Devlog #5 Storyboard & Gameplay Design Refinements

Is that you? 

During last three weeks, the Team has finally met each other in person for the first time. The four of us have been working together closely for about one year, yet still we found it was hard to put the face and voice together when we met. It was a very interesting experience.

Thanks to our friend Fred, we finally had some co-working picture. From left to right: Betty(Artist), Fox(Manager), W.Guan(Programmer) and W.Qian(Musician)

Thanks to our friend Fred, we finally had some co-working picture. From left to right: Betty(Artist), Fox(Manager), W.Guan(Programmer) and W.Qian(Musician)

Although in this day and age long distance communication has become a common way of co-working, especially usual for indie teams, still there is nothing more productive than a real time, face-to-face communication. This has indeed become both an advantage and disadvantage for many indie teams. We’ve avoided the high cost of renting a studio or buying office equipment, but sometimes we really do suffer from the feeling of isolation and sense of disconnection, due to not being able to see your teammates very often.

So during the two weeks of intense meeting this month while our artist was in China, we had the opportunity to sort out quite a few important gameplay and design issues that troubled us before. 

Storyboard

The draft storyboard for the four major cinematic clips during the game is almost completed. We now have the visuals of the key events, locations and characters’ background stories. This will help our musician to work in advance on some new music compositions. It is important that the visuals be delivered to everyone as complete as possible. It might seem like just the artist's job, but the mood and emotion of the story can help other teammates to have a more complete understanding of the game. Everything needs to be shared and discussed.

                                                                  some of the storyboard drafts

                                                                  some of the storyboard drafts

                                                          Example of one completed storyboard

                                                          Example of one completed storyboard

Gameplay and design refinements

According to the previous work plan, during the meeting we have finalized the theme for all the rooms (levels). Each room now has its own function and content. Also, we don’t want to put any objects that don’t relate to the environment of the room, just for the sake of the puzzle. As much as we don’t want to have the puzzles standing out too much from the theme, we also have to consider the feedback we’ve received often from players, that no one likes to click through the entire screen to find a clickable object. This could be one of the biggest challenges in the design part.

Furthermore, in order to provide a smoother gameplay experience, we are also going to re-adjust the difficulties between levels. For example, in the early stage as the story still remains a mystery, the puzzle difficulty curve might be a constant upwards curve.Then during the middle stage, as the puzzle requires more complicated cooperation between characters, we are then going to adjust the difficulty curve or even reduce it a bit. Meanwhile as more cinematics kick in, the story and all the mysteries will be slowly revealed. We even would like to break the puzzle pattern completely at this stage, in order to switch players’ attention more towards the storytelling rather than just focusing on the puzzles. In one word, we hope LUNA will not only be experienced as a series of puzzle challenges, but rather an interactive story, delivered as a game.

Along with the gameplay details of the levels being continuously refined, we are going to start optimizing some old problems, such as the walk cycle and oversized texture issues.