Working on Zoom Levels

Thursday, 4 October 2012 – Working on Zoom Levels

Zoom
I have been working on the zoom feature of the game. This is still a rather new feature and there was a huge difficult problem faced today. I was trying to fix a problem where the camera will move out of the screen and view the black background whenever the character goes near the edge of the screen.

With the help of Li Hao, we came up with a formula that determined the boundary of the camera. This took quite some time since deriving the formula was not something straight forward. The good thing about using a formula instead of hardcoding the values is so that the zoom level is more flexible. Previously I had 3 modes: 1X Zoom, 1.5X Zoom and 2X Zoom.

With the formula, the boundary of the screen can be recalculated with any zoom level. It is really convenient!

Slider
With that, I went to code and draw the slider. I have decided to put the UI at the top temporarily. Throughout the entire night (and morning), I managed to create a working slider. However, the UI isn’t attached to the camera, so when the player walks, the UI doesn’t follow the screen and will disappear.

That was something I was trying to do, but I wasn’t successful. I guess I will have to do it tomorrow. Before I went to sleep, I embarked on another task.

Portal Graphics Readjustments
Toward the end of the day (or the start of another), I went to my Portals. I had to address the problem with them not being obvious enough and not standing out from the background enough.

Since the start of introvert, the portals have been evolving. Simple “bullseye” type portals that I had no intention of animating.

Then a week or two after, they then had an animation. It took quite some work however simple it looked back then.

And after even more weeks, I completely scraped the old portals and created new ones that put the old ones to shame.

They seemed awesome. But they still had problems. Today, I tweaked the portals again. I gave them a glow, but the glow was cut off by the edges because they cannot exceed 32 pixels wide (the width of a grid). I then restrained the glow as much as possible. After so much testing, I have finally managed to tweak the portals better once again.

Once again, they look more awesome than they previously were. The portals are less pale and the colours are now brighter to make them stand out more. There is quite a significant difference.

I don’t know if I have to tweak the portals again, because somehow they just require constant readjusting for the past week haha.

Two versions of the game, with the new portals on the right. Definitely much more striking than before. I’ve updated the portals across most existing levels as well.

Other Minor Things
On a high zoom level, the camera will now switch to whichever character the player is controlling. It previously only locks onto the one player character.
I also intend to add WASD as the keyboard input for movement.

Current Schedule
Slider

Fix all medium zoom levels
(Easy, Medium, Hard modes buttons)
GUI
Decorations
Li Hao gave me the idea of levels having easy, medium and hard modes. The difficulty is controlled by the zoom factor. The current design is that on Easy, there is a scroll bar that allows the map to be viewed at any zoom level. On Medium, there is a fixed zoom level. On Hard, the zoom level is insanely high so the player cannot see a lot of the screen.
I don’t know if I am able to implement that. I didn’t really intend to have zoom levels in this game. And adding stuff to the game is a very risky move. I already think that there is a chance that this game might not be able to be finished by the deadline I set for myself. The zoom factor solves some problems in the game. I sure hope it doesn’t open up too many new ones.
I guess that’s all about the game. Below is my personal reflection on how things are so far. If you’re not too keen on reading peoples’ thoughts, I suggest you stop here.
My Personal Thoughts on this game so far…
I sort of looked through some other games produced by other people in a few weeks. I realised that I have more features than those games, even when they have more manpower. However, the good thing about those games are that they are polished and have very little flaws. I also see games that have more features than mine, but as I look at them, I realise they aren’t as good as those games that had done well with little features. The bigger a game is, the higher the likelihood of being flawed. This game already has some flaws that I am trying to fix.
Making a game is sure easier said than done. When I first took up this project, I had not foreseen so many design problems. I had not foreseen how hard it actually became to create this game. Not to mention, as much as I did enjoy what I did, it actually takes up a lot, a lot of time. In my first two weeks on this project, I remember having problems with bugged collisions and sprites overlapping, merging, disappearing for reasons unknown to myself. On the third week, I began to notice that the game was greatly flawed by how small the characters were.
This is the fourth week that I am working on this game. The design issues are definitely hitting me now. I also realise I have LOTS of things to polish. I have ideas for new features and cool levels, but the lack of time is simply too important to ignore.
I have to balance the levels, decorate the levels, redraw some of my tiles. There are many issues which I have to fix before I continue to add stuff. Adding and expanding the game now will give me new problems that stack on top of the old. Rather than adding stuff, I guess it is more important to touch up and polish whatever I have and make the game a small, short one, but a really GOOD one that is worth the time. As much as I want to jump into generating ideas for new levels, I have to stop doing that!
Working alone on this project compared to a team of five means I take five times longer to produce a good game. Indeed, as much as I don’t enjoy group work, I have to admit there is a lot groupwork can accomplish that solo work cannot.
Despite having so much to do, I’m not in despair though, because I am still very happy with how the game is like today. It took a lot of effort and time to reach the stage it already is today.
And I must not give up!
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