It's been a really long time since we've posted, we're still here and making progress though. A big thank you to everyone who voted for us on Steam Greenlight, as we are now on Steam! We finished getting all of the business paper work sorted so that we could setup a business account and sign all the Steamworks partnership agreements. Unfortunately development had been slow for a little while, and it has mostly been work on the business and on multiplayer code, so there aren't really any good visuals to show off new progress. We are still working though, and I will post updates soon as we begin marketing the game more in the coming weeks.
We have been working on adding a few new things, and trying to get the overall look a little more polished. This includes a new power bar, new particle effects, and some new sound effects. We are hoping to finish particle effects and add a speed run mode soon, so we can update the demo.
The new particle effects include a little cloud of dust when the ball bounces, a little trail of dust when the ball rolls, and little water droplets and ripples when it hits water. We are still working on adding little specs of dust that float in the wind, and leaves that fall from trees. These will hopefully be both aesthetically pleasing as well as a handy indicator for players as to the winds strength and direction. All of these effects are fairly subtle, but combined will hopefully make for a much more detailed and polished experience.
We are also currently working on contracting someone to write an OST for Ballf, so this will hopefully be underway shortly. We are hoping to begin releasing tracks in our demo within the next month or so. We are trying to make sure this happens on time, as we will hopefully be launching or Greenlight campaign some time in early October. The reason we picked the beginning of October is mainly because we are hoping to be doing a hands on demo of Ballf at a local gaming convention in Ontario.
We've also added/reworked more levels, bringing the current total up to 20. We will be adding more levels to the next update, in order to give a wider variety of course types. We are considering adding the level editor shortly as well, however it is not completely user friendly yet, so we may still hold off on this for a bit. We've also tossed around the idea of creating some kind of competition when the editor is released, in which the top user created map gets to be featured in the full version of the game.
Here's a shot of our newest level, in which the standard golf style hole has been turned into a hoop that the ball must pass though!
The biggest thing we have been working on is improving the memory usage. This allows for a further view distance without running out of memory. Previously a view distance of 1000 was guaranteed to cause a memory crash on some maps, especially voxel dense maps such as the town map. This meant players were forced to play with a view distance of 600-800 on dense maps, and around 900 on smaller, less dense maps. With the optimizations that we have made it is now possible to play even the dense town maps with a view distance of 1000. It should be noted though that this does require a relatively good computer if you have shadows turned on. This is because a view distance of 1000 requires a large number of draw calls to be made. However, with shadows turned off, a fairly average computer should be able to maintain high view distances without too big a hit to frame rate.
These photos show the difference between the previous draw distance, and the new distance that had previously resulted in a memory crash. The image on the left is a draw distance of 600, and the image on the right is 1000.
We have also been working on developing more levels, as the more levels we can have ready for launch, the better! The two maps are a backyard course and a floating island course. The backyard course is similar to the town map, but takes place entirely in a residential area, with a focus on holes located in yards. The floating island course is a relatively challenging course, as it leaves little room for error. A miss calculation of wind can quickly put you in the water, resulting in a penalty stroke. Each hole requires you to carefully place each shot in order to make sure you take advantage of the landscape to maintain control of your shot.
You can get the new demo from our itch.io page here!
We've mostly been working on new content, reworking the way old content was calculated and used, such as the elasticity and friction, adding a proper HUD, and sound effects! The ball no experiences drag due to wind resistance, make the shots have a little more realistic feel to them. They also roll much differently now, which allows the ball to roll further when putting, but also means hard throws now maintain momentum and roll further.
We tried to remove all of that unwanted plain text that was cluttering up the screen. We tried to keep a general shape and colour theme, and make it as plain and simple as possible. The less text the better. This was the result:
We've also added sound effects to the different textures! This task is not entirely completed, but the bulk of the work is done. There are various sounds for hard surfaces, sand, leaves, water, gravel, etc. There are also a couple different rolling sounds, and sounds that are made while the ball passes through leaves. The sounds are also setup so that their volume is determined by the speed of the ball. It was a bit of a trial and error process, but the sounds fade at what seems to be a fairly realistic rate, and gently rolling the ball now makes a significantly quieter noise than throwing it as hard as you can.
We are still missing sounds on the menu buttons and things like some kind of rewarding sound for getting perfect accuracy. They are minor sounds so we've left them out for now so we could get a newer version of the demo out, but we will get to it, as it is all the little things that make a big difference in the end.
We are now going to be focusing on music, finishing the SFX, animations, particle effects, and eventually multiplayer. That's a rough list of our priorities in order at the moment. There will of course be lots of time spent in between these things in order to address bugs and make the necessary changes according to the feedback we receive. Speaking of which, if you play Ballf, please feel free to send some suggestions our way!
If you want to keep up to date on our progress, follow us on Twitter or on IndieDB. We appreciate the support and all the page views we can get!
Thanks for taking your time to check out our game!
Some exciting news about a visual improvement using Scenery Objects, and some boring stuff about adjusting map markers.
Ok, Boring stuff first. We haven't posted an update recently as we were making some changes to the engine that did not have any visual or gameplay significance. We've reorganized how the markers work in the editor, making it so that they contain different types of information which allows them to be more useful for all games made with the engine. The previous method did not offer enough flexibility and was quite limiting.
Unfortunately, this meant that all of the levels had to have all of the markers replaced, and have information added to them. It took a bit of time to setup the tees and goals for all of the holes and determine their par, but it will be worth it!
Simply put, this allows us to build an object out of voxels, but then shrink it down so that it fits into a single voxel. Maybe this sounds boring too, but it allows for some pretty nice detail to be added to the game. The downside is that this can get fairly expensive, as it can greatly increase the amount of voxels that need to be drawn. In order to keep the game running on the widest range of computers, we will try and keep their use some what limited, and maybe provide some ability to reduce or remove them.
In the picture bellow I use flower scenery objects to show a side by side demonstration of how it affects the appearance of the environment. The objects can also be used to make small details like tufts of grass, or even household items like forks, cups, or books.
We are releasing the early gameplay demo of Ballf! It is available from our itch.io page, check it out and let us know what you think!!
We're taking a break from Ballf this weekend to participate in this game jam, as we're pretty excited to make first person Bomberman with cats a thing. So checkout our gamejolt page, and follow the development if you're interested! And we would appreciated any votes or comments too!
Heres the page: http://gamejolt.com/games/arcade/bomber-cat/38908/
We will have the demo ready some time next week, as we just have a couple small additions left to make. We will be participating in a game jam on the 21st, so we will be taking a weekend off, but we will be releasing the demo before then!
We've added clouds that move in correlation to the wind strength and direction. This makes it easier to gauge how your shot will be affected, and looks neat at the same time! The little bit of background movement they provide helps to add some depth to the environment and makes the courses feel a bit more "full". We may play with the shape and arrangement of the clouds as the games development progresses, but for now this is what they look like:
The engine has also been changed so that more than one texture can be assigned to the same texture name. If a name has more than one texture associated with it, the engine randomly picks which texture it will use for each voxel. The ratio can also be changed to make one texture more common than another. This allows us to increase the goodness of things like grass. This is achieved by making them less uniform, as ground textures are often placed together in large chunks. This resulted in areas that looked flat and untextured, but the current method subtly breaks up any uniformity. Here are two comparison screenshots:
Although the difference may seem too subtle to make much of a difference, it has a very noticeable affect on how the game feels. And it's all about the feels. It has an affect similar to the clouds, in that it adds a subtle depth to the environment.
We are just going to be making sure everything is in order, such as packaging the necessary redistributable files with the game, setting up the proper pars for the courses, and possibly working in some particle effects.
The demo is almost ready! It is playable and contains most of the planned core features, we are just waiting for our composer to put together some music for us. In the mean time, we will be working on some features like proper clouds, particle effects, and an easy method to change the par for custom courses. As things progress I'll post some links to the soundtracks, and maybe a proper gameplay video.
This is our very first blog post for Ballf! It's not likely this will get many views, but in case there are one or two people who are interested in our development this early on, we will post a quick synopsis of our progress once or twice a month. Feel free to leave a comment either here or in the forum and we will be sure to answer when we get the chance. We would be more than happy to hear any positive or negative comments you may have, especially any constructive criticism you can offer. We also happily accept all cat photos.
We are thrilled to announce that we are currently working towards releasing a playable demo for everyone to try! It will contain the basic core gameplay mechanics, including different throw trajectory types, power and accuracy meters, wind, textures with their own elasticity and friction properties, and one or two levels with working goals and score cards for singleplayer.
The demo will not currently contain and animations, soundtrack, sound effects, or cats. Since we've only just announced our game, we felt a playable demo was the most important thing to address, as the appeal and direction of Ballf will hopefully be a little more clear after getting to play it. After all, we can tell you that it's fun to virtually throw balls around all day, but that doesn't exactly accurately capture the whole experience.
Thanks for showing an interest in Ballf, and let us know what you think!!