Forgotten Ball Control updates

I have had a tremendous amount of feedback on the controls of Forgotten Ball, and from that I have taken some small steps to make Forgotten Ball more in keeping with what players expect.

Forgotten Ball’s physics are the most discussed feature when I share and show Forgotten Ball builds, and this pre-alpha is no exception. The most discussed and debated aspect is that you can change your direction/momentum whilst in a jump. This is something that normally is only brought up by those whom have programmed game controls in the past, but other have also queried it.. I’m not planning on changing the controls, regardless of how easy or difficult this change could be for me I really like how the Ball feels in the air.

Forgotten Ball in a later section gives you the ability to invert gravity, but really this is just letting you float; It is kinda hard to explain as I don’t invert gravity, I just apply an upwards force and then cap how far from the ground the ball can float to. The set height was the lesser of two evils I encountered about a year ago; I either designed the game fully around gravity inversion (which I didn’t want to do) or I allow the ball to do this bobbing thing. For later reference the balls ability is still called gravity inversion, but its more semi buoyant as such.

The main thing I got back from the Kickstarter pre-alpha backers was that the gravity system was erratic/cutting out etc. I know this to be true as I programmed it this way (badly). In short the Gravity Inversion of Forgotten Ball used to work pretty simply, I apply a force to the ball, and control it by some simple rules: if the ball is witinin 12 units of ground allow the ball to float; if the ball is within 24 units of ground, bring the ball down to 12, if the ball is over 24 units from ground turn of Gravity. Turning off gravity inversion is where the erratic behaviours comes in.

I have made a lot of changes to the Gravity Inversion system in Forgotten Ball; it’s weight is slightly different, it’s more responsive and Gravity will only now cut out if there is nothing beneath the ball.

Video:

Inversion of Gravity Fix/Update from Joshua Croft on Vimeo.

Worth noting is that in air the ball is not held back by friction. So I’ve noticed people just flying or jumping around to get from A to B quicker, this is a problem but it’s something I do in other games so I need to think carefully before making late changes. I will however be adding enemies and blocks to slow down that sort of progression.

Fixes, FAQ, mumbles.

I released the pre-alpha 002 earlier this week/last weekend, and since then I have fixed 4 game breaking issues, to the backers of the pra-alpha game I’m sorry these sneak through. Some were obvious, others not. Forgotten Ball has become a very large game, or at least it is now a game that I have forgotten about code/gameplay in some areas – that is kinda scary. It isn’t growing anymore though.

I’m slowing implanting the last gameplay before the final sections; it’s all coming together well, but I have scrapped CPU intensive AI. So, sadly ‘freddy’ will never make it to the public release, or at least won’t be on mobile platforms. I am kinda sad about this.

I was playing Castle of Illusion this week, you know, the Sega Game Gear ‘port’ I think it’s a port built from the ground up for the platform, but that doesn’t matter. Caste of Illusion has some lovely ideas, it’s a little late to incorporate any inspirations, but still… one of the later level memories does have a direct influence.

I want to answer a few questions raised to me in person and in email…

Q “Forgotten Ball should have collectibles”

It does, and it will have more. Previous ball memories will allow you to unlock their skins, and there is a trick up my sleeve incoming. I should say though, I don’t want to make the game mario-esque, going all over the place trying to collect coins/fruit/cubes etc just doesn’t really appeal, maybe that’s another mode.

Q “Where if Forgotten Ball’s audio?”

JB is working on audio, lots of this needs to be implemented; there is a lot of game and until we’re satisfied that we’ve got enough audio in game we will be holding off sharing. I personally don’t want the music to be repeating to often. The audio is very interesting, is dynamic, minimal and layered. Currently tracks are saved at around 2 minute length and looped/ changed/layered, but it’s not quite there, but it is coming.

Q “Where is the story”

Okay, I lie, only one person has asked this – Forgotten Ball isn’t meant to be an epic story, it’s a minimalist interpreted story, which for the most part is turned off. You know, when you’re developing these things it’s kind of difficult to say “right this is good enough to release”. As I don’t think it will be until near release. It’s told in small sections where Ball has a moment. I kind of like that, interpret these moment as you will. I believe these tell a story, but they also tell yours.

Q “How do I exit”

As a ‘computery’ person, to exit an application I use cmd+q, to ctrl,alt+delete. So with that in mind, I haven’t really thought too much about ‘quitting game’. You will be able to exit relatively easy when you wish to quit Forgotten Ball, without these shortcuts, but I’m a way of from adding that to Forgotten Ball. It’s the cross platform bits that I need to think about.

Q “How do I save”

Right now, you don’t have the option to save, but that code is incoming.

I’m fixing lots of bugs, the erratic behaviour of the player dying and respawning is slowly being fixed, I believe it is fixed – but you know how these things go. Testing, testing, testinggg.

Sadly, this weekend is going to be devoted to uni work… I’m not behind on uni work, but I’m aware of it. I need to get a working prototype running, then I won’t worry so much. I met a lovely backer of Forgotten Ball by chance at university, and I think that is worth sharing. I mentioned on FaceBook, but it was the highlight of my day, albeit the lady only reported bugs!

A new build coming this weekend, probably Sunday. Lots of fixes that have been fixed.
- Josh

Forgotten Ball is now in the last stages of pre-alpha

I expect Forgotten Ball to be complete mid October; with UI following. Then it is a lot of testing, tweaking and more testing before releasing. I have also made the decision to not release all platforms at once. I want to give each platform the attention is deserves and iron out any platform specific features that need to be implemented. I believe I have said this before but it will be around a weeks gap between each platform. This won’t be an issues for Kickstarter backers as they will all receive a Beta early December.

One of the last things I have to do is the animation of 7 more boss enemies (I know, it’s a little more woe than I thought). I love animation, truly it was the first (well second if you include fishing) art form I really put my energy too, but after years of development of Forgotten Ball I am not looking forward to turning ideas into animations. I plan on using some money to find a local animator to help with this, preferably someone aspiring. Animation is a skill, and if I had a couple of days to give to each animation then yeah I could do a great job. Sadly, I don’t have spare time.

I read a post about colour not so long back, and I thought to myself how important colour will be in Forgotten ball. As Forgotten Ball is minimalistic I need to represent that better with colour and make sure the environment ties together. To do this I have enlisted some help from a talented artist friend of mine whom is creating the colour of Forgotten Ball as it were. Well we are working together, but she has skill.

These new colour decisions mean that the pre-existing ball skins will need modifications, as in most of them won’t be any good (too complex) or, at the very least not as part of the main game. When making a game that I am describing as minimalistic I should in my opinion actually honour what minimal is. Too much colour is exactly that, too much colour.

Lastly, and most importantly the game is large, I forgot how large it actually is. It takes 53 seconds for the Ball to fall through the entire world (in that drop sequence); I mean that is impressive, well I am impressed. Certainly feeling like I will be offering good value for money.

..after Kickstarter

Forgotten Ball is coming along very well. I’m now adding the final environment to the game so that the game can look nice from start to finish. Some of this I admit is being built on the fly, so it might not be super final.

I have a choice of gameplay mechanics which I’ve designed but sadly I don’t have all the space for them to do them justice. In testing performance took a nasty hit on some some elements so I had to make compromises, this has been a harsh lesson learnt here when targeting multiple devices. I am really conscious of this and once the final areas are complete I will be revisiting every area of gameplay so that I believe Forgotten Ball is fulfilling a standard that I am setting for it.

Horrible video, but this shows an old area getting some new love:

I really should have perhaps kept a before shot.

Giving away a pre-alpha demo was a good idea. I get feedback, I get bugs reported to me, I get confirmation that the game is enjoyable. It has pretty much caused me to rewrite a lot of code and fix some shitty bugs I didn’t know were there.

In keeping with changes, I have made a lot of changes to Forgotten Ball and honestly these are best shown in a large image. I will compose one this forthcoming week. There have been 3 additional areas added, and there is a genuine reason to this. I need to limit amount of content on screen at certain times, in these dense areas of lots of geometry it makes sense to add some lesser demanding (on GPU) content to separate out the more demanding areas.

I don’t want to enforce on myself any kind of content lock as frankly I plan on adding as much awesome to the game as possible right up till delivery date. I need to also start to really think about a release plan, and promotional things. I am a very busy one man team and writing blogs/doing videos isn’t something I have much time for, in fact I have none. I can really appreciate that they actually might help me in the long run too.

So I will also try and make one blog post a week.

ScreenshotSaturday 9

ss9

A pretty special image for me, as what is captured represents around 2 weeks work, and it is well beyond the mid-point of the game world. Currently not all is present, some AI are missing and enemies not all there. I am missing sound effects dearly now too, however the positives:

  • Still 60fps
  • Less than 30 draw calls
  • 30,000 vertexs
  • 13 animations
  • 4 update loops
  • 400kb of texture data.

Yeah, I am happy. I never share these kinda images, but I like them. Oh and the game body is orange in this section; I like orange.