I arranged another testing session with some friends that knew nothing about my game, so they could be fresh eyes and give me some first impressions.
Here are some notes they gave me –
- Sometimes fall off the side of map – check that all collisions are there.
- Interesting art style and very atmospheric.
- Like that each bug has different personality, I don’t trust Sloan.
- Indicate what the button and key have changed in the world.
- Sufficiently disturbed by some scenes.
- I got the idea that the people in the group are not satisied with their life and need to break out.
- The mystery is what happened to the farmers and why the surface is really dangerous. Something to do with pollution and environmental issues.
I’m glad they got what I was aiming for, such as the mystery and feeling a bit disturbed by some of the scenes, which is what I wanted. I like that they liked the art and how different the characters are. I do need to tweak some of the progression elements such as the button and key to let the player know what is happening. I quickly fixed the collision blocks on the maps so players wont fall off now : )
I used some ambient sound generators like Moodil and A Soft Murmur to work out the kind of mood I want in my game. For now, I am going to be using these sounds in my game but obviously if I were to release this game fully I would record my own sounds as I wouldn’t want to infringe on any copyright. I would not be charging any more for my game any way so I’m not sure what that would mean, but just to be safe I would want to create my own.
I had a lot of fun playing around with these sounds to create interesting atmospheres for each of the areas in my game. I liked the sound of the singing bowl as a sort of musical aspect but not too tuneful or repetitive, I think it sounds quite lonely and eerie as well. I used some wind and thunder noises for the surface and some quite murmuring of voices for Chasm city. For the under-lake rooms, I used a very quite wave noise, some static, some thunder and some more of the singing bowl to make a mysterious, claustrophobic soundscape.
I also used Bfxr to make sounds for the interaction and doors. It’s a cool online editor for traditional sounding game sounds. I fiddled around with it for a while and came up some decent sounding effects. They add a bit more immersion and make the game feel more responsive.
I also used the footsteps track from Moodil and edited it with TwistedWave online sound editor to make it a bit faster to fit better with Digby’s footsteps, about 115% speed. It is serving its purpose well enough at the moment but I would like to make a custom footstep sound effect better suited to the environments.
I made some sounds for each of the NPCs, like I planned to do ages ago : ) I just used Bfxr to make some lo-fi sounds that I felt reflected their personalities. Sounds like these are very reminiscent of old school games with 8bit soundtracks or the original Pokémon noises, but I think the lo-fi quality suits the pixel style of the game. You can hear them in action in the playthrough below…
I added some more details to some of the backgrounds I felt needed some.
I also updated these two backgrounds to have a more refined style. I was originally going for a more geometric look with the environments, but as I went on with drawing them they gradually got more naturalistic and detailed which I actually prefer in the end, as it adds more believability and immersion. The strangeness is more in the stylized characters and the slightly off block colours.
When I uploaded my latest build on itch.io I received some feedback from a user with some really helpful points on how to make my game better. Some things will have to be worked on after the deadline for the shows though as I’m not sure I have time. But I will definitely work on including more interactions and things to look at, which was one of their main points. Also adding an ending screen to finish the demo and thank them for playing, this will probably be quite easy to do, but if I can always do it for the shows in the end.
Ok so I just added an end screen that will come up when you press E, which at the moment would have to be done manually. But ideally I would like it to fade up after a certain amount of time but I’m not sure how to make things happen in time in Game Maker so I will have to research that. But for now I can just manually press it when they have reached the last scene and give them a postcard and some stickers or something as a thankyou for playing : )