I've been working diligently on The Blind game for the last few weeks leading up to my next major test version, V0.1. In this time, I've been working on some new mechanics, some under the hood changes, some bug fixes, and a new level.
During the last round of testing, my blind friend had some trouble with the game. There were two reasons for this, but it inspired an idea for a new mechanic. He wanted some way to know where he had been previously, because he would keep walking in circles. He compared it to marking a location on a map, like clicking a location on google maps to make a waypoint.
It gotme thinking, because allowing the player to mark waypoints on their map is a really common practice in modern games, especially modern open world games, so I thought it would be reasonable to have a system like this in my game. Of course, if this were a game with graphics, I would just make a map of some sort, or make one of those visual waypoints a la Assassin's Creed or Batman Arkham City. But this is not the case, because this game doesn't have a map or visual graphics.
But I do have pre placed waypoints. Anything that makes a 3 dimensional sound in the game could be considered a waypoint as far as this game is concerned. So I thought maybe I should make it so the player can generate something that makes a continuous 3D sound and leave it somewhere.
So now, the player now has access to Flares as a new tool in their arsenal for navigation. Unlike throwing Rocks however, the player has a limited number of Flares, so they need to use them wisely. They generate a continuous sound that can be heard in an immediate area, so the player can leave themselves something of a bread crumb trail in places they've already been.
The other problem my friend had was a mistake I made. After converting the project to Unity 5, there was a change made to the 3D sound system in the game, with the use of the spatial blend parameter on sound generators. The default for these is 2D, so all of the sounds in the game were now being generated in 2D, so all the sounds were smashed together and flat, so he had trouble getting a sense of direction, as had all players who had played the game. I thought I had just made the game too hard. Never the less, the newest version should be a lot easier for blind and sighted players alike.
I've also completed a new level for the game. The objective of this mission is to navigate through a cave. It is effectively a simple maze, except all the surfaces are stone, making using rocks alone to navigate difficult. Instead, one must also use the airflow through the cave to figure out where the exit is, by continually checking world state. One could of course also use the new Flare mechanic to mark dead ends.
This required me to further enhance my 3D sound systems to be able to have different profiles for different areas, such as the difference between indoor and outdoor areas. I also enhanced ambiance generators to be able to create reverb areas with custom parameters.
Overall I think these things come together to make for a great effect. I don't live near any caves, I've never even been in a cave before, so I had to try my best to replicate the sounds of a cave without a cave to record in (other than my house)
Now it just comes down to testing this version. I have some ideas for new levels, but I'd like to get the current versions to be as solid as possible. I hope to eventually make the levels more complex, with multiple objectives and puzzles, but even I find the game extremely challenging without those elements, and yet still interesting and fun to play. I want to really see where this goes.