Creep of features
Time to get rid of excess baggage left by the constant feature creep. Some of the additions could have been great, others not so much. The bottom line is that most of them just take too darn long and require too many art assets and balancing.
So mainly I’m scrapping the superunit. And, consequently, I’m also scrapping zone control and capturing zones. *sheds a tear* I know, I know, it was a big USP and it was a cool mechanic. But it’s been 1.5 years and we don’t have the resources. I rather polish a smaller, tighter game than cram it up with unfinished features. Also less bugs. In the end, what we’re left with is these wonderful keep sprites, which I’ll use to spawn the attack waves. I’ll also use the capture progress indicator as a next wave preparation indicator. I’ll still keep the actual zone layout to stop the player from building towers right under enemy nose. But otherwise zones won’t serve a bigger purpose except for some internal structuring. I also scrapped separate AIs for different “players”. I never went into this, but it was basically an internal way of keeping track of who goes where and does what. So here’s how the minimap improved:
Also, I probably don’t need to mention I’m scrapping the whole ordeal with plot and such. No story art, no prop art, no story outline, no implementation. Oh well…
It surely sounds a bit grim. But when you think about I’m mostly complaining that I have too many features. Which is always better than not enough, because I can easily cut away and be left with the best of the lot. Of course, one can argue that certain aspects aren’t meant to be cut out — i.e. some resemblance of a story.
Among all the technical tedious things, it’s time to pimp up the user interface. What needs to happen is that every user action needs to receive an appropriate reaction. This includes, both gameplay and audiovisual cues. For example, building a tower will now do 4 things – spawn the actual tower, cue the thump sound, spawn a few dust clouds, and float the resource costs above it:
Now that’s feedback! Almost makes building towers fun. When you cannot build, a visible tooltip follows the mouse as I already posted previously. When the player clicks, they get a sound and a small flash on the preview ring (note the red ring difference):
This also got me thinking of visually showing the borders of towers in progress. Full-built towers are all roughly the same size and the player can visually tell where there is free space. However, recently placed towers are still “submerged” and it may in some cases take a while before they emerge and “fatten” up to their normal size. So a little construction guide wire:
Great! I could in fact do several levels of constructions scaffolding and such to make it feel really alive, but I won’t focus my work on the same bit for too long. I think these have gotten enough attention.
Another important (hard to understate) feature is island health:
These are persistently visible sprites at the corner of the screen showing the damage to the main player’s keep — i.e. the island. These decay as the mobs reach the keep and also flash to bring the player’s attention and create some tension:
Each heart reduction is accompanied by a screen shake (which I can’t really screenshot) and a red flash of screen borders. The last remaining heart also starts pulsing for urgency.
There is still plenty of stuff to do and at some point I’ll just have to call it.