Sunday, May 25, 2014

Iterative External Feedback and Upgrader UI Re-design

Dual Revolving Feedback Loop (or The Double-Pen Combo)

One thing that's been immensely valuable during the development of Mothership is having a group of external valued opinionators to evaluate iterative changes on a bi-weekly basis. It's something that +Josh Sutphin (@invicticide) and +Lyle Cox (@LyleCox) set up and were kind enough to include me in.

Since inception, Mothership has been meeting weekly. Every Saturday for 2+ hours we go over what we did the previous week week, what we like and dislike about the changes, what needs to be done / changed for the upcoming week, and, usually, what happened in Game of Thrones. For side-project game developers, this is often enough to keep us motivated and productive, but sparse enough to avoid getting overwhelmed. And this system has worked pretty well so far.

A couple of months ago, Lyle approached me about getting together with a couple of local game developers to critique each other's projects. Every two weeks, we meet up at a public library, bring our builds, go over what's changed, play test the new builds, then give honest and, sometimes brutal, feedback. It really helps break up the tunnel-vision echo chamber that occurs when working with the same team and the same ideas in the same space for so long. Another benefit is that, as a tight knit group, other benefits spawn from the relationship (such as the Utah Games Guild).

Upgrade UI Cometh!

Something that spawned from the bi-weekly meetings was that the UI for upgrading sucked. It was something we knew from the weekly meetings, but didn't have a real good solution until Josh and Lyle dug their design claws into it. The final result can be seen here:

Trees! In order to re-enforce the idea that Minion upgrades stick to a Port and have a linear upgrade path, a tree/graph structure was suggested to retain current port state as well as showing the upgrade path in a clear manner. This same paradigm can be used (without the edges between odes) for Mothership repairs and (maybe!) Mothership upgrades.

Also, three new pixel portraits were added this week by Stryker. A huge thanks again to all the brave souls who donated their faces for the cause.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

GDC, Mothership Feedback, and Pixelated Faces

I went to GDC for the first time this year and it was pretty awesome. Beyond general social anxiety, I met a lot of cool people, saw a lot of awesome upcoming games, and received tons of amazing feedback on Mothership.

The first change we're making to Mothership is to add Minion upgrades. We're toying around with different types, but these are the ones we have implemented:

Minion Types

Normal Minion

The minion you know and love. Deals 1 hit damage, normal speed, normal hit count. Your trusty companion.

2Hit Minion

The 2Hit minion can survive two hits before being destroyed. This minion has several strategic uses including dispatching of missiles and causing damage and helping get past the frustrating Juggernaut's tri-laser and hyper beam.

Seeker Minion

The Seeker minion does one thing and does it well: it changes it trajectory to collide with the first non-laser projectile that enters into its radar radius. This is great to handle those pesky hard-to-time projectiles as well as damaging a moving Hero target.

Speed Minion

The Speed minion is pretty straight forward. This minion travels much quicker than the standard minion, making zipping around projectiles and collecting scrap (more on this later) much easier.

Split Minion

The Split minion breaks apart into 3 pieces at the end of its path, taking out multiple projectiles, collecting scrap, and dealing damage to whatever is in its path. Damage for each part is 1/3rd of a whole minion, meaning it's not as effective against the Hero.

Finally, a Resource Management mechanic!

So, now that we have all these upgrades, we need something build them with, right? That's where the new scrap system comes in. When a Hero dies, he drops Scrap instead of health. Scrap can be used to purchase or upgrade to different minions types as well as repairing damage to the Mothership.

After each battle, the Upgrades screen will appear, allowing you to purchase or repair your Minions or Mothership. This setup even opens up the possibility of adding upgrades to the Mothership as well. Also, to add a bit of continuity between battles, scrap will carry over between deaths. So, if the player is having trouble getting through the battle, they can do a run without spending scrap and use it in the next battle.

First Batch of Faces

Stryker finished up the first batch of our reddit-curated Hero portraits. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mothership: The Sequel Trailer

Marketing, man. Marketing..

I kept finding that trying to promote Mothership in a concise way was hard with the bunch of 5 minute gameplay clips that I've accumulated over time. So, instead, I tossed them all together in a trailer. Our musician Drew (@drewbybear) supplied the soundtrack and iMovie provided all the things that make it look like I know what I'm doing.

This is a rough draft. Gameplay is hard to generate because, while Mothership's a mobile game, I have to play it with my laptop's touchpad, which adds a certain sense of GOD THIS IS DAMN FRUSTRATING TO PLAY.