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Gerty is a sci-fi top-down rogue-like shooter with fully destructible environment.

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DEVBLOG 43

Gerty Blog

In case it’s not painfully obvious by now, our demo is now available on Steam! If you’d prefer to play Gerty on Steam from now on, your wish has been granted.

BETA 1.7 IS OUT!

Now before you get any funny ideas, the game is still not finished nor released. This is just a new update to our public demo, though it is a pretty considerable one. Now, we did say in the past that Beta 1.6 would be the final public build before full release, but seeing it’s been a full year since that and the game has developed considerably since then (especially visually), it was high time for an update.

Important note: Many of following changes are not available in the public demo. If you are one of the lucky ones who has already pre-ordered Gerty, we’ll be sending a Steam key your way so you can get the “Early Access” version and experience all the goodies. Or are you perhaps a Youtuber or Twitch streamer? Send a message our way and we might give you a key.

As always, check the changelog if you want a more detailed view of all the changes, but before we get to the nitty gritty, here are the highlights:

  • Remade all Character/enemy graphics
  • 2 new playable Characters
  • Re-worked Magnus
  • Lots of new enemies
  • Re-worked Unlockables system
  • Character Challenges
  • Updated most Menus & UI

THE GANG IS ALL HERE

To touch on multiple topics at once, let’s start with playable Characters. A lot has happened here, most notably the addition of our two missing Characters, Preacher and Unum, but also the total reworking of Commando and Magnus’ graphics. After we got Preacher and Unum into the game with their new and swanky visuals, it was clear our old guys needed a face-lift to match. Let’s start off with the new guys. We haven’t talked a whole lot about them, so let’s have some pictures do it for us:

The Preacher is a mid-range crowd controller with a lot of firepower. Based on the feedback we’ve gotten so far, he’s an immediate player favorite. His skills (as seen above) are as follows:

  • Plasma Shotgun
  • Fear
  • Tackle
  • Grenade Launcher

Unum is a highly technical mid-range fighter, specializing in traps and movement. We actually had some trouble making him intuitive and fun to play, but hopefully we got there. His skills (as seen above) are as follows:

  • Plasma Daggers
  • Vacuum
  • Warp Portal
  • Proximity Mine

Magnus has also gone through a noticeable revamp. We’ve talked about it for a long time, but it’s finally here. His core hasn’t changed, but he has become a fair bit tankier if you can play him right. His skills (as seen above) are as follows:

  • Magnus Punch
  • Shockwave
  • Shield Booster
  • Mighty Slash

Lastly we have Commando. No gameplay changes here, but just showing of her new visuals.

Note: Only the Commando is available in the Demo

DEADLY ADVERSARIES

To keep this post manageable, here’s a picture from a previous one showing off our current roster of baddies:

enemies

And here’s the pièce de résistance, the big bad himself: Grongo the Slayer:

Note: Grongo is not available in the Demo

UNLOCKING THE UNLOCKABLES

gameover 500x281

Again, this has been covered in a previous post, but here’s the quick rundown: After every run, you’re now awarded with Fame, which you can use to unlock Items, Characters and Challenges. Fame can be gained by the following methods:

  • Gathering Juice
  • Gaining levels
  • Unlocking Achievements
  • Completing Challenges

items 500x281

achievements 500x281

Note: Unlocking Items and Characters is disabled in the Demo

CHALLENGE YOURSELF

challenge 500x281

Risto has been working long and hard to implement some extra content for the completionist crowd and here it finally is: Character Challenges! Though to be perfectly clear, they’re not unique for each Character. As if currently stands, we have 10 Challenges that you can play through with each of our 4 Characters (provided you’ve unlocked them), for a total of 40. Completing each rewards you with some Fame, so if you’re looking for a quick way to unlock some new Items or the rest of the roster, check them out!

Note: Challenges are not available in the Demo

MENUS & UIS

Lastly, we’ve updated a lot of our menus and UI elements. While a lot of the change are minor, here’s our new Single- and Multiplayer menus which are the biggest improvements:

single 500x281

multi 500x281

SUMMARY

There’s a ton of stuff in Beta 1.7 that we really don’t have time to get into in detail, but here’s a little list of important tidbits for those who don’t want to crawl through the changelog:

  • World 1 is now 6 stages long
  • The game now has 5 difficulty levels
  • Single- and Multiplayer now save your progress between stages
  • Added Friendly Fire -option (enabled by default)
  • Added localization support (English and Finnish)

Our development speed has slowed down considerably in the past year due to the fact that only Risto and I are working the game full time, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are some potentially big news in our pipeline, but more about those if they pan out.

Till next time, folks!

DEVBLOG 42

Gerty Blog

Graphics squad, reporting in. Sweet visuals sighted, permission to engage.

GRONGO UPDATE

The Boss-man is done! It took some work, but we’re finally happy with the results. Let’s see another comparison between what we had last time and the final product.

In addition to the new graphics, we’ve also revamped Grongo’s gameplay. He’s quite a bit more aggressive, his charge attack has been greatly improved and we’ve added a bit of juiciness here and there. Have a peek:

WHAT’S ON THE MENU

Menus… UIs… It’s all a huge pain in the butt of every game developer. So here we are again, another menu re-design. This time we hope it’s final.

_single

_multi

You might notice we have some swanky portrait art for all 4 of our characters. Despite his busy schedule with all his studies, Sampo has managed to squeeze in some work on Gerty. He made us some killer trading card images for Steam, which also work double duty as portraits for the game.

You might also notice we’ve got new difficulty icons, which brings us to…

NEW BLOOD

Our good artist buddy Jokke has joined the team (for a while at least). Long story short, he’s doing some graphic work for us as a part of finishing his degree. His primary task so far has been making us achievement icons and so far progress has been good.

achievements

Please note, these are still a work in progress. A bunch of these are getting totally redone (sorry smileys) and there’s a bunch of tweaking to be done, but the style is coming together nicely.

Also, Jokke went ahead and touched up our logo, after which Risto went ahead and spruced it up with some shader magic (which you might notice in the menu pics too)

WORLD 2 STATUS REPORT

Risto and I started laying down all the work still left on World 2 and though it looked pretty harrowing, we’ve been making positively fast progress so far. We’ve got roughly a third of the monsters done and if things continue at this rate, we’ll have the monsters done ahead of schedule. Hopefully that won’t jinx it, so fingers crossed.

SUMMARY

Though it often feels that progress is slow, things have really been chugging along. Fingers crossed we keep up the pace and get the game done. There’s a whole lot of little things I could go through, but I figured it’d be nice to focus on the bigger visual stuff.

No idea yet if there’ll be a post next month, but if so, it will probably be a smaller one. A whole lot of graphics still left to be done and time is ticking.

Till next time, folks!

DEVBLOG 41

Gerty Blog

Whoopsie daisy, it’s been a bit too quiet. We’re still alive and working.

REAL LIFE, EPISODE 123

Ooh boy… Sorry about the radio silence. There’s been a good reason for it though. Not too long after our previous blog post, due to outside forces I had to take a roughly four month break from Gerty to take part in a little game development course. Long story short, I had a good time, met new people, developed a small game, but now I’m back in the saddle! While I was away, Risto took some time to work on another project as well. He ended up doing some programming for our friends over at Happy Hobgoblin for their upcoming VR/PC co-op game Icesolation. In addition to that, he also added a bunch of features and tweaks to the game:

  • Added save game functionality when quitting during a run
  • Enemies now rotate smoothly while walking
  • Increased game difficulty choices from 3 to 5 for smoother difficulty
  • Added Steam API integration
  • Tons of localization work

MONSTER GRAPHICS REPORT #3

Our work on the monsters of World 1 is finally done! (Save for all the tweaks and such later) Here’s how the roster looks at the moment.

enemies

We’ll most likely re-color most enemies at a later point, to make them more easily distinguishable from each other, which is a problem I’ve talked about before. There will probably also be some minor changes to a few characters.

On that note, you might notice one particular character missing from the shot…

REWORKING GRONGO

The final item on our World 1 list is the head honcho himself: Grongo the Slayer. Though it was quite a bit of “extra” work to redo him from scratch, I think it’s paying itself off pretty well so far. Though the main point was to make him more visually in line with the rest of the roster, it’s given us an opportunity to refine some of his shortcomings and add a few new animations.

Like with the rest of the original monsters, Grongo’s original animations weren’t the most detailed. Also, ever since our original artist left the project, we haven’t been able to fix some of the errors in his animations, like bad looping or clipping.

In addition to all that, I wanted to make Grongo’s animation feel a tad more intimidating/threatening. Hopefully that’s apparent when comparing the two walk cycles above.

There’s still a bit more work to be done though. I’m currently about halfway through animating him, the texturing could use a bit more detail and there’s some modeling changes to be done (in the weapon in particular). Overall though, we’re making good speed.

SUMMARY

There’s a lot more detail I could go into about what’s been happening in the last half a year (or so), but I’ll spare you this time – I’m planning on getting more into the nitty-gritty in our next post. If luck has it, we’ll have some info on World 2 enemies by then too.

Till next time, folks!

DEVBLOG 40

Gerty Blog

Progress is slow, but it is progress. Let’s have a little update.

Not much to report overall, so lets keep things short and sweet and look at some pretty pictures.

UNLOCKS & ACHIEVEMENTS

We’ve been reworking our unlock and achievement system for some time now and it’s finally ready. Instead of unlocking items and characters from certain achievements like before, you now gather Fame, which you can use to unlock items and characters as you please.

unlock1

Every time you die (or finish the game), you now get Fame from several sources (see picture above). While achievements will be the main source of Fame, we wanted to allow players to grind Fame if they’d prefer. In addition we wanted to reward both combat and exploration, so you always feel like you’re working towards unlocking something new.

unlock3

While the new system is perhaps a less challenging way of unlocking content, it enables players to experience the content they want faster, without getting stuck on achievements they find difficult.

MONSTER GRAPHICS REPORT #2

Work on remaking the monsters from World 1 continues. Though we’ve made some nice progress, the Golems have turned out a bit more time consuming than anticipated, namely their death animations. Though we could’ve changed their animations since we’re reworking them anyways, having them fall into pieces is a nice effect. That has resulted in some extra work, but nothing we can’t handle. I’m currently hard at work with the Blood Golem, but here’s how the Ice Golem currently looks:

ice_golem

We also thought it might be fun to have a comparison of how our graphics have developed:

comparison

And here’s our current monster gallery:

enemies

SUMMARY

Our artist Sampo is off for studying, but Risto and I are continuing with our 3D work. We’re closing in on finishing all World 1 monsters, after which we can finally start work on World 2 and possibly on new player characters.

Till’ next time folks!

DEVBLOG 39

Gerty Blog

It’s due time for another update. It’s all about graphics this time.

TRAILER TIME

Looking at front page of our site, it was pretty clear we needed to update our trailer video to more accurately represent the current state of the game. So we did just that. To save time, we used our old pre-order trailer as a blueprint, added things here and there, tweaked the effects and voilà – a new and improved trailer is done!

GRAPHICS, GRAPHICS, GRAPHICS…

As I’ve stated several times in the past, our biggest bottleneck in development for some time now has been graphic assets. Ever since our original artist left the project, we’ve been trying to get our character art back on track, with little success. When Sampo joined us, we thought our problems would be over, but as it turned out, 2D was way too cumbersome and slow for the amount of assets we needed. So, we started looking for 3D artists, almost got one a little while back, but ultimately things fell through.

Which brings us to now. Internally we’ve been half seriously talking about doing the graphics with just Risto and me for quite a while now, but now it’s a reality. After releasing Beta 1.6, we’ve been neck deep in 3D. Using the concept art Sampo made for us, Risto has been churning out models for enemies, after which he passes them onto me for animating and rendering. It’s taken some time to get the ball rolling and there have been several technical hurdles in the way, but now we’re finally making good progress. Here’s a sneak peek of our new enemies:

enemies

Keep in mind, what you see here is not final. We’re currently fighting against a problematic issue: recognizability/readability. With the amount of new enemy variants we’ve been adding and designing, keeping them distinct and recognizable in gameplay has become an issue. Basing the enemies on one core design has helped us out in the technical side (one rig, reusable animations…), but it inevitably leads to very similar looking creatures. We been debating whether to increase diversity through completely new designs for some of the enemies, but currently we’re trying to find a simpler solution through tweaking colors and minor model changes.

NEW DESIGNS

With Risto and I working on World 1, Sampo has been hard at work designing enemies for World 2. Out of the gate, we’re aiming for a more diverse group of creatures than World 1, which should help us avoid our current predicament, though it will mean more work in modeling and animating. Here’s another sneak peek, but take heed: the designs here are “in-progress” and more of a blueprint than final product, so don’t expect to see anything in the game “as is”.

World_2_enemies_1

World_2_enemies_2

Sampo has also started putting down some ideas for our remaining two characters: Preacher and Scout (names subject to change). I won’t be showing them off just yet, as they’re still in very early stages, but it’s nice to know they’re finally being worked on.

LOADING SCREENS

Last but not least, to make sure Sampo has his plate well and full, we’re also implementing art to our loading screens to make them more appealing.

loading_screen

SUMMARY

With Risto and I now busy with graphics work, other development has taken a back seat. This however isn’t really a bad thing, as there really isn’t anything immediately pressing on the programming side. Finishing the game is currently more dependent on art than code, so that’s our first priority. I’m planning on making updates on our progress every now and again in the coming months, so look forward to more art!

Till next time, folks!

DEVBLOG 38

Gerty Blog

Beta 1.6 is here and it’s a big one.

You can download the build here and read the changelog here.

As we’ve discussed several times in the past, we’re planning Beta 1.6 to be the final demo build of Gerty before release. If we come across a game breaking bug, we’ll obviously have to release some sort of fix, but content wise, this is it.

STORY TIME

Gerty now has an intro cinematic. It’s simple, short and to-the-point. “There be aliens, go kick some ass” sorta thing.

Would you believe a minute long video could take roughly a month to make? Because that’s pretty much what happened with the intro. We had quite specific goals and hitting all of them took more work than we expected. The intro had to be short (minute to minute-and-a-half), it had to provide clear context for the gameplay, the dialogue had to flow and not feel like just an exposition dump and lastly, the visuals had to complement the script. If that all sounds easy, I can guarantee you it wasn’t. In total we spent several weeks working and reworking just the script, not to speak of finalizing all the effects and timings in the editing phase.

There will most likely be some minor improvements for the final release (like getting an actual voice actor to read the lines), but what you see in the build should practically be the finished product. Thankfully our plans for the ending are a lot less demanding, so that should be a lot faster to complete.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

Beta 1.6 features some pretty massive, interconnected changes that affect the core experience of Gerty significantly. The game now has two worlds instead of four and to keep the game from being too short, we’ve doubled both world’s stage count to 8. To keep things from getting too monotonous, we’ve taken several steps to prevent it:

1. New enemies. Though you sadly won’t see too many of them in the build, we’ve got plenty already in working order. There were originally supposed to more of them in this build, but unfortunately our graphics pipeline got kicked in the head (again) and we didn’t want to use multiple, recolored versions of the same monster. We actually had to resort to using some older, unused graphics we had laying around. It’s starting to look like doing the monster graphics might fall on Risto and I in the end.

2. Randomized enemies in stages. Having to face the same enemies in the same stages on every playthrough is not necessarily a bad thing, but we decided that having some variance would help keep the stage-to-stage gameplay more engaging. Different enemy combinations will result in different scenarios.

3. New objectives. We figured not having to “Find the Teleporter” 16 times per playthrough would be a nice change. We’ve of course had Generators for some time now, but they haven’t really been considered a separate “objective”. Now they are and they’re joined by two others: Disruptors & Survival. Disruptors are pretty similar to the Generator. Find them, destroy them, find the Teleporter and move on. Survival on the other hand are quite different. You start next to the Teleporter, but you can’t use it before a set time. While you wait, you must fight waves of enemies.

4. Expanded stage generation. Instead of having the same basic stage to play in all the time, we’ve juiced up stage generation. Instead of having just larger and larger stages, we now have three basic layouts: horizontal/wide (how it’s always been), vertical/long (new & exciting) and a survival specific square-ish layout. To spice things up even more, you can now encounter pits & “indestructible” obsidian blocks, both of which will affect how you to navigate stages.

layouts

GRONGO NO MORE

As a part of all these changes, you can no longer fight Grongo in the demo. Grongo being the boss of World 1, you will face him after stage 8 and you can only play the first 4 stages in the demo. To make up for this tragic loss, we’ve introduced mini-bosses into the game. In this build you will only face the Mega Bomber (whose graphics are very much not final), but there will be more in the final release. Get ready to be blown up.

NEW REWARDS

Chests are back! With the massive reworking of our item system, they had to go away for a while, but now they’ve got a new lease on life. With Forges & Orbs already helping you to build your character, Chests have been designated into a purely supportive role. You can find some extra Juice, health and other goodies inside them, but you can safely ignore them if you so desire. On that note, Rune Chests rewards have also been toned down somewhat.

bandicam 2017-04-21 13-34-20-006

SUMMARY

There’s quite a bit of other smaller stuff in the build too (as always), but that’ll be it from me this time. We have a literal tons of work ahead of us and not a whole lot of time to do it all. In all honesty, if we can’t get a skilled 3D artist to help us out, we will seriously have to re-evaluate our release schedule. For the past year or so, we’ve been lagging way behind on character graphics and as talented as Sampo is, he just doesn’t have the time to time to animate a ton of characters in 2D with all the other work he has. Here’s to hoping for a miracle.

Till next time, folks!

DEVBLOG 37

Gerty Blog

It’s been a busy, yet quiet start to the year.

I must apologize for the lack of updates for the past few months. We had planned to release a blog earlier than this, but it’s often difficult to tear yourself away from development. Let’s start off with a certain update we were supposed to release last month:

WE WERE BORN TO MAKE HISTORY

If you’ve been a long time follower, you know Gerty’s development has been a long journey. We imagined the game would be done in roughly a year, yet here we are in year three. If you’re interested in a more detailed look at how we ended up where we are now, you can do that over at Imgur with the “Development history of Gerty”. Like with most things, we tried (and failed) to get some new eyes on the project, but it was interesting to take a look back at how far we’ve come. We debated quite a bit internally weather the focus should be on the team and our journey or should we do a technical breakdown instead. In the end we figured it would be more interesting for a general audience if it didn’t get bogged down in technical jargon. In retrospect it might’ve been interesting to go the other way, but maybe we’ll do that at some later time.

PLANS FOR BETA 1.6 AND BEYOND

Our current plan is to release Beta 1.6 sometime next month (i.e. April). Funnily enough, though I keep saying that there will be less and less new content in the demo as we move closer to release… we’ve got another quite hefty bunch of content in Beta 1.6. In all fairness, it’s stuff mostly meant for the full game, but some of it naturally affects the demo as well. We’ve also planned out a schedule towards release, which has been rather helpful in visualizing how much work we actually still have left to do.

I’d also like to remind everyone that Beta 1.6 is currently planned to be our last public demo, as are definitely nearing the point where most new content won’t be available in the demo portion. Making demo builds also takes a surprisingly large amount of time and we don’t want to waste time on minor fixes at this point in development. We’d much rather focus all our attention on getting the game finished.

Anyways, let’s take a closer look at what we’ve been working on lately:

INTRO CINEMATIC

This one has been a long time coming. We’ve been planning the intro (and the “story” in general) in some form for over a year now, but in the past few months things have finally started taking definitive shape. Sampo has been producing the graphical assets for the intro and we’re finally at the point where I can start putting things together so we’ll the first proper draft of the whole thing. We’re aiming to have the intro ready for Beta 1.6, but if there are some unforeseen delays, we can easily drop it out.

intro

NEW OBJECTIVES

“Find the Teleporter” for 16 stages in a row with only two bosses to break them up gets predictable pretty quick. Ever since we decided to limit the game to only two worlds, we’ve been thinking of ways we could add more variety and replay value to the game without having to resort to a ton of new assets (because graphical output is our biggest bottleneck). One major way we decided to tackle the issue was to introduce different level objectives. Most are just twists on the usual fair (like Generators), but we’ve also got a very special new one: Survival. You’ll start the level right next to the Teleporter, but you have to survive a set amount of time before you can use it. We also decided to include Mini-Bosses to the game, which are in a way an objective on their own. Speaking of which…

NEW ENEMIES

Another way we decided to bring more variety to the game was to mix up enemy combinations. You no longer know exactly which enemies you’ll be facing in each level, like you’ve been able to do so far. Of course we’ve introduced a system that limits which enemies can appear in which levels so you don’t get overwhelmed by shooters in the very first level. To accommodate this new system we’ve also had to significantly increase our enemy pool, which I’ve been working on intensely. Where we had only 5 normal enemies (melee, digger, bomber, charger, shooter) so far, we currently have 24 (and counting)! To be clear though, they’re not all totally unique and different (that would be a little too much work for our team), rather they’re mostly variations on the archetypes I just listed. There are also quite a few totally new enemies that don’t really fit any previous category, but sadly you won’t be seeing them in the demo – they’re mostly going to World 2.

And as I stated in the previous topic, we’ve got Mini-Bosses too. Provided there won’t be any major shake-ups, you won’t be facing dear old Grongo in Beta 1.6, but a Mini-Boss instead. We’ve got plans to have a small pool of mini-bosses so you’ll have to stay on your toes on that front too, but for Beta 1.6 we’ll stick to just one.

NEW TERRAIN FEATURES

It’s been almost exactly two years since I first talked about pits in this blog. We originally planned to have them be a feature in most levels, but that plan never really took shape. Then we decided to dedicate World 3 as a pit-world, but World 3 got cut from the game. Though you’ve seen pits outside Grongo’s arena and in the tutorial for a long time now, in Beta 1.6 you’ll be finally seeing them in normal levels too! You won’t be seeing them in every level though, as that would be a bit too much. Like with objectives and enemies, we’re aiming to have them spice up levels every now and then.

Along with pits, we’ve also got something totally new: Obsidian blocks! Though it’s sometimes fun to blast the whole level to oblivion, we’ve been thinking for a long time it might be interesting to have small chunks that you couldn’t destroy. Well, that’s not entirely true… One of the new items introduced in Beta 1.5 is called an “Obsidian Hammer”. Could there be some connection, hmm?

SUMMARY

Seems we just can’t stay away from big builds, no matter how hard we try. I suppose it’s only fitting, seeing we’re hoping to have it be the final build before release. Fingers crossed we don’t hit any nasty problems on the way (because there are some potential problems we’re keeping an eye on). Hopefully we’ll be back next month with Beta 1.6!

Till next time, folks!

DEVBLOG 36

Gerty Blog

Our second year of development comes to a close with Beta 1.5.

You can download the build here and read the changelog here.

It’s been a pretty rough year for Gerty: team members have come and gone, plans have changed, but we’ve stuck it through. We would’ve hoped to have the game a bit further along at this point, but such are the realities of development.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

Before anything else, a quick overview of what’s to come next year. Firstly, we’ll be having some well deserved holidays for the rest of the year, coming back to work in January. I’d estimate that’ll leave our next blog somewhere around February. Secondly (and most importantly), we’re aiming to finish Gerty’s development some time next year. I won’t give a closer estimate than that, since our timetable is in flux. That leads directly to the third thing: we’re planning on having Beta 1.6 be our last public build before release, at least in terms of content. We’ve long talked about about moving away from constant builds and that point is finally at hand. If we’re to stick to our projected timetable, we’ll need to focus fully on content development. In all honesty, we’ve been in somewhat of an iteration loop for too long and it’s time to break out from that. More details regarding all of this at the end of this post.

FORGES & ITEMS

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Our old item system (Chests and Shops) have left a lot to be desired, so we have a new system to replace them: Forges. Instead of having to make a limited decision on the fly, you’ll now get to spend more time building your character as you see fit.

forge-ui

Though the UI might be quite a lot to take in at a glance (especially in co-op), Forges should enable more interesting character building and progression. In addition to the element of choice they provide, there are other significant changes and limitations compared to the old item system. All items now have individual costs instead of being based on rarity, most (but not all) are upgradable with a maximum level of 4 (instead of unlimited). Your inventory is also now limited to 10 different items (previously unlimited), so you’ll never be able to own every item at once. All in all these changes allow us to make individual items feel more powerful without totally wrecking the balance. You might also notice items no longer have any mention of rarities. They are now divided into 4 groups based on functionality: Offence, Defence, Utility and Stats. Each group has it’s own Forge, so you won’t be purchasing every item from the same place.

forges

Though we didn’t expect to have much time to work on items themselves, I’m proud to announce that we have our full set of 40 items (plus 5 reusable “services”) usable in the game. For this reason we’ve disable all achievements in this build, so that you’ll have access to every item from the get go. So go test them out and give us feedback! I would hazard a guess that some of the items will be replaced before our final release, but it’s really nice to have such a big part of the game “finished”. I also expect there’ll be a minor changes to the Forge system too down the line, but we’re starting to lock stuff like this down to break the iteration cycle.

items

HUD REWORK

I’ve gone through most of this our previous blog so I’ll be brief. We’ve got new player skill HUD’s, which are now positioned in the corners of the screen to help co-op. We’ve replaced the previous threat timer with a snazzy Threat Bar. We’ve removed the stage name from the HUD as it’s visible in the Loading Screen before the stage. The objective announcement text has been redone and it no longer sticks around.

ui-comparison

The Threat Bar shows the overall threat level of the stage, which should help you gauge when it’s time to get out. It also warns about incoming threats with a clear 3 second flash and rumble sound.

We’ve also added more info to the indicators around the player. You can now see your Ultimate skill charges, skill cooldowns and Combat Shield (when purchased from a Forge)

indicators

GAME OVER

It was high time to address one of our shortcomings as a rogue-like: fast restarts. Previously when you got killed, the Game Over -text stuck around for quite a while before fading to a loading screen, after which you could restart, which led to another loading screen. No more. A few seconds after death you’re now taken immediately to the Game Over -screen, which cuts down on unnecessary down time. We’ve also made the visuals of the process a bit nicer as well as added a few new stats for your amusement.

OPTIONS AT ALL TIMES

It’s been a looooooong time coming (over a year in fact), but our in-game Options are finally accessible. You no longer need to quit back to the Main Menu if some setting is wrong or your buttons need tweaking.

options

TUTORIAL IMPROVEMENTS

Although having a good tutorial is super important, reworking it is pretty taxing. With the addition of Forges (and new HUD), we had to make somewhat sizable changes to the Tutorial, which eventually led to us making a decent overhaul of it in the process: we’ve stripped some steps, combined others and added some new ones. Most notably the Tutorial now includes the threat mechanic (Mother Worms) and our new Threat Bar. In total it’s about the same length as before, but it should flow a whole lot better than ever. Unfortunately I already know there’ll be a few changes to it in the next build…

tutorial

SIGNS OF BATTLE

Based on feedback we’ve received and… “borrowing” things from successful titles such as Nuclear Throne, we decided to try out if leaving corpses, blood and explosion craters around for longer would make the stages feel more lived in. The result was a resounding yes.

battle

We’ve also given all our explosion effects a little move visual oomph.

PLANS FOR BETA 1.6

For this build we had two focuses: the Forge system and reworking the UI. For Beta 1.6 we’re going to be quite ambitious. Here’s a quick rundown of our goals:

  • Revamp unlock & achievement system
  • Expand stage creation with new elements
  • Revamp our enemy generation and add new types of enemies
  • MINI-BOSSES!
  • Expand world length to 8 levels

As you might expect, that’s quite a lot of stuff for one build. The thing is though, most of the stuff is interconnected in some way or another, so it really makes most sense to do all of this in one batch. Seeing as this post is already pretty lengthy, I’m going to leave the details for next time. That’ll give me something to write about early next year, so you guys don’t have to endure several months of silence. However let it be known some of this stuff is already underway.

In addition to adding new enemies, we’ll also be reworking the visuals of old ones. You can see a little taste of what’s to come in the build already:

CONTENT CHANGES FOR FULL RELEASE

Lastly and quite related to the previous topic it’s time to discuss the biggest change related to Gerty’s release. We’ve done some soul searching and seeing how this year has gone, we’ve decided to cut out worlds 3 and 4 from the game. Instead, we’ll be expanding worlds 1 and 2 by doubling their stage count, adding more variety to the stages and cramming them full of new enemies to fight. In practice this means less visual variety throughout the stages and only two major boss fights. Though this will most likely be quite a letdown for most of you, this is done purely out of necessity. If we’re to finish the game within the next year, we really have to be smart about our content creation, as it has been our biggest stumbling stone during development. I’ll spare you of all the minutia of the matter, but know that we’re still aiming to deliver the most engaging experience we can.

SUMMARY

Making such big revisions to the core mechanics as the Forges was also quite a harrowing task, but we believe it was the correct choice in the scope of our revised future plans. And though our plans for Beta 1.6 are big, we’ve already laid some of the groundwork in this build though it mostly not visible. As I’ve said many times before, game development ain’t easy.

Happy holidays for everyone, we’re due for some well deserved time off!

Till next year, folks!

DEVBLOG 35

Gerty Blog

Another mid-development round-up is here. Let’s see what’s cookin’!

We’re about halfway to our next build from the previous one, so to not keep you guys in the dark for months on end, here’s another work-in-progress look into some upcoming stuff. At one point we actually had plans to release Beta 1.5 now and make another smaller build in time for Christmas, but like I said last time… This build is a bit of a doozy.

HUD, VERSION 4.0

One of the two major updates in Beta 1.5 is a completely revamped HUD. Unneeded info has been removed, visual flares have been added and functionality has been refined. Let’s start off with a comparison shot (new on top, old on bottom):

hud-comparison

Things of note:

  • Skill HUDs are now in the corners of the screen
  • Stage name has been removed (only visible in the loading screens)
  • Objective text is only shows at the beginning of the stage (with a cool animation)
  • Skills now have a cooldown timer in the HUD

The reworked threat timer is also worth closer inspection. Although you no longer know the exact number of seconds until the next threat appears, having a bar in the top middle of the screen is way more easily readable than a small text in the corner. It also gives you a good idea of when you should be heading out of the level, something the old timer didn’t exactly accomplish. Just to be sure you won’t be ambushed though, there is a clear 3 second long warning (now with sound), so you have time to prepare yourself for trouble.

For co-op, the new HUDs work way better than our old system, as the bottom of the screen doesn’t obstruct your view. We’ve also revamped the player colors, which should be quite a bit easier on the eyes. There are still a few changes to be made to the HUDs, but what you below is quite close to what you’ll be getting.

hud-coop

FORGES

The second massive change Beta 1.5 brings to the table is Forges, which effectively replace Shops and Chests. Though Shops are likely never to be seen again, we do have some plans to rework Chests, but as that’s not likely to make it into the build, we won’t get into it this time. There are currently 4 different Forges, each for a different item category: Offence, Defence, Utility and Stats. Our items have actually always been divided into categories, but it’s been largely invisible to players. In any case, here’s how the Forges look in action:

Coming up with the UI for the Forges was as much a matter of gameplay as graphics. The biggest problem was gameplay flow. The reason why we wanted to make the Forges in the first place was to give players enough time to make meaningful choices when purchasing items, while also providing a nice breather from the action. However, if you’re playing co-op with 4 players and everyone visits Forges separately, the flow of the game is going to be broken too frequently. Solution: simultaneous shopping! But that poses another big problem: there’s going to be a ton of information on the screen and space is finite. Players need to see their inventory and the items in the shop, you have to display a ton of info so that players know what the items actually do, you also need the player names and how much Juice they have… All of this times 4. And you can’t just lay everything out haphazardly, because the navigation has to be fast and intuitive.

Needless to say, designing the Forges was quite a bit more work than you might expect from a glance (UI not yet final):

forge-open

Things of note:

  • Players now have separate Juice
  • Players now have a limit of 10 unique items
  • Items are upgradable
  • Forges have services, which provide non-permanent bonuses

The other big reason for making the change from our old system to Forges was so that we could make the items feel more impactful. Since in the old system you could in theory buy an infinite amount of a certain item, we had to make sure they wouldn’t break the game easily. In practice this made many items feel powerless and duplicates even more so. With our new upgrade system, we can decide how many upgrades each item should have so that each purchase feels substantial, without breaking the game.

Sampo has also been working on making the item sprites prettier:

item_consepts

IMPROVING FAILURE

One of the most important things action games (and roguelikes especially) have to do, is make failure fun. Or if not fun, make sure you don’t have to waste time waiting to get back in the saddle. We took some time to remove the unnecessary loading screen before the Game Over -screen, which should make death a less painful experience.

SO MANY OPTIONS

options

It’s been a long time coming, but you can finally access Options in game! You no longer have to suffer the constant taunting of that one grayed out button in the Pause-menu. You might also spy a few new things in there…

SUMMARY

This of course isn’t nearly everything Beta 1.5 has to offer. There are still some changes to be done to the HUDs and Forges, but there are also a plethora of smaller and nitty-gritty changes and upgrades sprinkled everywhere. You’ll get a more detailed breakdown – as usual – when the build drops. We also have great, big plans for Beta 1.6, but more on those later as well.

Till’ Christmas folks!

DEVBLOG 34

Gerty Blog

Time for Beta 1.4! Tons and TONS of improvements all around.

You can download the build here and read the changelog here.

Gerty Beta 1.4 is a part of the Annual Roguelike Release Party. Check the link for more roguelike goodness.

It’s been about three months since our last build. If you’re interested in a more in-depth rundown of our going-ons, check out our previous blog Here’s the quick-n-dirty version: We had a couple of great feedback sessions and ended up working on a ton of improvements instead of just future content. Let’s get cracking, ’cause we’ve got a ton of stuff to cover.

SACRIFICES. SACRIFICES EVERYWHERE

Let’s cover the biggest and coolest stuff first. I’ve been hinting towards a new Activatable for some time now and here it is: Altars!

After you kill enough enemies on top of the Altar or sacrifice your own HP, you will spawn a massive Blood Golem, which you have to defeat to get your reward. I won’t spoil the details, but there’s a secret hidden in the Altar…

I’VE GOT ORBS OF STEEL

I discussed the Orbs in detail in the previous blog, so here’s the short version: Experience, Stat and Perk Orbs can now be found as rewards. Their effects should be self explanatory.

LET LOOSE THE FOGS OF WAR

For quite some time now we’be been unhappy with our “boring black” Fog of War, so it was finally time to spruce up the visuals.

Though you probably can’t see it in a short gif, the Fog isn’t static, but moves and fluctuates ever so slightly. However the biggest change is that the Fog now also hides enemies. Better keep your eyes peeled for surprise attacks. Here’s a nifty comparison shot just to showcase the difference:

fow-comparison

C-C-COMBO!

Based on a lot of feedback, we went and revamped the primary skills of both Commando and Magnus to make them more engaging.

Both characters now have a 3-step combo attack that ends with a high damage Powershot. Though there is a longer cooldown after the Powershot, the faster 3-step combo should feel better to use than our previous, slow, monotonous pattern.

REVAMPING PERKS

Less randomness, more tree structures! We have revamped both the Commando’s and Magnus’ perks and some of the underlying systems. You will no longer choose one of 5 randomized perks. Instead, every skill has its own branch, giving you the chance to focus on the skills you want. Only a handful of the original perks remain – most have either been removed or reworked in some way. It’s more fun to experience and explore the new perks yourself instead of reading about them, so get out there and play!

LEVELING UP

Have you had a hard time noticing level ups? Have perks gone by without you noticing? Hopefully that won’t be a problem anymore.

In addition to looking nice, every level up also has gameplay effects: you shoot high damage fireballs in 8 directions, regain all your health and refresh your skills. Gaining a perk has the extra effect of stunning nearby enemies. Our team is currently somewhat divided on whether the fireballs and health regen should stay in or not, so leave some feedback in the comments below!

FEEL THE COMBAT

In addition to gameplay changes, we’ve also Juiced up our combat with some nice visual flourishes: screenshaking and damage numbers! I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

RESPAWNING IN 3…

Perhaps the biggest problem in co-op according to our feedback was of keeping track of your character. I covered some of the changes regarding this in out last blog (character outlines, dynamic zoom) so let’s talk about respawning. So far in co-op you’ve really had no idea where you’d respawn and if you weren’t paying attention, you’d die again quickly. All that changes now.

In addition to being waaaaay easier to spot when and where you’ll respawn, we’ve done a ton of gameplay changes too:

  • You regain full health, refresh all your skills and stun nearby enemies on respawn
  • You lose a small amount of Juice on death
  • You can skip the respawn timer for a cost
  • You respawn automatically between levels

Speaking of respawning…

NEW CO-OP OPTIONS

…if you’re finding co-op too easy, you can now disable in-level respawns completely if you so desire. This means you’ll only respawn between levels, so you better bring your A-game.

We’ve also added an option for adjusting experience sharing between players. There are now 3 choices: no sharing, partial (our current default) and full sharing. None of the options increase or decrease the total amount of experience gained, so feel free to choose whatever option you feel suits your play style best.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

As always, check out the changelog for a more detailed breakdown of this build, but here’s some of the bigger highlights that don’t quite warrant a separate paragraph:

  • Greatly improved Tutorial
  • Improved Monuments
  • Tons of balance adjustments
  • Boss 1 fixes and improvements
  • Brand new Main Menu music by our talented Mikko Lapinlahti

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS…

We’ve already laid out plans for Beta 1.5 and I talked about two of the major points in the previous blog, but here’s the short version yet again:

  • Shops and chests are going to be replaced by Forges (upgrade stations)
  • In-game UI/HUD is getting redesigned

Along with the Forges there will most likely be a lot of changes to the items as well, which will affect balance, which will affect this and that… The next build should be pretty sizable like this one.

SUMMARY

Thanks again to everyone who’s given us feedback, be it via video or face to face. As it should be clear, we really appreciate all criticism and suggestions, even if not all of it ends up in the game. If you want to give your two cents, drop a comment down below or on the demo page. Or if you feel more comfortable shooting us an email, send it to support@gerty-game.com.

Till’ next time folks!

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