Technical details of releasing an episodic level

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Offline Headgrinder

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Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« on: April 24, 2010, 16:55:43 »
I was about to put this in level release, but realized I'm not ready for that commitment.  :)

I'm thinking of diving into my next project.  The Level Competitions have been awesome for getting me motivated, and I want to keep that flow going.  So, I' thought I would start work on a Stone Tiers 2 and perhaps incorporate Well of White Waters too, for reasons obvious if you've played both games.  I'll figure out the name later.  The motivation, however, is going to come through releasing the level episodically on something like a monthly basis, until I reach some kind of ending. 

What I HOPE to be able to do is release an update of the level each month with the same name, so that one can overwrite the last version and continue on where you last saved from.  I don't know if this will cause bugs, though. 

If it does, well, I could just force you to re-enjoy the areas you've already conquered.  :) 

The other way might be to have each release be self contained with a quick recap at the intro and a mini-ending.  I might even use flags to count the items and events the player has passed in each level so that when you finish an episode, it tells you what you've missed.

I would rather do the first idea, and just update the same level so that it gets bigger and bigger.  Does anyone have any comments or suggestions about this?

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Offline Artix

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Re: Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2010, 18:20:18 »
What I HOPE to be able to do is release an update of the level each month with the same name, so that one can overwrite the last version and continue on where you last saved from.  I don't know if this will cause bugs, though. 

This will work, so long as you don't change the save points too much. Or else Unlucky Person # 12 will install episode 2 and spawn inside a wall.

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Offline yohji

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Re: Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2010, 22:02:36 »
It's an interesting idea, certainly, and as Artix pointed out, unless you make changes to save points, it should work. However - this may seem banal, but I'll still say it - I strongly advise you to work out the entire plot and gameplay in minute detail before you start working on the level. Otherwise, well, while working on Episode 5 you may come up with a brilliant plot idea which cannot be incorporated into the level since you'd need to alter Episode 2 and provide some dialogue in Episode 4 as well, and oops, they've already been released...

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Offline Headgrinder

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Re: Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2010, 15:01:34 »
Yeah, it is a good point, and I've considered it.  I've actually wondered if it would be ok to have it understood from the start that SOME things will change during updates so that you may get your episode 5.0 bundled with episode 2.3.  I'm not talking non-linear shifts in plot, so I will be planning that out, but small improvements or even new areas opening up.  I've considered making it a level in which things shift around dream like anyway, so that you go to a screen once and it looks one way, you return and things are slightly different.  So episode updates would fall perfectly in with that, especially considering the trigger would simply be the finishing of the prior episode. 

Hopefully that made since. 

But just a little more on plot, I think I'm going the route of throwing a dozen puzzle peaces out their which not even I know all the implications of yet, but leaving them open ended enough that I can weld them together later to form a cohesive plot.  It is a little dangerous because you can trap yourself into something that doesn't feel quite right, or might not even work, but I believe I can pull it off successfully. 

And on the side,
@LPChip:  So, was my question not technical enough for the level editing support forum, or was it too broad for it?  Just wondering how to judge that for future posts. 

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Offline LPChip

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Re: Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2010, 21:35:38 »
@LPChip:  So, was my question not technical enough for the level editing support forum, or was it too broad for it?  Just wondering how to judge that for future posts. 
I didn't seen questions about the editing process itself (using the editor), but more a philosopher aspect of the level creating, with in particular questions about your levels. This usually would be level releases or preview stuff, where it not that there isn't level material in this topic other than the names. :P I guess you can say that its too broad for level editing. I figured the Knytt Stories forum was the best place. :)
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Dashster

Re: Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2010, 03:23:04 »
Sounds like a neat idea overall, and definitely a good method for working on a large level, as you can get feedback on what to improve as you work, rather than after you've finished the entire level.

The only problem, as mentioned above, is that you may end up changing a save spot by accident. The easiest solution would be to include a save with each release that's at the end of the previous one. Of course, people could use that to skip part of the level, but they would be able to do that anyway, and it's their loss if they don't want to experience the entire thing.

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Offline GrayFace

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Re: Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2010, 10:05:53 »
You can also use that ending save point to explain plot changes in newer episode to people that went from older one. I mean, make a transaction screen and change it in new episode to include signs with important information. If a player starts new episode from the beginning, he won't get to that screen.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2010, 12:07:05 by GrayFace »

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Offline Headgrinder

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Re: Technical details of releasing an episodic level
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2010, 13:24:49 »
Unless I find a technical reason not to, I believe I'll be doing episodic updates to a single level so the player starts off where they last saved and can continue the level from there. 

Right now I'm stuck in tileset production.  :/  I've got 3 tilesets I'm working on for this level (as well as for another big one which I'm no where near starting), plus I want to get smooth stones tileset totally resolved before I start on those 3.  My time is really short right now too, so this may take some time.  Once I get the tilesets done, I'll show them off in the development showcase and start a thread on my episodic level. 

 :crazy: