We wanted to give an update on the game front, since it has been a couple months since our last update post, excluding the previous post of revealing Asteric, Minhaga, King Archon, and the Kingdom of Velare. Before we dive in, we wanted to quickly share about our experience at Cedarville’s Video Game Exhibition.
We got to meet / talk with hundreds of individuals interested / excited about the game. We had between 10 – 20 folks play the game. One, who played for 2.5 hours. He went to classes and came back wanting to play more! The experience was overwhelmingly positive and overall we’re more confident then ever that Violet is going places! Thanks again for all of those who played and / or checked out the game! We appreciate all of the support and making my (Dan‘s) childhood dream more of a reality!
And in case anyone who was at the exhibition is wondering… yes, we did do our drawing and Joslyn was the winner of the $50 Amazon Gift Card. Congratulations! Alright, now onto actual game updates.
One advantage of doing a showcase is watching people play in real time, which results in finding out all of the things that work, as well as the things that don’t. We’re happy to say that of all of the features actually completed, most of it did work. But there were a few things we have adjusted.
We noticed that people didn’t notice the lock gate in the very first room of the cave. Once they obtained the key, they didn’t know where to progress from there. We first made the room layout one tile smaller all around, making the locked gate more visible. Secondly, since we wanted the player to learn how to pick up things in that first room, we decided to rearrange the random arrangement of rocks into an arrow formation, pointing at the gate.
The player will more instinctively check out the locked gate, finding out they need a key to pass. Five minutes later when they get the key, the player will remember this moment and remember to go back.
Another Tutorial Cave item we addressed was learning the agile weapons. We noticed that a player opened the chest and used the agile weapon once, then switched back to their balanced weapon. Well the code, via the designer (i.e Dan), assumed the player would check out the agile weapon for five seconds and then globs would drop from the ceiling. This assumption was remedied by adding agile switches to the wall, something we were planning on doing for dungeons anyway.
Now the player is forced to use an agile weapon to activate the switch, which in turn drops the Globs from the ceiling. It’s much better designed and teaches the player more organically as well.
We also addressed four other smaller items:
- We have noticed for a while that collisions with the agile weapon while facing left / right visually didn’t work. It became more apparent while showcasing that this needed to be fixed.
- Players would defeat the final enemy, which would drop their weapon, but right near a chest. Dropped weapons had a higher priority of picking up than opening a chest, which was really frustrating for players.
- After the tutorial, in the first loop sequence of the game, players (who we assume weren’t super familiar with Zelda conventions) didn’t realize they could push a block onto a switch. We addressed this by teaching the player in three steps. The first a simple step switch, which they will be lured to by a certain character singing. The second, another step switch, but this time doesn’t function until a block is pushed on, which there just so happens to be one in eye sight. The third, the original puzzle, but with a slight twist.
- A dropped weapon would halt movement of a player from pushing / pulling blocks. Much like the chest priority issue, this was frustrating because the only remedy was to pick up a weapon. But, if the inventory was full for a weapon, the player would have to go into their inventory, drop a weapon, pick up the weapon that was in the way (which they probably didn’t want in the first place), and then continue pushing / pulling.
Castle of Castle Town
We decided to finally get around to finishing the art for the Castle and the Court Yard (where The Remembrance ceremony takes place). We unfortunately didn’t have this ready for the showcase, but for those who remember the cutscene, this should look so much better now. Tony did a great job, as always, fully realizing what we were going for.
Tile and Particle Updates
We also updated the rain / snow particles. We got a lot of good feedback of showing the Violets in action in video form, so we plan on making this a regular occurrence. Below are those particles in action:
We still need to adjust the depth of the particles, but overall, they turned out great!
We also worked on a waterfall effect, which can be seen below:
We still need to address that hardline seam between biomes, but that’s a task for a different day!
Overworld Night Music
Tyler is still composing from time to time. The reason there hasn’t been much done on this front is it is hard to compose for something when the art isn’t final. Well, now that we have much of the art complete, we have restarted and are going in big. Below is one sample:
This is still a work in progress, but we made enough of a dent in this feature that it seemed worth sharing. We added compasses to maps! There are three types of compasses:
- Compasses that function without needing a map for an area
- Compasses that only work with a map for a given area
- Custom Compasses, that can be set by the player
All compasses, by hovering over it and pressing
A, can toggle a waypoint. When a waypoint is on, the compass will remain on the minimap, albeit it on the edge. We can actually see these functioning in the waterfall video above.
In the screenshot above, the chest that is currently hovered is a custom compass we set. These can also be removed by pressing
A anywhere on the map that doesn’t contain a compass will bring up a menu to set a new custom compass.
The art was made by Dan, so it is a bit rough still, but functionally it is working great! Oh, speaking of functionality, we also let the player quickly select between compasses by pressing the Dpad.
Other Notable Updates
- NPC and doors now have scheduled active times, which can be set individually. NPC characters can also have different text if you stay on screen with them while their active time expires.
- Our Input Recorder now captures certain keyboard keys for Playback. This is so, if we “cheat” during our session, our playback will “cheat” as well.
- In our previous update post, we talked about adding generic NPCs. We also added stun and idle animations as well.
- To make merging more streamlined, at the very beginning, enemies will spawn with only one type of weapon for a given weapon type. As the player’s max inventory increases for a given weapon type, enemies will be able to spawn with more variety. To accomplish this, we created a function called
change_weapon_on, which was using Game Maker Studio’s
instance_changefunction. Long story short, we believe there is a severe problem with this function which causes some intermittent problems after hours of play. See my bug report and this thread if interested in more details! To fix it this, we decided to not be lazy (i.e. using
instance_change) and manually “do the change” ourselves.
- Our Adviser has also been playing the game and providing feedback. At the time, these polish items were low hanging fruit items that were quick to fix and would help make the showcase that much better. Below is a screenshot:
- Lastly, we eased the pain of falling into a hole. Before, there was a pretty extreme force that sucks the player into the hole. Though we still wanted force to make the feeling of falling into a hole, we understood the feedback. Therefore, we made the force not as strong, added a sound and visual effect that hints at the player that “this is not a good idea to continue standing here”. The first time this happens, the player probably won’t react fast enough to do anything about it. But with sequential hole collisions, the force not being as strong and the added sfx / vfx should help the player escape falling into a hole much easier.