Updated: Jul 6, 2021
This week I have been mainly focused on playtesting as well as adding the finishing touches to my game. One thing my game was severely lacking was background images that the player would see behind the dialogue. I had been avoiding doing this because I had no idea how I was going to achieve it but now I had no choice.
To begin with, I tried experimenting with different styles of background. I drew a background in a very similar style to the rest of the characters and UI, but it was hard to distinguish between the world and the game. after multiple attempts at a black and white background, I thought I would try using colour.
I wanted to keep the sketchbook feel of the game, so I decided to try my best and draw some backgrounds using felt tips. I started by drawing a kitchen where the beginning of the game is set but when I tried to implement it, it looked super messy and didn’t give the vibe I was looking for.
I tried to ratify the situation by adding effects in post like blurriness or making it darker, but I wasn’t happy with any of the outcomes, so I decided to try again. This time I made the whole scene more simplistic and spent a lot of time trying to remove the obvious pen marks as it just made the whole game look messy. I imported the new image into the game, and it was a massive improvement.
As you can see the second image is a lot cleaner than the first and contrasts nicely with the UI. The UI is now clearly differentiated from the background which makes it easy on the player. The fact that the background is so plain also helps to keep the player from being distracted and not reading the dialogue which is the main aspect of the game. Overall, I am very happy with this outcome.
So, now I had to draw more backgrounds for the other areas of the game. I decided that there were 4 scenes in the game which include the kitchen, school corridor, classroom, and bedroom. There’s also references made in the game to a road, but I didn’t feel that it was necessary as it took me a while to draw these backgrounds.
Now that I had the backgrounds in place, I decided that I wanted the game to fade between days in order to distinguish each day. In order to do this, I simply had to add two fade commands in the fungus block where I wanted the fade to occur. One would change the alpha to 1 and the other to 0 both over a certain amount of time which gave the fade effect that I wanted.
It was soon after adding the fade effect that my friend Archie Johnson finished making the music. He is studying music at university so it was a great opportunity for my game to have custom music that would give the game a unique feeling. I had originally asked him to make 3 tracks. The first would be upbeat and happy which I could use for the beginning of the game and be similar to that of other visual novels. The second would be slow, distorted, and creepy with a similar tune to the first song, which would be used when the main character became sentient. Finally, the third song would be upbeat and interesting for the credits of the game at the end.
Upbeat Music 1
Upbeat Music 2
After receiving all three tracks, I needed to implement them into my game. I created 3 new audio sources and added each track to an individual source. I did this because it allowed me to control the volume of the music using the volume sliders I had on the settings pages while if I played through fungus, I wouldn’t have easily been able to give the player as much control.
I then set it so that all the audio source objects in the game were inactive which allowed me to toggle between the different music by activating different audio sources using fungus. This worked perfectly and allowed me to make the music a real part of the game and not just some background noise. An example of this is when the main character comments about the UI. Although they aren’t fully sentient yet, the music stops which causes tension and the player braces for what might happen. I have used this multiple times during tense moments in order to make the player more immersed in the game.
After implementing the audio fully into the game, I had a bunch of people play test the game. This was good because I discovered many bugs in the game that I hadn’t previously found. A good example is when one person made the player’s name as long as they could and at the time there was no limit on the number of characters they could enter. This meant that not only did their name go off the screen, but it made the text tiny when a character called them by name. I soon added a character limit which solved this issue.
Something else that came up was the fact that I had used a couple of swear words in my game and if I wanted to target a younger audience, I would need to sensor these. I then decided that it would be a good idea to make a swear filter for my game. I did this by making another toggle on the settings page in the UI which would toggle a Boolean called “SwearFilter”. I then proceeded to put an if statement wherever there was a swear word which would alter the words depending on if the variable were toggled on or off.
After making this change, I thought it was a good idea to look back through the brief of the assignment. It was then that I discovered that I needed elements of randomness as well as a timer in my game. I currently had neither of these things, so I had to add them into the game. I began by randomising the starting stats of the character slightly which would determine how the player would have to act in order to win the game.
In order to add a timer into the game, I made it so that when the player is presented with a choice given by the main character, there is a bar at the bottom which if it runs out would loop back to a previous point in the game. This puts pressure on the player to answer a question and doesn’t give them enough time to come up with an answer. This element actually worked out better than I originally thought as when playtesting, people tended to pause before answering these questions but now they would panic which adds a new layer of complexity to the game.
At this point the game was complete and I got a bunch of people to constantly playtest it in order to balance the game and make it more fun to play. This week I have added more than I expected but I think it is a better game because of it. I am happy with the final outcome of this project and I hope to work on it more in the future. Next week I hope to write a blog reviewing my process overall and looking back at what I have learnt from this project as a whole.
Narrated Playthrough By Osian Zarach