Water is a third person puzzle solving adventure type of game with an unique look and gameplay. It's a story about a mermaid, and fish men who aren't fish men. A story that brings you into tears and fears. It's about fish people, harp instruments, swimming, and crazy priests.
Today we are releasing the WATER OST and the third and final part of Making Of Water.
Posted by Au-heppa on Dec 7th, 2011
This is the third part of Making Of Water. You can read the first part here and the second part here. In this part I will tell you how Water changed through playtesting and what kind of problems we had during the development.
You can now download the remastered Water soundtrack by Dennis "Entru" Yaremov.
With Water we wanted to start playtesting early to tackle problems as they surfaced. We also had a lot more live playtests than before. One playtesting session, taking place during a small gaming convention, took about six hours to finish. Needless to say it made the problems in the mod very, very clear to us.
There's of course a lot of changes that we do to make things easier for players to see. For example, we changed the mermaid grey scale color shader so that red things would be, you know, red. This allowed us to emphasize things like the guards and their booths. Here are few bigger changes that came about during development.
There's few spoilers here so if you haven't played Water yet, download Water now, and read this later. Don't forget to vote for us in the Moddb MOTY awards!
One thing we introduce early in the second map, mm_area01, is the ability for Water to turn into a liquid form and go through objects like metal bars. The players can also go into the "water form" any time they want while in water, using their +attack key. This allows the player to accelerate faster than normal, but is slower than sprinting. A lot of players would start using the water form to travel, and would never find out about sprinting as a consequence of that.
A small tutorial for sprinting was added into the first level, mm_intro.
Timotheus used to be the character with the hint message about how to jump high out of the Water. This caused players to think they needed to jump to the Pawn Star Shop and try to get the harp themselves. Even after they wouldn't be able to get in, they still spent a lot more time dragging themselves on the streets. In the released version the "pagan" is the one to give the jumping hint. We also changed the positioning of the doorway the player has to jump to, as originally the player had to jump in a very difficult angle right next to the pagan.
One area where players seemed not always know where to go was the Bordel in mm_area01. The Bordel was destoryed by two of the Reverend's "Followers". Men using the Word created a small earthquake, thus destroying the Bordel and drowning everyone inside. The walls are at an angle, and the building is flooded. The players have to go through the building to reach the area outside, but a lot of players had trouble getting through. Right after the entrance there was a wooden closet blocking the doorway. The player had to use a melee it, to move it out of the way. This was the first time the players had to do this, and if they didn't go near the closet, they would easily miss the hint message saying they have this ability. This often caused playtesters to go back to the previous area, thinking perhaps that the Bordel was just some kind of dead end.
Upstairs in the Bordel there was also a sofa blocking the doorway to the next room. The room was a dark, and to get to the sofa the players had to go to dry land, which would cause them to start losing health. Players would stare at room, trying to figure out what they were supposed to do, without even having the courage to go to the sofa to try swat it out of the way.
We ended up removing both the closet and the sofa. Having to go through dark room in the dry floor, fearing that they would die from not able to breath was interesting enough without the physics objects blocking the way.
The first version of the third chapter map, where the players have to find the key from the three toilets in order to open the door from the bathroom to the gate control room, was a little bit different. There was no big pipe that Water can travel through to the three toilets area. Instead the player had to leave the safety of the bathroom area, and be in danger of getting eaten by the Ichthyosaur. A lot of people also simply didn't find the three toilets area.
Some playtesters suggested we added the big pipe the player could travel to these areas. In this final version, the player first travels the big pipe to a small side room. There the player must direct the water flow of the big pipe, so that she can the use the big pipe to get to the three toilets area. The player still has to swim through the Ichthyosaur area, but this time they would realise they have no other choice.
Finally they would use the big pipe entrance again the bathroom area to get themselves to the three toilets area.
Originally the players had to shoot the Ichythyosaurus themselves. I was really never really happy with this bit personally. It always felt a bit clumsy. With live playtesting it proved to be a lot of trouble as well. A lot of players were too afraid to stop to aim at the Ichythyosaurus. They had never been asked to do anything like it before in the game.
Originally even the tutorial to shooting with the guard outside the Church was missing. Our composer Entru came up with the idea of having to teach the Guard how to shoot. This made it better, but playtesters had trouble none the less. A lot of players tried to find a place to escape to, rather than shoot the beast.
Finally we decided to replace the sequence with a turn based combat against the Ichyhtyosaurus. In this version, the player can ask the guard to shoot the Ichythyosaurus among other attacks. Another suggestion was a sequence where both the player and the Ichythyosaurus would swim through a continuous path, and the player would have to tell the guard where to shoot. The player would have to try to hit the Ichythyosaurus while trying to avoid hitting herself. We went with the turn based combat idea, because we already had the system in place, and having the player go a complex predetermined path might have been tricky.
There was, also, for a long time, some bugs with the Ichthyosaurus' AI that would cause it to fly out of the water in some occasions, and get stuck. In one playtest, the player was only able to defeat the Icthyosaurus after it had gotten stuck on the Reverend's head.
The battle against The Reverend seemed a bit more confusing than the other combat sequences. The Revend is a lot more prepaired against Water than the other NPCs. She can, for example, heal herself when her health goes too low. The players have to use the attacks in a right order to make sure she wont be able to heal herself fast enough.
A lot of people seemed to miss the point of the Splash attack. The splash attack makes the Reverend, or should I say Fire, take double damage from any attack while she's still wet. Players didn't seem to notice this, though, partly because they didn't try out the melee attacks attacks after using it. To help understand its function, we added messages for receiving damage showing "2x" if the Reverend was wet.
Another problem point was Snatch The Book. This attack allows the player to disrupt the Reverend's preperation to heal herself. Water takes the book out of the Reverend's hands, throwing it into the water, and the Reverend will call a Fish Person to bring her a new copy. The Pray meter, showing when she can heal next, will go to zero.
Like the tail attack, Snatch The Book isn't always available. Originally it was disabled when the player would use it, and it was enabled only after the Reverend would have healed herself. Players would however attack the Reverend with their normal attacks first, and only after the Reverend would heal herself to almost full health, would they remember Snatch The Book. This was a problem, because when the Reverend would heal, her Pray meter would go to zero anyway, making the Snatch attack pointless.
We fixed this problem by changing when Snatch The Book was enabled. The attack is now disabled when the Reverend heals, and enabled again after some time. This allows players to use it more effectively.
About a week from here we are going to release article about Water changed through playtesting. Remember to vote us on the Mod Of The Year awards!
If you haven't yet played Water, you can download the installer, or use Desura, or unpack the .zip file to SourceMods so that the mod folder is called "water". You will have to have Source SDK Base 2007 installed on your Steam account. You can install Source SDK Base 2007 by accessing the Tools section in your Games Library. You need to have a Source engine game like Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike Source, or Portal to have Source SDK Base 2007 available.
Additionally if you the version of Water you downloaded is 1.0.2 or lower, download 1.0.3 Patch. The current installer is 1.0.3. If you have any problems with installing the patch, or anything else, go to the Water Bugs & Problems page.