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Darkness Revealed Update 46 - Creating a Working Tutorial

Hello, everyone! How's it going?

In our last post, we updated you guys on what we did during our long silence since our last post back in December. We introduced our two new programmers, Cleiton and Cadori, and told you how they helped us improve the game's fps and performance. To wrap up, we explained how we've been working on giving our tutorial level a final quality look. Today we'll show you a bit more of how the tutorial level is shaping up. Including new jump mechanics and the level's mood changes. Let's get going!

Creating a working tutorial

Let's be honest, bad tutorials are the kind of pain that can make you give up a game before ever getting to know it! We believe the best way to teach players is to make as few interferences as possible, while giving context to those interferences so that they feel like integral parts of the core experience. In Darkness Revealed, controls are only taught when the story and the level design demands those actions. Some handy visual instructions also allow us to keep tutorial texts shorter or skipping them altogether, avoiding unnecessary gameplay interruptions.

Darkness Revealed is a game that has an uncommon set of controls. There are three different types of jumps, and all three are accessed by the space bar. At first sight, the decision of using only one key for all of them could look like an unnecessary source of confusion, but in fact it's one of the central aspects of our gameplay design - and it gets pretty darn fun after the 15 seconds you take to figure out the different jumps! As designers, it's our job to make this learning curve as pleasant as possible, so we thought the best way to teach our different set of jumps was with the help of visual cues.

So now, when Dave starts charging his jumps, two thresholds are indicated. The first, seen on the left, is triggered first, and allows Dave to perform the Distance Leap if the player releases the button at that moment. The second one, seen on the right, is used to trigger the Height Jump. But how do players know how much they have to charge for each jump? That's where visual cues come in.


Notice how we added small wind gusts coming from the character's feet? Those are in place to help us explain how the jump is achieved and also, so players can quickly tell which jump they are about to perform. Animation also plays a huge part in helping with player's understanding of what is about to happen. Notice how on both types of jumps, Dave's pose clearly indicates in which direction he is about to propel himself. These changes helped drastically with the understanding of our somewhat unusual movement system. Here are a couple extra gifs, so you can see all these jumps and tweaks in action.


Setting the mood

As mentioned earlier, the main goal with this tutorial level was to set the correct mood for the game. We don't want to spoil it too much, but we'd like to show you a couple ways on how we have been handling mood changes and expectations.

From the get go, the corals are a great place to be - so full of colors and beautiful sea life! But that changes quickly as you progress through the area. The background and the water surface play a big part in setting the correct mood. As seen in the gif to the left, the surface becomes darker as Dave moves through the level. This is one the ways we have of subtly telling a story and foreshadowing upcoming events. Another example of these changes is the gif to the right. When Dave encounters old ruins, the sea starts getting agitated and lightnings take over the water surface... Uh oh, I feel some trouble ahead!


Light changes are all around Darkness Revealed. When it comes to setting the correct feel to a scene, lighting effects are one of our main ways of doing it. Other than the subtle changes to background and surface lighting shown above, we also like tempering with it in more obvious ways. It won't be rare for Dave to find himself in really dark places. In these scenarios, his lantern is most likely his best friend. Throughout the game, you can expect to frequently see scenes like the ones shown below. As it helps us create tension and makes certain story situations more believable.


That's all for today guys! Hope you guys have enjoyed our update and the tutorial's final look. Did you like how we taught our jump mechanics in game? Think it's still hard to understand? We'd love to hear! We are always hanging out on Twitter and Facebook, so feel free to say hello. Or, if you want to receive these updates complete and before everyone else, sign up for our Golden Chest

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