The new Slime King update (v1.0.8) seeks to solve several of the design challenges that I'd been struggling with. Thanks to the feedback from players, I've been able to add new features and rework older systems to create a more intuitive and enjoyable experience.
The first thing I want to mention is that both the keys in the overworld and the bonus goo in the levels are now permanent unlocks (once you get them, you never have to get them again).
The system I had for the in-level bonus goos was a complicated messy system that I wasn't able to communicate to the player. The system allowed me to make the puzzles a bit more interesting, but to be honest, I think it just added unnecessary complexity. Previously, you would get a bonus goo score when you finished a level based on how many bonus goos you picked up on that run through the level. Then your total score for the level was calculated based on the fastest time you had for the level and the best bonus goo score you had achieved for the level. This system wasn't working very well, so now the new system just permanently unlocks the bonus goos you collect in the levels (even if you don't finish the level) and your total score for the level is based on your fastest time for the level and how many bonus goos you have picked up. I've also added some glow to the bonus goo to make them even more tempting to the player.
In the overworld, there is a bonus subzone within each of the five zones. Each bonus subzone has two bonus levels. Beating both bonus levels in the first four zones gives the player access to different colored keys. Beating both bonus levels in the last zone gives you access to a lock that requires these four keys to unlock. Previously, I was just using the colored keys (used in levels for puzzles) as the overworld keys. The way they were set up, you would have to get all of the keys and make it to the lock without dying once in order to be able to get through. This wasn't very realistic to expect the player to do considering the size of the overworld. So I updated the keys to be permanent unlocks, making the whole process of collecting these bonus keys more rewarding and straightforward. In order to convey to the player that these keys operate differently, I've also made some new sprites specifically for these overworld bonus keys. Here you can see the normal keys vs the new design for the overworld bonus keys.
Here you can see the glow effect on the keys that, as with the bonus goo, makes them even more tempting to the player.
Since I updated the key sprites, I didn't want to just use the standard blocker walls for the lock like I was doing when I was using the normal keys. So I made a new sprite for the lock. Here you can see what the setup used to look for the lock vs how it looks now with the new lock.
Something I've been meaning to implement for a while is a way to direct the player to new areas that they've unlocked without doing something like forcefully taking control of the camera. What I ended up doing was just putting a glow around the zone/subzone locks if they are unlocked and the player hasn't entered the next area yet. I really like how the effect turned out, and I think it does well to grab the player's attention.
The lasers in the game toggle off/on every one second. The lasers didn't give any real indication that they were about to turn on or off, so I made a short animation that the lasers go through when they're going to turn on or off so that there is a visual cue for the transition.
I also decided to finally put in lasers that face all directions (previously there were only lasers that faced up). I also beefed up the laser beams by giving them an animated sprite to make them feel like they had some weight. This also has the unintended side effect of making the laser beams feel much more dangerous.
I've been excited to release this update, since it comes with a bunch of nice graphical upgrades to make the game prettier. I also did my best to simplify design aspects of the game so that navigating through the game is easier on the player to allow the player to focus more of their energy on mastering the mechanics.
Full changelog for v1.0.8
Changes and additions:
- Bonus goos are now permanently unlocked as soon as the player collects them (even if the level is not completed).
- Added glow to bonus goo.
- Added a special overworld bonus lock for the overworld keys. Once the player gets a key, it remains that way (even after dying or restarting). In order to unlock the overworld bonus lock area the player needs to get all of the bonus keys.
- Added new sprites for overworld keys and gave them a glow.
- Made powering up sprites for red lasers more visible.
- Added powering up sprites for yellow lasers.
- Added lasers for all other directions (down, left, right).
- Improved graphics for laser beams.
- When game is paused, change button from "Quit Game" to "Return To Menu".
- Added glow to locks leading to areas the player hasn't been yet.
Level cosmetic changes:
- Fixed the view shrinking issue when pausing the game in fullscreen stretched mode.
- Fixed transparency not being the same in the pause screen as when playing.
- Fixed issue with unlocked overworld locks re-activating too late when approaching from the right and they appeared to just pop onto the screen.
Game website: www.thetrueslimeking.com