Post news RSS 1... 2... 3... KICK IT! (Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby) Dev Diary 5

In effort to kick as many babies as Octo-Mom can squirt out and write a diary entry for each corresponding triumph, the saga continues.

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Even if you've tried avoiding running into Dejobaan, odds are something Dejobaan-ish has been shoved in your face. That's how marketing is supposed to be! Dejobaan participated in a successful GDC dev talk, with extensive highlights from Gamastura. Ichiro went base jumping from the Eiffel Tower (allegedly, during a French interview). Finally, for those wondering about Dejobaan "Gaining Steam," join the Dejobaan Games Facebook page and see what all the excitement is about.

Below are questions Dejobaan's fans have asked on the user forums. Ask and you shall receive, fans! The collection of questions effectively walk everyone from day -X of Kick It (before it was even called Kick It) to six months from now. Astute readers will learn about falling toilets, more anti-meditation, bosses, modding, and Ichiro's Lady Gaga obsession!

What do you think so far about the "open alpha"? Has it been different from how you expected it would be?

It's saved the game from mediocrity. The feedback we have received has told us that people are excited about it, but that we've been doing certain things wrong. For instance, after a year of hacking on this, I was blind to the fact that the music and level weren't connecting properly. That was obvious to the alpha players, and they weren't afraid to say so!

The vast majority of levels in Kick it! look rather pretty. Did you go through a phase of levels which looked horrid and how did you go about rooting them out?

Well! That's rather kind of you to say. We're currently at an intermediate stage, where the levels are shaping up, but I hope to really wow you with the end result. Here's the progression of aesthetics:

What is your favorite song that you have played in Kick It! so far?
Completely unapologetically: Lady Gaga's Born This Way is fantastic on a new level we've been working on. The rotation plates hit on the beat, the rhythm's good, and I can just about see where the game's going to go from here!

What's the weirdest idea you've had?

Ever? No, wait; you mean within the game. There was that one mode where you play a falling toilet -- that didn't make it into the alpha. Alicia, our creative consultant, suggested a new take on Aaaaa!'s anti-meditation, where (perhaps during a level?), you start hearing babies crying.
How much of the game's design is already planned out? Is there a lot of room for flexibility?

Dude, don't tell anyone, but I am totally making this up as I go along. I always do, and that's actually both good (because there's flexibility) and bad (because we sometimes meander too much). Our core design very broadly involves two elements:

  • The core action game, where players spend most of their time.
  • The "metagame" that involves progression through those levels.

Possibly inspired by Boston's subway transit map?

For these, we ask and answer a bunch of questions. Example: From DP's book on game design: "Plunging a player into sudden darkness can be disconcerting and effective, causing him/her to seek a solution, or just challenge him/her." What lighting changes occur in the real world? How can Kick It reflect these?

Answer: How about this: the player dives through a storm cloud. Boom. Everything's dark and dingy, and the rain makes it tough to see and move. Special rain gear helps the player move normally again. There now exists a "rain plane" object, which obscures vision, washes colors out, and adds wind. Obvious next steps are adding audio (rain, thunder), optimizing (right now, it reloads the skycube), adding storm clouds visible from afar, and adding visible rain from within. But this is a nice start, because a potential "rain gear" item would mitigate these effects. Would this make sense for songs with rain-related terms in the title?

What role do you expect modding to take in the final product?

We have a few questions about that: Will player modding get us thinking about new and wonderful ways to create levels, such that the "finished game" looks more interesting than it would if we only got ideas internally? I suspect this is already working, because RCW's mods make me realize that I've constructed a box for myself, design-wise, and want to break out of that.

Will player mods create actual, usable, fun content for non-modders? Because that's the ostensible holy grail of modding for most games.

Can people from other indie studios learn about procedural content generation from the mods players create? This especially interests me.

Where do you see Kick-it in a month? How about three months? Six?

1 month: The Alpha-3 is out. Players start to see how we're connecting drum beats to level design:

3 months: The game is available for playable pre-order on [REDACTED]. Kick It starts to really "look like" the music you're playing, which means that aesthetic elements pulse to the audio and the gross level structure "follows" whats' going on in the music (for instance, when the music swells, the levels really become significantly more complex).

6 months: Will version 1.0 be out by now? I'm not sure -- the concept of a 1.0 release is somewhat nebulous, and I'd almost feel like if it has that specific stamp on it, I'll have to stop working on it(!) and move onto something else. But by this point, the meta-game layer is in (i.e., level advancement), and the game has some Dejobaan character. I'd like to get it to the point where players strongly recommend it to their friends.

Do you plan to make bosses and such, like the ones shown, but much more developed?

I hope so! The concept of "titans" has been floating around in/behind the scenes for some time:

These are fully-articulated things that a) can shoot you a lot, and b) you can pick apart piece-by-piece. If we can make this fun, it's in! If not... well!

Check out the previous Dev Diary here.

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