With that said, the days following that post brought me into exactly the kind of situation I described. I got stuck in a couple of places. There were two key issues I could see happening and they were both causing some major problems for me personally and for the game at large.
- The vines looked ugly. Very ugly.
- Something in the middle of the level felt off and uninteresting
We'll talk about the vines second, since that problem's resolution is a lot more tangible.
This is supposed to be the second level of the game, which means it should still be pretty easy and relatively straightforward. But the lack of choices in the level were bothering me. Having just played Duck Tales on Xbox, I could see that putting pathway choices in a sidescroller can be stressful to the player, but it also adds a larger sense of mystery, responsibility, and tension (what if I should have gone the other way!) to a level.
So I pulled out a wall and added some stairs and a bridge. I also moved an enemy over this new area so that the player would have a much more simple meeting with the enemy on his first encounter. But then, not being able to kill an enemy feels frustrating, so I've got to add some clouds so we can rain happy thoughts down onto the evil devil-dog. The level feels better right now, but the empty backgrounds are still bothering me. These will be fixed after the gameplay is ready to go.
As for the vines, I've got some neat little gifs to show as a way of taking you along the path. We started with the vines coded and using a simple grass texture as a placeholder. It looked "not-beautiful" to say the least:
Murilo then remade the vines using a 3D model and textured that. This will allow him to easily make many variations of the vine growth path by rotating the camera and rerendering. The vine's growth path is decided using a gradient texture rigged with a special shader done by Mihai. I then took Murilo's new vine and set it into the game, only to find that something felt off. It grew too fast and wasn't quite magical.
So I knew we needed to slow it down and that we needed to add some magic- aka particle effects. Unfortunately, the latter is pretty low down on our list, but Mihai did add a nice Growth Rate variable that I could easily change to experiment with speeds. So I cut the speed in half and...
Okay, better, but not perfect. I showed this to Murilo and he pointed out that the leaves on the vines are way too big. That would be my fault- some improper, sloppy scaling. So I narrowed the plane appropriately and...
Looks a lot better. You can also see that I fixed that little enemy on the right so that he moves again and I moved the background around so that the vines' growth fits with the environment. Low priority stuff at the time, but didn't take long.
The vines still aren't completely perfect, and we still need a way to make the look more magical (as Kevin Kitlesa suggested on Twitter,, having the ground break apart when things grow might be a good way to add some life to the animation), but that's some time away. For now, I'm happy with how it looks.
Next up, we'll be adding some new animations to the game: pushing objects, a proper idle animation (so he no longer grabs his hat over and over and over), run against wind, sprint, and others.
Stay tuned. Also, as always, please don't forget to help spread the word by clicking Life or +1 or Follow or Watch or whatever one you like the most! We need your support!