Friday, December 7, 2012


Time for a deep breath, a short respite from slave driver professors (no offense :) and a look back on the past semester. It's hard to believe that about 9 weeks ago Tripleslash was formed and we started work on Attraction. In that time we have taken a fun concept from prototype to a very solid alpha. Kudos, all around!

One of the best decisions (in my opinion) was to go with an Entity/Component system to handle the game logic. Because of this early choice we have been able to build a wide variety of objects in the game from less than a dozen separate components. Because it was my idea I was tasked with converting the early prototype into an Entity system and given an ambitious time frame - about a week - in which to have it done.

Since that time my team has done an incredible job of expanding on that original work to provide a fun game experience. I have been focusing my efforts on building an AMAZING level editor that will let us iterate on level, puzzle, and art concepts quickly. Early functionality was fairly basic - there was a lot of digging deep into object properties in order to make fairly basic changes.

Once the basic functionality was there I set to work on making everything work WELL. The past few weeks I have documented some specifics of how I've done this - standardizing the keyboard interface, using a brush & paint type system to 'paint' in the contents of the level and using the FileSystemWatcher class in Windows to reload files when needed.

I recently made it possible to easily add new items to the editor toolbox by using the editor itself. You can get an object set up just how you like it, then save it into the toolbox for future reuse. All of this means that we can fire up the editor to build a puzzle from mock-up art, hit F5 to try it in-game, tweak some settings and repeat very easily. Once we have the puzzle functioning well we can hand it off to the artists.

They can load up the editor to see it with the mocked up artwork, edit the textures in Photoshop and switch over to see the changes reflected immediately in the editor (which uses the same rendering system as the actual game). Once they think everything looks good they can hit F5 to try it out in the game to spot any graphical glitches, seams, or odd parallax behavior.

Where do we go from here? Well - I would really like to make editing even more intuitive and powerful. What if, for instance, we had a Boss with two arms that he uses, similar to the player. In order to beat him, the player has to throw something at him (so that he magnetizes his arm) then magnetically rip his arm off. Everything needed to do this (other than a few small bits of NPC behavior) are already written.

What if we had entire magnetic walls that had to be manipulated in a certain order in order to make it through a maze?

How far can we push the fun 'faith leap' mechanic? Can we build an entire level centered around pushing yourself down ramps, across chasms, etc?

Flying spikes. 'Nuff said.

There is SO much potential for future puzzles - I am really incredibly excited to try some of the ideas out.