Pandora: devlog #3

It has been a long time since my last devlog. I have been quite busy prototyping the game and got quite a bit of work done: all the basic game systems like camera, movement, saving and so on were done quite quickly and easily. So I thought to myself: “Nice, this is easier than I thought!”. Little did I know how wrong I was…

So what is the problem? First of all, I was still in blackboxing stage. This is where one uses basic primitives like balls and cubes to represent objects – terrain, buildings, enemies and even the player. This makes it much easier to get something done quickly as the developer is not slowed down by graphical nuances or performance issues. Most importantly though a lot of details can be ommitted – effects, animations, shadows…

Unfortunatelly making a good game depends a lot on these “details”. Effects and animations not only make the game more pretty and alive, they also give player feedback – if he steps on a mine, the explosion is a good indicator of what happened. If the explosion is missing a player stepping on a bump on the road and suddenly dying would look quite weird, right?

I realized this when I took a week long break from working on Pandora. After I came back and played around with the blackboxed scene I was confused. When I clicked the button that was supposed to open the door it did nothing. Only after I walked around for a while and tried again did the door open. What was happening? Turns out I made it so that the player needed to be close enough to the button to actually be able to press it. Logical? Yes. Understandable? Not without animations or acoustic feedback (the good old: “I need to get closer.”)!

There is another thing that one has to consider – while requiring the player to be close enough to a button is logical it is also quite annoying when it has to be done manually. How close is enough? Thats why in most games clicking a button far away makes the character run to it and then press it. Sounds easy, but its one of those little details that will quickly annoy every player if not implemented right.

So i spent several hours making it work. Along with not only adding proper graphics (goodbye, colored boxes!) but also some nice animations and effects. Here is the result:

Open the gate!

Let me know what you think, but keep in mind this is till very early stage so the graphics are not final. In the next post I will talk more about the story of the game and the gameplay I’m aiming for.

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