Tidalis:0.906 Beta Release

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Notes From The Producer: July 7, 2010

Well, this is a momentous release! The levels for the main adventure story progression are all now completed. We had planned on 114, but wound up with 115. The last levels really do a satisfying job of wrapping up the game, Lars did a really exceptional job there.

We're still working away on the actual cutscenes to accompany these story levels, and at the moment there are around 4 cutscenes left to go beyond the ones included in this release. This release goes all the way up through level 110 in cutscenes, so that's getting very close! We're really excited about how that is turning out, too. My wife Marisa and I are collaborating on the story, although she's done all the hard part of actually writing and scripting all the cutscenes except for the intro. I've been busy coding and so forth, so it's really been a boon that she was able to step in here—and it's been a really fun project for both of us, too. I don't think I would have been able to do as good a job as she did with this story.

But wait! There's another reason this is a momentous release! This marks the last of the main phase of our Visual Polish efforts, which have been ongoing since June 1. Phil has now finished the last of the themes as far as overhauling/animating goes, and he's now done the achievement-specific icons (which Keith or I will need to get programmed in this week, along with about 14 new achievements). That's certainly a milestone for Phil.

So what's everybody on the team doing these days, a week and two days from release?

Now that Phil is done with his Visual Polish phase, now he's just working on testing and doing spot-checks and updates of art as he sees issues. It's great to have those final checks.

Pablo has been doing sound effects for us off and on as the need arises this past month, and did three unexpected new themes for us (for the ending and credits) as well, but mostly he's been working on remastering the AI War soundtrack. As of today (coincidentally) he actually finished the last of the tracks for the original AI War OST, and they are amazing. We both can't wait to share that with folks when AI War 4.0 comes out in a month or two. Now that that's done, he's working on the new tracks for AI War:CoN, and is working on the remastering of the AI War:TZR soundtrack.

Lars is finished with all his main adventure level progression, so now he's back to working on more brainteasers at long last, and doing some in-game tutorial tweaks, too. Lars is also the best tester that Arcen has ever had, and is continuing his ongoing bug-hunting and functionality refinement work, both in his capacity as a tester and as lead designer for the game. It works great when the lead designer is such a great tester, I have to say.

Marisa is working on the story, which takes a huge amount of time, and then she's got a last bit of time slotted left for doing the printable manual. I've been working on getting certain information up in rough form on the wiki so that she can massage that and then use it in the manual. When I write it, it often comes out too distant and technical for this sort of game.

Keith has been programming away on a number of features, relating to the matchmaking stuff somewhat, but also just all sorts of refinements and gameplay tweaks in particular. He and Lars have really had a good closed-circuit going there where the two of them are able to get issues corrected and implemented quickly. But Keith has really been all over the place, in achievements, high scoreboards, you name it. Absolutely indispensable, I never would have gotten a project of this magnitude done in this timeframe with just me on programming (and producing).

As for myself, I've been all over the place to an increasing degree, as well. Talking with distributors and other partners, talking with the press to some small degree (there just hasn't been as much time for that as I would have liked yet, but I'll be doing that more next week), working on those wiki updates, and of course lots of programming and some design assistance, especially when Lars isn't available. Most of the networking-related stuff that I wanted to work on is minor enough in severity that it's gone on the back burner for now, and I've been focusing on a truly random-seeming set of bugfixes and refinements throughout the application, same as Keith. Just all those final polish things, you know? I'm hoping to get the last networking stuff done tomorrow and Friday, and then it's just all down to those final polish things. Well, that plus the press, the final build of the game, integration of stuff like Steamworks and so forth, etc.

Busy times!

--Christopher M. Park

New & Updated Levels

  • Adventure levels 114-115 added.
    • This marks the completion of all the adventure levels!
  • Puzzles 116, 4-4, and 2-8 have been added.
  • Adventure cutscenes 106 and 110 have been added.

New & Updated Art/Music/Sound

  • The following themes have been visually tweaked: Secret Theme 1, Volcano.
    • This concludes the main thrust of the visual polish phase for Tidalis, although we may still make some tweaks before the release.
  • Achievement-specific achievement icons have been created, though they are not yet integrated into the game yet.

Gameplay Additions

  • The acceleration rate for blocks jumping in Jumping Beans mode has once again been increase. This change makes it possible to fire upwards at a target block that is two above the block-to-fire-and-jump, and have the target block be hit by the upwards-moving stream as the target block falls back downwards after the jump.

Gameplay Updates

New Level Editor Features

Misc

  • Added a little extra padding to energizer stream-life-bonus to prevent energize streams from stopping just a few pixels short of activating a block.
  • Smart Drag Mode now handles Bumper mode more intelligently by not doing the quasi-lock on blocks that don't match the color of the initially dragged block.
  • Energized streams now merge more consistently (preferring higher energy level).
  • The wiki is seeing a lot of additions that will be refined over the course of this week and will become the bulk of the printable game manual.

Bugfixes

  • Fixed bug where game style tooltips would popup in the editor (non-test-mode).
  • Fixed bug where blocks below the board (bubbles that were forming, mainly) were being counted in computing column height, sometimes allowing blocks to stack above the board without triggering stack-loss.
  • Fixed a crash bug that could occur when viewing a smaller plushies pile for one savegame, then switching to another savegame and viewing a larger plushies pile.
  • Previously, the energizer sound effect was playing even when a stream was not being energized because it was already in an energized state. Fixed.
  • Previously, bumpers mode plus energizers had a bug that could easily lead to runaway memory consumption and runaway extra copies of streams being created. Fixed.
  • Block initial seeding with editor-defined-frequencies was wonky. De-wonkified.

Internal Programming Notes

Tidalis