Dev Diary #12: The Hard Work’s Finally Paying Off!

It’s been a verrrrrry long time since I’ve posted here… but I’ve made it through another semester of uni, got back to programming and things are really starting to look good!

Even though it’s been quite a while since an update here on this blog, I’ve been working on a ton of stuff Ambience-wise. Here’s a quick overview:

Proper text and storyline!

One of the things I’ve been busying myself with lately is doing some proper storytelling. Initially I shovelled a whole heap of placeholder text into the game just to get the basic cutscenes working properly (see below), but now I’m replacing it all with proper text.

Placeholder text lol

It’s amazing how much of a difference that makes. Now when I playtest, the story and the characters feel so much more alive, and even the gameplay feels smoother and more polished. In other words, it feels much more like I’m actually playing a finished game rather than searching some crappy application for bugs. I dunno. It’s exciting to see how two years of work on Ambience is finally starting to pay off.

Pathfinding that actually works!

Yeah, I’ve been meaning to fix this one up for quite a while now. The original pathfinding algorithm I implemented in Ambience wasn’t very intelligent at all – it basically involved enemies either wandering around randomly, or walking in the player’s general direction and hoping it didn’t run into a wall. Which was fine, when it worked. (Which was not very often.)

But it was a start, and, well, the algorithm stayed. For a year and a half.

But now things have changed, as I’ve brought out the big guns with a brand new A* pathfinding algorithm. And, oh boy, does it work. I even had to tweak the first dungeon quite significantly since the (formerly daft) Henchmen became so good at finding the player that the whole dungeon became way too hard.

More shaders!

I added a sepia shader for showing a flashback from an earlier part of the game. And what’s more, I also got the game to display multiple shaders at once. Yeah, that was a proud moment.

Sepia… and swirls.

New Guardians!

I also finally upgraded the sprites for all four Guardians, which I think turned out quite well – at least, better than the previous sprites, I’d say. On the topic of sprites, I also changed Zephyr’s outfit from a full-length dress to a simple top and skirt, made her outfit a little brighter and her hair a little darker.

New music!

I’ve made some tracks for the final boss of the main story – two, actually, depending on a decision that you make earlier in the game. I also managed to put together a fitting encounter theme for Foss – again, something I’ve been putting off doing and have finally done.

Post-game content!

I’ve toyed with the idea of putting in some post-game content for a while, and now I’ve decided to take the plunge and do it. The main emphasis will be on exploring some challenging dungeons, true rogue-like style, as well as liberating Foss’s few remaining prisons (if the player’s left any) and taking on Foss one last time. I might also expand the Vulcan-Zephyr subplot a bit here as well, but we’ll see.

So, what’s next?

The plan is to finish fleshing out the story, add post-game content, and – finally! – start thinking seriously about release. I also need to stop putting off making blog posts about my progress! It’s easy to think I’ve done very little work, when in reality I’ve actually done a lot and I haven’t really paid too much attention to how much I’ve done. For now, I’ll make sure to post semi-regularly (at least once a week), and especially when I’ve got something new and exciting to show.

For now, though, merry Christmas and I’ll be back soon!

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