I decided to start making short(ish) videos of the latest overview of the project, going through various aspects of the UI and gameplay that have been updated within the last month. We had a very rapid start to the project, but as we start to enter more complicated components and start to focus on creating assets rather than simple yet effective code, the amount of tangible content will taper off somewhat. As well as this, the project (now that it is in all-systems-go mode) has now got a Website, Wiki, Forums, and Issue Tracker, all of which also have to be created and maintained alongside the game code.
That being said, I am currently devoting 75% of my time to creating the game at all angles (music, graphics, code, networking), with 15% for a part-time job I recently managed to get and 10% job seeking in other coding roles, so hopefully progress doesn’t decelerate too much.
Even before I started on the game, I knew that I couldn’t wait to start adding a whole list of achievements for it. Some standard ones, some hard-to-get ones and most importantly, secret, Easter egg achievements. So above, what you can see is a quick-and-dirty list of achievements, which will eventually be beautified and darkened for achievements that not been unlocked yet, with full-colour achievement icons being shown for unlocked ones.
At the moment, it’s just a list of names, descriptions, secret (or not) tags and the start of some icon ideas, however as we get more of the levels complete, I will start to focus more on the obscure code, such as statistic counters, achievement thresholds and activation functions (the Neural Network terminology is sneaking up from my degree hehe).
Main Theme Song
We initially had a different track for the main theme of the game, made by my friend Matt, but we decided that A. the game needed more of a purpose-made theme, and B. Matt’s song sounded more like it would fit somewhere else, perhaps the space level. Anyway, I tasked myself with making an upbeat, goofy, and fun song to get players in the mood to play a light, easy-going game, whilst maintaining the grand feeling of loading up the game. It just so happens to have the added benefit of being infectiously catchy, often staying in my head for days-on-end.
Wild West: New Music Track
This piece is the kind of theme I have been trying to achieve for the cowboy level since day 1… a classic Western theme song to really bring out the spirit of Clint Eastwood. After days of searching for a whistle VST and painful attempts at recreating the incompatible 32-bit freebies that I had found, the answer was under my nose the whole time…
General… MIDI… 79…
It’s no real-life whistle, but it sounds good enough to get the point across. I also knew that I needed some form of guitar, with tremolo to get that real desert gunslinger feeling. Slam in a whammy bar, and we have our intro. I also decided to use a country train beat, to get the feel of a chugging steam engine, as well as trumpets to repeat the opening motif, to get the Mexican influences in the piece.
The Witching Hour
So, in honesty, the following pieces are a bunch of tracks I have made over the years, since 2015, that I recently discovered deep in my archives, that I decided needed reviving and incorporating into the game. I won’t go into detail about each one here, but I think it’s quite obvious that, so far, The Witching Hour is my favourite map, and I have liked making spooky music for a very long time.
The more observant amongst my readers may have noticed that the last track there is a remix of track 05 — this piece is an old song made by me and Matt, called “Haunted HOUSE” from the album “CREE.P.“, filled with all of the spooky songs that I had ever made. I decided to make this an Easter egg within the level (for which I will not say how to activate it — buy our game when it comes out and find out hehe), which will be on a seamless loop whilst the player is within the bounds of the secret.
Plane Customisation: Hats
This is just the beginning of a large amount of planned cosmetic choices available to add to each plane in the game. These hats are unlocked based on experience, achievements, finding them within levels and activating certain Easter eggs. Information about the unlockable hats are available by hovering over each icon, however, secret hats will not display any hints.
Multiplayer on Steam
As a bit of a head-start on the whole multiplayer mechanic of the game, whilst I wait for work on the Seven Seas (our literal flagship map) to be completed, I have created a few UI menus that (will) allow a player to either host or join a game, set up any rules of game modes and wait in a lobby until the players have all selected ready up. This is a complicated process, requiring communication and data management between a server and a client (even when acting in a peer-to-peer manner), made even more confusing when dealing with the integration of Steam persona information and lobby matchmaking. Nevertheless, progress is good, and currently, users are able to create a lobby and have others join them directly via Steam, by right-clicking their friend and selecting “Join Game”.
A big part of making the gameplay more fun for users, is the ability to vary the throwing power behind each turn. This was implemented through the use of a UI power bar, that is increased by holding the Space Bar, until it reaches a given level. We are toying with the idea of making this more difficult, including the addition of random, rather than liner, incrementing of the power value, as well as the possibility of throwing an automatic bad throw if going above the maximum power, or perhaps the ping-pong effect of going from maximum to minimum power, requiring good timing when releasing the Space Bar.
The main menu has been given an overhaul after looking a bit too childish and low-quality in the previous iteration. This way, I think a nice amount of attention is drawn towards the plane, with bright colours and a spotlight, whereas before the eyes were drawn all over the place, making it potentially distracting for the main focus of the game to be noticed by non-players (getting that word-of-mouth interest).
As a minor update from last month, here I have added two more bedroom objects for the camera to animate towards when hovering over each level. Namely, a ship in a bottle for Seven Seas and a horror movie poster for The Witching Hour.
Level Design Updates
The Witching Hour
My favourite map is slowly getting more and more populated with various models and… I guess you could call them biomes. Basically, Callum and I decided to split each map into segments of 3 rounds, so as to tell an overall story, whilst maintaining a more micro-scale, localised scene throughout the game. So far, this consists of a graveyard, a dead forest and a creepy corn field with a scarecrow, but we will also be adding a pumpkin patch, a spooky village and a haunted mansion.
Last but not least, the latest update to the Seven Seas map, which will most likely be our first completed map. This is the current view of the modelling done by my trusty business partner, Callum, with some very nice houses, markets, towers and pirate docks.
So, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I will see you all next month for the latest updates on Plane and Simple, and hopefully we will have some fully functional gameplay to show off!
All the best and stay safe!