Progress! So much progress!

Holy smokes, just in the time I last posted to today, a lot has happened.

Non-Dev Stuff First

Got more wedding stuff planned out (finally) and we’re looking to start the next few items on our checklist of Things
to Plan™. My brother moved in with us last week and is settling in nicely. And! Something I’m super duper excited about!

Since my car has been officially totalled, I had to start looking for a new one. My search was, thankfully, short AND sweet!
I am now the proud owner of a 2014 Hyundai Veloster, a car I’ve been wanting for a couple years now! When wedding stuff
clears up and I have expendable funds again, I plan on tinkering around with it! I’ve already got my eyes on some relatively
inexpensive things I can do in the mean time, but it’ll be slow for awhile. Nevertheless, I’m tickled pink to even own it!

Dev Stuff!

Now for the reason most of you probably come here! Like I said, just between today and my last post, I’ve been hard at work
on the game, as I’m sure my fiancé and brother can attest to! Almost every evening after work is spent hammering out a
new feature implementation, correcting some small bug, or refactoring my approach to my code organization (yes, I still
have that even while using BluePrints). In my next post I’ll be giving a break down of how everything’s organized and
what does what in preparation for the presentation I’ll be giving over the same topic.

Demo Levels

I’ve been cranking out some demo levels for June 17th. It’s been a good opportunity to really think of how to best communicate
game features to the player without resorting to text on screen. I’m a fan of the Game Grumps and Arin Hanson and distinctly
recall his Sequelitis episode on Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X in which
he cites the use of tutorials in modern games. I think it leads one to really appreciate the level design of earlier games
in which the player was left to figure something out without some form of Navi following you around shouting instructions
into your ear. I’ve done my best to incorporate that sort of idea into the demo levels I’ve been building both because
I want that to be how the game goes (i.e. as little hand holding as possible, treating the player as though they are
intelligent enough to figure something out) and because we don’t currently have any form of dialog engine in place!

Game Features!

The basic game features that will be shown in our demo come June 17th include:

  1. Press Once Button Tile
  2. Door Tile
  3. Ice Tile
  4. Conveyor Tile
  5. Generator Tile
  6. Sticky Tile
  7. Ball Morpher Tile
  8. Fire Ball Type
  9. Electric Ball Type
  10. Tilt-able Camera Controls
  11. Pushable Blocks
  12. Pushable Battery Blocks
  13. Non-Pushable Ice Blocks

I’m pretty excited to show off the features listed here! Most of them are done and working already and simply waiting
to be placed in a demo level, but a few still need some work! But to show off what some of these do or look like and
give mad props to my friend Wesley for the art assets so far (despite being super
busy planning his own wedding come just a day after our demo debut, even!) I’ll share some screen shots and gifs of
the game so far! There really is a world of difference from the crappy little test assets I spat out in Blender compared
to the real assets Wesley’s created for us to use and I’m thrilled to show it all off! Be sure to pop over and say hi to
that super talented artist!

Starting a Level

Ball Morpher

Here’s a glimpse at the first demo level that will be available to players! There’s not a lot to it, but it is meant to
serve as an introduction to the tilt controls and how buttons and doors work. By blocking the player’s path with doors
and putting a button directly in their line of site immediately before them, it’s likely they’ll roll over the button
to see what it does, therefore having an “ah-hah!” moment when they see the doors open!

See Button

Button Press

Camera Controls

Some feedback that was generated both from my observations in testing and seeing assets as well as Wesley’s test plays was
that the player’s ball is obstructed from view at times as are various objects in the level, such as buttons. In order to
circumvent this, we decided adding some camera movement would be helpful in allowing the player to look around the map
and see things that might otherwise be blocked from view.

I’ll be real honest though, I’m a tad stumped on how best to non-verbally communicate to the player that this is a feature
and after watching my brother and fiancé test it out without using it, it only served to further drive the point home that
it somehow needs shown to the player.

Ball Morpher

Conveyor Belts

One of the first special tile types we created was the Conveyor Belt Tile. Pretty self explanatory in it’s function, it
will push the ball along the direction it’s moving and can have varying speeds. I was pretty proud of myself for figuring
out how to hook up both the speed parameter in the conveyor texture and getting it to show up in the editor by putting
that speed control logic in the BP’s constructor function, which I had noticed fires any time you make a change to the BP
itself or any of it’s variables in the editor.

Conveyor Belt

Here you can see the sample level showing off conveyors and how they work. Ball rolls onto them and gets pushed in the
direction they’re going, pretty simple!

Sticky Pads

Still among the earliest implemented features was the sticky pad, meant to slow the player down a great deal. There are
varied uses for this such as trapping the player long enough for an enemy (yes, a few of those are planned!) to get them,
catching the player from a high velocity movement, or simply slowing the player down when they must do something quickly.

Sticky Pad

While the sticky value of the tile itself is still being tweaked so we feel it’s useful but not overly annoying, the basic
functionality is all in place!

Conveyor and Sticky Pad

Ball Morphing

One of the, in my opinion, cooler aspects of the overall game is the inclusion of different ball types! We’ve got four
types planned beyond the base: Fire, Ice, Electric, and Metal (alternatively known as Armor). While the ball types
have all been implemented in their most basic form (the ball’s glowy stripe changes color to match), the interactions with
the world are the challenging part!

Without further ado, here is the Fire Ball Morpher in game (NOTE: Like many things, this art asset is far from final - it’s
just a recolored wall tile at the moment)!

Ball Morpher

And just beyond the Fire Ball Morpher you are quickly introduced to the effects it has on the Ice Tiles beneath you. You
can watch as they melt away!

Ball Morpher

More to Come Next Week

Quite a bit just in a couple weeks! I’m proud of the work both of us have accomplished thus far despite all the busy stuff
going on in our lives! With the demo deadline approaching next Friday, I’ve got even more work ahead that’ll need to be done
ASAP, but I’m excited to do it and get some real feedback from players outside either of our homes!

Until then, see you around!
-Holden