Design Devlog #1

One of our programmers, Adam, has done an incredible job on the player controller. I originally designed the player controller to be one that can be stripped back easily: fewer style moves, fewer combos, fewer grab options. The original pitch's GDD had a basic 3-hit combo. The expanded light*x -> heavy#x system was a wish rather than a need, so I'm very happy he was able to implement in the first sprint along with direction-based grab combos (being able to grab from the front or grab from the back as different combo starters).

There was no particular reason to cap the player count at 4, so we didn't. Adam managed to set up the project to be capable of accepting around 2.1 billion players at a time, or rather, capable of accepting the maximum number the players' computer can pair. I hope this kind of "no limits" approach to multiplayer will create more opportunities for players to play with the game, and with each other. When hanging out in a group of 5 friends, it always sucks to not be able to play games that are 4 player max: many for no good reason. The cap on the player count will come up again when the player queuing menu is being implemented, and I will advocate for our players again when it does.

Our other programmer, Trevor, managed to get the camera scaling system to work on all 3 axes. I had originally planned for the camera to only need to move on the x and z axes because I thought getting it to work on all 3 would be a lot more work, but he managed to do it. This has unlocked a 3rd dimension for the level design team, and has somewhat thrown a wrench into the current level structure. Currently, the players enter from the ground floor and look for the staircase. The staircase loads them into the next floor, and saves their progress. But if there's now no reason the players can't just walk up stairs instead of using them as a warp point, what wasn't possible is now possible: levels with height variation. I'm very excited for all the crazy architecture this has opened up for our game. Beyond just visual intrigue, it creates new ways to navigate by allowing players to walk off ledges onto lower floors which works well for avoiding back tracking.

The level design team was struggling. As a level designer, I understand completely, and as the team's game designer, it entirely my fault. It's really tricky designing annotated maps for a game you can't test. It was on me to both communicate and figure out the structure and expectations for each level. It took until partway through the sprint, but I eventually figured out, after giving feedback on the same pathing error to all three level designers one after the other, what I needed to explain to them.

I made the mistake of including in the level design kit, an optional locked door and a key. All 3 level designers used this in every level, and most used it to create a dead end that would require running around aimlessly to find the key, then back-tracking back to the locked door.

To fix this problem, I changed the standard for levels to include an additional requirement; the players all begin at one point. They enter rooms, and the number of paths they can take fan outwards, but every path must also fan back in and converge on a single room that leads to the staircase. Without looping everything back, it would become very easy for players to get lost from all the dead ends. I then encouraged all 3 of them to stop using the locked door. As a level designer myself, I should've known the urge to use such an objective-looking tool would be too irresistible for them to not overuse it: I would've done the same.

Our audio engineer, Polawat, got really really into recording sounds for our game. He started teaching himself Adobe Audition, and bought his own microphone. It took a while for it to arrive. The man then stayed up late punching a slab of meat to make us hit sound effects; they're beautiful. We are both on the same page when it comes to wanting the hit sounds to be very rhythmic and satisfying, and I look forward to hearing his sounds in the digital prototype.

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