Weeks 4-6: Tons of changes on way to demo release!

It’s been a very intense few weeks as I’ve been doing lots of playtests and working on many improvements on THE MISSION. It’s funny how, when you’re preparing to release a game, you start to notice an absolute ton of things that should be fixed. Then it’s a matter of deciding what’s worth fixing right away versus how “on time” do you want to be… I’ve made many, many changes in the past few weeks, and I believe they’re resulting in a better game experience. So here we go:

  • Jump to COLOR! Specifically the NES palette is what I have been using to recolor the sprites. This was primarily brought on by the recurring feedback that it’s hard to distinguish the different players in the game, since they are just different shades of the same color. This was difficult for me because the monochromatic palette is part of the original aesthetic of THE MISSION, but if the game is unplayable then there’s no point. So currently I’ve made it a “color system” setting that you can change between MONO and 8-BIT.
  • Battle UI redesigns:
    • At the top, only the player scores are displayed.
    • The spawning indicators are now simply arrows, instead of speech bubbles with the player’s number. I’m phasing out player numbers in-game, since they are redundant.
    • After a kill, a text appears above the player who performed the kill, to more clearly indicate their progress.
  • Performance improvements:
    • Object pooling for projectiles, animations and remains. This is a fun technique which means that instances, and therefore their memory allocations, can be “recycled” instead of made from scratch.
    • Proper disposal of screens after navigating away from them.
    • Helper variables in battle loop, which means more recycling of memory instead of allocating new memory at each loop.
  • Modifications to charged shots, so they are more useful than before:
    • They now hit players who are ducking right underneath them.
    • Previously they could be detonated by shooting a normal shot at them. Now normal shots will just be canceled out by them. Two charged shots hitting each other will still cause an implosion!
  • New Terrarium level. I realized that the first one I made was too complicated to be the first level, so that is now the second level, and I’ve been working on a simpler, more digestible level to be the first.
  • Tweaks to existing levels based on observations in playtests.
  • Arrow keys and Enter button can be configured as player inputs.
  • Players are now penalized for leaving the game screen or dying on saws.

I’m on vacation right now, so I don’t have access to a Windows machine for making a Windows build of the demo. I’ll be looking into that after I return home. After working out any potential kinks, I’ll then be ready to release the demo for both Mac and Windows – look forward to it!!

And in other news, a very happy birthday to my very wonderful wife!

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