Music, Game Balancing and Game Design

This Week

The week started of with a Play Testing session, which gave us invaluable information. Since our last Play testing session, we had a couple of points we wanted to show off to the testers, in order for us to get valuable feedback.

The following points were the most important points we wanted the player to concentrate on:

– Movement

– Colour Scheme

– Sound “Ripples”

– Music

The answers were mixed, but the most interesting feedback (that we actually knew was going to come, as we’ve already discussed it internally) was regarding the Sound Ripples and the Movement.

Last time we had the play session, we got a staunch “No!” for our Mouse Centered Movement (W -> Moves towards the Mouse current  position). This time around, people actually thought that it would’ve been a better idea to keep it, as we had gone back to W (UP) , A (LEFT), S (DOWN) and D (RIGHT), and as I’ve pointed out earlier in my blog, it doesn’t feel as responsive as the Mouse Centered Movement.

The Ripples has been a hot topic internally, but we’ve all agreed; They have to be done differently. We decided not to change anything about them before the test, in order for the people testing the game to get a feel of the old ripple system.

Image

The yellow circle represent the breathing of the character (the size of the circle is based upon how fatigued the player is, see my earlier blog posts)

The feedback were as following:

– Too bright colour (Already fixed in an internal version)

– The Colour is on top of the character, should be below (Already fixed)

– The Ripple stays BEHIND the character as it moves – Now we had a reason for this. The reasoning goes that Sound doesn’t travel with the action that creates the sound, it emanates outwards from the point of creation and doesn’t move around. But; as a game mechanic we’ve also discussed that this reasoning might not create the smoothest game play, and different solutions are already being tested.

Music

I’ve also worked together with our remixer (an old friend of mine) to create new Music (we’ve already got tons of it in-game), that has been added to the game, including a revamped version of “MrMiyagi”, also known as the Background Theme.

Keeping with the Neo-80’s aesthetics, we also created a new Background theme with heavy synthesizers and electronic drums that just reeks 80’s.

If you’re interested in listening, I’ve provided some links for the songs:

MrMiyagi 2.0 (a.k.a Distances) – Listen!

(NEW!) Midnight (background theme #2) – Listen!

They’re all created in FruityLoops and Audacity. If you’re interested in the music and sound effects of the game, you can scroll down; there’s a blogpost where I explain why and how the music/sound effects is created.

Game Balancing

Just like every other week, I’ve been working on Level Design as well. This week, just like last, has seen improvements (Collision fixes, Light fixes etc.) and new added areas.

Image

The “Introductory” areas added as mentioned earlier, New Area added left of diner hall, Trashroom added, Office added, Revamped ALL collision and Light, New Sprites in several locations

There’s been a LOT of thought added to the walk-paths of the guards and the placements of the cameras.

A new Camera has been added in the Diner hall, overlooking the top toilet room, which discourages the player to enter it, which should make it a less obvious choice for the player to acquire the gun that will be located there. The new area to the left of the diner hall (the large room in the middle), was added so that you can bypass the Diner area, forcing the player into a more narrow area downwards, which will hopefully guide the player to the office, which is created for stealth game play, rather than going guns blazing.

I’ve play-tested each area about 20-25 times each, altering the guards walk-path and timed it to make sure that it’s always possible for the player to get through without being harmed, but always being an inch away from being detected. I like it.

My method of balancing and tweaking is quite simple; I try it out, scribble down thoughts and timings – 5 times. Then I change the values such as rotations of cameras, Walk-paths and location of guards and then I just rinse and repeat this process until I reach something that feels great and that has a good game-flow.

Seeing as a lot more areas are being added, the Risk-filled areas (the areas that has the least area to move from Start->End) has small walk-paths, and inter-crossing walk-paths, meaning that they cover a lot more ground. These areas can be crossed by using our non-harmful items; the coin and the disguise.

Currently the coin is in testing, we’re still fine-tuning the mechanic and how it’ll work. (Also, the placement of the soda dispensers finally fills a purpose!)

The coin mechanic creates an interesting problem with out current AI plan.

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Game Design Document’s AI Flowchart.

We’re thinking about creating a new State, called Investigating, that allows the Guard to go Investigate an Area where Soundripples from unknown sources (Coins) creates a point for the AI to go to.

The thought is that the AI will go to the point where the Player throws a Coin, stay in that spot for about ten seconds, and then return to his normal walkpath, except if he sees the player, then in which case it will prompt the Chase state, where it chases the player relentlessly (for 10 seconds, if you’d want to call that relentlessly. It made no sense to have the Guard chase for longer, seeing as weapons are scarce, and we don’t want to be too harsh on the player.)

The other AI states (except the ‘suspicious state’, which we scrapped) are already in place, and actually works flawlessly with Anthon’s A-star pathfinding (A way for the AI to map out a route from A (his position) to B (the players position) and continuously update that information).

It currently goes as following: Idle -> (Sees the player) -> Attack <-> Chase(Switches back and forth if the player is within the Field of View(FoV) of the guard, without letting the 10 second timer run its course) – (10 seconds without being inside the FoV) -> Idle (Rinse and repeat)

Anthon “Doodlemeat” Fredriksson (His blog!), our brilliant (He really is. If you’re a programmer, you should read his blog) little Lead Programmer has started mapping out our options, and we’ve already had several rewarding discussions about this subject today.

That’s all for me this week. I’ll leave you with Camilla Jacobsen’s (You should visit her blog, her work is amazing. Camilla’s blog!), our lead artist, beautiful main menu screen.

Image

Terminal Menu Screen (without the buttons)

EDIT:

Coins are now in the game, and they feel great. Items has been spread around the map according to the plan, and play-testing (proper play testing, not just tech-demo-ish type of playtesting) has begun.

There’s also a new plan, that will involve re-making the start area, as I’ve started working on a separate Tutorial level that precedes the current level, which will show off each mechanic in a pedagogical way (I actually mentioned this several weeks ago on the blog, but we put that on hold because of time restraints, but seeing as we’re ahead of the curve right now we’re recycling that idea and putting it in to action.) I’ll most likely discuss this in the next blog-post.

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About perkulatorn

I'm a 21 year old Gamedesign student at Uppsala University Campus Gotland. Creator of: Terminal Flight - Top Down Rogue Game Melvind - Tower Defense (http://doodlemeat.se/ggj13) Totemic - King of the Hill Competitive Game (WIP) Tamarrion - Hardcore RPG (tamarriongame.com , tamarriongame.wordpress.com)

2 responses to “Music, Game Balancing and Game Design

  1. kalleplanka93

    Hello oskar, great presentation last Friday, it was really an interesting presentation.I see you have working hard these weeks, because you had a lot of stuff to show up and also many cool mechanics in you game.It almost looked like your game was complete,or just a few bugs if i remember correctly.

    My group also has the concept “Escape”, but there is a big difference between our games. You’ve really changed the original concept to something completetly new compared with us. We have tried to follow the concept document as much as we could, while you´ve changed alot of stuff. I think that some groups with the concept “Escape” has made games similar to each other, but yours are different, in a goodway.

    What i remember from Friday’s presentation, you had a pretty advanced AI and path finding, i thought it looked really good. I know that several other groups includen my own have problems with AI/ Enemy pathfinding but you have managed quite well on that front, well done.

    I never tested your game during the playtesting session, but it´s good to hear that you got a lot of feedback.It also seems that you already have fixed the most of the feedback you received, so you can now spend time perfecting the game and make an tutorial level.

    Great post,you have written alot of interesting things in this post but i do not have time to comment on everything.
    So i’m just saying good luck and keep up the good work!

    //Viktor N

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