Floral Kombat: 2 Days Until FIG!

(i.e. time to not add any more features, and make sure what features I do have work)

There’s not much more to say than the title, so let’s go on a toooour!

Starting Pan

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Given that I’d already done a bunch of camera work, this took an embarrassingly long time to get right.

I thought this was worth the time though, because it gives the players a sense of where they are. On a map that can get so visually busy, I think it’s important for players to know pretty quickly which things are the ones they control. I hope the flowers stand out, but I don’t want to leave that up to chance, like player color choice (which will likely not be available in the FIG demo).

Probably what took me the longest was settling on the function to use for the panning.  I think I’m happy with what I chose ((-Cos(t * PI) + 1) * 0.5 I think or something equivalent?).

Counters

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Play testing revealed that one of the most confusing things to players was that the pollen-giving flowers don’t always give pollen (because they run out of pollen themselves, until they recharge). I thought adding a counter might help, and…

…I’m happy to say that adding the timer made a new play tester say “Oh, they refill!” I’d call that a success.

Clarified Launching

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Play testers were also not getting launching as quickly as I wanted them to understand it.

To remedy this, I’ve made the arrow appear immediately upon pressing X, and to have some default direction, based on the last direction you’ve tried to move. I decided to take a note from Wand Wars‘ book (again!) and make the arrow fill in rather than stretch up.

This means that players can very quickly see that pressing X does… something… and that that something can be charged by holding longer.

I’m happy to also report that this appeared to be successful with the next play tester!

I’ve also added an (obnoxious perhaps, but effective) indicator to tell players when they’re attempting to dry-fire.  I know that I used to dry fire, and seeing the red warning is enough to let me know “oh, I need to get bees” so that I’m not confused why I’m not launching any.

Refill Warning

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On the topic of warnings, I also implemented (before the other one), a warning to let players know when their bees are all depleted and need to be refilled.  I do have those lines, directing players to the pollen-giving flowers (which have seemed to work well, even for players who didn’t understand the mechanics entirely), but I saw too often that players would sit and dry-suck bees, which is a move that’s only disadvantageous.

This does seem to be something that could prove annoying to players, but it’s also something an experienced player will never see (because it only happens on dry-suck), and it’s a good reminder to new players.

I just hope the scale function doesn’t make it too difficult to read. One version I made of it flattened the Cos at the top, so that the indicator was at a uniform max scale for longer, but it looked more rigid than I liked it to look. I know I shouldn’t be picky about cosmetics for something that’s there to inform, but I do think it matters. Maybe I’m just being too picky though… I still have a day to change my mind…

Head Shrink

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There’s a pun in there somewhere that I’ve sadly neglected.

I’ve made the pollen-giving flowers’ heads shrink the less pollen they have and regrow the more pollen they get.  This is an attempt to make it really clear that the flowers are in some sort of dormant state when they’re empty and to also be an indicator that’s easier to read from a distance than the heart (which I may strip from them, but more on hearts later).

Passing the Crown

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At least that’s how I’ve been referring to leadership.

The crown (i.e. rainbow trail) now no longer repositions to the center when there’s a tie.  This makes stealing look much less awkward. Last week I said that stealing looked okay, but… it didn’t quite.

This is much smoother.

In order to resolve the tie issue I had before, I decided that the crown should remain on the player who got the lead first, but should become inactive. This means that, in the case of a tie, no one has a rainbow trail until the tie is broken, and that, when the tie is broken, the crown travels (visually) from the player who was just usurped to the usurper.

This is an effect few new players seem to notice, but I do think it will help more advanced players. Maybe I’m wrong? I have gotten positive feedback on it though, which does make me happy.

Even if it’s not really a helpful or important thing… who could argue with rainbows. Right?

A Very Black-Knight Ending

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I decided the ending needs more rainbows.

I also for some reason (because I’m horrible and lazy) decided that this gif should get cropped in a dumb way. It says “You Are Champion” — there’s not much more than that to say about this.

Pollen Bars

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Ah, those fucking pollen bars. Those stupid. Fucking. Pollen bars. It was way more effort than it was probably worth to get the bars to move in a way that looks good, rather than snapping to fill levels or moving in an awkward way to them. I’m still not convinced this looks all that great, but… … I’ll admit, it’s not a thing I’d like to spend significantly more hours tweaking. I spent… maybe a whole day on it? I can’t remember.

Seeds of Glory

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I suppose I’ve constructed this tour out of sequence. For some reason, I thought this was in here last week.

It. All. Blends. Together. T_T

Weeeeell…

When you win, your head bursts with a nice drum roll and… you get showered with seeds!

Yes. Those are intended to be seeds. I KNOW they don’t look a whole like them now, especially all mostly-monochromatic as they are generally. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make them look much more seed-like by FIG? Either way, they’re smiling, and that’s what matters.

Instructions

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Go ahead. Call me lazy. It works.

This much of an instruction set seems to have been effective enough for the people who play tested a version with it.

I was able to give someone the game, say absolutely nothing, and the person was able to successfully figure out everything I thought was necessary (except the value of launching and that pollen pellets could be collected).

Speaking of pollen pellets…

Sexy Pollen Pellets

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They just got sexier.

A play tester noted that the pellets really didn’t look all that enticing. He suggested adding the God Rays to them (which is great, because I totally didn’t know whether or not the God Rays on the bees were working or not! I guess they are!)

I also made ’em daaance! Or… at least pulse. Like a lot of stuff in this game. Probably my second most-used effect. Maybe first?

Adding the Whole Gang

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Finally the whole gang is here! Your favorite 4 anonymous flowers!

The FIG demo will be up to 4 players, and so I needed desperately to test that.

Thankfully… it looks like I did a maybe okay job in building this game to be scalable, because getting 4 player support up-and-running was as easy as plugging in 4 controllers and uncommenting some debug code!

It… may also help that I added the key mappings from when I did 3-player testing before…

Anyway, I’ve tested everything as best I can. It all seems to be working? I’m sure I forgot something… It scares me that it was this easy…

It should never be this easy…

Heartless Flowers

No images for this one, because… it’s been in all the previous ones.

Play testers were getting confused about wether or not they had bees because of how eye-catching the player hearts were, and so I ultimately scrapped them. They weren’t great indicators in terms of completion AND that information is conveyed in a pretty okay way via the race track at the bottom, and so play testers never looked at the player hearts. Well… except accidentally, and then they thought they had extra bees and would get confused why sucking/launching did nothing.

The warning indicators should help, yes, but I think the suggestion the testers gave of removing the player hearts was a very good one. It feels so much less cluttered on the screen.

I’m considering removing the pollen-giving flowers’ hearts as well, though I do think that those convey information that is more quantitative than the heads are able to give.

And…

That’s all!

Well, almost.

There is one more thing to say, which I meant to say last week.  I mentioned I’ve gotten more and more into Shaders, and just wanted to give shout-out to my favorite function, Sign. It’s like the “You-Don’t-Need-Conditionals-Anymore” function. It’s such a smart function, one might say it’s… piece-wise ;p

Also, I found this thing, which confirms my delight.

Until next time,

~Zach

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