Development Blog – Week 11

Week 11 saw immense progress in Chapter 2’s development.

On the programming side, the logic for the Texture Editor is 99% completed! This was a large undertaking and given the fact that it is our nexus for bridging art and tech on the interactive side of this experience means there is added weight in ensuring it runs smoothly.

We were also to acquire private hosting through the Entertainment Technology Center instead of hosting our builds on a website such as simmer.io. In this way, we don’t have to worry about simmer.io being blocked on various schools’ computers for future playtesting. This could not have come at a better time considering that this week was Playtest Week!

Since we know a lot of people would be exposed to our current build (which includes Chapter 0 / Introduction and Chapter 1) we implemented some quality of life changes. New sounds were put into the experience and an added indicator for Puzzle 3 tracks the player’s progress.

This indicator has been discussed for a bit now, and will most likely receive some further edits and iterations in the future. The impetus for including it revolved around the issue at hand of Puzzle 3 being too difficult for a lot of players. However, after discussing this matter with our client and brainstorming among ourselves, we think an addendum to the current hint system in which key elements of the hints are pushed to the forefront to not only aid the player but also prevent frustration. Riding that line of giving away the answer and being too difficult is one that we’ve struggled with for a while with this puzzle. Through constant playtesting and discussions with our client, we will continue to iterate as needed. These key aspects of development (testing and iterating) are ones we are utilizing to the fullest.

The scenes for Chapter 2 also received a lot of analysis and attention during this week.

New details to the outside world such as removing some voxel trees to declutter the space, making the mountains a bit boxier to reinforce the digital nature of the world, and making the Gallery itself more pronounced on the screen all served to amplify this aforementioned world and exemplify the “digitalness” of it.

The interior also has some new and very prominent features. The team was struggling to answer the question of how do we represent the Texture Editor in this digital space? While we had a variety of options to choose from, none really stuck out. However, dipping our toe not in the digital pool but instead of the modern art / abstract pool proved to be inspiring. Having the ideas of a contemporary sculpture of sorts in the middle of the gallery coupled with the immersive qualities we saw in Chapter 1’s Code Blocks combined into a floating hand. When the Editor becomes active during the Chapter, particle effects will really make the statue pop by having red, blue, and green particles stream through the hand’s fingers and pool on the ground. In this way, we’re able to bring the statue / Editor “to life” while also highlighting its importance when it comes to color.

The design team collaborated with the tech side to develop an alteration to the UI for Chapter 2. While we want to have the two Chapters be related and link together, we also wanted to take every opportunity possible to not rest on the laurels of Chapter 1 and instead try out new modes of interaction and new methods of communicating options. To this end, the Inventory will act slightly different for Chapter 2:

Since we’ve been getting deeper and deeper into the details of Chapter 2, we also started gathering potential patterns to use as base textures:

Some examples of both simple and complex patterns one could use to texture the world

“Getting into the details” appeared to be the major theme for us during Week 11, as even our faculty expressed their desire to see as much polish and sheen on our project at this point in order to really blow people away in the coming weeks. With this level of confidence, we will be going into the final weeks strong with the goals of not just finishing another Chapter but adding as much aforementioned polish as we can.