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Taking Adventure mode in a new direction...
Exp. Build 5221, March Devlog
STUNT MODE REVAMP

Stunt mode has needed some serious love since the initial release on early access. We figured that we either needed to improve the mode dramatically, or cut it entirely. This experimental build features a wide variety of changes to the mode and trick detection in general. Instead of describing the changes we made in great detail, we figured it was better to see how much of it comes through if we don't explain anything. If you're not picking up on the changes then one way or another we probably need to make things more clear or intuitive.

Kristian and Brent (a.k.a. Krispy and Ashamael) took a short break from Adventure mode work to design and decorate an entirely new level for Stunt called Neon Park! I highly recommend checking it out for the best experience when playing the new mode.



I've also thrown in an early version of the Distance stunt announcer. To be honest I'm not entirely satisfied with the direction thus far, though I figured it was better to have some version in rather than nothing for this first experimental build. I'm very curious what others think of this version and I do hope to continue iterating on the feel and implementation of the new voice.

THE ANIMATOR COMPONENT

The other major feature we're including in this update is the Animator component! Just how Golden Simples and Particles dramatically changed how level creators decorate their levels, the Animator is another level of power, enabling motion in your levels. It allows most objects in the game to moved, rotated, or scaled through a variety of animation settings.



On top of that we've connected the Animator to a new trigger system to allow for things like doors or whatever you can imagine. Check out ExampleLevels/animator examples.bytes in the level editor to see a few examples.



For the full changelog and to share feedback, check out the latest experimental branch Steam forum thread:

MARCH DEVLOG, PAX EAST RECAP



As I mentioned previously, development this month has really been all over the place. For the most part I've been working with the newly formed "Adventure Crew" (Kristian, Brent, and Galen) to ensure they have what they need to iterate on Adventure mode. That includes quite a few bug fixes and revamps to existing editor tools and objects. Aside from tools, my focus has been largely on production planning and providing creative direction for the story. It's been quite refreshing to take a step back from level design, be continually presented with new level content, and focus on how the pieces all fit together.

Kyle has been largely focused on Stunt mode, figuring out how to simultaneously make the mode more engaging for new players and complex for experienced ones. He started by taking some old Stunt gameplay experiments of mine and heavily refined them until he ended up with the system we have today. It's the classic challenge of creating a mode that's both intuitive and complex. We're very excited to read what others think of the progress so far.

While Jason had been bouncing between various projects over the past couple months, he ended up zeroing in on the Animator component after Kristian provided a concrete outline of would be expected in that feature. In an impressively short amount of time he's added a lot of complexity to the component, and I feel like we've barely scratched the surface in using it ourselves. Not only can you create just about any obstacle using golden simples, Jason revamped our trigger system to allow for all sorts of interesting behavior. As with any new editor feature I can't wait to see how creators push it to the extreme.

As a sort of middle-of-the-month milestone Ellie and I travelled to Boston for PAX East. Once again we were a bit ambitious with the booth design, mostly in that we had to get so many wires and LEDs to the venue and somehow assemble them. Andrew as usual did an amazing job setting everything up, and then it was down to me and Ellie to figure out how to actually put it all together. In the end it an intense amount of work to pull everything together, but I was really happy the final product.


(mockup of the booth made in Distance's level editor)


(the actual booth at PAX East)

For this expo we did something different and attempted to show the new Stunt changes, partially just for playtesting, but also to show press the latest changes to the game. Kyle did an amazing job pulling together everything tech-wise we needed for the demo build that week, and Kristian and Brent did a great job finishing a version of Neon Park to show off.

We met with a truly surprisingly number of existing Distance players, introduced the game to plenty of new players, chatted with the press, and even organized a few tournaments. It was a fun weekend overall. Finally, a super special thanks to Trace Evans who was incredibly generous and helped out at the booth during a huge chunk of the weekend. Our success at PAX certainly wouldn't have been the same without his help!

PAX East Press Recap
All month long the Adventure Crew have been developing massive improvements to Adventure mode, both in story and gameplay. As usual I can't yet reveal exactly what they've been adding and changing, but I can say that they're doing an excellent job of making the publicly available Adventure mode feel like an ancient relic.


(thanks to all of the DigiPen testers that played and gave great feedback!)

This past weekend we were offered the ability to playtest at DigiPen during their Spring LAN party so we used that milestone to clean up the campaign as best as we could. We crunched like crazy to pull all of the new pieces together, and it was fantastic seeing how the package is coming together. We learned quite a bit about what weaknesses exist in the campaign. Moving forward we need to cut a bit deeper to hit our story goals, but fortunately it seems that new players are finding plenty to enjoy in the current experience.

The rest of the team have been hard at work with secret projects, so there's plenty of cool stuff in the pipeline to be announced. We can't wait to see what everyone thinks of the latest stuff on the experimental branch. If you check out today's build let us know what you think via the Steam forum thread!

- Jordan (@torcht for more frequent dev updates)