Currently working on level 4 of Outpost 2 and I've found a game play issue. It's one of those "Do four things before you can proceed" levels that we used quite a bit in Haven, although this is the first time we've dropped this mechanic into O2.
The problem with these levels types is that we have to spread them out, there's no point having all four items ( In this case terminals ) too close together, which means walking into areas where we throw a lot of baddies at the player ( This level is a mixture of dark / scary and shooty, it's the first really action heavy one ).
That's all cool, but then you have the journey back, which is literally just walking back the way you've come. You've killed everything on the way in, so it's just a trek back to the next action bubble. That's not the most fun thing in the world, although it is nice to be able to admire Lux's graphics.
So yesterday I added some respawn code. You complete an objective and I trigger a load of new baddies behind you. Oh dear, that's cheating.
You'll play some FPS's, like COD or Battlefield 3 and it's almost like you triggered an invisible trip wire, stay where you are and nothing happens, take one step forward and all of a sudden the baddies are triggered. It's fucking awful game design, really lazy ( Compare it to the Halo games, who do it to some extent, but it's a lot more hidden due to the fantastic AI code they use ). I didn't want that feeling in O2.
Also I didn't want the whole "You've cleared that room of baddies, but when you walk back in they're all there again. Like magic" thing either, that's one old school game mechanic I'm glad has been mostly lost to time.
But how is what I've done cheating ? As a player you've done your task, you've cleared out the rooms and done the objective, it's not really fair that the game now shows you you've only done half the job, even though there was no way you could do it all.
It's a price we're having to pay though to keep the game interesting. I've tried to be subtle with it, well as much as I can, but what I think I may have to do is alter some background tiles to help justify it. If I add a hole to the floor which wasn't there when you came in it should help sell the fact that the baddies have found a way to you, rather than just being teleported in by the game play gods.
And that's what I'm working on right now. In terms of progress, half the layout of level 4 is in place, it's feeling good. The gyoscope is finally in and working how I want it to ( It's pretty cool pushing a crate into the room with it and watching it get bashed around the screen ). Still left to do is another baddie type, an underwater one which you can only shoot when it bursts out of the water, I've got to copy the walking in water code over from Swarm, so you move slower and splash around. Then we've got another bit planned for the end, a waiting for the lift sequence. That could be boring, but that's why we're going to give you a sentry gun to play with. Nice.
( Oh, and the art is done for level 5. For now I'm just going to say "Zero G" and leave it at that ).