2021 Midpoint Recap
It’s 2021, and a lot of things have happened since the last blog post. Today’s blog post is mostly going to be going over a lot of the changes (big and small) that have affected the project since November of last year. Many of these things have been briefly showcased on our Twitter, or teased over on the Workshop Labs discord server. I also have some new, original, pre-release content to share.
Back in February, we held our second playtesting session. We got feedback from returning players and some new ones. Again, of varying skill levels and experience with the series. We tested several redesigned levels from the first half of the game, as well as some bonus levels. Journalist and Crusader were the primary focus of this round of testing, with a level or two featuring a third character. Each of Crusader’s primary playstyles were tested. Playtesters were also introduced to our combo powerup system and revised health mechanics.
The response was again, very positive. Our redesigned levels were well received and proved a lot more balanced than previous iterations. Some levels continue to prove very challenging, and while some further tweaks will be necessary, at this point we feel very comfortable with the level of challenge presented by the first half of the game.
Our combo system was hard for playtesters to see and notice during gameplay, which means that they ultimately did not take it into account much as they played. To further encourage interactions with the system, and to make sure players notice the health regeneration in particular, we have added in some new visual flair to help call attention to the system. Additionally, we added some cool new noises by friend and contributor, Asire. Now, when the player is hit, their screen will briefly flash red to indicate damage, and when the player regenerates health, their screen will briefly flash green. This is accompanied by unique and clear sound cues for each. We have also adjusted our combo system so that, every five kills, if the player has less than 2 HP, they regenerate 1.
One of the main reasons for our silence lately has been the fact that, back in late April, I began work on remaking the UI system for the editor. Previously, our editor was constructed on a hand-made widget system that interacted in a mostly hard coded fashion. Most widgets in the system were unique and coded specifically to fulfill a single purpose. There was a widget specifically for selecting doors, glass types, displaying a preview of the object you selected in the object search, for selecting weapons and selecting enemies-- and every input and output of every widget had to be hardcoded into the widget itself by looking for specific predetermined names of the affected widget. Ugh!
The system was originally developed to be relatively modular, and allow for easy expansion. Unfortunately it quickly devolved into a bit of a spaghetti mess. As a result, it became slower and more painful for me to add in new features and functions to the editor. My editor, which was supposed to be very fluid, was quickly solidifying like concrete.
So, I basically scrapped the entire setup of all my UI code, gutted widgets, and reworked them using some new information I’d learned about GML to produce a new widget system that is both easier and faster to iterate on than the old. At the same time, I’ve also completely reworked the old system for saving editor files. Now, instead of mostly uncommented series of random numbers and strings, every piece of information saved for an object is accompanied by the name of the variable it is assigned to.
As of the past few days, I’ve finished maybe 80% of the process of porting all the old widgets and windows into the new editor system. It already looks and feels better to work with. In addition to this, I’ve opened the door to some very important features that were not previously possible-- including the Advanced Object Editor. A window which detects and automatically displays all of the editable variables associated with any selected object. This, combined with my saving system rework, will allow users to change any variable of any object with absolute freedom. For example, the Vest enemy type features a variable that dictates what sidearm it’s carrying, and whether or not it’s carrying a sidearm at all. Previously, it was impossible to change these variables in the editor, resulting in some silly moments where a Vest would be assigned to carry a magnum by default, and then after being disarmed, would draw a second magnum. Now, we will be able to micromanage situations like this into being exactly what we would like them to be.
Although this rehaul continues to be a work in progress, I am hoping to have a completed port ready for my level design team as early as next week.
Other New Features
Since November, we’ve put a lot of work into new assets and new small mechanics to the game. Our primary focus has been on level design, and especially developing a new level design pipeline so that we can make more progress on our levels in less amount of time. We implemented these changes and made good progress on several levels, although real life often gets in the way.
Twitter has become my new place for posting small snippets and screenshots of the game and its features. I don’t post there super often, but if I make something cool that I think isn’t too much of a spoiler, there’s a chance I’ll tease it there first.
A change list of just about everything we have done since November will be at the bottom of this post.
Co-creator and original writer for The Miami Horror, Yossarian the Assyrian, has been working on something really awesome for the game. About a year ago, he started writing a novella set in the MH universe, featuring several characters new and old. It’s finally finished, featuring some lovely cover art by That Alpaca.
It’s called The Stuff of Dreams.
Follow Tristan, a low-ranking member of the Cult, as he struggles with addiction and dissociation all while trying to fulfill his duties, and please his masters. The Stuff of Dreams offers yet unseen insight into the workings of the Cult, and the nature of their membership. Also, extremely graphic violence.
I hope you all enjoy this glimpse into the story of MH.
The PDF is attached.
With my editor overhaul almost complete, we will soon be back to work on level design. I very recently upgraded my computer which has improved compile times and other development time constraints. As always, real life has thrown the team some curveballs, but we will recover and keep trucking. The new editor build should help speed up development, and once I’m not mired in totally game changing technical work I can focus more of my time on content. Hopefully this’ll be the last major technical overhaul before we begin implementing the campaign system and cutscene editor.
Once that’s done, hopefully we’ll have more soon. We will likely move to a more video-based update format by next time, and once level design is back underway fully I’m going to start keeping track of it with a little level progress board.
Until then, I hope you all are doing well, and with luck, you’ll here from us again sooner rather than later.
- Controls are now fully customizable from an in game menu, including mouse buttons.
- Shift look has been reworked to allow for options allowing it to be toggled, start on, or start off.
- Enemies now drop empty weapons, and seek out loaded firearms. Enemies will not pick up empty weapons.
- Additional gun fat weapons, including the 9mm Pistol, Double Barrel, and MP5k.
- Totally rewrote enemy vision to be faster, more consistent, and target agnostic.
- Enemies now have access to burst fire mechanics.
- Gave hiders the FA-MAS and Double Barrel.
- Dodgers received a sprite overhaul and can now carry guns.
- Overhauled several late game enemies.
- Heavy melee is now more effective against a late game enemy.
- New muzzle flash system with brand new flash effects and sprites separate from the attack sprite itself.
- Manny Pardo is now available as an editor character.
- You can now erase an entire wall in the editor by holding shift+right click.
- Added in dozens of new assets including walls, tiles, and furniture for several levels, including Burial, and a late game level.
- Added functionality for floor by floor customizable camera borders.
- Overhauled Journalist’s unloading mechanics to better reflect real life unloading.
- Cleaned up leaning knock downs.
- Rewrote melee weapon collisions so that they no longer pass through walls, and are more consistent.
- Reduced Robracer97’s sanity significantly.
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