My quick play-test session on Thursday left me with quite a few things to think about. It’s been a couple of days since I last posted any progress, this is mainly due to time spent looking into new ideas and ripping the internet apart looking for decent sound effects.
Feedback and Solutions
1. “There are too many collectible items. Lower then amount of flowers needed to proceed to the next level, or players may get stuck and frustrated!”
I always intended for the levels of Hanami to be an explorable open world, meaning players must play extra attention to avoid being lost or confused. But this is a very good point. At the moment, you must collect 30 blossoms in order to progress, which is quite a lot. If a player cannot locate just one of these flowers, then they are stuck in that level forever. My solution is to keep all 30 blossoms in the level, but allow the player to progress after locating just 10 of these. In the next level it will be 15, and the third level will be 20 to increase difficulty. There will be a specified bonus for locating all 30 flowers, but this may just be something minor like a high score or alternate game ending.
2. “It’s a bit quiet…”
Yes it is, and it’s about time that it was a little louder. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve spent about four days looking through various downloadable sound effects trying to find suitable sounds. I’m pretty sure I’ve settled on a footstep sound, jump sound and running water sound so far. More info on this to follow. My issues with incorporating these sounds have been with the Supersound.dll I’m using to play .ogg format sounds, but as I’m new to using the system I think it’s just going to take some getting used to. As for background music, everyone present at the play test agreed that it should be something “gamey” but calm- and obviously something that sounds naturally Japanese.
3. “Dying is annoying”
Upon “dying”, the game is currently completely reset. This includes my datastructure list which holds information about collected flowers, so when the player runs out of health all the flowers reappear and that player must start again from the beginning. Firstly, I will create a “death animation” which gives the player time to come to terms with a limited amount of lost progress, and secondly a will create a memory system which takes the player back to a point in the game without loosing progress. One suggestion was to use a certain amount of “lives”, which are reduced when all hit-points are lost. Loosing all hit points in one life will result in loosing a small amount of progress, but loosing all lives will result in a game restart (or perhaps a level restart!) I will probably work on this when I improve my current HUD system.
4. “Where’s the end of the level? Does it ever end??”
Yes, it does. In fact, the end is of the level is reached if you walk in a straight horizontal line from the beginning of the level. Perhaps I will signpost it better, or make objectives MUCH clearer when I add NPC help and input.
5. “The graphics are really good, but they need finishing.”
Well, obviously. I’ve actually spent a chunk of this weekend filling in the level grid with rock edges, which has resulted in this:
6. “The lights look great and even make the retro style seem more contemporary, but the level still feels really dark.”
There are a couple of solutions to this problem. Either I can make the ambient overlay a lighter colour, or make my lights larger so that they affect the overall brightness of everything around it. The ambient overlay is probably the key to the success of the lights, so I will probably try to extend the reach of the outdoor lights.
My own personal feedback: character animations don’t overlap well…
This hit hard when I found this video demonstrating some of the character animations for a game called Trixie Treasure, which is currently in development. The animations here are so seamless and natural- I’m not even sure you could accomplish this level in Game Maker.
I especially commend the ladder climbing animation, which unlike mine, takes into account step size and arranges the character’s limbs accordingly :S
I tried to use this as a basis for a new ladder climbing animation, although My ladder steps are MUCH further apart, and making them closer together doesn’t work so well aesthetically. I could make it work better if I reduced the width as well as the step size of the ladder, but I’m not sure this is a process worth going through at this point in time. Still, I updated my animation to seem more life-like. I also want to incorporate some sort of ladder hang frame, instead of allowing the player to move left and right while climbing ladders.