Blade Ballet Devlog: Level Design, Foxy Steve, UI For Voting, and More

Ever wonder how a game level is created? Today's devlog delves into organic level design vs. having a process for designing new levels (along with mode selection updates and an adorable new STEVe skin).

Levels Exploration

Many of our Blade Ballet levels have evolved organically. Sometimes, this works out great (AI Core is a perennial fan favorite). Other times, not so much (RIP Wall of Cubes). 

The memories of frustration you inspired live on for all time

As we continue to expand our level roster, we've developed a process to generate new, cool level ideas that fit well with what we've already developed. 

Last week we discussed how our Void Base level was an experiment in making exciting gameplay without a ton of coding time and requirements. The experiment turned out great, so we concepted a bunch of level layouts for our next test.

Also effective as Rorschach tests. What do you see?

An important part of the design process is figuring out where players will spawn, making sure the spawns are balanced, and strategically placing walls.

Next up, our artists take the concepts, model them, add colliders, and put them into Unity so we can test the playability before dedicating time to creating art assets.

A fun AND functional method of level testing

This is only the beginning of designing a new level. Once the best concepts are chosen, we'll pick a lore-appropriate theme and style the level to match. Eventually the levels enter our main roster and are put through rigorous testing, demoed at events, and tweaked until they're ready for prime time.

UI for Mode Selecting/Voting - Local and Networked

Most of our development time these days is dedicated to adding online multiplayer to our game. In addition to updating all our gameplay to work across networks, we're creating a completely new UI to account for players not all being in the same room.

What was once the whole game is now a piece in a glorious new vision

One important thing to consider with non-local players is making decisions on how to set up the game. Since we're also in the process of adding new game modes, we need to provide tools for players to seamlessly join or create games, choose modes, and set options. These considerations will vary depending on whether you're playing with friends or diving into matchmaking.

This is just a look at some UI graphic design in process - as usual, there's a lot that goes into deciding a layout like this. Our resident game designer Jon has spent a ton of time behind the scenes collaborating with the dev and art teams to make the best possible game-starting flow.

Mode Select Animations

Colors wheeee! We might have gone a little too ham in creating the animated background for an early iteration of this screen.

OR NOT HAM ENOUGH!

OR NOT HAM ENOUGH!

Foxy STEVe

Catbot now has a contender for "Cutest Bot on the Block." STEVe has always had a bit of trouble finding his place in the universe, so it's not surprising to see him donning fox ears and a bushy tail to try and grab a slice of the Companionship Robot market.

CareComm is not responsible for malfunctioning Companionship STEVes™ that glitch, twitch, stab, or otherwise fail to serve the purpose of providing entertainment and joy to human owners.

CareComm is not responsible for malfunctioning Companionship STEVes™ that glitch, twitch, stab, or otherwise fail to serve the purpose of providing entertainment and joy to human owners.

What do you think? If humans were still around in the Blade Ballet universe, would they accept STEVe as a suitable companion?

Putting the "Team" in Blade Ballet

From start to finish, Blade Ballet has been a team effort. What better way to celebrate our absolute fusion as a collaborative and creative group than by literally fusing our faces with the bots in our games?

STEVe is Paul's spirit animal

In case you're curious, here's the bot/team member breakdown:

Kevin: Ruckus
Paul: STEVe
Drew: Nix
Alec: Vanguard
Jon: Trigger
Nick: Riot
Justin: DropJaw
Lauren: Catbot
Emma: Torque
James: Syphon
Neil: Test Dummy

Huge props to the dev team for making this hilarious and awe-inspiring mod to the game for a terrific April Fool's surprise. Also, this never could have come to be without the wonderful music of Gang Beasts and the iconic grunting of Tim Allen.

Pictures are great, but you really have to see (and hear!) the game in action to truly appreciate its glory. Check out our video!

As always, thanks for checking out our devlog. Share your joys and sorrows in the comments section below, and if you like what you read, spread the word!

Previous Devlog: Infected Effects, Mode Selects, 3D Objects, and More