4 Hugues Ross - Blog: Capstone Update 17: Looking Good!
Hugues Ross

4/7/16

Capstone Update 17: Looking Good!

As the beta milestone (the effective 'due date' for the monster) approaches, I've started filling in the remaining gaps that are left over from earlier in development.

One of those gaps is art. I gave the monster a graphical upgrade several weeks ago, but I've gotten plenty of feedback since then. I've also added more abilities to the monster since then, which require more animations.

The two biggest complaints about the monster were that it wasn't very scary, and that it was still hard to tell when the player was taking damage. The designers haven't had a chance to play with the monster's stats yet, but I still found it odd that my damage feedback wasn't doing enough. One thing that we'd been wanting to do for a while is make it more apparent that the monster was nearby, so I added a noise effect that grows as you get closer to it. In addition, I made the damage effect on the player smoother and slightly reduced the monster's damage. This seems to have greatly improved player reactions to getting hurt.

One of our designers added a nice cinematic introducing the monster, where it leaps down to attack you but is driven away by a flickering ceiling light. We think it's really nice, and much scarier than normal interactions with the monster. Part of this is because the player can fight back, but we've also identified a few other things that could use improvement. First off, the monster is almost always seen from a high angle. In other words, it looks harmless because the player towers over it. Just making the monster taller than the player has added to the monster's scare factor by a decent bit. I also pumped up the alpha and particle count to try and make the monster look a little bit more solid than before.


The last thing to add, which I addressed last weekend, is animation. There were  two main situations where the monster needed animations: Blinking, and slipping under doors. Blinking especially needed an animation, because the player needed a warning that the monster was about to appear. I spent a long time considering how to make the blink look. The blink is probably the most 'outlandish' thing that the monster is capable of, so I wasn't really sure how to make it work visually. Most of the monster's abilities are closely tied to the fact that it's more of a cloud than a solid object, but teleportation doesn't really fit as obviously.  Ultimately, I decided to interpret the blink as the monster slipping into a crack and popping out elsewhere, which I've represented with the monster's particles compressing and flying into the ground, while a second animation has them pop out and expand at its destination. It may not be perfect, but I think it fits nicely nevertheless.

The slipping animation was much easier. I scaled down the monster's particles, then made them stationary and emitted them using a flat disk. The result is a mostly-flat shadow creeping around. I'm pretty happy with the result, and also a little sad because I think a bigger, more elaborate version of it might've made for a creepier design overall. My original idea was for the shadow to be a vague squid-like silhouette that scurried around the floor and walls, and I still kinda regret not giving it a shot.
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