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Friday, January 6, 2017

Scrapped: Portrait Mode

Prying my eyes off the Greenlight campaign for a bit to look a couple years back at old plans for BGP.
     The decision isn't set in stone just yet, but I am considering saving one-handed vertical play for the next game. As a time saving measure, this could wipe a month of debugging clear. That's because implementing a portrait mode would mean having 2 versions of every single menu and HUD and giving the player the ability to swap between them at any moment which could break the game in all kinds of ways (I shiver at just the thought).

Take a peek into my head over the matter in the wordy blog post below.

      The very first mock-up images for the Battle Gem Ponies interface were based on the portrait orientation. This game was a mobile game first and foremost and I hadn't even considered releasing on Steam until I came up with mock-ups for landscape mode.

     Here we are now, exactly 2 years later, and the tides seemed to have turned. The entire game has been designed with a PC/landscape perspective in mind.

     Implementing a portrait mode would entail creating alternate versions of all HUD sprites that can't simply be resized or repositioned when the game tells them to. Having perspective changes at any time would also affect HUD animations (sliding into position, printing text, growing/shrinking, etc.). I may need to come up with a "Not Now" variable that prevents orientation flipping while certain things are going on.

     There's also the crazy battle camera shenanigans too. That thing already glitches out more than it should, and changing it's zoom to accommodate fitting the battle scene into a tiny square at the top may lead to who knows how many more bugs that will delay the game further.

Way back when landscape mode was supposed to be the afterthought that might not make it in...
     Part of me is just saying "suck it up" and "just find a way already" because it really shouldn't be all that difficult. The hardest part would be the debugging process and finding the numerous ways switching out the HUD on the fly can brake the game.

     Maybe the debugger part of me just really doesn't like the idea of all that extra work to be put into the most frustrating part of game development. And if that's the case, maybe I have to force my way through this one last headache to make the game that much better.

Portrait mode was planned from the very beginning to allow one-handed play.
     If I get to a point where the BGP Alpha is working perfectly and I truly believe I can get this working (and fully tested) within a month, I'll squeeze it into the development schedule. But if June approaches and the game still isn't ready for beta, I'll have to leave this idea on the cutting room floor.

     Making this idea work at all and releasing it before BronyCon 2017 comes first and foremost. I need to sell people on the idea of this Battle Gem Ponies world. People need to see what I'm capable of as a developer and trust me to deliver something great in the projects to come.

     If the game's mechanics, art, music, lore, characters, and overall story all hit their mark just as I run out of development time, then this extra bit of usability can sit on the sidelines.

     At least until the sequel. In which case, this will be one of the first features I add. Then again, what's stopping me from patching it in later? The first major update along with fixes for any launch bugs & exploits. Maybe I can delay the mobile version's release and wait for this feature to be finished. It's all up in the air right now and my inner producer is trying to think up ways to ensure this game is available to the public before August 7th.

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