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A quick weekly update (patch notes, rather) on the progress so far, and a peek into what's in store for the upcoming weeks.

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What's New?


Animations

We added an animation for the engine rotor. It makes more intuitive sense to have that. The animation stops when the engine room breaks.


Tutorial

The tutorial (currently level 1 of the game) underwent huge changes. All the text has been removed and it's been replaced with button prompts. New stations appear as the game progresses and players will try them out as they appear. More trust has been placed in players' curiosity. We no longer force them to read large amounts of text. We also don't wait for all players to press a button to move on. Whenever any player tries out a station, the button prompts appear.


Sea Mines

We now included a feature where the sea mines can explode upon being shot. This was used as a barrier in our level design. Players have to shoot down all the sea mines to get across.


Sharks

Previously, we found that the sharks would not give players a chance to maneuver the ship away after getting hit, as they continuously ram the ship. We have changed the shark’s behavior so that they now turn away and then reram the ship, giving a small window of opportunity for the players to run away or kill the sharks.


Health

For health changes, we found that overall things did too much damage to the ship. So we revamped the numbers so that it is now harder to die.


Underwater effects

We finally added shaders to add caustic(y) and wobbly effects. It gives the map a more authentic feel. We also added some parallax in the game, but since only the areas lit by the lights can be seen, it didn’t add too much to the game in our opinion. On the other hand, we did debate changing visibility of the parallaxed background, but it ended up being too confusing for players, since the boundaries of the level weren’t visible until a light was shone upon. So we decided to stick to the original idea of having a dark background.


Voices

We have recruited the help of 4 voice actors to help us voice the game. They play the voices of the characters in the submarine and help bring more juice into our game.



Game Story/Thematics

We found that our game generally lacked a story / theme. Thus we created a theme and added it to our game. This game now focuses on a group of college kids who in order to pay for tuition, are attempting to find the lost city of Atlantis, in search of treasure. When they find the city, they find several notes which indicate that the treasure was stolen long ago. Thus now it is up to the college kids to search for where the invaders may have taken this treasure and retrieve it for themselves.


Level Design

The game is divided into five broad regions. The first is the tutorial part where players are eased into the game by incrementally introducing stations. In the second, they find a map to Atlantis, and have to pass through a narrow alley filled with sea mines. Once they reach Atlantis, the third region, they find out Atlantis has been robbed by pirates, and have tried to escape through the crystal caverns, which is rumored to be dangerous. When the players reach the crystal caverns, they find out the reason for the rumors - crystal caverns are filled with sharks. Once they get past that and find nothing, they reach for the dead end, where they finally find their treasure.


Game Guidance / cutscenes

Probably the most fun part of this iteration was adding cutscenes. We introduced several establishing shots in our game which help guide players towards check points in the game. These checkpoints are typically notes which tell the next part of the story, or are missing pieces of the map. It helps a ton in guiding players to the right areas, without any text.


Map

We’ve divided the main map into two pieces that get collected at different parts in the game. This is integrated into the story of college students searching for underwater treasure to pay off their tuition.


Player Movement

Previously, maneuvering around the ship was a little wonky as players could collide with each other and get stuck. We have since removed player collision so this doesn’t happen.



What’s the motivation?

This time we had a clear goal in mind. To unify the experience. We came up with a storyline and tailored everything else to fit that storyline. The narration, level design, object placement, sound effects, new items like maps/scrolls etc. We added a decent amount of juice (cutscenes) too, but we’re not satisfied with it just yet.



What’s next?


Checkpoint restart:

For future releases, we plan on adding checkpoints so that if the players do die, they will be brought back to the most recent checkpoint instead of the beginning of the tutorial.


Player animations:

To juice up our game more, we plan on adding player animations to our next release.


New Music / More Voice lines:

With the addition of a composer and voice actors, we plan on revamping and improving the music and voice lines currently in the game within the next release.


Revamped Main Menu:

For the longest time, our main menu had no correlation with the actual game. It still doesn’t. We’ve put this off for long enough. No more. We plan to fix this issue asap since we now have the unifying theme, storyline and a new composer to fix this.



Screen Transitions:

Finally, we plan on adding more screen transitions so to improve the professionalism of our game.

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