New mechanics, communication, and a trip to GDC!
Beginning this blog post, the Slimeboiz have been hard at work iterating on level designs, play testing, and trying out different player movement mechanics. We learned some strong lessons about team based communication and its importance to the momentum of the project as well as indulging in some hard self-reflecting about how to improve ourselves as developers. We also have a team member attending GDC these next two weeks and look forward to churning out some polished levels while they are away.
Experimental game play
Lately, the development team has been play testing several different player mechanics that will help them navigate each level.
As for our first mechanic we wanted to implement, we had conceptualized a “dash” that would apply a direct change in velocity in the desired direction, allowing the player to have an accurate mental model of exactly where they will be heading as well as the target landing on surfaces. This enables the player to have precision-based movement and provides agency in a skill-based context when trying to manage their slimer resource.
This last week however has been focused on a mechanic that is currently deemed the “slime hook”. Essentially, this is a physics-based joint connection that acts as a grapple hook would, pulling the player towards the desired surface location. We wanted to experiment with this mechanic because we are still looking for the most accurate way to maneuver across the environment so the player has complete understanding of the predictable locomotion system we implement. We are also feeling around for the amount of verticality in our movement that makes sense from a platforming perspective and fits well with our current slime loss rules. Only practicality will prove if this stands the test of time!
Communication! Its vitally important to have a well-oiled machine behind the wheel of a creative endeavor and chemistry as well as having a clear representation of the game’s vision probably ranks above individual skill in regards to successful products. This requires day-to-day communication, getting your ideas across clearly and concisely, as well as being cognitive of other team members’ work load. So what happened that this is all being mentioned?
Well, since our first blog post on this page, there have been several incidents between team members where a single 40 minute conversation allowed for a much smoother workflow process and helped others from being blocked in ability to finish tasks. In other words, what was stopping members from getting work done for days at a time were simple, easy to have personal conversations. We realized these kinds of social and team skills are paramount and should not be neglected in the light of feature deadlines and being on the same page. Lesson learned: When in doubt, talk it out!
Off to San Francisco…
After roughly 8 weeks of prototyping and modeling out the world of Slime, our lead programmer, Alex Van Halen, will be attending the Game Developers Conference as well as riding on Train Jam for the next two weeks. While his role as the only coder is important to our experimental iterations and general leadership during development cycles, we have agreed to a list of baseline features that will need to be implemented before his departure so level designers, environmental artists, as well as developers tuning movement values can have public options and flexibility on what they can alter during this period of absence. Alex will be pitching the game concept to other developers at GDC, getting immediate feedback on our concept, showing any current game play, and networking/marketing on behalf of the project while he roams the corridors of the conference. This will allow the team to get an outside perspective from respected developers on what could be improved, what is viable, what could be fun, and what is garbage…all things we have to take with a grain of salt. We look forward to making updates in the mean time, working on strong level creation, community management, and building out an appealing game aesthetic. Time to get to work!