This week, we focused significantly on addressing a variety of small bugs and issues that were noticed during the playtest last week. This included:
- Fixed an issue where a corner of the screen would not fade-in on the final level with 3 players
- Fixed the animations of the Shield character, and added shadows to all characters on the menu screen
- Fixed characters not being able to transition to the final level if they were in transition between levels when the timer ran out
- Fixed players controls being disabled if the game was restarted when they were dead
- Fixed a situation where blank powerup icons would be displayed
- Fixed blurry font on the menu
- Fixed an issue where powerups could be applied multiple times by repeatedly picking up weapons
- Fixed an issue where launching escape pods could push players outside of the level
- Fixed an issue where the A-button image would remain hovering above a weapon once picked up, or where it would be shown during the escape pod cutscene
- Fixed an issue where two explosions could be created on the same level
- Fixed an issue where enemies would respawn after the timer runs out
- Fixed camera jitter when following player
In addition, some improvements to theming were added. An improved introductory cutscene was added, to address confusion about why aliens were on the ship. In addition, dynamic lighting was added along with extra particle effects and some alarm lights and sounds, to add some additional atmosphere and urgency to the scene. The music also speeds up as time winds down to add further urgency. The timer was moved to be on the walls in-game, which makes it make more sense in terms of the story and hopefully makes it easier for the players to comprehend (while adding some immersion). Full artwork for the powerup icons was also added. Controller rumble was also added to add some immersion and intensity to the game.
Some additional content was added, in the form of an additional enemy and a new player ability (Neko). Improvements to the guidance of abilities was made by moving the ability cooldown bar to be around the player’s reticle. Some rebalancing of enemies was done to make the first level much easier and to make later levels require more thought to complete; we also increased the escape pod time to make that strategy more difficult. The transition to the next level now flashes to better guide players towards it, as playtesters were still having difficulty finding it.
What’s the motivation?
The motivation for specific changes is described in the previous section. In general, the many fixes to bugs were made in order to get the game ready for release; other issues were fixed to improve the professionalism of the game (such as the text blurriness and the camera jitter). Full artwork for powerup icons and the final character ability was also meant to get the game ready for release. Theming improvements such as the opening cutscene, sped-up music, and controller rumble were meant to improve the player’s understanding of the story, which should help them better understand their objectives as well as convey the feeling of urgency we want. The dynamic lighting of chests and exits is intended to help guide the player toward these interactables. Some balance changes to level difficulty were meant to address changes that the first level was too difficult for new players and that experienced players did not feel like the levels were very challenging.
For next week, we plan to focus more on the balance of player abilities to ensure that all characters are useful. We also plan to continue improving the difficulty progression throughout the game. More minor theming improvements may be added to improve level atmosphere. We also plan to make some minor visual changes to the main menu, such as adding the title of the game.