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SuperTux Meeting 18. August 2007

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Supertux meeting: August 18, 2007

The SuperTux meeting today was great success, with participation from wansti, grumbel, paroneayea, __delta, gwater (spectating), and WolfgangB (briefly). IRC, Ekiga and netbrush were used in conjunction, which seemed to be a very well working setup.

A couple of pages from netbrush (I'll be refering to these as Image1 and Image2, respectively):

http://pingus.seul.org/~grumbel/tmp/md5/009f4fc9f2fefa975f8a61ac762b5613-canvas-12.png http://pingus.seul.org/~grumbel/tmp/md5/69e2a41d51ed129242541fa7c52bc259-canvas-15.png

Focus of the meeting really seemed to be around World 1. We kind of jumped all over the place, so I'm not going to try and stay in order, but I'll try to break up topics as I see to be logical.

Supertux

Powers revisited

SuperTux will be losing the ice/fire flower soon, as this is considered a bit too powerful and makes the game a bit boring. Instead, there will be several new environmental items and enemies that will allow SuperTux to use powers. See "throwing snowballs" in environments section as well as "Ice Dragon" and "Sand Shoe Monster" in enemies section for examples.

Health revisited (no more small tux)

It seems generally agreed upon that the big/small tux is not really much fun. The real purpose for big/small tux is for breakable boxes, but there aren't too many of those in SuperTux anyway. For the moment this will probably stay, but we're trying to brainstorm some other health types. No idea was really liked, but some other models that are worth thinking about are:

  • "Capture the baby" in Yoshi's Island
  • Zelda-like hearts
  • Sonic coins


Enemies

Enemies do not hurt each other

It seems to be well agreed upon that enemies should not hurt each other any more (example, jumping snowball that can flatten other snowballs) *unless* the player interacts with that enemy to cause this effect. Which leads to...

Enemies as powerups

Discussions went around about several types of enemies who use attacks against supertux, but which in certain situations (probably after being briefly stunned) SuperTux himself should be able to control.

Two categories of enemies were discussed:

  • Carryable enemies: these enemies are carried around (much the way SuperTux currently carries an ice block), and their powers can be used to help tux attack other enemies, better maneuver the environment, et cetera. See baby "Ice Dragon" and "Snowshoes Monster" below.
  • Riding enemies: These enemies Tux grabs on to and goes for a ride. See adult "Ice Dragon" below.

Ice Dragon

This enemy would probably come in both adult and baby form. There are some drawings of him on the middle-left side of Image1. This creature can spit ice blobs which can freeze Tux (who then has to jump a lot to get free)

After being stunned, tux can grab on to this enemy and squeeze him to shoot ice balls. The baby ice dragon, tux carries. The large ice dragon, tux can ride on, and can also use to move around.

Snow/Sand-shoe Monster

In slushy snow or quicksand (see "Liquids" in environments for more details), tux should be able to grab on to this character to safely walk across quicksand or snow without sinking. (See Image1, center)

Big Snowball

This snowball is made out of one smaller snowball on top, and one big snowball on the bottom. When jumped on, the top snowball dies and the bigger snowball on the bottom either will turn into a "Rolling Snowball" (see Environments section) or another small snowball.

It might be possible that one snowball can jump on top of another to create a Big Snowball.

Yeti

It was agreed upon that the Yeti should no longer throw snowball monsters, and should instead throw "Throwable snowballs", described in "Environments"

Environments

Throwable snowballs

This is an example of a temporary item that can be used as a powerup. A pile of these are grabbed off of the ground, and they can be thrown on an arc and then they disappear. (See Image2, various places). Since you only have a handful of these, they aren't a boring "permanent" powerup like the ice/fire flower, and would have to be dropped to do other things, grab onto other enemies, and such strategic bits.

Sliding tux

A long discussed and desired feature is for Tux to be able to slide on his belly along sloped surfaces. At the edge of ramps, Tux may be able to perform something akin to a "ski jump". (see mid-right, Image1).

In the snow world, there should be able to be two places where this can happen, on snowy grounds (where tux can choose to slide) and icy surfaces (where tux slips and slides automatically). In other worlds, there might sometimes be such slopes, maybe not. In the forest world, there might be a waterfall, and in an industrial world there might be a greased/oily slope.

Slippery surfaces

Icy surfaces aren't just for slopes! Icy, slippery ground that tux has to walk across was discussed. Some developers expressed reluctance, as the feeling of losing control on these kinds of surfaces can feel frustrating. It was agreed upon that slippery surfaces should be used *strategically*, for brief periods. An example of this is on the upper-right of Image1.

Swimming

Swimming will be postponed till Milestone 3.

Info boards (death of info boxes)

Info boxes tend to be abused, especially in custom levels. They also create huge language-translation issues, and it is clear that many of our users are very young (and who perhaps cannot read yet).

But a way of describing a new technique or ability is still important in the game. It has been agreed that instead of info boxes, we'll have "info boards". These will be graphical descriptions of the activity, along with drawings of the button mapping to perform it (which will be grabbed dynamically off of the user's input settings). See lower-right of Image1 for an example of this.

Grumbel notes that this this is a good example of these being done right.

Floating and Tilting Icebergs/Islands

An idea borrowed from "Mission in Snowdriftland" (a Nintendo flash game), these are little icebergs that tilt when the user steps to one side of them.

These could float in water, or perhaps other liquids.... like...

Liquids

Water is an obvious liquid that already exists.

Acid might be a good one for tilting islands to float on that's a bit more hazardous than water.

Quicksand/Slushy Snow is a kind of liqud that would be nice to have. You have to keep hopping to keep from sinking (unless you grab on to one of the above-mentioned snow/sand shoe monsters) (See middle of Image1 for an example)

Avalanche

This would be a special type of level where snowballs at the top come tumbling toward Tux. Tux has to keep running to keep from getting crushed (think Indiana Jones and Crash Bandicoot). Being touched by the snowballpile leads to instant death. See the top-left of Image2 for details.


Story

Agreed that the story won't be touched much in the present version. Acknowledged by everyone that the story is presently a bit sexist, but milestone 3 should fix that, when Penny will be able to take over gameplay for some period.


Other

Levels introducing concepts

We'd like to move more toward individual levels introducing a new concept in good detail, and then later levels can use those concepts to less degrees, or as seen fit.

In-game Menus

Some thought should be put into menu selections. Super Mario Land 2 had a creative save menu system.. it didn't feel like normal gameplay, but it felt interactive. But an in-game menu or options menu (esp pause menu) should be much more basic.


Managing the project

In the past SuperTux has not been really well managed. A lot of code gets checked in that people are experimenting with, those features are not really used, and it leads to a lot of cruft and a bloated, harder to manage SuperTux.

We should manage SuperTux within context: a feature should be developed with a level in mind, and then developed around that.


Next meeting

Plans are to discuss world two and implementation. We'd like to have more meetings like this, and do more of discussing our development progress (not just coming up with new ideas)