Happy Halloween Everybody!

It has been a very busy and productive few weeks at DAM headquarters.  We just finished Halves (misleading as we are way past the halfway point of the semester) on Friday which is where we present the progress of our project so far to the ETC and talk about what still needs to be done by the end of the semester.  We showed a demo of our current iteration and talked about how we have implemented and iterated our slot procedurality system.

Right after Halves were finished we packed up and headed over to Schell Games where we were invited to show off Not Everything is Flammable as part of their Pittsburgh IGDA (International Game Developers Association) Halloween Crawl.  It is always incredibly useful and surprising to see fresh eyes playing your game after working on it day in and day out.  Play testers don’t have the benefit of going through the development process which obviously makes you very in tune with what is happening at any given time and why it is happening.

In the past month we have been implementing a new combo system.  Basically, from playing the original prototype we always found it fun to try and “chain together” multiple different items in a row and wanted to create a system that encouraged that behavior.  It went through a few iterations with us testing what the threshold should be for “combo reset” and other factors like what the rewards should be for the combo system.

One of the exciting ideas that came out of that process (something we had in our large design document, but had not decided to implement yet) was the idea of building up momentum with each item you burn and actually getting hotter and hotter within that progression.  With that basic idea we then decided that it would be cool to have certain objects start out non-flammable but then change their states to flammable the bigger your combo is.  This creates interesting visual moments where the world transforms piece by piece from mostly black and dull colors to a bright and vibrant one.

At Schell Games, we ran a bunch of people through the newest iteration and learned a lot about certain aspects that people really loved about our prototype and other areas which really need to be improved.  There was some general lack of clarity within our combo system and some of the biggest areas of confusion were:

1)  How combos were actually tracked and maintained

2)  What different colors mean in the world

3)  What benchmarks you are shooting for with the combo system

Some of the things we had already planned on improving, but seeing people struggle with it clearly pointed out what were the most important things to change.  We are currently planning on moving to a thermometer UI rather than just tracking a combo number.  The thermometer will get hotter and hotter the more objects that you burn while having clear benchmarks and goals that you are shooting for each step of the way.

We are currently implementing that along with some other feedback improvements and will be playtesting again this Saturday during the ETC playtest.  While we are working on some of these things, we are continually adding more assets and environments to the game to continue to populate it and make the world more complete and expansive.

More updates to come as the semester dies down and we get closer to release.

See you next time NEIF fans.