Mina gets a Home!
over 3 years ago
– Tue, May 05, 2015 at 02:04:58 PM
Hey Battle Chefs! April sure flew by! Before we get to the good stuff, a slightly important message about rewards:
BackerKit Lockdown Imminent
It's just about time to lock in your extra physical reward add-ons. Most of you have filled out the survey and are good to go, but this is the final warning! If you have any questions, please message us! BackerKit will be locked down on May 21st. This gives us enough time to start printing posters, t-shirts, and aprons in time for...
We're planning on demoing Battle Chef Brigade at PAX Prime this year! Submissions for the Indie Megabooth and PAX 10 are due soon, so we're been working hard on polishing a demo. If you're on the fence about attending PAX Prime, please do and hang out with us!
In his quest to color and polish the Kitchen sprites and animations, Eric decided to make a proper fire animation. It might be a tad bit too powerful now, but it looks hot!
Experiential Learning Progression
We're working on the tutorial now and trying to do a good job of teaching the player without being ham-fisted about it. Battle Chef Brigade's cooking system is the meat of the game but won't be immediately intuitive to players. Some games get away with very little explanation, especially if they are building on top of experiences like Mario or Doom. Hunting in BCB can take advantage of some of those ancestors, but there are not a lot of action games with pantries, pans, and burnt food!
Some of our key tenets have been:
- Once you give the player a mechanic, don't take it away just to force them to learn a new one.
- Use a strong narrative to reinforce the subject being taught.
- Spread out concepts so that the player isn't overwhelmed.
To make this happen, we have a new first level: Mina's House, adjoining Restaurant, and its forested Backyard.
This setting allows us (i.e, Mina's parents) to order Mina (i.e. the player) around for a bit. Mina can get annoyed at her parents because she already knows how to cook, but the player, who doesn't know how to cook yet in BCB, can absorb the lessons.
The Backyard provides a constrained (and far less dangerous) hunting area for the player to test out Mina's knives. Our first tutorial versions were overwhelming because there were so many places to explore in the full tournament Forest.
We also introduce the concept of finalizing dishes here by having Mina's family own a restaurant. Players get to experience the flow of hunting, cooking, serving, judging in a simplified way as they serve customers at the restaurant window.
So, hopefully when you play the game or demo for the first time, you find that the "tutorial" scene is perfectly digestible!
We've also been refining the button layout and in-game User Interface. For the entire duration of the project, we've had the concept of an "Action Bar" (or circle in the case of controllers).
This functioned sort of like the QWER hotkeys in MOBA games like League of Legends but was also context-sensitive like the command panel in RTS games like Starcraft. This was quite useful during the prototype stage, when buttons would do something new or different just about every week, but the control scheme has matured to the point where we feel comfortable teaching players what the buttons do instead of sticking them front and center for the entire game. In a few more complicated situations, we're now using little UI banners to explain the specific controls for this context.
That's all for this month, Battle Chefs! I've sent out a reminder to the BackerKit stragglers to finish up before the May 21st deadline. We can't wait to start strutting around in our aprons :) Have a great May, everyone!
almost 4 years ago
– Fri, Apr 03, 2015 at 06:53:52 PM
Hey Battle Chefs! It's time for a monthly roundup. The Train Jam and GDC kicked us into March and we haven't slowed down since! But first, a peek into the cooking system :)
What's in a dish?
One of the hardest game design challenges we face is inventing a cooking system that has all the texture of real (and magical) kitchens. That's super hard because licking or smelling your computer screen isn't very satisfying. Our first prototypes focused on the 5 tastes and 3+ texture pairs (like crunchy/mushy). Those functioned for a while, but had a few problems. They didn't feel magical, interact in cool ways, or give the player good reasons to choose one ingredient over another.
Real food interacts with your tongue's taste buds in important ways, but it's really your nose that's making sense of millions of chemical compounds and letting you know what you're eating. So, we had to find an abstraction of cooking and food qualities that would allow us to make a game instead of a food simulator :D
Here are some of the food properties we're currently working with. They let us represent all sorts of ingredients and game mechanics, from squid to dragon and stirring to huge cooking spells.
Fire - Commonly found in dragons and aggressive monsters. Somewhat analogous to spicy.
Water - Seafood is loaded with this elemental taste.
Earth - Similar to umami - found in a whole range of creatures!
Doughta - Necessary to make crusts, breads, cakes, and more! Represents dough and batter. The name started as a joke but it might stick ;)
Poison - Makes processing difficult. Don't stir or cut these!
Sauce - When you've got a dish that just needs a minor tweak to be perfect, sauce it!
Bone - Judges really don't like dishes with bones, though they can have benefits while cooking.
Mold - If you cut mold out of an ingredient early, it's no big deal. Just don't leave it or it'll start spreading!
Hopefully that gives you a taste for how we're making a magical, fun cooking system! I'll write up more about it in future updates :)
Itty Bitty Bash and Train Jam
The pre-GDC events kicked off with Itty Bitty Bash, the latest in a series of events from Bit Bash Chicago. It was an opportunity to hang out with all the Train Jammers and play lots of games that would be impossible to play otherwise, like 8-player Wormball!
The next morning, a giant herd of indies gathered at Chicago's Union Station and set off for the 50+ hour ride to San Francisco! Eric and I (Tom) quickly joined teams and got to work. We worked the entire time, only taking breaks for food and the gorgeous scenery!
You can play all the games from the Train Jam here on itch.io. I worked on Ride Jumper and Eric worked on PSHNGGG!
Upon finally reaching San Francisco, we met up with Ben and started preparing to show Battle Chef Brigade. Our playtests with developers helped immensely, both by confirming which parts of the game are fun and guiding us towards improving the parts that are still behind. In fact, just hanging out with so many creative and excited indies was really inspiring. We got back from GDC really jazzed to push BCB to the next level and playtest even more!
Until next time, Battle Chefs! If you'd like more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter!
GDC, Combat and Tutorials
almost 4 years ago
– Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 08:32:14 AM
Hey Battle Chefs!
Sorry for taking so much time between updates. We hit 2015 at full speed with a focus on preparing a vertical slice of the game for GDC. This is primarily an internal milestone, but it's also an opportunity to do more local playtesting!
So, what changes have we been working on? Let's see...
Eric has been coloring in the rest of Mina's combat frames, so she's looking phenomenal. We've also been modifying and adding new moves to test out some combat possibilities.
Mina is all about rapid movement in the air, so we're experimenting with a Stomp move that will have a chance to stun enemies. It also can combo really nicely when she hits monsters and bounces back up, which makes it really fun.
Mina usually gets up close and personal with her knives, but an occasional ranged attack can be invaluable.
In contrast to Whirlind, Daggers don't cost Mana but can be picked back up, making them the perfect ranged weapons for some playstyles. Air and ground moves make dagger throwing especially useful in mid-air.
Eric upgraded Dash's visuals to be a lot more punchy. Mina can now engage and escape in an instant.
Town and Kitchen
I'll save the Town and Kitchen updates for the future because they're being revised a lot for the internal demo right now, but they're both progressing really nicely. The Town provides a relaxing change of pace from the timed matches and plenty of opportunities to absorb some backstory and character details.
Here's a shot from the demo. Mina's talking to the Shopkeeper(s), none other than Luis & Louie! His/their quips are perfect for selling upgraded kitchen tools to the player.
There are about 200 of you who haven't filled out your surveys! After GDC, we'll lock down pledges and start shipping out physical rewards, so now's the time to adjust your extra rewards if you'd like to. I'll send out a reminder email to anyone who hasn't filled out the survey right now!
Tom and Eric will be on Train Jam and then we'll all be at GDC in San Francisco! If you'll be there too, hit us up and we can show you the game :)
Have a great day, Battle Chefs! As always, you can follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates.
almost 4 years ago
– Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 12:13:45 PM
Hey Battle Chefs! As 2014 winds down, it's time for a brief BCB update!
85% of you are good to go, but there are still some slowpokes who will be getting another email from Backer Kit. Please fill out the survey! We're hoping to lock down pledge and add-on changes in the first few months of 2015 so that we can start manufacturing and shipping physical rewards!
We've been busy with a bunch of systems, all with the goal of having a solid demo game loop by the Game Developer's Conference in early March. To that end, Eric put together a rough 3-layer Village environment. Our plan is for this area to provide a change of pace compared to the chaos of each tournament cookoff. The Village will be one of the key ways in which we can showcase more of the world and characters. Here's Mina in the black and white test scene:
We also recently whipped out the construction paper and scissors to help us rapidly prototype some cooking system changes. Cooking was getting too complex for players to manage while hunting, so we're experimenting with some changes that will make it more understandable at a glance while retaining the open-ended nature of TV cooking competitions. Paper prototyping is wonderful because it lets us run through many situations without having to program all the rulesets.
Thank you and Happy Holidays
Each and every one of you made our 2014 a year to remember. We can't thank you enough, but hopefully some great aprons and t-shirts will help :) We hope you all have a wonderful end of the year and we'll see you in 2015!
BK & Combat Upgrades
about 4 years ago
– Thu, Dec 04, 2014 at 06:48:02 AM
Hey Battle Chefs! Here's a brief reminder with a tiny combat update :)
If you haven't filled out your BackerKit survey, do so! We've almost reached a 75% response rate, but we want you all to at least have your names in the credits.
You'll be able to consider add-ons for a few more months before we lock everything down, but the sooner we get accurate counts for everything the better :) Thank-you to everyone who has filled out the BackerKit survey already!
If you haven't filled out your survey, you will receive a reminder email from BackerKit shortly.
Skills and Spells
Our plan is for each chef to have a variety of skills and spells in the Kitchen and Arena for you to earn and choose from. I've been hard at work getting a few combat ones working for Mina so that we can start testing the combinations.
Whirlwind - Along with the throwing knives we showed off last time, Whirlwind lets you hunt at a distance. Great for tackling groups of monsters!
Block - this will probably be standard since it fits so nicely into the combat system. Remember, though, that not all attacks can be blocked. The Dragon doesn't mind a little extra resistance.
Stun Dive - This is one of my favorite new attacks! Without upgrades, it doesn't do any damage, but it will stun any monsters you hit. Don't you love my programmer-art stun effect?
Until next time, Battle Chefs! Fill out your surveys!