March 30, 2019

Cubytes Devlog #003 - Hiatus No More

After quite a while with radio silence (nearly two months...) coming from Sledgehog Software, here comes this devlog. Hooray.

First of all, it was a fat break. Apparently, my mind thought it was too long after Godot 3.1 was announced so I started work on it recently. Here's things I've changed, added, or deleted.

Balancing

As more and more levels were added to Cubytes, a form of design debt came up with the older levels.

One could say that they seemed to be a bit clunky. The first ones most likely haven't been edited in well over eight months, and the architecture on some of the earlier levels conflicted with my understanding of Cubytes' universe. Plus, over time I've gotten better at making levels, as I've done this as a hobby for 2018 and 2019 at this point.

So I tweaked all the levels. Well, not all the levels, but a significant fraction of them.

By 'tweaked' this can mean a couple of different things, depending on the level. For some levels, all I did was play it a couple of times, change a path slightly, and moved on to the next level. For others, I completely changed the layout and there's no comparison to the old.

These newly balanced levels frankly have not been playtested at all, so I'll need to do that with more people. From my personal, heavily biased experience, the levels have became harder.

Architecture

The architecture of Cubytes was really, up until a couple of weeks ago, up for debate. Since Cubytes isn't exactly based in reality I can make some assumptions, or to put simply just plain make some stuff up about the world in which Cubytes is based in.

Primarily, the walls were changed. Levels had inconsistencies with the thickness of the walls: Some had one, others two and three, and most of them had some sort of mixture of all three. This had to go, and I changed all of them to be one wall thick.

Another thing to go was the random symbols scattered around the place. This was odd, as I added them early on expecting me to think of meanings to them later. They're gone now. However, in Level 4's sake, I kept the weird eye things. Just couldn't get myself to delete them.

Godot 3.0.6 → Godot 3.1

Godot 3.1 came out (which is why I started working on Cubytes again) and new features have come out. Quite a lot of weird quirks that Alpha 7 had have been fixed by simply upgrading to 3.1.

One of those quirks was the tooltips, textboxes appearing upon hovering over UI elements. For some reason the actual size of the boxes never quite fit the text correctly, resulting in me abandoning the idea of universal tooltips.

Another quirk was the text of block tutorials being clipped incorrectly to fit the textbox. This was due to something called text supersampling, which makes text look pretty at all resolutions. This however came with a tradeoff of sometimes being terrible at resizing. This is now a non-issue, and everything is fine.

Tweaking of Block Tutorials

One thing I realized while playing Cubytes is the dry nature of teaching players new mechanics, aka blocks. The old prompt had a name, a description, and a picture of the block in the UI. This needed to be changed, but I couldn't quite figure out how to change it.

I still really don't know how to, but I have made it so that the camera zooms in on the specific block, just to give the Player less excuses about not knowing what the block looks like.

Oh, and also I play a nice, angelic public domain sound effect. It's quite nice, although listening to it on repeat makes it sound like you're in an elevator. Oops...

New Music

The music sucked. I know, because they were my tracks. I found some better public domain electronic music and threw it in. It fits better, and it delivers the mood I wanted more effectively.

I might add some sort of Music playlist feature as DLC perhaps, although it would be a very 'gamey' element to add. Who cares.

New Camera System

Internally, this is a big deal. This allows me to move the camera in the game world. Previously the levels only really fit on a single screen. This worked well enough for maze-like levels, but for the end game I'm thinking of, this camera system works wonders.

For now, the only real change to this is that when the screen shakes the UI doesn't. Oh well.

QOL Improvements

There have been QOL (Quality of Life) improvements added since I've restarted development. This is due to me being sort of embarrassed at the lack of polish that's been in public releases (for example, Alpha 5's sound sliders were broken until a new release 4 hours later).

Here's a non-comprehensive list of them, for your viewing pleasure:
  • Add cursor showing 'logic' (Removes the odd cursor being in the way all the time),
  • Add universal use of the Escape key to go back Menus,
  • Disabled the resolution popup when using Fullscreen (It didn't matter).

Removed Help Menu

Nobody used it anyway. Plus, it was a glorified link to my Twitter, which judging from my follower count no one ever actually used. So it's gone.

And that's (basically) it. To release Alpha 8, I must now:
  • Add and implement Distortions,
  • Add some much needed particle effects,
  • Add more QOL improvements,
  • Create marketing materials and an itch.io store page.
Let's try to actually get this one out soon. Fingers crossed.