Monday, 16 September 2019

Rope mechanics

Hello "Out of Liners"!
Is that a thing? Let's make that a thing.

We have been busy all through out our Portuguese summer and the team worked hard on two big things. The first was all about implementing a first version of the entire levels from start to finish into Unity. The second was designing, testing and polishing a new feature, the rope mechanic.
We won't be showing the levels design as that would be a major spoiler but we will show and talk about the awesome new and cool rope mechanic.

The rope mechanic
Now, whats better that being able to throw a spear and use it as a platform? What about attaching a rope to said spear and use the rope as a transversal mechanic? Hum? What? You've seen this before? Pfff, shut up. Our is a much better rope mechanic than any previous rope mechanics. We call it the Incredible Rope Mechanic

Programming the rope mechanic
For the rope implementation, the main characteristics we wanted it to have was for it to be able to withstand the player's weight and other objects and have a dynamic length.

To withstand the weight, the solution was to have as few segments as possible composing the rope to reduce the tension between each segment's hinges. The problem with this is that visually, the rope looks really blocky and you can clearly see each individual segment, so we just make the segments invisible and simply draw a line by interpolating the positions of all the segments.

In terms of the dynamic length, this was necessary due to the fact that when the spear is thrown, we don't know how long it needs to be. The solution was to set a ratio of segments per distance and activate/deactivate each segment as needed. If the rope needs to stretch, more segments are activated. If the rope needs to shorten, more segments are deactivated. This way we make sure there aren't any gaps in between segments so nothing falls through the rope.

Rope transversal working with San transversal included
The idea came from the need to add a new mechanic to San's spear that did not look like just a power up but just a normal progression and adaptation of the spear to the environment. This is the overall idea of the game, not having power-ups and focus more on the story and transversal, so it makes sense that the spear evolves in the same manner.

Design ideas for possible in-game obstacles
The spear mechanics means we can connect objects we wouldn't in any other way. Examples; we can create connections / bridges between platforms to cross over; create crane systems and then use them to pull or push and control objects; lock moving objects like platforms or even enemies; etc.
Usually these bridges created by the spear can support objects, the main character and secondary characters.

We can't show you much of our ideas as we implement and design the entire game, but you can see the team sweating as they endure the Portuguese heat. Can you feel it? Even San is digitally sweating.

Francisco and João laugh as they have no clue how to actually make a game

We have no rulers in the office so everything is measured in a more traditional fashion

The rope mechanic being test by João Genebra, the Incredible Rope Mechanicprogrammer

Testing out a build on the PlayStation4... with a PlayStation4 controller... in a PlayStation4 DevKit... you get the idea
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In a while, crocodile!

Monday, 29 July 2019

Character animations

Hi there, Out of Line followers!
So much stuff to talk about!...and ...PRESS START!

Character Animation
If you are a fan (which we know you are... yes, YOU), you've noticed the way San moves has changed a lot since production started. He now moves STYLISHLY :)

San running in Unity engine

The reason for this is that we decided to completely revamp the way we animate our characters.
Our previous prototypes were made with frame-by-frame animations. This looked cool enough but presented a lot of challenges and limitations. It took a long time to animate, changing something was very painful as it meant redoing entire animations, we were limited to what type of interactions we could do, yada, yada, yada, the list is LONG!

So we decided to change to a 2D skeleton type of animation. We know a lot of games have been doing this now for some time, but it only became obvious this way was the way to go after we did it. This is a typical thing in videogame development, try things, they don't work as intended, try new things and so on. Keep doing this until you get it right.

The new animation system has a lot of advantages
- Easier to animate, create new animations, change them, etc.
- Animation is always dynamic and fluid since it is all skeleton based
- We can have IK for San's legs. This allows him to stand correctly in tilted terrain, respond to platform movements and even stand on his own spear!

Doesn't have
- A cool looking old school animation style
- More control over stretch and squash

Frame by frame
Skeleton based

Status of development
Overall work is going nicely, lot's of new things to talk about in the upcoming weeks and months.
The PlayStation 4 build is looking steady and stable and the team keeps working hard.
Expect some details on a new cool mechanic on our next blog post!

That's it!
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See you later, alligator!