Building A Game In XNA - Part 5

   03/03/2009 at 13:17       Nick H       9 COMMENTS.
I find once the excitement of a new project dies down, and all the most interesting tasks, which inevitably get done first, are in hand the real work starts. For me getting the first version up and running is always the most rewarding part, as you go on from there the effort to visible improvement ratio gets less and less. Now with most of the game's basics built I really need to crack on with levels and polish, which are not my favourite part of projects, and can very often spell the end of them!

Though I started out as a web designer (literally drawing web sites for coders to make) I've gradually become more of a fan of programming challenges than design based ones as I find the goal of a programming challenge is far more clearly defined, which makes it easier to know when you've got there. With level building and graphic design tasks I find it quite hard to know when I'm done; endless tweaking and pixel pushing can be really frustrating when you always feel something can be improved, so I'm happy to leave the graphics to Nick G which will hopefully help me get the game built.

This week, is the first week its felt like a bit of a slog, and I've been easily distracted from my level building task by some fun new game releases, as well as some paid work which always has to take priority. A little disappointingly, I'm only another 20 levels in, but have squashed a few important bugs along the way so it's not been a terrible week. Building the levels themselves hasn't been too taxing once I've got myself sat down in front of the editor, as the gradual introduction of new tiles keeps giving me new toys to play with, leading to new ideas; it's just getting myself in front of the editor in the first place that's proving challenging.

For next week I think I need to draw up a list of varied tasks mixing programming and level layout to try and keep myself more engaged with the project, so I can get some more done.

Nick G has made a far more visible advance in the games design style, but the design side has also thrown up a few problems of it's own. His latest style image has got us reconsidering some of the obstacle graphics in the name of clarity.

In the above image you can probably see there are two sets of holes with teeth, one with round teeth (holes that open and close) another with pointy teeth (static holes). There's just not enough to differentiate these holes visually, which isn't good when they have different rules. A colour change to one probably wouldn't suffice, so the round teeth will be getting replaced with something both different in shape and probably colour to keep things clear.

Overall though I'm really into Nick's design style, we can't really make any final calls until we have a rough version in the game to test across levels, but hopefully that's not too far off.
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billdoor - on 03/03/2009 at 14:30 wrote:
Looks sublime and we all love puzzle games. Personally I can't wait to have a go at this :)

Tiger_Walts - on 03/03/2009 at 15:07 wrote:
For your teethed hole problem, may I suggest making one hole round and the other one square. Differentiating between the two can be done with a glance or even peripherally without having to investigate the entity heuristically to spot the difference.

peej - on 03/03/2009 at 15:50 wrote:
Am I the only one getting serious attacks of vagina dentata fear from that last shot?

Thought so.

(ace article as ever btw)

Espad - on 03/03/2009 at 16:20 wrote:
looking forward to playing this, love the art style

EDIT: +1 to what tiger said about the teethy holes :)

nekotcha - on 03/03/2009 at 19:48 wrote:
Heh, definitely know what you're talking about with regard to the difference between coding and design. You do end of fiddling forever when designing stuff. :)

Trip SkyWay - on 04/03/2009 at 05:20 wrote:
Thanks for the encouragement and comments guys, I'll be sure to point Nick G at this page.

I had to look up heuristic in the dictionary. It's a good idea changing the shape but having tested some levels that combine the two hole types I think differentiating them even further might make some more sense, as the static holes will merge with other adjacent holes to make one large one which might confuse things.

billdoor - on 04/03/2009 at 08:28 wrote:
Why not animate one sort of hole and have the other static?

Tiger_Walts - on 04/03/2009 at 08:56 wrote:
Or make the static holes acid instead.

Trip SkyWay - on 04/03/2009 at 09:32 wrote:
Hopefully everything will be animating at least a little, it was something Nick G was excited about with the move from Flash, which can slow down a fair bit.

Acid holes was one of the ideas, along with tentacles some sort of fire thing and spikes. Going to chat to Nick about it today see what we can come up with.

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Enjoyed this, cheers!
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