Goodbye placeholders, your long period of service will be fondly remembered, and your inept visual indication quickly forgotten in the wake of much more aesthetically delicious counterparts. This week has seen immense changes to both the gameplay and aesthetics of GLTCH, and with all the revised entities now hooked up correctly in-engine the game is looking much closer to what we expect the final release to look like. The ridiculously rectangular program and fragment placeholders that have been used and abused for so long have been superseded by much more detailed models and sprites. The game at this point is still noticeably missing vOS who will form a very large part of the final experience, but this week’s visual changes have brought the game from a feature-heavy prototype to a playable (yet buggy) alpha.
Thanks to these changes, we’ve been able to playtest like crazy this week, and thanks to limited Google Play functionality, we’ve begun what we know will be at least a yearlong challenge to beat each other’s highscores. The scoring system is still in a constant state of flux at the moment, but we’ve tasked ourselves with beating our own highscores every week from now until release and seeing how quickly it will take the rest of the world to overtake us (I’d give it a day). Optimization has been a rather significant problem that we haven’t budgeted enough time for, but after dedicating a whole day to improving performance, we managed to drop our draw calls by a 70% average and solve several performance bottlenecks that was prohibiting a smooth play experience on even high end devices.
Compared to our history of PC development, mobile games really challenge you to pay attention to the fine print when it comes to allocating texture space and conserving as much processing power as possible. The seemingly infinite memory and processing power of a desktop (for arcade games, at least) can lead to some design laziness that mobile platforms simply won’t forgive, and after pulling our dismal 30fps back up to a respectable 60fps we’ve already learnt some valuable best-practices that can be carried back across to our future desktop developments.
GLTCH’s sound has also been overhauled this week, with 74 new sound effects now at various stages of implementation and currently invading your ears with their unmixed, unmastered glory. Audio plays a major part in GLTCH, and it used to supplement many of the glitch events and help predict their occurrence and play into their animation, so we’ve been revelling in the power and flexibility of FMOD to bring those ideas to life. Our understanding of the platform is being tested, but compared to the days of dealing with XACT from our XNA development days, working with FMOD is a pipedream. GLTCH has presented another interesting challenge in the pure volume of events happening at once, and we’re currently stripping back the intensity of many sound effects so that they can play nicely with each other.
The alpha version will be officially released mid-week, if you’re interested in helping us playtest the game and the proud owner of an Android phone, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org