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Weekend Update: T-Minus 5 Weeks

April 17, 2010

So, I thought I would keep everybody up to speed on exactly what it is I’ve been, and will be, doing up until the release of the game. I’ll go ahead and sum everything up at the end of the week. So, here’s the first update.

Ditched Some Stuff

I got rid of fans and one of the levels. I elaborate quite a bit here.

Walls, Walls and more Walls

All of the walls in the game were causing some pretty annoying glitches regarding the enemies. These glitches caused the enemies to walk straight through locked doors, and walk through brick walls if they were stacked on top of each other. My locked door collision code was just pretty shoddy, so I tightened it up enormously. The other glitch was also caused by my collision code, but in a less obvious method; the way I programmed the collisions, I made sure that if the enemy was walking on the top of a wall, it was impossible for him to be stopped by the right or left side of the wall. As it turns out, this was a pretty stupid thing to do. I programmed it in because I knew that as long as the enemy was on top of the wall, they couldn’t possibly walk into the base of it. Well, when I stacked walls on top of each other, the engine was letting enemies walk on top of one wall, while passing directly through another wall stacked on top. I simply deleted this code, as it was completely and utterly unnecessary in the first place. Lesson learned.

No Turning Back Now

This problem related more to the design than the programming. My problem was that while designing the levels, I never really considered the fact that players might want to turn around and backtrack. So, in my designs, it was impossible in some places for the player to go too far backwards, usually because of a wall that was too high to pass. I thought about deleting obstacles as you tread far enough away from them, but ruled out that plan for two reasons:

  1. If the player wanted to go backwards immediately after passing a high wall, they would first have to walk forwards a bit to erase the obstacle. This is blatantly terrible design.
  2. It would seem off to the player if, all of the sudden, solid objects just started vanishing off-screen. It would create an environment of uncertainty that I wanted to steer far away from.

So, my next thought was to put a warp at the end of the level, so you could continue from the start if you missed anything. The problem with this was obvious: If the player only wanted to backtrack behind an impassible obstacle that was close by, they would have to continue all the way to the end of the level just to move back a few yards. Yuck. My answer was more of a brute-force solution. I simply went back into the designs, and added platforms and springs to help go past the high walls. What can I say, it worked out alright.

Spawn Timer

The next thing I wanted to do wasn’t necessarily solving a huge issue, but adding a small element to the enemy’s spawn points. The spawn points of the enemies are these small teleporters placed around the levels. The warped in enemies after a short time, and only if the player wasn’t standing on it (because nobody wants an enemy spawned directly into their face). My only concern was that players would be standing close to spawn points, but not on them, so that when enemies warped in, it would catch the player by surprise and kill them.

So, what I did was add a small red rectangle to the base of all the teleporters. The rectangle started out invisible, but heated up red as the enemy was about to appear. It wasn’t something stupidly obvious, like a number timer, but got the point across. No red bar = safety. Glowing red bar = MOVE IT!

Background and Floor Editing

I made some adjustments to the floors in the game, which took a lot longer than it probably should have. My first problem is that the floors didn’t scroll across the screen, so I had to go in and completely gut-out the old floor code and redo it, which was a pain. After that was finished, I changed the texture for the second and third worlds to be more fitting (sidewalks for the city, etc). I also enlarged some of the backdrops so that they would cover the entire level.

Starting to Flesh-Out the Menu

This is most likely my biggest obstacle ahead of me, but I’m beginning to chip away at it. Essentially, I have three main menu options: Story, Extras, and Options. This week, I finished the menu for “Story”. There isn’t a ton to say about it, but it was certainly my biggest task. In place of some explanatory text, I offer a screenshot.

menu screen shot

Whew!

Alright, that’s about all of the major changes for this past week. I may have done some other changes, but I think this covers the basic features of the new build. Thanks for keeping up, and stay in touch for next week’s edits.

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