Howdy fans, and welcome to another update on Anodyne 2: Return to Dust!
This past month we kept working on our demo. We've been working hard the past months so we'll take it easier in the months to come to avoid burnout. Progress and design style are more confident than when we were early into Even the Ocean, so we think Anodyne 2 development will proceed smoothly to completion.
Development goes faster as you go deeper into it (provided you planned well and are avoiding overscoped/heavy-time-cost things), since you're finding what works for the design and you're able to produce the code or levels or art faster. Anodyne 2 is a little tricky, since it's a minimal open world game with 3D areas that integrate 2D areas inside of them, and so we have to reference other games that get at similar ideas in different manners. This is also tricky because Anodyne 2 is commercial, so with the expected runtime we have to figure out how to keep things engaging over the playtime, whether that be in the literal writing, or storytelling of level designs.
Shadow of the Colossus is a useful reference for us. You travel an open world on a horse and find colossi at key locations. In Anodyne 2, you travel a small open world via car and walking, but find interesting NPCs and locations, which also connect to 2D sections. Breath of the Wild is useful too, from how tiny Shrine levels dot the game's landscapes. Things like, designing 3D locations, or designing 2D levels, are easier to find references for. But it's in the integration of these elements into a coherent game that things can feel challenging.
Some of the things we worked on were the UI for the 2D sections of the game, which was designed to account for the gameplay area being square, while the computer screen is horizontal.
Games with GameBoy-style art look odd on 16:9 resolutions if the screen is too big and the pixel art too small, which is why we keep to our 160x160 pixel gameplay area. Things feel cozier and more abstract, requiring players to make their own interpretations of visuals, which can be engaging, even moreso than high definition visuals!
On the programming end, stuff was added to make 2D enemies infrastructurally easier to code. Because enemies can be sucked up and shot, or carried off screen, this creates some complications when room enemies need to reset when leaving rooms.
The demo version of the game contains the first couple main areas of the game. These have both 3D and 2D gameplay, and we want to make a couple of 2D levels. So we've done both level design for these levels as well as programming the mechanics for each level. We'll have
more to announce about the exact relation of the 2D and 3D levels soon! We also finished adding NPCs and updating dialogue for the Albumenium area's 2D sections mentioned in the previous devlog.
Marina's also been working a lot on 3D art for the first main area of the game. It's a LOT of art and one of the denser areas in the game. Here's a preview of what you can expect. There's a lot of cool stuff design-wise to explain in terms of how we laid out these 3D levels, but we want to save that discussion for later! We've also been writing a bunch of NPC dialogue for this city area.
Additionally, I made a better Title Screen placeholder and worked on some of the intro cutscenes for the game, as well as fixing some graphical things (like a fake shadow that appears below Nova when jumping in 3D, or handling how the 2D UI scales based on screen size, while preserving the pixel-perfect gameboy-resolution UI.)
Our high level September goal is to finish the demo! ...Most of this work is on me, so Marina will likely proceed by working on later area's art, design, and writing. I'm also back from a trip to Taiwan and Japan and can focus on work more, though I do begin teaching my Game Music Composition class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago next week.
- Finish some level design of 3D areas for the demo
- Program and arrange the 2D levels needed for the demo
- Create some informatic GIFs or Videos about the relation of 3D and 2D levels!
- Finish music for these areas, and add some sound effects.
- Polish the title screen, pause and save menus, and implement more of the short cutscenes
- Hire some help for marketing
After that, we'll be moving on to working on the rest of the game. It's yet to be seen if we'll release the demo publicly like we did with Anodyne, but who knows!!
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