Tidalis:0.412 Beta Release

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Notes From The Producer: May 18, 2010

This is yet another notable update with a ton of little things scattered through it. This release has 6 new items, 3 new special blocks, a new art/music theme, a new game mode, a number of visual improvements to the GUI and title screen, and a couple of bugfixes.

The new Item Survival game mode is particularly interesting, as it's really different from the rest of the game since it largely cuts out the core feature of the game: the streams themselves. That makes this a pretty sideways mode in general, where you have to keep the block counts low simply by playing lots of items—but some of the items you wind up having to play actually will hinder you rather than helping you, so there is some definite strategy to it. I tend to find that I think it's getting to easy, and then bam—suddenly I've lost. Of course, I've been playing that mode on action difficulty 3 in the first place. ;)

Three of the items in this release introduce a completely new item mechanic: setting a global item modifier on a well for a period of time. In this case, either freezing the entire board (so you have time to think), blocking incoming blocks, or speeding up the rate of incoming blocks. The first two of these are particularly handy for co-op play, so that you can help your teammate, and the third is obviously more combative.

The new Color Blocker block is somewhat interesting for the action modes, but pretty easy to clear there. That's one that really shines for creating devious puzzles, but we left it available in action modes because it does add a small bit there, too. The emission statue and pit monster are very much more for the action modes, although certainly a certain style of puzzle could make use of them, too.

The new Foothills music/art theme makes the 18th theme for the game. We've got two more planned, to make for a total of 20 in all, and then that will probably finish up what we do for music/art themes. There's still a lot of other minor art and sound effect work, and polish for all of the above, that we need to focus on after the baseline versions of all the themes are done. Some of the existing themes we'll be going back to and adding more animations for, cleaning up a few small things, etc—you may have noticed some of that already in the last few weeks.

All in all, this 0.412 version is really propelling the game towards the finish line in terms of themes, items, special blocks, and so forth. We have more items and special blocks planned, but there are definitely more already implemented than there are left to implement, now, which is a good feeling for us! Network play is going to be a focus soon, as well as more special blocks, items, and game modes.

--Christopher M. Park

New & Updated Levels

New & Updated Art/Music/Sound

  • The Tidalis logo, on the main menu, now has a cool animation.
  • A new Foothills visual/music theme has been added.
  • The art for five new segments of the adventure map are now in place.
  • The GUI windows for the game have had their skin improved to be clearer and easier to visually parse.
    • The checkbox toggles, in particular, are much easier to read as they now use the bordered text style.
    • Also, tooltips now use a higher-contrast color so that they stick out more and are more easily readable.

Gameplay Additions

  • New Color Blocker special blocks.
    • Special colored block that absorbs any streams of the same color that hit it. Can only be destroyed by dropping out of the bottom of the well.
    • There are six variants of these, one for each of the six basic colors.
  • New Emission Statue special blocks.
    • Every 15 seconds, all emission statues emit a stream of the color that is sitting directly in front of their mouths. If that results in a successful chain of 6 or more blocks, then the emission statue is cleared.
      • These don't flash or anything, but players who wish to keep track of exactly when these will emit can keep an eye on the timer, as it will happen on 0, 15, 30, and 45 seconds of each minute.
    • There are two variants of this, one each facing left and right. If an emission statue is facing directly into the edge of the well, it will turn around instead of emitting a color.
  • New Pit Monster special block.
    • Every block that falls into its mouth is eaten (most specials included, except turnips). When it eats a block, it turns it into charred waste beneath itself. Can only be destroyed by dropping out of the bottom of the well.
  • New Icer item.
    • Direction-locks all color blocks within a small radius of where it is used.
  • New Turnipalooza item.
    • Turns an entire row of blocks into turnips.
  • New Color Popper item.
    • Destroys all of the blocks of the clicked color in a well.
  • New Fence item.
    • Prevents any new blocks from falling into the chosen well for 15 seconds.
  • New Hourglass item.
    • Freezes all block and stream movement in the chosen well for 15 seconds.
  • New Running Shoes item.
    • Forces fast-forward to run in the chosen well for 15 seconds.
  • New Item Survival game mode.
    • Players are unable to trigger streams by clicking blocks, a custom palette of items are automatically enabled, and the occurrence of items is very high. Players start out with a single Can 'O Beans, and must use that to procure further items and keep the well from filling up. Players lose if they run out of items or the well fills up to the top.

Gameplay Updates

  • Stones and eaters no longer fall through the board-reshaping wall tiles. That was inconsistent with the other fall-out-of-the-bottom-of-the-well-to-die blocks, and seemingly unneeded based on how level design has turned out.

New Level Editor Features

Misc

  • Using the fullscreen/windowed toggle button in the upper right corner of the screen now causes the fullscreen/windowed preference to be remembered in the settings.dat file.
    • This makes the game consistent with the last state if it is later closed and reopened, and also avoids issues with the settings window causing the game to revert back out of the currently selected mode.
    • Thanks to Zack Cataldo for suggesting.
  • When eaters and pit monsters eat a block, the dying animation is no longer played for that block. This makes it so that eaters can fall more gracefully without some of the subtle timing issues they previously had.

Bugfixes

  • Fixed bug where game style indicators from previous level were showing on the adventure map.

Internal Programming Notes

  • Adventure map scroll-offset updates now happen in FixedUpdate, not Update, so that speed is constant across framerates, etc.
  • _FlipX and _FlipY can now be appended to Special Block Names, as _Inverse can be, in order to flip the texture on the X or Y axis (_Inverse has to do with animation frame order only).
  • GameBoardTitle now has TileToLeft and TileToRight to help with things like emissions statues, following a similar pattern to the existing TileAbove and TileBelow.
  • Support for chains with different minimum chain size requirements has now been added.
  • References in the code to TileSizeSim and Disp were obsolete and have been removed for correctness and clarity.

Tidalis