Blade Ballet Devlog: Greebles and Stuff

In today's devlog, we talk bugs, level concept designs, and why we <3 greebles!

Fully greebled Two-Cubed level.

Fully greebled Two-Cubed level.

Texturing with Greebles

As part of our continued efforts to improve the appearance of our levels, we're adding greebles.

What's a greeble, you might ask? According to Wikipedia, a greeble is "a fine detailing added to the surface of a larger object that makes it appear more complex, and therefore more visually interesting." You may have seen examples in science fiction movies, particularly Star Wars, in which the visual effects team glued hundreds of physical toy model parts to the miniature versions of enormous battle stations they'd created. (Den of Geek has a great article if you'd like to learn more).

We briefly considered going that route, but in the end decided to produce our greebles digitally, using Maya by Autodesk. Here's a look at the different styles we've been experimenting with:

For reference, here's what the level originally looked like in-game. What a difference adding a few greebles makes!

Ancient original level design.

Ancient original level design.

Level Background Concept Art

One of the defining characteristics of modern-day local multiplayer games is the care developers take to immerse players in amazing worlds through the design of their levels, and specifically through creating detailed backgrounds. Some great examples: StarwhalToto Temple Deluxe, and Trials Fusion.

We've created a rich and complicated universe into which we've flung our brave battling bot characters, so we're stepping up our game to bring this universe to life. Here are some examples of our latest concept art:

AI Core (working name)

AI Core (working name)

Unstable Reactor (working name)

Unstable Reactor (working name)

Areo Meadow (working name)

Areo Meadow (working name)

It's the Little Things

Speaking of making Blade Ballet feel "more like a game" - we're working hard on the little moments that make a big difference. The kinds of things that you don't really notice when you're playing a game, that you can't necessarily articulate, but that catapult an otherwise fun game from "not bad" to "AWESOME!"

For example, we're playing with our dynamic cameras to zoom in on the in-game action, upping the intensity and stakes of the game right before a score. We're experimenting with pause timers when bots get a kill, ensuring that those moments are always special and rewarded. And we're adding screens like the one below so players aren't left in the dark when it comes to what's about to happen.

Robominate your enemies and claim victory!

Robominate your enemies and claim victory!

Not Always Smooth Sailing

"This is what unity does if you forget a closing quotation mark in a string literal at the beginning of a file. I panicked when I saw 571 errors before I noticed."

Error. Error. Error. Danger Bot Robinson!

Error. Error. Error. Danger Bot Robinson!

Overdrive Takes It to the Next Level

Celebrating in style. Is Overdrive's over-zealous expression of victory emotion too much? Or not enough?

In Other News

  • Our latest robot, STEVe, is now in the game. This robot is twitchy to control, and its sword extends during dash.
  • We've updated our pre-game loading screen tutorial mode with a destructible dummy. Now every player is guaranteed at least one kill! (Fine Print: Dummy kills do not count towards the final score. Killing the defenseless, unarmed dummy has no benefits, except for the fleeting moment of destructive glee instilled in the player.)
  • We're experimenting with game modes to discover which one is the most fun. Our current favorite is the "two win streak" - a player needs to be "last bot standing" two times in a row to win the game.
  • Bots can spin while arena is loading, making it easier to identify which player you are.
  • We improved the "celebration" experience when a bot is last standing in a match by zooming in on the bot.

That's all for today - hope you enjoyed our devlog! Questions? Comments? Share them below.