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Devdiary #7: Sparksies

We skipped the last update as there was going on a bit more than usual. It was a busy week. And this post is also a bit different as I am writing this during my train ride from Lyon to Munich. Returning from the Cartoon Movie festival where we spent our time talking to cartoon producers about the possibilities of working with games to enrich the content of their projects.

The latest build kept us busy as we have been sending it out to a few people to gather feedback on the whole thing. So far it was well received and we are happily working with the gathered feedback.

Apart from the invisible process of evaluation and documentation of feedback that arose from the build, there has been some very visual stuff going on. Simon worked on particles for sparkles such ambient effects for the newly created training levels. The levels set in a darker environment, so playing with lightsettings and effects really works well.

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For instance these light rays coming through the vents and creating a certain kind of atmosphere would not be
possible in a different kind of environment. But there have been more changes to the levels.

As the setting is more of an industrial-themed building with working machinery in the background, Simon also created some sparks that emitt from all kinds of different sources.

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Malfunction cables, working machines and just some ambient light sources can be done with this kind of effect.

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The training levels have been redesigned to back the story a bit more than before and to have a visual difference between the tutorials and the training. There are parts where it’s going to be refined and polished, but the general idea works so far.

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Last week was full of discussions and making decisions to improve looks and gameplay alike. For some of the tutorials Elena made a few new assets and started creating from the base Niko already established. From a gamedesigners point of view they are already done and are only awaiting some visuals.

Speaking of gamedesigners: Matt, Oli and Beff did finalize the build and held even more playtests. Coming from those test results they changed all the necessary parts of the game and submitted them to the artists.

Although the vertical slice focuses on the single player mode, we still have an extra eye on the multiplayer mode. It is still the USP of the game and we’d love to keep it that way.
And as things are progressing,  Michael has implemented a solid netcode for multiplayer. First tests showed only little lag and close to no asynchronous behavior. Network based multiplayer is an important feature for us, as we do think the coop gameplay is the most important part of Mercury Shift 3D. Playing via network or the Internet opens up the game experience to more people, which we think is great.

For the characters Rika made it possible to access the controls of the eyes via sprite animations. They can now be triggered at according events and occasions. This is another additional function to the big character animation palette we are already using.

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Further Nora has been working with the player animations. The display of the different deaths of the players and the difference between them is crucial to understand the game. Players have to understand what happened – in this case what caused their death – to draw conclusions from it and keep enjoying the game.

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Another animation she did was the additional grabbing and dragging animation for crates, that are in a higher place. Before this, crates were all grabbed at the same point and dragged, which looked a bit odd when the crates were in a higher place than lying on the ground. And here is the outcome of that:

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Finally we managed it to get Filippo on board for sound and music. This is pretty awesome, as we’ve been waiting for this far too long. He will be a huge contributor to the feel of the game. He is a very talented guy who is responsible for making the music and sound for a few other projects,  including “The Last Tinker” by Mimimi Production.

Well then, a great weekend everyone and have a great time.

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