Tidalis:0.908 Beta Release

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Notes From The Producer: July 10, 2010

We are only about a day out from considering Tidalis "feature complete" now, which is an amazing feeling for everyone on the team, I think. This project has been longer and more intense than anyone expected, but the result is worlds better than we expected, as well. Pretty cool.

So, there's a bunch of new stuff in here. The new score popups are probably my favorite new feature here, which is humorous because I was pretty set against adding score popups until today—and then fell in love with them at first sight. Lars was kind enough not to say "I told you so." The new combo fanfares are also a huge improvement, and really improve the feel of the game.

There is finally adventure syncing in multiplayer, which makes that part of the game feel so much more robust. I still need to get cutscenes syncing, and I also need to get a desync-on-win fixed for adventure mode, amongst other networking tweaks. But those should all be finished up tomorrow, along with everything else remaining to make us feature complete, which is great.

Oh, I didn't even mention—the adventure story is finally done! We think it turned out really, really well, though we might still make a few final tweaks. We'll also probably add a few more bonus hidden cutscenes, along with more puzzles, through Wednesday and our absolutely final "official release" version of the game.

Beyond that, there's all sorts of tweaks from Keith and myself on the programming, and Lars on design, which are putting the final coats of polish on the game in general. The to-do list is down to only maybe two dozen items (down from hundreds), and most of what is left is small!

Can you tell we're excited? ;)

--Christopher M. Park

New & Updated Levels

  • Adventure cutscenes 115 and 116 are now complete.
    • This marks the completion of the main story for the adventure mode!
  • 15 new brainteasers have been added to the game.
  • Basic tutorial 9 has been tweaked.
  • 1 new hidden cutscene has been added, 1 hidden cutscene has been updated.

New & Updated Art/Music/Sound

  • The heat glow effect for a couple of themes has gone back to the old (better) visuals, but without the bugs. It turns out this is hardly the CPU/GPU load we initially thought it might, as well.
  • Now that the bugs are fixed in the heat glow, the heat glow once again works properly with the Volcano theme.
  • The combo fanfare sound effects have been updated to be more pleasant.
    • Thanks to yllamana for suggesting.
  • The combo numbers are now quite translucent, which makes them not get in the way as they previously were.
  • The visual effects of the red, blue, and magenta streams have been improved.
  • The visual effect of the combo text looks significantly nicer now.

Gameplay Additions

Gameplay Updates

  • Pressing the middle mouse button now sets a "manual mark 4" that is something only the mouse can control (if both the keyboard and mouse are present, then the other three manual marks are controlled by the keyboard instead of the mouse). This makes it both fast and easy for the mouse player to make manual marks at any time.
    • There is also a new hotkey (H) that lets the keyboard player jump to the block that was marked by the mouse player. This adds to the potential co-op activities in that the mouse player can leave a mark for the keyboard player to then quickly jump to.
  • The score bonus for fewer moves in brainteasers has been removed.
  • Blocks in hard-fall will now hard-hit blocks in the process of being cleared.
  • Flood chains now only 4-fork on matching-color blocks.
  • When there are 400 or more streams on a single board, the game now does a "Stream Implosion," which clears all the streams immediately and scores them at that time. It's quite a challenge to actually get it to the level of 400 streams at once, but this prevents runaway slowdowns as well as exploitative tactics.
    • When there are 100 or more streams on a single board, the game now stops drawing stream trails in those situations, which will make it less of a performance hit in those extreme situations.

New Level Editor Features

Misc

  • Added paging controls to find-internet-games window for when more than 100 hosts are found.
  • Improved host grid table display of skill level matchmaking data, spacing of column headers, etc.
  • If you have an item loaded into the mouse cursor and either click one of your palette slots with the same item type, it will now unload the item from the cursor.
  • If you have an item loaded into the active cursor (the keyboard cursor if active, the mouse cursor otherwise) and press the 1-5 key corresponding to the slot that the item came from, it will now unload the item from the cursor.
  • Added tooltip for LMB = RMB keybind on the keybinding settings screen.
  • The Key Bindings screen has undergone some more refinement.
  • It is no longer possible to make the game go into a literal paused state when the game is already over. This prevents players from being forced into the menus by other players during network play.
  • Scores from chains now pop up briefly when chains are completed.
  • A new "Disable Score and Combo Popups" has been added to the settings screen.
  • The mouse/keyboard "assigned to left board" options have been moved from the main Settings screen to the Player Settings screen. The Settings screen has thus been readjusted to look slightly less overwhelming this way.
  • When players try to right-click and drag on a direction-locked block, there is now a visual shake effect on the lock in addition to the sound effect.
  • When players try to emit a stream from a block, but cannot for some reason (usually that block not being a stream-emitting kind of block, or there already being streams on the board and this not being frenzy mode), the entire block shakes to show that this is intentionally not able to emit a stream. This should avoid any possible confusion with players wondering if their click was simply not registered or similar.
  • Added story achievements.
  • Added non-placeholder achievement icons.
  • The list of adventure savegames now shows what percentage complete each savegame is through the main story levels, and through that adventure overall.
  • When network server or client error messages are received, a chat message now pops up on the machine that had the error. These errors are usually non-fatal to the game, but it is good to know when they are happening.
  • Added Report Inappropriate Player Name function to Find Internet Games grid.
  • When one player clicks into an adventure during network play, the other player is prompted with a message asking if they would like to play that adventure (same as happens when one player wants to play a level).
    • This syncs the adventures, including the adventure savegame, even if the adventures are dissimilar between the two machines or the savegame only exists on one side.
    • This does NOT sync the images from the adventure, however, so if the adventure is completely missing on one machine, or has outdated images, then just empty whiteness will be shown with the nodes in place. Players can still play in this circumstance, but it will be less enjoyable for one player compared to if they both had the adventure installed.
  • Refactored Tour and Levels/Puzzles windows.
  • The updater launch process has been made considerably more robust. If it fails, it no longer crashes the game, but rather pops up a message telling you how to launch the updater manually.
    • While updates are downloading, it also now tells you how to run the updater manually if an issue is later encountered.
    • The cancel of the updates download also now works much better, it won't accidentally launch the updater in some cases anymore.

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a very obscure crash bug relating to stream movement in general, but which was most likely to be brought out with emission statues.
    • Thanks to Purogia for reporting.
  • Previously a block getting eaten by an Eater block would sometimes result in the block above the Eater hard-falling and emitting; fixed to not do that.
  • Fixed bug that was enabling the "Claim Victory" button in the wrong cases.
  • Previously on low resolutions the level-preview tooltip would draw under the play->levels menu, fixed.

Internal Programming Notes

Tidalis