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Dev Diary: I See and I Understand

Due to external circumstances, until yesterday, it had been a month since we last did a proper playtest of Gyrodisc. I was relieved to find that the work we’ve been putting in has made the game incredibly fun to play. I was even more relieved to confirm that I’m definitely the best player on the team. This week: visual data, gameplay tweaks and aspect ratios!


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We’ve been implementing and designing a new UI system this week that focuses on using graphics instead of text to explain the current score in the game. The image above shows our new round counter UI. Every time a team wins a round, they get a circle on their side. The team that wins get the large gold circle in the centre. This was originally going to look a lot more like the best-of-five interface from a soccer penalty shootout. By using the above interface instead, the players receive a heightened sense that they are racing towards the same goal (winning three rounds) in a way that a simple scoreline, such as 3-1, does not.


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The team meets in person roughly once every two weeks. During these meetings, we take the opportunity to play the game, discuss how other playtests went and tweak the gameplay to try and deal with any issues or complaints. We’d been finding that dives were far too powerful (to the point where the best tactic was to dive constantly around the arena like a maniac). Dives have now decelerate exponentially and travel less distance, so they are slower than running over long distances but are still effective for last-second reaction dashes.


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We were running into issues with the edges of our gameplay being cut off on certain screen aspect ratios. Instead of setting up a new camera angle for every common aspect ratio, we gave the camera an algorithm to calculate its own position. This algorithm takes in a bounding box that encompasses all the key gameplay elements (plus a safety buffer), an angle relative to the floor and the required field of view. The camera calculates how far back it has to be to fit the bounding box within the current screen. I assured the team that aspect ratios will never, ever, EVER be a problem again. Let’s see how that works out.

See you next week!

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Dev Diary: Choose a Side!

The solstice has passed, and summer is well and truly here! Are we out in the sun getting a sweet tan? Of course not! There’s Gyrodisc to be made. This week: side selection, loading screens and a title sequence!


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We implemented a first pass of our side selection screen this week. The goal is to create an easy interface for the players to create combinations of players and AI for the next match. Players can set the game as singles or doubles, move freely between the two teams (so long as there is room) and change their starting position within the teams. AI fill in the gaps to make sure there are always two characters in a singles game and four in doubles.


Our loading screens are now implemented, so our game no longer lurches from scene to scene! As part of setting the game up with our new loading screens, we took the time to implement our title sequence. Taking influence from 90’s titles like Power Stone, Tekken and Fighting Vipers 2, we’ve planned out a sequence that makes the game feel like an arcade port. It starts on the game title screen (game name, press start to play etc.) for thirty seconds then moves onto a intro cinematic (which we don’t have yet, so we had to use the placeholder video of – sigh – Leekspin. Thanks Jenny.) We then return to the title screen for a further thirty seconds then move onto a real-time match between two AI. In the final game, we’ll have leaderboards that scroll over this gameplay. So we’re hamming up the nostalgia pretty hard.

See you next week!

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Dev Diary: Well, it was going to happen…

OK, I’m going to pull back the curtain on the Valiant Interactive Dev Diaries. Every Monday we have a weekly meeting to discuss our progress from the previous seven days and to bicker about inane details that will probably never get implemented. At the end of this meeting, I request a list of features worthy of writing about on the following Tuesday. I usually eliminate a few elements (such as concept art that’s better saved for a character reveal) and if enough visual stuff has been added, I’ll put together a video. So imagine my horror at the end of the meeting last night when I look down at my final list; this week: Loading Screens, Project Management and Optimisation! …Yay?


We’ve been running into some issues in our playtest of our framerate hitching during the earlier moments of the match. We realised that Unity was pulling in assets that we’d not been loading properly and this was causing the game to wait until loading was complete. We’d been somewhat ignoring the pressing issue of managing our loading process, so Jenny has taken on the challenge of writing a robust Loading Manager for us to use on this and all future projects. It has three goals:

  1. To make sure that all game elements are loaded before gameplay begins (seems obvious, really).
  2. To start loading game elements once we’re certain that they will be used in gameplay (to alleviate time on our loading screen).
  3. To allow players to sit and load assets if they want (like their character model on the character select screen) but be agile enough for the player to rattle up and down our menu trees if they are in a hurry.

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Project design and management ploughs on as ever. The most interesting decision that we came to this week was to split up the visual and gameplay elements from our levels into “arenas” and “courts” respectively, similar to the way that stadiums in real life are designed to contain a variety of sports. Arenas are our visuals outwith the game area and courts are our arrangements of goals, nets and other obstacles that drive gameplay. With this divide, we’ll be able to expand the lifetime of the game by creating dozens of unique match styles. We currently have two courts: singles and doubles.

See you next week!

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Dev Diary: Change it Up!

They complained, and we listened. This week: gameplay changes and a new ruleset!


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This week we largely reacted to our playtest from last week. Our new simplified scoring system is in, and we’re already seeing results with players rapidly bouncing from match to match as opposed to slogging it out for quarter of an hour. We also implemented some placeholder camera cuts when winning a round or match to give the player some feedback.


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We also added some extra moves for the player. They can now shuffle or strafe where they were previously locked in place (when holding the disc, charging, waiting for serve and spiking). Diving into another player now stuns them as well, creating some petty squabbles during doubles matches. Players also turn to face the direction they are about to throw the disc.

The super throw can now be aimed. Pointing the stick away from the opponent causes the zig zag to have a much wider path, while point towards the opponent causes it to change direction rapidly.


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We’ve also replaced all our old asset store models with temp stand-ins we’ve made ourselves. So long, grubby grass floor! You’ll always be remembered.

See you next week!

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Dev Diary: Testing the Waters

Well, turns out our game was only perfect until some people played it. This week: concept art, super AI and playtesting!


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This week we’ve finished our first pass AI by granting them their most potent ability: super throws! AI can now spike the disc into the air and charge up a super. Since super throws are the best action they can take in pretty much any situation, we’ve had to re-jig their priorities a little so they are not spiking and supering every chance they get. Good lord, we’ve finally coded in some mercy.


Stadium Concept 2

We’ve been exploring ideas for setting and arenas, with ideas ranging from sub-sub-sub-basement car parks to the highest peak of Mt. Olympus. We’ll get a cohesive plan soon, I’m sure! We are also moving towards completely replacing art assets from the unity store with our own temporary assets.


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We’ve had friends down the pub try our game out here and there, but this week we had our first focussed (read: sober) testing session with notes on being taken. The game held up surprisingly well considering the lack of testing so far, but a large amount of issues we’d been sweeping under the carpet really came to the fore. Players were struggling to catch lobs and get supers throws charged in time, which they found frustrating. Our in-game UI overlaps the court in doubles as well, which went unnoticed until a key rally was lost due to it’s presence. Oops!

We also noticed some issues in design during the playtest. We currently use a tennis-like scoring system of games, sets and matches. Tennis however, is a game of subtle ebb and flow in a way that Gyrodisc isn’t. Most players did not realise they were winning sets and were not aware of how close they were to victory until match point. Matches were also running too long, usually lasting around ten minutes instead of the desired three. We are now moving to a simple but effective rounds and matches system, with three rounds required to win a match.

The most enjoyable aspect was collecting and discussing new ideas our testers were suggesting. New features to expect soon: instant replays upon winning rounds and being able to knock over your teammate when diving!

See you next week!

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