Behold as I pretend that I am a game developer.
A few days off for Thanksgiving meant a short sprint, which, hopefully, means a short post, as well, especially considering that the vast majority of work these two weeks surrounded just gluing levels together and calling them "worlds". I was hoping I hadn't yet provided a screenshot of the title screen but, alas, I've preempted myself for content. Visual learners won't like this post very much.
Before I get too far into this definitely-not-very-long post, it's worth reminding the reader of the goal for Switch Hitter as it stands right now. In January, I'll be going to Awesome Games Done Quick to meet up with a bunch of speedfriends and, while I'm among literally 2,200 people who are interested in video games, I'm hoping to get some good feedback on this project. In order to feel comfortable with what I'm making them play, though, I've created a finish line for myself: three worlds, some notion of music and sound effects, a start screen, and an end screen. If I get all of those things into Switch Hitter, I'll consider it "AGDQ-ready". There was actually a fifth goal as well: an extra world with a bunch of very difficult levels. Given the demographic at AGDQ, I think it'd be a little disappointing if I didn't have some over-the-top challenge to show off. In any case, Sprint #17 was all about finishing the construction of those four worlds.
I could write about all of the various thought processes that went into making these worlds but, I dunno, it's nothing fancy. I've already written a bit about how I decide how "challenging" a level is. For the most part, World 1 has easy levels, World 2 has more moderate levels, World 3 has tough levels, and Hell (the bonus world) has levels that vary from "precise" to "why?". It's better to go play them for yourself (and I've been pretty good about making sure they can all be beaten with keyboard controls this time!).
One of the things about locking down an AGDQ-ready product, though, is having to make decisions regarding the game design that are essentially final. In my case, I've decided that, indeed, the balls-and-strikes health system will not make it to the speedrunning marathon. In fact, I'm also removing the notion that outs have any meaning besides "you have to start over at the beginning of that level". Further along, I have visions that these things could contribute to some sort of "mastery metric" for each level or world (compare to what it means to get "100%" in Yoshi's Island or find all the strawberries and hearts in Celeste) but, for now, I'm just not convinced that they're interesting mechanics and I feel like they confuse and obscure what is actually fun about Switch Hitter: the platforming.
Unfortunately, removing all of that stuff ends up removing the need for the scoreboard, which I was pretty excited about going further with. I think it's for the better, though, because it seemed like people were having trouble grasping how the scoreboard related to the game in the first place. Getting it off the screen just makes things simpler. "Get hit once and you have to start over" is a well established system at this point that I think it comes across without having a HUD of any sort.
It wasn't all just chore and drudgery this sprint, though. I allowed myself a little bit of time to mess around with a musical idea. I ended up tracking it and I think it came out pretty well. It's entirely possible that this is the overworld music I use for the AGDQ release.
In making the "end screen" for Switch Hitter (which is nothing special, really, but I'm going to make you earn it to be able to see it), I found myself getting a little emotional. It wasn't necessarily "happiness" or "sadness" but just a quick swell of appreciation while thinking about how much work I've put into this game, how far (or not) it's come in that time, and then envisioning somebody playing it and enjoying it enough to bother getting all the way to that final screen. I guess it made the "finish line" concept a lot more concrete in my mind, which certainly isn't nothing.
The final thing keeping Switch Hitter in obviously-not-ready-for-release purgatory is the lack of music and sound effects. In Sprint #18, I'll be working on that, and I've actually made a promise to myself that there will be no new music composition. I've already got plenty of tracks that I can surely use one of for release. It's far more important to focus on actually building the music/sound system into the game and, in fact, trying to create my sound effects from scratch. I have no clue how that's going to go, though, so I'm also prepared to hit up Freesound if it comes to it. Two weeks from now, I hope to have something of a "release candidate" to show off.