reflection Polish

  • Overview


    For the Polish theme of my game, I have invested most of my time in the end-boss fight, because I had a very concrete idea of how I wanted the boss-fight to evolve in a narrative way. This theme, polish, was the perfect chance to play with that thought because the idea was to add music to create the mood, setting and atmosphere. Not just as a separate component that can be detached without having much effect on the game experience. I wanted to create a boss-fight that told an epic story through the media of music. A story in which the audio dictates the boss' actions and when the music's dramatic arch changes, so too changes the arch of the boss.

    What went wrong?

    Adding the audio 'story' to the game turned out to be more difficult than I though:
    first of all, all output feedback from the game would have to be graphical, because any auditorial feedback would disturb the subtle story-line.
    Secondly, balancing the game was very difficult, because the audio dictates the dramatic arch of the boss and any changes made at one level of the arch might change the difficulty in a negative way at another arch.
    Thirdly, getting the audio just right was a difficult task in itself. It would have to tell a story on it's own that was conveyable to the boss-fight and create a story of it's own and while also adding something more than just music.
    So, to be fair, this isn't really a 'what went wrong' paragraph. It's more something along the lines of: 'it took a lot more time and effort to perfect the music than I though' paragraph.

    What went well?

    This can be answered short and simple: in the end, the the end-boss phase of the game turned out to look a lot nicer than I had anticipated when I started working on it (and that is without any graphical aid in the form of imagery other than particles and awesome lasers).

  • Play-Tests

    During play-testing this theme (I tested the end-boss fight separately from the rest of the game) these were the most noticeable flaws:

    the collision checks were a bit fuzzy sometimes and it was hard to see if an attack has missed or hit;

    the rate of attack coming from the boss were imbalanced;

    The player often died before the fight had really started;

    the game did not reset when the player ran out of life points;

    the boss did not have a kill or victory sequence;

    the player didn't know what to do until he was dead, there was no well designed script to follow;

    the gameplay got a bit boring after playing for some time;

    the controls were confusing and hard to master.

    To counter these flaws, I used a series of solutions:

    the collision checks were a bit fuzzy sometimes
    This speaks for itself, I fixed the collision checks and after that they worked a lot better.

    The rate of fire coming from the boss was imbalanced
    At first, the boss would attack every time something changed in the song. This meant that every time a beat was heard, the boss would fire one of his guns. I wanted to add a drum and bass song, so one might understand how the rate of fire was found imbalanced at first. To counter this problem, I added a delay between shots, the length of which depends on the type of weapon. Some weapons have a counter that will increase every time it is called and fire when a specified threshold has been reached.

    The game did not reset when the player ran out of life points
    To counter this problem, I came up with a simple but effective solution. I put the boss-fight as a separate project on my portfolio. When the player dies, the web page is simply refreshed and the game starts again.

    The boss did not have a kill or victory sequence
    This was harder to solve, since it had to be designed and tested again. I came up with a little cheat: the end-boss summons her powers (represented by the song). When the song is over and the witch looks around she notices that the player is still alive and becomes furious. Another song starts to play but this one is much more aggressive and with more pass. When the player is still alive at the end of the second song, the witch drops to the ground and is vulnerable. She remains in this vulnerable position until the player kills her (shoots her with a single shot).

    The player didn't know what to do until he was dead, there was no well designed script to follow
    the player often died before the fight had really started I haven't really been able to solve this problem. There still isn't a very clear script that the player should follow but I have used a song that is more slow in the beginning and gets more and more speed as it progresses. This way, the player is confronted with introductory attacks at first and it isn't very serious when he doesn't respond to it quick enough because the attacks do little damage. Later on in the fight, the player is confronted with faster, stronger, longer lasting and more varied attacks and by that time he has had some time to get acquainted with the flow of the game. Different attacks are also first introduced separately before they are combined together.

    The gameplay got a bit boring after playing for some time What I have done to counter this problem is to come up with more diverse attacks and also more diverse ways in which these attacks are combined. Now, the game is much more varied and the player has to think of more creative ways to dodge these attacks.

    The controls were a bit confusing and hard to master.
    This problem hasn't really been solved either. The player now has more time to get acquainted with them though, but it's a boss-fight. They're supposed to be difficult so deal with it!

    I think that the game is much more balanced and holsters more understandable and more accessible gameplay and generally be more fun to play.

  • So what now?

    Rocket Attack is a game that I definitely want to continue with. Especially the final theme seems very interesting to me. Just like Zombie Appocalypse, I have spent a lot of my time designing, testing and adjusting the mechanics in this game. I want to keep working on the end-boss idea where it is the song that tells the story, because it worked out a lot better than I expected and I think it has some real potential to become so much more than just a cool interactive audio tour through multiple songs. This is a game that I want to put on my portfolio because it's a good example of a game where my skills in design and programming go hand in hand to create a conceptual game that I am proud of and can be used in the future for other projects. Heck, I might even come up with a better name.