It's been awhile since I provided a development update here! Apologies for that, but let's make that right and review what's changed and what's in the pipeline.
Since the last update, I've pushed out several new builds on Steam. On the performance front, I completely changed the lighting system. Previous builds used per-pixel lighting for all in-game lights. While this provided the best lighting quality, it also provided the worst performance. Even on my machine with a 970 GTX, I frequently was experiencing frame rate dips into the 30s when many lights were present in the scene.
Thus, all lights have been changed to vertex rendering mode, which drastically increases lighting performance (by reducing draw calls) at the cost of reducing lighting quality, which I feel most people won’t even notice. I strongly feel maintaining 60 FPS is a much higher priority in a twitch based game like this.
Steam achievements and leaderboards have also been added; there are currently 16 achievements total.
I've also started working on the final boss battle for the End of Times game mode. This is what I originally had planned for it.
As you can see, it originally involved a giant bad guy with big swords. To animate him, I decided to take a different approach then all the other sprites in the game, which were done via frame animation (think a flipbook of still images played back really fast to give the illusion of movement).
Instead, I decided to do skeleton animation, using the excellent Spine software. Given the large size of the boss, this allows me to create new animations without having to pixel them by hand, which is extremely labor intensive. Instead, I can rig together all of the limbs of the boss and create animations by moving each limb (connected together via a skeleton of bones), frame by frame.
Here's an attack animation being created in Spine.
But, this boss idea was ultimately scrapped. As I continued to develop it, I quickly came to realize the boss battle was falling into all of the bad boss battle tropes. Things like inverting spatial control by having the boss attack from behind, suddenly introducing all new game rules and being overly bullet spongy. Mainly though, the boss battle wasn't testing all of the skills and mechanics the player spent all this time learning and mastering.
That's why I decided to scrap the original idea completely and come up with something new. The boss battle is now being designed to almost feel like a bot Versus match. The boss will attack, and most importantly defend itself, in the same ways that the player can. This is forcing the player to really master his shotgun & melee attacks, shield blocking and quick movement to avoid attacks.
Here is some new concept art for the new boss. The Devil takes many forms!
Here's a sneak peak of what he looks like in-game.
All new boss artwork credit goes to Mike Stanton.
So that's where I'm at now. The boss battle is nearly fully implemented and ready to playtest for balancing and tweaking. It won't be long before I'm ready to announce a date in which the game leaves Early Access!
And here's a overall summary of all of the other miscellaneous changes made since December.
End of Times
- With the exception of the Hellhound and Bloody Mary, the player will no longer be instantly killed upon touching an enemy. Instead, they’ll be pushed back slightly
- Rocket Nomed now walks, albeit slowly
- Rocket Nomed health has been slightly reduced
- Nomed jumping animation has been improved
- The time from when an enemy portal appears and when a enemy actually spawns has been increased
- Better difficulty select menu
- Various improvements and bug fixes to multiple arena layouts
- Souls will stay within arena space better
- Removed Golden Cross object from Church arenas
- Added last, missing announcer voice overs
- Background tiles in Hell arenas polished and improved