Nooks and Crannies

The Witness is a really good game and I can’t stop playing it and I think I might have to cancel the Gunmetals Arcadia so I can spend all my time playing The Witness. :V

January was pretty chaotic, as I tried to wedge in every last little feature I needed for vertical slice on top of the content creation tasks I already had scheduled. This month, as I return to a normal development groove, I’m trying to be better about accounting for those sorts of unexpected tasks and bug fixes so that maybe I don’t have to spend every evening and weekend working.

GunPreq 2016-02-05 17-06-57-064

I’ve begun grayboxing a few more levels (“Basil” and “Cilantro,” in keeping with my herbs and spices motif). Having previously finished the “Cardamom” level for vertical slice, I have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t, and I’m looking for ways I can play to my strengths. One of my goalsĀ (as I discussed previously in this episode, around the 14-minute mark) has been to develop a sort of verse/chorus dynamic throughout each level, not only in the pacing of tension and release, but also in the direction of travel and the aesthetic design of each location. You can see this in Cardamom, where long horizontal stretches are divided by vertical rooms. There’s a return to the surface following an underground sequence, and this stretch is once again concluded by a downward traversal before the final boss. I don’t necessarily think Cardamom is the best representation of this concept, but hopefully the ideas are coming through in some fashion, and I’m hoping to improve this sort of dynamic with each level I make.

As I’ll discuss more in Wednesday’s video, I’m curious to find a format that works well for the sorts of content creation tasks I’m going to be doing over the next four or five months. Since these are generally going to be same sorts of tasks week after week and not really conducive to the sort of problem-solving blogs I often write, I may start taking a more in-depth look at very specific areas. In addition, I’m also going to start posting my actual schedules for the week here.

Upcoming tasks for the week of February 8, 2016:

  • Monday: Graybox “Mint”
  • Tuesday: Graybox “Fennel”
  • Wednesday: Graybox “Rosemary”
  • Thursday: Implement two new enemy types
  • Friday: Record Let’s Make Gunmetal Arcadia, Episode 26, write next week’s blog, additional features and bug fixes as time allows

“Rosemary” should be an interesting level, as I had already put some time into it prior to vertical slice to get a feel for what grayboxing would actually entail. Barring any surprises, it will be the last level I graybox for Gunmetal Arcadia Zero, and I’m sort of curious to see how it will shape up and where it will fit in the narrative. (As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to develop these graybox maps in such a way that they could potentially arranged in any order. In practice, I usually have at least a vague sense of what I’m building, but “Rosemary” is legitimately a wildcard at this point.)

At some point in there, I’m also going to have to figure out how to transition from one level to the next, possibly with the option for Ninja Gaiden-style cutscenes in between and after the final level. That should hopefully be the last obstacle standing in the way of a (very rough) complete playthrough of Gunmetal Arcadia Zero, and I can start to get a sense of the scope of the entire thing, which is going to be crucial as I move into populating and balancing levels.

Oh, in other news, my GDC talk “Building a Better Jump” (a part of the Math for Game Programmers tutorial) was approved this week, so yay that! If you’re attending GDC this year, stop by and watch me try to cram 35 minutes of content into a 25-minute talk! :V