This week was fairly unproductive, so I am making up for it over the weekend – it’s only early Saturday night and I’ve already implemented three of my longest-standing programming tasks along with several other minor but tedious additions. One of my top priorities on my to-do list (other than content generation) is to make the game as user-friendly as possible. Shadowdawn Genesis is quite a complex little game and pulling it all together into a cohesive product that flows naturally has been a surprisingly long process.
I finally added a proper animated selection cursor, so now there’s next to no way the player will be confused where they are looking in the menu. Before it was just a flashing area of the menu that may or may not have been too subtle. Also, as I had discussed in an earlier blog, I finally got around to splitting off the X Button “Ask” command to the dialog system. Now when Arashi talks to an NPC, they’ll say their hellos and immediate thoughts based on active quests (or whatever flags matter to that NPC), and if the player wants to just move on, they can press the A Button to continue on without another word just like a typical RPG. However, if they want to ask questions or get some insight into the character and build relationships, they can press the X Button to bring up the dialog box shown here in the screenshot. This game is going to be pretty involved for dialog, with only the first three maps of the forest, Ket already has 25 different “boxes” of text (not counting Arashi’s responses or questions), so one of the things I wanted to do was make it a faster experience. It’s a bit different than games like Dragon Age where everytime the player speaks to an NPC, the PC will ALWAYS have to choose a dialog box at the end of their monologue. I just wanted to try something a bit more realistic and interactive and not so imposed on the player. We’ll see if it works! There are still plenty of instances where the player will be asked to make a choice, so it will be a good mix of both methods to keep things fresh.
And at last, the Checkpoint Teleport system is finally complete. Now, I should state that teleporting in-game is contrary to the story, so it’s not really “teleporting”, but more of an auto-travel mode, that lets the player return to a “claimed” area with a checkpoint flag because they have already proved they can reach it safely. There will be some instances where areas have been retaken by stronger enemies and “teleporting” won’t be allowed until the checkpoint is regained, but for the most part it is a convenience to revisit areas to explore new, previously-blocked paths as new abilities get unlocked.
Alright, it’s time for me to sign off again for now, I’m going to get as much of this coding as I can done tonight, and Sunday will be dedicated entirely to Ket’s animation frames (thus the reason for the caption underneath the screenshot). What amazes me is how much easiser Ket is to animate than Arashi…. (who still needs me to finish her most complex skill and combo animations… soon!)