Tuesday, 20 September 2011

PubbleBop version 2 progress

Well, it's been a while, must be about time for an actual update here!

The last 2 months or so have been very busy working on the first update of PubbleBop. It was going to be a relatively short release cycle with just a few extra features added, but ended up extending into a much bigger undertaking which is now nearing completion.


This update will basically be a PubbleBop reboot, containing over 70 levels in a "story mode", with 6 new types of enemies and obstacles, including scenery-destroying explosives and a new recurring boss character with several different kinds of attacks. Added to this is a new SuperPubble character which can be unlocked through several side-levels, culminating in some intense combined shooter + match 3 gameplay.

The evil boss, usually seen wearing a special helmet!

To help a broader range of players pick up the game, the pacing has changed for the easier in the earlier levels, and Igor (the creepy character on the flying bike) now gives the player some assistance if they appear to struggle on any given level. Ongoing tutorial popups now appear as you go through the levels and encounter new things. The pickups are now unlocked gradually so as not to overwhelm beginners, while the new later levels should provide a little extra kick of challenge for the hard-core and reviewer types, as one or two people have mentioned it was a tad easy to finish before.

To spice things up yet more, several special bendy levels are sprinkled in. These ones seem to mesmerise play-testers into a trance-like state of absorption, which I'm interpreting as a good sign. :-)

The revised online competition mode is looking to settle on a slightly non-level playing field, in the sense that when a player plays competition mode, they have access to the pickups they have unlocked from story mode. The highest pickup the player has unlocked also appears as a badge of honour next to their name in the leaderboard.

With the vast changes to the game it was decided that with this update the player's previous progress will be reset so that they can best enjoy the new levels and story mode as it should be experienced.

Various little atmospheric creatures and objects are making their way into the forest floor and the sky above. This part has been time-consuming so far, but I find it a very rewarding process making up little animating insects and such.

A harmless ladybug which flies around looking generally cute.

Well, that's pretty much all I have for now. Next time I will write an overview of how the graphics and audio for PubbleBop are produced using off-the-shelf tools, and how that stuff makes its way into the game using other custom tools and scripts.

Julian Crooke