I'm Feeling Good
Alright, I was too naive. Unity kept causing my computer to crash, so I had to do what I really wasn't eager to do. I installed the project on my poor old laptop instead.
Plot twist: it works! Sure, the laptop roars sometimes because of the heavy performance of our game (we are still working on optimizing it), but it works! I've had a whole week consisting of zero crashes, which is a major win.
Thanks to this, I've been able to work in normal speed again and I succeeded in finishing the layout at the start of the week. Now it's up to the environment artists to make it look aesthetically pleasing as well. From what I've seen so far, they have done a fantastic job!
What you can see above is the segment of the level that I created, but with updated visuals from the environment artists. I also want to add that they are far from done; they intend to add unique props and larger environment pieces to it (and the other two segments) as well! I am incredibly excited for the end result.
While I was working on the layout during the beta week, I was a bit stressed. I had continously been falling behind in my progress. I thought it was soley because of the crashes, but I realized another reason why I was taking longer to complete my task of creating a segment than the other two level designers.
While I fewer individual rooms than one of the two other segments, the total size of my segment is notably larger. When I noticed this, I started cutting away parts of some rooms, but the segment that I created is still the largest one.
On one hand, players won't notice nor care about this and the environment artists (who are aware of the size differences) have said that they will tell me if it will become too time consuming. On the other hand, I would have preferred that all three segments were of a matching size. There is no actual reason my my segment is larger, aside from my own passion for creating levels. I see this as a lack of experience and discipline from my side. From now on, I will work harder to link up with other people who are involved with the same task.
Besides the level, I've done some additional work on the gameplay experience. I tweaked the different variables that the player behavior consists of. For instance, reaching the third and final attack in the combo was previously a little bit too difficult, so I experimented with reaching a satisfying state where the time window for reaching the next attack is wide, but not so much that it feels like it's cancelling the previous attack.
I, together with another designer, discussed the Dodge mechanic with the programmers as well. They told us designers that having the Dodge be a part of the combo was possible, but very time consuming and they advised us that we leave the Dodge as it is instead.
We agreed, since time is of the essence after all. The way it was initially intended was that if you timed your Dodge well enough (just like when timing an attack), it would be considered to be part of the combo rather than cancelling the combo. For example: The player would be able to do attack 1-> attack 2 -> Dodge -> Attack 3. In the current state, the combo will end if the player performs the Dodge action.
The reason why the Dodge was supposed to be part of the combo at all was so that the player would not feel punished (by losing the combo) if they wanted to avoid an enemy attack. The third attack deals much more damage than the other two, so we wanted to let the player still have access to it if they perform a Dodge after Attack 2. Sadly, this is not going to be implemented into the game, but it still feels good to play and that's what's important.
Finally, the beta version of the game was shown this Friday and it was great to see proper gameplay in a proper level with nice lighting, models and props. Up until that point, I had not seen all of these components together, so it was reassuring to experience how they work in harmony with each other. Not only do I feel proud of the work my group has done so far and what the game is turning into, but I also feel like this project is becoming a piece that I want to show in my portfolio.
The end of the term is getting closer and that realization fills me with nervous excitement. Soon I will be a second year student and that means that the time for internships are becoming more of a reality. Though until then, I will direct my commitment to Song of the Bardbarians to make it the best darn second year game at PSQ!
Title song: Apashe x Cerry Lena - Feeling Good