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Coming Together

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Lately the game has been getting more fun. Which is really good. It was fun before, but there were things that we had wanted to revisit that now proved to be really good ideas.

One area of the game that was somewhat unusual was the way shooting worked. Basically, most weapons worked in burst mode, so you fire once, and then one or more shots came out, then there was a timeout before the gun was ready to be used again. This is nice compared to having an actual ammo system, b/c you don't run out of ammo, and it provides a nice shoot / wait rhythm that we really wanted.

But one of our beta testers mentioned that he felt disconnected from the firing when he would press the button and some # of bullets came out in succession, so this led me to try to put in a form of ammo/reloading for some guns, and it was a huge success, and is about twice as fun as before.

Here is how the new system works :

Certain guns carry a certain # of bullets per clip

Each shot from one of these guns has a small accuracy penalty.

Holding down the button does automatic fire, shooting as quickly as the gun will allow, but suffering more and more accuracy penalty with each shot.

Single fire allows time for the accuracy penalty to fade.

The user can do any combination of auto and single shot until the clip runs out.

When the clip runs out, the arm lowers, the reload happens ( always a full clip ), and if the fire button is down, the arm comes up and starts firing again.

There is no ammo to collect or run out of. The whole ammo thing is annoying, imo. It is nice in the sense that it allows a designer to keep the player from overusing a powerful weapon by limiting is use through limiting ammo, but it is so not fun to run out before the level is over. I suppose one could have ammo that slowly regens over time, preventing the player from getting stuck with nothing.

Anyway, the new system is just more satisfying, and gives the player more control. Most guns were converted to the new system, except for a few area of effect weapons and lasers.

This change also had a knock-on effect on the AI, which makes it more fun, and harder. The AI is not aware of the new accuracy penalty, so when it moves quickly, it takes potshots if it has a line of fire, but they are less accurate than before, which has the nice effect of filling the screen with more bullets, smoke, etc. The AI basically does auto-fire as long as it has a relatively unobstructed shot at the player.

I also increased the running speed, which makes things more responsive.

There are a few places in a couple of levels, where a player can get stuck, so I added a bit of air control, which lets you get unstuck naturally.

Also a lot of good sound work lately - the robot sounds got an overhaul.

Here is a shot of a further-tweaked GUI, showing the bullets remaining in the gun, and the new health display.

I really appreciate the criticism of the GUI, keep it coming, some good ideas in there. I'm not sure if we will radically alter it, partly because we really do like the weapon stats there, you definitely use them when switching weapons, and deciding whether to pick up an enemy's weapon, even during combat.
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I absolutely adore the mockup by Gaheris. It addresses most of the issues I see with the current GUI--I think the improved world-view is very refreshing now that the GUI rectangle isn't taking up one third of the screen. The transparency is a nice touch, and gives the whole UI a clean and professional look.

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