Development Update

The Basilisk’s Maze – Alpha 4.0: The Choices Update

So, it’s E3 week! And while I may have nothing to do with that event, as long as everyone else is showing off updates on their games, I might as well too!

The first (public) update to The Basilisk’s Maze is now live! You can go check it out for yourself to see what’s new right away, or you can read on for a quick rundown of all the details!

The first thing you’d notice upon starting up this new version is that the Basilisk on the main menu is a lot more animated than before. I’ve given Basilisk an intro animation for when the game first loads, an outro animation for when the player selects a maze, and three “bored” animations for when the player sits on the main menu for too long. I’d actually animated all of these a while back, but I’ve only now implemented a way for the game to show them all.

Oh, and there’s also background music. Come to think of it, you’d probably notice that before the animated Basilisk. I’m using a placeholder track mixed together from royalty-free music loops. I actually put it together for an older game of mine, a text-only choose-your-own-adventure called “Labyrinth of Doom!!!” This particular track played whenever something bad happened in that game. It sounded fitting as a scary monster’s theme. I might replace it later; I just grabbed it and stuck it in this game so I could test the option menu’s volume slider. Oh! Speaking of which…

There’s an options menu! Sort of. There isn’t much there at the moment. Currently, it only includes a master volume control (which saves between gameplay sessions) and links to Dragon King Studios’ privacy policy and the page where you can opt out of Unity’s hardware analytics. Not much else to say here, it’s just an options screen.

 I’ve also added a pause menu in the game itself:

All it has is a button to quit back to the main menu. Honestly, I should have put that in sooner, because recording the trailer would have been much less of a headache if I could just cancel a maze that wasn’t giving good footage. As it was, I had to either quit the whole game or dive down Basilisk’s throat to get back to the main menu.

But enough about boring utility menus! Now let’s get to the feature I named the update for: uh, another menu. But it’s a much more interesting menu! Look at it:

The player has choices now! I mean, not like Telltale- or David Cage-level choices. There really isn’t a plot for your choices to impact. Well, there is sort of a plot, but it’s not a very complex one: you enter a maze, you meet a monster, and you either escape or get eaten. And that one variable at the end isn’t really a “choice.”

What I mean is, you can modify the maze a bit before you start the game now! There are three buttons that each change an aspect of the game. First off, there’s the size of the maze, as before (though medium and large mazes are slightly smaller now, because large mazes took too long to escape). After that are our new options: the Basilisk’s movement speed and the power of Basilisk’s gaze (which slows you down if Basilisk can see you, by the way. Come to think of it, I’ve never made that explicit).

Making Basilisk faster opens up opportunities for a greater challenge, but the Basilisk’s gaze option is going to be replaced somewhere down the line. It’s mostly just there to fill in the last option slot. I came up with that really early in the game’s development, and after testing, I’ve found that it’s not a very interesting variable to change. For one thing, there’s a special game over condition for when the player is slowed down too much by Basilisk’s gaze. If the player becomes slower than Basilisk, they become paralyzed and are helpless to escape after that. Because of this, Basilisk’s gaze is already more potent when Basilisk’s speed goes up, since it doesn’t take as long to make the player slower than Basilisk. Does that make sense?

Anyway, the point is, it’s a boring thing to change and somewhat redundant, too. I’ve come up with better ideas for the third option that would alter the game in more substantial ways, but all those ideas require stuff that isn’t in the game yet. So until then, Basilisk’s gaze gets to stay as the third option.

Oh, and before I forget, the maze isn’t the only thing you can change! You can change the player character, too! More specifically, you can be a male or female elf now!

Thanks to the animation program I’m using, Spine, I was able to make the female elf an alternate “skin” for the male elf and use the same animated “skeleton.” I especially like how I was able to turn the male elf’s cape into the female elf’s flowing hair. I’ll probably use this skeleton rig for most of the bipedal characters. I’ll try to give them unique voice clips and menu art so that they don’t all seem the same.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, the Basilisk jaws things that appears when you get eaten is slightly different; I made it look and sound more like the trailer.

I also changed a lot of the internals of how the game is organized. Back when there were only the three buttons to choose the maze size, each would send the player to another Unity scene that contained an object already set to make a maze of that size. After the player was done with the maze, it would send them back to the main menu scene. How it works now is that the main Unity scene contains two objects: one containing all the pieces which make up the main menu and a “maze settings” object which is modified by the former when you click the different settings buttons. When the player clicks start, the main menu object is deactivated and a third “maze master” object is created which contains all the pieces needed to make up the maze (stuff like Basilisk, the exit, the key, and an empty tile map for the walls). The maze master then reads the settings in the maze settings object and generates the maze. When the player is done with the maze, the maze is deleted and the main menu is turned back on, and then they can do it all over again. Anyway, long story short, the whole game uses one Unity scene now. I thought that was kinda neat.

And that’s pretty much it! Go check it out! You can also look at the game’s info page to see what’s next on the agenda (for the next update, it will mostly be replacing the menu’s temp art with the final art). Until next time, have a nice day, and do something cool with it!

EDIT 6/23/2018: Elaborated on how I reorganized the internals of the game (most of that second-to-last paragraph).