Yes, I’m trying to post a bit more regularly these days. I hope I’ll stick to it. So here’s the summary of what I did this month:
As I had some friends test the game, I had to rework the save system. When something went wrong during testing, the save file became corrupted, so I needed a way to fix it so that players could keep playing on the next session. I migrated the old binary save system to a newer and more flexible one without breaking the current tester saves. Now, it’s based on textual JSON, which is easy to update and debug, and surprisingly faster than the old system. Of course, I’ll have to encrypt it when releasing the game.
After this big (and quite invisible to the player) technical part, I wanted to “rest” a little bit, and I started to work on something very fun & visible: the ocean. It’s been years since I last worked on it (check this 10-YEAR-OLD previous post), and with the feedback of players and internet comments, I decided to add geometrical waves to it. Until now, it was perfectly flat, even if there were a few normal maps.
So I became a “tech artist” for a few days, and I added many improvements to the waves:
- vertex displacement with various layers of movement
- color variations
- moving foam on the ocean surface
- splashing foam at the wave top
- little particle splashes on top of waves too (I had to code a 3D gradient ascent to put them in good places)
- hue variation based on a fake depth (super useful for the design of one level particularly)
- sparkles reacting to bloom on certain angles reflecting the moon or the sun
I wanted the ocean to be gorgeous, and to call the player for exploration, because it’s a big selling point of the game! And here’s how it looks like now:
And here it is in motion:
If you can’t see the video above, check it out here: https://youtu.be/3iXwYisxSR4
But I had 2 main constraints:
- at the moment, I dont want to rewrite all the gameplay moves on the ocean, so I had to make it visually interesting without breaking the existing gameplay code
- the world is cyclic, which means the ocean has to be continuous from one map edge to the other. Indeed, the player “teleports” from one side of the map to the other when she gets out of it, and the ocean MUST be tilable so that the teleport can’t be spotted. This involves using smart texture & mask scaling to hide the trick, but also hide obvious repetitions.
While working on the ocean, I also took the time to remove the black outline on the foam and later on all visual effects. That was disturbing and didn’t match the art direction for the game. But I had to set up a different render stack for the whole game. I think it’s for the better in the end.
Following the previous post, I created a trailer for the game prologue. This time, I composed the music first, thinking about what would appear in the trailer. I think it’s a better approach, and the final video is now available on the Steam page, or here below:
If you can’t see the above video, check it out here: https://youtu.be/JR2WZQqH-p0
Sadly, I worked on the ocean AFTER the trailer, so it’s the old version that we can see in it. Anyways, I’ll have to update the trailer one day or the other…
While testing the game, I corrected many things, including bugs, dialogs, level design, and puzzle design.
That’s it for this month! I hope this was interesting.