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Post news RSS Alpha build for The Magic Hat

Using feedback from their instructors and peers, Nonsense Studios, a team of 5 developers from EECS 494, continue to improve their final game project. Through bug fixes, and continued iterative development, the team prepares to finalize their game's mechanics.

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In this recent development build, the team made the following changes and implementation fixes:

  • Jump controls are now mapped exclusively to the left bumper of the Xbox 360 controller, rather than the left stick.
  • A new back end system was designed to control the flow between various game states (win, loss, cut scene state, pause state)
  • Various bug fixes: fixing a death bug where a player could no longer be revived due to falling off the screen. Also fixed a "pause buffer" bug, where the player could queue their actions while having the game paused. Fixed an issue with the "Blazesnake" and Golem bosses staying red after being hit by the player.
  • Made adjustments to the player control to make them feel smoother and less sluggish.
  • Began implementing systems for player guidance: including a tutorial level that walks through the core controls for the game and how to use them.
  • Made shield jumping mechanic feel better, and easier to execute.
  • Improved visual aesthetics of the Squirrel and hedgehog players: made shield belonging to hedgehog more obvious.
  • Added dash and climbing mechanic to Squirrel to help balance out the abilities of both players.

Overall, our team made several important additions to our project. The change in the bumper controls and adjustments were made as a result of our playtest session feedback. Many players were conflicted on whether the left stick or the left bumper, should be used to jump. Most preferred for one button to be used for jumping, and the left bumper felt better at the time. There were also complaints from the 494 staff that the movement and jumping felt somewhat sluggish.

For this build, we wanted to set our focus on player guidance. During the play sessions, we noticed that the players were dying too much, and were not making much progress. In order to account for this, we began to adjust the difficulties of our bosses so that they could be easier and more player-friendly to deal with. In addition, the adjustments to the player controls allow us to improve the controls' responses to allow for a smoother and less frustrating experience.

The pause system design by one of our team members, Keaton, made for transitioning between the playable states in the game easier. With the system, there are now win and loss state when the players kill the boss or are both killed respectively. In addition, the game can be paused easily, stopping the state of the game and all movements until the player selects.

In addition, we adjusted the Squirrel’s controls: now, it has a dash mechanic that allows for it to be more agile (heh) and a climbing mechanic that allows for it to climb over obstacles in the environment. We made these changes in order to balance out each player’s abilities. During the play session tests, we noticed that many players felt their characters did not have much to do. The hedgehog character was particularly scrutinized since it could only reflect projectiles with a shield. Now, each player has a set of abilities that give them versatility:

  • Squirrel: Shoots acorns. Abilities: dash and climb
  • Hedgehog: Shoot quills around their body in defense +offense attack. Abilities: block enemy projectiles and deflect Squirrel acorns so that the Squirrel player can do double damage to the bosses.

Overall, there is still polished to be done with these abilities. However, we believe that we have improved the gameplay greatly based on the feedback that our peers and teachers have given to us (special thanks to Nico for his advice in office hours).

For our next deliverable, p3_Beta, we will continue to improve the controls and difficulty of the bosses according to our feedback. We have recently drafted a playtesting request which will be sent to another 494 teams for more feedback. We will also finish implementing the tutorial level and incorporate it into our game. In addition, we will begin to incorporate our last two bosses. We already have designs for each laid out, we now just have to implement them in time for the next play session. Since our main game mechanics are now done, we just need to focus on the remaining bosses and improving our mechanics depending on what issues our playtesters find.

The Magic Hat

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