As mentioned in my previous post, I believe it best for me to forego anymore coding tasks, as I’m both unequipped to deal with these issues on a continuous basis, and feel them weighing me down both emotionally and artistically. Given more time, I would continue trying to solve these issues, but since I do not and the time needed to solve these issues is significant, I’m going to work to my strengths moving forward, and address the world I wanted to create as set out in my Project Proposal Document.

Since making this decision, I already have over 10 rooms black-boxed out, and have been testing them to make sure movement is fluid within them. We have an event at the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, where I hope to make some observations on whether my game captures the essence of exploration that I want to achieve, or if it still has work that needs to be done. I also want to show off the general art direction of my game, and see if I have been successful in that area, too.

As I’ve been working on the art and production of my levels, I have taken a few videos to illustrate my processes. The video below shows a base for one of my levels, and how I build up the environment by creating layers and adding assets to those layers. I typically have 3 background layers and a foreground layer, which serve to add depth through the spacing and coded parallax effects, and then the base which covers a lot of the ground work. This serves as quite a relaxing process for me and is something I enjoy a great deal.

This video covers the same practice, but also gives a look at the spacing of each layer.

As I’ve been preparing these levels for the John Hansard Gallery event, though, I’ve realised a couple of things. First of all, I noted before that the lack of any ground and wall assets made the levels feel barren. I’m glad to have added these in, however, due to an error in creating them, they don’t blend as seamlessly as I’d like, and so that is something to fix in the coming weeks. In addition, my failure to understand their sizing has indirectly made the player character feel much smaller than intended, another thing to consider and fix.

Another aspect I’d like to work on is the “feel” of the environments. By that I mean, the levels themselves feel a little lifeless. Of course, I want to re-add the enemy I worked on, and add a couple more enemy types to the game, which will bring in a little more action, but more than that, I want to bring life to the environment itself. As I’ve been looking through other game examples, like Hollow Knight and Ori and the Blind Forest, I realised that a multitude of different animations are used to bring the environment to life. Some are traditionally animated, such as running waterfalls in backgrounds, whilst others seem to opt for a more physics-based approach, such as leaves swaying as you walk past them. I have already delved into using particle effects to bring a little more life to my levels, but as mentioned here, there’s a lot more I can do improve upon them.

Coming back from the John Hansard Gallery event, I’ve gotten various bits of feedback which I’ve evaluated. There are some minor issues, such as game objects that are able to be activated even when you’re not near them, or making distances that players can jump a little clearer, which I’ll be able to fix given a little more time. There are also some bigger issues, like making the game a little more interesting. This is very vague, but what I mean by that is for this demo, I got rid of any elements of combat, and so players were mostly just wandering around a simply aesthetic world. People did enjoy being launched through the air by the craters, though, which leads me to believe this is a compelling mechanic to develop upon given more time. For now, though, I want to work on adding more combat into the game.

During the course of the event, I got to work on some designs for 4 different enemies, and the behaviour for each, which I hope to begin implementing in the coming days. I also created a design for what the boss might look like, as well as its behaviour. These might not end up being the final designs, but given the limited time I have remaining, I felt it important that I get something down rather than staying stuck thinking about the designs. I’ll need to apply this sentiment to the player character design, too.

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