We’ve found some time (weekend time, mostly) to take a step back and refocus on what’s most important for the next stage of GLTCH’s development: working our way towards Beta. After sitting down to playtest and talk gameplay, we came to the conclusion that we’d like to try and substantially simplify the game before the next milestone and allow moment-to-moment gameplay to become easier to understand. We’re hoping to see some Alpha testing feedback to support this decision too. At the moment there are just too many entities in the game for the player to bother with: too many fragments and programs spawning while the player desperately focuses on their avatar to stay alive. The different types can become overwhelming, most noticeably for new players, and that makes their individual differences lose their importance. By compressing and minimalizing the systems involved, we hope that we can move closer to GLTCH’s arcade roots – more snake, less clutter.
The game’s UI has been simplified to match this mode of thinking, and is currently in the process of refinement to suit these expected changes. Investing more energy into subtle visual changes around the player instead of presenting textual information around the sides of the screen or at the game over screen has proven is much more valuable when the player spends most of the time looking at their avatar.
Nico has been producing some amazing sprites, models, and particle systems, with the end result being some really tasty looking visual effects. Spawning and idle animations have been added for most entities, and having glitch effects control the light and the camera and the colours on the grid have made their impact much more punchy. However, performance is becoming a big problem on lower end devices within our targeted range, and because of the game needs to be really responsive for the gameplay to remain tight and fair, its means the ‘game feel’ is falling apart at lower framerates. We’re doing what we can with Unity Free’s statistics view, but we have planned some heavy optimization days before Beta is released, and we’ll be doing some heeeavy profiling using Unity Pro to ensure gameplay remains consistent.
The creation of the all-important vOS has begun this week, and Nico has been flexing his Maya-trained fingers to put together an early animated rig that controls its movements and facial expressions. Because the player is a more abstract creature, vOS is the main entity that players of GLTCH can connect with and humanize, so we’re planning to spend a lot of time leading up to Beta making sure he looks, feels and sounds just right. Making sure that he moves and shakes with an obviously glitch-y vibe is important too, and is currently one of our major challenges, but it will become crucial for telling the behind-the-scene story ever-so subtly.
We’ll be publishing some gameplay footage this week for your viewing pleasure, and these words can fade into the void as the changes talked about here can be visualized on a (hopefully) weekly or fortnightly basis.