Thursday, February 28, 2013

Magnetic By Nature Post #14: Zone's of Enders

Well this has been a fun week.  This past Thursday professionals from prestigious gaming companies such as EA, Eat Sleep Play, and others, came to demo our game's Beta.  We had our first zone, (which consisted of 5 levels), all completed and ready for them to play, and the response was very positive.  Each level has a "Roger" moment in it, (a term we coined after our professor Roger Altizer who initially suggested we have certain moments throughout the game that will be extremely impactful on the player while on his or her journey), and each zone will have its own theme.  Zone 1 is set in an underground, cave-like environment with areas that are generally claustrophobic.

We also had a new control scheme implemented for them to try out called the "Bubble."  In short, it gets rid of the need for using the right analog stick to aim the magnetic beam, and instead attracts or repels the player from the nearest magnet from them.  This by far was the biggest change we had made to our game since our alpha, and it has been praised by almost everyone who has demoed our game.

After the Beta demo, we chatted with the professionals on what we could scrap, what we could tweak, and what they liked.  They said that it might look better if the robot were cell-shaded and that the "bubble" control could be tweaked in that, wherever you point the left analog stick, the magnets in that direction would have preference over the other magnets effecting you.  We took their feedback and are working on implementing it into the final version of the game.  Overall, though, they all loved the game and had a really enjoyable experience with it.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the title of this post, it's in honor of Hideo Kojima's games and the release of the spinoff Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance this past Tuesday, (and the name also ties nicely to our Beta's zones that we are pumping out in these final weeks of production).

What I accomplished this week:
  • Created 2 death animations and exported sprites for a 3rd programmatic death animation
  • Designed and constructed a level for Zone 1
  • Created and updated a Youtube account for Tripleslash Studios 
  • Reviewed a game and contacted the developers
  • Created concept art, (poster), for Magnetic By Nature

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Magnetic By Nature Post #13: Not A Fine Time To Be An Indie Game

So this past week Microsoft decided to stop supporting XNA.  It's been a good run, and many great games have come form the Xbox Live Indie Arcade Market, but Microsoft decided to step away and stop releasing future versions of the XNA dev toolsets.  This being said, our game is still planned to be released around May on the Xbox Live Indie Market.

This past week we demoed our game to the master game's studio graduate students here at the University of Utah.  We created a demo tutorial level that had all of our features in it, including all of the magnets and the removing the head function.  However, during the playtesting we discovered that many people found our tutorial level to be extremely boring.  We quickly switched all the demo stations to play a different level than our tutorial, and the grad students had a much better reaction to it than we did the tutorial level.  Just as we did at the EAE Open House, we passed around surveys to all the participants who played our game and asked them questions about how hard our game was, how fun it was, what they liked and didn't like, ect.  About 50% of the playtesters said they enjoyed the head mechanic and 50% said they hated it.  The half that said they hated it mentioned how it was a confusing function, that the situations that required the head were boring, and that the function itself seemed to distract from the core gameplay of our game.  Also, they said that the controls were confusing to maneuver the head around the level.  We quickly had a group meeting after hearing the responses, and decided to switch the function of the head mechanic.  The head will now act as a sticky magnet, able to stick on some surfaces but will bounce off others.  This way it will be used in unique ways throughout each level while adding to the core gameplay of the game.  We spoke to some grad students about the idea of this new function and they agreed it would help the gameplay tremendously.

This weekend we all sat down and created on paper the first "Act" of the game.  The game will consist of 5 Acts in total, and the first Act is set to be located in an underground cave.  The benefit of doing the levels on graph paper is that we have a hard draft of the level just in case something in our level editor breaks.  We then can simply go into the level editor, match each unit on our graph paper to a unit in our editor, and create the level within just a few minutes!  Our art team is also tasked to finalize all the foreground assets this week, and have set the color schemes for all the backgrounds for each Act.  Moreover, we have created our Kickstarter page, and are getting ready to make it live within within the next couple weeks, (we decided to delay our launch because we want feedback from friends and family about if the page looks good, and so that we can get more finalized art assets onto the page).  All in all, it's been a very informative and productive week.

What I accomplished this week:
  • Finished editing our Kickstarter video
  • Created a title animation for the start of our Kickstarter video
  • Reviewed an Xbox Indie Game

Monday, February 4, 2013

Magnetic By Nature Post #12: Name Change and Other Things

Well, Tripleslash has been very busy for the past 10 days, but here are the details on what happened this past week.  One of the most important things that happened was that our title of the game was changed from "Attraction" to "Magnetic By Nature."  This was done because if you type Attraction into any search engine, the results that pop up will be a ton of sites about dating, romance, and other topics that have no relevance to our game.  Our team chose five names from a list of potentials, and then we put the names on Facebook for our followers to vote on.  Magnetic By Nature was voted for almost twice as much as any other name, so we stuck with that.

In other news, we took our game to Utah Indie Game Nights this past Thursday and had people from across the valley come and demo it!  There was a variety of people who tried it out, including the owner of Ninjabee Studios and a developer from Smartbomb Interactive.  This was a great opportunity for us to test the new levels we are creating, and to expose our game to more people.
Furthermore, after the game night, one of our developers was contacted by and organizer from Salt Fest, (a gaming expo located here in Salt Lake City), and they asked if we would like to showcase our game at their event!  Needless to say, we said yes.

Our team is continuing to push our game further than ever before.  The artists are currently focused on level design, and the programmers are focused on both the particle system and loading new assets into the level editor.  As for myself, I've been busy editing our Kickstarter video, helping create levels, and helping Andrew get animations working in XNA, (we ran into more problems since last week but we sat down together and worked through them with the help of some Scott Torgeson, a programmer from Heroes of Rock).  Our Kickstarter should be up by this Saturday.  In the next blog post I'll paste the link for everyone to check it out!

What I accomplished this week:
  • Continued editing the footage for the Kickstarter
  • Worked with the programmers on getting animations to work in XNA
  • Converted the jump animation to the new model
  • Created a "throw head" animation
  • Built a level for the game in our level editor