Mercury Shift 2D was originally meant to be a two-player only co-op puzzle platformer. It was developed about a year ago. Its mechanics are comparable to those of Trine, Tomb Raider: Guardian of Light or The Cave. The game itself has a very unique mechanic which we call the "shift". It allows you to transfer your mass/energy from one character into the other anywhere in the game. One of our biggest goals was to have cooperation between players (or the characters) and really relying on each other to solve a puzzle and get through a level. Right now we are working on the latest version of the build, Mercury Shift 3D(working title). The 2D version served as a very good "prototype" where we could test our gameplay dynamic. We released the 2D version on Kongregate and got some pretty cool playtest results with the help of google analytics. So, check out the game, give us feedback and critize the game. We really appreciate it!
*not in total, but the fourth documented week this year. A lot of images and even a video for the couch coop fans to enjoy.
Posted by koffeinvampir on Feb 7th, 2014
These devdiary posts are being crafted on the content the Klonk Games team works on a daily basis. The team is not very big, but nevertheless we do lose sight of some parts of the project. When you are working on your own things for the game, you tend to miss the work of other people.
So these weekly posts are not only to keep up a public track record of our, it serves also as a very personal documentation and information for the other team members. Every week I am surprised, how many things made it into the prototype and how much work has been done.
This week is another rather big update, at least visually. But have a look for yourself!
Usually it is my job to write all those posts, go to local events and keep contact with the general public and keep an eye on our media presence. This week and the week before I took a bit of time off those tasks and was able to work on some assets that are going to be part of a laboratory stage.
These are objects that we plan on using in the first tutorial levels. They should be part of a research lab kind of stage. The so called "game design objects" i.e. buttons, levers, death-zones and those kind of things will all be in this kind of visual style. They are the same throughout the whole game and they do net get adjusted to the stage.
Even more pretty pictures after the jump!
Rika has been working on the match-targeting of the footIK again. For that purpose, she built a special "parcour" that looks a bit like a rollercoaster to test all cases of the targeting. In this close up screenshot you can see what is going on:
The feet match the height of the ground, thus making the movement more realistic.
She has also been busy with implementing particles which emit on the player movement. This allows to create dust, grass and such trails based on the players running through the level and can be seen here.
Beff is still busy building levels and mind-boggling puzzles. This may be a puzzle-spoiler, but it is way too nice to hide it from anyone:
Other than that, he is still doing leveldesign for the canyon stage.
Trying to avoid netcode, Mic is involved in an infinite number of other tasks: He built some tools for the artists, including an asset-switcher, a new lightchanger and a settings exporter. The settings exporter supports the export and import of various settings in Unity3D and makes exchanging the scenes between the departments and experimenting with different settings easier. It is definitely superior to the screenshot method.
Another part of his work are additional features, such as a camera shake feedback and atmospheric animations. Those animations are mainly things reacting to the players proximity. Or in short: birds fly away.
Because those birds are way too small, Nora made some bigger birds, hawks to be precise, that will also be part of the environment:
It is pretty amazing how alive the stylized birds can look with great animation. I'm a huge fan.
As "death" of a character is an important thing in our game, Nora has also been working on creating better feedback with animations and models for it. The characters now burst and lose their tension, only to be revived by their mate.
This may be the most non-graphical display of death in a game in this century.
Enough of the empty levels and yellow boxes. It is time for some level art: Elena, Nico and
Simon have all been busy working on the levels.
The vegetation of the level is animated by a pretty nifty shader made by Simon that was part of last weeks post. He added realtime shadows to the plants and the grass to make it all look a bit more appealing.
(Are you yourself working on a low-poly art game? Check out this brilliant blog post for in depth information about how @littlechicken achieved his look in "Oberons Court"! We are using some of the same techniques and as our blogpost about it has not yet been finished, please check his awesome write-up.
Speaking of shaders and effects, there is also a new fog for the forest stage. It animates in trails and even though this is a GIF, you can immediately see the impact to the atmosphere of the level.
Elena has worked on lighting this week. Since we feature a change of night and day within one level, that means quite a lot of juggling with realtime lights and static baked lightmaps. The result though is pretty... well pretty.
For the lighting we are indeed cheating a bit. One of the most important things in a platformer is the readability of the places where you can walk and jump on. To achieve something that looks good and fits the needs of readability, but also works performance wise, we are using custom light emitters on the walking planes. In Unity3D this looks something like this:
The orange boxes do have an emitting material on, that only emits light for the light baking process. With point lights a similar thing would have been possible, BUT the distribution of light would fall off quite a lot and many lights would have to be placed. The boxes ensure an even distribution of light and are quite easy to setup. For additional highlights, we manually distribute point lights(the little colored stylized bulbs in the picture)
Elena has also been sketching an idea on the collectible coins:
As we are using the coins to guide players through the levels, collecting them may result in loosing your "breadcrumbs" which guide you through the level. Opposed to letting them disappear completly, there will be a shimmering glow levitating in the original spot to still guide players.
Usually the artists have a lot of things to show off, but this time there has been some invisible work done. Niko has been cleaning up the scene and further optimizing the structure. It is important not to lose your head while working and a good scene hierarchy is a crucial part of that, as well as naming conventions.
A special shout-out to Oliver and Matt. They have been busy with working for external contractors to feed our hungry mouths and pay our rent. It is awesome to have people doing that for the rest of us. :)
Simon the shader and particle wizard did some witchcraft for the disappearing of the players.
And that's a very nice GIF to end this post. Enjoy the weekend everyone!