We're not going to lie to you, it's been a tough week. Authentic Illusions is a group of Master and Doctorate Degree students, so we have a lot of research and work to do; add a game development to the mix and you can imagine how busy we've been. This week, however, it was all about REalM for us. Since the day we launched the demo version we've been reviewing feedback, looking out for bugs, and then programming whatever necessary to better the gameplay and eliminate any problems the game had. It became extremely useful to watch other people play via Youtube and getting the demo to Steam Greenlight was the cherry on top to make this week even better. We're not going to say we've fixed every single problem in the game, but we believe we finally have a very strong demo of our game.
Some of the major changes, for example, involve the movement of our main character, Iris. Since a big part of this game was to experience it through the art itself, we had focused too much on Iris' movement animation relegating gameplay mechanics completely to make the most fluid possible animations when going from Idle to Walk and back to Idle again. Because of this, it was practically impossible to make her stop exactly where the player wanted, because when slightly pressing the movement buttons (lets say press it for a milisecond) Iris would perform a full step; this made some interactions with objects really annoying. If you look at the images above, you may think the first one looks much better, and it does (it was done with that objecvtive in mind, to look beautiful), but remember, that's what Iris would do if you just pressed Right for split a second, you couldn't move less than a step long.
Also, the jumping was very difficult to time, along with the distance Iris would jump depending on how low she crouched before. This was even made worse by the fact that Iris carried momentum when going from walking to starting a jump, meaning you would "slide" a little before jumping, risking yourself from falling off a platform if not timed right. This was made worse by the fact that sometimes Iris would even refuse to jump, returning to her Idle state. Now Iris has a more accurate movement and the jump is much easier to manage. We took cue from the mechanics of other platformers to make the movement as smooth and great as possible, and if you play the newest version of the demo you'll find that Iris moves perfectly as you command her to. Now, let's move to the puzzles.
At first, we had believed the puzzles to be intuitive on what you should do, visual cues were put in place and the player could "see" the type of puzzle at hand (order things, enter doors in an order, etc). Watching others play and reading comments we found out our belief was far from the truth. This is why it is important to have different people test out the game; as developers, we know how to solve the puzzles and the reasoning behind them, and on paper it looks great, but the end users might find them really frustrating. It is one thing to have a difficult puzzle and it is another if the users don't even understand what to do in a puzzle. Because of this, we added certain elements that would give hints to the players as to what they should do, this taking into consideration some of the roots of REalM, being survival horror games with puzzles like the earlier installments of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series. Now all the puzzles either help you with a riddle or feedback when solving it correctly.
For example, in the area with the platforms puzzle, people thought they had solved the puzzle correctly, while they were actually exploiting a bug, so reaching the last platform was hard but not impossible even though the puzzle wasn't solved correctly. Now the puzzle has indicators that will tell the players when they put the platforms in their correct position and the area they must access is blocked until they achieve this. Also, there was no reset lever for the platforms, the user had to get out of the area and in again if they wanted to reset the puzzle. Finally, the camera used to pan to the platforms each time the user pulled a lever, now the camera moves away while the user is on the puzzle area.
With all these new changes, we also made a brand new game trailer, which includes more gameplay footage than the last one, so if you don't want to download and play the demo, at least check out how the game looks:
So if you played one of the early versions of the demo and didn't like it, give it another shot now -- and please also leave us your comments on why you didn't like it --, and if you did played it and liked it, we hope that if you play it again you'll like it even more -- and you can also leave us your comments regarding if you liked the changes or not--. Remember we're still on Steam Greenlight, so if you like our project don't forget to vote for us!