Hello and a happy new year to you. I realise this March and arguably a little late to be wishing you into 2016, but we’ve not been all that chatty here on the site. So first things first, we wanted to say hi, welcome back and get you up to speed on everything that’s been going on of late with our little crew. So let’s talk Sure Footing!
2016 is the year Sure Footing becomes an actual thing: as in a thing that you can download to a device and play. While I’m not committing that we launch to all devices, I did swear to Matt (the other guy running the company) that Sure Footing will launch in 2016! After all, you can’t spend ~ 2 years working on an infinite runner game, even if it is in your spare time. Sooner or later people will start asking questions and giving you funny looks.
I have some very specific milestones I want to reach so that we push out the first complete build to mobile in late 2016. Ideally targeting iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Naturally iOS and Android are paramount, but Windows is there because I have a Windows phone and dammit I want something to play! Not to mention we’re aiming for a PC launch too at some point. So working with the new Windows 10 API for apps running on Windows 10 phone/PC/Xbox One is too appealing to ignore.
What Have We Been Up To?
Well a lot of things have been happening for us behind the scenes: some folk got new jobs (James, Neall and myself) but having taken some downtime in order to adjust to all sorts (new jobs, moving house etc.), we’re back to working on the game. Let me tell you a little bit about what we’ve been working on right now and how this will affect future Sure Footing builds.
New Level Generators
So my job by-and-large is to look after the level generator: I build the prototypes over in what I call ‘The Branch of DOOM’ and then when they’re safe I migrate them over to the main trunk build of the game. That way I get to experiment with some new ideas and then pass them on to the game itself when I know they’re safe(-ish).
Firstly, I’m working on a range of different generators as part of the game. I talked a lot about how this works at PROCJAM 2015. In summary: we run a two-phase approach where we figure out what kind of actions we want the player to achieve, then we build geometry in real time that reflects it. I covered this in a lot more detail both in the PROCJAM video as well as the video for our playable experiences demo at AIIDE 2015.
So at present, over in the Branch of DOOM I’m working on a variety of new geometry generators that build the world in new and weird ways. I won’t focus on that now, as it won’t be in our next public build. However in the meantime, we now have six different action generators running in the single player build. The action generators conceive what we want players to be doing in a given run. In some cases we are simply dictating constraints on what can and cannot be done at a given time. But in other cases we’re evaluating actions differently. This actually results in significantly different levels being made every time around. It’s arguably hard to notice when you’re playing as you’re too focussed on surviving, but believe me, it’s happening! I’ll drop a separate post later in the spring spilling all the details on how this works.
I’ll admit that describing some of this might be a little dull, but we took on board a lot of feedback on our handling and controls from our last public events and made some subtle changes to how Pete and the gang move. We also made some efforts to limit how fast he could move vertically as that was causing all sorts of weird collision issues. We already limited each character on the x-axis, but it seemed weird we didn’t treat the y-axis in the same way. Problem, solved! We also made subtle changes to tons of other things, notably in the user interface and HUD as well. Every time we take the game out there, we learn a little more about how people understand our HUD and user interface. As a result, every time we make even more changes to accomodate.
We’ll be talking more about this in the near future, but we’ve finished the first-pass at our next two playable characters. As such, expect to be able to play as Pixel Pete, Polly Polygon, Blip or Plunk in the next build of the game. Just like Pete and Polly, Blip and Plunk also have a variety of their own character skins, meaning you can dress them up in a variety of ridiculous ways.
New Camera Modes
One issue that I had with our last build we presented at GameCity was that the camera was not only rather poorly positioned, but was also really static. So we needed to have something more interesting here. As a result, we built two new cameras: one which is permanently looking slightly ahead of you, but the standard camera has been rebuilt to change its position based on what’s happening in game. It also zooms and rotates if you find yourself really high compared to future platforms. This allows you to be a bit more methodical when approaching a large fall or spring jump.
The ‘Sectors’ as we call them are the unique areas of the game world you can visit the longer you survive and can have cosmetic or functional effects on your gameplay experience. In our last version we had around four you could visit: Cacheville (the hometown of our characters), Pixeley (a snowy Russian-themed world), K-SAN (a Japanese-themed area) and HAL (which takes place on the moon, complete with low gravity).
Since then, Molly and Matt have been busy (among other things) adding some new sectors. We decided to add three new areas for our next public build complete with unique effects. These include:
- ROM-E: One of the oldest sectors of the disk is home to some of the most ancient pixel-built architecture in our world.
- LAN-DN: A sprawling metropolis that suffers from terrible weather.
- NGF: An awesome sector inspired by the location of our next public play test.
Speaking of which…
The Norwich Gaming Festival 2016
We’re happy to be part of the 2016 Norwich Gaming Festival and Sure Footing will be on display from the 31st March to 2nd April. To celebrate our return, the NGF sector in the game is based on the English city of Norwich. Players will be able to run past famous locales such as the city hall, the cathedral and of course the Norwich Forum, where the festival takes place.
But That’s Not Really What We’ve Been Up To
Now while we’re happy to put the new NGF sector in the game and all these other changes, that’s not what we’re most excited about. Remember how I said earlier that we’ve not really been talking much about what we’ve been working on? Well… we’ve secretly been working on something pretty cool for Sure Footing. It’s not ready to talk about just yet. But if you’re heading to the Norwich Gaming Festival, you’ll be able to try out our new top secret stuff before anybody else! We’ll be posting more about this in the run up to NGF, but we’re really nervous and excited to let people see what we’ve really been up to.
So for now, thanks for reading and be sure to say hi if you see us at the NGF. I can’t wait to show you what we’ve really been up to for the last few months!