Saturday, July 20, 2019

Prep for testing

My goal is to have the first area of the game ready for a few folks to sanity check and test for me soon. The goal of this first round of testing is just to make sure I'm not completely off-track. Does it actually run properly for other humans? Is it playable? Is the difficulty completely out of wack? What about the controls?

That means that before I hand it over to folks I need to add just enough polish on everything that it's not a frustrating experience. There are tons of things that aren't done, but that's ok. It just needs to be enough that you get to experience the game properly.

I've been playing through the first area a few times to make sure if feels ok to play to me. It's not very big -- only about 20 different rooms. But that's enough to take a few minutes exploring. And enough to get frustrated by if it doesn't play well. I've already had to change a few rooms that ended up being annoyingly hard.

The other thing that I spent some time on was getting saving/loading working. I fully expect my testers to die a couple times, even this early. I don't want them to have to start completely over every time they die, which means getting game saves working. I have another blog post I need to write about how flash saves work on the mapper I'm using. But I had that part working. What I didn't have working was everything that interacts with actually saving: What happens when you die? How do you load a saved game? How do you start over instead of continuing from your saved game? Does everything get loaded properly when you resume (answer: NO)

I think I finally have all that debugged and working. Tonight was the final piece of it: adding a simple UI for letting the player choose to Start or Continue. Which means title/menu work. Which always takes significantly longer than you expect, and is really boring. Yeehaw.

I'm almost there though. Time to do some more playthroughs.

Now it's a fairly short list of things that I hoped to have in this demo but are missing, and probably won't make it to this first testing round:
  • Super NES controller support (there's a lot of "hold down + A" type things in the game. If the player has a SNES to NES controller adapter, they can use dedicated buttons for those)
  • New Enemy Graphics (I'm using tons of placeholders)
  • The ability to shoot upward at an angle once you find the tank
  • Fix buggy behavior with the health-hungry blob enemy

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