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(GIF)

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GIF dev update - February 2019


Tinytimrob

The development of GIF is proceeding at full pace. It's been around 6 months since the last blog post, so I figured I'd get everyone up to speed with the state of the game's development.

Level design

I'm pleased to report that we have now completed the design and development of all levels. The final level to be completed, Suspension, was submitted by Paul on 26th January. To the best of my knowledge, the game should now be completely playable from start to finish without any major issues! As a result, we are now working on polishing 🙂 Several of the newer levels have been designed by Braydon who was previously focusing on music and sound. He turned out to be a really versatile and multi-talented guy and I think we're very lucky to have him on the team.

In the last blog post, I talked about how we hadn't yet decided on what to call the "classic" zone. The name we ended up choosing was the cave zone. To go along with this, many of the levels have been thematically restyled in order to have a more cave-like feel to them - Braydon did a lot of work in this area. We've also added the previously promised parallax backgrounds to provide a really visually stunning appearance to the game.

Here you can see a before-and-after comparison of the level "Twists and Turns" which was shown off in the last blog post:

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As you can see, the new version of the level has a sort of darker and more cave-like feel to it. This is something we have worked hard to push for, and it really shows - many of the levels have been greatly improved as a result of the work.

The ice zone has received similar treatment, and the new background helps to really emphasise the icy feel with layered spikes jutting out from the ceiling and floor:

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Finally, the factory zone background features pipes and metal lattice:

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If you compare to the original backgrounds, you can really see how much better these look, especially once you get in-game and see the parallax effect. Trevor has done an amazing job here and the effort has definitely paid off.

Of the 75 levels, 49 of them currently have medal times set, and both the cave and ice zones have had their levels ordered appropriately in order to make the difficulty increase gradual. The remaining 26 levels without medal times set (1 ice zone level and all factory zone levels) are currently being worked on to figure out what medal times are appropriate, and the factory zone level ordering will follow shortly afterwards. This is a process I expect to take a few more weeks.

New menus

We are currently in the process of working on replacing the placeholder menus with ones that look more professional. You can see some of the new menus here:

Main Menu

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Pause Menu

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Settings Menu

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Most importantly, the settings menu can now be opened from either the main menu screen OR the in-game pause screen. As a result, it is now possible to edit things such as audio volume or screen resolution without having to abandon play.

Improved help signs

The help sign system has been significantly improved.

When the player walks over a help sign, the bottom of the screen now shows a little tooltip showing you which key or button to press to read the help sign:

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If you press the relevant button, you're presented with the help information and the game timer pauses to allow you to read it:

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This works much better than the previous methods of either forcing the annoying popup to be displayed (like the original) or displaying it in an obtrusive fashion over the top of the level (like the remaster previously used to do).

Improved level select and statistics

The level select screen is currently the area undergoing new work.

The PC/console version of this screen hasn't been skinned yet, but there are a couple of improvements to show. Firstly, the medal sprite has been updated and looks way more polished. Secondly, the leaderboard now has the best times colour-coded by medal type, with the medal being shown next to the time, and the timing numbers have been properly aligned to avoid visual discomfort. Thirdly, this screen now shows you how many attempts you've made on each level, how many times you completed it, and your overall success rate. 

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You might also notice the new "statistics" button, which sends you to a display showing you how many times you were killed by each type of thing so far:

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These screens are still a work-in-progress, and, as I said, they haven't been skinned yet. You can therefore expect them to look way better once the skinning is done.

For mobile, we are hopefully going to design a completely new level select screen which features swiping to select levels. This hasn't been implemented yet though.

Medal shown on level complete screen

The level complete screen has been modified to show the medal you obtained, complete with a little lanyard:

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This screen is, again, not skinned yet. You can expect to see some significant visual improvements here once the skinning is done.

Other improvements

In addition to visual polish, the game has had a number of important performance improvements applied to it recently. The biggest area of work has been in collisions, with inaccessible blocks no longer having any collision mesh, and with the remaining blocks having caching groups applied in order to further reduce the number of collision calls. This has almost doubled the fps of the game on some phones, as well as helping to smooth out lag spikes, which is obviously really important for the mobile release. I am going to continue to look for areas where the performance can be improved over the coming weeks as we eek closer to the release deadline.

I've also taken the time to improve the USB controller code. The game can now be played using the analog stick in addition to the d-pad thanks to a new subroutine which divides the analog stick into 8 equal segments in order to reliably determine which direction you intended to move in. It works really well - controlling the player is really consistent. There is also now a new setting which allows you to jump using the stick rather than using the jump button if you so wish (although IMO it makes the game significantly harder to play - serious players are likely to avoid it).

The mobile touch controls have been improved in a similar way, and can now be resized so that you can set a comfortable control size for your device. The superjump button will now also disappear by default when not required (but if you dislike that behaviour, you can disable it in the settings menu).

The medal system has been slightly adjusted too. You will now receive a "rusty" medal in the event that you complete a level but don't get a time worthy of the bronze rank (although we expect that most players will be able to hit bronze rank without too much difficulty). The rusty medal will not be worth any points towards unlocking the next zone, although the zone unlock restrictions are going to be relaxed a little. The idea is that you will be able to unlock the next zone either by A) getting enough points, or B) completing every level in the previous zone. This means that you can get 25 rusty medals and you will still advance to the following area. For this reason, the first play-through can be focused on just completing each level if you prefer, rather than worrying about how good a time you achieved.

Final remarks

I hope this update has given a little insight into the state of the game right now, along with what you can expect going forward 🙂 I can also pretty confidently say that we are really close to release now that all the game design work is essentially finished. Once the rest of the polishing is completed, I can see us handing the game over to the various publishing stores pretty promptly. We are also likely to start work on the trailer and advertising materials soon.

If you're interested in this game, please check out the Discord server to keep up to date with the latest news and to hear promptly about any upcoming release announcements.

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