Few months passed since the last update but I finally made my appearance to write another lengthy blog post to cover up for last few months – last two content update to be more precise. I hope you all had a great time meanwhile.
As you know, my life got a bit busier in last year and when I have free time available I work on the game instead on blog posts although there is a lot to write about (development, progress, tutorials etc.) but I promise I will find more time for blog posts.
Content: Content Update 6, Content Update 7, MAC Build in progress
Content Update 6
This update was quite huge since it contained christmas theme, 2 new maps and crypt shop where you can buy upgrades.
As promised the shop finally made its appearance in the game although it’s a bit lonely without a shopkeeper but hey, what did you expect from the crypts? Now you can finally use some of your gold to make your whole adventure easer.
This whole part took me a while to implemented because I had to find an appropriate visual style without using some fancy GUI windows to display information – I had to do it in the game. Next to that, player profile structure was programmed really badly not allowing to save extra data for the upgrades player bought – I had to do some hacks to make it work in the end. I’m glad profiles stayed unspoiled. The biggest problems with this feature was to decide on which upgrades to feature in this shop and what is the good price for them – I really don’t know how much gold do players pick on their trip through the crypts so I had to do few test runs to see how much gold would I have after X levels played if I don’t grab all the gold. Those who grab every coins from every secret place should buy all the upgrades after finishing 6+ maps and finding most of the secrets (shop is unlocked at 3rd map).
To cut it short, the shop really wasn’t something easy to design and implement but I’m really happy how it turned out. Now I can easily make more shops in the future parts of the crypts.
2 new maps:
I won’t talk about the maps and what are they about but I would still like to point out some things connected to the whole game and the development.
- The Path You Take: this one is something special and the credits for the idea goes to Zdravko, the game’s composer. If you played it you know there isn’t much interaction in the game so we really had problems figuring out how to realize the idea but I’m quite satisfied with it although it still needs some polishing and updates.
- Crumbling Halls: this is another map that has something unique to all of the existing maps and that is crumbling! I had to implemented another unique system just for this map which took me some time and next to that, the whole map idea required a lot of thought when designing the map and quite some effort to place and connect all the objects in the map editor carefully (triggers, tile changes, timers etc.). This one also needs some fixes in the future but once again, it is something special and that’s exactly what I want to do with all the maps – to remember them when talking about the game.
That is mostly all about the update except some other minor updates and bug fixes but you can read Courier of the Crypts Patch 6 Notes On Steam.
Content Update 7
This was another great update which got out just recently – it is not so good just because of the new map and many polishing updates but also because it is a big milestone for the development of the game. With it, 50% of the content is done so I have last 50% to go and I must say those will be the most interesting in the whole game. Before you get started on “You are only on 50%???” – most of the time I’ve spent working on programming the game logic and engine to make things run smooth without the bugs. Now I’m also doing a bit of polishing with every update so I don’t get stuck on the end with those last 90%.
1 new map – Queen’s Lair
As the name suggests, in this map you meet and fight your first true boss of the crypts. Development of the map and boss itself was quite a task because at the start I had a lot different idea how it would look like but due to time constraints I had to push forward and made 1 map instead of 2 as planned. Maybe I will still do some changes before the final release of the game and still made one introductory map before the current one.
Coding the boss was not a simple task, especially because I wasn’t using true, class based state machine. Of course I had troubles breathing under all of the spaghetti code so I cleared everything and wrote a state machine as it should be and that felt like freedom. Everything just worked, adding new stuff became walk in the park and debugging even easier. Mark my words – if you are a programmer, go with state machines even if there is more code to write. You will be happy you did! :)
And so, the first boss in my life time was realized! Although there are many better options how to realize the boss I’m still very satisfied how it turned out together with great music and sound effects from Zdravko – he always knows how to make my programming, art and level design to life.
One of the most obvious polishing updates was remastered tile set for the first game theme – Marble Halls. It is important to note that when I made the old tile set, my pixel art skills were much worse than they are now and with that I feel responsible to update less fancy art pieces. Tileset is just one of those – I will change other bad pieces of art later through the updates. Of course not everything will be redone, just some parts. Now with the update crypts feels more dark with much better contrast.
Next to the whole tile set changes I also added slight shadows to various objects like caskets, brazier, columns so the looks like they are on the ground instead of floating. Although the change is minimal it make it feel much more real.
Empty boxes no more
If you played the game you know there are a lot of destructible boxes lying around which served only for a barrier to pass or an eye candy. I thought it would be much better to add something in some of them so the players may find more enjoyment destroying them. I went through all the older maps and put some apples and gold in some of them so the next time you are running through the crypts with 1 heart left, try to destroy them because you might find an apple that may save your life.
It is well known in game design that you need to explain and stuff to players and teach them how the mechanics work. Due to game mechanics complexity and because I don’t want to display some instruction boxes in the game I made some mistakes on my way which I’ve learnt through youtube watching people doing Let’s Play of Courier of the Crypts. In that case, Early Access is quite a win for I can see what I did wrong and fix it in order to make the game better, much better.
I did next few updates because of that:
- In the storyline part, where you get a torch but you still can’t use it I displayed a torch HUD anyway just so the players know they got something. Before nothing changed and I’m sure many of players were clueless. If you try to light it the Courier will say: “I can’t use it right now” which is much better than displaying and saying nothing about it – the most important tool in the game.
- In the 2nd gameplay map I have this magic portals that turn off your torch and disable it. Player knew that torch is disabled at that point but they didn’t realize they can turn it on after going through the portal again so I’ve added a key tutorial like in the first map saying “Turn on the torch by pressing A”. Although the change is minimal, that is enough to remind players they can turn the torch on.
- In the 2nd gameplay map I added another checkpoint because it turned out the map can get hard too quick for new players and the only checkpoint was far in the map resulting in running long way over and over if you died in the middle. I don’t want to imagine how many rage quits happened at that point.
I’m still learning my mistakes and I will do my best to prevent them in advance by learning from past mistakes. I know I should be doing this before releasing the game / updates but I simply don’t have enough resources for that.
There was much more in the update from bug fixes to other updates about which you can read more about on Steam – full patch notes.
MAC Build in progress
You heard it right – I’ve managed to make a build for Courier of the Crypts and run it on MAC OS for the first time. I was full of joy on that night for I had some serious problems making it work. Thanks to my apple-expert-co-worker I somehow won the battle with Xcode. Of course there are still some specific problems happening on the MAC which I’m already working on but I will do my best to release MAC build on Steam soon after the next content update and soon after that I will start working on Linux build as well.
I will keep the process of porting for another post because it sure deserves its own thread.
I’ve tried to keep the blog post as short as possible but there are simply too many things to tell you guys about. I would love to write some more specific posts which may help other developers on their game development path so I will try to keep updates shorter next time (also because of the spoilers).
I wish you all a great day and future week(s)! ;)