Update 1.04 – lonely tester.

Ahh day one and a crucial fix, it’s okay though this one is fast tracked.

Reduced build size, with optimisation across the game.
– This was by optimising image sizes, and they’re compression.
– Redundant code was removed from build.

Fixed crucial (but rare) bug which removed the ability to control the ball.
– Ahh, during the drop sequence if you dropped pressing right, you’d land outside of the designated landing zone, game wouldn’t know where you were so you couldn’t continue.

Audio fixes across game.
– Some audio wasn’t playing correctly – fixed. (issues still remain tho).

Narrated play through of area one of Forgotten Ball on mobile (iPhone 5)

Last update of the month from me (I realise this would be the third post this month! sorry). Lots of progress over a short period of time (nice lull between exams and thesis start) so I feel like I have more to show.

I haven’t done a video like this before, really I’m just showing where I am and what has changed. The video is out of focus at times, but it’s still okay. Really, I just wanted to show the in game menu, at around 1:45. and show you all how it is looking on mobile platform.

Wait, when I say things are perfect – I mean I am very very happy with them.

Read this nice little opinion on Forgotten Ball from ready-up.net

It’s not often I read about Forgotten Ball on the internet, I mean I’m not the most vocal developer but I feel like maybe I am starting to do things right. Lovely chap, spoke to him for quite some time, words continue after the image.

“Last but not least I rounded off my demo derby by playing The Forgotten Ball. Developed by Josh Croft, a Computer Science student based locally at The University of East Anglia, this is a 3D maze puzzle platformer that sees you guiding the titular ball up a massive tower. You know it’s massive because in the opening moments the game forces you to fall off the top and drop through the entire world to its base, on the way giving you a glimpse of the incredibly complex mesh of geometric intersecting pathways that lie in wait. Since Josh intends the game to work on a range of mobile devices, the games graphics make very few technical demands, and yet the game has an elegant but bold aesthetic, which benefits from its simplicity. It’s a fine example of technical limitations producing some creative design solutions. Instead of a dynamic lighting model, for instance, Josh tells me that he uses a heavily adapted shader to simulate the shifting shadows and highlights as you roll around each ninety degree angle, but the resulting effect feels just right.

The forgotten ball shares some technical and aesthetic approaches with Thomas was alone (Josh got some pointers from that games artist), and feels like a revival of Playstation Classic Kula World by way of Echochrome. Most importantly to a simple puzzle platformer the games jumping physics feel spot on, with an emphasis on analogue control (the longer you hold the button the further you go) and the introduction of a float mechanic, which sees you balancing the opposing forces of gravity and upward inertia as you traverse some tricky obstacles, adds a significant level of skill to proceedings. The games level design, with its massively intricate interlocking world filled with hazards and shortcuts that loop back on themselves, also has more than a little inspiration from Dark Souls as I learn from Josh.”

http://ready-up.net/features/norwich-gaming-festival-2015/

Lovely, really.

Forgotten Ball Control updates

I have had a tremendous amount of feedback on the controls of Forgotten Ball, and from that I have taken some small steps to make Forgotten Ball more in keeping with what players expect.

Forgotten Ball’s physics are the most discussed feature when I share and show Forgotten Ball builds, and this pre-alpha is no exception. The most discussed and debated aspect is that you can change your direction/momentum whilst in a jump. This is something that normally is only brought up by those whom have programmed game controls in the past, but other have also queried it.. I’m not planning on changing the controls, regardless of how easy or difficult this change could be for me I really like how the Ball feels in the air.

Forgotten Ball in a later section gives you the ability to invert gravity, but really this is just letting you float; It is kinda hard to explain as I don’t invert gravity, I just apply an upwards force and then cap how far from the ground the ball can float to. The set height was the lesser of two evils I encountered about a year ago; I either designed the game fully around gravity inversion (which I didn’t want to do) or I allow the ball to do this bobbing thing. For later reference the balls ability is still called gravity inversion, but its more semi buoyant as such.

The main thing I got back from the Kickstarter pre-alpha backers was that the gravity system was erratic/cutting out etc. I know this to be true as I programmed it this way (badly). In short the Gravity Inversion of Forgotten Ball used to work pretty simply, I apply a force to the ball, and control it by some simple rules: if the ball is witinin 12 units of ground allow the ball to float; if the ball is within 24 units of ground, bring the ball down to 12, if the ball is over 24 units from ground turn of Gravity. Turning off gravity inversion is where the erratic behaviours comes in.

I have made a lot of changes to the Gravity Inversion system in Forgotten Ball; it’s weight is slightly different, it’s more responsive and Gravity will only now cut out if there is nothing beneath the ball.

Video:

Inversion of Gravity Fix/Update from Joshua Croft on Vimeo.

Worth noting is that in air the ball is not held back by friction. So I’ve noticed people just flying or jumping around to get from A to B quicker, this is a problem but it’s something I do in other games so I need to think carefully before making late changes. I will however be adding enemies and blocks to slow down that sort of progression.

Fixes, FAQ, mumbles.

I released the pre-alpha 002 earlier this week/last weekend, and since then I have fixed 4 game breaking issues, to the backers of the pra-alpha game I’m sorry these sneak through. Some were obvious, others not. Forgotten Ball has become a very large game, or at least it is now a game that I have forgotten about code/gameplay in some areas – that is kinda scary. It isn’t growing anymore though.

I’m slowing implanting the last gameplay before the final sections; it’s all coming together well, but I have scrapped CPU intensive AI. So, sadly ‘freddy’ will never make it to the public release, or at least won’t be on mobile platforms. I am kinda sad about this.

I was playing Castle of Illusion this week, you know, the Sega Game Gear ‘port’ I think it’s a port built from the ground up for the platform, but that doesn’t matter. Caste of Illusion has some lovely ideas, it’s a little late to incorporate any inspirations, but still… one of the later level memories does have a direct influence.

I want to answer a few questions raised to me in person and in email…

Q “Forgotten Ball should have collectibles”

It does, and it will have more. Previous ball memories will allow you to unlock their skins, and there is a trick up my sleeve incoming. I should say though, I don’t want to make the game mario-esque, going all over the place trying to collect coins/fruit/cubes etc just doesn’t really appeal, maybe that’s another mode.

Q “Where if Forgotten Ball’s audio?”

JB is working on audio, lots of this needs to be implemented; there is a lot of game and until we’re satisfied that we’ve got enough audio in game we will be holding off sharing. I personally don’t want the music to be repeating to often. The audio is very interesting, is dynamic, minimal and layered. Currently tracks are saved at around 2 minute length and looped/ changed/layered, but it’s not quite there, but it is coming.

Q “Where is the story”

Okay, I lie, only one person has asked this – Forgotten Ball isn’t meant to be an epic story, it’s a minimalist interpreted story, which for the most part is turned off. You know, when you’re developing these things it’s kind of difficult to say “right this is good enough to release”. As I don’t think it will be until near release. It’s told in small sections where Ball has a moment. I kind of like that, interpret these moment as you will. I believe these tell a story, but they also tell yours.

Q “How do I exit”

As a ‘computery’ person, to exit an application I use cmd+q, to ctrl,alt+delete. So with that in mind, I haven’t really thought too much about ‘quitting game’. You will be able to exit relatively easy when you wish to quit Forgotten Ball, without these shortcuts, but I’m a way of from adding that to Forgotten Ball. It’s the cross platform bits that I need to think about.

Q “How do I save”

Right now, you don’t have the option to save, but that code is incoming.

I’m fixing lots of bugs, the erratic behaviour of the player dying and respawning is slowly being fixed, I believe it is fixed – but you know how these things go. Testing, testing, testinggg.

Sadly, this weekend is going to be devoted to uni work… I’m not behind on uni work, but I’m aware of it. I need to get a working prototype running, then I won’t worry so much. I met a lovely backer of Forgotten Ball by chance at university, and I think that is worth sharing. I mentioned on FaceBook, but it was the highlight of my day, albeit the lady only reported bugs!

A new build coming this weekend, probably Sunday. Lots of fixes that have been fixed.
– Josh

Forgotten Ball is now in the last stages of pre-alpha

I expect Forgotten Ball to be complete mid October; with UI following. Then it is a lot of testing, tweaking and more testing before releasing. I have also made the decision to not release all platforms at once. I want to give each platform the attention is deserves and iron out any platform specific features that need to be implemented. I believe I have said this before but it will be around a weeks gap between each platform. This won’t be an issues for Kickstarter backers as they will all receive a Beta early December.

One of the last things I have to do is the animation of 7 more boss enemies (I know, it’s a little more woe than I thought). I love animation, truly it was the first (well second if you include fishing) art form I really put my energy too, but after years of development of Forgotten Ball I am not looking forward to turning ideas into animations. I plan on using some money to find a local animator to help with this, preferably someone aspiring. Animation is a skill, and if I had a couple of days to give to each animation then yeah I could do a great job. Sadly, I don’t have spare time.

I read a post about colour not so long back, and I thought to myself how important colour will be in Forgotten ball. As Forgotten Ball is minimalistic I need to represent that better with colour and make sure the environment ties together. To do this I have enlisted some help from a talented artist friend of mine whom is creating the colour of Forgotten Ball as it were. Well we are working together, but she has skill.

These new colour decisions mean that the pre-existing ball skins will need modifications, as in most of them won’t be any good (too complex) or, at the very least not as part of the main game. When making a game that I am describing as minimalistic I should in my opinion actually honour what minimal is. Too much colour is exactly that, too much colour.

Lastly, and most importantly the game is large, I forgot how large it actually is. It takes 53 seconds for the Ball to fall through the entire world (in that drop sequence); I mean that is impressive, well I am impressed. Certainly feeling like I will be offering good value for money.