ATT Progress Update – User Experience

alchemedium —  February 18, 2015 — Leave a comment

Our focus over the past couple of weeks has been to try to improve the user experience and keep the player immersed in the world of A Tofu Tail. Doing so has required us to think from the perspective of the player and look at the things that were pulling us back to reality and out of the crazy world of the Kitsune.

As usual, play testing was a huge help!

Coding / Design

Game Camera

During some of our play testing sessions, we noticed some design flaws in the camera functionality. The original camera would always follow the player’s tofu cube, and zoom in/out to see more of the ‘terrain’ on the stage. We started running into issues when we introduced the tofu cloning mechanic and larger puzzle stages. There would be times when the main tofu cube was on center-screen, but one of the clones went beyond the camera boundaries.

We implemented a couple of new camera control features to help alleviate these issues, one of which was to cause the camera to automatically zoom out if one of the player’s tofu cubes went off screen.

The other feature was the ability to toggle between a few different camera modes:

Follow: the game camera follows the player’s main tofu cube

Camera mode: Follow

Center: the game camera centers on the play area and the zoom level adjusts to show the entire stage

Camera mode: Center

Free: the player can pan / drag the camera to the desired position

Camera mode: Free

User Experience and Game Flow

We have been hoping to further improve the flow of the game experience and of the player, trying to keep them immersed in the narrative rather than breaking them out at the conclusion of each stage just to navigate to the next level or piece of story.

Setting a single button to trigger progression through each ‘scene’ was a huge help with this flow. The player now could now quickly and easily move to the next part of the game (whether it be the next stage, a dialogue sequence, a cutscene, or even the next realm) without jumping back to the menu.

Building a background system to manage this progression was the other portion of improving this flow. We defined an editable data file to distinctly define what scene would load at the conclusion of the current one. Implementation of this was also taking into account that we wanted to define a quicker, more focused experience for shows and demos. We can now just replace the current ‘scene progression’ data file with the demo data file in the matter of seconds.

Art

Sean has essentially completed the cover art for A Tofu Tail with maybe a few tweaks to some positioning and borders – which was probably the biggest and most time consuming tasks for him of the remaining art planned for the game.

It looks pretty awesome and the style and coloring definitely fits to the theme of the game tremendously! We are extremely pleased!

Next on the list is the design of the icons, and then art for the cutscenes. Based on Sean’s work on the cover art, we are pretty excited to see these ourselves!

Some concept art for Mr. Tofu – in both his human and tofu forms:

The most tofu of any man I've never met

The original lumberjack!

Narrative

On top of writing more on the final chapters of the script, we’ve been digging in and further fleshing out some of the characters and their backgrounds.

The story has had some slight changes since its original inception, which caused some characters to be built a little more inconsistent than we would have liked. In addition, we wanted to mention a couple of characters earlier and a tad more frequently in the narrative through dialogue, so there have been minor tweaks to the previously written pieces of the script.

Bug Fixes

A few bug fixes and adjustments in the past weeks:

  • Fixed camera bug where screen would be black when enter a level
  • Fixed camera bug during dialogue scenes where the camera would not be set on the center of the scene
  • Fixed bug where GUI disappeared between dialogue scenes
  • Fixed camera zoom bug where game objects would noticeably jump to other side of screen for parallax looping

Progress

tofu indie puzzle game progress 2015-02-18

Next steps

Still a ton of work to do, but we are getting very close! Marketing, play testing, distribution, coding… Definitely a longer list than anticipated for near-future tasks, but we’ve been learning a bunch in preparation for our next project at least!

And so, that reviews our recent dev progress here at alchemedium! We shall be back next week with our wrap up of our A Tofu Tail game mechanics overhaul. Until then… keep on ploppin’!

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alchemedium

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Indie game developers from Pittsburgh, PA. We are dedicated to bringing you unique audio, visual, and gameplay experiences. Currently developing the story-driven puzzle game "A Tofu Tail" .

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