Ah, Wine Cellar. One of the three levels that did not change on a very fundamental level. Of course it has been trough some changes, facelifts and such, but on a base level, the layout is the same. Fun fact: in the game files, the level is called wince cellar because back then apparently I could not type properly when I originally made the mod. This had caused many headaches when I was remaking a few things around the level before I noticed the mistype. Honestly, I could tell you that I by now fixed the error but I did not. It stayed there as a kind of easter egg or nod to the original mod.
Another fun fact that I already spoiled in the previous dev diary: this level was the testing ground for a lot of my ideas that made it to other levels. The main cause for that is most of those ideas started out as ideas for the Wine Cellar, but either there was a change in plan or a big rework and the tested idea ended up on a different level. I have now my own dedicated "Tech_Test" map because Wine Cellar has grown to be a pretty big map in file size and even after the smallest of changes it takes too long to reload the map. This slowed down development, so I don't test things here anymore, not even ideas that get implemented here. Now let's get trough the level's history before going on to the thing I want to tell you about.
The Wine Cellar was in the original mod kinda like the Wine cellar in the base game. Or was supposed to be. In reality, it was bad (like everything else). The jumpscares were cheap, the puzzles were unoriginal, frustrating and didn't even work in the case of the downstairs goo puzzle. You literally couldn't finish the puzzle because I last minute renamed something I think and everything broke basically. Thankfully, the game's engine has a bug that allows you to just simply walk trough the goo if you hold the left click when clickin on it. For some reason...
This engine bug was the first thing I overcame when reworking the puzzle. You technically don't interact with the goo anymore, but a script area in front of it. There is no water on the lower levels. The main reason for that was that it didn't serve any purpose. After thinking it trough I realised that water should be used a lot smarter because everyone associates a part where you are knee deep in water with the Kaernk, the water monster. Also there were story reasons for it as well. Anyways. This opened up a lot of design opportunities to make the lower levels prettier (or scarier).
After the lower levels, I have cleaned up the upper levels, made the puzzle less frustrating with a helper light that shows you where the key is as well as dropping a note that literally tells you where the key is. Other than that, the first part of the level stayed the same for the most part.
After the cleanup, the next big major stop is during my testings of the dynamic monster pathing system (or DMPS for short), which basically meant that there was one monster for the entire level and it followed you to the end of the level by always patrolling near the player's location. For the ammount of effort it took me to make it work The First Playtest Results' criticisms were mainly focused on this level and the DMPS. Because the monster never left, not even after you died, the players started to get frustrated and instead of patiently hiding from it and sneaking around it, they just simply ran past him or abused it in other ways. This lead to another problem. When completing the goo puzzle, there is pretty much a 5 second window when you are completely vulnerable and can't move. The goo is in a fairly trafficy place which guarantied a death for the player outside of their own fault.
I was depressed when thinking about the Wine Cellar. I knew something had to be done, that the monster encounters had to be remade from scratch pretty much but it would take so long and I spent so much time developing the DMPS and now I had to throw it out to the trash. I proceeded to avoid this level like the plage and focus on new levels. Here is the updated roadmap of the mod and its levels.
Currently the Sanctuary hub and its sub levels aren't done, those are just a concept of what will be there. Anyways. I have completed everything from the Underground castle, trough the Western holding chamber all the way to the Servant room before returning to Wine cellar to scrap the monster encounters. In time, it was months. The Playtesting Results came back at around late January if I recall correctly. I got back to the Wine cellar in May... And even then I didn't do anything revolutionary. Pretty much just deleted the DMPS, added scripted encounters and a system that doesn't let you complete the puzzle unless you wait for the monsters to be gone. It worked everytime, 50% of the time. It was as basic and uncreative as you can get in an Amnesia custom story and it didn't satisfy me, but I had no ideas what to do with the level. The problem was most players were in their playtime at a point where if this level sucked, most likely they never will finish the mod.
Before the big monster rework on this level I tested and succefully implemented an alternate path on the level the way I imagined it, which gave me enough inspiration to finally do the big rework. During prototyping the Sanctuary hub and the Guardian path I got the idea. What if the grunts were spirits and instead of being monsters, they would behave more like spectres.
Aaaaaaand that is where we are at right now. The grunts will be spectres in this mod. That's all I want to say so I won't spoil every detail for now :P I don't really have many but one picture which I will upload here because I was focusing more on reworking a few things and dark, scary parts that don't make for a good shot, but next time, I promise there will be some real eye candy for ya'll.