We hope everyone’s holiday season has been treating them well! Ours has been very busy with family and holiday stuff, as well as work on pushing A Tofu Tail out the door. All of the interruptions of this time of the year have sort of staggered progress a little bit more than expected, but things are still moving forward.
Our main objective recently has been planning our marketing strategyand preparing for future enhancements to our websites over the next several months. So far this hasn’t advanced as quickly as we would have hoped, but we are mostly satisfied at the moment. I guess that will just sit as more experience and lessons learned for the next project, right?
We have also been making some pretty solid progress on development in A Tofu Tail. Overall, many of the latter pieces of the puzzle have been falling into place and each day brings us closer and closer to a finish product. We are finally over the toughest challenges (design and production-wise at least) and can focus on expanding the content and throwing on more polish.
All core mechanics, now that they have been implemented and vetted through playtesting, probably won’t see much change at this point (which a good thing since we are so close to being done!) – leaving polish and code optimization as the few remaining coding tasks remaining. The ‘reverse previous move’ functionality was that final mechanic to be added and it has been fully implemented (minus the polished flashy animations), with one minor bug to be fixed before we can slap that final approval sticker on it. Shouldn’t be a huge task we hope!
The other major coding task that was lingering was the complete overhaul of the level builder tool. Level production has become much, much easier with the new tools and functionality, decreasing the time it takes us to make a level by almost 50%! It was a pretty clunky and counter-intuitive tool before, having thrown it together super-quickly so that we could make levels for shows and for playtesting.
Lesson learned? Have the foresight and take the time to design and build it right the first time. It saves a ton of time down the road of either trying to fit the changes into the existing design, or just scrapping it outright and rebuilding it anew…
Many menus and their functionality have been getting cleaned up and tweaked behind the scenes. Not much that would be noticed by the players other than the new visuals, though.
Our biggest hitter here is the editing, reorganization, and creation of over 20 levels over the few days after the level builder was revamped! Most of these are in the beginning sections of the game, built around the supporting characters: Mr. Tengu, Mr. Oni, and Mr. Kappa. Granted, most of them need playtested, but it is refreshing to see our production of the levels jump so quickly!
Sean has been getting us a steady stream of concept art for some of the supporting characters as well as making progress on the banner and cover art for A Tofu Tail. We are very eager to see what he comes up with!
Here is a sample of one of his nine-tailed Kitsune concepts:
Music / Narrative
Several of the music tracks have been finalized and remastered, now that all of the core songs have been composed. Tom has also been pulling together the ambiance tracks for the dialogue and cutscenes.
A fun little change that we recently implemented was the synchronization of the lights and Disco Kitsune movements to the Beats-Per-Minute in the songs. It looks pretty darn groovy and definitely pulls you into the narrative a little more 🙂
Again, some minor bug fixes, but nothing too huge:
- The Oni now move correctly in boss stages. They were hitting invisible walls before, which made it impossible to actually build the book 3 boss levels, frustratingly.
- Fixed an exploit in which the player could pause the game to stop the timer while the characters would finish their movement, shaving time off of the total finish time.
- Options menus were broken after a previous update and no longer worked. This was fixed and menu sound effects are now controlled by the master volume controls in the options menus
- Fixed an interesting little bug in which Mr. Tofu would sometimes start a level with a bowl of water on his head.
- All boss level objects and tiles now appear and disappear correctly as the player progresses through the stage.
Our main focus now is still all that business and marketing craziness, and it is still a very long and windy road. But we will reach our destination soon! By next update we hope to have a majority of the story levels built, and hopefully just as many playtested and cleaned up!
As a final note, we have been taking a high level look at our puzzle building strategy and have become pretty curious how others would approach making levels in a puzzle game.
What is the core strategy that you think you would use (or actually do use!) in planning and building puzzles in a game?
Until next time, we look forward to hearing from you and would love to throw ideas back and forth!