Hello! Just like the audiovisual prototype devlog, I've been sitting on this update for a while. The polished prototype was finished at the beginning of May and since then I've been working on the game, getting situated back in California, starting my summer job, and otherwise generally procrastinating on doing anything for this website. But here I am. I just pressed “publish" on the audiovisual devlog and I've edited and added to what I already had written in May. I've decided to include the build for this prototype not only for this prototype, but for all the prototypes. So check it out. and lemme know what you think. Back to the 'log.
In the polish prototype, I went from a loose collection of mechanics and art to making an actual, functional experience. From what I understand, the polish prototype could be called an alpha. There isn't a great way to separate the things I did for this prototype because there are just so many of them. It included finishing visuals/audio, creating a start screen, adding juice/feedback, adjusting some design some stuff based off of playtests, and fixing bugs. I'll run through those and post the list of smaller things at the bottom. Here we go.
First up is the audiovisual. Most of this included just maintaining the design principles I set for myself in the previous prototype. I also had to think more about the scope of the game. Ideally, I'd like a zoom out for each of the 5 scenes with accompanying music. What I ended up doing was one more zoom out and reusing the music. I definitely want to get some more music, but I'm still debating how many zoom outs I actually want to do. We'll see. Finally, I added some creek sound effects to the creek scene and some wind effects to the overlook scene. Oh boy- atmosphere! It was pretty much me just trying to grind out the art so I could focus more on the things that I really like doing.
Next was creating a start screen. From the initial conception of the game, I had this great idea for a start screen. It opens on a city block, with the title fading in. Once you click, the door of an apartment opens and you walk out the door. To the left is a brick wall with credits. If you walk to the right, the street gives way to green land, which then leads you the main game. I like this setup for a lot of reasons. It means the game doesn't being until you figure out how to move. The whole block is made of squares and you can only move in two directions which contrasts nicely with the main game where the shapes are more abstract and you can move in multiple directions.
For the juice/feedback portion of the game, I added a click feedback thing so there's a marker and a noise. The marker pulses! So satisfying! I also added a sound effect for when the player opens the journal. This part isn't that interesting to write about on a surface level because it's the kind of thing that should fade into the background of the experience. Of course there should be a click marker and different sfx for different buttons, but there's not much more to say than that they are things that exist now.
So anyway... I did a lot of playtesting! Mostly with other kids in class with me. Based on their feedback and just my own observations watching them, I added a couple things. I added a nice signpost as a visual indicator for a zoomout. There are also particle effects at the exits of all the scenes. I added some controls hints in the form of UI overlays. There are only two: one on the start screen that tells you to click the mouse and one whenever you do something that I think would prompt you to write. I need to change the frequency and the urgency of the second one because right now it feels like it pops up every friggin second. Finally, I lowered the word minimum and made the actual text box smaller to get rid of "blank paper anxiety."
So yeah. I did all those things. Plus more! I'll post a list at the bottom. Here's the link for the prototypes if you'd like to play them. I'm not going to publicize that they're here a lot, but you can play 'em if you want. I've been working (ever more slowly since my summer job started) on creating a build that acutally has everything I want so that'll be the build I publicize, but for now this'll be a fun way to put it out. Check them out! This'll probably be the last devlog until I have the complete version done so keep it cool til then.