Four weeks have passed and we hit our next milestone First Playable. In this milestone we have to deliver a representative playable part of the final game. What this meant for us is a first playable level that shows what the game is about, there is still time to try new things and make some changes along the way but everything should be done in the same direction.
With this idea in mind we planned what our objectives would be, designing and building a complete first level, finishing the player, this means improving the feedback, implementing the link between the characters, that works as a rope, and also the fusion state, to use it in the second level. We also wanted to at least started working in the second level, having something designed and already building it.
We knew the work and we split it, Aitor Tejedor finished the checkpoint system and started working in the death feedback, with two player each one looking at its character sometimes it is frustrating to die and do not know whose fault was, so we decided to try to fix that right away, doing a smooth transition to the color of the player who died for a few seconds. It looks nice, even if Aitor almost killed me for adding something new or changing the death effect.
Eneko Egiluz took the responsibility of implementing the Fusion state of the player from where Jon left it. The main behavior was done but we still need feedback, that it is something crucial, with two player controlling one character we need to show clearly on screen what the players want to do, to make the fusion state work. So we discussed some ideas on how to do this, and Eneko implemented them. For example, the direction where the characters want to move is shown around the sphere of the Fusion State character so the players know at every moment where they want to go and can react in consequence. There are more things that are on the works as the life of the Fusion State or the fuel for the propeller, but it is looking good and we solved one of the main problems that this state could have, giving enough feedback such that the players can coordinate themselves.
Jon Sanchez started with the basic controls for the Fusion state, adding the basic movement and the propeller, then he went into implementing the link between the players, something that can look really good and we wanted to implement for its possibilities, but the beginning was hard and many of our approaches did not feel natural and they always ended up breaking something that was already working. Finally, after fighting a bit longer with the physics we manage to have something that look really nice, and it was the behavior we were looking for. The link worked nicely exactly as a rope with a tiny bit of elasticity. One holding the rope while the other swing from side to side, it felt very natural and with the combination of movement from both players many great effects can be achieved. So we had another great and fun mechanic to play with.
After he finished the link he started with the first boss that will be waiting at the end of the first level. I designed and he implemented it, and it was a mess, the boss did not work at all. Many of the things that while designing them I thought they would be fun, they were not at all. It was chaotic but not in a positive way. This was a step back in our plan and we had to react quickly and solve the problem. Then Jon and me started to discuss what we could do with the boss, trying to find a new design for it. We wanted to have two bosses each one for each player, but as one of the main aesthetics of the game is the cooperation we wanted them to interact with other somehow, with this idea in mind a very simple idea came to us, make each boss follow the X position of the other character. With this idea, the cooperation and coordination were enforced in order to avoid the attacks of the bosses, so it was easy to design some attacks for the bosses. Now the boss is almost finished, and it works really nice, it is fun to play and it requires both players to work together. We have tested with some of our mates and the feedback gathered was really good.
And finally what was left for me apart from overseer my mates work, bug Aitor every time I wanted something new included in the death effect and test everything until it met what we were looking for. That was the design and creation of the first level. We have many dynamic elements that we created for the prototype, catapults, fans, conveyor belts, shields, etc and also the link mechanic so I decided to introduce almost all of them in the first level, not in very complicate and intricate challenges, instead something simple, a first version of a challenge that can easily grow harder, to show them in the level and make the player use them so they can to be familiar with them and know what they are used for. This came with a lot of building and testing and modifying along the way until I had something more or less complete and playable, but the length of the first level once everything was joined was a bit short, so I had to include at least two more sections. Now the level felt complete just waiting to include the final boss.
Once the first level was completed I started working in the second one with new mechanics as gravity change, that joined with the link can produce really cool situations, I tested what can be done with that and if what was in mind really worked, not as with the first level boss design, and it did, so I built some crazy challenges that may not be in the second level but some simpler introductions to them already are. So the second level is already on the works something that was our goal at the beginning of the milestone.
In general, I am very happy with the team and how we are progressing, we dealt with some step backs as the redesign boss and some obstacles during the milestone, but we are managing to solve those problems and the game is looking better each day.
From the few testers we had the feedback was positive and the game was fun, that it is something good to hear when you are doing a game. You expect it to be fun. There are many cool things coming that we are eager to test and show. More levels, with new mechanics, and new designs (Vertical levels, Fusion State), more bosses, and more crazy challenges. We still have plenty of ideas that we want to implement, like the metagaming, adding a score for each level, adding collectables in impossible places, gather information like the number of deaths or accuracy, that will add replayability to the game.
Our main concern is that we are ambitious and the time is short, but we will try to reach our goal.
In four more weeks, we will reach the next milestone in which the second level should be finished, and the first level completely polished. The metagaming will have to be included, maybe not finished, but something has to be inside. Also, we must not forget the menus and sound that still need to be included, as I said many things and little time to do them, we will see how far we go.