Looking back at Week 4
Updated: May 31
This week has been a bit of a roller coaster for me but I am very happy with the results. After the initial panic on Monday when it seemed unsure if we would be able to finish the most important tasks we have been able to catch up with our work - and that even faster and better than I expected. The animation for our melee-chain is still being tweaked while I write this but aside from that we have everything from that is necessary for the gameplay.
Feedback for the Power Core
With the implementation of sound into our game, the Power Core’s health is not only displayed by the rising/falling level of glowing liquid but also by additional auditory and visual cues: whenever the Core loses ¼ of its health the glass of the tube will show cracks, which is accompanied by the sound of cracking glass. From playtesting experience the sound, in particular, is pretty helpful because the players (me included) often were strongly focussed on combat and rarely checked to Power Core. Now, the inclusion of the cracking sound will startle the player enough to alarm them if the Power Core is in peril.
Although it was just a small change re-scaling the enemy models really did a difference for the whole combat. Together with the now present walking (or rather creeping) animations the small variants really seem to swarm and wriggle around at the Power Core. The basic enemy has been shrunk down as well which makes the game a bit more player-friendly since it has become easier to hit multiple of them in one strike.
I also was able to observe something interesting when it comes to the enemy variants: initially, the tweaking was supposed to make each variant more distinct (have a fast but weak Sprinter and a powerful but slow Moloch), but the more extreme variables also had the side effect that the players will have to utilize a specific tactic to defeat each variant efficiently.
Chasing after the Sprinter or trying preemptively run towards them is possible but not very effective because those enemies have a higher speed than the player. Therefore, the optimal tactic for Sprinters is to wait until they have reached the Power Core where they finally stop to move. Then, the player can finish a whole group of them with a single blow since they are so small and die in one hit. Due to the fact that Sprinters have such a high attack rate, this adds a certain risk-reward element to our fast enemy variant. After all, they might deal only minimal damage (-2 HP per attack) but can become dangerous in large numbers.
Those elite variants require more or less the opposite tactic from players: a Moloch does -30 damage with a single attack which is why the players should not take any risk of them reaching the Core. Instead, it is advised to kill them as soon as possible - both because of the massive damage and the fact that the next wave might spawn while the Moloch is still on its way to the Core. Because this elite variant is quite tanky in addition to his damage output the best tactic to defeat it in time is to gang up on this slug with both players.
One thing I bemoan a little bit was the fact that we couldn’t do the second playtesting session today because the combo attack needed some reworking not that we have to align two additional animations. But I’m optimistic that we will be able to do it on Monday (at least of the other groups are not frantically busy with finishing their own projects). The other tasks for our remaining two workdays next week will mainly be on the polishing side: finalize the feedback sounds, add a more expressive animation when an enemy is hit (at the moment they just flash) and add a start menu (maybe even with a “how to play” section) if we have the time.