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Corporate Salmon - Fish in Business Suits Climbing an Escalator.

AlexVsCoding

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Hey Folks,

Heads up that I took a weekend off from the project to relax but also tinker with some other stuff! Here's what I worked on instead for the Game Maker's Toolkit Jam! Was fun to work on but also gave me some practice in UI design as well as building games at a super small size (96 x 128) which now love doing. May spend tomorrow morning get a version working on a device for fun.


I'll be back on with work on Corporate Salmon tomorrow, so don't worry too much about that!

Thanks for checking the project out, genuinely appreciate the nice feedback Corporate Salmon has received so far.


Here's  some footage of me reworking the top of the escalator to have a flat surface. Originally planned to have it be a floor you arrived at, but it seems to be more entertaining as a section of the elevator that levels out. More tinkering to come!

AlexVsCoding

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  • Posts: 129
Hey Folks,

So today I've focused on several features as part of the game:


1. Escalator top done and further optimisation - Rather than the stub you saw in the previous gif I posted, I used the top of the escalator from the boss level for a cap to the escalator banister. As an experiment, I built a function that optimises the resources used for the game. Previously, I had two separate objects for the front and back banister, but now I've just created a variable based local ID that can determine that I can label to be either a back or front banister. Depending on which one it is, the colour and layer position is altered. This worked and thanks to this, the storage for some of the biggest objects in the game can be halved. There is still a bunch of polishing to be done which I'll be doing tomorrow.

2. POWER UPS! - After realising the slow-mo function was being mistaken for lag, I created a separate object to collect to activate it. From this I designed several different powerups including x2 multipliers, low gravity and coin magnets. Here are some examples in action:
SLO MO


LOW GRAVITY

Currently they activate when the power-up is collected, but I'm going to be dabbling with the concept of having them activated upon tapping on the UI in the corner of the screen. This way, you can toggle that double jump in time with a dangerous situation rather than it being activated involuntarily.

If you have any suggestions for power-ups you'd like to see in the game, let me know!

Thanks and keep an eye on the project tomorrow for more updates!

AlexVsCoding

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  • Posts: 129
Hey Folks!

Here's my to do list for today:

1. Flesh out the power-up system in Corporate Salmon:
a. Finalise the power-up list
b. Currently the power-up object is expanded from a tiny file. To add some more detail to this, I'll be looking into doubling its size.
c. Design the accompanying indicator on the speed UI in the corner of the screen.
d. Look into whether being able to physically toggle the power ups works better for the game, rather than activated on collision.

2. Polish top of escalator and level exit

3. Look into extending the end of the escalator (Now that I've shaved a section off of the top)

4. Further optimisation including editing background sizes and removing duplicate files.

I'll be posting updates through today, so keep an eye out for those as I work my way through!

AlexVsCoding

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  • Posts: 129
Hey Folks!

Nice little set of updates:

I've got the top of the escalator working smoothly. Not only does it level out, but initially the step ascends to the level the player can see.

Here's a quick snap of what that looks like under the hood:

And here's what that looks like in action with the casing on:

As you can see in the above gif as well, I've implemented a couple of extra things;

1. End platform with a finish line on it
2. Little finish line flags either side
3. And of course.....

POWER-UPS

Yep, so I've finally got the power-ups implemented with a toggle-able function. Originally, I built the functionality that you just grab the power-ups and they instantly activate, but that left a lot of poorly timed situations which made them feel more like obstacles than perks (E.g. Low gravity kicking in and having you stuck in the air).


At first I had used the speed gauge window to display the currently selected power up in, but soon realised after that the position of the speed gauge would mean players would accidentally toggle their power-ups (Since it was the resting thumb position, the bottom right hand side of the screen).

I tried putting the monitor in the top left hand corner but that just made less play space on the screen and a hard to reach location to activate, so I made the activation function a downwards swipe.

At this point, I realised that after 8 different iterations of UI for the corner of the screen, it was probably a lost cause to have a screen/scale/chart/interface in the dead space of the bottom right hand corner. In contrast, it was bought up that having some negative space there for the thumb to rest might actually not be a bad thing.

From here came the revelation that a speed gauge wouldn't be necessary since you could gauge the speed of the escalator by looking at it!

In the end, it's more information that the player needs, so I scrapped it.

R.I.P.U.I

BACK TO POWER-UPS

The power-up once collected is displayed in the top left hand corner of the screen as a small icon and upon swiping the screen downwards the power activates. This includes some (And more) of these:

LOW GRAVITY

Lowers the gravity of all objects in the level, allows you to cover huge distances but can leave you floating if poorly timed.

COIN MAGNET


Drags all coins toward the player and consumes them.

BIG FISH

Makes the player huge and therefore easier to climb the stairs which is more like a ramp to a larger player.

There's also slow motion (Which you've seen before) but also x2 multiplier which is a nod to the previous system I had in place.

What from here?

1. Build the tutorial to not only introduce the various power-ups but the gameplay in general.

2. Look at extending the escalator - It's getting really hard to judge at this point, but particularly with the power-ups I'm finding it easier to get up the escalator - Possibly making them an extra third as long would be something I'd be looking into. Failing that, having a variable that I can set/change that allows me to alter the height of the escalator easily.
3. More visual feedback when using the powers - At the moment they feel pretty bland to use, and you can only tell they've de-activated by them disappearing off the screen. No slider, no flashing as they're about to run out, nothing. To add, there isn't much visual indicator in the level that things are changing, so I'll be looking at adding some extra stuff.
4. Start designs for new logo as mentioned previously.
5. Try and experiment with the shop swipe movement - A friend who was also building a shop for their game managed to figure out some swipe code that works with moving multiple actors, so I'll be trying to integrate the solution he directed me to and tweak it for a looping carousel.
6. Properly cost, name and order the various suits in game - A lot of the original ones are garbage and I'll be getting rid of (A lot of them to populate the rails with were just copy and paste with a hue alteration).

That'll be it for now, Thanks for giving this a read and stay tuned for more soon!

AlexVsCoding

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  • Posts: 129
Morning folks!

Today I'm going to be tackling 3 major areas of the project listed in the previous post:

1. Shop functionality - As mentioned in earlier posts, I rebuilt the shops functionality to let the player directly interact with the carousel after the players didn't seem to notice the nifty coat hanger arrow keys I made. This had a period of time that I dedicated to swipe functionality, but couldn't get the desired effect and settled for a two button screen split (Left side to move left, right side to move right). I'll be trying to implement a swipe functionality today.

2. Further experimentation with UI (Power-ups) - Whilst I have definitely written off displaying anything in the bottom right hand corner that is not absolutely critical, you can see from the latest gifs I've been sharing there is still some minimal UI on the top section of the screen. This needs some further tinkering, including (Despite my efforts to amend this) seeing if the power-ups would be better to appear anchored to the screen like a piece of a HUD (Like the score/height measure), or keep the current more physical weight to its positioning on the screen. Setting up a system that I can toggle between if I keep changing my mind would be the optimal solution.

3. Export a build - This one is particularly important, as the lack of testing on a physical device (Instead through a computer/browser) meant I didn't notice the issues with the interface (Of having the players' thumb naturally rest where it was displayed). It should also mean I can keep sending out Testflight builds to accumulate some more feedback.

Here's a fun gif to tide you over of me earlier experimenting with the grow function:


AlexVsCoding

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  • Posts: 129
Hey Folks!

So update on the project - I've managed to get the new UI system working:
1. Added a noise that indicates when a power up is toggled and collected (May also add one that kicks in when disabled)
2. Swipe functionality was inverted as swiping upwards rather than down on the device felt better.
3. Added a timer that lets you know how long you have left before the power up runs out
4. Decided to fix the power up to the screen like UI to avoid perceptions that it was an object in game rather than a HUD element.
5. Gutted all of the old UI out in the corner.

There's definitely still some work to be done on making this perfect - I'm needing to:
1. Add some more visual and sound based feedback for the different power ups
2. Figure out what happens when you collect multiple power ups or are mid power-up use (Ditch the previous one?)
3. Decide on whether to remove people's power-ups upon death/moving between levels.

The other major thing I've been working on is Suit Yourself (The game shop), where I've managed to add the beginnings of swipe functionality:
1. Compared to before where you tapped either side of the screen to scroll left and right, you now can swipe.
2. Upon finishing your swipe, the clothes rack will automatically align to the nearest one to the player.
3. Set a maximum scroll speed to avoid the rack breaking as well as upper and lower limits to how far it can move.

This is all great, but there's still a bunch of things to fix/add:
1. I've disabled looping as it was causing a bunch of issues of misalignment. I may add it back in eventually, but need to ensure the suits remain aligned as a priority.
2. Making the salmon be aligned to the suit they're currently wearing from the store (Rather than scrolling from the first to the last for example).
3. Tweaking the Sticking of the centre code - Whilst it does the job, it almost does it too well and as a result it makes it hard to move between suits next to one another.
4. Refining the code that limits movement at either end - The code that stops the player from scrolling past all of the costumes does technically work, but has on a couple of occasions failed to stop movement then locked any interaction with the rack. I'll be looking into that.

Grabbing some lunch and I'll then post some gifs/video of current gameplay.

Thanks for reading this!

AlexVsCoding

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Hey Folks,


After a lot of faffing around, I've managed to get the shop working with swipe functionality. It no longer loops around, but does line up correctly, start the player with the suit they are currently wearing and stops the player from scrolling infinitely. With the system I have in place, it should be easy enough to add more costumes as time goes on.

I've also added noise to the power ups, although there's still the other two issues mentioned in the last post to address.

Here's some extra stuff add to the to do list:

1. More visual and audio stimuli when you buy stuff/interact with things in the store (Currently you don't even get a sound if you buy something)
2. Spawning at the top of escalator - A lot of the spawning functionality was built around the escalator going off the top of the screen, but since levelling that out alignment problems have began occurring. I'll be needing to address that.
3. Whilst I get rid of fish that fall off the bottom of the screen, on the later levels they get too good and rocket up the stairs. This in a gameplay sense is totally fine, but it means there's a huge glut of fish at the top of the escalator that aren't be de-spawned.
4. Finalise the colour of the power-ups - Currently they are the same colour as the first level, but I might decide a more neutral colour that works across all levels.

Here are some overarching things:
1. Re-Design Splash Screen, logo and banners.
2. Clear external assets for release
3. Do tutorial banners and implement them appropriately
4. For the store, get the suits and name, price, order and polish their designs. Cut some of the more generic ones.
5. More feedback for the unique power-ups when used.
6. Implement ad functionality and in app purchases
7. Finish the loop of gameplay (Currently if you win, you can only keep playing the boss battle repeatedly when you press start).

Stay tuned for more soon!

AlexVsCoding

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  • Posts: 129
Hey Folks,

Been on holiday the last week so apologies for the lack of updates!

Feeling a lot better for having some rest, although getting back into the project has taken a couple of days! I've started off with some visual tasks to ease myself back into it, for example, designing a bunch of costumes for the in game shop and remastering the old ones/hacking out the unnecessary ones. A good rule of thumb I applied whilst in the pool was if I couldn't remember the suit, it wasn't iconic enough to be on the roster.


Some of these will be saved for a later update, as the process of implementing each takes a bunch of time to do (And there's still so much left to do as time runs out!)

Here's the backlog of things that I have to do from here on out:

Final tutorial implementation: I spent a bunch of time on holiday designing how I want the tutorial to work and building the logic loops based on how players do. For example, what happens if the player dies mid objective, do you restart the tutorial or just the section they've reached?



Here's a rough explanation of what I've decided:

0: Tap to jump (Bottom of the third image) - Show a finger pressing on the screen along with a text prompt telling the player to jump
1: Flop to the Top - Tell them to climb upwards (And that there is a top)
2: Collect Coins - If the player survives long enough, a coin will automatically fall onto the screen. When this happens, the game will temporarily slow down, a UI element will pop up with the word "COLLECT" and a giant arrow that will point at the coin in question. Collecting 3 coins will stop the notification being displayed on the next playthrough.
3: Avoid fish - Shortly after the first coin drops, a salmon will fall from the top, slowing the game down again and popping up the word "AVOID" with an arrow. Dodging two fish will stop the message displaying the following playthrough.
4: Green lines pop up - When the first green line approaches, a screen will pop in explaining that tapping on the green line will do something.
5: In the second frame of the animation, the player will be seen to be launched upwards with the accompanying visual positives (Money, arrows pointing upwards and possibly a green tick)
6: After that short explanation, the first green line will appear. Accompanying this will be an arrow pointing to it and the caption "BONUS". This caption may change to something more appropriate in time.
7: Red Lines pop up - After a decent gap in gameplay (at least the first level completed), the red lines will be introduced with a similar tutorial to its green line counterpart.
8: The second part of the animation will show what happens if the player taps when passing through the red line: The escalator accelerating, less of a leap upwards and loss arrows dropping from the top.
9: Red line appears on the screen after the tab is closed. Arrow and description "AVOID" appears.


Power up tutorial:

1: Collect Power Up - Like with coins previously, a power up will be dropped into the level, the game will slow down and display that the player should grab it.
2: Use Power Up - Upon collecting the power up, a screen will be revealed indicating the player needs to swipe to activate the power.
3: Power Up Active - The second frame of the animation shows the power up becoming active (Grow) and the icon for the power up changing.

The reason this one is separate is the indecision of where to put it in the game and whether it needs a separate tutorial screen to display it. Most likely, this will fit in snugly between the green and red line introduction. I may do some experiments to see if an on screen indicator of what to do is enough for this one. (E.G. Showing a finger on screen swiping to indicate what you need to do).

Whilst this is a task that needs implementing (And have started laying the groundwork for in a separate build), I'll be focusing on something less gargantuan today. As I mentioned before, I'm easing myself back into the project with more achievable tasks (As when I came back from holiday, I dived straight back into the tutorial logic and obliterated my head). Instead, here's what I'll be focusing on instead:

1. A line that shows your last point reached - A lot of similar games have this marker, be that a tombstone or skull of your previous progress. Possibly having it as a line that can actually boost you up as well might be a nice touch.
2. Polish the top of the escalator - Upon showing it to family, a consensus was reached that the top needed a little more polish, for example, making the little exit grill you get at the top of escalators. I'm also tempted to add in some confetti or visual reward for getting promoted.
3. Drop off for certain objects spawning on the screen when the top of the escalator is reached - Currently, the profit and loss lines look quite bizarre when the player finishes the level, spawning beneath the position of the player despite being out of reach. There's also fish, coins and power ups continuing to spawn despite reaching the top. This can be hilarious but could be exploited (People hanging around at the top and farming coins) or frustrating (Fish spawning on top of you and launching you back as you go to the exit). Putting a limit on the spawn point height for these objects will probably do the job.
4. Enemy Salmon max height - With all objects in the game, if they fall beneath a certain height relative to the player, they die. For example, the coins fall off the bottom of the screen and die. The enemy salmon also have this function built in but don't have an upper limit to when they are removed from the game. Whilst this isn't a problem in earlier levels, in later ones where they become more proficient in jumping they are able to easily scale the escalator (Leading to a glut of fish alive off screen). I'll be logging how many fish are in-game at a time (And who aren't interacting with the player) then finding ways to either kill them off upon reaching a certain height or temporarily disabling them so they remain in view.
5. Better visual indicators on the store - Whilst I did add the various displayed buttons (BUY/WEAR/WORN), there needs to be better UI feedback. For example, having the game ask you if you want to buy the suit you've currently got selected before returning to the game. Another is having an indicator that you can actually buy a suit! Currently, there's no sound or visual indication other than nothing happening to indicate something is unaffordable. I'll likely add a message to the screen, an appropriate audio cue, alter the opacity of suits that can be purchased. I also want to add a notification that a certain suit is available, to drive player traffic towards the store. That would likely be adding an exclamation mark and more flashing to the icon on the game over screen.
6. Structure the menu functionality after the campaign has been completed - In the current game, winning returns you to the main screen, then upon playing again sends you straight to the boss battle. I will be adding in an endless mode for completing the game and in turn the ability to switch modes on the main menu.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ INTERMISSION $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Here's some experimentation I've been doing with splash banner designs.

Still early on but liking the rough concept so far (And contrasts really cleanly against the pink of the player's design).

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ INTERMISSION OVER $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

7. Add pause menu to the end game sequence - Originally I didn't want to include it, but upon realising how much of a pain in the backside getting footage of the boss sequence was, being able to access it would be a plus. Shouldn't take too long to do.
8. To add some more variety to the levels - I'm currently mulling over changing the suit designs of the other fish between levels. This would tease the shop through a suit being unlocked with each promotion. The only thing that I'm conflicted on is whether doing this makes the player stand out less.
9. Delay on settings toggle - A recurring issue that I'll be dealing with is a delay on the settings tab popping in on game over. I've seen several players press on the settings bar accidentally when they lose (return to menu/buy ad free/see other games). This should be easily fixed with a subtle delay of a second on their activation. This might also apply to the accompanying buttons for the play button (Suit Yourself and Stats).
10. Update bear graphics - After an article from Touch Arcade pointed out the end boss looked like an aardvark (and some testers saying it doesn't look enough like a bear), I'm going to do some refinements to its design. I'm wanting to avoid giving it teeth to not make it scary, but it might be necessary to make it more bear-ish.
11. Red arrows cause lag - Upon jumping on loss lines, the volume of red arrows falling from the ceiling causes the game to glitch on some lower end devices (and isn't particularly clear to what you're looking at anyway). I'll be refining their design and trying to space them out a little more.
12. More indicators of progress - Little notices that let you know how far you're off reaching the top or maxing out a level on coins would help keep players engaged. I'll be dabbling with some ideas for this.

There's obviously a bunch of other things overarching that I've got to do, but this will do for now! Keep an eye on development over the next few days for more updates!

Thanks for reading through this marathon post, writing these really helps me get a better sense of grounding on the project, as well as assembling lists that I can work through (And can tangibly see things getting ticked off).

AlexVsCoding

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Hey Folks!

Got a biiiig update for you - Made a large amount of progress in the last week:

1. Bear graphics updates: After having it compared to an ant eater and the shape of the face being unclear, I've made some adjustments to its design, giving it a set of teeth, adjustment to the pupil/nostrils/ears and adding a suit similar to the portrait on the wall. I'll be updating that portrait as well to match in a more similar way to the bear in game.


2. Tutorial finished: After a lot of faffing around and racking my brains, the tutorial is fully implemented. In the end, I decided against having pop in panels that obstructed gameplay. Instead, I used the slow motion function to give the player a couple of seconds to view a new feature in moderate safety and giving labels highlighting what to do. These are spaced out over the first level (And one other feature introduced in level 2). This is shown and displayed with a finger that pops into view with instructions with what the player has to do. Spawning of objects is dictated by progress through the tutorial (Green lines aren't introduced until enemies have been cleared, a power up has been used and a coin collected). I'll have to do some testing with this to make sure this is a suitable and clear method for the game, but we will see.


3. Shop final pass: I've made a pile of changes to the shop structure:
a. Costumes - I've added 10 extra suits to the mix of available costumes, as well as ordering them in price (And giving them prices). At this point, the total stands at 31 suits in game (Including the one you start with).
b. Notification - Upon a suit being available for purchase, a notification comes through on the game over screen to notify a suit is available for purchase so the player doesn't have to continuously check back.
c. Made out of price range suits clearly un-purchasable by deactivating the buy button and replacing it with a low opacity padlock.
d. Display of price/cost offsetting adjusted to stop lower amounts being cut off the screen.
e. The naked player costume is unlocked from completing the game now, and cannot be purchased in store.
f. A lot of old costumes revamped and recoloured (since many were just duplicates of one another).


4. Power ups:
a. I've updated the icons for them once collected to make them clearer and cleaner in design. The feather for example at the size it was previously was hard to identify. I've now been able to add individual hairs(?) to the feather.
b. As with the coins, I've created an animation for the placeholder design I had before, changing it to a square shape and adding a rotating animation. I've also altered the colour to make it stand out.
c. The slow motion power up has been given a boost by not only slowing the player down but physically stopping the movement of all other objects in the level for that period of time.
d. Power ups that are collected in the previously level continue with you if you get promoted.

5. Level select: After beating the game, a "lift" will be available which will give access to various start points in game and the extra menu selection at the start of the game will unlock. For now, this will just unlock level select, but in time I want to add arcade mode to it as well as local multiplayer.


6. Best run so far: I've added a flag that points out your furthest point reached in game. Originally I had a margin line going horizontally across the screen but this was too messy visually (with the green and red lines passing down as well).


7. In game optimisation: previously, there was a lot of objects in game that were causing slowdown. Here's some of the fixes I did:
a. Coins were piling up on steps and causing slowdown, so I raised the height they were dropped in from spawn so they had a lower chance of running out of bounce. I also gave them an extra kick by adding a force to their descent multiplied by the current level difficulty (Factoring in the increased speed of escalator).
b. As mentioned in a previous post, rival salmon were getting removed from the level at the bottom of the screen but not at the top. To combat this, I set a maximum height the salmon could go before being removed from the level OR having their jump function disabled. This means they fall back down the level and therefore have more interactions with the player.


8. UI Clean-Up: I noticed from looking back on a lot of my old footage that there was loads of overlapping numbers and text filling the screen that was honestly painful to look at:
a. Cut out the text identifiers for power ups, increasing their size to make it clearer what they do
b. Removed the instructions from the red and green lines, instead of including what to do with them in the tutorials.
c. Added a low opacity screen into the background of the pause menu, helping the icons stand out.
d. Shifting the height meter to the bottom of the screen as it's less important information.
e. Can't remember if I mentioned it in another post, but I've staggered the menu pop in in the game over screen - I had several complaints of people tapping the screen and pressing one of the various buttons (Other apps, unlock ads), so I've staggered their spawning so the replay button pops in first and the settings menu last.



To do today:
a. Finish level selection screen
b. Update player ties on the main menu
c. Release the latest Testflight build

To do in the long run:
Implement iOS Features/Ads
Add in splash screen/logo
Add in new music/audio
Promotional banner
Trailer production
Submit to Apple
Release browser version.

Stay tuned for more soon, I'll try and space these out more rather than just doing one massive post.