Between mid April and today I’ve been very busy figuring out some game design solutions for C3R and also focusing on nailing down some mechanics. Big shout out to Nico who’s on the project for programming and design feedback and encourages me to take the more unhinged route when planning out gameflows.
Originally this was a bit of a tough one because compared to the first two story routes, Barrett was missing a bit of flair gameplay-wise. Making a good old 2D parallax sidescrolling game with character dialogue has been done a lot, so I was really looking to make it something more special than that.
Something that I immediately noticed was missing (and Nico and I share the same brain so we both agreed on this right away) is that there’s no concept of time. Barrett’s deal is that she’s chasing after a train, she shoots at it, then goes into the next town to talk to NPCs. There was no sense of pressure or urgency to this, which deflated the gameplay a bit–so the next solution was to add a timer and add more pressure on the player to make meaningful choices.
So from: following a train -> shooting at it -> going into the next town
It’s now: go into a town -> there’s a timer on screen telling you when the train will arrive -> NPCs will talk to you and you will have the option to continue talking or eject yourself from the conversation -> if you do not eject yourself in time, you will not be able to follow the train and you’ll have to go to the next town and try again (there will be limited tries) -> AT THE SAME TIME, you do have to speak to specific NPCs to get important story context as well as gameplay context to get the True Ending.
To quote Nico, this is going to be as toxic as possible to the player and forces them to balance between the action and dialogue, and will take a few tries to achieve this. I started making some real ugly prototyping of this but it’s coming together!
On to Sepsis
Meanwhile, I worked on making a few mockups of Sepsis’ route, which is also a tricky one due to being very abstract.
Some major changes:
- No more free movement. All player movement is static grid-based movement to give it more of a dungeon crawler feel as well as to give the impression that it’s a “camera” and that the environment is a projection generated by the mech’s camera
- Also added a sky view–it’s more of a secondary view to give players different views of the terrain to help them find points of interest, but triggering the puzzles will be done through the main view.
- Puzzles are separate from the scene. Adding puzzles directly into the environment was just too tricky and annoying to deal with. Instead, players will have to find specific points of interest where they can load into a puzzle scene
- Additionally, the camera has a radar UI that approximates points of interest, and a blue reticle will appear when the player is in the right position and rotation to activate the puzzle scene
Since Rebel is the more narrative-heavy route, I didn’t do much here outside of fine-tuning parts of the script, but more progress on that most likely closer to June/July.
I’ve also been slowly updating some of the art, like Sepsis’ UI, and will probably do the same for other routes as I go through them. The priority for the rest of the month will be to build out the levels for Sepsis’ route, then create the individual puzzles.
Once that’s done, Barrett’s route will have levels built out using the new system, etc! No solid demo date yet, still tentatively aiming for later in the summer. I do feel this past month has been a major breakthrough since some of the design aspects were really blocking me from thinking clearly. Nothing like sitting down and coding for 5 hours to figure out what feels good.
Til next month!