Tidalis:0.905 Beta Release

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Notes From The Producer: July 6, 2010

The adventure mode is growing closer and closer to being done. 114 levels was our target goal, so we're right practically at the end levels-wise, and the cutscenes are drawing quite close, too.

This release unexpectedly contains yet another game style (bringing the total up to 20), and two more special blocks. We hadn't planned on doing any more of either of those, but we wanted to have a bit of an extra "bang" at the end of the game for the finale—not just having really hard levels, but also having difficult content that had not been seen before in the adventure mode up until that point—and so thus these new features were born. The bumpers game style is particularly challenging, but also particularly interesting. The energizers should also be wildly useful for creating devious brainteasers, aside from their utility in the action-oriented modes.

Beyond that, this release contains the usual mix of refinements and fixes that are bringing the game ever-closer to being official-release-ready. There's also a new "What's New" button that makes it easy to keep track of the release history for the game, and to check out what is new in each release as they come out (if you don't already follow the forums for the game). Should be helpful in letting folks know what is changing as changes do occur.

--Christopher M. Park

New & Updated Levels

  • Adventure levels 104-113 added.
  • Adventure levels 88, 91, 93-103 updated.
  • Basic tutorial 9 updated, advanced tutorial 3 updated.
  • Advanced Tutorial 10 has been added.
  • Cutscenes 92, 95, 99, and 105 have been added.

New & Updated Art/Music/Sound

  • The following themes have been visually updated: Secret theme 1, Last Area, Cavern.

Gameplay Additions

  • A new Bumpers game style has been added.
    • In this very challenging mode, all arrow blocks cause streams that pass over them to change direction. However, only blocks of the matching color actually get added to the chain or cause the remaining lifespan of the streams to be increased.
    • During this mode, the game allows you to drag across any colors even if that setting is not normally enabled.
  • A new Inverter special block has been added.
    • Any streams that pass over top of these will "turn negative" and give negative points instead of positive.
    • Inverters can only be destroyed by clearing all the blocks under them so that they fall through the bottom of the board.
  • A new Energizer special block has been added.
    • Any stream that passes over top of these will become energized, and can travel an extra ten block widths of distance, even around corners and u-turns.
    • Energizers can only be destroyed by clearing all the blocks under them so that they fall through the bottom of the board.

Gameplay Updates

  • Wind mode has been overhauled to a fair degree, to make it feel more unique and interesting:
    • There are no longer any lulls from the wind.
    • The wind is on average stronger, and a given wind speed/direction will on average last longer.
    • Fixed a bug with the wind not animating correctly when moving left.
    • Bilinear filtering is no longer being used with the wind image, so that it looks more crisp.
  • Stream collisions with blocks have been changed a bit. Mostly this won't even be noticeable, but it prevents some collisions that previously could occur based on a block falling through a stream that was moving horizontally. This prevents some issues that were cropping up with Bumpers mode, while also just cleaning up a few edge cases in normal gameplay.
  • In Brainteaser levels, there is now a significant score bonus if you can win in fewer moves:
    • 500,000 bonus points if you can solve it in 1 move.
    • 100,000 bonus points if you can solve it in 2 moves.
    • 50,000 bonus points if you can solve it in 3 moves.
    • 25,000 bonus points if you can solve it in 4 moves.
    • 10,000 bonus points if you can solve it in 5 moves.
  • In Jumping Bean mode, the speed and acceleration of block jumping has been increased such that a block can jump up and hit a stream that is two full rows above itself.

New Level Editor Features

  • Since score can now go down as well as up, extended Score objective to allow <|<=|=|=>|>|!= variants like other objectives where the value can rise and fall.
  • A new "What's New?" button has been added at the bottom of the screen in the main menu, to provide quick access to release notes for players who want to keep track of how the game is growing and changing for them.

Misc

  • Some polishing of the adventure-editor, theme-editor, and level-editor list menus, particularly with regard to 800x600 display.
  • Polishing to highscores/stats/achievements window and level-editor windows (mode-specific, special-block-frequencies, etc), particularly for 800x600 display.
  • Removed "Energized" block state from state-frequency editor window since we never got around to implementing that state anyway.
  • Level Editor Test now does not show the after-level popup, making it easier to rapidly retest.
  • Added support for easily drawing sprites with more shaders other than Normal and Additive.
  • Added support for new shaders: Partial Blend, Multiplicative, Inverse Additive, and Additive Double.
  • Block movement cycles are now always run from the bottom left, moving LTR and up. This prevents some timing issues with falling, etc, that could occasionally happen before, and makes the timing always consistent regardless of how the level was constructed or how the board got into a specific state.
  • The text for the co-op item overlays is now much better sized, so that it looks nicer and more professional.
  • High score grids now sort records by absolute value of score since getting a very large negative score is just as much of an accomplishment (if not moreso) than a very large positive score.
  • The older "block z index" concept has been removed, and certain blocks (eaters and pit monsters) now simply are drawn in a second pass after the other blocks are already drawn. This also fixes issues with the rainbow overlays around white blocks, etc, getting drawn on top of eaters/pit monsters inappropriately.
  • When renaming a level inside the level editor, it now checks for an already-existing file of the new name, and prevents the operation if one is found. A similar check is used for changing a level's display name.
  • The key binding screen has been updated to be more visually compact, and the mouse and gamepad columns (which were previously unused) have been removed. In general, this screen is a lot more visually accessible now.
  • Gamepad support had been planned, but in looking at implementations it just didn't make sense, and no customers had expressed any interest in this feature, so this is something we're dropping. We may resurrect this at some point in the future as part of a free DLC update if there is an unexpected demand for this, but realistically we expect 99% of our customers will prefer the mouse as their sole way to play.

Bugfixes

  • Fixed bug where specifying direction-lock frequency in the editor would only work if either special-block-frequencies or embedded-item-frequencies were also defined.
  • Previously uncharring had no respect for level-editor-defined color frequencies; fixed.
  • Previously, the board HUD text (score, etc) would briefly show up in the wrong location before the board actually appeared. Fixed so that now the board HUD text doesn't show up at all until the board is actually showing.
  • Previously, the "skipped during cutscenes" flag on theme layers was not being properly saved. Fixed.
  • Fixed bug where defining initial water level and either items-in-stock or custom difficulty would lead to a corrupted level.dat file.
  • Fixed a bug with zen levels with no water but blocks that would float in water; this would sometimes lead to the board thinking there were more blocks in a column than there actually were, thus leading to gaps at the top.
  • Previously, the fullscreen status was not always properly remembered when it was set via the Fullscreen toggle button in the upper right of the screen. Fixed.
  • In recent prereleases, the item icon was drawing too far to the right of the cursor on larger monitors. Fixed.
  • Fixed a bug that was causing window positions to not be correctly centered on really wide displays.

Internal Programming Notes

Tidalis