This time next week, we’ll be chatting with you guys at PAX Prime! I am approximately, EXCITED! >_<
Look for us under this gigantic PixelJunk banner. We’ll be in the Indie Megabooth on the corner, opposite Nintendo. We’re running two stations of Inc with split-screen local co-op, so 2×2 people can make soup!
This week = intense polish week. Mainly stability and bug fixes to ensure the floor build is ready for everyone. Not too many surprises. Also looking forward to the precious game-design data points we’ll be harvesting from all the fresh players we watch.
And here’s two bugs Kalin fixed this week. Maybe they weren’t bugs…
Stopped robots from getting caught in an infinite loop of bowing to each other.
Stopped robots from picking the player up and try to put them into the Soup Factory like an ingredient.
PAX in 3 weeks. It is insanely close now. We had to take time and do a little compatibility work for our Indie Megabooth target hardware this week. The upside is, it’s given us a jumpstart to support for some slightly older machines.
Anyway, TOOLS! We’ve been tidying up lots of systems this week in anticipation of PAX. Cutting back on some ideas that are still a little rough-edged, and polishing up the fun stuff. Here’s a few tools that will be making an appearance at PAX (assuming you research them). You can build them at your factories.
If you want to dig large areas or some tough rock fast, you want one of these. Just don’t get carried away. :)
You can take on way more enemies personally with one of these. The extra range adds safety and there’s small combos with an uppercut for extra damage.
We’ll have LOTS of Inc related swag to give away at PAX, so come say “Hi”! Details of the swag to come in the following weeks.
Only one month left till PAX!! It’s starting to loom really ominous now in the near distance, and we still have so much to do! We spent this week AGAIN working on usability and first-time player experience.
Starting the game now has you fall from orbit in your rocket ship which explodes shortly after crashing. It serves no functional purpose, but provides precious context for people who just picked up the controller and want to play! We want players to feel abandoned together on this strange alien world moments after their wreckage has exploded.
You can also melt your own ship wreckage down into matter if you want. :)
We also added a transceiver as a test this week. It’s still rough but we like the space it occupies so far. Having a direct line of communication to the player is handy for delivering info but, you don’t want it to annoy them while they’re playing. The transceiver only mentions player-reaction dependent events and does so quietly in the corner of the screen.
One month to go and we’ll be at the Indie Megabooth at PAX! EXCITED! :D
Our first time player experience has been the focus again this week! We’re still working to make Inc more accessible and easily understood by first time players (looking forward to everyone getting some hands-on time at PAX!).
Aside from the expected hovering icons & highlights, one of the more interesting additions has been the new blueprint feedback. Blueprints now show the amount of remaining matter required to build, and update live while you spray matter into them.
And here’s some super-secret footage of us working away on a Friday!
Wow this week was crazy busy!! o.O We focused a lot on usability and control improvements, making it easier for first-time players to understand what’s going on. Here’s one of the additions.
Unsupported or unconnected rocks will fall and kill you. This is a fact. They never used to give you any warning though. Just, suddenly the whole roof would come down on your head and it was GAME OVER! You’d be left heartbroken.. *sniffle*
This cracking effect we added at least gives you a heads up now before your whole world comes crumbling down..
Clone life seems pretty good. You’ve got a nice desk job, you’re happy filing soup invoices. Then the boss sends you to a strange alien planet with orders to “MAKE SOUP!!” So we’ve been tuning the balance between player and environment lately, keeping in mind your Robo Exec enforced soup labour (I may have said too much. Hope he isn’t listening).
Navigating around the map has become more critical to survival and the controls are reflecting that. Finding and choosing a starting spot rich in resources for your base is an actual adventure. The control decisions you make about jumping a sinkhole, dropping down ladders into a chasm, fleeing or staying to fight some wildlife, have now become life & death decisions (as they should be).
Even with the tighter controls though, we were struggling to make informed decisions about getting around the immediate environment. So it’s about time we added some extra animations to the player character to help!
The character now teeters on higher ledges that could be dangerous. If you’re rushing, you’ll still miss these though so, spelunk safely! There’s also a fall damage animation after high drops! Previously, fall damage wasn’t obvious so after a few drops, you’d suddenly die, then say “oh, I was taking fall damage that whole time?”.
Lastly, we’re trying out letting the player eat soup ingredients to get some health back (eating takes a few seconds though so do it somewhere safe!). Don’t eat all your stock or there’ll be nothing left to export. :)
Feeling cool is awesome (feeling awesome is also cool)! It’s usually because you did something you couldn’t before and trumped the “old you”. Sense of accomplishment though relies on knowledge of your past self. Without the right info to measure against, you’ll never know just how honestly terrible you used to be!
So we’ve cultivated some features that are going to help nurture this feeling of self-satisfaction and give you the info you’ll need to make decent strategic decisions about the production of soup.
Receipts – Every shipment of soup returns with not only your payment but a detailed receipt. Handy. :D
Earnings Report – Check your shipment history over time with a breakdown of soup flavours per shipment included.
Galactic News – See reports from abroad about the effects your soup production is having, and get market tips for possible future strategies. “Galactic tomato soup shortage drives up price? Well, this red alien thing looks close enough, let’s earn some bonus coin!”
High scores and best lap times are historically great ways to pat yourself on the back. Games like Inc even give you the chance to be reactionary mid-play and improve. Change your production line design, swap soup ingredients, keep refining until you have the off-world soup production facility you always wanted. :)
Samurai Programmer Sawa has been slicing away at our ‘Building Menu’, so it’s slow going on gameplay this week. I did want to show you guys something that made it in though. Conveyor belts! :D
There was already a few buildings that provided easy vertical motion, but none that were really doing anything horizontal to let you chain-automate production.. There’s a bit going on in this screenshot so I’ll break it down. The skill tester building on the left pulls up whatever falls into its claw. The tube is a higher tier infrastructure building that we showed before, transporting things from A to B. That’s a funnel on top of the tube’s entry, which automatically funnels things into whatever building it’s attached to (art is still placeholder). You can attach funnels to a soup factory, deconstructor, furnace, or whatever else you feel like.
We also confirmed this week that PixelJunk Inc will be coming to PAX Prime! :) More details to follow.
This week I’ve been plotting away, steeped in the design of our research & upgrade systems. I’ve come to an important conclusion: “Transforming buildings are awesome”. :)
I thought we’d share a design idea we’re probably NOT going to use for a change and point out some of the reasons why not. Here’s one of the ideas for research & upgrades we had:
You can unlock new building blueprints and levels with the money you make from exporting soup. Then choose which buildings you want to level up (also costing money). Seemed simple enough. Each building type (EG: my Generators) has a clear linear progression of power. Each instance of a building carries an internal ‘level’ and with an exchange of currency and labour you can ‘level them up’ by shooting them with a laser.
So here’s the 2 main issues unique to Inc with this popular tower-defense style system:
It requires a lot of micro, jogging around to each building and ‘leveling it up’. In a pure tower defense game where that’s the ONLY thing you need to do, this might be fine, but you’re far to busy with other fun things in Inc to devote ALL your time to building maintenance and upgrading.
It’s impersonal. There’s no difference between my Lv2 Generator and yours. I want to tune for my playstyle and customise my base!
So that one probably isn’t the holy grail for research design we were looking for. We’re still testing a few different ideas yet for how research will ultimately play out. The end goal though is still to not have you bogged down in DOING research & upgrades but let you get on with ENJOYING them! :D