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Shelling It Out



As I mentioned in my previous post, throughout my time of developing Vectronic on the Source Engine, the project never had more than four maps because so much time and worry was focused on the concern of how it's going to look. While the overall art style, and the balance of visual noise is importation for a project like this, I was spending more time on this than making more maps and puzzles.


I decided to once again start from scratch and only focus on the maps and gameplay for the time being. With this mindset, I've gotten close to seven maps shelled out in dev textures, placeholder models, and no lighting. On top of those seven maps, I've got two more ideas down on paper. With this method of developing, perfecting the how the elements interact with each other is much easier to do.

I can easily change a puzzle, or how a puzzle is solved if something ends up not working the way I intended it to, without moving a handful of models and lights.




As you can see, there is only a white ambient Light being used, Doors just appear and disappear, and platforms use the Sliding Door Script. Things are coded to be as simple as possible in this era of development. I even made the two ball colors primary red and blue for simplistic identification. As I said before, if the game is fun like this, It's only going to get better from here!




With how fast maps are moving, additional elements that were not in the demo were needed quicker. And the new puzzle elements such as trip lasers and ball launchers only have basic functionality built in to not slow down the development of new maps. If something needs to be tweaked, it can easily be done with little worry of it breaking something else. The elements are being developed with the maps that use them, not in some zoo developer map with code that might be needed like I've done before.


I'm making it so that each idea is it's own map. Although the engine would be able to handle a few rooms in one map, puzzle games are different then story driven games. Puzzlers need to be perfectly balanced. If you introduce something too soon, too late, or too many new things at once, the learning curve will not be well, a learning curve, and you can overwhelm, or bore the player. Having each idea or puzzle tied to one map, I can easily switch the order, cut out, or add in maps in-between without much headache. I might combine maps when the order of them settle in the future, but it might just be the really small ones.




I've currently been making maps in order of progression, but I think in the future, I'm just going to make puzzles not worrying about the order of progression, and workout how (or if at all) they'll fit in the game. My goal is to get ten or fifteen maps done before I even think about how everything is going to look. At the rate I'm going, I should be back in Blender and Paint.net by next month! I have ideas about updating the visual style, but nothing I plan on talking about yet.


Sorry about not posting this article Friday like I said I was going to. I want to write a development blog weekly for my sake of keeping me motivated, so expect at least that.


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