Updates for IGF

Master of Tea released on iOS on Nov 20th, 2014. Almost a week after that, work began on my next game and something I’m really excited about and will reveal soon. But for the last month, I began updating Master of Tea to Unity 5 and making changes to parts that I felt were no longer fun in the game in preparation for submission to the 2015 IGF. I actually had a few areas that I wanted to improve but simply ran out of time. Besides minor bug fixes and updates to some animations, the following enchantments were implemented.

Special Effects

Shadows were finally added.  With the update to Unity 5, real-time shadows are easy to add for Android.  Unfortunately, the performance cost were too great on both my test devices.  So I implemented a much cheaper blob shadowing method.

Vignetting effects were added to help add more focus to the center of the screen.  The values are also bumped up during dramatic effects.

Shadows and Vignetting

Screen distortion was added and used every time hits or blocks are made.  They’re also used to create streaks of distortion that follow the attacking limb for every attack.  A typical implementation requires rendering the scene to a render texture and then applying distortion when rendering to the screen.  On my test devices, performance dropped well below acceptable values.  Adding optimizations such as downsizing the dimensions of the render target helped but didn’t improve performance enough at the cost of quality.  But I was so impressed with the effects that I just wanted to keep it in.  A lot of time was spent finding an alternative.  Honestly, it was probably more time than necessary given most people will probably never really notice it.  But it was one of those development tasks that I really enjoyed tackling and felt happy with the results.  In the end, my solution was the avoid post-processing by rendering the game scene to a much smaller render texture 10 times a second.  Distortion “bubbles” are rendered at the end which use this render texture and add some distortion over the scene.  The end effect performs much better but doesn’t look quite as good.  I’m still happy with the effect though.

Here is a video of a typical implementation for distortion.  In the screen shot, the effects are harder to see but in motion, it looks much better.

Here is a video of my optimized method.

Drink Tea Changes

The old drink tea system had very simple enemy attacks that the player could block.  The whole sequence was inspired by the final scene in the Matrix movie when Thomas Anderson realizes his power and stands there looking at his own hand while blocking all of agent Smith’s attacks with the other.

I decided it was time to change this to have more complex animations that chain together.  The enemy initiates an attack that the player blocks and this can chain to other attacks that all link together seamlessly.  The results look much nicer to me and requires swipe inputs that match the action of the player.  This took up much more time than I expected though.  About 30 animations had to be created and each animation the enemy had would require a corresponding animation from the player.  Below is a video of a long chain of attacks although in the actual game, the chain length is capped much lower.  I do plan to add new animations over time just to have more variety and reduce the likely hood of animations being repeated too often.

Future Updates

One part of the game that I really wanted to change was the hawk attack sequence.  It doesn’t seem so fun anymore and I’d like to rethink how that whole sequence should play out.  Maybe even just remove it completely.  For now, I reduced the number of hawks that attack to make the sequence faster and easier.

I also started work on a new game mode, one that can be played in short spurts.  The current campaign mode feels to “grindy” so I’d like to try something new.  This is a larger change though so it will take a while before it’s ready for release.