Point of Descent is starting to come together, which is very exciting for me. Of course, it’s also a bit harrowing, partially because I’m working directly with code for the first time in years, as well as guiding Rick in his first experience with code more complex than “Hello World!”, if I understand correctly, ever. Fortunately, John gave us some user-friendly source to work with.
Rick and I are more familiar with bullet hells than John, so our task is scripting the levels. There are a few steps to this. The first, and most fun, is to play though other bullet hells that inspire us and observe closely what’s happening and when for a baseline. We don’t want to have significantly more or less waves of enemies per unit time than an existing bullet hell; the formulas they use are used because they work. Deathsmiles got the nod this weekend, but we’ll be putting ourselves through quite a few others.
We also listened to the stage music composed by Michael Veloso with an ear for musical cues for on-screen events. We want to do the soundtrack justice by making it a part of the game rather than just something that plays in the background. After that, we went through the time marks for the songs and decided when things would happen – impressive enemies entering at crescendos, for example, with enemy waves at other points of interest during the song.
The final steps, which we will be completing over the next couple of weeks, is to decide exactly goes into each wave, and then translate it into XML for the program to read. This is not difficult, but it will definitely be time-consuming, since we are working with frames and pixels as units of measurement and the appropriately large number of enemies and shots that the genre requires. After that, testing to see how it plays and tweaking anything we don’t like.
A testing related aside – we got to squash a couple of bugs while playing build 4. Sadly for our players, you will not get up to quintuple points for killing enemies with a specific weapon any more. On the other hand, defeating a boss with a different weapon won’t crash the game, which is definitely a good thing.