Sunday, May 15, 2011

Friday the 13th Design Notes Part 2

Let's try this again... yesterday I wrote you some lovely, long Design Notes but I wrote them directly into the Content Management System... and did not save early and often... so CMS logged me out when I went to post them and they were eaten.  I'm writing these in Notepad...

Friday the 13th was a fun and kinda scary release... because Korin turned me loose on planning & managing it.  I've been helping him do this kind of thing for a little while now, but it's different when you're actually in charge of it.  We have this amazing team, though, so it really wasn't all that scary.  At first, I thought that I would mainly be filling a managerial role because I had already planned to be working with blues on the next installment of the Star Captain Xtreme Challenge during this timeframe - but as it turned out it is his vacation time!  So I was able to focus on Friday the 13th & be more involved in the creative process as well as the behind-the-scenes mechanics.  

One of the first things that happened in preparation for the Friday 13th release was that I asked blues before he went away for recommendations for the Uber Jameson buff.

Uber Jameson buff: Applies to the Nova Gem models of 3010 and 3009 plus the new L45 Primo Jameson. Added a general damage boost, and the head now has a Damage BoT (Buff over Time) of +10 per turn over 5 turns.  
(I actually did some of the coding for the buff, with the help of Korin and Vivi, along with my update to the levels-with-you code -  I was a little worried that it was too strong but I'm not hearing any complaints on the forums.)

The Pipe weapons idea grew spontaneously from the release plan.  Since we are in different locations, we communicate online - so I pulled Vivi and Lyris into an MSN group chat and we brainstormed. Lyris made us a Gdoc and put together the dialogue.  She also put together the art assets that turned into the sewer components - and Minar turned the pipe art into weapons.

The new sounds are kind of an interesting story.  The hand-to-hand combat pipe was ready first, and I gave it to Lyris to test.  She said it worked but it seemed weird for a pipe to make a laser noise and that it would be cool if it would "clang."  So the next morning I wandered around the house banging on metal.  The faucets and pipes don't make the right sound - the thing that ended up with good resonance was my stainless steel soup ladle on the vegetable steamer.  I recorded that as an mp3 and sent it to Korin, who figured out how to attach it to the swordfighting combat stuff.  

So yes, the pipe does the same damage as the Evil Jim Replica Axe (rare) and with the merge with the Polish, also buffs up to the same as the EJ Axe.  The difference is that this has the new sound.  As has been mentioned on the forums, it really would have been cool to have a swordfight-style encounter for this weapon, but we had already planned the quests to be mecha combat so the weapon was really more of a 'teaser' and a souvenir.  I thought it would engender more speculation on the forums than it actually did, and I figured you guys would guess that it was going to have a merged version just like the EJ Axe did.  

Then the mecha-equippable arm - I figured that Vivi would be coding it and since he was working on quests, one of which was the quite-complicated maze, I didn't want it to be too complex with new specials, so I asked Minar to set it up as a one-hit stunning melee style.  Things were getting hectic and I decided to try my hand at adding the code to make it function in combat, and once I got started with that I started playing with figuring out how to make it perform the stun.  In an email I had also put out the idea to the brain trust of doing some kind of BtH nerf to the opponent - as it turned out, that part was the easiest to figure out.  I sent it off to Vivi because I didn't think I had the stun-resist-lowering right & thought I was trying to get too fancy... and I'm actually not sure how much needed changing - so judging from your reactions on the forums it looks like it came out pretty well.  

Anyway, back to the sounds.  So Lyris had noted on the gdoc that a flushing noise could be embedded.  We were talking via email and she mentioned it again, and it occurred to me - just so happens that my downstairs bathroom has the original fixtures from like 1908 or something, including an old-style pull-chain overhead tank toilet - that goes WHOOSH when you flush it.  So I sent over an mp3 of Maegwyn's Toilet, and Lyris enhanced it with more water to make it more dramatic.  She did such a great job with the animated cutscenes - so many great little touches that add dimension. (There actually were more places where she would have liked the music clip to play but it had gotten to a point where other functions had to take priority) - (like making the reward shop button unlock) (haha).

So Vivi was busily setting up the quests, which he's impressively good at doing - and then also we had new enemies - he & Lyris put together the art for the new enemies you meet, using existing art.  (I believe this is what Lyris calls "kitbashing" - which isn't quite the same as what Urban Dictionary tells me it means. Basically it's a matter of dissecting and disassembling existing assets and recombining them to make something new.)  Anyway they did an amazing job - Lyris did The Screamer and the Sewer Gator, and Vivi did Freddy Cougar  (I did the unglamorous but necessary database work for that bit).  

Then everything needs some kind of a hub, so I put together the town file and set up the shops and the buttons that send you to the quests, and came up with some dialogue for those areas.  Then of course as always I set stuff up in the database & managed the testing & the usual.  Korin was around - answered a few questions and was always there if needed - mainly he worked on the Gameshow planet and took some time to fix a bug with the coloration on the Punky uniform - and he made the Cursed Tape in game and starship item.

This was a great team collaboration and I'm thrilled that Korin put it in my hands.  We all work so well together - it was definitely a lot of work and long hours. I did get out of town for an overnight trip (was in a canoe looking for river otters, taking photos of birds and turtles and flooded areas) so I got up extra-early and stayed up extra-late to make up for taking off ... while Vivi was going through finals at the same time as wrapping up quest work and Lyris was animating scenes in her evenings after having large projects for the day job.  I am so impressed with the work Vivi and Lyris did! (That either sounds like I'm complaining about long hours, or like I'm saying that I went out of town to have fun and left Vivi and Lyris to do all the work.  Hm... )

So I'm sure I'm leaving something out - rewriting this has taken longer than writing it the first time... anyway I should wrap this up by saying this was such a fun release to put together!  I can't praise our team enough for the fantastic work - and from the feedback on the forums I'm seeing, it sounds like you guys really enjoyed the release.  Thank you so much for playing - I love MechQuest and I love our team, but most of all I have to say that I love the passion you all bring to the game!  You guys totally rock!  

Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!