Development Update

The Basilisk’s Maze – Alpha 4.1: The Refurbished Update

It’s update time again! This one’s mainly a visual enhancement to what was added in Alpha 4.0. In other words, it’s mostly just nicer menus. That being said, though, it still makes for a huge difference in how the game feels; the menus have a lot more personality to them and the game now looks a lot less like an obvious work-in-progress. It’s starting to feel like a finished product, at least on the front end of the game (the core gameplay’s still a bit shallow, but I’ll fix that soon enough, too!). You can keep reading for a full rundown of the major changes, including a before-and-after comparison (like they do on those home improvement shows), or you can go play it right now to see all the changes for yourself.

Anyway, onwards to our menu makeover! First stop, the main menu!

Old and busted

While we might have had our logo and animated Basilisk in the old menu, the rest of it was sterile and boring. All the buttons used the default Unity button graphic, and all the text was written in (ugh) Arial font, the vanilla of fonts (although I actually like vanilla, so maybe that’s not the best comparison). Even your player character was just represented by white floating text showing their name! You didn’t get a clue as to what they really looked like. This all might have been fine as a placeholder, but enough of placeholders! Let’s give this menu a makeover…

New hotness (picture taken from a PC standalone version, hence the Quit button)

Oh wow, that’s much better! No more of that bland Arial font; all the text is now in Ghoulish, the spooky font from the logo, or the Medieval-looking Almendra (which I also use in some places on this site). There isn’t a single one of those default Unity buttons left, either! Everything has its own button that fits the game’s visual style. The maze settings have the most elaborate buttons, each getting three different versions with little cartoons to illustrate whatever their current setting is:

The button for opening the options menu also gets a special graphic, a little orange gear. The “start maze” and quit buttons don’t get unique graphics, but they do get a new generic button background I made in the game’s art style to replace the Unity one.

The most striking new addition by far, though, is the player character graphic, hiding from Basilisk behind a corner. Now we get the first good look at what our player characters actually look like aside from the bird’s-eye view we had before (well, unless you look at the game’s icon; “Male Elf,” or “Sir Elf,” as he’s called now, can be seen on it). Though you obviously can’t see this from the screenshot, the character is also animated! I mean, it’s only a little animated, but still! He (or she) breathes, blinks, and cowers in fear. It’s pretty neat!

That’s mostly it for the main menu, but before moving on, I should give a shout-out to DOTween from the Unity Asset Store. I used the free version to show and hide the buttons and text on the main menu. While I used to accomplish this by simply deactivating their objects, this caused them to abruptly pop in and out of existence, which looked kind of sloppy. With DOTween, however, I was able to set it up so that the buttons slide on and off the screen and standalone bits of text fade in and out, which looks tons better. I’m even using DOTween in the game itself, replacing my old code for making the player’s lantern fade up and down (my old code was glitchy, as sometimes the player’s lantern wouldn’t fade up when it was supposed to. Hopefully, now that I’m using code from the professionals, this issue has been fixed).

So that’s it for the main menu. Moving on, let’s click that gear and see our options menu! Oh…

Old and busted

Yuck. It’s even worse than the old main menu! If you were to look up “placeholder” in the dictionary, this would be the picture! That must have taken, what, ten minutes to make? Look at all those ugly default Unity UI graphics! Ugh! It’s hideous to look at! Let’s fix it, shall we?

New hotness

Ah, this is much better! It’s like I’m going in to change the volume for the first time again! It’s kind of funny, I did the main menu first, and when I got to the options menu, thanks to creative reuse of the main menu’s assets, the only new art I had to make was the volume slider. The window containing the options menu is a stretched-out version of my generic button background. I tried it out on a whim and found it actually looked really good. The buttons inside the window use a second generic button background I made by taking a maze settings’ button and removing the little cartoon (since giving them the same generic background I used for the window would’ve looked weird).

Aside from the art, I also added individual volume sliders for the music, sound effects, and voiceovers (the last one doesn’t do anything yet, but that’s just because I haven’t added voiceovers). I also swapped the “close” button for that classic “X in the corner of the window.”

That about concludes our look at the options menu. Now, for our last stop, let’s go into the game itself and pause:

Old and busted

Gah! There they are again! Default UI graphics! Away with you!

New hotness (again, picture taken from a PC standalone version, hence the lack of onscreen controls)

Ah, there we go. The pause menu! Uh… not much to say about this one, other than I added a continue button. It’s a pause menu, what am I supposed to say about it?

I guess that takes care of the menus. What other changes did I make in this one? Ah yes, the game now saves the last maze settings and character you played with so that those settings are already selected next time you start up the game.

Oh, and I almost forgot! There is a gameplay change in this update after all! However, it’s not a gameplay addition; it’s actually a gameplay subtraction. The player can no longer be fully paralyzed by Basilisk’s gaze. Before, if the player was slowed down too much by Basilisk’s gaze, they would collapse, turn pale, and no longer be able to move, which meant an immediate game over, even if they hadn’t been caught yet. While messing around with paralysis turned off, I found that all it really did was end a game right as it was getting good, since it left no opportunity for those desperate last chases where the player is frantically trying to stay a step ahead of Basilisk even though they’re being slowed to a snail’s pace. The game’s a lot more fun that way, so I took out paralysis. Fortunately, this was something easy to get rid of; just take out a couple of lines of code, and it’s gone.

And that’s it! Go see it for yourself (at least check out the main menu; I’m quite proud of how it turned out)! You can also go check out the game’s info page to see what’s next on the agenda; I’d say there’s one more 4.x Alpha of menu stuff (results screens, this time), and then I’ll be moving on to updates for fleshing out the core gameplay and changing things up in more substantial ways (those’ll be the really meaty updates!). In the meantime, I’ll be posting the next part of my behind-the-scenes series on the early days of The Basilisk’s Maze‘s development soon (I’ve already posted the first part; you should check it out, it’s a fun read. Plus, you get to learn a little Basilisk lore! Yes, there’s lore! Don’t laugh!).

Until next time, have a nice day! And do something cool with it!