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Curiosity Development Report #3 - Systems, abilities & upgrades

The third Curiosity Development Report, a weekly report of what we've done, what has gone well and what has gone completely wrong during the development of our next game.
HAT TRICK
Hey hey! It's the 3rd weekly development report and I haven't missed a deadline yet! (last week doesn't count...I still hate Hostgator). If you haven't joined us for a development report before it's an outline of what we've worked on in the past week, what we are most excited about and what didn't quite go to plan. Last week we created the BAD (big ass document) of which you can download the latest version below. In this BAD we listed the aims and focuses for the game as well as begun planning on the systems, functions and abilities. This week we worked on fleshing out the systems, functions and abilities and upgrades.
 
SYSTEMS, FUNCTIONS & ABILITIES
We worked on designing four systems this week; core system, zero g system, vehicle system, flying system and climbing system. Using the system focuses of navigation, combat and puzzle solving we designed abilities and rules for each system that would maintain the desired pace and feel of the game as well as some wildcards that can be used to mix things up and test the player.

The core system is the standard style of gameplay for the game, the system that the player will spend the majority of the game using. We decided last week that we wanted the theme and tone of the game to have a mechanical style that slowly transitions to more mystical and supernatural origins. With this in mind, and wanting to put our own twist on standard platformer jumping, we have included a jetpack in the core system. This is what the player will be using the most to navigate the world, the jetpack can be used when the player is in the air, it has a limited fuel supply that is refilled whenever the player is on the ground. We believe the jetpack mechanic can add quite a bit to the standard jumping, it allows the player more control over the character, gives them a chance to correct any mistimed jumps and also creates tension with each jump due to the fuel gauge dropping. With the jetpack we can also broaden the level design to include sections that test the player's ability to remain in the air and not touch the floor. Alongside the jetpack is a range of other abilities that can be used for combat, navigation and puzzle solving.

The climbing system is a smaller system compared to the others with it mainly being used to compliment the core system. Player's will be able to grapple poles and ledges to shimmy along, they will also have a limited range of abilities that they can use to combat enemies and navigate trickier sections.

The zero g system is one of the systems I'm personally looking forward to the most. One of my major peeves with many platformers is the underwater systems. Most of the time I feel like the character handling is a bit too clunky and I just don't find myself enjoying them all that much. At first I was prepared to scrap an underwater styled system altogether, what with the game being set in space and therefore not really having too much opportunity for underwater moments. However, I then thought why not try and improve upon the system? After all I do have something similar to the weightlessness feeling of being underwater and that's zero gravity. With the zero gravity system I want to have the same principles of an underwater system with it focusing on the player having to navigate a level without absolute pin point control of the character but be more...how do I describe it? Be more fun I guess.

The zero g system sees the player's character equipped with a new form of jetpack, one that can apply force in any direction. Players can press a button to apply a small amount of force in the direction of their choice, holding the button for longer applies a greater amount of force. However due to the lack of gravity there isn't anything to bring the player to a stop, this means the player will continue to travel in the direction and at the same speed that they chose. What I'm hoping this will result in is a system where the player is having to constantly adjust their movement with care and consideration as they navigate through the level.

The vehicle and flying systems will be used to break up the game and give the player some variety. The vehicle system will focus on navigation as the player controls an on rail vehicle and has to dodge oncoming hazards and enemies whereas the flying system will focus on combat and sees the player control a constantly moving ship as they gun down waves of enemies. The flying system will also try and create some depth to the side scrolling view by utilising lanes, player can execute barrel rolls which will place them on an adjacent lane to the one they were on. Changing lanes can be used to dodge hazards, escape from enemy fire or to collect a pick up.

UPGRADES
As well as the basic abilities players will unlock upgraded abilities and stats as they progress through the game. The core player abilities such as the jetpack will be upgraded at scripted moments in the game with some minor abilities being upgraded through the completion of a side quest. As well as abilities getting upgraded we thought about how the game could be improved if it was possible for the player to upgrade their stats as well. I said in the first development report how we were looking at RPGs and what they could bring to the table, one of the key things RPGs do is allow choice and variety in how your character plays. We wanted to do this with the character in our game however trawling through character skill trees doesn't really suit the platformer genre, one that is built on movement and and just playing the levels. An idea we've come up with is to have the character shaped by how the player plays the game, this idea is mainly inspired by how character in the pro clubs game mode of FIFA are upgraded. For example, if the player uses the jetpack often then it will gradually hold more and more fuel at a time, if the player heals themselves enough their health bar will increase. This allows the player to get on with playing the game whilst also shaping their character to how they want it.

NEXT WEEK
Well that's it once again. This week has been a very promising week for us and has left us dying to develop these systems more. Next week will be focused primarily on level design as we place down some ground rules and guidelines for ourselves to follow, we will also be fleshing out the systems mentioned above as we get ever closer to the creation of our concept level next month.
Keep on gaming,
Shaun Quaintance.

RECAP
- We've created multiple systems
- I hate the majority of underwater sections in platformers, decided to stick the player in space instead
- The player's character will upgrade naturally rather than spending endless nights creating spreadsheets and trawling through menus
- It's the royal rumble tonight, if everyone's prediction of Reigns or Lesnar winning comes true then it will be a hat trick of terribly predictable rumbles, now all we need is some other sort of hat trick today for there to be a hat trick of hat tricks!
- I've been watching football today whilst sorting out the concept doc and typing up this report so that's why I have hat tricks on the brain...no one score a hat trick in any of the matches I watched.
 
BIG ASS DOCUMENT DOWNLOAD: http://bit.ly/1KyeRqA

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