Devblog 5

Playtesting, re-balancing, refactoring code and some non-development stuff. Not a whole lot new features, but tons of improvements nonetheless.

Like always, check out the full changelog for all changes in this build.

Playtesting at OGL

After releasing our previous build last Friday, instead of going off to spend our weekend like usual, we went to Oulu Game Lab to have a playtesting session. Though we unfortunately only had a handful of testers, we nevertheless got a whole lot of useful feedback from them. Being the good guys we are, we rewarded our testers with some tasty beverages so everyone had a good time.

Wading through feedback

A lot of our time this week has gone to going through the feedback from our test session and deciding what issues have to be tackled first and more importantly, how they should be tackled. Player feedback analysis 101: Don’t listen blindly to what your players say, but try to understand the underlying reasons and conditions. If a tester for example says that the enemies are too tough, you might be able to “fix” the issue with adjusting animations, effects, sounds and so forth instead of making actual gameplay changes.

Bigger picture

You can now play the web-build in fullscreen. Nuff said.

Re-balancing the game

To address some of the feedback regarding the general feel of combat, we did some very radical re-balancing again. All enemies have had their health decreased drastically and balance that out, they’ve gained more speed. This should make each encounter a bit more hectic. We’ve also remade the logic behind Worm Spawner spawning (confusing, I know), so now you really don’t want to hang around in a level for too long. There’s also a ton of other, smaller changes, so check the changelog up top if you want to know more.

bullet-comparison

Enemy bullets are way more visible. They also have a shooting sound now.

Item shops

We finally managed to implement the item shops I mentioned some weeks back. No longer do you have to rely on the random nature of the chests to get the items that you want. Unfortunately, our level generation code is a bit buggy at the moment, which means the shops can be generated too close to the level edges, each other and the teleporter. We didn’t have enough time to fix it this week, but we though you’d appreciate the shops so we left them in regardless.

shop

Tunnels

Though it’s not really that much of a feature rather than a change, the level now has some tunnels and more empty space instead of being filled with just ice and rock. Combined with the enemy speed changes, you’ll have to start fighting almost immediately after starting a level.

screenshot

There’s a lot more space to move around by default. Also notice our new chest graphics.

Text and pop-ups

Again, based on player feedback, I spent some time reworking pop-ups and messages in the game. The item pickup texts have been totally redone, you are now informed when you don’t have enough Juice to purchase an item and you also get a small pop-up when picking up Juice. Things should be a lot clearer now.

messages

New messages in action

Refactoring code

In a project such as ours, where you have several programmers and there’s pressure to keep building the game further and further, you’ll eventually have to start refactoring (aka. rewriting) code to make it more performant, easier to read and so forth. While working on this week’s build, some of our older code caused problems for being very hard to read, so we ended up cleaning up and rewriting some stuff. Thought refactoring always takes time away from developing new features and content, it pays off later on when your code isn’t an incomprehensible mess.

Funding “fun”

We haven’t really talked about our plans for funding Gerty partly because nothing is set in stone and partly because it’s not exactly a riveting subject. Even though I’m considered the producer of our project, the subject gives me more gray hairs than I care to admit. Anyways, I think we’ve slipped out the word “crowdfunding” at a point or two, but not much else has been said on the subject. Let’s say a bit more then. Crowdfunding may or may not happen. We’ve not sure yet, because it’s very dependent on another matter. That other matter is that we’ve applied for funding through other means, namely a Finnish grant named DigiDemo. We’ll get the results on that in a month or two, so until then it’s pretty likely we’ll keep staying quiet about all matters funding, which I think all of you will be more than fine with. Just know that stuff is happening in the background.

Summary

A bit of new stuff, a lot of changes and improvements and quite a bit of stuff in the background. Making a build every week starts to feel a bit cumbersome, but it has its perks too. We talked a bit about changing up our build schedule, but we’ll keep it the same for now. Our Alpha-version deadline is closing in fast, so you won’t be seeing too many new features in the near future, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be busy as heck.

‘Till next next time folks!

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