Dev Diary #17: MAGFest 'n' stuff

MAGFest update

In last month's dev diary I mentioned that we'd applied to show Legacy of the Elder Star at MAGFest in February. I'm happy to report we made it through the first round of judging successfully!

The first round was based on a gameplay video, but the second (and final) round is based on a playable build, and that's what we've spent the majority of the last month working on. We just submitted it a few days ago, so now... we wait. *fingers crossed*

Game dev update

We accomplished a ton of stuff in November, so much so that I'm just going to cover a few highlights today, and the rest in a short series of posts over the next week or two.

First up, we added a new boss:

This battleship is the new stage 1 boss, and those of you who've been following us for a while will notice the fancy new beam effect here as well. Yes, we finally upgraded from our crappy color-cycling prototype beam to a hand-painted, fully-animated one, and it's sexy as hell. We also use versions of this effect for the Cosmonaut's ever-popular beam cannon special ability, as well as for several regular enemy types that also fire [smaller] beams.

We also added a completely new environment:

This is the environment for stage 2, and it brings us to a total of four unique environments. Just one more stage to go, and our story mode will be complete!

Toward the end of the month I dramatically revamped the gameplay sequence and boss fight for stage 3, as part of an effort to give each stage a distinct identity not only visually, but also mechanically:

This stage's carrier boss has no guns of its own, and instead deploys various enemy patterns from its top and bottom hangars. It also has a really aggressive ramming attack, which is the first time I've really pushed offensive movement as part of a boss's attack repertoire.

This stage also has an unusual structure where you encounter the carrier repeatedly throughout the stage, instead of your typical "battle lots of minions then have one big boss fight". The carrier actually accrues visual damage over the course of these encounters, so that when your final battle with it does begin, it's already looking beat to hell. Of course, that makes it no less dangerous; despite its lack of guns, this is currently the most aggressive and intense boss fight in the game!

Stage 3 also has a new music track:

That piece still needs some work (the mix isn't that great right now) but so far it seems to be fitting in nicely. And I'm kinda stoked about how I pulled off one of the effects in here... maybe I'll write a music-oriented post about that some time. ;)

Last but not least (for today, anyway) we added animated muzzle flashes to the player and most of the enemies:

Like everything else in the game, these are hand-drawn and fully animated, and they add a ton to the physicality of the weapons.

December preview

We accomplished a few more things last month that I'll post about separately over the next week or two. And as far as new work, we're gunning hard for content-complete by the end of the month, which should bring our fifth-and-final environment and boss up to speed, as well as a couple new weapons and a new special ability for the Cosmonaut...

...and a few other things we'll talk about when we get there. ;)

And now for something completely different...

My other venture, alongside making Legacy of the Elder Star, is as co-founder of the Utah Games Guild. We've got a bunch of cool new initiatives starting up in 2016 and I'll be spending some time this month working on those.

More immediately, though: this Saturday, December 5th I'll be at the EM City Youth Tech Jam, an educational community event that will introduce nearly 200 kids ages 9-18 to app and game development. This event emerged out of a partnership between Utah's Eagle Mountain City, Youth Tech Hub, and the Utah Games Guild and has already attracted a ton of local interest.

This kind of stuff definitely competes for dev time on Legacy of the Elder Star, but I think educating and inspiring the next generation of game developers is pretty important work, and this is a great opportunity to do it and great partners to do it with!