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Weekly status update. Bug fixes, more sound effects, and better cut scenes are all served up fresh in a new beta download.

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Most of the focus this week was on fixing outstanding issues and trying to add more polish to the game. Sound effects were the other major part of the focus from this past week, and I spent a bit of time improving the cut scenes used in the intro and title sequences. I’m nearing the point where I have but a few more sound effects to create and implement, and a bit of tweaking left on the title sequence before the beta becomes the demo. I may tweak the map a bit and add a few messages to tell the player about some of the less-obvious controls, but those are minor changes.

Squashing bugs like a boss

One of the last things for any project is the hunt for bugs in the code. I haven’t spent a ton of time testing this game, since I’m doing 100% of everything all on my own, most things get less time than they really need. As I test other features of the game, I keep a log of all of the issues that I encounter and unless they are game-breaking, I file them away for later. Later, it seems, finally came. There are three known issues left on my list that are actual bugs, and it’s a pretty good feeling. These three are a bit more involved to deal with, so they got left out for this week.

Bleeding purple blood? Check. Timer working above 30 seconds? Check. Clean getaway? Aw nuts.
Bleeding purple blood? Check. Timer working above 30 seconds? Check. Clean getaway? Aw nuts.

As the game nears release, I want to make sure I have a viable product; nobody wants to buy a game full of crashes and errors. Being an independent entity, I want to make sure that I don’t make my first impression in the commercial sector since there’s already a bit of a stigma to overcome. Quality control is hard, and one of the many reasons I’ve been pushing updates out regularly is to try and get as much feedback and testing as possible out of this community. You guys are awesome and I couldn’t do it without you.

Everything makes noise

I’ve talked about what a difference sound effects make before, and it still amazes me every time I experience it. Parts of my game that felt weak or uninteresting can be made awesome with just a small sound file. One of the best examples is bashing in glass fixtures. Before, this was somewhat lackluster. Most of the glass graphics are hard to see when you are in a rush, and on the whole it was an underwhelming experience. Since fixing the bug that was preventing aliens from responding to the sound of it, and adding in an actual sound effect for it, it has really become so much stronger of an experience.

I really like the shattering glass sound effect. Don't be surprised if there's a disproportionate number of screenshots involving a hammer from here on out.
I really like the shattering glass sound effect. Don’t be surprised if there’s a disproportionate number of screenshots involving a hammer from here on out.

I really had a lot of fun working on making the sound effects this week. The first go at it, I focused on the things that I could do easily, and just got them out of the way as quickly as possible. For this second bout, I had harder sounds to create, so I enlisted some help. I made a list of all of the sounds that I needed to represent, and my wife and I went around the house clinking, tapping, and rustling everything we could to try and get the right noises. My favorite was how we did the glass sound effect, by taking a baking sheet, filling it with water and freezing it. This gave us a nice sheet of ice, and we smacked it with a hammer and recorded the sound. I think it came out really nice.

It all makes sense now

The last stretch of the week was finishing up the introductory cut scenes that explain the premise of the game. I think the first scene does a sufficient job of explaining that the player is being abducted. It doesn’t have the flair, the bells and whistles that I would like if I had the money to contract it out, but it gets the point across. The 30 seconds that follow give the player a bit of freedom, but you can’t really actually do anything. I went with no music or even ambient noise here, other than the player’s footsteps. After the player passes out, the aliens whisk him away and take him to the airlock to shoot him out into space.

The player being abducted from his bed. It's a short scene, but I didn't think the ESRB would appreciate the probing that comes next.
The player being abducted from his bed. It’s a short scene, but I didn’t think the ESRB
would appreciate the probing that comes next.

The second scene still needs some work. I don’t think it gets the point across at all. It shows the player that something happens after he passes out each time, but I don’t think it gets across that he’s being killed each time. I think fixing some of the in-scene pathing issues and adding a nice airlock door sound, followed by a rushing noise might do the trick, but I ran out of time to try and get that in this week.

It’s been a busy week for me. I’m hoping that by next week I will have the final demo version of the game, and then the release is only some map design away. I’ve set a tentative date of March 12th, which should give me plenty of time to finish and get the game onto the stores and other release platforms that I’m targeting. Anyway, here’s a new beta download, enjoy.

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