’ve also worked on making sure that the various forms have a unique relationship with some parts of the environment. In the case of the Stone form, this is done in a more obvious way than some of the later forms (it’s an early shape, so I don’t want to make you think too hard just yet – although there is a secondary use that isn’t immediately apparent). This leads me to my next bit...
Stone form can smash through these stone barriers:
There’s also those ouchy vines from the GIF above. You can use either the Spider form or the Stone for to get through these (depending on the situation, one may be easier than the other). These damage Mable if she touches them, because they’re really spiky. I was considering having some kind of poison effect to these, but they’re much too early in the game to complicate the mechanics in that way. I think that might be something you see later in the game though (maybe as something a certain enemy does).
Now that the world is more linear, I’ve also been working on barrier types that change how you navigate through the different areas.
There are simple lever controlled barriers:
The lever itself can be anywhere in the world, so it’s not always as obvious a solution as it looks!
Then there’s the barriers that need a key:
You can get these keys from various places, or they may be dropped by mini-bosses.
And finally there’s combat barriers:
These only trigger the first time you enter the area, and will raise when you’ve killed the last enemy linked to them. They can also have a variable set that means the last enemy drops a specific thing, such as a health upgrade or a key or something else entirely…
And finally, we now have lifts! Or, elevators?
These have a barrier at the top, so you need to make them go upwards before you can recall them – this plays a bigger part in the navigational puzzles later on in the game, where you need to do things in the right order to get to where you need to go. These were a bit of a faff to get working in the code, particularly so it remembered which elevators were where when you quit and reloaded the game.
As a roundup of the other bits that are now in the game, we have a kindly old lady:
This is the size that the adults actually should be. You’ll notice the cultists are actually the same size as Mable, so they’re going to be repixeled at some point (pre-beta I expect, as that’s when a lot of the narrative bits are going in).
The mini stone giant mini boss for the mountains:
And a bridge for the mountain:
There’s just 1 of these, and is there so you can orientate yourself more easily. I’m considering adding location maps into the game too, possibly as something that you can buy from shopkeepers.
I really like the way that Hollow Knight dealt with maps (although I preferred it where you had to kind of work out where you were before you upgraded it), so I may do something like that – I think it’ll be a good fit. Ideally, folks will pull out a pad and paper and draw their own map, but I don’t think it’s really fair to expect that kind of commitment from the average player…
Aaaaaand finally, we have a village hub!
There’s also a mountain village that you can find:
These are still missing some art, some additional characters, and a whole bunch of narrative content and secrets. There are some storylines that you will be able to set in motion from these areas, but that will continue later on in the game. In the mountain village, it matters when you visit it for one of the storylines.
So, that was my June. How was yours?
PLAN FOR JULY
So, aside from changing nappies (and not sleeping), what’s the plan for July? Let me tell you!
This is the stuff that I definitely want to get in:
- New death system (currently it just reloads the current room – I have a more interesting system designed…)
- Sound and music (there’s a lot of new sound to go in the game, so I need to work with Fat Bard to get this in there)
- Lava demon (art and coding required for this)
- Implement caves area (designed, just needs putting together in the level editor and testing)
I’ve also got quite a bit of writing to do for the various interactions in the first few areas. Any spare time I get will be spent on this as well as some of the layout the next areas (swamp, catacombs, flooded village and abandoned temple).
And that’s it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this update, and thanks again for your continued support!
Talk to you all in a few weeks :)