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Production Started

Nearly all of the pre-production work is done for DT3 and more time has been put into the actual production. I have been building all the systems and ground work for the game as well, which is also, surprisingly, almost complete. Surprising because I'm often not given much time to work on these things. Though the time I do work on it is very focused.

Design Challenges
Periodically I'll be talking about the challenges that come up during development for the game, the first is here.
While the game doesn't start off in a Mario styled level this time around, one does pop up fairly early on. The difference with DT3 is that the worlds will work a lot closer to their original format. (Those that are not part of the main overworld that is) You already saw near the end of DT2 on the airship that you could stomp on the projectiles the ship threw at you. The Mario area works like this as well. The design challenge with this segment was figuring out an effective way of handling collision. It's not enough to just have the stomping work exactly like Mario games. The physics involved with them highlight and work with the ability to jump on enemies. DT isn't quite like that. The movement is not set up for that type of gameplay, resulting in a lot of fumbling on the player side. I thought about changing the physics for that area, but it felt inconsistent. These enemy types also appear in other areas of the game, so that awkward control will just resurface. Plus there's too much else for the player to learn how to do in the game without having to try and figure out yet another movement style. My method comes in 2 parts. The first is the amount of leeway given when stomping on enemies. In DT2, you may have seen cases where you were able to stomp on an enemy even when hitting from an area like this:

This is due to how the threshold works, which is largely based off of your downward speed. (This threshold was scaled down a bit and changed for DT3) It is very possible with enough downward speed, that hitting an enemy from the side half way up your character will still result in a success on your end. The other minor part of this is how the character bounces off of enemies. In DT3, you are given a lot of slow air time after bouncing off of them. That is if you don't hold the jump button on contact. Doing so has the effect of giving you a rather large lift, but it doesn't have the slower motion the low bounce has. These 2 changes, specifically the hit detection, make things feel a lot more fluid.

An Interesting X-Box Live Game
I was recently shown an interesting game that can be bought on Live called Chime. It's a musical puzzle game... No really, that's what it is. Basically you put 5-blocked pieces on a board to create rectangles, the larger the better and try to fill a board with these completed rectangles. The concept is simple, but where it becomes awesome is how the music dynamically changes. Where you place the pieces, where the completed areas are all change how the music plays and it's interesting to out how the music evolves as the board is filled up. The beats always start simple and build up as the board is filled, which flows nicely with the gameplay.

The game was released in February last year and is very cheap. Only 400 points ($5). Even more awesome, 60% of this goes to charity. All of the music in the game was written for it and given free. I have a soft spot for things like this. If you enjoy puzzle games with a lot of meta-gaming potential, pick it up.

The entire first season of Friendship is Magic has finally aired and now Hasbro is stating that they do not have plans to release a DVD/Bluray set of Season 1. The fans have expressed their displeasure to this statement, me being one of them. There is a lot of interest and demand for a physical copy of this show. If you're a fan of the series and wish to see a DVD, I suggest expressing your interest to them in some way. Online petitions typically hold no merit, so that is not a good method. Writing a letter directly to the marketing team, or customer service, (probably the better choice of the two) expressing your interest can be effective. Another, somewhat surprising method to me, is Twitter. There are various ways through Twitter to voice yourself to Hasbro.

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