Because of TOJam and the like it’s been awhile since the last proper Development Video. This one is longer and more in depth then previous videos and covers some of the balancing and tweaking we’ve done to the perennial screamers in detail.
GG:SoR’s game design is largely systems centred, it’s about complex interrelating systems rather then pre-scripted solutions. So getting all the elements to balance and work correctly in concert as we add more plants and AI behaviour is our main challenge now that the basic gameplay is in. We need to make sure that solving levels is largely about coming up with solutions based on how the various elements, cops, citizens and plants interact and making those interactions as transparent to the player as possible.
In specific terms there’s just no way for us to predict what a player is trying to do with a screamer and which way they want to scare a citizen, so we need to make the screamer’s behaviour predictable enough that the player knows how to place them to get the result they want without them having to think about nitty gritty details we may have going on under the hood. If as the designers we do a bad job, and a seemingly perfectly placed screamer result in the citizen running off in the wrong direction for no clear reason the player will feel frustrated and betrayed.
As I mentioned in the video, I couldn’t fit every aspect of tweaking the screamers into it. For those who are interested here are some of the other issues we faced:
Along with coming up with behaviour that would work we also had to balance individual variables such as the size of the trigger zone, the length of time it takes after a perennial is triggered before it screams and how long it remains dormant before turning red again. These factors are all interrelated and, as we discovered, none of them are trivial.
For instance one build we had with a slightly shorter dormant time resulted in a cop getting stuck, endlessly revisiting the same screamer surrounded by slowgrass. The slow movement speed meant he was still trying to escape its trigger zone when it turned back to red causing it to scream and attract him back in an endless loop.
One behaviour we added that I left out of the video was a system Andrew suggested where the screamer’s trigger zone would slowly expand if left dormant for too long, ensuring it would eventually scream after a few minutes. However that messed with our ability to direct citizens since the delay before screaming was tuned specifically to how quickly a citizen could walk past the flower after hitting the trigger zone. Our solution was to delay the scream by the same factor that we expanded the trigger zone. Bigger zone.. longer delay and the civilian would still be scared foraward past the plant.
Hope you find this longer more detailed Dev Video interesting. If you did let us know and we’ll do more, if you hated it and prefer them short and simple post a comment and we’ll avoid them in the future.
Oh also we’re switching to a one video a month schedule for the next little while so I can concentrate on hitting some production deadlines. But I’ll be sure to keep posting interesting stuff on the blog in the meantime!