Devblog 35

Another mid-development round-up is here. Let’s see what’s cookin’!

We’re about halfway to our next build from the previous one, so to not keep you guys in the dark for months on end, here’s another work-in-progress look into some upcoming stuff. At one point we actually had plans to release Beta 1.5 now and make another smaller build in time for Christmas, but like I said last time… This build is a bit of a doozy.

HUD, version 4.0

One of the two major updates in Beta 1.5 is a completely revamped HUD. Unneeded info has been removed, visual flares have been added and functionality has been refined. Let’s start off with a comparison shot (new on top, old on bottom):

hud-comparison

Things of note:

  • Skill HUDs are now in the corners of the screen
  • Stage name has been removed (only visible in the loading screens)
  • Objective text is only shows at the beginning of the stage (with a cool animation)
  • Skills now have a cooldown timer in the HUD

The reworked threat timer is also worth closer inspection. Although you no longer know the exact number of seconds until the next threat appears, having a bar in the top middle of the screen is way more easily readable than a small text in the corner. It also gives you a good idea of when you should be heading out of the level, something the old timer didn’t exactly accomplish. Just to be sure you won’t be ambushed though, there is a clear 3 second long warning (now with sound), so you have time to prepare yourself for trouble.

For co-op, the new HUDs work way better than our old system, as the bottom of the screen doesn’t obstruct your view. We’ve also revamped the player colors, which should be quite a bit easier on the eyes. There are still a few changes to be made to the HUDs, but what you below is quite close to what you’ll be getting.

hud-coop

Forges

The second massive change Beta 1.5 brings to the table is Forges, which effectively replace Shops and Chests. Though Shops are likely never to be seen again, we do have some plans to rework Chests, but as that’s not likely to make it into the build, we won’t get into it this time. There are currently 4 different Forges, each for a different item category: Offence, Defence, Utility and Stats. Our items have actually always been divided into categories, but it’s been largely invisible to players. In any case, here’s how the Forges look in action:

Coming up with the UI for the Forges was as much a matter of gameplay as graphics. The biggest problem was gameplay flow. The reason why we wanted to make the Forges in the first place was to give players enough time to make meaningful choices when purchasing items, while also providing a nice breather from the action. However, if you’re playing co-op with 4 players and everyone visits Forges separately, the flow of the game is going to be broken too frequently. Solution: simultaneous shopping! But that poses another big problem: there’s going to be a ton of information on the screen and space is finite. Players need to see their inventory and the items in the shop, you have to display a ton of info so that players know what the items actually do, you also need the player names and how much Juice they have… All of this times 4. And you can’t just lay everything out haphazardly, because the navigation has to be fast and intuitive.

Needless to say, designing the Forges was quite a bit more work than you might expect from a glance (UI not yet final):

forge-open

Things of note:

  • Players now have separate Juice
  • Players now have a limit of 10 unique items
  • Items are upgradable
  • Forges have services, which provide non-permanent bonuses

The other big reason for making the change from our old system to Forges was so that we could make the items feel more impactful. Since in the old system you could in theory buy an infinite amount of a certain item, we had to make sure they wouldn’t break the game easily. In practice this made many items feel powerless and duplicates even more so. With our new upgrade system, we can decide how many upgrades each item should have so that each purchase feels substantial, without breaking the game.

Sampo has also been working on making the item sprites prettier:

item_consepts

Improving failure

One of the most important things action games (and roguelikes especially) have to do, is make failure fun. Or if not fun, make sure you don’t have to waste time waiting to get back in the saddle.  We took some time to remove the unnecessary loading screen before the Game Over -screen, which should make death a less painful experience.

So many options

options

It’s been a long time coming, but you can finally access Options in game! You no longer have to suffer the constant taunting of that one grayed out button in the Pause-menu. You might also spy a few new things in there…

Summary

This of course isn’t nearly everything Beta 1.5 has to offer. There are still some changes to be done to the HUDs and Forges, but there are also a plethora of smaller and nitty-gritty changes and upgrades sprinkled everywhere. You’ll get a more detailed breakdown – as usual – when the build drops. We also have great, big plans for Beta 1.6, but more on those later as well.

Till’ Christmas folks!

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