It’s been a while since the last update. I spent the months working on interesting prototypes and experimental installations, but now I finally have time again to come back to Catcher!
Since the last time, I picked up generative art to make interesting backgrounds. After a lot of experiments, I finally settled for a background that looks similar to the old one, but more interesting and with more dashes of color – and because it’s procedural, it will always look different.
I also visited the AMAZE Indie Festival in Berlin and got lots of great feedback that I used to improve this build.
Here is the changelist:
New procedural background
Made level transitions more fluid
Tweaked movement and net opening/closing
Replaced A-F rating with stars
Added a score malus for death
Added a particle mouse cursor ingame
Capped player ships at screen border
Improved “Sector Clear” screen
Improved rocket visibility
Improved level progression
Fixed several bugs, including net collision problems with fast-moving enemies
You can download the current versions here – and if you do, please give leave me some feedback!
Performance rating after a level to provide context on “How good did I do?” aside from scores
Self-made score server
Lots of small bug fixes
The self-made score server was needed after Scoreoid, the service I previously used, decided to silently cease service and take all of my player’s scores with them. At first I thought it was just a short outage, but after a few months of not even being able to access the backend site it seems they just died silently. Time to depend more on the things I make myself, I guess.
Here are a few screenshots from the new build:
It feels so good to be back. Expect more updates in the coming months!
I’ve been to the A MAZE./Berlin Indie Festival last week – and apart from meeting a lot of fellow game developers, playing awesome games and making weird cat glitch art at workshops, I’ve also been showcasing Catcher!
It’s been a rollercoaster of joy and frustration as I tend to be emotional when it comes to my creations, but I want to know what people really think – so often I just watched people play without telling them that I made the game. It’s incredibly humbling to see people pick up the game, try it for a short while and then walk away frustrated because they don’t get it. On the other hand, it feels so good to see people finishing sector after sector and still trying after dying countless times in the later levels!
I got lots of valuable feedback. The most important aspect to me are my observations regarding accessibility – it’s okay if people decide that the game is not for them, but it’s NOT okay if they just don’t understand how to play. Following are are the main problems and how I intend to solve them.
Using the right mouse button to close the net
Some players didn’t get that they have to use the right mouse button to close the net.
While this was explained in the wordy tutorial text in the first screen, almost nobody read that. (The best way to hide secrets in your game might just be in long text passages.)
An image might help because it’s faster to understand and draws the eye more:
This will be shown until you have finished a level where you catch at least one enemy with the right mouse button. (You can also catch enemies by making looping motions – but this is a lot harder to pull off later and players should definitely know the right mouse button method.)
Some players didn’t understand what to do at all, rammed their ships into enemies and didn’t understand that this hurts them.
While I could explain this via text, I think that’s mainly a feedback problem with three portions to it: What happened, where did it happen, and what was the result?
After my improvements, when you touch an enemy with your ships, the feedback looks like this:
What happened: “Ship Collision” is displayed. A damage sound effects plays. Bright damage particles spawn at the point where it happened.
Where did it happen: The ship that collided blinks red for a second.
What was the result: A newly introduced healthbar at the top gets smaller. (Health was always in the game, but previously only expressed in % in the upper left.)
The healthbar also refills visibly between levels, which will hopefully teach the players that their health is always full when a level starts. (One less thing I previously had to express through text, yay.)
Many players had problems with little movements. In most games little movements will be tinier and more precise – in Catcher they just don’t work at all right now and result in big unwanted turns.
I haven’t tackled this yet, but I’ll probably change the controls so they react less to little movements. This shouldn’t change how the game is played too much because right now experienced players mainly make big movements anyway – because small movements are currently imprecise and useless.
Will this work? I don’t know – but in two weeks there’s a local playtesting event here in Berlin, and I’ll watch players there. Keeping my fingers crossed! And if not: Back to the drawing board with me.
Other improvements for the next release
Other things the next release (probably soon!) will have:
Particle effects for nearly every enemy now. The game looks SO MUCH more lively now.
Lots of little bug fixes.
Visually improved catcher ships! This one was due for a long time now. They’ll point to your mouse when being apart from each other, and dock when they get close.
Thanks for reading!
After posting all those status updates on TIGForums, I thought I had to start here (and at IndieDB) too. I hope you enjoyed it – it’s just about the first time I’m posting updates on a game that is not out yet, so it’s a bit unusual for my blog.
If you’d like to play the game, just click here for a Unity webbuild and desktop downloads!
Catcher is a game about (surprise!) catching things! Especially geometric forms. (In SPACE!) With two spaceships, here depicted as circles. These two spaceships are connected by an energy line, which you will use to border your enemies and open a dimension rift by closing it – and thereby defeating anything inside! It features over two dozen unique enemies on more than 30 levels. :)
Among the various things yet to be done, the most notably one is the tutorial. I hope you can get it together alone with a description of the keys and the menu entry “Demo“:
X and C makes your spaceships (the blue circles) flying nearer or farther to each other
The mouse wheel, if you have one, does the same as X and C
Pointing the mouse makes your spaceships turn
Clicking the mouse (left or right) makes your spaceships move
The energy line breaks when
a) one of your spaceships touches an enemy or
b) the energy line crosses another part of the energy line (remember: DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS!)
If the line broke, you can restore it by holding X (so that the spaceships touch each other).
(It is Java Web Start, so no installation or unzipping needed :) )
While all and every feedback is appreciated, I especially want to know:
How do you think could the controls be improved?
What didn’t make sense to you? What wasn’t clear? What needs to be definitly in the tutorial?
And bonus question: Do you have any ideas regarding new enemies? (This is a bonus question because I don’t know if I will include any new enemies right now, but this will be good to know for the next version :) )
Ultra-special bonus question: Anyone has an idea for a better name for the game? I’m not sure I’m content with “Catcher”, it seems kind of too general.