Tidalis:0.902 Beta Release

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Notes From The Producer: June 30, 2010

Well, there's an absolute metric ton of stuff in this one, but it's very late and I'm very tired, so I'll keep my comments here briefer than usual.

Networking

This is coming right along, and you should feel free to play around with it if that interests you. We still consider this in an experimental state, and there are at least half a dozen known issues and planned refinements to the networking still remaining, but this is down from about two dozen items still outstanding in the last release. The hope is to be able to remove the "experimental" tag from this feature in the next prerelease of the game.

Server Listings

This has been majorly updated, and while this also still has a lot of work and refinement left to go, I think you'll really like what you see. Keith has been working on this while I've been working on the networking, and the results are really something, I think. It's not full-out matchmaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also a lot more robust than the basic server listings we'd imagined. Basically, you fill out a preferences sheet with what sort of games you're interested in, and then it ranks and sorts the results based on how you match up with other players seeking to play.

Levels and Story

A bunch of new levels in here, and we're now down to only having 14 left to go for the adventure mode. For the story, we're now past a major crisis point near the end of the story, and so it's into basically the final stretch there, too.

New Player Ruleset

The new Co-Op Item Buddies is the last of the player rulesets planned for the game prior to official release. This makes for 3 co-op-only rulesets (not counting "normal," which is co-op by default with multiple players), and 3 VS rulesets.

Co-Op Items

This is something I've wanted for a while, as it basically allows a bit more interaction between players in co-op modes. These are items that get seeded into any levels, but which can only be used to help your ally, not yourself. You can turn them off if you don't like them, and they only appear in co-op play, anyway.

Per-Player Handicaps

This is the last of our co-op features, to give us a fully-rounded co-op experience here—basically, the ability to have players of moderately or even wildly differing skill levels playing together.

But, this is actually hugely useful in VS for the same reason—it's nice to be able to have moderate or even huge skill gaps not be a barrier to VS play between players if they want to play together despite this. Players with handicaps are something you can filter out on the server listings, by the way, if you're just interested in competitive play.

Also, this feature is useful for solo play, too. Finding the adventure mode too tough or easy in general? Give yourself a positive or negative handicap to balance it out the way you like. In quick and custom games you can set the action difficulty directly, but you can combine that with the handicap for some interesting results if you really want to (mainly it's more useful when you want differing difficulty levels between the two wells).

The handicaps don't have any effect on the brainteaser-like puzzles, sorry. ;)

Art Polish

I thought that the Fishing Village theme looked amazing even in the last release, but Phil polished it even a bit more. And the new night Fishing Village has a pretty amazing "magic" effect to the side. And speaking of water effects, Phil did this really cool "still water ripples" effect in the Cavern theme. These themes were all amazing to begin with once they were completed, but the animations he's been working on adding to them since the start of June... well, they sure do take it to a whole new level of immersion.

Other Stuff

You might notice some visual stylings of a few of the windows are a bit different (the darkness background now, to make them less overwhelming and easier to read and more professional looking).

And a number of fairly obscure bugfixes that we found internally that you probably won't even notice. ;)


That's the news for this update! We've got two weeks and a day until official release—the to-do list is definitely dwindling for us, but there's still a huge amount to do. Exciting times, though! :)

--Christopher M. Park

New & Updated Levels

  • Adventure levels 88-99, and 106 have been added. Levels 81, 83, 87, and 93 have been updated.
    • Adventure level 7 has been updated to now include a tip about the important new handicaps that can make the game easier or harder than default.
  • Adventure cutscenes 78, 81, and 85 have been added.

New & Updated Art/Music/Sound

  • The following themes have had visual updates: Fishing Village, Fishing Village Night, Cavern.

Gameplay Additions

  • The Handicaps that can be configured in the Player Preferences window now actually function, in single and multiplayer.
    • The handicap for each board is shown next to the board score header.
    • Handicaps have no effect whatsoever in Puzzle levels, and aren't applied to Puzzle boards at all.
    • Positive handicaps reduce the score received by an equivalent amount, but there is not an equivalent score bonus for negative handicaps.
      • When levels have a score objective, the score objective is reduced by the equivalent amount to the score reduction from this effect.
    • Positive handicaps reduce the speed of block appearance at the top of the well, negative handicaps increase it.
    • Positive handicaps increase the chance of white blocks, negative handicaps reduce the chance.
    • These can be set per-player, so allow for adjustments based on skill differentials in co-op, vs, or solo play.
  • Co-Op Items have been added to the game.
    • The following co-op items have been added (all duplicates of non-co-op versions): Can 'O Beans, Extend, Rainbow, Flood, Color Popper, Fence, Hourglass, Insta-Streams, Crystal.
    • These only show up in co-op multiplayer modes, and can be turned off per-player in the Player Preferences window.
    • They can only be used on the wells of your allies, never on your own well.
    • These appear at 3x the frequency of white blocks (not counting any specially-defined white block frequencies in the level editor—referring to the base underlying white block frequency from the the difficulty level).
      • Handicaps also don't have any effect on the frequency of these items.
  • Added a new Co-Op - Item Buddies player rules set.
    • In this co-op mode, 4x as many helpful co-op items are seeded into each well compared to normal (even if a player has co-op items disabled). Players can only use co-op items on the well of their partner.

Gameplay Updates

New Level Editor Features

Misc

  • Networking changes:
    • Network games are now kept closer to being "in time" with one another. The game makes efforts to keep each game within 512ms of one another, which makes the game vulnerable to lag spikes, but which also removes a lot of potential exploits and a lot of potential confusion with games getting several seconds out of sync in the past.
      • This may need to be tuned some more during testing to get the optimum smoothness of gameplay, but this is an excellent start.
    • Pause/unpause was already properly syncing across the network in past versions, but now it also properly syncs the display and hiding of menus on the remote machine.
    • The "Network Player Name" is now just the name of the "left player" from the players screen, rather than being a separate setting. It can still be updated through the Network interface, though.
    • It is now only possible to be either a host or a client with the network in this game, never both. It now shuts off the server when becoming a client, and vice-versa, as needed, to avoid issues.
    • A message is now shown when the connection to either a remote client or a remote host has been lost.
      • In general, the disconnection process is a lot more robust now, and drops clients to the multiplayer menu, etc.
    • The "players" button at the bottom of the screen is now properly self-altering during network play.
      • Other small updates have also been made to this screen.
    • There is now a confirmation popup when disconnecting from another player across the network.
    • Chat messages are now fully implemented and actually get sent across the network.
      • Just hit Enter to send a chat message at any time when in the menu system (not during gameplay).
    • It is no longer possible for players to edit their network settings while connected across the network.
    • Game Overs (wins and losses) are now properly synced over the network.
    • The error message shown when an error happens during networking no longer always claims to be a desync. It now identifies whether it was a desync or a general error in the message.
      • Errors of this sort also now tell the player where the error logs may be found.
    • The "Change Name" button on the multiplayer menu now opens the player preferences window.
    • Player preferences are now synced across the network.
    • Handicaps and Trial Status are now shown on the bar at the bottom of the game that shows network connection status.
      • Player names can now only be a maximum of 20 characters long.
    • Trial mode players are able to play via direct connection or Find LAN Game with other trial players or other full version players.
      • When a trial mode player plays with a full version player, the game acts as trial mode for both until the trial mode player disconnects.
    • The "Connected To" button at the bottom of the screen now shows what handicap percentage the other player is at, and if the other player is in trial mode, .
    • There is now an opt-out message that allows players to cancel the connection when a trial player tries to connect to them, or when a player tries to connect to them with a positive handicap. This message also shows when a player tries to connect to a host that is in trial mode or which has a positive handicap.
      • This opt-out message is also shown after the connection has already been made if the player increases their handicap to a positive value (or a greater positive value) after the fact. This prevents players from sneakily trying to increase their handicap without their opponent knowing.
  • The master server list has had some server-side updates and moved locations.
    • The first successful tests of the master server list to facilitate a game start have been made.
    • The master server list is not available for trial players, only full.
  • The visual styling of the Confirm dialog has been updated to be the "darkness" style of window, and that window has also been updated to use our new "interrupt window" logic, which automatically preserves the state of any windows underneath it unless clicking OK or Cancel specifically is set to do otherwise.
    • The visual styling of the general Popup dialog has also been updated to match.
  • There is now a new game over screen tooltip that tells about handicaps as an option for making the game easier or harder.
  • The first run minimum settings, and the license key entry screens, are both now the darkness windows.

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug that was causing cutscene voices not to play the second time through if the same cutscene was viewed consecutively without closing the cutscene index history list.
  • Fixed a desync bug with FF and UFF use during network play.
  • Previously, uv animation was not able to work with the keyframe scripting. Fixed.
  • Previously, uv animation was not able to work with the base sprite rotations. Fixed.
  • Fixed several bugs with the cutscene index display, one of which was relating to the Plushies cutscene being shown and others of which were relating to positioning and the topmost item being cut off from display.
  • Fixed a bug that often caused the first item in a scrollable area to be cut off.
  • Previously, sometimes the Revive buttons were showing up outside of puzzle modes. Fixed.
  • In the last version or two, the before-level screen was popping up after the Revive button was used. Fixed.
  • Previously, windows were often not centering correctly when told to if they had already been displayed. Fixed.
  • Fixed several bugs with RawText drawing at incorrect times.

Internal Programming Notes

Tidalis