We just reached the prototype of DualtroN. During this milestone, we stopped creating mechanic testing sections and we built real content for the final game. Full level one is built now with a final boss at the end of it (more about the boss later). Since the content we are creating is tending towards being final, we also made some visual revision. We know we still have a huge margin to improvement on this aspect, but do not worry, we would tackle that in coming milestones.
We worked with the mechanics we already had mainly, but this milestone was also when we added to new features that we think will add a lot to the game.
This game is a completely different gameplay element compare to the DualtroN with two players. When the Fusion happens, there will only be a single character on screen, a character that is controlled by both players. In this mode, we want synchronicity and cooperation to be unavoidable. The actions of that character will happen if and only if both players do the same action at the same time. Coordination will be primordial to control this powerful entity.
The link was created first just to avoid both players to get far from each other, which is a needed feature to keep both inside the camera space. After implementing it, we realized that the effect we were working on could have ways to exploit it as a gameplay element if we gave the players the ability to create the link at any time. We did some test and we discovered that it may give an extra dimension to what our level design can have. Actually this feature will have a huge importance in the forthcoming second level we are building and it creates really spectacular gameplay moments with came out pretty naturally.
I have work in many different aspects of the game during this milestone, I improved visuals, worked on the logic for the fusion, created the link and the boss for the first level:
My main task was focused on adding feedback to the gun switching, a key feature of our game that needs to be clear. I made a really simple effect, that consists on a halo that moves from a player to the other, that we think works well. Being able to see something going from a player to the other removes part of the confusion that the game previously had.
Since I was improving players feedback, I also decided to make visual improvements on the player, because I wanted them to look like atoms. I used Unity3D trail renderers moving around a sphere and that created a really cool trail when moving that was not intended, but we all agreed that was good looking.
As I explained before the fusion is controlled by both players doing the same action at the same time. This makes it hard to control, but it is a really powerful entity that has a jetpack and a much more powerful gun. Implementing it was straight forward and after I did the logic, Eneko took the responsibility of making it better and mainly more visually appealing.
I also mentioned this feature earlier, but we did have many problems while working with it. Our player is controlled modifying its velocities and we do not rely on Unity3D physics, but we wanted to use its spring to create that connection between the players. We were getting problems like players being able to fly and many other weird behaviors, so we found a fix by disabling our own logic when the spring is active and leaving Unity3D do it.
The boss plays a really important role in DualtroN, since it represents the ultimate challenge at the end of every level. For the first Falven initially designed one where the fan elevated floor has a big importance. We all thought that it was an interesting approach because while one of the players was killing the boss, the other one had the responsibility of maintaining him/her alive.
After implementing and testing it, we discovered that the design had many flaws, mainly because it was not fun. We tried some improvements on it, but we realized that was going nowhere, so we decided to redesign and rebuild it from scratch.
For this second iteration, Falven had the idea of each player controlling somehow the other lane boss and we both started brainstorming about different attack patterns that would make the boss interesting and natural to play. We ended up creating 5 different attacks for the boss and we are now pretty happy with the result.
This milestone has been a pretty new experience for me. In the projects I have been working until now (check portfolio), I always took a more technical role and I invested most of my time improving the engine or creating new graphic features that other teammates would after use. During this milestone I have worked mostly on gameplay elements, which requires a completely different mindset when programming and I had never tested myself on that aspect.
Starting with the fusion logic was a good first attempt, since the most important part when programming gameplay is testing it and the fusion has a very simple logic. This part worked well, but when working on the link, everything started to become harder. The development of the link was more a matter of trial and error until we found out the working combination, which it felt more like a fluke. The real challenge came with the boss, which as I explained, had to be rebuilt from scratch. This moment felt a little bit demoralizing because when I realized that the first design was not working, I felt completely responsible of it not working as it should. I think we were able to change that situation and do something interesting, but that moment clearly showed me that when you are programming gameplay, planning how to build something is not the hard part, because things do not always work as planned.
I think my team and me where able to meet the goals we wanted to achieve. We proposed to have a complete first level build for this milestone and we have it, including some visual improvements that we also think are necessary. We have a clear idea of where we are going and that is something I really like. We all share the idea of the game we want to make and we most of the time agree on what the game needs. The metascore systems will be one of the most important features for next milestone and hopefully everything will work as smoothly as it this for this one.