SHT Dev Log #2 — New Look, Same Game
It’s been a while since we last posted about SuperHero in Training (SHT). We’re sorry for the lack of dev logs, however, we’ve been in heavy development mode in order to get SHT ready to be hosted at different locations (more on this later). In preparation for update 0.2, we’ve been building the story, updating art, creating a level design pipeline, fixing UI, and connecting with people online and offline.
The easiest way to explain the story is to tell it. Note that this story isn’t finalized and anything may change:
The Intergalactic League of Superheroes has never before seen humans as potential hero candidates, however, with recent advancements in Hero Gear technology humans for the first time have the opportunity to become heroes and join the ILS. You’ve signed up to train with the ILS to become the first human hero.
After leaving Earth and being transported to a remote base in the outskirts of the galaxy you’ve been given your Hero Gear, an Anti-Force Suit and EQ Gauntlets. The Anti-Force Suit increases your resistances and gives you alerts on your EQ Gauntlets. Your EQ Gauntlets enable you to swing using a magnetic hook and fly using hand thrusters.
Your first step on your path to becoming a hero is to complete the training courses within the ILS’s base using your new Hero Gear. Can you rise to the challenge and become the first human hero within the Intergalactic League of SuperHeroes?
To start building a world for the new story we’ve been updating the overall style of the game. Before we were trying to go for a comic Tron-like feel. Now we’re focused on creating a more realistic space base environment. This means no more colored cubes with lines. Instead, we’ll be adding metal, concrete, and rock materials to the art. Below you can see images of the new art style above the old for comparison.
To begin creating these new materials we downloaded Substance Designer, a program used to create materials. Once we understood the basics of Substance Designer, we signed up for Substance source, a downloadable library of high-quality materials. By combining our beginner skills with Substance Designer with the Substance Source materials we were able to begin building a more realistic world within the game.
We plan to add in more filler art and props after we build the first set of levels and optimize the game.
Level Design Workflow
After designing the tutorial levels we decided to take a closer look at our pipeline for building levels. On purpose, we made the tutorial levels similar in layout and design so that players could focus more on learning the base controls rather than focusing on the surrounding environment.
When starting World 1 we knew that each level had to add on something new so that players don’t feel like SHT’s gameplay is repetitive. The first 3 levels released with the Alpha launch were designed with key environmental features in mind (such as spinning tubes and shortcuts), however, the general layout didn’t take into account the new art style as they were designed before we decided on a final style.
To start designing the new levels we bought grid paper and colored pens. The grid paper is used to keep track of “units” (in our project a unit isn’t relative to a Unity unit but is about 50 Unity units). The colored pens are used to show different types of surfaces and interactions the player will have to deal with (green meaning slides, black meaning pits, etc).
After fleshing out the paper design we begin blocking out the base layout inside of Unity. This means using cubes, cylinders, and other primitive shapes to begin building a playable level that lacks final art. Once we’ve built the blocked out level and have tested and refined the design an artist can begin putting in the primary pieces of art on top of the block out.
We stop here for now as we want to optimize the game to handle more objects in a level before we start adding prop elements (such as crates, tires, and small pieces of dirt/rock).
Right before we launched the Alpha version of the game we ran into a bad UI bug. This required us to swap out a 3rd party UI system with a homebrewed system. Doing this we learned that for simpler systems within a game project it’s best to create your own system rather than trying to fix someone else’s that’s broken especially when you’ve been trying to fix it for a week and you can code your own system in a few hours.
Along with the new system, we’ve also been fixing some UI bugs. We’ve released a patch for the Alpha launch (version 0.1.1) which has some minor fixes for UI as well as other reported bugs.
Finally, we’ve been doing our best to start building a community around SHT. We see SHT eventually becoming a fun competitive multiplayer game, but in order for that to happen, we must first get people interested in the game. Below is an overview of different community building activities we’ve been doing to start creating a scene for SHT.
Recently we attended GameAcon NY a smaller gaming convention that happened in New York in the middle of November. There we were able to meet some new fans of the game and get some good playtesting in. We’ve also been using events such as this to build our email list.
You can join the email list to receive the latest updates on SHT and know when we release new versions of the game on itch.io.
VR Gamers and Devs Amino Community
Online we’ve created an Amino to start connecting VR Gamers and Developers. Amino is a new social platform that combines the features of Facebook, Reddit, and Discord to create communities that have long-form content and public chatrooms. We totally recommend you give it a try if you haven’t (there’s plenty of Aminos on topics like Game Development, Anime, and more).
This community right now is small but we picture it growing into a community that connects VR gamers so no one has to play alone, and gives developers access to people who they can have test and try their games.
SuperHero in Training Competitions
We’ve been talking to a few VR arcades about hosting SuperHero in Training. This would allow players to go to arcades to play the game (really good for people who don’t own a headset yet). We’re also talking to the arcades about hosting SHT competitions we hope to build a competitive league for SuperHero in Training where heroes will be able to show off their skills to earn prizes. These competitions would start in the Philadelphia area and spread to New Jersey, New York, and DC if everything works out.
Thanks for reading this dev log. If you’re interested in SuperHero in Training you can download the game on Itch. As a reminder, there will be a major update for the game sometime in mid-December, and if you’re in the Philadelphia area make sure to look out for tournaments coming in December or January.