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March 26, 2014 - The Working Parts
By far the most painful area of development was Nikolai's grappling hook mechanics. As I explained in the last post, I'm a sucker for turning natural motions into gameplay, so rather than going for a classic Worms-style grappling hook I wanted a hook that you actually needed to throw over things and have it attach on the opposite edge. The concept is simple enough and fits Residue well, and people usually go ”wow” when they first see it, but smiles quickly faded as the game started to demand precision and timing. We went overboard in a number of areas leading to an endless spaghetti code that we could never quite untangle ourselves from.
That is until we brought the axe.
In the Final Cut, we have removed some of the more complicated features from Nikolai's grappling shenanigans. It's fine. He won't need them anymore. After all, Residue isn't about the challenge. It's about taking the abilities your character has and using them to find the next piece of the puzzle and find out where the story is going. And so we have adjusted all of our level design so Nikolai has a labyrinth he can navigate with a much more graspable moveset.
In the old version there are four different throw directions – standard, high, far and down. With only a few minor changes to the world layout, we have been able to bring this down to just standard and down. (Nikolai wouldn't really need the ability to drop the hook either, but it comes in real handy in the water so we kept it). The new standard throw reaches slightly farther than the old, but not quite as far as the old ”far” throw.
We have also removed the ability to manually reel in the hook. Now the rope will extend until the hook hits something or Nikolai runs out of rope, and then it will automatically reel back in. Nice and simple. Finally, his ability to swing while hanging from the rope has been greatly reduced. Thanks to these cuts, we have been able to craft a level design where Nikolai's swinging isn't going to kill you over and over, isn't going to get you stuck. It's simply going to take you where you need to go.
Hugo Bille, game director