Reflex – Dev Diary 61 – Timing

This week my attention was to continue testing world 3 levels and checking that all the 3 star timings were actually doable. This is quite a painstaking challenge as it involves playing each level as accurately as possible to work out the most efficient time. I do allow a little extra time for the 3 star window – I don’t want to be overly mean and say that it must be completed within 32 seconds when that is the absolute exact time required.

One feature that seems to be missing from GMS (GameMaker Studio) with regards to Steam integration is the ability to send screenshots to the Steam Cloud server. Actually i can send the screenshots but there doesn’t seem to be anyway to sync them back down. Really odd that there are no commands in GMS to do this. So, for the time being I’ve removed the upload of save game screenshots.

There was a very odd little bug I discovered this week. There’s been a few times where I’ve been testing a level and found that the amount of time it says I took was way lower than expected. For example there was a level in world 2 that was reporting a 10 second completion time. However, it was taking at least twice that. Today I finally found the cause. When a missile entered the duplicator component and there were no other missiles on the map the timer would stop until a missile had been created. Fortunately it was an easy enough bug to find and squash. This potentially had a knock on effect for other levels using the same components so I had to go through all the world 2 maps to make sure the times were correct. A few need to be adjusted.

The screen resolution settings are now saved in a different file to the game settings. This is to make sure that if the game is played on more than one PC via Steam the game doesn’t attempt to use the screen settings from the previous PC, instead they will all have unique screen settings.

Some little visual improvements have been made. The title bar and clock frame have been replaced with much nicer gradient bars and the clock font has been replaced and made a little bigger. When the objectives, win or fail panels are shown the game display is now blurred out in the background.

Talking of clocks there is now a second one in the game. While watching my friend playtest the game I found it frustrating that he would take up to 10 minutes planning how he was going to solve the level. The original game back in the early 2000s started the clock immediately on beginning the level. I didn’t want to go to that extreme so instead I’ve added a launch countdown. This timer will give the player 2 minutes to plan things out before the missile will launch automatically (or via clicking a launchpad as before).

One big change this week is regarding the duplicators. They now recharge after they’ve exhausted there missile count. However, the recharge will take as long as it takes to discharge all the missiles. So, if it takes 30 seconds to fire 5 missiles the duplciator will remain inactive recharging (displaying flashing red lights) for 30 seconds before being able to fire another 5 missiles. This alteration doesn’t change any of the world 2 solutions but it does make things different for world 3 maps. There are several maps where the number of missiles available is not enough to complete the level and so it will be necessary to ensure that you have one missile available to restart the duplicator process again.

To prepare for Steam Early Access launch I’ve now implemented the end of World 3 lock. Once the player has completed level 3.23 instead of the usual Level Complete panel a new Early Access Complete panel will display informing the player that there are no more levels to play at the moment.

And finally, this week I got around to putting together the gameplay video that is required for a Steam launch. This was always going to be a tricky video to put together (and must be for every puzzle game) as you don’t want to reveal too much of a levels solution. So what I’ve done is shown bits of levels being played finishing off with a few quick fades through some of the more complex levels. The whole video was put together using the pretty cool ‘kdenlive‘ free open source video editor.