Hi there! Welcome to the Blightmare Development blog! Today’s post is going to be an update on our progress with the game as well as some upcoming milestones that we’re tracking towards.
Where we are
In the world of code, the focus has been on fixing bugs in mechanic interactions or tools. All the mechanics for the game that we originally designed are in and playable, but as we use them they get tweaked or changed to make sure they are living up to their purpose. This is an ongoing process that is usually not very fun because it involves a lot of staring at code or trying to construct test cases to isolate a specific behavior so that we can understand why it happens and fix it. There’s not a lot of new code being written, and the result of several hours of work can be very small. However, it’s part of the process, and every bug that we find and fix is one that our players won’t see, so it’s definitely worth all the effort.
In between bug fixes, we’re also trying to optimize the design process as much as possible. This means talking to our designers constantly about what they do and how they do it to try to find areas where a new tool might make things better or faster, or even just a change to an existing tool might make it more useful. Getting all our levels playable is the current high level goal, so anything that moves us closer to that milestone is high priority. Recent tool additions and changes include:
- Moving chunks of levels around as a group – kind of like cut and paste but for terrain and objects
- Renaming levels – seems like a small thing, but keeping organized is a constant process
- Locking levels for edit – this prevents multiple people from editing a level and possibly losing work as a result
The next major feature areas that we’re going to be tackling on the programming side are bonus levels and scripting. We already have a partial scripting system in place, so the work that remains to be done is to build out all the rest of the script actions that we need for the various things planned for the game and then actually implement them into the levels. This system integrates into the editor, so once the action library is built it shouldn’t be too much effort to get things into a first pass state. The work around bonus levels is figuring out how we will transition the player into and out of the level while preserving the main level state, and integrating support into the editor for configuring which bonus level is triggered from a given point in a main level. The data model for levels needs to be upgraded to handle this as we are introducing different types of levels, and non-linear traversal through the collection of levels.
I’m looking forward to digging into the scripting system again soon to power through the missing actions. Tom has a plan for how levels should be structured to accommodate bonus levels as well as more complex level ordering. All in all, there’s a lot of work to do, but we have a pretty good idea of how to tackle it, so it’s just a matter of chipping away.
In the realm of design, we’re laser focused on getting the first pass of all our levels playable so that we can iterate and refine them as we work on polishing up the game. To that end, we are already testing the first 12 levels internally now with the last big one actively being built. There’s a total of 16 main levels planned for the game including 2 boss fights, so we’re nearly there which is incredibly exciting! Speaking of boss fights, we have one of them built fully and it has entered into the iteration phase with the second entering active development now as well. A significant effort towards tuning the levels for pacing, difficulty, and feel is underway and it’s really fantastic to be able to play through large portions of the game now. We’re aiming to have all the levels in their initial playable state within the next 2 weeks (roughly the end of July). When we get to that point, it will be a huge milestone for the team to be able to play the game from start to finish for the first time. From there we just iterate and iterate until we get the most out of our mechanics and then the hard part is done!
Road to Alpha
Our internal Alpha release will be met once we have all the levels playable, complete with all their scripted sequences and story placements. In addition to the levels themselves, we have to do a pass over our menus, save ability, and level packaging to round out a complete product. The major focus of Alpha is functionality, so crucial elements like visual effects, audio effects, and bonus rooms won’t be done yet. The core game will be all there, however, so as we make things look and sound great, we will be constantly improving that core game play experience to make sure it gets the time that it deserves.
In our issue tracker – Jira – we have finished more than half of the Alpha tasks already. The remaining tasks are also quite a bit smaller than some of the ones that are done so we’re actually a lot more than halfway there. Consider the difference between designing a whole level and implementing a simple script. All in all, the team is making steady progress and although it’s a long haul, getting to Alpha is going to feel amazing.
That’s it for today’s post, thanks for reading! If you’re interested in supporting the game, please head over to our Steam page and wishlist Blightmare. If you’re interested in keeping up to date with the development of the game, please head over to our Twitter and give us a follow. Have a great day!