A Change in Development
A shift in development is incoming.
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Don’t be alarmed by the title! Things are continuing to move along well. In fact, I’ll be documenting some recent changes here in a moment. But first, allow me to inform you what’s coming for the next several months. I’m off to college, studying programming. I won’t get too into the details of why, and I’m certainly not about to preach at you about why you should or should not do like I did. Ultimately, I’m doing it for some personal benefit in my work life. So while it’s not necessarily being done for game development reasons (though I’m reasonably certain that aspect of life will see some improvements thanks to a few of these classes), it will certainly affect it.
Impressions is far along enough that we shouldn’t see any drastic delays with the game. Not that it really mattered since we’re going with a “it’s done when it’s done” approach. Still, now that I’m juggling maintaining good grades on top of everything else, we’ll inevitably see development slow down at least a little bit. This will affect “Future” more than it will Impressions in the end, and possibly any later games made after Impressions. Of course, since school has only just started we might not see this slowdown right away. I’m still getting a feel for everything. I appreciate the understanding at this time. If all goes well, we’ll hardly feel the bump in the road.
Now, let’s change topics and talk about progress. Specifically, Impressions progress. I’ve been conducting a lot of research this past month, looking at other news shows and even a couple movies to get an idea of how to better present the news show theme. Two things made themselves quickly apparent - a news ticker and a real time social media response ticker. The social media item was a little less frequent, but the news ticker was everywhere in some form or another. The most traditional form is the scrolling version, so I opted for that. As you can see in the gif above, I haven’t even made any content in the boxes, just some placeholder text. This next month will see me filling all that in, making it functionally complete.
This was all created in an attempt to do two things - first, to help the player better understand the world they are living in. Impressions doesn’t take place in the same earth you and I know, so I’ll need to put forth some extra effort to make sure players understand the world better. These mechanics will better assist in conveying information to the player, that information being lore and the world’s current responses to your actions. Not to mention of course that Stream 47A’s news show wouldn’t really feel complete without these items.
Another new overall mechanic is a general time limit on the game. Dialogue now operates on a time limit, which might seem word. This is for two reasons (this blog has really been the rule of two), the first being immersion. A news show needs to be constantly moving, like a play in some ways. As a result, it would seem weird that the player can just wait around as long as it likes. But this also opens up a second perk to the time limit. If you’ve ever watched any of these news shows you may notice that the people around the table seem to enjoy shouting contests. It’s not uncommon for people to start talking over each other in the hopes that their opinion gets heard instead of somebody else’s. Before, Impressions had never really achieved, at least not to the extent that I wanted. Now that dialogue bubbles can simply disappear and move on to the next bit of dialogue at the game’s leisure, this feeling of two characters trying to talk over each other is now much better communicated.
A more obvious time limit is placed on the player to make choices. You can see this in action in the gif above. The light blue bar begins to deplete as the time to make a decision begins, and if it runs out the game will default to a certain choice, that choice typically being the neutral option. I’m trying to communicate a message here, one that says “if you don’t speak, someone will do the talking for you.” And you may not always one hundred percent agree with the person (or in this case, machine) speaking on your behalf. It also further enforces the idea of a news show that has to progress. Real news shows cannot stall if they can help it, and the news show in Impressions is no different. Plus, I’ll admit, it will be a little fun watching people squirm as they try to decide which option to choose while a time limit depletes.
So that’s where we currently stand. Things are still moving along nicely but thanks to starting college development of games may begin to slow down a little. Thankfully, a lot of the work I’ve done for school so far has all been in class with very little homework to be done. Doubt it will stay that way, but for right now I’m operating with more game dev time than I expected. For this month, I’m intending to put some content in the news ticker and what I call the “Active Public Response” system. In addition, more headway will be made in the writing cleanup work. Most of this month’s time was spent in research so I haven’t made a lot of progress in that area. However, what progress has been made I’ve been really happy with. The dialogue and story is already feeling a lot better than it did before. Hopefully next month I’ll be coming back with a happy report saying that the writing cleanup is at least 50% complete. Otherwise, I may just dissect another level in War Ender. We’ll see what happens…
Until next time!
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