Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mountain Climber Dev Log 06: What's in a name?

Download the latest stand-alone build for PC or Mac. Or if you prefer, play in your browser. By the way, I don't have a Mac and I'm not really familiar with how best to distribute downloadable Mac builds, so I just zipped up the .app folder that Unity spat out. Please let me know how that works for you.

Changes in this build:

  • Implemented and styled the main menu.
  • Added a pause menu triggered by the "escape" key.
  • Reverted to the two separate pick stamina bars.
  • Iterated on the crosshair and stamina UI.
  • Experimented with an alternate "auto-hang" climbing style.
  • Added an altimeter.
  • Miscellaneous tweaks and bug fixes.
A week to go until my self-imposed deadline, and the game is coming right along. I styled the UI and added some simple fading transitions between screens, and it's already feeling much more like a "real" game.

Implementing and skinning the Unity GUI components was a lot less painful than I'd expected. I'd heard how limited the standard Unity GUI components were, but for a simple game like mine, they actually seemed pretty easy to use. Keep in mind that I'm coming from years of Flixel development, which required a lot of manual GUI work. I still plan to try out NGUI if I attempt a more GUI-heavy game, but for the time being, I'm glad I got a chance to try out the standard components and form my own opinion.

I switched back to the "per-pick" stamina bars so I could separate out two pieces of feedback that were previously both signaled by the crosshair: whether a pick is ready to use and whether the targeted surface is within range. The crosshair UI is now solely for reporting if a targeted surface is within range. Each pick's stamina bar now darkens when it is attached to a surface and brightens again when it is free and ready for use. I also added a pulse effect on a pick's stamina bar at the moment it impacts a surface. Hopefully this makes the climbing feedback easier to use while playing, but I wouldn't be surprised if I end up iterating on it one or two more times.

In response to some player feedback, I played around with a different climbing mechanic, which I dubbed "auto-hang." With auto-hang enabled, the player doesn't have to click and hold to keep a pick attached to the wall. Instead, they just click to attach the pick and click again to detach and attach to a new location. It makes the game quite a bit easier and consequently diffuses most of the tension. Ultimately, I decided it wasn't right for the game, but I left the functionality in as a debug menu option, so if you'd like to try it out, simply pause the game using the escape key and enable auto-hang.

I'm getting pretty sick of calling this game "the mountain climber game", and with a week to go, it's high time I settled on an actual title for the thing. My current ideas are mostly just cribbed from online thesaurus searches and mountain climbing glossaries:
  • Pinnacle
  • Ascent
  • Summit
  • Peak
  • Acro
As you can tell, I could probably use some help in the name department. If you've got any suggestions, I'd love to hear them in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Gave it a try, pretty intense! Definitely better that you have to hold down the buttons then just clicking to toggle, models the 'holding on for life' well. Could use a tutorial, the tiring mechanic wasnt immediately obvious, but I got the hang of it. Could imagine some pretty cool scenarios as you face mountain obstacles that require special equipment, skills, and careful planning to surmount.

    Re name: something that captures the emotional and pyschic toll of mountain climbing would be better then something describing the action or the setting, IMO, since that feels more like the core of the game. Here's the best named mountain-climbing-related thing I've seen which may spur some ideas:

    Looking forward to seeing whats next.