February happened! We were all there, we all saw it, nobody can say it didn't happen. You can try to lie and be like, "ohhhh my eyes were closeddd, do it again", or like, "ahh sorry I forgot to change the page of my calendar ahhhh", but you're not fooling anyone. Instead of fooling, you would become fool itself.
Anyway uhhhhhhhh what did I do in February
Last newsletter I said I wanted to work on heath and damage in Protoworld. And that's what I did! Less than I would have wanted, since I ended up being away from my desk a lot in February, but I got the basics in, and a little extra too.
The first thing I needed to do was to add something basic that could just hurt the player on touch, a guy that was simply a walking hitbox. I already had implemented player knockback so just had to combine it with some variables and such for damage:
(Oh! That was my 100th recorded gif for Protoworld! Feels good.)
I edited the knockback animation a bit to better exaggerate the movement. Pretty much all the animations the player and guys have right now are just rough or simplified versions of what I picture them having once I can get around to polishing stuff, but this one felt useful to have a clearer animation for while testing:
Knockback worked but something I hadn't thought about previously was if the player was knocked back and off a ledge. I worked on it further to make sure the player model knew to keep falling in its knockback state until it hit ground again:
I also realised I needed to make it so that, if the player was still in a damage hitbox after being hit already, it would get hit again, and keep being hit until it was no longer in range, like this:
I think I've got better at predicting situations like these, but it's always surprising and funny to have people test what I have and find even more specific scenarios I have to think about and work around... I'm sure there'll be many more in the future.
Anyway, next was health. My original idea was that eating enough plants would eventually recover a health variable all at once after a certain number of plants were eaten, something like this:
I change my mind on this in a bit though. But first I made a test guy that could hurt you in a smarter way than just being a box that moved around. I made a guy that would look around in a circle while standing in place, and if it saw you while you were in range it would target you briefly then fire a shot:
It felt okay! But the health system started to feel a bit over complicated and lacking at the same time... I didn't picture the variables being shown like they were here for testing - the text and numbers - but rather a hearts system for health and a circle of pips that filled as you ate plants for recovery, and reset once the circle was complete. I wanted a bar... I wanted numbers... Specifically, I wanted numbers that would pop up and feel like a video game:
I decided there'd just be a health bar and that eating plants would restore a small amount of health for each one eaten instead, so each feels like a nice little snack:
(You can also see above how I made it so certain things could respawn after being eaten)
But now this opened up a whole new world... What if some guys had health bars too? Little ones that you'd have to reduce fully before you could eat them... Like this:
I'm much warier of making things too complicated than I was before, so even this seemingly simple change is something I'm hesitant about, because it definitely does make things a notch more complicated... But also it feels very game-y, which I'm a fan of. It feels fun to see the bar go down, to weaken a thing and then eat it. I made it so it could attack and hurt you too:
And this felt like a big change, and one in the right direction. Before there wasn't really any real threat apart from implied things and the tone of dialog and the plot in general, but with this, and with seeing the bars and numbers, suddenly the other guys in the world felt on much more of an even playing field with the player, and that things could go bad.
I pictured there being three kinds of edible guys:- One you could eat with just a bite, no health bar
-Another type that would have a simple small health bar and could then be eaten once it was weakened
-And a "boss" type that would have a big health bar appear as a part of the UI, in an area you couldn't leave until they were beaten and eaten
I also pictured an additional bar that could appear before health - an armor bar. So a more complicated guy would have an armor bar you'd have to deplete by method A, then a health bar by method B, then finally you could eat it. See what I mean by how a simple addition like "health and damage" can add so many more options to a game...?
This was as far as I got with Protoworld during February, and before March is out I'd like to have put together a small example boss enemy, hopefully in a playable build. Playing around with a more complicated enemy could be useful in deciding if I definitely want to carry on with health and damage being a thing in this game!
Another thing I did during the month involved going to a small toy museum with a friend where I saw a ton of really inspiring things, with two sticking out to me in particular because they shared a common component: Holes.
The first saw you looking through small holes into a big box that contained a multitude of tiny scenes made of miniatures, each hole either a new angle on a scene or a new one entirely. Here's my friend looking into it and me taking some photos through the holes:
The other that was an area of sculpted wood with holes that encouraged you to reach in with a tool and extract a small simple worm... Here's a video:
I loved both and kept thinking about them and the fun of Holes... I thought it would be fun to combine the two into a game. One where you would control a long stretchy tongue that would go into different holes, each their own contained world, and rummage around in it, causing a mess, trying to find the worms inside. You know, like video games do? How, apparently, according to my mind I guess, how all games are about eating little guys now? Regular video game stuff.
First I'd have to make a tongue. Easy, they're just a bunch of spheres generated in the wake of a player controlled sphere. It'd have to be able to move in full 3D too (like a tongue), so for now I had it move horizontally with WASD and vertically with the up and down arrows:
It'd have to be able to retract too, is what I thought next. To bring back found worms. Simple enough, just have it retrace its path. Pressing a key like spacebar could do that:
Maybe a better way to control it could be with the mouse, where holding the left button is to move forward, moving around the mouse itself changes the direction and then holding the right button retracts. But the other way was what I decided in the moment.
I pictured the test area being a little doll house you could go room to room in, like in the above gif, but I also pictured there being doors. It was funny trying to do something as simple as a door and messing up because I couldn't remember how a hinge joint worked:
Uh, less close...
There we go. I made it so the door was just a little sticky, and you could eventually pull away from it all together once you were done opening it. It's an imprecise thing, but I didn't worry about it. You could close it behind you too, if you wanted:
I felt it easier to just have the controllable front end of the tongue have any physics or colliders, since it would just get complicated otherwise. It might not make sense, but neither does the premise, and it feels more fun this way so, who cares. Just solve basic puzzles with a tongue and have fun, like an ape or crow working out how to get a treat:
I figured out a way to make the tongue look smoother and less Ballz 3D, so I did it. Its just drawing a tiny line between each generated sphere, giving the impression of something solid. An impression that's broken when the player goes up or down, since the shadows betray its true form since the lines being drawn are always angled towards the camera, but, again, I didn't really care too much for this:
I stopped at this point since I didn't want to lose sight of Protoworld, but it feels like a promising start to something potentially fun! People said it's like Chameleon Twist, but I've actually never played it. I should play it.
I think that's most everything for February! A month I have misspelled every time I've wrote it. Since I was delayed this month and then extra delayed again when I was ill for a week, I haven't made or sent out stickers for the sticker crew yet, but they'll happen! I'll also make the second part of the 3D modelling video series I started in January since I reached the Patreon milestone for them. Did you know about that? I posted the first part here.
Thanks to everyone for all your support!! And thanks for being so understanding when delays happen. See you soon for March's newsletter! Until then...