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Post news RSS Minimap, Lighting, and Triggers

It’s time for another progress update! We’re now in full “content production” mode for the alpha: the level has been laid out, roughly half of the gameplay / enemies are in testing, and while Thomas is busy creating props and designing encounters, I am hard at work implementing the new enemies and overhauling the systems which will ensure a fun experience (*cough* *cough* losing limbs *cough*). However we also have some new stuff to show ^_^

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So back when we were taking the old prototype “on the road” at indie shows to gauge reaction, a lot of players asked about having a mini-map.

Since both Thomas and myself want to encourage exploration, alternate routes, and secret rooms, a mini-map made a lot of sense, but I also did not want it to make exploration too easy. Also it had to fit in with our artistic direction, and paper maps are not very diesel-punk…

The result is somewhere in-between Fallout’s useless indoor maps and, say, Ultima Underworld’s 1:1 map which let you write down your own notes on it.

The map fills itself as you progress - similar to how fog of war works - but it’s closer to Alien’s hand-held scanner than a proper “level map”.

It also currently lacks graphics, but hopefully you get the idea!

NOTE: I'm aware that it looks like the map is floating above the player's head, that's not actually the case though, but I kept the player near the top of the screen so I could frame both in the .gif, and this is how it turned out ^_^#)

Shaders and Lighting:

Our current lighting method relies on “old-school trickery” to support multiple coloured light sources and produce a somewhat decent looking output (it’s also very fast!).

However old-school tricks will only get you so far, and I’ve been wanting for a while to put together something similar to Sprite Lamp. Even though lighting will not play a predominant role in the gameplay - we’re not talking Thief here - we do want to use lighting to create “atmosphere” and subtly guide players towards important objectives.

Bear in mind that the normal maps are currently generated using Crazy Bump which - despite doing a great job at guess-timating a lot of information right - is bound to get some things wrong. That's why some pixels are getting lighter when they should seemingly be getting darker and vice-versa.

Down the line the plan is to create the normal maps ourselves, but hopefully you can see where this is going:


Less impressive visually, but probably more interesting to backers who pledged for the modding stretch goal, triggers are the meat and bones of your level’s gameplay.

They can be used to do anything from locking or unlocking doors, to spawning enemies, loot, and much more. Simply drop a trigger in the level, set its size, connect it to the object or objects it will interact with, and pick how the object will respond from available options.

Triggers have 4 “hooks” for objects to respond to:

- when a player enters the trigger area: for example getting close to a door opens it automatically
- when a player leaves the trigger area: for example walking away from a door closes it automatically
- when the trigger is removed from the scene: for example an enemy spawns an object upon dying
- when the player manually activates the trigger: for example levers

While this might seem simplistic, the system is deceivingly flexible: since triggers are just another component, this means *anything* can be a trigger, depending on which entity you attach the component to:

- “pure” triggers are just an area that can trigger doors opening, enemies spawning, loot appearing, etc.


- doors can be triggers: spawn enemies when a door opens or closes, lock another door when a door opens or closes, activate another trigger when the door closes - for example you walk into a room, the door shuts down, and a pressure plate on the other side of the room becomes active, which will unlock the door when stepped on - and so on…

- enemies can be triggers: spawn loot when an enemy dies, activate hidden enemies when the enemy dies (to chain spawns), unlock a door when the enemy dies, and so on…

- spawners can be triggers: unlock a door once all enemies created by a particular spawner are killed, spawn ammo or guns when the spawner is activated, activate another spawner once all the enemies from this one have been killed, and so on…

- items can be triggers: unlock doors upon collecting an item, spawn enemies when an item is picked up or used, trigger an NPC conversation when an item is collected or dropped, and so on…

- even triggers can be triggers! you can chain up triggers with other triggers to create semi-complex logic

And this concludes this update :)

It's now time to crunch, and focus all our efforts on pushing a good build out to our Alpha backers! See you all in a couple of weeks,


Marco / benitosub


Wow, amazing update! Normal maps for lighting in a 2D game! That is Great idea... has any game done this before?
The lighting looks amazing, almost appears to be 3D
Keep the stunning work!

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benitosub Author

Actually yes, we didn't come up with it, but it's still a pretty cool way to get some really good looking lighting without having to model 3d assets ^_^

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I wanna design levels for this game!!11

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benitosub Author

That's what we're making the editor for :) And considering the game takes place in a tower, it even makes sense to add player-created floors ;)

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I second booman, normal maps in 2D are great. I also like the alienesque scanner look. The mechanic of triggers is also very neat for giving so much flexibility. You could also add another hook which would be: when the player stays in a trigger zone.

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benitosub Author

Ah hey that's a pretty cool idea, I could run a timer while the player is in the trigger area and only trigger the event once he has stayed inside for X seconds...

Couple this with waves of enemies to put pressure on you while you must remain in the trigger area to unlock that door or whatever, and it could create some pretty tense situations :)

Thanks for the tip!

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Yeah that could be nice!
Also you could implement a "charging device" where you can reload your HP or the energy of one of your guns. Or a sliding door could open slowly over time.
Or should you decide to implement coop mode, then maybe two players have to stand on different spots.
Do you have any kind of combination logic? I mean a door only opens when two triggers/buttons were pressed?

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