Hey Gyrodisc fans!
It’s been a while since we last posted one of these so it feels like it’s high time for an update on what’s been going on at team Valiant for the last few months. Whilst we can’t yet give details about everything that’s coming down the pipe, here are the big ticket items the team has been focusing on.
Our last dev diary marked the release of our third playable character Ivar, and since then we’ve been hard at work making progress on the next couple of Gyrodisc competitors. This week we unveiled our fourth playable athlete, Aria, in our latest Steam update.
With Aria we were looking to provide something a little different from the ‘power versus speed’ balance of the existing characters. As a result her playstyle focuses on technique, with the ability to curve her throws more heavily than the other contestants. Uniquely among the Gyrodisc characters her shots also retain some of their curve after bouncing off the arena walls, allowing for some interesting new tactical angles. She’s also pretty nimble, but her smaller size and less muscular physique means that she doesn’t throw as fast or as hard as her counterparts, and so relies more on skill and strategy than outright force.
In addition to her unparalleled disc control, she features a less risky dive than the other athletes (with some ability to steer near the end) and is a fair bit more nimble when charging supers, which should help to pull off opportunistic special moves.
Beyond Aria, we’re now well into the concept design and gameplay testing for our next character too, and we hope to be able to show off some of our work there in the coming few weeks.
Meanwhile our art team have been hard at work on concept, modelling and texturing for our second arena environment, the majestic Sky City Stadium!
Soaring many miles above the surface of the earth, Sky City is home to some of the wealthiest and most celebrated members of society the world over including a number of ex-Gyrodisc Super League champions. Held aloft by might Gyro-Tech engines, this migratory metropolis exists in a state of perpetual summer, chasing the fairer season endlessly around the globe for the comfort of it’s wealthy denizens.
But what’s even more impressive than a flying city? How about a flying stadium, over a flying city! That’s right, not content with the extravagance of floating an enormous settlement above the riff raff, the Sky City Gyrodisc Stadium orbits Sky City itself like a great eagle, a constant reminder to those below of the sport’s great wealth and prestige.
Development on the second stadium is coming along nicely, with (we hope) just a few technical hurdles to overcome before we release it into the wild. Look out for it in an update soon!
Even the most hard core competitor needs a break now and then, which is why we’re adding a selection of Gyrodisc themed mini-games to enjoy between matches. To this end, our programming team has created a platform that will allow us to easily build in new mini game mechanics, rather than being restricted to the structure of a Gyrodisc match. With this preparation now complete, we’ve started experimenting with what we hope will be our first mini-game release, a breakout inspired time trial mode. Keep an eye out for future updates with more specifics on this one.
And the rest:
Of course there’s been the usual rounds of bug fixing and smaller improvements to the game too numerous to list here, and in addition to all of that we’ve been working on a big new feature that isn’t currently in our development road map, which if all goes well we’re hoping to announce in the coming weeks. Watch this space for more info.
In the meantime if you’re already a Gyrodisc player you can check out our latest update now on Steam. Let us know what you think of the changes on our Steam community feedback and support forums.”Read
Dev Diary: 2nd April 2016
It’s been a while since our last update, but we’ve spent the last few weeks here at Valiant busily preparing for our first new content update. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to:
- Introducing Gyrodisc’s third playable character: Ivar Vidarsson!
- A long time veteran player and ex Gyrodisc champion, Ivar certainly hasn’t let his more advanced age interfere with his workout routine!
- Ivar is our muscle character, who focuses on overwhelming his opponents with big powerful shots. He’s a bit slower than John and Jess though, so watch out for those sneaky overhead lobs.
- Concept design, modelling, texturing and rigging for version 1 of Ivar is complete and in game ready to go.
- He’s currently undergoing his first gameplay tuning pass before releasing him into the wild in our next content update.
- Work is well underway on our first mini-game, inspired by arcade classics like breakout. We’ll have more details on the game itself in the coming weeks.
- We've created some interim menus to allow launching and choosing characters for games with different numbers of teams.
- We've restructured a bunch of our system level code so it can handle launching different types of matches, with different numbers of teams and custom rules, this will serve us well when putting together future mini-game types.
- We've replaced the placeholder catch, hold and throw animations with more dynamic full body anims.
- We've added character specific idle and dive animations for John and Jess, to better reflect their different tunings and start giving a bit more unique personality to their movement.
We are very excited to announce that the Early Access version of Gyrodisc Super League is now available for purchase on Steam!
Over the last 9 months developing Gyrodisc Super League, the feedback we’ve received from players at local events and from our community has been crucial in improving the game’s core gameplay. Entering Early Access gives us the opportunity to involve a wider community in this process, and we’re incredibly excited to find out what players think of the game and get their ideas on what they'd like to see in the finished game.
We strongly believe that working closely with the community and iterating on their feedback is the best way to make Gyrodisc the ultimate flying disc gaming experience!
The initial Early Access release includes two playable characters, five court variations in our first arena environment and a fully featured versus mode with up to four-player local multiplayer and AI opponents. It also features extensive controller support.
- We spent some time discussing a new export method for animations that focusses on using low-poly versions of the models to define animation muscle. We reworked some animations to work with our new character model and created several new celebration animations for the player to use in victory and defeat.
- We added new portraits to the character select and loading screen. These are sharper and more stylish than our placeholder concept art.
- To aid the game running on lower end machines, the spectators can now be turned off from the graphics options menu.
- In preparation for Early Access, we have created a system for creating releasable builds across all three platforms. Version numbers are incremented automatically and we have created a reliable method to distribute beta builds to testers before releasing them to the public. We also made changes to our Exhibition build to make it compatible with our new input system.
- We finished our illustrative work for the Early Access release, resulting in several promotional images to use on steam and a large poster image to use at exhibitions.
- We also created a trailer for Early Access promotion which is composed of gameplay and cutscene footage cut to fit our title screen music. Recording this was fun, requiring a group of players to record several matches and then choosing which matches were the most stylish and competitive.
- Fixed null reference when using a non-recognised pad type.
- Fixed John model weights.
- Fix issue where disc might not trigger score boost.
- Fixed issue where buttons on the main menu stick out the sides of the menu panel.
- John has a new default facial animation! We reckoned his old resting face was far too jovial, so he’s been updated to give the serious scowl we all know and love.
- We’re close to finalising our illustrations to use for promotional materials during Early Access. We now have some dynamic poses for John and Jess throwing some Gyrodiscs!
- We’ve been reworking our celebrations and lamentation animations that play when a character wins or loses. This is so they work a bit better with our new character models, but also to give each character a few unique animations so they can celebrate in different ways!
- We have been working on our UI, namely the character select and side select screens. The character select now places the player icons in the corners of the character portraits to help players identify which character they are picking. Players now pick their character’s colour from a separate menu (as the old method of using two buttons on the side select screen was too obtuse). We also now display input device information beside the player icon to help the player recognise which player number they are.
- We added corner collision to our court elements. This means that when the disc hits the corner of a block on the court it will now bounce at a sharper angle, making those near-misses even more interesting!
- Fixed issue where disc was passing through solid walls.
- Fixed bug where controllers were being assigned to the wrong player when loading.
- Fixed issue where game would hang when a new controller was connected. Should now assign the controller to any player that does not already have a device.
- Fixed issue where pressing cancel wouldn't back out of some menus (due to player input not being updated).
- Fixed control setup screen buttons by removing debug buttons and adding explicit movements for UI navigation.
- Fixed issue where player could assign the same key twice
- Fixed issue where spike and charging animations played incorrectly on new Jess and John models.
- Fixed keyboard keys not appearing correctly in UI.
- Fixed button icons of players who are not currently viable appearing in menus.
- John has a new model! Made to be more in-line with our Jess model, this version has more detail, an ambient and normal map and a new texture. He is able to have facial animation and sports a new, snappier, more modern haircut. His moustache, of course, remains as prominent as ever.
- We finally implemented normal maps on our characters! So hair is now wavier, armour is now craggier and moustaches are now bushier!
- We’ve been making our AI more fun to play against. AI now have a turning curve so they don’t automatically snap into moving in the correct direction. AI now successfully panic dashes when the disc ends up behind them, they sometimes run too far or not far enough when trying to reach certain locations and now celebrate or lament after matches are finished. All of these are set on sliders for each difficulty level allowing us to easily tweak how hard each difficulty is.
- We have been working on a Control Setup screen that allows the players to define what input device they want to use for each player and what buttons to use for each in-game action. Players can choose between two different input styles (precision and arcade, with arcade style combining throw, dive and spike into a single button). If the device the player is using is known, then icons for the buttons are loaded to match. If the device is unknown, generic buttons are used instead. A red mark is shown if the player does not have an input device or if one action is not correctly defined.
- To work with our new input method, we’ve improved our UI for the menus when starting a match so that they work with less buttons. Namely, this means that the team colour is no longer set on the Side Select screen but is an extra prompt after the player has chosen their character.
- We’ve been working on our animation system some more, largely on making our custom rig work better with Unity’s import system, as well as re-rigging our character models and creating a new idle animation for Jess.
- Work has begun on illustrations for use in-game and marketing. This has so far resulted in portraits for the two characters to use in our character select and some planning being done on how best to fit the characters into the small space that each game gets on Steam.
- We made a small change to our gameplay- the player now enters a spike state when spiking. If the disc hits them during this state, the disc is spiked into the air. This replaces our old system where the player had to press spike on the frame of catching the disc to get the same result.
- Fixed issue where pressing Esc didn’t always move the player back through the menu system.
- Fixed issue where player could end up in “Preparing for Serve” state when they should be in the celebrate state.
- Fixed issue where the game would skip the time up screen when going into sudden death.
- Fixed issue where disc could collide strangely with the corners of court objects.
- Fixed issue where player would jump forward when cancelling a charge in the lob reticule.
- We’ve started work on our next pass of our AI. This began by fixing an issue where our current AI decision making values were being accidentally multiplied, making it hard to compare numerically one AI difficulty to another. We moved the decision making values to use Unity Curves instead of hard numbers giving us a visual way to set how each difficulty level should ramp up. Once our new values were set, we began recording the AI to observe what makes it appear inhuman and planned out new reactions as a result. These new reactions involved not returning to the centre of the court perfectly, randomly wandering a bit when trying to guess where the player is going to throw the disc, panicking once the disc has passed them and taking more rounded routes to their desired location rather than a straight line.
- Progress has continued on our new model for John. We’ve finished our high detail sculpt and have an early version of his in model. There was a bald-headed moment where he resembled Charles Bronson, but once his signature thick eyebrows and new, more modern haircut where added he returned back to our familiar John.
- We spent a considerable amount of time on our animation playback, namely trying to improve how animations play across multiple characters. We discovered that Unity can interpret the animation a lot better if the animation is exported with a T-pose at the start, found out how to export an animation from one rig to another and added a hold feet animation controller to allow new animations to be evaluated more easily.
- We added sound effect sets, allowing us to set weights of sound effects to create continuous sound that can ebb and flow from one state to the other. The first example of this is our audience, whose voices now rise up when players score or win rounds, and then slowly quieten back down as the match continues.
- Fixed issue where pushing the stick when beginning charging under the lob reticule makes you pop out of strafe, often putting you out of position.
- Jess Gyrodski enters the league! The current Gyrodisc Super League champion and crowd favourite, Jess is an all round player who faces each match with utter confidence. Similar to her brother john, she has a balanced moveset with a slight tendency towards speed over power. Reflecting her relaxed attitude compared to the uptight and serious John, she has physics-enabled long hair and a belt sash that flow behind her as she plays. Her super causes the disc to spiral across the screen rapidly, bouncing wildly off the walls to keep her opponents on their toes.
- Our audience is now coloured based on the teams that are competing in the current match. They also play different animations depending on the current result.
- We made some minor changes to our new stadium model, including altering the colours of the seating area, retexturing the speakers and giant monitor, adding an ambient map and darkening the player entrance tunnels.
- We started our next pass on our sound setup. We started composing some new tracks for parts of the game that need a change of tone (such as after the match has been completed). We’ve also been remixing some of the tracks we currently have. Codewise, we’ve been modifying our sound manager in preparation for randomised or variable sound sets, such as audience cheers and character voices.
- We began work on improving our animation systems. We made a custom animation rig to be used across all of our characters to help us keep shared animations consistent. Jess is the first character to use this rig, so she has a few features that John doesn’t- the most important of which is facial animation. We also have been working on a idle animation for Jess, along with a more complex but satisfying catch and throw sequence to be used on all characters.
- We had reports of the disc sometimes ending up in a position where it was bouncing back and forth between two walls with no way for the player to stop it. To help with this, we added a safety check so if the disc bounces in the same places for two long it gets a nudge in a random direction to get the game going again. We also overhauled our management of the celebration state to make it easier to add special effects and sounds when the player is celebrating winning a point, round or match.
- Fixed issue where stadium was using wrong material.
- Fixed issue where crowd could end up missing a texture.
- Fixed issue where player could end up passing through the disc.
- Fixed issue where pips on health bar do not make a noise when restoring.
- We implemented our new stadium model. The aim of this model was to reduce the amount of flat, grey textures that were being seen in the game. Of particular importance was the floor- since most of the game is spent looking downwards, having the floor be a flat, grey plane was affecting how the game looked. The floor is now made of red clay (used in tennis courts) which warms up how the game looks and gives the edge of the screen a rougher, more interesting look. We added barriers between the two halves of the crowd to prepare for having the audience supporting one team or the other. Finally, a large golden statue of a hand holding a Gyrodisc adorns the far end of the stadium.
- We realised that our super throws were a bit unreliable (especially on the new court layouts) so we spent some time giving them new rules. We started by moving their variables into our Stats Manager to make editing them easier. All super moves now bounce into a lob if they manage to hit the back wall of the court. Super lobs no longer angle towards the goal and push the players back when it gets caught. John’s right angled super has been slowed down and changes direction more often. Jess’s spiral super now moves forward in a more circular motion and has a much calmer, controlled reaction to bouncing off of the walls.
- When a curve throw bounces off a wall, it now skiffs off of the wall in the direction of rotation.
- We removed our “Funnel” level and replaced it with a new court called “Chokepoint”. In this level, the score boost is boxed in between walls and nets in the centre of the court. This creates an interesting point of focus for the players, as they often have to choose between making a reliable shot into the opponent's goal, or trying to make the skill shot to hit the difficult score boost target.
- We gave running out of time a bit more prominence. On timing out, we play a claxon sound and hard cut the camera over to the jumbotron. The jumbotron displays the current time (of 0 seconds) as well as big red text box saying “Time!”.
- We have added more functionality to our disc trails. The trail now turns red when the disc is charged by a score boost. Super throws now have unique trails to make them appear more important. We also decreased the length of the trail on normal throws so that it looks more impressive on fast throws and super throws.
- We added a simple banding texture to our score boost arrows to help emphasis which direction they are pointing at and a cloudy blue texture to our bounce blocks to make them easier to see.
- We improved our mouse functionality. We have our own custom cursor and worked on making sure our menus can be controlled using the mouse. We also added the functionality so that when the keyboard and control pads are being used, the mouse cursor disappears- but when the mouse is moved, it reappears again.
- Improved frame rate. Achieved by alleviating garbage collection, avoiding certain UI functions that cause spikes, text optimisation, pooling objects, creating more assets during our loading screen and avoiding using “GetComponent”.
- Players now move relative to the jumbotron camera when the jumbotron is full-screen.
- Fixed issue where match settings may not be set correctly.
- Fixed issue where sound effects did not play in victory counts of more than five rounds.
- Fixed End of Match menu not able to be controlled.
- Fixed issue where the wrong team would be credited with winning if the match ended by timeout.
- Fixed issue where timing out in the serve state would stop the game progressing.
- Fixed issue where round counter was not getting reset properly.
- Fixed issue where text in scroll boxes that should be hidden could be seen.
- Fixed issue where dragging scroll boxes with the mouse causes the text to flicker.
- All active players can now navigate the level select screen.
- Fixed issue where players were unable to back out from level select and character select.
- Fixed issue where characters would not play the intro sequence after the match had been restarted.
- Doubled the length of time of the window to perform a perfect return.
- Fixed issue where players were not getting pushed back by fast throws.
- Fixed issue where player would stay in the spike state too long if they missed a spike and then caught the disc.
- Fixed issue where the player’s arm getting stuck in the catch position.
- Fixed issue where players being able to hit themselves in the back of the head when throwing a super.
- Fixed were restarting a doubles game caused the players to run on the spot and not return to starting positions.
- Added floors to the goal models as it looked strange seeing the new clay texture underneath.
- Fixed issue where AI players lobbing would reset the AI demo match.
- Fixed issue where players could lob between the nets in court “Two Nets Two Walls”.
- Decreased the saturation of the game due to new, brighter assets.