Search Unity

[WIP][3D Platformer] Suzy Cube!

Discussion in 'Works In Progress' started by Louis-N-D, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Days to go!
    Only days to go!
    GDC with only days to go!
    HOLY CRAP!

    Given that GDC is (I don't know if you know) only days away, I concentrated my efforts this week on getting the game show ready! And freaking out a lot...

    The only piece of new content I worked on was a set of more mummy-like animations for the Mummy Skull enemies. They used to simply use the basic Skull animations and behaviour but I thought this made them too similar and lack personality. They are now more zombie like in their unrelenting and, frankly stupid, chasing of Suzy. And they walk around like cartoon mummies...



    As for the whole getting-ready-for-GDC thing... I chose to showcase two levels, Level 2-1 and Level 3-4 because they are quite different both visually and in game play.
    I made some small design tweaks to both levels, fixed small bugs and had a go at some optimizations. (BTW, huge thanks to my old colleague Sim for optimizing my scrolling texture shaders!)
    Mostly, though, I spent my time on decoration! And what better way to illustrate this than with screenshots!?







    If you're interested in seeing a couple more screenshots (and bigger versions) you can find them on my blog:
    http://louardongames.blogspot.com/2017/02/suzy-cube-update-february-24-2017.html

    So, all that's left to do now is to make the final demo build and upload it to TestFlight for safe keeping! I'll likely have a Mac build handy to try out too. (no, the game isn't coming to Mac... probably not...)

    Ok, folks! Wish me luck! And, don't forget, if you are going to GDC and are interested in trying out the game, hit me up on Twitter (@LouardOnGames). I plan to post my location during down time at the con for folks who want to find me and try the game.

    I look forward to telling you all about how the conference went next week!
     
    rrahim likes this.
  2. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    RuinsOfFeyrin likes this.
  3. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Hey, everyone! Back for my first weekly update since returning from GDC!

    Funny enough.. not much to update you on... Sorry! It's tax time and I've been busy with that. I did tackle a handful of small bugs and tweaks just to make SOME progress, though. Check out the facelift I gave the Rock Skull...



    Though it had the colouration and rock-like treatment before, it used the same model and expression as the basic Skull. It's now a bit more squat and has that heavy brow, making it much easier to read as a different enemy during game play.

    Suzy also garnered some attention this year at GDC. You can read my big GDC wrap-up from Monday for more on that:
    https://louardongames.blogspot.com/2017/03/suzy-cube-at-gdc-2017.html

    Oh! I almost forgot!
    The folks from Pocket Gamer asked me if they could have a video to add to an article they will be publishing about the Indie Pitch winners... I told them I'd have a video ready for when they needed it! And so, I present to you: Suzy's first pre-release trailer!

    Suzy Pre-Release Trailer

    GIFs are fun and all, but c'mon! Who doesn't like a full-on video from time to time? So, I guess I was busy with a bit more than taxes.

    On that, I say farewell and see you when I see you. I'm going to be busy for the next few weeks and won't get to put much work into Suzy Cube, if any. But please, keep checking back in for my next update!

    In the meantime, you can share the video with everyone you know ^_^
     
  4. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Late update this week! But hey.. it's an update! That's right, I'm back from vacation and did almost no work on the game!!
    There was some unpacking... Some relaxing after one of my wife's typical (totally not relaxing) vacations... And some upgrading to Unity 5.6

    The upgrade to 5.6 hasn't been too painful, but, like all major releases, there are new bugs and errors to look at and their new lighting system forced me to rebake the lighting on all levels.

    I did get around to a bit of work surrounding the redesign of Level 3-3, though!



    This was one of the first levels I worked on as it's dab smack in the middle of the game and I thought it would be good for figuring out what a "typical" Suzy level should be. You know, length, difficulty etc. Problem is, it now stands out to me as a low point in the game, especially its slow pace... Mostly the fault of these things:



    The major hook of the level is that many of its elements are timed to the music. The problem with these rotators is that they force players to sit and wait alot... Which isn't fun. I'm looking to replace them with these:



    I call them Beat Blocks... and yes.. I DID mishear someone talking about the BEEP Blocks in Super Mario 3D World!

    These weren't hard to implement or anything, but they did require some special considerations to get right. Instead of setting them up using my generic triggers, I ended up writing a custom script to ensure no bugs and perfect timing with the music.

    To get the timing right, I wrote the script to calculate the timing of the blocks based on entering the exact length of the music clip, the number of bars in the clip and the number of beats in each bar. Also, the script can spit out the proper state of each block at any arbitrary time which is important as the game's culling system regularly disables chunks of the level so any scripts within the disabled chucks also don't run. The way I have it, a set of Beat Blocks can sit disabled for any length of time and know exactly which state to set all blocks as soon as it becomes active as those states are basically a function of the current game time.

    I also had to hide a trigger inside each block to disable collisions with the block if ever Suzy is inside it. This keeps the physics from freaking out if a block turns solid while Suzy is inside.

    And finally, I used the same trick I used on my collapsing platforms, adding a slight delay to the collision being disabled when the block disappears. This gives players an extra split second to react once they see the platform pop away.



    Finally, finally, I've been starting talks with a few interested mobile publishers. I'm not saying I'm going to go that route, but I'm definitely coming around to the idea of partnering up with a publisher to help ease my workload and help Suzy get in the hands of as many players as possible.

    That's, unfortunately, it for my big return update. Hopefully next week's will be beefier but it is Semana Santa down here, so we'll see. I've got some more 5.6 related issues to look at and hope to make some progress on the Level 3-3 redesign. We'll see how much I actually get done next week. See you then. It's great to be back!
     
    rrahim and SullyTheStrange like this.
  5. rrahim

    rrahim

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2015
    Posts:
    178
    I like the new blocks.
    Maybe you can add some additional challenge while waiting on the rotating platform. For example another rotating platform above it which can knock you off if you stand still.
     
  6. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Even lamer update that last week!

    I, basically only worked two days this week as we have a house guest and we threw my wife a birthday shindig... blah blah blah, you don't care.. SUZY!

    Ok, ALMOST done with Level 3-3 redesign...



    I've got to try out a couple ideas for the last bit of the level to settle on which to go with. Remember, game design doesn't happen in notebooks and there's no substitute for puttin' it in the game and seeing what works!

    I've been wrestling with a, still unfixed, crash which only happens on iOS and produces no error in the editor. Those are always the worse to debug, almost no info from XCode, no info from the editor, several minutes per iteration having to build/compile/install to the device each time... Ugh... Back to boardgames for my next project, maybe?

    I had a call with another publisher this week as well, with a couple more to go next week. I should be in a good place to make a decision by then.

    Oh, and big announcement no one is going to care about! I'm reorganizing my Trello board! I use Trello to manage my tasks, but for years now, I've been using it more or less as a to-do list. This week, however, I've rejiggered it into a set of time specific columns: "Current", "This Week", "Next Week", "April", "May", etc.

    That's right folks, I'm scheduling tasks now!

    This isn't about forcing myself to stick to some strict timeline as much as it's about motivating me to complete a more consistent amount of work each week. A nice side benefit is that I should start to form a much better idea of a release timeframe... WHICH I STILL WON'T SHARE PUBLICLY!

    As I said... ANOTHER crappy update... Check in next week when I, hopefully, redeem myself!
     
  7. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Been an interesting week down here... Things are.. uh... getting interesting...

    http://www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2017/4/19/72e2d8cf361c4c2aa2088dadcb5594bf_18.jpg

    Aaaanywho... Amidst all this, Suzy Cube continues to move forward. I spent several hours this week talking with publisher types. What I'm hoping to find is a good partnership which will allow Suzy Cube to be the best it can be while, hopefully, also bringing the game to as many players as possible by opening up the possibility of targeting more platforms. I won't have any concrete news on this for a while, but wanted to keep you all in the loop.

    I, FINALLY, finished work on the Level 3-3 redesign.



    Nothing much to say about it other that.. YAY! I can move on now!

    I made these little mushroom decorators, perfect for forest levels.




    You'll notice that with a little scaling and sticking them in a tree, they can look like those awning style mushrooms you find growing on tree bark.

    I also made these star hint panels.



    Their inclusion might be a bit controversial as I risk robbing players of "Ah-Ha!" moments if they are overused. In the example above from Level 1-2, a star is revealed if Suzy defeats all three of the nearby enemies. In this case, the hint is meant to alert players that a star can be found here without telling them how. I hope this will strike a balance between giving it away and players never finding the star at all. As with most things in game design, only testing will tell!

    Oh... that damn crashing bug from the Unity 5.6 upgrade I ran into last week? Ya.. I think I found the offending script. If I comment out everything in the script, no crash... Problem is, I still have no idea how the script could possibly be causing the crash in the first place... I've only wasted three days total working on that stupid crash... not bad... At this rate, i should have it fixed in time for next Christmas!

    Dang... Should have closed on the mushrooms or something... Ending on a crash I haven't fixed? What a downer!

    Well... on that happy note! See you all next week!
     
  8. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Got a better one for you folks this week!

    First, gonna get the crappy stuff out of the way...
    Lots of time spent on bugs. The crash that started happening after upgrading to 5.6 is still happening even after two patches, and yesterday, I started work on a rolling block behaviour (not as trivial as it sounds). It.. uuuh.. misbehaves.



    As you can see, it works fine along one axis, but not along the other. When moving the cube along the Z axis, its rotation becomes dependant on the cube's starting rotation rather than rotating around world X. Anyone who thinks they can help with this issue can pop in on the Unity Answers page to chime in:
    http://answers.unity3d.com/question...ation-to-rotate-in-w.html?childToView=1346414

    Ok, on to less depressing stuff!

    Folks who follow me on Twitter (@LouardOnGames) may have seen this gif I posted early last week:



    I call them Spinner Pucks and I'm sure they will prove to be great fun. As you can see, they bounce around and off each other, which, let's face it, looks fun already! But they can also make short work of any enemy caught in their spinning spikes as well as pick up coins and stuff for Suzy! She just has to look out for the rebound...



    And as you can see, they can be activated and deactivated by jumping on the button.



    Sooo, those are pretty cool, right!?

    I also started doing some design sketching for Level 4-4. In fact, that's the primary reason for the rolling blocks. In addition to the rolling blocks, though, I'm also planning to use rotators again. But to set the level apart from the, admittedly similar, Level 2-2, I went ahead and designed some more complex rotators to keep things fresh and interesting.



    In accordance with my rule of avoiding mesh colliders unless absolutely necessary, though, I had to use pretty complex mashings of box and capsule colliders to properly support smoothly running over the rounded corners.



    Well, that's it for this update. I was not able to get through all my tasks for this week (though I hope to knock a couple more off this afternoon) but I did make some nice progress. Check in next week, when I hope to have a lot of Level 4-4 playable.
     
  9. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    What's up folks!?
    Wish I had better news, but, unfortunately, this week has involved a lot of banging my head against bugs... Mostly (all) relating to the block rolling behaviour I mentioned last week.

    Before we wade into the sludge, let's have a look at something that worked out much better. Remember my Piggy Bank guys?



    Well, a problem with them was that they were really easy to corner. To fix this, I added a really simple obstacle avoidance algorithm to their behaviour. I would like to point out that they are still pretty dumb, but Suzy Cube isn't really about outsmarting genius A.I.s or anything. The idea here was simply to make chasing them more interesting. So how does this algorithm work?



    I simply perform a raycast out the front of the pig (blue). If this first raycast hits something, I calculate a reflected vector and do another raycast at this new angle (white). I recursively repeat this, shortening the raycast every time, until one returns no collision. Once this happens, I set the Piggy's new desired heading to match the last raycast direction and voila! In the example above, you see that after reflecting off the sign and a couple more times more, the final raycast will have the Piggy turning left to avoid going in the corner.

    As I said, it's pretty simple, it isn't perfect, but it makes the Piggies much more fun to chase and helps avoid them being easily cornered.

    So, on to the stuff that hasn't been going so well. I'm still struggling with my rolling blocks.

    I was hoping to use the behaviour on these rolling lava enemies who leave a deadly trail behind them, but the script's bugginess had me fall back to simply hand animating them rolling.



    I mean... It works fine now, but the amount of time I wasted before doing it this way.. ugh...

    I was also hoping to use the rolling block behaviour to make ridable rolling platforms.



    Ok... honestly, these work ok. They are more limited than I was hoping, but they basically work.
    These tumbling spike frames on the other hand...



    You can't really tell from the gif thanks to the low framerate, but these are jittery AF! Not at all usable.

    On that happy note. I will leave you for this week and keep seeing about fixing my rolling blocks.
    Maybe next week, I'll actually make some progress on Level 4-4? See you then.
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  10. mobidus

    mobidus

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    Posts:
    21
    I'm not sure from your post if you have things working now with those rolling blocks and if you're still looking for a solution?
    A rolling cube is what I used in my previous game so if you wish I can do a quick write up of how I did it.

    (This is a (unpublished) gameplay video from an older version, to show what it looks like //youtu.be/wJ-sUfv62kE in game. It doesn't show properly in the video, but there's even a subtle bounce when the roll completes. )
     
  11. PjTheIndieDev

    PjTheIndieDev

    Joined:
    May 5, 2017
    Posts:
    17
    I read your entire forum post on here, glad I did. You've made impressive progress towards your end goal.

    I would highly recommend starting to take this project seriously, at one point I was considering paying $3 to play it on my Android device.

    Hussle more and work harder, you should have got this game completed in a year. I hate to flame or say anything bad, but you can't play around on this game for your entire life. Its impressive and needs to be published quick as a complete game.

    You also might need a massive marketing budget to get this game downloaded and in front of the right eyes, without over $10,000 marketing budget. You might see 2 years of work being wasted and no money returned, or you can go the way of publishing which you have done I believe. In that case Hussle and get this game done.

    I admire your story of your wife allowing you to pursue your dream, but I would seriously recommend as man to man. Put food on the table...I wish I could have purchased this game by now, but took this guy 2 years.

    Good luck on your project! I hope you start working harder, cause you really need to complete this project.
     
  12. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    I opted to put aside smaller tasks and bugs this week to get Level 4-4 done. YAY!

    Before I get into that, though. Last Friday, after my update, I did get a couple more things done.



    I added a glow to the eyes of the blowtorch panels. It occurred to me about a month ago that if these things are going to have faces and blow flames out, then their eye should really glow when they do so... I finally got around to adding that.



    And after rearranging the hierarchy of objects in my rolling block setup, I got them tumbling jitter free! Which was actually instrumental to the design of Level 4-4, my last lava level!





    Once again, it's all about rolling and rotating challenges. For any of you who think this is going to be too similar to Level 2-2... well... ok... maybe a bit, but I like to think of it more as a callback to the previous lava themed level about rotating blocks. I'm not too worried about this, though, as Level 4-4 has a much greater variety of hazards and the two levels are far from back to back in the actual order they appear in game. Oh, and 4-4 has this fun little number!



    I'm already predicting players will have a tougher time with this level, which, given that it's a fairly late game level, I hope won't be a problem. Of course, only plenty of playtesting will let me know if it's too hard or not.

    Since I spent the whole week working on the level, there's not much else to update you all on. Given what having another level in the bag represents for the progress of the overall game though, I'm totally fine with that!

    Until next week!
     
  13. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Very nice rolling in the video! I doubt I'll be revisiting my implementation now that it's "working".. But I would be VERY interested in discussing how you did this!
     
  14. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Ahoy ahoy!
    I spent the better part of my week re-working a couple of older levels as I march on towards getting the game ready for another round of testing.

    The first level I had a look at was the World 2 boss level. This is the second time I give this level a good once over. It was simply too hard for what is only the game's second boss fight, so I eased up on it. I also made some changes to the Boss' attack sequence, mostly adding more idling time between attacks to give players more breathing room. And I gave the boss this new animation as well:



    This "mugging" animation, as a friend calls it, is used to entice players to double jump onto the Boss' head. I hope it will do the trick!

    The other level I spent some time reworking is Level 1-4. It really stood out as a big difficulty spike, especially so early in the game and I hope the changes I made will help.



    Two of the more important changes I made pertain to the cannons used in the level. I made most of them fire less frequently, which should reduce the pressure on players, and I also made it so the (Suzy-seeking) rockets they fire can now collide with each other. This can seem like a rather trivial change, but in practice, it means that some rockets now explode against each other before ever reaching their target. This keeps the sense of tension and danger while being, in a practical sense, much safer.

    I thought I'd also mention this tweak I made which has nothing to do with difficulty. You see the cubes of rock blocks in the screenshot above? These explode when hit by rockets and act as temporary cover for Suzy. I, initially, thought it would be fun to hide coins in all of them to reward players for steering rockets into them. In practice, though, this only served to hurt the level's pacing as players were rewarded for standing around waiting for rockets to blow up all the blocks. Remember, folks, as designers, we should never incentivize boring behaviour!

    I've also been wanting to add exploding enemies to the game since forever but never really settled on a design. What I love about the visual design of the Bob'ombs from Super Mario is that it implies they are mechanical. This is important because it means that no living creature is committing suicide. I also didn't want to evoke images of suicide bombers, so having regular Skull enemies carrying bombs was definitely out of the question.

    So, after many sketches, I decided to go with big ol' robot wrench hands on a bomb!



    As you might expect, if Suzy gets too close, the Bomb Skull's fuse lights up and a chase ensues.



    But, Suzy can bop her way out of it too, causing the Bomb Skull to, basically, turn into a bomb.



    Kablam!

    Finally, I've started work on Level 5-4, another forest level with a vertical penchant. Something about trees just says "climbing" to me, I guess!



    Things are still very early on in this design so there's not much to show or talk about yet. I should have more for you on it next week.

    Well, that's it for this update. See you next time.
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  15. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Level design was the name of the game this week. Not a flashy update but some good progress made nonetheless.



    Work on Level 5-4 is nearly complete! The level itself is done but I'll be doing a coins and pickups pass this afternoon as well as refining the culling zones to optimize performance.



    The level is split into three sections. Each section starts with a horizontal obstacle course followed by a vertically auto-scrolling climb around massive tree trunks. A teleporter at the top of each climb takes Suzy to the next section. Using teleporters this way was the easiest way to ensure checkpoints would play nice with the auto-scroll setups.

    I also made a couple of small changes to Level 5-2. Nothing major, just "quality of life" stuff to polish the experience.



    The level opens with Suzy gettings chased down snowy slopes by a big rolling snow boulder and there's a, sort of, cutscene to start the off the sequence. I finally decided that I should probably pause the game timer during this intro sequence. No sense in forcing players to lose seconds off their time.



    I also addressed some awkwardness in this bonus star area of the level. The idea is that Suzy emerges from the archway up top and then is forced to slide down the ramps. If players fail to jump at the end of the third ramp, they will miss the star and be forcefully dumped into the exit teleporter. I had initially made the whole thing way too cramped which made the sliding go by too quickly and also caused Suzy to bump her head when jumping. All Awkward! So, I've opened up the area, and it feels much better now!

    Short and sweet. No flashy stuff like new enemies or anything, but it sure feels good to have another level design in the can! For next week, I'm getting to work on the only remaining main game level, Level 2-4! This will be a significant one as it will serve as the game's introduction to the Ground Pound power-up! See you all next week!
     
    Bhanshee00 and Samuel411 like this.
  16. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    I was busy with other things this week, so it's going to be a slim update. But there are still some nuggets in here.

    Before I start on the update, proper, I wanted to get you up to speed on the status of the crash bug I discovered when upgrading to Unity 5.6. After many attempts to fix the problem on my end, I gave up and decided to bundle up a reproduction scene for the folks at Unity. No word on a fix yet, but they came back to me this week with confirmation that they were, indeed, able to reproduce the bug! This is great news as it's, of course, the first step toward issuing a fix. It seems the bug has something to do with OpenGL and does not show up on Metal compatible iOS devices.

    Ok! On to some progress. I have not, unfortunately, completed the design on Level 2-4, but I have been making some progress.



    The level will be rocky with tight climbing sections and lots of explosions!



    The Ground Pound power-up is on the menu as this level will serve as its introduction. This means, plenty of Rock Skull enemies, bombs and metal switches to slam down onto.



    Given the level's focus on the Ground Pound power-up, I also thought it would be high time to implement a feature I've had on my to-do list for a month or so now. That's right! Slamming the ground now causes secret, invisible, objects to momentarily reveal themselves!

    To achieve this, I simply update a couple of parameters in a shared material when Suzy hits the ground causing it to flash. As all invisible objects share this same material, they all, simultaneously, become visible!

    On a related note, I also went ahead and set up a functional invisible gift box.



    Much like the invisible coins, moving through the invisible box reveals it, at which point it can be bopped to collect what's inside.

    Well, that's it for this week's update. I'll catch you all on the next one.
     
  17. _M_S_D_

    _M_S_D_

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Posts:
    438
    Been checking this thread a while, just figured I'd write a note and say this game looks incredible. :) Very nice and consistent design, and looks like it plays really well also.
     
    Louis-N-D likes this.
  18. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Sorry for the missing update last week, I was out of the country... Aaaand sorry for the late update today, I was busy playing through the game...
    FROM START TO FINISH!!!!

    That's right! with the exception of bonus levels (which I don't want to talk about too much.. even you guys deserve a LITTLE surprise!), all regular main-line levels are in! Mind you, this does NOT mean they are all in a shippable state! Let's be clear on that! But it is a rather important milestone as, from now on, level design work will be about refinement and honing rather that starting from nothing.

    So, as you might have guessed, I've completed work on Level 2-4! It introduces the Ground Pound power-up and includes lot's of things that go BOOM!



    It's also a great place for bomb lobbing baddies!



    I also spent a bit of time hashing out a "Suzy is behind stuff" solution with a designer friend of mine and he helped me bring my latest idea to life.



    I've been trying different solutions to this problem since the start of the project and they've all had drawbacks, especially when it comes to translucency. Finally, I had the idea of using a dithering pattern instead of alpha blending. It's quite noticeable in the gif, but just looks semi-transparent on my iPod's retina display.

    Mind you, it isn't the most optimized or technically fancy solution. I simply applied two materials to Suzy's mesh, one, drawn first, which is a solid colour, ignores depth information and is rendered using a dithering pattern, then the 'normal' shaded material, complete with Z read/write on top. By playing with material render queue values, I was also able to ensure the effect wouldn't show up on top of certain other objects like power-ups, enemies and particle effects.

    Sorry again for missing last week and sorry this update wasn't meatier.. I'm sure E3 had nothing to do with it... ya...

    Anywho, with all the levels now in place, next week will me more of an organizational one that anything, getting the game ready for a big round of testing! I'm not going to promise anything to those who've been chomping at the bit to test the game, but I do hope to have a build ready by next Friday. A lot of that will depend on how many bugs I decide really need to be fixed before testing can start. So, on that note, check back in next Friday! Ciao!
     
  19. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Sorry for the missing update last week, I was out of the country... Aaaand sorry for the late update today, I was busy playing through the game...
    FROM START TO FINISH!!!!

    That's right! with the exception of bonus levels (which I don't want to talk about too much.. even you guys deserve a LITTLE surprise!), all regular main-line levels are in! Mind you, this does NOT mean they are all in a shippable state! Let's be clear on that! But it is a rather important milestone as, from now on, level design work will be about refinement and honing rather that starting from nothing.

    So, as you might have guessed, I've completed work on Level 2-4! It introduces the Ground Pound power-up and includes lot's of things that go BOOM!



    It's also a great place for bomb lobbing baddies!



    I also spent a bit of time hashing out a "Suzy is behind stuff" solution with a designer friend of mine and he helped me bring my latest idea to life.



    I've been trying different solutions to this problem since the start of the project and they've all had drawbacks, especially when it comes to translucency. Finally, I had the idea of using a dithering pattern instead of alpha blending. It's quite noticeable in the gif, but just looks semi-transparent on my iPod's retina display.

    Mind you, it isn't the most optimized or technically fancy solution. I simply applied two materials to Suzy's mesh, one, drawn first, which is a solid colour, ignores depth information and is rendered using a dithering pattern, then the 'normal' shaded material, complete with Z read/write on top. By playing with material render queue values, I was also able to ensure the effect wouldn't show up on top of certain other objects like power-ups, enemies and particle effects.

    Sorry again for missing last week and sorry this update wasn't meatier.. I'm sure E3 had nothing to do with it... ya...

    Anywho, with all the levels now in place, next week will me more of an organizational one that anything, getting the game ready for a big round of testing! I'm not going to promise anything to those who've been chomping at the bit to test the game, but I do hope to have a build ready by next Friday. A lot of that will depend on how many bugs I decide really need to be fixed before testing can start. So, on that note, check back in next Friday! Ciao!
     
  20. JPBotelho

    JPBotelho

    Joined:
    May 22, 2016
    Posts:
    205
    Dear Lord,
    Please give me the strength and motivation to finish a project over the course of three years like this legend right here.

    Thin mints are appreciated too.

    Amen.
     
  21. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Well, she ain't out yet! But I do hugely appreciate the kind words!
     
    JPBotelho likes this.
  22. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Hey, folks. I know it's bad forum etiquette, but I don't have time for my usual update paraphrasing this week and so I invite all of you to go check out my full update on my blog:

    https://louardongames.blogspot.com/2017/06/suzy-cube-update-june-23-2017.html

    Basically, I've been spending most of my week getting levels ready for testing and ensuring the test build works.

    For those of you who don't feel like checking out the blog post... Here's Suzy Getting crushed by a big ol' bumblebee...



    P.S. Good time to ask again, I guess! Anyone interested in testing the game (on iOS), send me a private message with your name and email address!

    See you next week!
     
  23. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222


    Man! I am inundated with gameplay clips!

    Not much else to talk about this week. I started my week implementing some last minute tweaks and bug fixes based on my own playthroughs and feedback from a friend. One such tweak had me diving into Suzy's character controller to fix a bug which could cut her jumping short when trying to jump while pressing into a wall. The controller was erroneously treating it as a collision with a ceiling! Whoops! Fixing this, obviously, smoothed out a number of sporadically unreliable jumps.

    By mid week, I had a build ready to go for testing. On Wednesday, Touch Arcade mentioned my search for testers on their front page and the floodgates were blown wide open!

    In one day, I quadrupled the number of testers I had previously and I've been reading feedback emails and pouring over gameplay videos ever since.

    As you might expect, then, I've been quite busy gathering playtest notes and implementing nips, tucks and fixes based on them.

    For example, I added a guardrail to a semi-hidden area of the first level after watching a player misstep and fall to his death...



    And I also made things a bit easier on Level 3-1, a snowy auto-scrolling level, by slowing down the scrolling slightly and also moving the kill wall which follows the camera.



    The kill wall will, as the name implies, kill poor little Suzy if she falls too far behind the camera's view. It's meant to, basically, accelerate what is, for all intents and purposes, an inevitability.

    I noticed, from a few gameplay clips, that players seemed to get flustered by the pressure, so I gave them a bit more breathing room when falling behind and slowed things down a bit. We'll see if easing off this way helps with completion on this level.

    So far, no obvious disasters in the gameplay department. Players don't seem to be getting lost or anything and, other than the issue above involving Level 3-1, folks seem to be more than capable of getting through most levels.

    As previously mentioned, I won't be discussing specifics regarding the game's 'Special' levels in order to keep some surprises for even Suzy's most loyal followers, but I did want to mention that I've got the paper design done for Level 2-S and plan on drafting it and, hopefully, one more special level next week. For those of you who are currious, the special levels are optional levels which are meant to be short departures from the game's regular levels and offer an opportunity for players to earn more Bonus Stars to unlock later levels.

    On that, I bid you all farewell until next week. I've got many more videos to view, notes to take and tweaks to make.
     
  24. Samuel411

    Samuel411

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Posts:
    627
    For testing do players have to manually record to send you their footage or do you automatically record their gameplay in the background then upload to your servers? And do you have any tips or tricks for collecting analytical data during this stage of the game?

    Looks really good by the way, I wish I can try it out but I am unwilling to get an apple device.
     
  25. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Oh, no, the footage is recorded using Everyplay, so it's all stored on their servers. I created a user which I have all the testers use and force the videos to 'private' in the app (thanks to Oscar Clark for the tip). This allows me to log in to the user and watch the replays without them being available to the public.

    I've not set up any other kinds of data capture in the app, no. Unity Analytics looks to make this pretty darn easy, though.
     
  26. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Hey folks, so sorry about the late update and the fact it's going to be another cop out Blog link!

    I've had a short week because of Canada Day and spent most of it pouring over gameplay video from testers. So this update is really just some examples of the types of changes I've been implementing based on the videos and tester feedback.

    So, for those of you who are interested in reading about that kind of in-the-weeds details, you can hop on over to my blog for the full update.

    https://louardongames.blogspot.com/2017/07/suzy-cube-update-june-7-2017.html
     
  27. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Late in the day, dang!

    I've been pulled away by embassy craziness including helping some new folks acclimatize to Caracas and a LOOONG day trip to get two months worth of parcels to Caracas from Panama... MAN!

    Given that, I didn't get anything really big done this week but, instead, tackled more small improvements and fixes, for the most part. Well, except for designing Level 3-S, the World 3 Special Level!



    Isn't she gorgeous!?

    I also updated to Unity 2017.1 which was relatively painless! A funny thing that sometimes happens is that the engine ends up incorporating a feature I was handling through script before. This time, that was time-scale independent particle emitters. I used to handle this through a custom script which would manually update all the emitters under it based on the engine's realtime timer rather than the main timer. Now though, thanks to this:



    I was able to rip my script off all the emitters using it and simply set the newly added parameter for the same effect!



    I use it in cases like this when I might want to pause or slow down the game for effect but allow certain effects to play normally.

    Some more small changes include, hopefully, fixing issues a tester found with the game's Launch Pads.



    They are meant to be locked into place using a ground pound and then spring Suzy into the air, but this tester found it was possible to have them misbehave by ground pounding them again during different parts of the sequence. I think it's all good now ^_^



    I know lives are antiquated and I don't want to get into it.. Suzy Cube uses lives. OK!? That being said, I feel players aren't earning 1Ups as much as I would like, so, as I've been making other small fixes to levels, I've also been going in and adding more coins or swapping out some of the singles for 5 or 10s in order for players to have more lives for the tougher levels.



    Something I found a number of testers struggling with has been these Blocker enemies. There seemed to be two issues: 1. players not figuring out the tactic of jumping to make them jump then using the recovery time to get around and 2. players figuring it out but then failing at the execution because of the tight window of opportunity. Since Suzy Cube isn't meant to be a hardcore game, I decided to simply err on the side of making this easier and added a much longer recovery time to the blocker after it jumps, hopefully giving players more time to get around and making the tactic more obvious as well.

    Finally, I changed the 'behind stuff' effect for Suzy into what I had originally intended.. which is how the Mario games have been doing it forever.



    I thought my previous dithering based approach would solve the blending artifacts but it turned out to introduce it's own artifacts instead. As I went in Shader Forge to fix the issue, I discovered the Stencil Buffer options! I wouldn't have even known the stencil buffer was what I was looking for if not for Simon Lavigne, who had originally helped me with the dither based implementation. Now, however, armed with the knowledge that the stencil buffer could, indeed, give me the nice silhouette effect I was looking for, I set it up and BAM! Nice translucent silhouette of Suzy when she's behind stuff!

    What the use of the stencil buffer solved was the self-blending artifacts caused by a naive alpha blending approach.



    Notice how you can see 'inside' Suzy? The stencil buffer allows me to discard any pixels which have already been drawn, thus eliminating parts of Suzy blending over existing parts of her.

    Well, that's it for this week. Next week should be clear of distractions (I hope!?) so I should be able to finish off the last two Special Levels and, hopefully, get a new build out to a new group of testers.

    See you then!
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  28. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Crazier week than I expected! Things in the city are getting more and more complicated and my work's been disrupted more than I would have though. On that whiny note!!

    CHECK IT!!



    Yep! That's Suzy Cube running on AppleTV.. It's also NOT AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF SUZY CUBE IS COMING TO APPLETV!!!! Just thought I would clarify that in case the caption on the photo wasn't clear enough. I've wanted to try the game out on Apple's set-top box for a while and, because of disruptions to mail services, I've only now gotten my hands on a USB-C cable, making it WAY easier to register my device and get the game running on it! I didn't put any time into implementing the Siri Remote, so I had to play using a gamepad... That being said, the game runs really well on the AppleTV and plays like a dream using a gamepad!

    So, a couple firsts this week! 1. First time playing the game on Apple TV and 2. First time playing the game end to end including all Special Levels!

    Yep, as promised (sort of?) last week, I finished off design work on Level 4-S and Level 5-S this week.



    I mean, like, sweet ass levels, riiight!? One's all about testing Suzy's running around abilities and the other takes her maze solving capabilities to task. Fun diversions from constantly falling off rotating platforms into lava!

    That's it for this week's update and I really don't know what to say about the next couple weeks. In order to preemptively avoid any possible political kerfuffle which we might experience in the coming weeks, I'm getting shipped out of the country for a bit. I don't know what sort of working space I'll have where I'll be staying, but I'll, hopefully, be able to continue making progress on the game.

    On a related note, if any of you know of some game developer and/or board gaming meetup groups in Miami, let me know, I'll be staying there for the next couple weeks.

    So, please join me next week when we will either find out what work I've been doing or how I've been enjoying my forced vacation to America's Wang.
    See you next week!
     
    _M_S_D_ likes this.
  29. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Thanks for checking in! Not much to update all of you on. Working from Miami has been more distracting than I had anticipated.

    Soooo... What HAVE I been doing!? Mostly little things. I spent some time doing some performance tests on my iPod Touch, trying out different quality settings and checking the results. So far, it looks like I'm not fillrate bound, as decreasing the rendering resolution has very little effect on framerate. On a more positive note, I've noticed almost no performance loss from turning on anti aliasing (2xMSAA). I'm currious to find out if it'll be feasible to leave it on for all devices.

    I also got a fresh build out to a new group of testers. I'm expecting a shorter round of testing this time. The levels in the testing list are the same as those from the last round of testing. I'm, basically, just looking to see the effects of the changes made following the previous round of testing.

    And, finally, I decided to take the time to implement something I've had on the back burner for a while now. It's a simple procedural bounce added to Suzy when she lands from a jump.



    And, since the bounce is added to an object at the root of her hierarchy, you'll notice that it can be added on top of whatever animation follows. So, whether she's jumping in place or at a run, the bounce will add life to the landing. You'll also notice that it works quite well with the dynamic motion of her hair buns.

    The idea basically comes from Super Mario Sunshine and I thought it would give Suzy a bit more of that rubbery quality many of the enemies show in their animations.

    Well, that's it. Short update in light of having a hard time staying focused. I've started looking into formats for storing my text strings for easy localisation. So, maybe by next week, Suzy's going to be bilingual.. or even trilingual!?

    See you all next week.
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  30. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Sorry, no multilingual support yet. Figuring out the best way to load stuff and the best format in which to store localization text has proven to be more trouble than I originally expected.

    I know, I know, excuses excuses! Truth is, I haven't been concentrating on the game much this week. Little bits of work here and there mostly related to file loading and tester gameplay review have been disrupted by shopping trips as I attempt to cross everything off my wife's and my shopping list before returning to Caracas.



    Among a handful of small changes like adjusting the placement of text on the "Stage Cleared" screen for better placement on iPad and iPhone, I did make a rather important change to the order of four of the game's early levels.

    Based on feedback from a friend, I decided to swap Level 1-4 and Level 2-3. Both snow levels. Level 1-4 has proven to simply be a bit too difficult as a World 1 level.



    Similarly, I've swapped the World 1 and World 2 special levels for similar reasons.

    Well, that will, unfortunately, do it for this update. If all goes well, I should be back in Caracas next week. Hopefully, I'll be less distracted once I'm back home! See you all next week.
     
  31. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    I'm back home and it shows!
    I've got a localization solution up and running and I think I've accounted for all text currently in game.



    I settled on CSVs for storing and loading my translation data. Google Sheets makes it super easy to store/edit/export these using separate pages in a single spreadsheet. What's nice is that I've made all pages inherit their left column from the English page, so as I add new entries, all other language pages are automatically updated!

    In the game, I simply load the appropriate CSV into a static dictionary using the left column as keys and the right column as values. I wrote a simple static function which takes a string as input, uses it as a key to search the dictionary and then simply returns the result or an appropriate error. This makes it really easy to call from any script which needs to dynamically populate text fields.

    For text fields which are populated right in a unity scene...



    I wrote a handy little script which I can attach to any object containing a text field. The script simply pulls the content from the text field, feeds it to the translator function and replaces it with the returned result. YAY! So in the shot above, for example, the prefab for the Settings Panel has a text field at the top containing the word "SETTINGS". In the Spanish localization file, the key "SETTINGS" corresponds to the value "AJUSTES". The script takes what's in the field (SETTINGS) and replaces it with the value (AJUSTES). Easy peasy!

    Remember folks... If it looks, at all, like your project is going somewhere, don't keep shoving it full of static text. Take the time to properly source your text from external files to save you many more headaches down the road!

    ALSO! I fixed a little timing issue I had with these guys...



    It was a subtle one too. Depending on how fast the level was loaded, the timing of the beat-blocks would end up offset compared to the music. So, like, loading from the level select screen... probably fine... reloading after death (faster)... de-synced... Booh!

    To this I say.. .WHY DID I NOT LOOK THIS UP BEFORE!!?? I literally found an analogue to Time.time called AudioSource.time!!!! I literally just had to search the Unity site for "Timing elements to music"!!!

    Do your research, kids!

    Anywho. I literally switched out Time.time for AudioSource.time, fixed a small issue it introduced and BAM! problem solved! The beat-blocks now can't de-sync from the music as they get their timing directly from the music's audio source timer!

    A nice productive week! I like it!
    Check back in next week. I'm hoping to put out a new test build this afternoon, so I'll hopefully have some test-led tweaks to a new set of levels to share with you then.
    Until then!
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  32. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Why, hello there! How good of you to join me!

    I have hardly received any videos from the current round of testing which is not what I was hoping. I'm going to have to check my TestFlight stats to see how many installs I've had to see if it's a problem with folks getting the build or not...

    So, failing that, I've been doing little bug fixes, keeping 3rd party assets up to date and tweaking physics settings on the project.

    I know, right!? Tweaking physics settings!? Well, thanks to a recent post on the Unity blog, I was given a better understanding of what certain settings do. So I changed the project's internal physics timing to better match the target 60fps framerate while also lowering the physics iterations count. This second change should lighten the load on physics calculations at the cost of accuracy. Since Suzy Cube mostly relies on the physics engine only for detection, I figured it would be a safe bet. So far, it looks like the game is running more smoothly on all platforms I've tested... So that's good news!

    The only thing this change broke was the behaviour of the Double Jump's float ability. I made some changes to the script and got it back in working order.



    The last few days have actually been spent working off script on a feature I had decided to defer a long time ago. Save Slots!



    Now, folks sharing a device can each have their own save slot! Since I use PlayerPrefs for saving data, and it all gets saved to a single file, my implementation simply involved adding a suffix to my old keys. So, the key for storing coin total, which used to be "coins" now looks like "slot1coins" or "slot2coins" etc.

    I'd say the work was about 50% coding the support for the feature and 50% building the interface for accessing/deleting the save slots.



    All properly localized, of course!

    Aaaand I've, finally, put ink to paper on a publishing contract! Not ready to announce with who yet, but stay tuned for more on that!

    That's it for this week. See you all next Friday!
     
  33. Samuel411

    Samuel411

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Posts:
    627
    100% fact. Perfect part is that once you get it working once you can just move it to other projects within minutes by just hooking up scripts to your text.

    I must ask how you are doing localization. What company are you working with or is it individuals that you have working with you for your languages. If it's a company do you need to modify your layout and way of storing text to fit their layout?

    Congrats on the updates and progress. I wish you luck on your publishing contract and hope you get a good deal :)
     
  34. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Thanks for your interest, Samuel!
    So far, the three languages I support are the ones I speak myself. I'm likely just going to get friends/family to help me by looking these over. Should save us a little bit on translation. As for the other languages, that's going to be up to the publisher, and they will contract it out, likely to a translation company they normally work with.

    As for formating, if the contractor is worth their salt, they will follow my formatting. If not, then I'll have to transfer their deliverables to my format for integration.
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  35. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    I can FINALLY say it...


    Noodlecake will be publishing Suzy Cube!!

    In addition to the usual publishing duties, they've also agreed to take on some development tasks to help me make Suzy the best she can be. I want to be clear, though, we are not moving the goalpost and are not growing the scope of the project. The game was a lot for me to take on alone in the first place and Noodlecake's involvement will help ensure you all get to play a solid, polished version of what I set out to make. Also, with Noodlecake helping with porting and additional localization, it also means more people will get to enjoy Suzy, which is fantastic news!

    In other news...

    Most of my week has been spent cleaning up code comments and trimming fat from my project files in anticipation of actually having to let someone else in there (YIKES!). And I also went ahead and solved an issue a lot of testers had been complaining about forever...



    Yep... Suzy can finally find her own damn way out of doorways! It used to be that after getting teleported to the doorway exit, players would have to manually move her out of the doorway... Annoying, I know... Well, no more! Thanks to a new script which, when triggered, can override Suzy's controls, she can now walk herself back out of the dark. What's neat is, as far as Suzy's concerned, the player it still the one holding down on the joystick!

    This script might come in handy again when it comes time to make a controls tutorial animation...

    Well, there you go, folks! Cat's out of the bag! We've been in talks since GDC and I'm glad to finally have all the papers signed and the hands shaken to be able to share the news with you.

    So, please help me in welcoming Noodlecake to the world of Suzy Cube!
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  36. AntoineDesbiens

    AntoineDesbiens

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    Posts:
    804
    That's awesome. Congratulations, they seem like a very solid partner. Well deserved.
     
    Louis-N-D likes this.
  37. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Been busy redesigning Level 3-2 this week.

    I know, I know... I said I was done with levels... But when you gotta do it, you gotta do it! So, "why?", then you ask... The old design, lacked a good memorable hook. It's only defining characteristic was that it was played entirely from a side view and I just didn't feel that was enough.




    This new design still has you, essentially, playing in 2D, but requires that you flip between the front and back section of each room in order to proceed by hitting switches etc. I also like how this new design, with its central room and light puzzle elements calls back to the World 2 pyramid themed level.



    So, what about the old design? Well, since it was a complete level, I would hate to just scrap it, so I plan on reusing it as a Special World level.

    "But if it wasn't good enough for the main game, why would it be good enough for the Special World!?" I hear you screaming at your monitor. The issue with the old design wasn't that it was bad, I just didn't feel it was distinct enough. I want all the main levels to be memorable and offer a bit of a different experience. The old Level 3-2 was a fine level, it just had a bit of a week hook, that's all. Since my goal with the Special World levels is to offer challenge over variety, I can use the old level as a starting point and build in some extra challenge for the expert players who manage to unlock it.

    Well, I've still got some work to do on this new level. I've got coins and other pick-ups to add and the ending section still isn't build. So on that note, I bid you farewell and until next time!
     
  38. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    This week's update is focused on level improvements and a bit of spruced up effects.



    As I'm currently coordinating with Noodlecake to get them set up and contributing to the project, I decided to simply address simple bugs and cosmetic issues this week. I did, however, complete design work on Level 3-2, seen above. All that was needed was for me to add some collectibles and add the darkness gradients around the outside to complete the effect of spelunking into an ancient tomb!

    I decided to start decorating some of the more solid levels of the game to the level of decoration found in the World 1 levels. First to get this treatment has been Level 1-4 (formerly 2-3). The level has been in good shape, design wise, for a while now so I felt confident getting in there and adding some decorative props. I also added and tweaked some camera triggers for a more polished experience.



    Level 5-3 didn't get a decoration pass but I did give it some attention, adding more coins to the level to allow players more opportunities to earn extra lives.



    I also tweaked one of the jumping challenges late in the level which had been proving problematic with testers for a while now. Even I had a hard time avoiding the spikes in there old configuration. I think this new setup is much more fair.



    Finally, I spent a little time tweaking a couple of effects related to Suzy herself. One was Suzy's spawn in sequence.



    The change is subtle, but those little shockwaves as the Spawn Box bounces coincide with a bouncing sound which adds life to the previously silent sequence.



    Suzy's death also got a little extra touch up for the first time since... Forever, actually! Again, the changes are subtle, but where the old effect only included the cubes, this new version has some extra little flourishes for good measure.

    That's it for this week's update. I've got some stuff lined up for next week, but I don't want to make any promises. Noodlecake and I had a Skype meeting to discuss scheduling and it looks like Monday will be devoted to getting them access to my project repository so they can download everything on their side and get it uploaded to their own local repository. Once we've confirmed we can both still build the game locally from the new project we will be scheduling a formal kickoff meeting for the project. Given that I have no idea how any of this is going to go, I can't really guarantee what else I'll get around to next week. No matter what, I invite you all back here to find out!
     
  39. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    So, just this morning, I was able to run the game from the version downloaded from Noodlecake's Git repo! Big step! This means we can now all start contributing to the project.. Though I haven't tried pushing changes yet... Soon...

    Once I had to, basically, lock in changes so Noodlecake could take over the project, I took the opportunity to work on some translation. I finished off the French and continued to working back and forth with a buddy of mine on the German.



    I also wrote a couple of pieces for the ol' blog. One is an analogy for anyone having trouble over-polishing aspects of their game the player will never notice:
    https://louardongames.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-pyramid-of-polish-recognising.html

    The other is my latest entry in the long neglected Lessons from Suzy Cube series:
    https://louardongames.blogspot.com/2017/09/lessons-from-suzy-cube-level-1-1-how.html

    In other news. Before locking things down for the SVN to Git handoff, I did get around to some level improvements and decoration.

    My recent redesign of level 3-2 has proven somewhat problematic in the hands of testers so I made some changes which will, hopefully, help players who were getting lost. I added some teleporter shortcuts to cut down on backtracking.



    For Level 5-2, I changed up a section where the player must run over a series of platforms which only appear in the nick of time. The issue being that testers were being too timid and there's a big rolling snowball relentlessly chasing Suzy the whole time.



    I had, originally, placed a single coin on each platform, but I decided to add an additional coin between them to further highlight the safe path. Lesson: If your player is being chased by a big deadly snowball, it's too much to ask them to notice subtle clues.



    And four gussied up levels...









    Well, that's it for this week's update. I'm off to see if I remember hot to use Git! See you all next week!
     
    Samuel411 likes this.
  40. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    A shorty this week. Check my blog post if you want more details:
    https://louardongames.blogspot.com/2017/09/suzy-cube-update-september-22-2017.html

    For the rest of you... This week was mostly spent decorating a couple levels. I lost a day to some first aid training but still managed to finish off a decoration pass on World 3..




    Level 3-3 got a bunch of doodads and greebles thrown about. I know it probably looks pretty mindless, but I'm always careful not to let the decorations interfere with gameplay. Whenever possible, in fact, I strive to enhance the gameplay with the use of props. The patches of dark stones, of instance, should help to highlight the way forward.




    The narrow walkways of the World 3 boss level made decoration a bit trickier. It was, basically, impossible to add any props to the walkways without getting in the player's way. I ended up opting for rocky blocks on the back wall and the occasional snow patch along the path. At least the goal area got a few decorative touches to compensate.

    Finally, I messed up my timezones and flaked on my meeting with Noodlecake... :-[
    After much apologizing, we've rescheduled for Monday. I'm excited and anxious to start working in parallel with them to see how their contributions will help the game along.
    Well, that's all I've got for you folks this week. See you all next time!
     
  41. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Last week in Canada, so this update's gonna be pretty short, but I did squeeze tiny bits of work in here and there.



    One such bit of work was actually prompted by a friend from Breakfall. I was over at their HQ, taking up space and totally disrupting their work day, when their sound guy/level designer, Mike, pointed out that these two crushers on Level 4-3 should really be timed differently. Even though I had to try and figure out some obtuse setup from over a year ago, I knew Mike was right. So, I bit the bullet and made the change.



    It made much more sense to swap the timing.

    I also had the opportunity to talk about the game at a meetup hosted by local Ottawa dev group, The Dirty Rectangles.



    I, essentially gave a compressed talk on four of my Lessons from Suzy Cube articles. I touched on things like controls, the camera and the particularities of Level 1-1. I think it went well. Most importantly, I got to touch base with a number of folks I only get to see on Twitter these days.

    Like I said, short update. Mostly wanted to make sure everyone knew I was still alive. I should be back to work as usual by next Friday's update. See you all then!
     
  42. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Strapped for time so I'm copy pasta from my blog post...



    Another shorty this week. Small improvements and rewriting a better version of something which worked ok before.

    Sorry for the light work week folks. We've had internet issues and we are planning a big Halloween party! That said, here's what I did get up to this week.

    Marital Miss

    I want to open this one with a story...

    It's late, my wife and I are in Panama, at the airport, waiting for our flight back to Caracas. We've been there for a while and she asks to play Suzy Cube. This does not happen. I have no intention of passing up the opportunity to gather data on a novice player's experience with the game. Things went totally fine until the second level where she had a lot of trouble with the bit pictured above involving three jump-pads. Keep in mind, this part is near the end of the level and she's had little issue with the countless jump-pads before these ones. That first jump from the bottom to the middle was her white whale. I ended up taking the phone from her and trying it myself. For the life of me, I couldn't reproduce the trouble she was having. Honestly, watching her struggle, I didn't really get what she was doing "wrong".

    The lesson here, fellow designers, as always, is that there is no substitute for putting your game in the hands of players, of all skill levels. I ended up adjusting the strength of the jump-pads to help alleviate the issue. I'll have to hand it to her again to see it I was successful.

    She also ran into issues with the camera in this area which helped me find a bug in the camera triggers in this bit of the level. Hurray for testing!

    Déjà Vu

    And the rest of my week was spent working on something I thought would take me an afternoon to finish.

    For a long while now, the game has included what I call "Coin Sequences". Usually triggered by jumping through a ring, a series of coins would appear and could grant some reward for their collection. These sequences were often on a timer for added challenge.

    They worked fine, but were a pain to setup because they were built from generic triggers all sending messages back and forth to each other. All kind of a mess. This meant that I used them sparingly and would sometimes find an issue with one which I then had to go and manually fix in all the others throughout the game.

    The straw that broke the camel's back came in the form of a visual flourish I thought was missing. Though the coins would appear in order in the sequence, one at a time, if some of the coins were off screen, the whole effect lacked directionality. Furthermore, there was often nothing to connect the collection of the coins to the reward once activated, especially if the coins were collected out of order. I wanted to add a trail effect.



    And here it is! As you can see, the bouncing trail gives a great sense of directionality and motion to the spawning of the coins. When all coins are collected, a final trail is spawned from the location of the final collected coin to the location of the reward, serving to tie the actions together.

    When I decided to go ahead and add this trail functionality, I took the opportunity to write a custom script just to handle these types of coin sequences. What seemed, at first, like a quick and easy task turned out to be quite a bit more work than I had anticipated. The issue mostly stemmed from me repeatedly realizing I had forgotten some piece of functionality. After all, the whole point of this new approach was to have it handle any type of coin sequence I needed. Among other things, they had to support using a timer or not, a reward or not, playing a sound which pitches up at each coin collected... Or not, etc.

    In the end, I think I spent a couple days on the script and then a day more going through all the game's levels and replacing the old clunky coin sequences by the new slick ones. I will just take solace in the belief that every little improvement helps.

    Well, there you have it, my week in a nutshell! I also wrote an email to Noodlecake asking how we should proceed going forward. I feel I've not been managing their end of things very well and I want to make sure I'm involved and giving them all the support they need to move forward.

    On that, I wish you all a great weekend. And if you are platform game fans, which I assume you are, I wish you much Mario Odyssey and A Hat in Time! I've heard amazing things about both.
     
  43. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    I was more distracted that I thought I would be this week, though I did get some good work done on some special levels!

    First off, what do I mean by "special"? In Suzy Cube, a special level could mean 2 things, either a Special Level, one of which can be unlocked in each World, or a level of the Special World, which are unlocked by finding all the Stars hidden in the game's regular Worlds.

    The Special levels are all kind of abstract and set in this weird purply setting. To which I recently added floating colourful particles for added depth and decoration.



    These levels are meant to break up the action of the game's regular levels with small offbeat challenges which can earn you extra Stars.

    The Special World levels, on the other hand, are meant to challenge the game's most dedicated players.



    Whereas the game's regular levels are meant to skew a bit on the easy side and offer an experience with broader appeal, the Special World level's are meant to be challenging, even for me!



    Not, like, controller twistingly hard or anything, but I want to have to play my best to beat them. This is in stark contrast to most of the game's regular levels which, over the years, have become a total cakewalk for me.

    That's that for now. I've started talks with Noodlecake about how we'll be handling the game's narrative, so I hope I'll have something to share about that soon. As for the immediate future, expect more work on Special World levels and thus, more blurry screenshots as I don't want to spoil 'em for folks.

    See you next week!
     
  44. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    This week, I finished off work on Levels S-1 and S-5 and made some good progress on Level S-4, which is a night time remix of an existing level.

    Before I get into that, I wanted to share a little screen with you guys from Level S-5. I know I said I wouldn't spoil anything about these Special World levels, but I wanted to throw you guys a bone.



    This guy, the Chaser Ghost, will be harassing your ass all the way through Level S-5. It's behaviour is simple, it follows all of Suzy's movements on a delay, forcing you to always keep moving lest it catch up and get you! Here's a super old gif from when I originally implemented it.



    Even though it's been functional for years, I haven't used it until now. It adds quite a bit of pressure, so I haven't felt it right to use it in the game's regular levels. It's just right for the Special World, though!

    Ok, so, remixing existing levels. I figure this is going to be unpopular with some folks. I know Super Mario 3D Land certainly caught flak for its reuse of levels in the post-completion portion of the game.

    Hey, I get it, brand new content is always more interesting, but since I'm working on my own, remixing existing levels for some of my Special World stages will allow me to deliver more content at a higher quality while also allowing me to experiment with challenges that would have been too demanding in the regular versions of the levels. So, with that, I present to you, Level S-4.



    Keen eyed testers may be able to recognise the level used as the scaffolding from its shape. It certainly won't be from the colour scheme as I've created new variations of the background and lighting to give the level it's own visual identity.



    Though the level retains most of its original structure a number of platforms have been moved or removed and enemies and hazards have been shuffled around and added too. All Star locations are also different from the original level, of course!

    And, finally, a bug with a happy ending.

    I thought I had some weird loading/saving bugs in both my Save Slot scene and my Level Select scene because Star totals weren't matching up and there was garbage data left over after deleting a save slot. In the end, I only had a simple bug in the function used to loop through the worlds when loading and deleting Save Slot data.



    If your game has five worlds numbered 1 to 5, make sure you're not looping from 0 to 4...

    And on that silly tidbit, I bid you farewell and until next week when I hope to have progressed on Level S-4 but will be focused on collaborating with Noodlecake to implement achievements and leaderboards. Ciao!
     
    RuinsOfFeyrin likes this.
  45. RuinsOfFeyrin

    RuinsOfFeyrin

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Posts:
    785
    Love seeing your updates man!
     
  46. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    And I love your words of encouragement, RuinsOfFeyrin.
     
  47. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Spent most of this week implementing my end of things for adding support for achievements and leaderboards. These were features I had cut early on in the project but with the support of an experienced publisher like Noodlecake, I've been able to rescope things and include them once more.

    My part in this has been to create the hooks in game to actually catch the instances when achievements should be awarded as well as tally up the best times to send to the leaderboards. I've been routing everything through a simple relay script which gets the messages from the game and will be adding calls to Noodlecake's side of things once it's all ready. In turn, their systems will take care of communicating with the appropriate platform specific services. As for my part, the debug log points to everything working as intended, so I think we're in good shape.

    Once I had the cheevos and leaderboredz stuff up and running, I turned my attention back to Special World levels.



    I completed work on Level S-4. The end bit is a doozy ^_~... And also started work on Level S-7...



    I didn't bother blurring this one out since it's a remix of an existing stage and I haven't made any functional changes yet. What I have done is edit the existing lava theme of the original level into this new, sickly, toxic theme!

    Well, there you have it, short and sweet. Check back in next week for an update on leaderboard and achievements support and more blurry screenshots of Special World levels!
     
    PhilippG likes this.
  48. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Hey, folks! So, no word yet on functional social features, so I retreated into the cozy comfort of level design.

    On Monday, upon replaying Level S-7 with fresh eyes, I ended up making some more changes and improvements. Now it's done... Probably...

    I also spent some time making a new skybox for special stages. They used to all be set in a featureless purple void.



    They are now set in a MOSTLY featureless purple void ^_^.
    It's just a little extra touch of polish that I had convinced myself the game didn't need until now.

    Finally, I decided to spend the last couple days on level decoration. I'm concentrating on the game's final boss level. It's taking a little longer than with most levels just cuz the level is so large.



    It's not gigantic or anything, just a bit more epic than the game's regular levels. I should be done with this decoration pass next Monday.

    As for next week, I really don't know for sure. Probably more work on Special World levels and decoration work. See you then!
     
    RuinsOfFeyrin likes this.
  49. Louis-N-D

    Louis-N-D

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Posts:
    222
    Let's switch things up compared to my blog post this week and tackle the actual interesting news first.

    I was hit by a bus.

    Yep, Tuesday morning, on foot, while crossing an intersection just at a corner near the embassy. I had the green light, someone had already crossed before me and yet an incoming bus saw no reason to slow down and BAM! I got hit.

    It was all caught on the embassy security cameras and I'm told, by those who saw the tape (my wife included), that I was very lucky not to be any farther into the intersection.

    I'm fine, just scrapes, bruises and sprains. Rumour has it the bus exploded on impact killing everyone aboard, though. I had the light, I'm not even sorry.

    So, that was Tuesday shot! I spent the whole day at the clinic/hospital.

    In spite of this, a productive week! (or maybe because of it... Doc said to stay off the ankle)
    Two more Special World levels in the bag, though I did cheat a little by reviving cut levels.



    First is a snow themed level with a more sprawling, exploratory feel than most other levels in the game.



    It didn't make the cut as a regular level because it did a bad job of introducing switch activated temporary blocks which was what the level was supposed to be about.
    I still liked the core concept of the level, though, and it is quite unique in feel. I'm glad I found a place for it.

    It even has a cave to run through!



    The other level has barely gone through any changes from it's original design.



    When I cut this one in favour of a level with a stronger gimmick, I always kinda knew it was going to make it into the Special World. Again, a good level, a complete level, which simply didn't fit strongly enough into the main game. Why waste a perfectly good and tested design? Bam! Special World!

    Well, there you have it folks. This week's lessons:
    1. Keep copies of your drafts, because they may come in handy and 2. I'm the man of steel.

    See you next week!
     
    sr388 likes this.
  50. sr388

    sr388

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2014
    Posts:
    1,741
    Amazing job men, love the game (it reminds a lot to super mario 3d land, and I love that). I have just discovered this thread some minutes ago and have checked almost every page xd. It is insane how you have made almost weekly updates about the game for so long.

    It gives me some ideas for platformer mechanics that I want to add in my asset https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/40995

    Looking forward for more updates (and the full game). will it have an android version?

    Regards.
     
unityunity