Its been a heavy week of bug fixing for the team to get ready for the MDS open day play tests this weekend but we’ve still got some cool new stuff to show off too! Check out our HUD updates and new weapon animations.
We got the reticle back in the game and its changed a tiny bit from the old build. Now that we have the new UI and it is much cleaner than the old one we had to update the reticle textures to match. The reticle behaves the same way it used to where the lines pop in and out when the grappling hook is in range and the same lines spin around the circle to represent the cool down of the grappling hook.
We added in this HUD tooltip that can be brought up at any time in game by pressing ‘I’. We found in playtests that people were struggling to work out what some of the abilities and some people weren’t even using their abilities because they didn’t know what the controls were. This tooltip has made an immediate difference and people who are new to the game are picking it up a lot quicker now.
We had some feedback that it was difficult to tell which way you were supposed to be pushing the mine cart in our new game mode so we have added some new textures to the objectives. Now it is immediately obvious which way you need to push the cart.
Since we changed up the models for the weapons and grappling hooks we also had to update the animations for the models too. Particle effects and textures should be in by the end of next week and we will hopefully have new audio to match the animations the following week.
From the Artists
The start of the week was spent in Substance Designer doing the textures for the Shotgun. It was interesting working with all the procedural generation for wear and tear on the materials. Masking off materials on the mesh also made is super easy to have materials persist over uv shells without creating seams. My technical art contribution was setting up the animation in the Hud will now react to the player’s movements including, jumping, falling and being hit from any direction. This adds a lot of life to the hud as well as giving weight and emphasis to jumping. I was also in charge of creating a dynamic texture to help separate your teammates for your enemies. This was created by using a fresnel shader function to control an emissive that appears as an outline around you teammates. I have also had to go back and rework the uv’s for the shotgun because of some problems with the texture resolution on certain parts of the model. I went back and mirrored as many parts as possible and increased the uv size of areas that face the camera. This will create a better fps experience.
This week I continued reworking the textures, mainly focusing on the rocks and figuring out how to get the style looking the way that we want. Taking another look at the weapons I tried to incorporate some hand painted elements to retain that original stylized look that we started with in order to keep the visuals more in line with the wacky and fun gameplay. I also created some more UI icons for the mine cart game mode. Now that we are starting to get the new assets into the game it will be easier to make decisions on how best to move forward with the art style.
Hello. I did animations this week and that is all I did. Like, so many. Pretty much every weapon we have and then some extra misc stuff. I learned that Maya LT only allows for 2 animation layers per scene which was pretty lame. There went all my plans to actually use them properly for a change. So my solution was to do the animations for each weapon in separate scenes, starting from a base scene that had everything set out correctly. I absolutely wanted to avoid the same problems I had before, such as having many scenes each with broken layers and animations, so I set out to ensure that it was all clean and ready from the get go. It took a little longer but it has definitely been worth it. The biggest thing working against me was Maya itself, crashing often with fatal errors after bakes. All I could do was make incremental saves often and try to be careful. To be extra safe with the implementation into Sky Noon I kept the animation lengths the same as their predecessors so that it might be as simple as a replacement into existing montages.
From the Programmers
The work that I prioritised this week was based on the knowledge that the MDS open day would be happening on Saturday. With that in mind, I focused on implementing things that would help new players easily acquaint themselves with the game. The majority of this was HUD features. I created an info dropdown that gives players tips about the controls and uses of their current equipment at the press of a button. The button for finding this info is also shown on the HUD at the start of the game and when a box is picked up. I also added icons above players, the cart and the bases to help players orient themselves in the world. I added teams instead of lives to the scoreboard, and then Craig iterated on the scoreboard later in the week. I reimplemented the grapple reticle from the vertical slice, which shows if the grapple hook is in range and on cooldown.
I also spent some time this week iterating and balancing abilities. I created the Bolas, which stops players from using their weapon, ability and grapple hook. After playtesting, we found that depending on the length of time disabled, the Bolas was either too powerful or too weak. Worst of all, we found that it simply wasn’t fun to be hit by the Bolas, and it wasn’t as useful as other abilities to have. Based on this, we scrapped the Bolas. The teleporter was altered, making it a one-time use ability that pushes players away upon arrival. This made the ability more useful and also simpler. From this, I’ve learned that some ideas seem great on paper but don’t work in application, and removing them can be hard but necessary.
This week was a lot of crucial bug fixing and feature implementation to ensure the playtest planned for the end of the week went well. The Cart Game Mode was something we wanted to test primarily, as it had not seen much spotlight thus far, so getting the implementations ironed out and working perfectly was a priority. The Scores and Game Loop was implemented entirely, and the Scoreboard was redone to be more usable and easier for the Artists to design. Lots of work was done to make sure all existing mechanics worked correctly in the cart game mode, so the super crates were added and them affecting the cart was a necessity. I gave the Machine Pistol some spread as the weapon was quite powerful when aimed properly.
Unfortunately I have been sick for most of the week but I did make a start on the voice lines for the character and announcer as well as implement some basic voice lines for getting hit and clambering. We still need to decide how much character we want to give to the main announcer and the voice lines that we need from him. I might also look into getting a female to voice some sample announcer lines to see if that is better suited.