Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thunder Moon - XBLIG playtest 5/21

It's been a very busy time since the last playtest build was put out there. This version has more improvements, bugfixes, and changes than I can possibly list here but many of them were topics of earlier blog posts.

After 1.5 years of effort, I'm very excited to say the game is nearly ready for peer review. It's been quite a crunch for longer than I care to think about but it's looking pretty good to me at this point. It's almost time to get this thing out there!

Here is a copy of the playtest post on the xblig forum:

Here are some highlights of the changes since the last play test build: 
* Huge improvements to voxel system performance. It should be much more difficult to get to the edge of the world now, and if you manage to do it, the game handles that situation much more nicely.
* All story missions in place. With the "testcraft" command line parameter to allow free crafting, the game takes around 45 minutes to an hour to play through the storyline, depending on play style.
* The lore of the world has been finalized, along with name changes to items and characters.
* The story intro sequence has some dialog shown during the descent to explain what is going on and to set the story in motion.
* There are several new special encounters in story mode.
* Story mode difficulty ramps up as the game progresses.
* All crafting recipes have been reviewed and built in game using harvested resources.
* Many new items with active and passive effects.
* The Lander now has a very powerful terrain destroying weapon.
* The cargo pod missions now have NPC attacks triggered. There are a lot more items at the cargo pods, the idea is that it should be easy to get make to at least one of the cooler items just by playing the story.
* You can now trigger your backpacks and aux items while driving the Lander or Hoverbike. This is especially useful in one of the story missions later in the game.
* You can trigger generic items from any slot.
* All the help text now uses a larger font. The text itself is less verbose to fit in the same space, but I expect this will do the trick for readability. I've compared with several other games at this point, and the text size is larger than many of them so I expect this isn't a problem any more.
* The item inspection features of the inventory have been improved and include helpful information explaining what each slot of the item panel is for.
Here are some issues you may notice which I'll be working on:
* There are occasionally framerate slowdowns. It's not too common, and not game breaking IMHO, but I do plan to fix them. The game should generally run at better than 30FPS.
* The flying NPCs don't move around so well. Most of the time they behave well enough, but once in a while they don't. I am going to be working on this some more.
* The final mission is a bit wacky with the spawns, there are a little too many.
* When you respawn the world is not obscured, so you can see the geometry getting built.
* The front end of the game needs a little polish.
There are a number of minor things I would like to improve that I won't flood this post with, but if there is anything that jumps out at you as needing help please let me know.
At this point the plan is to fix any major new bugs that show up and try to address any major feedback people might have.
I really would like to hear anything you have to say, positive or negative, about the state of the game, how fun it is for you and what I could do to make it better.
Thanks very much for any play testing and your feedback.

Hopefully this playtest will go smoothly and I can wrap this thing up soon!