I am very pleased to let everyone know the new name of the project I mentioned two weeks ago. The game is now called Super Slam Dunk Touchdown! Last weekend we had a play test party that ruled. People really enjoyed the game, we came across a few bugs and balancing issues, but in the end people had a lot of fun. At its core this is a party game, it's at its best when people are in the same room shouting and laughing. Read on to find some video and a playable demo!
The last week has been very busy, I'll try to recall some of the more interesting changes we made starting just hours before the party on 9.19.14. Before we even started playing the latest build we knew one of our characters was under powered. This is mostly due to the fact that the two other characters have a temporary advantage of being able to score baskets and field goals. These are currently very easy to score because they are undefended. The under-powered character in question (Hockey guy) specializes in low goals that go into the large net. The first thing we did to buff up the character is beef up his turbo boost so it lasts for a longer duration. This made some difference, but the problem was not fixed. Some other small tweaks were made like the lines on the arena floor that marks where the goal is, and the thickness of the goal posts. Another was letting the players punch/tackle/kick a goal scorer during his victory dance. I think this was an important change, it adds to the humor which is a huge part of this game, and it's a great virtual way to take out frustration on your opponent! All of these changes helped the game feel a bit better, and then it was time to go to the party!
The first round of testing was done with 4 players (out of a max of 6). I think this is where the game is currently most fun. Goals were being scored, in game hijinx were had, the teams were reasonably matched and it was just a lot of fun. Some suggestions were made and a few bugs were found here, but the bulk of this was enjoying the game. The best things to come out of this stage were the mentioning of colored player markers to help distinguish who is who and a shorter charge for Hockey guys power shot, this ended up helping a ton.
When we played with 6 players we had some more interesting results. It became harder to distinguish who is who. Often a situation would arise where 5 of 6 players are all on the small area of the screen, along with a few NPC characters and oh yeah, the ball! This is a pretty chaotic situation and while there is some fun in it, it feels a little sloppy. We intend to fix this by having a Pile-up mechanic where when a few players are mashing the hit button in the same area and within a certain window, you get a cartoon like cloud of fists and feet. We are thinking of putting in a button mash prompt, best masher wins. It gets a bit more complex than this, because it can be 2 v 2 or 3 v 1 in the fight cloud, but you get the idea.
One of the better suggestions to come out of the second round of testing was showing the player off-screen inside a translucent bubble. This helps any players that becomes confused about their location. This is not implemented yet, I think it will work really well, but I am a little bit concerned about it annoying other players.
After all of this people seemed pretty tired, it was a Friday after all! Rick and I met up the next morning and began getting some of these changes in. We also figured out all kinds of other stuff! Saturday was also good, we spent some time redoing the character and team select screens. While not perfect yet, it is now much more intuitive! I mostly worked on placeholder arena graphics and fans.
I can't stress how much better it is when you are working in the same room, or at-least on a video chat at the same time. Just working in the same room for one weekend has put us on the right path for the next few months. It alleviates a lot of confusion and stops a lot of misunderstandings from happening. It also allows for more immediate feedback like so:
Guy A: "I don't like it that way, why not try this?"
Guy B: "Ok, doing it now!"
Guys A and B: "WHOA!"
We even had some time to chat about our next INSANELY EPIC project!
Lots of great stuff happened for Super Slam Dunk Touchdown over the last week, and it will get even better in the weeks to come. I am going to leave you with a link to the Tipping Goat page where you can download a multi-player demo. This is played best with a Gamecube or an X-Box controller, and of course it's only on PC for the moment.
Till next time,