I was going to open this post with a video, but my attempts ended with me sneezing during some of the attempts, mumbling too much for half of the others, and running into a fall-through-the-floor glitch for the rest of the time (which pissed me off enough to do a quick patch-fix to the glitch, but I digress).
In any case, I’ve finished coding the special attacks for all characters. They ranged from upgraded versions of older attacks to healing techniques to capturing enemies and shooting them as projectiles to wild, fast-paced slashes from all angles that knock an enemy around the level while shifting the camera to point at said enemy during the attacks to disorient the player as the camera switches back.
That last thing really made me think about how I was going about creating the fast-paced gameplay that I said the game would end up having. If you really think about it, the gameplay for Turtles all the Way is actually slow-paced when there are few enemies around, and closer to moderately-pace (but still rather slow) when there are swarms of enemies. Not to mention that, aside from having to manage your stamina, taking out most enemies is an effortless affair provided you can get your attacks to connect.
Which is why the game’s design is one that makes it so you really do have to be careful with getting hit and using your stamina, since all of your stats will take a hit if either one goes down, throwing a wrench into both your maneuverability and damage output. It certainly doesn’t help that most attacks cost a rather hefty amount of stamina to use.
On top of that, the Sync system forces the player to pay close attention to a hidden, moving time target that will ruin both of their characters for the duration of the level if they screw up too badly, also forcing them to switch to a character with different stats and remaining health and stamina, which would likely take at least a little time to adjust to. And until you get used to having to adjust to it, chances are you’ll be forced to switch again before you get your bearings, given everything else you have to manage.
Also throwing a wrench into things is the feeling of helplessness and/or frustration from being hit by even the weakest of attacks. If you get hit by any attack, even ones that do barely any damage to you, you can end up with unresponsive controls for several full seconds, all the while still being vulnerable to other hits that would increase this unresponsive time. Yet the clock is still running and you could end up taking a stat hit from not being able to switch away to your other character in time. On top of that, you find yourself unable to retaliate unless your A.I. partner bails you out. And that’s not even getting into the insta-kill trap enemies lying around.
This leaves you with a lot to think about during any given second of the game, and means that even the weakest enemies can be a major threat in large enough numbers. As a result, the feeling of being overwhelmed from having too much to worry about is key to the design of the game.
Which leads me to two major questions to myself:
First off, is manipulating things to that much of an extent stupidity or genius? I can’t even agree with myself as to whether or not such design philosophy is acceptable practice.
Secondly, how exactly does one create level designs that make good use of this sort of gameplay flow?
After I handle a few miscellaneous pieces of code, the next thing to handle is levels. Needless to say it won’t exactly be an easy task, especially when the plot calls for most levels to take place in residential and/or work areas that wouldn’t really allow for obstacles to logically fit into things, along with the deliberate disorientation and overwhelming I mentioned making puzzles a terrible idea due to the player’s brain already being too busy.
In other news, the people working on music (whom I will henceforth refer to as “Atman”) and concept art (whom I will henceforth refer to as “Josh”) have been hard at work. Atman has finished 15 of the 84 tracks needed. However, has hit a problem trying to use varied chord progressions (as he lapses to a few he’s used to after a while). As such, he’s been trying to figure out what to do for a while. Josh is trying to make sure he’s in his best shape before tackling the 44 character designs he’ll need to make the concept art for. As such, the entire team is rather stumped on what they’re doing.
A curious problem indeed.