State of the Game #140 : White boxing a Level

Welcome to another State of the Game! For a good portion of last week, I was fighting off a terrible virus that sapped the energy right out of me. It’s always been funny to me, that no matter how big of a ‘man’ you are, a tiny virus and always bring you to your knees.

So, to catch up, let me cover a few of the changes that happened last week!

These changes will be in snapshot 0.5.20_14, which will go out once the next white box revision is done.

During the white boxing of a level, I play it a lot. I mean I play it a LOT, close to 50-60 times a night. In doing that many play tests, I realized the HQ health was way too high. I couldn’t even build a reasonable build that would have enough firepower to take one down on my own. After some toying around, a 50% reduction in health seems to be the sweet spot. At 15,000 health, you need a fairly dedicated base dropper to be able to take out the HQ yourself, and you better not waste much ammo on fighting.

Also in all of this testing, i got very frustrated with the HQ’s not showing any kind of damage feedback, especially since I know I made the feedback and thought I had setup the system. Turns out, I had done it, but there was a minor error caused by code changes somewhere else, that was preventing them from showing. So now the HQs will show feedback for 75% health, 50% health, 33% health, and death. This is tested to be working in both single and multiplayer.

There was also an interesting Garage bug pointed out by Legacy, which would prevent you from leaving the garage unless you had at least 1 part on your M.A.V.. I was able to get this fixed as well. [It was an error with trying to auto save a non-existent M.A.V.]

Now that last week is all caught up, I want to talk about how I am working on the new No Man’s Pass.

First of all, you have seen me throw around the word “white boxing” a lot. This is taking a level, and building it quickly with boxes [typically textured and thus white, though sometimes also called grey boxing]. This allows very rapid game design and gameplay feedback, without being distracted by if the art looks good or makes sense. Here is a image to give you a better idea:



Here you can see how I have used boxes and hexagons to start to get a level layout.

So, back to what I was saying. With the white boxing, I wanted to start from scratch. I know some players were upset that the level didn’t have a ‘Pass’ in it, and wanted history of the level, and so, to start the level, I treated it like a character and started with a backstory. No Man’s Pass was a typical Linea on Europa, or a crack in the ice along a fault line. However, when the comet hit [on the other side of Europa], the shock wave that traveled around the globe caused the two sides of the ice canyon to slide and smash into each other. They then recoiled back, but forever closer than they used to be. The crashing forced to the surface many valuable minerals, such as phosphorus, peroxide, and sulfur, but also left behind a landscape filled with icy daggers and unstable walls. Linea are also known for their hot water eruptions, making this a very dangerous place to be. Unfortunately, it is also one of the only ways left to traverse what remains of the icy plains, as the surface above the canyons is too cold and is exposed to significantly more radiation. Thus is born, No Man’s Pass.

With this backstory in place, I was able to instantly get a visual of how the map should play and the type of landscape you will be dealing with.

That is all I have for now! I will continue the white boxing and hope to have a playable map out before the next state of the game. Then it’s off to the artist to make it look awesome! 😉

Until next week, happy MAVing!

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