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Magnetic Butterfly Progress

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After I finished up with the second gameplay section of my Call of Duty 4 level, I decided that Magnetic Butterfly would probably only take a few more weeks of work to get to a decent place. I don't intend to finish it during this development sprint, but my goal is to work on most of its gameplay mechanics and systems and get the game, as a whole, to a relatively feature-complete state where most of the rest of the work will lie in making some new assets -- since most of the game is place-holder right now -- and tweaking various object properties and physics.

As it stands right now I have the proper game flow in the game and working (main menu to game to game over back to main menu), the player can die when the life bar runs out, enemies will damage the player, point spheres will damage the player, and there is a pretty basic score-keeping and combo/multiplier system in place. At this point, the work on the game is a matter of finishing various systems, polishing others, and fixing various physics bugs that are cropping up after a player dies or a new game is started. I'm currently focusing on two primary features right now, one of which is the feedback that the player experiences when he/she is hit and when he/she uses the wrecking ball on any one of the game entities. There is the purely kinetic feedback that the player can see whenever a collision occurs, but that's not really enough. Despite it kind of doing against the more minimalist style that I've been aiming for thus far, I'm currently just tossing in some particle sprays that will emit from the point of a collision and then collide with the world geometry over the course of five-to-ten seconds. I really am digging the the look of these particle sprays as they collide with the arena plane and persist for a few seconds. When I was brainstorming some of the visual styles for Magnetic Butterfly, I really was aspiring to have something akin to the flow and tranquility that Flower presents through the game's beautiful grassland; the combination of flowing grass blades and simplistic particle sprites was gorgeous. It just wasn't something that fit in with the scope of this game's development, but the feedback particles that will persist for about ten seconds really remind me of that early goal.

As of right now, one of each type of enemy is being spawned into the game arena when a new game starts, but no more will be spawned in. The other focus right now is getting in the enemy spawning and gameplay segment "rating." There are four enemies: anger, envy, sadness, and sloth. Anger is a fast-moving enemy that is focused on attacking the player. Envy attempts to knock the point spheres out of the arena on its own. Sadness slowly moves around with no real goal in mind. Sloth just... Well, it sits still.

A session of Magnetic Butterfly is designed to last for a finite amount of time (this is not in yet either as I'm waiting on my friend to do the musical track for it), so in that mindset I'm splitting the gameplay into discrete sections. The player is rated on their performance for each section and the number and type of enemies that spawn are entirely dependent on that player performance. If a player does a great job for a given section, then anger and envy enemies will be prevalent. If a player does poorly, the sloth will spawn. If a player falls off the edge a lot, sadness will spawn. This may be an unnecessary design, but it's one I grew kind of attached to during the early phases of the game and am looking forward to getting into the game to see how it plays out. The player's performance will be displayed as a histogram in the "Game Over" screen (or, maybe, somewhere in the main game UI but I'm doubting that).

One of the aspects of the game that I'm constantly tweaking and rewriting are the core player movement mechanics. The concept of the game is a butterfly attached to a giant wrecking ball, so some degree of unwieldiness is to be expected, but I don't want the game to suffer as a result of this mechanic. My best estimate as to how to do this is to make the manipulation of the butterfly itself pretty simple and responsive and to lay the burden of difficulties on getting the ball rolling (so to speak); once the ball is moving along with a decent force, the magnetism should be able to ease the player input significantly. The biggest problem with this whole situation right now is the tail that connects the butterfly to the ball; it's either too stiff and inhibits player movement or its too loose and stretches like a weak rubber-band.

Anyway, I'm constantly updating the publicly-available build of the game, so feel free to try it by clicking the link below. Any feedback is appreciated. There should actually be a proper site for Magnetic Butterfly going up at some point in the next few weeks too, so that's rad.

Play Magnetic Butterfly!
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