Another Rose

So I’m into the Last Level now. Thematically, it’s like that scene from Robin Hood (either version) where Robin breaks into the dinner area and all hell breaks loose. I’m going for something like that, with an emphasis on less specific platforming and more platforming as a way to avoid enemies or create spaces to make the duels even more tricky. So, a different conceit altogether from the last, well, every stage.
I’m specifically going to try (and I do mean try) to keep the level on the smaller side. Too big, and I fear that the fighting may become tedious, regardless of how much polish it has on it in the end. Make it too small though, and it’ll seem like an afterthought. Just right I think, like the big finish at the end of a rock show. Besides, I have to consider both people that’ll play on Perfect mode. 5 Stages worth of fighting and bosses will probably leave them in not the best condition to endure a 70 screen gauntlet, no?
Oh, and we have like 3 weeks left, so I know the team doesn’t have the time to do art for a huge level. More reasons to try to keep it on the modest side.

– For example, I’m designing the Tutorial now. I kind of have to throw out the old system, where The Thief would talk to you and give directions, since he doesn’t do that anymore. All of his speech is now self contained in the little drawings in between the stages, or at key points. As far as the characters are concerned, that fourth wall may as well be made of adamantium.
The alternative that I had as to add smaller tutorial parts throughout the levels themselves. The paper design gives me the freedom to make little notes and things, but that hardly seems like the correct thing to do.
So, I think I’m going to create a tutorial outside the context of the game. This makes it so the player can skip it if they would like, while also allowing me to put stuff into it that directly addresses the player, something that the narrative doesn’t support.
Since it’s taking place outside the story, the idea gives me free reign to do whatever I would like and make it look however I would like. So I’m going to incorporate it into the front end design, which looks like a book.
I’ll post a picture at some point (or I’ll forget like I usually do, I owe you, dear reader {*scoff*} like 4 different things) but it uses the parchment texture the levels have and has a shading effect in the center to imply the crease of a book. The page turn effect will be coming back in this system since it works a lot better. So, the Chapter Select for example, will actually be flipping through the pages, with the Chapter Name on the left and a picture on the right. Until a selection is made. But I get ahead of myself.
For the Tutorial, the player will play on the right side (to put the initial focus on the left – with the instructions) and go through a series of small levels to illustrate basic things like running, jumping, hanging and stuff like that. I can build those levels pretty quickly, and depending on the art requirements, I can probably do that while I build the front end to make it match.
Harder though, is the combat tutorial. I can go two ways with it really. The first, is to rebuild an interactive tutorial like I had in the last IGF build. I felt it worked out pretty well, but it does require quite a bit of time to do correctly. The other option is to offer a free fight mode against the enemies encountered so far (in the IGF version – all of them since it’ll all be unlocked from the start). Then I can put instructions in the pause menu or something like that. It would be faster to implement, but I wonder if it would teach as well. I suppose it wouldn’t eat too many hours to program it and find out.

– Speaking of features, I get all giddy thinking about really stupid things that are stupid easy to program. Like, the different statistics given at the end of the game. I really want to do these:
Damage Taken
Lives Lost
Enemies Defeated
Dolls Found

I would then like to have a small grade pop up next to them, giving an idea of the prowess.
Time – 3:10:52 – Marathon Man
Damage Taken – 250 – Meatshield
Lives Lost – 3 – Olde Skool Gamer
Enemies Defeated – 75 – Duelist
Dolls Found – 9 – Master Collector

The one I can’t quite figure out is the enemies defeated stat. Basically, I don’t know if I want that to add every time an enemy is beaten, since a player could then run back and forth and fight the same respawning enemy all the way to the top rank. Although I do suppose that would eat their time.
In any event, the real reason I want the Defeated stat, is to encourage players to try something – finishing the game without defeating any enemies. Since the end of boss fights trigger when the boss isn’t technically at 0 HP, they don’t add to it. So a player could finish having defeated 0 enemies, and earn the rank – Pacifist. Normally, I wouldn’t even consider these, but it should take more than a couple of minutes to program.

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