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OK that's awesome, I'm totally happy for people to be able to make their way around without the clues! There'll be some locations where it'll be quite difficult to find without the mapping, but in that case they're kind of bonuses either way!
I'm also thinking some environmental clues might be nice for hinting at wind. I'll definitely have to have clouds in some form so that'll help there too.
Calipers definitely look similar but they're for measuring width/length. I did research into cartographic instruments and I think the closest thing is maybe an octant or sextant, but honestly I think my instrument is unique mostly because it wouldn't actually be very useful in real life :p
Yessss this is the best feedback, thanks so much for taking the time to play and write!!
I just realised this is a super long and rather self-indulgent post, so the TL:DR is:
I'm hugely encouraged by your feedback. With the exception of those three bugs, literally everything else mentioned is something I already have in the design doc if not actually tracked in Trello. I've been focusing on the balloon and navigation for so long, but now I'm really excited to get on to considering world-building and puzzles :D
I'm stoked to have Sunless Sea mentioned. I didn't want to say it upfront but the slow travel in SS is definitely an influence on my protracted travel. I loved that aspect of that game, the pacing of the torturous journeys punctuated by the adventure and excitement of the islands, the way that each section contrasts so dramatically with the other.
Interesting to see Myst mentioned too! That hadn't really occurred to me but it's definitely a fair comparison. Even more so once I starting getting some of the proper puzzles in. Each island will have a 'temple' of sorts to use the Zelda parlance, and something I'm really chuffed with is that you'll take your mapping instrument from the balloon and that'll be the key to solve most puzzles. Some will be similar to the map in that you'll use it to identify a piece of information that unlocks something, some will be more physical, where you'll use the instrument as a way to actually manipulate the level to traverse it to reach a clue. The temples will also be hidden, and you'll use the instrument on an island scale map to actually locate the secret entrance.
The plan is absolutely to have each island have it's own unique culture, within reason of course. The island names (Slug Heap, Foxes' Hoard, Turtle Pile etc.) are the start of this. One interesting challenge ahead is trying to make the impassable wasteland between the islands enjoyable to fly over.
The long distances between the balloon and the village once you land will be solved by the fact that the islands will be more interesting to explore once I start on environment design, with some traversal and exploration. It's funny you mention turning the balloon into a car, Brennan, as I've totally considered some sort of Segway or something that you could hop into, but I don't think I'll need to resort to that provided the environment is interesting enough. The streams themselves will also be tightened up to help deliver you to a more optimal location.
Agreed that the UX in the balloon is still pretty basic, sound will obviously help massively, and improved cursor hints will help here too.
The variometer and the other instruments are definitely pretty rough at the moment, the speedometer in particular is janky as fuck :p
Player controller is the default Unity one for now, which is a little gross. I have a custom one I'm tinkering with, so that'll definitely improve with time.
General tweaking to the altitude brackets, balloon momentum etc., are a constant thing, I'll hone in on that sweet spot over time hopefully.
It's absolutely valid to ignore the map, and that's something I'm 100% supporting. Audio will support this too, in that you'll hear when your stream is crossing another, so if you really want to go map-free then that's totally viable. It's also valid to ignore the clues, and then use your exploration to chart the streams, rather than the suggested opposite approach of charting the streams and following those. Crucially, you won't need to visit every island, so if you want explore every single island, or cut through as quickly as possible, that'll be supported.
Brennan, I'm particularly impressed you manage to find the crossing and find the stream to Grub Heap without mapping everything. How did you manage that?
- WASD/Periscope thing
- Yep that's me being stupid and not re-enabling the player.
- Guide UI mismatch
- Great catch, I added the Mapping guide page as the last thing before the build, so I clearly forgot to update the tooltips.
- The jump in the world
- Yeepp... This is a tricky one. I stumbled upon a known issue in Unity I haven't had to deal with before. Apparently there are all sorts of floating point errors that occurs the further you get from 0,0,0, and this affects things like rendering, collision etc. Because the game takes place over an enormous space, like 40 kilometres side to side or something, this becomes SUPER problematic. The most obvious manifestation was in the shadows, textures and geometry just constantly flickering. It was like this for months before Nicoll Hunt educated me on Twitter.
- So, basically what happens is that as the balloon moves beyond a certain distance from 0, the ENTIRE GAME shifts by that offset, so that the player and balloon are back at 0,0,0. It's a very rudimentary implementation of it currently that doesn't account for physics or anything, so hopefully when I revisit that I can hide that hitch completely.
Thanks for looking at this super early version of this thing.
I started tinkering with this last year while making Forager and then left it for 4 months, but I'm back to it now.
I'm trying to make a game about very slow travel, something meditative, that follows on from some of the stuff I've tried in Prowl and Trawl. It's boring and there's a lot of fiddly work to be done, and that's sort of the point. Though that will be punctuated by some nice and gentle traversal/adventuring and puzzle solving.
If you'd like to post any comments here in the forum that'd be awesome.
I'm extremely impressed. That was a really lovely experience.
The puzzle elements are really well designed. It took me a little while to understand the nature of the one with the bird/squirrel type creatures, but it was never frustrating. Some gentle guidance towards the next section might have been helpful, but I did manage to find them all in the end so take that with a pinch of salt.
The art, sound design and music are fantastic. The changing palettes as you move from are to area are especially nice, and the texture work is gorgeous.
Again, I'm really impressed, especially for a 'student' project. Congrats team, you've created something very special here :)