Senior Production Dev Blog #2
Wow! We are at midterms and things are really picking up. The game is definitely starting to look more like what we have envisioned for the final product and I have gotten much more involved with the structure and existing pieces of Mapstermind.
As a refresher- Mapstermind is a 3v1 party game. 3 players are board game pieces, called Piecelings while 1 player is a pair of hands at a control board called the Mapster. The goal of the Piecelings: complete tasks around the game board before time runs out. The goal of the Mapster: stall the Piecelings with traps and attacks to prevent them from finishing tasks.
For our vision at the end of the semester- we have redesigned the city level that we originally had going through greenlight, we are continuing to build the seafloor level for alternative tasks, traps, and environments, and we now are starting the process of applying to publish the game on Nintendo Switch. Things are really exciting and it's been fun!
What are we up to?
Currently, we are still divided into 2 sub-teams: the city team and the seafloor team, myself being a part of the latter. The prototype has 1 task for the Piecelings and 2 traps for the Mapster in place that will be tested this week. I have also had the opportunity to continue to iterate on the seafloor background music. Here is the updated track, listed as Seafloor Iteration 2
The production team has begun the process of building a packet to apply to Nintendo for a Switch dev kit- which is really exciting. We aren't completely relying on this and will still publish to Steam as well- but our game's theme, mechanics, and overall style would fit really well on Switch so we are giving it a shot! I am really excited. Even if we aren't accepted in the end, it will be really interesting to see how the process works and sharpen our skills in that area of marketing and production.
Polished / Newly Implemented Features
A new addition to the shark is it now actually attacks the Pieceling when they collide. Previously, the shark would pause and do a spin and then continue, but now that placeholder function has been replaced with an actual attack. When the Pieceling and shark encounter each other- the shark knocks back the Pieceling to another point on the map and causes the Pieceling to drop any items they are holding. We are unsure if we will implement an attack animation, so currently the shark pauses as a placeholder for user feedback of the attack action.
The puffer fish has all systems implemented and now waits for polish. The first change is now the Mapster can rotate the puffer fish in the scene before activating it. It's a simple button press to rotate the puffer fish 90 degrees clockwise.
The puffer fish can also now attack the Pieceling. The puffer fish has a poison cloud around it that will cause any Piecelings that collide with it to slow down for a period of time. This is going to testing this week and we hope to find if we should keep the consequence of losing speed or if we should change it to something else. For example- the Clamlings that will later be implemented are very similar to the puffer fish- except the attack causes the players controls to become reversed. We hope to get feedback if the slow down is more frustrating than strategic.
As you can see in the gif below- the Mapster rotates and activates the puffer fish. Once the fish collides with the Pieceling, their movement speed is decreased dramatically. When the effect wears off (as the Pieceling exits towards the bottom of the frame) their speed returns to normal. The sphere in front of the puffer fish is for debugging purposes to show the collider that causes a puffer fish to turn around when it encounters an environmental object.
What has gone well?
We had the opportunity to meet with Rockstar New England a few weeks ago and they gave feedback of the city level being too cluttered compared to the open seafloor level. We really took this into consideration and have now developed a new city level with greater open areas and more clear organization for the players:
The team has done a great job adapting and problem solving to create and test this new layout and develop the existing traps to fit with the new design. Traps are shifting from being designed for a grid system and are allowing more open areas while still being effective for the Mapster's use.
Art has also been making its way into the seafloor level and really bringing the scene to life. It's starting to develop into a testable prototype and I'm really excited to jump on that this week and see what players think of the new changes and adjustments.
Overall, the team has been working well together and maintaining communication through sprints. Our game is intended to be played at the senior show as a couch co-op and we plan to have an actual couch present. I thought it would be cute to have plushies of our characters hanging out on the couch- so I decided to crochet some Piecelings just for fun. I just finished Baby Cone the other day and the team was very excited about it, so that was also a really nice win to have recently. Here's a picture of one of our designers with it:
What Needs to Be Improved?
The seafloor team has had a really hard time trying to get to testing. When the systems are so dependent on each other- it's difficult to test anything until all of the systems have something to be tested. We are finally getting to testing this week by changing up what we have the players do when they test- previously we wanted to try and get some tasks and traps in so the players could play a round and see if they felt fun. What we are going to try now is to test with only one task and one trap and get feedback on if those specific tasks/traps felt fun or if they need changing. It's not really what we would want to have in testing- but at least we are testing some things in context.
We were really hesitant to test a trap by itself or a task by itself because it doesn't really make any sense. A player could spin a puffer fish in circles all day and then activate it to aimlessly pace back and forth- we don't get anything from that besides bug testing. I think this newer plan for QA testing has more promise to get useful data about what systems we are working on implementing.
On my personal to do list, I will be polishing the puffer fish and shark traps, implementing a lever task on the pirate ship that will allow the players to use the levers in turns like a seesaw, keep crocheting Piecelings for the show because I'm having a lot of fun with that, and continuing to implement the new traps and tasks the designers have been working to develop. I am excited for the rest of the semester, I think it'll be fun. I will have a bit of a hiccup since spring break is next week and then I will be attending GDC in California the week after that, but I will make it work. I think this game is turning out to be what the team has been hoping for and it's been so cool to be a part of it!