This week, as we close out the fifth sprint in Firewall’s development, we implemented features, tweaks, and art changes that added to the game’s polish and improved the production value of the game. The changes we’ve made have made the game look, sound, and feel much better, and our decisions have been justified by positive player feedback. We’ve also reached a point where it doesn’t really make sense to talk about engineering and art development as though each is happening separate from the other. Our artists and engineers are working neck-and-neck on new features and the collaboration is making our productivity soar. So for this post we’re just going to talk about the changes we’ve made, and describe the engineering and art achievements at the same time.
Last week we talked about the squad selection screen which the player uses to create the allied squad that will accompany the Hero into battle. Thanks to some great engineering work by Rohan Prabhakar, the squad selection was functional and usable for creating squads last week. However, it lacked the art assets to make the screen look professional and fit with the theme of the game. This week, Rohan worked with large portions of our art team to improve the look of the squad screen, and the mechanical hangar motif they are using for the menus and backgrounds with looks great. The art was backed up by more engineering from Rohan and other team members so that the screen is more responsive and the player can navigate the squad creation options more easily. We are striving towards having a similar artistic style and continuous flow in our game and these changes to the squad selection screen get us closer to that goal.
Continuity is an important quality for any video game and giving a game continuous flow normally means having all the parts of a game lined up and ready to play. This is why most games have loading screens, and until this week Firewall didn’t have one. This week Ryan Andonian engineered a loading screen process for the game and Dan Rogers created some awesome art that is shown to let the player know when the game is loading. It’s amazing to reflect on how much a little feature like a loading screen can add to a game. Having that load screen makes Firewall appear to have continuous flow from launch to play and adds a level of polish to the experience.
Part of creating a completely polished experience is having a tutorial to introduce new players to Firewall. Especially with a game as complex as ours, a tutorial is needed to guide players through all the controls of the game, as well as all the pieces of the core game mechanics. The tutorial effort is an ongoing process that we will continue to refine based on players’ needs, but the development of the in-game tutorial got a big push forward this week. Sam Wolpert took the design and early implementation work done by Will Hare and began working full-throttle on creating the tutorial system. Players will be guided through the information they need to know to play Firewall and new players will hopefully have a much better experience.
While we are designing Firewall with the Xbox controller in mind, we still want to make it playable with a mouse and keyboard. This week, we moved closer to that goal by refining our keyboard and mouse control scheme. Thanks to the work by Alex Schneider, players can now move the Hero unit with the keyboard and use the mouse to aim and shoot. We are going to continue to refine these controls to make them as intuitive as possible for the player, as well as add keyboard and mouse variants to the existing player actions.
That’s a wrap for this week! We accomplished a lot, and we’re excited by where we’re going from here. If you’d like to see the current version of Firewall, sign up to be a playtester! Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week.