Jetboard Joust Devlog #87 – Hidden Depths!

I always loved those bits in Super Mario World where you travelled down a pipe and entered a semi-secret room stuffed full of coins. Sometimes there was a mini-level down there – and the memory of discovering those hidden places, along with the way the background music shifted to a minor key, still gives me goosebumps. It’s one of my fondest gaming memories.

It’s replicated to an extent in other games. There’s the little side-caverns in Downwell, or the bonfires and merchant areas in Dark Souls. Often these places offer some kind of refuge from an otherwise hostile environment as well as a generous reward in the game’s currency or upgrades.

Though I’d never planned anything like this at the start of the game I wanted to add something similar to Jetboard Joust – and having the bosses guard hidden treasure chambers seemed like a good solution. Not only does it give a reason for the treasure chambers to be there (and a heightened sense of reward when they’re unlocked), but it means the bosses are semi-optional and don’t exist purely to block progress through the game (a common gameplay mechanic that I’ve never been overly fond of).

As I’d never intended having the player travel below ground level in the game, or a camera that moves on the vertical axis, introducing a subterranean component had a fairly substantial knock-on effect in exposing the general laziness of my coding and there were a number of things that had to be fixed in order to achieve this. Fortunately none of these presented serious issues but things could have been a lot easier if I’d have planned this from the start. So the lesson (as always) is – think very hard before you cut corners by saying to yourself ‘Oh, I’m never going to need to do x, y or z.’ as you’ll probably change your mind and it’s always easier to build functionality in from the start rather than try and retrofit it later!

I spent a long time on the art for both the chambers themselves and the entrance to the chamber but I must admit to having some help here. Whilst looking for reference material I came across a Unity asset pack that was remarkably ‘on point’ for the game’s visual style – in fact one of the images I used for reference when formulating the overall style was from this pack (I never realised it was an asset pack at the time as I found the original image on DeviantArt)! Though it made me feel somewhat dirty (why I don’t really know) I purchased this pack and the internal chamber backgrounds and the tower thing on the entrance originate there (with various degrees of editing involved). I may alter these more before release, not because I’ve done anything ‘wrong’ in using an asset pack, I just hate the idea of another game appearing with similar art when I’ve spent so long drawing everything else from scratch.

I’m pleased with the end result. There’s a bunch of details in there that I didn’t have to add but wanted to include for added atmosphere such as the drips falling from the chamber ceiling, the spooky eyes in the background, and the dust falling from the chamber doors as they open. I also wanted there to be a reason to use a weapon down there which is why the main reward is enclosed in a glass case! It’ll probably never give anyone goosebumps like Super Mario World but, once I add a some spooky background music, hopefully it’ll do a passable impression.

You can see the sequence of events for unlocking and entering a treasure chamber in the video – note that I’ve severely nerfed the boss for demo purposes!

Completing this means I’ve upped the progress level for the game to 80% complete on TIGSource – hurrah, major milestone! Unless I add another boos this should be the last significant addition to gameplay.

Dev Time: 5 days
Total Dev Time: approx 207 days

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I Wonder How I Open This? At The Chamber Entrance…

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