Devlog #5 - Wrapping up the story, bugs (and fixes) everywhere
Another Mobility devlog is here!
Wrapping up the story
This chapter has some spoilers for the game's ending.
An state-of-the-art story was not my goal for Mobility-- as long as the motivation to continue playing is there, and the gameplay metaphors are decent, it is sufficient. (I'd really to dive deeper into story on a future project, though!)
One thing that did bother me was that that most of my games ended rather suddenly or in an anti-climax. That's one of the reasons I'm building a final boss for this game-- to help round the game off better. But there needs to be a bit of story behind that boss as well, as well as the ending of the story once it is defeated.
Introducing Star Fix. This company directly competes with the Mobility, while also sabotaging all of the spaceships you were sent out to fix! In the final chapter, the Star Fix CEO kidnaps the crew of your home base, and you need to go to the Star Fix Headquarters to save them.
The demolished home base, The Beginning, after the attack
On the headquarters, the goal is not to repair the ship, but to sabotage it to gain access to the boss chamber. While the gameplay is the same, platforms will start off in their black 'activated' state and deactivate when hit, which I thought was a nice detail. Doing so will give the player access to the center of the ship where the CEO is fought.
But then, how does the story end after the boss fight? I had already written up some diary entries the CEO is supposed to have written, and scattered then around the headquarters. In them, the CEO describes that the sabotage plan was actually an attempt to increase profits, but in the further stages of the plan it seems that Star Fix is actually nearing bankruptcy. Once you enter the boss room and enter dialog with the CEO, he just got word of the bankruptcy, and decides to direct his anger towards you.
I'm currently writing an happy ending for the story. It would seem too easy (for me, as a story writer) to have the main character pull out some fists and punch the boss through the window into space, but that would be much to cheap, and contrasts the rest of the story too much. Instead, I'm considering having the boss tell a little bit about how he became head of the organization, and then rebuild Star Fix to cooperate with the Mobility instead of working against it, which seems like a fitting ending.
One final note: did you notice you'll get to fight an actual *company* boss in this game! A fitting last joke for a game filled with silly NPC humor and dodgy use of Latin for level names.
Man, I discovered quite some bugs the past week.. Most of these were game-breaking, even! I'm not going to explain how I fixed them (my code's a bit too messy for that, sadly), but you might find it interesting regardless.
First off, if you finished the level and got hit by a spike on the same frame, the game would count it as a victory and record your high score, but would reset the level instead of showing the replay. Another one I found was that you could still jump when you get hit by a spike. Normally, the game transports you back to the last checkpoint in just a few frames, but the jump sound effect would still play, making it awkward. There even was a crashing bug! This had to do with the replay array not being correctly initialized upon level load, causing the first frame of the replay to be missing when it was played, causing the game to break down.
Another really weird one caused all grind rails to count as activated platform every minute or so when the level was played on the Vanish difficulty, causing you to either finish the level within three seconds, or being unable to finish it at all, even after activating all blocks. Even better, this bug could've been in the game for a few months without being spotted at all.
It's a good thing I've found and fixed all of these, because these would be frustrating or even game-breaking to encounter normally. Morale: I (and you too, probably!) should take bug testing more seriously.
After the final ship is done and the boss can be defeated, I'm going to do another round of playtests which will hopefully result in the final list of desired tweaks for the game. I'm also developing some prototypes to see which project I could develop after Mobility is finished.
I'd really like to restate how much work has gone into this (seemingly simple) game. It's been almost two years since development started, the longest I've ever spent on a single game, and it's mostly been just me for that time! Please, do not underestimate the time developers put into making the games you like.
Thank you. I'm going to continue tinkering at the game! See you later--
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