GDC was great, I’ve been away from the conference circuit for a while now and it felt good to reconnect with the broader community. I gave demos every day to other indie developers and got some useful feedback.
It’s always hard to show off a work-in-progress, there are so many things that I know are broken or incomplete, but enough of the game is working now to show the potential and I know how critical it is to get feedback before it’s too late to change things.
One of the things I need to work on is to make the basic interactions of the game more intuitive and natural. Two of the main things you do in the game are moving around and examining things and these actions are still not obvious.
This is a mobile game so I don't have a joystick or arrow keys for movement. You move around by tapping on things but previously you could only move to objects of interest: doors, scenery, and items. My thinking was that it would simplify things. I didn’t see an obvious need to move to arbitrary points on the floor, so why even allow it?
Now from watching people play and hearing their comments I’m changing it so you can move anywhere in the room by tapping. This actually solves several problems:
- You could always move to some places by tapping, so not being able to move everywhere felt limiting and frustrating.
- It removes the confusion between interactive scenery (which you could move to) and decorative scenery (which you couldn’t).
- It allows for more expressive freedom when communicating with other players. You can now say things like “stand here” or “follow me this way” while moving your character to the place you want to indicate.
Similarly, I’m making it possible to examine everything, including purely decorative scenery and the floor. Currently this is done by pressing & holding, but I’m still experimenting with other gestures like pinch to zoom, and dragging a magnifying glass around the view (see below). Being able to pan the view around when you’re zoomed in makes it less frustrating to examine a bunch of things one after the other.
Another problem with player communication was not being able to explain where you are in the level to the other players. The random layout is confusing and there still aren’t many landmarks (yet).
So I’m adding a ‘shout’ feature that lets you broadcast your location by showing everyone a speech bubble on the edge of the screen coming from your direction. The game was already doing this for environmental sounds (portcullises opening, scenery sliding, etc) so it was a natural extension.
Sam is churning through the art assets faster than I can integrate them. I’m really happy with how they’re turning out :)
Lots more scenery and items:
And a first look at some characters!
Random Unity tip: Don’t reorganize/rename your Script folders outside of Unity (eg. in the Finder). I did this and had to fix a whole bunch of 'Missing Script' references afterwards.