It’s been a busy, yet quiet start to the year.
I must apologize for the lack of updates for the past few months. We had planned to release a blog earlier than this, but it’s often difficult to tear yourself away from development. Let’s start off with a certain update we were supposed to release last month:
We were born to make history
If you’ve been a long time follower, you know Gerty’s development has been a long journey. We imagined the game would be done in roughly a year, yet here we are in year three. If you’re interested in a more detailed look at how we ended up where we are now, you can do that over at Imgur with the “Development history of Gerty”. Like with most things, we tried (and failed) to get some new eyes on the project, but it was interesting to take a look back at how far we’ve come. We debated quite a bit internally weather the focus should be on the team and our journey or should we do a technical breakdown instead. In the end we figured it would be more interesting for a general audience if it didn’t get bogged down in technical jargon. In retrospect it might’ve been interesting to go the other way, but maybe we’ll do that at some later time.
Plans for Beta 1.6 and beyond
Our current plan is to release Beta 1.6 sometime next month (i.e. April). Funnily enough, though I keep saying that there will be less and less new content in the demo as we move closer to release… we’ve got another quite hefty bunch of content in Beta 1.6. In all fairness, it’s stuff mostly meant for the full game, but some of it naturally affects the demo as well. We’ve also planned out a schedule towards release, which has been rather helpful in visualizing how much work we actually still have left to do.
I’d also like to remind everyone that Beta 1.6 is currently planned to be our last public demo, as are definitely nearing the point where most new content won’t be available in the demo portion. Making demo builds also takes a surprisingly large amount of time and we don’t want to waste time on minor fixes at this point in development. We’d much rather focus all our attention on getting the game finished.
Anyways, let’s take a closer look at what we’ve been working on lately:
This one has been a long time coming. We’ve been planning the intro (and the “story” in general) in some form for over a year now, but in the past few months things have finally started taking definitive shape. Sampo has been producing the graphical assets for the intro and we’re finally at the point where I can start putting things together so we’ll the first proper draft of the whole thing. We’re aiming to have the intro ready for Beta 1.6, but if there are some unforeseen delays, we can easily drop it out.
“Find the Teleporter” for 16 stages in a row with only two bosses to break them up gets predictable pretty quick. Ever since we decided to limit the game to only two worlds, we’ve been thinking of ways we could add more variety and replay value to the game without having to resort to a ton of new assets (because graphical output is our biggest bottleneck). One major way we decided to tackle the issue was to introduce different level objectives. Most are just twists on the usual fair (like Generators), but we’ve also got a very special new one: Survival. You’ll start the level right next to the Teleporter, but you have to survive a set amount of time before you can use it. We also decided to include Mini-Bosses to the game, which are in a way an objective on their own. Speaking of which…
Another way we decided to bring more variety to the game was to mix up enemy combinations. You no longer know exactly which enemies you’ll be facing in each level, like you’ve been able to do so far. Of course we’ve introduced a system that limits which enemies can appear in which levels so you don’t get overwhelmed by shooters in the very first level. To accommodate this new system we’ve also had to significantly increase our enemy pool, which I’ve been working on intensely. Where we had only 5 normal enemies (melee, digger, bomber, charger, shooter) so far, we currently have 24 (and counting)! To be clear though, they’re not all totally unique and different (that would be a little too much work for our team), rather they’re mostly variations on the archetypes I just listed. There are also quite a few totally new enemies that don’t really fit any previous category, but sadly you won’t be seeing them in the demo – they’re mostly going to World 2.
And as I stated in the previous topic, we’ve got Mini-Bosses too. Provided there won’t be any major shake-ups, you won’t be facing dear old Grongo in Beta 1.6, but a Mini-Boss instead. We’ve got plans to have a small pool of mini-bosses so you’ll have to stay on your toes on that front too, but for Beta 1.6 we’ll stick to just one.
New terrain features
It’s been almost exactly two years since I first talked about pits in this blog. We originally planned to have them be a feature in most levels, but that plan never really took shape. Then we decided to dedicate World 3 as a pit-world, but World 3 got cut from the game. Though you’ve seen pits outside Grongo’s arena and in the tutorial for a long time now, in Beta 1.6 you’ll be finally seeing them in normal levels too! You won’t be seeing them in every level though, as that would be a bit too much. Like with objectives and enemies, we’re aiming to have them spice up levels every now and then.
Along with pits, we’ve also got something totally new: Obsidian blocks! Though it’s sometimes fun to blast the whole level to oblivion, we’ve been thinking for a long time it might be interesting to have small chunks that you couldn’t destroy. Well, that’s not entirely true… One of the new items introduced in Beta 1.5 is called an “Obsidian Hammer”. Could there be some connection, hmm?
Seems we just can’t stay away from big builds, no matter how hard we try. I suppose it’s only fitting, seeing we’re hoping to have it be the final build before release. Fingers crossed we don’t hit any nasty problems on the way (because there are some potential problems we’re keeping an eye on). Hopefully we’ll be back next month with Beta 1.6!
Till next time, folks!