Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report: Putting Some Bounce In Your Step

Last week, I reported that I added animated transitions when navigating through the rooms of the house in The Dungeon Under My House, my second Freshly Squeezed Entertainment project.

I had some finishing touches on those transitions, then I could work on creating more actual content for the game.

Sprint 48: Pre-production and initialization

Planned and complete:

  • Move between rooms of house by doorways/stairwells

Unplanned and incomplete:

  • Redo intro to be more interactive

As I last reported, at the end of the previous week, transitions between rooms looked like this:

The Dungeon Under My House - navigation and transition

But halfway through last week, I added some character movement:

The Dungeon Under My House - early walking animation

And then with a little more work that same day, the walking animation now looks like this:

The Dungeon Under My House - walking animation

Seriously, that’s adorable, right?

I’m actually impressed with how great it feels even though it is slower. In order to sell the bouncing movement and have it read well, I had to double time pre- and post- transition walking animations, yet it isn’t noticeable that the total transition time has increased from 1 second to 1.5 seconds.

Redoing the intro

So, my rough plan was to finish the transitions animations and then immediately set to work on the dungeon.

But I remembered that I hated the intro sequence I had created.

It was basically one long, unskippable cutscene, and I wanted something better.

So I set out to make my intro much more interactive.

I broke up the long intro into smaller pieces, so there is now only a few pieces of dialogue to introduce the main character, the Explorer’s Club, and setting the tone “We have an Explorer’s Club, but we live in a boring town, so we’re not really explorers, but we’re inducting a new member today!” , and then you can do whatever you want.

Well, within limits. To keep the player focused, the entire game at this point is purposefully isolated to the bedroom where the Explorer’s Club is having its meeting. While I could allow the player free movement, at this point, the Explorer’s Club meeting is going to be a bit of a tutorial to onboard new players into how to interact with the characters of the world.

So while I had a way to start scripts based on the player entering a room, I needed new code to prevent a player from leaving a room in the first place.

Instead of catching the end of the initiation ceremony, you can now start it.

To do so, I want the player to talk to the person who is joining, ask about the club, and have them say, “I am ready!” And then give the player the option to say “Hold on…” or “Let’s start the ceremony”.

And instead of pre-scripting the entire ceremony, I think it would be neat to have the player ask X questions of the initiate, and then end the ceremony after the last question is asked by doing a short pre-scripted sequence.

BUT despite many months of work I have done before, and the work I’ve done on asking questions and producing generated dialogue in particular, I didn’t have any code to support generating an arbitrary, pre-scripted response to a question you might ask. So I needed new code for that, too.

Well, I was delightfully surprised at how quickly I was able to add that code and see it working in-game.

Here’s the script that starts when the player tries to leave the room before they have initiated the new member ceremony:

The Dungeon Under My House - trigger script when trying to leave room during intro

And here’s part of the ceremony, in which the player asks the initiate some questions:

The Dungeon Under My House - new interactive intro

This dynamic quiz is hardcoded, but it makes use of various flags, commands, and code to track how many questions there are left. The player can ask in any order, and while it doesn’t matter yet, there could be other situations in which what was chosen and in what order might make an impactful difference on the player’s experience.

What’s left for the intro

Once the ceremony is over, which involves Pat reciting the Explorer’s Club oath, the mood should be anticlimactic. The Explorer’s Club isn’t actively doing any exploring or going on quests, after all.

Then I want the club members to propose a quest to get snacks, which involves the player going to the kitchen to meet their parents, who will still tell them to get pickles in the basement.

To make that part interactive as well, I will need to add some code that allows the player to click on items in the background, such as the shelving in the basement.

And only then will the secret basement door to the secret basement room will be revealed.

Revisiting the intro sequence to make it more engaging for the player has led me to add code to make things happen that I couldn’t do before, and at the start of the week I was worried that it was going to be a lot of work and that I was very far away from anything playable even after a year of working on this project.

But while it is true that there is quite a bit left to do, I am finding the work of adding the capabilities into the project aren’t as big of a lift as I was worried it was going to be.

Thanks for reading!

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