Made bits of progress in lots of different areas this week. I started off working on the tilesets, but quickly realized that tiles by themselves would probably look pretty lousy for representing more natural looking environments, of which the starting area happens to be one. I’m still going to be using the tiles to establish hard edges and game elements, but it’s impressed upon me the need to make lots of details to add to the levels to keep things interesting, particularly for the more naturalistic sections. I started playing around with adding details to levels, and after a couple of initial problems with performance that turned out to stem from unrelated bugs the pieces started to fall into place.
One thing that became very quickly and abundantly clear is that the detail editor was pretty hard to use still, and missing several of the fundamental features one would expect. Another thing that became clear pretty quickly was that there were still a number of bugs floating around the code base which would make it difficult to make any sustained progress in developing the levels. So, for the last few days, I’ve been going back and forth between experimenting with adding aesthetic detail to a couple of test levels and debugging or improving the detail editor. Here’s what the intro area looks like now:
It’s still a bit rough in a few places, but so far I’m really liking how everything is shaping up. I severely reduced the color depth of all assets before importing, and together with the low pixel resolution this creates a feeling very evocative of the old PC adventure games that I was referring to for aesthetic influence. As I improve the editor I should find it easier to improve the level itself, with more accurate placement of details. This has also given me some ideas for improvements I should make to the particle system, such as allowing them to ignore the camera position for an overlay effect or letting them respawn based on screen coordinates so I can have a higher density of particles without saturating the entire level with them.
It’s invigorating to see the game finally starting to look more like a game, rather than a bunch of sloppy half-finished tools. It feels like everything I need to complete at least the first chapter of the game is sliding into place now. Excellent.