Block Around – Beta 1
The game has reached the beta phase! Since the latest alpha, a lot of changes were made following some wider tests. Even if the game will change a little, all the elements of the gameplay are there. The latest big task before a real release is about reviewing most of the levels and adjust the scores accordingly.
The GUI was reworked, with new buttons and icons for achievements. The stage select screen was split between arcade and challenge mode, to make it clearer and gain some space to add the score to reach in challenge mode for each level.
A mob has gained some effects, but I let you discover this by yourself no to spoil too much.
The effects for the ball were intensified a bit, to ease following it, that was difficult mostly on the background of the second world.
Quality of Life
To keep with the interface, navigation with keyboard or gamepad was added, as well as some buttons to skip credits (that are now there) or the tutorial. The game can also be paused, to restart a challenge, quit the game or just take a pause.
All buttons can be remapped, with tree movement modes: with mouse, gamepad (stick and/or directional pad) or keyboard. The support for gamepad was enhanced with setting the dead zone of the stick. In any case, the rotation speed with keys or buttons can be set to your liking.
And for little details, the difficulty can be changed on the level selection screen, because even in normal the game is pretty hard and it is always nice to see it can be changed and that it's not far away.
Some hints are passed along the levels to guess what everything does, level by level, even if at some point, it's still up to you to guess what it is.
And a lot of fixes and small changes
Most noticeably, the ball goes (slightly) slower on the higher difficulties and the big pack of mobs on the last levels when they take some time is not there anymore. The games launches quite faster, but it's mostly noticeable on low-end machines.
Less visible, a lot of issues were fixed regarding user profiles as well as a series of them that prevented to clear the game (or even crash it). There will be obviously still more, but I hope nothing too serious.
What is the beta all about?
The game could stay in development forever, with continuous enhancements. But at some point, it is time to stop to be able to move on to other projects.
Block Around could be considered ready, but not quite finished. Mostly regarding levels. If all the game mechanics are ready and the game is fully playable this way, there are some little things missing to make it finished.
Most of the levels are boring, some are even badly designed. Until now the main targets were completing the game mechanics. It's now time to work on the game content. Play again and again, make every level interesting. Now that everything works, it is easier to find why some levels are fine while other are not. The goal of the beta will be mostly reviewing every single level one by one until they become enjoyable and use the best of their associated mechanic.
The beta will run until summer, with successive releases, to take some time to play the game extensively while taking some time on other projects to keep some freshness about it.