Blade Ballet Devlog: DropJaw Ground Pound, Prettier Power-ups, and More

It's been a week of character tweaks and replacing our placeholder power-up pills with some fancier models, in addition to background character work, level graphics updates, and voice-over acting for the game audio.



DropJaw Rework

As you can see, we've got a pretty powerful change coming DropJaw's way.

Okay, so the first attempt at updating DropJaw's ability turned out to be a bit ham. As exciting as it would be for the Ground Pound to shake the entire arena and send all the rest of the bots flying off into space, we figured a more restrained ability would be better for keeping the gameplay balanced.

 Potent, yet practical.

Potent, yet practical.

By comparison, this is what we had a few short weeks ago. It did the job of communicating DropJaw's ability, but didn't stand out as much as we wanted it to. Plus, it wasn't exactly fulfilling our vision of a bot who could strike fear into the hearts of the other bots, stunning them and slicing them to bits while they're weak and vulnerable.

 First pass of the Ground Pound.

First pass of the Ground Pound.

Power-ups Get Powered Up

Our old-fashioned pills didn't fit in with our new updated character models and level designs. Good place holders, but not the kind of thing that attracts a player's attention. We wanted to really intensely motivate players to grab power-ups whenever they appear on the screen, so our artists concepted more eye-catching designs.

 Power-up concept art.

Power-up concept art.

After the original 2D concept stage, they 3D-modeled different versions of the new forms. The best designs were all heavily influenced by mechanical parts - gears, plugs, batteries, etc. We wanted to get into the heads of our bots. "If I was a bot a million years in the future, what would my motivation be? What kinds of things would most attract me?"

What I wouldn't give for a long-overdue power cycle.

General concepts lead to a final selection. Not only do the new models look more exciting - they also better communicate what each power-up does. Faster spin, shield, invincibility and speed boost - can you guess which is which? 

Skins For Everybot

We like to think we've done a good job of making each bot look and feel like it fits in the Blade Ballet universe. We've found so far in our playtests that people tend to gravitate towards the bots that speak to them visually and mechanically, and that everyone who plays finds a bot that fits their style. Players do, however, want to be able to further personalize their bot choice by selecting a skin that speaks to them. Hence, we're putting four skin options in the game for each bot.

Background Characters

Our cast of playable characters has swelled to include ten unique and powerful bots. We recognize, though, that a good story relies on bit players as much as the stars of the show. Our artists just started modeling the bots that will flesh out the cast to make it richer and more interesting.

More Changes to The Incinerator

We're continuing our work on making every level unique and cool. The overlords clearly didn't skimp on style when they designed an arena with a conveyor belt feeding straight into a pit of molten metal, which is now clear form our updated art.

Quite a change from how it appeared in the game last month! Of course, we never could have arrived at our final designs if we hadn't done early tests with early art. From a game design perspective, it's important to start with the basics before putting a ton of effort into graphics - otherwise, you risk never making it to that final stage.

 The Incinerator circa late 2015.

The Incinerator circa late 2015.

The Sultry Sounds of Blade Ballet

It wouldn't be a normal day at DreamSail Games without inventive experimentation in pursuit of the generation of game assets. We're lucky to have some great voice acting talent on the team, which we put to good use. Turns out, after enough takes, even robot voices can get sexy.

Hope you enjoyed this week's devlog. Thanks for stopping by!

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