Monday, 13 July 2009

Dysnomia - Development Diary Part Five



Another week rolls by!

Loads of exciting progress this week, a great deal of which involved adding new features at long last. I'm now extremely confident that we'll meet the proposed November release date and maybe even with a month to spare to do some really in-depth playtesting and polish. We're also considering a possible Windows release, maybe around the holidays or early next year.

I'm going to break up the text this week with some of the great graphics that Leon's been working on. I'm sure you'll all agree that everything is looking rather awesome. Usual screenshot selection at the end.


This week saw the implementation of Medikits and Ammo packs (Batteries). I also added some on-screen control prompts to give the player a better idea of which buttons perform which actions when near something they can interact with. There's also been some changes to the game mechanics again - although really they're constantly evolving throughout development. These changes will be the meat of this week's entry.


As discussed in earlier diary entries, Dysnomia isn't all about running and gunning. Although a lot of time will be spent dispatching the alien hordes, it will be exploration and survival that will provide the path to completing the game.


I didn't want to go too over the top with the whole survival thing and end up giving the player an inventory to manage. I also didn't want the player to carry as many medikits and ammo packs as they liked. I think it takes away some of the sense of danger when all you have to do is hit a button or hide behind a wall to regenerate health.
It's with that in mind that I have made medikits and ammo in Dysnomia single-use pick up and consume objects. I had a bit of criticism about the way fuel was managed in Gravsheep, whereby the player could accidentally pick up fuel they didn't need. In Dysnomia, I've addressed this issue by requiring the player to press X to pick up and use both health packs and ammo.

On the subject of ammo, it may seem a little harsh not allowing the player to carry more "magazines" and reloading as required. I think my idea behind this is solid, but I'll be listening carefully to thoughts on this during playtest. Essentially, the player's gun in Dysnomia is an energy weapon. It is recharged by using batteries (the ammo packs). The gun has five modes of fire, each represented by a different colour. The colour of the battery will determine which firing mode it recharges.


For the first couple of areas, the only ammo available will be the blue ammo for the first firing mode. A full charge of blue energy will more than likely last a very long time. Subsequent colour batteries will start to appear on further levels, giving the player more firing modes that will get progressively more powerful. The player will be able to switch between modes at will. I plan to implement a reasonably powerful melee attack for when the player completely runs out of charge on all modes. They'll at least be able to defend themselves whist they head towards the nearest ammo cache.


Another small but nonetheless significant change I've made is to put a progress bar on a device when it's powering up. I've already written a little bit on devices such as doors, turrets, switches and terminals. Each device requires a number of boards to be installed in it before it powers up. What I've done is to add a little delay between the last board being inserted, and the device being usable. I think that makes sense in a world perspective, but it also adds a little extra challenge. It might make players think twice about taking boards out of a door they use frequently. If a turret is guarding a particularly busy corridor, maybe the player won't want to borrow a board from it if it will take a little while to power up again.


They're all small changes, but ones that I think add to the depth of the puzzle/exploration/non-combat side of the game. I'll be waiting for the results of playtests to see if potential players agree with me though!

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