Behind the Scenes / Detailed Reflection - Armed

Discussion in 'LEVEL EDITOR' started by FBI Light Rock, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. FBI Light Rock

    FBI Light Rock Techno Fury Moderator Beta tester

    As promised, I will write a detailed reflection on Armed. Part of the reason is to remember the painful effort I spent to calibrate this level to perfection. This also details some of the Easter Eggs as well as graphical details you may not see when playing the level normally as intended. Next, this reflection will explain what's going on in the foreground for certain parts. Lastly, this thread is to also hopefully teach you guys a few useful tricks. But most importantly, let the credits roll for all those who helped, whether directly or indirectly (through some of the sounds and obstacles). :)

    I will break down the reflection into the various zones. The Easter Eggs, hidden graphical details and background story will be considered spoilers, so they will be hidden.
  2. FBI Light Rock

    FBI Light Rock Techno Fury Moderator Beta tester

    Zone 1 - Squared clones
    If you actually looked at my very first teaser photo, this actually wasn't the first zone to be created. It was only added after Zone 7 - Gears & Peashooters, I think. I don't quite remember.

    It was easy to create, obviously, because I just needed to spam the contraptions. The calibration of difficulty was the problem though. I had to adjust the height and the distance of the clones to achieve a satisfactory difficulty. In the end it turned out pretty hard...oh well. :mrgreen:

    After finishing this zone I didn't come back to it until I finally got stuck in creating Zone 12, which was intended to be a boss fight (but now abandoned for another idea). This was when the whole Armed underwent a major graphical overhaul. This was when I inserted a small little detail...

    If you managed to touch the bottom clone using your own clone (NOT the arms on the clone), the 2 clones above will change expression to a scared expression, since one of their dear friends has died and they fear they could be the next one...though it isn't even possible. :mrgreen:

    The black particles on the 4 corners of the 3 clones looks nice, and while I intended them to indicate they were growing arms to become like you, it didn't make much sense...
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015
    Vicvic91 likes this.
  3. FBI Light Rock

    FBI Light Rock Techno Fury Moderator Beta tester

    Zone 2 - Spikes
    This was another zone that got added in later and wasn't there when I teased the first photo.

    Not much mention here, but as usual I did spent some time to calibrate the difficulty, making the navigation through this section a little varied.

    Graphical wise, the only overhaul this zone had was the spike in at the very entrance closing in. Surprisingly the first time I placed the trigger there to close in the spikes, I already got it right! :mrgreen:

    Zones 1 and 2 are so called "basic navigation", where you learn how to pilot the armed system, with no specific arm to use.

    During the graphical overhaul associated with adding in Zone 13 - Gamer's Haven, this zone finally had its most major overhaul. Multiple spikes were added to form a smooth curve, and the curve beam was added to give a slight "bridge" feel. The bottom spike was turned into a tall standing sculpture, perhaps what you might want to call a radio tower. A second shorter sculpture was added to "support" the Fast powerup. Originally, there were only the completely vertical spikes, and the Fast powerup was left ehm, floating around. :mrgreen:

    This had an unfortunate effect of making this section harder by the need to use the second upper spike to twist the system yet again (as opposed to previously just letting the whole system drop to the floor and clear this zone). The first curve and the no longer vertical walled sculpture also added to the difficulty slightly.

    Credits to Bones and Ice for the pitchfork at the entrance where the spikes close in.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
    Vicvic91 likes this.
  4. FBI Light Rock

    FBI Light Rock Techno Fury Moderator Beta tester

    Zone 3 - Instructions
    This was the first zone to be created in Armed. At the right corner of the first teaser photo, you could make out the rotatable windmills.

    To be honest I had no idea why I added the windmills. :mrgreen: I just did, and when i realized that it added a little bit of difficulty I just kept it anyway. (If you hit both windmills with 2 arms, you are likely to get stuck)

    Surprisingly as simple as it looks, this part actually went through numerous changes. It was initially meant as an obstacle where the player is supposed to position the system properly to make it through with the camera giving chase. Initially the friction values (of the round edge mechanical obstcle) were untouched - this made this part really easy to navigate through.

    However I later adjusted up the friction value along the passage to make it more of a challenge. I spent a lot of time finding a suitable friction value to balance the difficulty.

    But during the graphical overhaul, I realized that some people may not know what the premise of Armed is. Hence I added in the instructions. At that time the camera was still chasing and the friction values remained.

    I left this zone alone for a while before I finally decided to change the camera to cut when doing the graphical overhaul for Zone 8 - Construction Zone (the most major graphical overhaul), because the camera was quite fast and no one would have the time to read those instructions. During the second overhaul of this zone, I decided to change the obstacle to mechanical beams, and the rest of the space would be the filler by the text visuals.

    At this time, I just decided to change the power ups that were part of the text above to Rotate ones...just because they look nicer. :mrgreen: The propellers were added in at this time as well and the concentric circles (added in since the start) readjusted to fit them in. The friction values were upped further so that players spend more time in this zone to properly read the instructions.

    I thought of adding in a shutter door at the end (maybe the start as well) in order to illustrate how using the power ups on the arms to insert them into the particle areas gets stuff done, thus showing players the premise of Armed. However, I couldn't think of a nice way to go about presenting this, so for now it's KIV. A recent edit finally included this element by popping up and taking out Vicvic's accreditation when a rotate power - up reaches the particles. At first, this accreditation was to be shifted right to the beginning, but when the very beautiful Zone Zero - Armed Intro was created, there was simply no space for accreditation. This Instruction Zone sounded like the next most practical place to put it with the rather large amount of unused space, as well as the camera cutting here. Well, it's still not the clearest illustration of the premise of Armed, but with the straight corridor of this most suitable zone, this was the best I could do.

    During the graphical overhaul associated with adding Zone 13 - Gamer's Haven, the level's name and of course me the creator, were added. The description also changed to indicate that particles without a nearby powerup MAY indicate Clony must reach there himself.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  5. FBI Light Rock

    FBI Light Rock Techno Fury Moderator Beta tester

    Sorry for stopping reflections for some time already! I'm busy brainstorming for ideas for my next few zones & crafting my new zones to perfection. Hope to find some time when I'm away from my iPad and have the time at work to start writing! :)
  6. FBI Light Rock

    FBI Light Rock Techno Fury Moderator Beta tester

    Zone 4 - Birds Chipping
    Weirdly enough, although this was the first proper zone to make use of the Armed system to choose the correct arm, it was also the last zone that was touched up upon before the very first revision of Armed went online.

    Being the first zone, I didn't see much of a need to make it look so nice, because the next zone Laboratory wasn't entirely that nice anyway. You see, we humans work like that: when we see something beautiful, we would have expectations that the subsequent things would be even better. This was why even after the major graphical overhaul, this zone was left mostly untouched.

    You would be shocked if you saw the transformation of this zone into what it is today. The first revision was simply just an overhead claw pointed 90 degrees downwards with the big power up at the centre of the claw. At the end of the zone was a boring door copied from the templates, same as the door in the next zone Laboratory. No birds at all. The graphical overhaul only added a claw pointing 45 degrees downwards starting from the end of Zone 3's corridor.

    What sparked off the major graphical overhaul at this part? I always wanted to add more to this zone, but couldn't think of a good idea. I was thinking of adding those little claws from Gadgets. Strangely I didn't even try doing that. I decided to try changing things up in this zone a bit, rather than just adding decorations. So I tilted the claws to the left, reduced the distance between the beaks, and BOOM, idea! It looked like a bird's beak to me at that point and the whole Bird Chipping Zone was born.

    Due to the long beak nature of the bird (since I couldn't make a shorter and smaller beak as there would be problems catching the arm should a wrong arm be inserted), I immediately thought of the big bird being a pelican. Probably could be just Pelipper, the Pokemon. :mrgreen: When I found put that pelicans have an S neck, this became not viable. The next bird I thought of was a Toucan (from playing Disco Zoo) since it also had a big and pretty long beak. In the end I gave up and went with a generic monster bird. Well obviously my sense of art sucked, because I don't even know how to design wings for the bird and just spammed something there. It looked decent, so why not? :)

    The big power up continued to stay in the mouth of the bird, but it didn't make sense so I shifted it to outside. This actually caused a bit of problem, because it only makes logical sense for the thought bubble to be over the bird's head. But because of the border, the speech bubble will be cut. So with no other choice, I placed it near the beak. Perhaps this was done before the option "On top of everything" was introduced (with the new force events). Now that the option was introduced, heck it, I'll stick with the position. Because who would be able to see which power up to use if it was outside the border? :mrgreen:

    But the rest of the space is still relatively empty. So given the bird theme, it was only natural to use the bird from Flowers pt 1/pt 2, which I saved some time back when I played the level. (I usually save good designs made by other players in case I need them in the future, especially Bones and Ice's ones).

    The original plan was to use multiple of these birds, each bird having a different expression, such as a eye popping bird when eating a spikeball, or a happy bird when chewing on a Clony. But there was too little space, and well...extending it was too troublesome as I had to move everything else forward (also why I am proposing to be able to add blank space in the middle of the level).

    Now it's left with the bottom. Given that the birds from Flower pt 1/pt2 were too big, I had to make a smaller one. Given that BADLAND is known for its stark contrast between the foreground background, similar to the style of Limbo, I wanted to bring that aspect out. So I went to research on how to draw out some sihoulettes of baby swallows (a cute baby bird I could think of). I settled for a picture with birds perched on clothing lines. Given that I can't draw out the shape of the birds themselves, I had to try to fit the obstacles to a shape of the birds, which was hard. I spent a hell lot of time doing this to match the ones in the reference picture. I made 2 variants as you could see, and I even consulted my own mother to see whether my sihoulette birds were OK! :mrgreen: (And for some reason BOTH my parents had the bird chipping sound etched in their head, in that when I showed my mother the new Casino Zone, she asked where the birds go...:mrgreen:) And speaking of which, the bird chipping sound was easy to settle on; it was just inspired by the last part of Nest where the eggs shake. Because the interval between chips were too short when "Require Signal" was off, I decided to use the time interval trigger instead. The calibration of the interval took some time, but in the end you have a pretty solid chipping sound. :)

    I temporarily got sucked in into researching about birds, including watching videos about feeding baby swallows, and reading on how to care for baby swallows (including what to do when you encounter a wild one).

    The last part was to change the boring hydraulic door to fit the bird theme. I did scratch my head a bit on wondering what to put here. Before the whole bird theme came in, I was planning to use one of the Gadgets claw devices to launch like a missile to destroy the wall. But now, to fit the bird theme I wanted to use the same clothing lines that I used at the bottom. But it was a little empty if I didn't put any birds on it. Making the sihoulette birds on this clothing lines drop into the uhm, dark void :mrgreen:, would make no sense so I wanted to make them fly away when the zone is considered clear. But this was too hard to make as the birds need to really fly and not just "move away" using the move event (which looks totally weird :mrgreen:). So I decided on using a nest since above it is a branch, which would make sense for a nest to hang off.

    I went to research on the different types of nest birds could have, and guess what? Yeap, once again I was hooked on to researching about birds in general this time. I'm sure a very easily distracted person, huh? :mrgreen: In the end I settled for the spherical nest with a cone shape at the bottom.

    Even with the nest shape settled, I also wanted to make baby birds in the nest to make it look more beautiful. To admit the nest itself was crazy; there were so many connections between the main nest itself and the different branches hanging off the nest, that it was a MESS. The joints to the branches and the nest to the supporting branch had to also be calibrated so that it feels like a real nest.

    To admit, I didn't spend very much effort on the baby birds inside the nest. It was a bit hasty as I really wanted the level to go online asap. I couldn't wait to hear what people think of it. You could see the birds' beaks go crazy after a while...:(

    After the nest was done, the remnants of the hydraulic door still existed - the rocks at both ends of the door. I removed them and replaced them with another clothing line. And yet more birds. :mrgreen:

    Just before I submitted my level, I made one final amendment to the monster bird - I gave it an eyeball instead of looking like a ghost with purely white eyes, making look pretty friendly. :)

    A few modifications after I submitted included smoothing the lower beak to reduce the chance of getting stuck in the beak after triggering the nest to break off (before that, it was REALLY EASY to get stuck), adding colors to the flower on the branch (as well as doing the same coloring in the flower branch in Zone 10 - Hamster's Story. And most recently when Zone 12 - Casino was introduced, the particles are removed after you trigger the wrong event to occur, because it won't make sense for a closed beak to emit particles.

    There is quite a lot going on in this bird chipping zone. First of all is the big monster bird. There are droplets dripping from the lower beak. IT IS HUNGRY! :mrgreen: If you put in the wrong arm, the monster bird's eye change to a happy one. (The cute eye was made by simply using a bracket, like literally the one enclosing this note) The upper beak is set to hit precise, so that you shouldn't escape his grasp. To be safe, physics for this beak is turned off after 1 second.

    If you put in the correct arm, then the monster bird's eye flashes red with an angry eyebrow. I mean, didn't the bird explicitly tell you NOT to put in that arm with the Big power up? You idiot. :mrgreen: You could see the screen shake, but although it's soft every shake comes with a low pitch growling noise from the angry bird (except the whole bird doesn't turn completely red, if you get what I meant there:mrgreen:), using a drastically lowered pitch of Pipe Rocks sound.

    You are not imagining it by the way, yes, the trigger zone for the incorrect arm is longer and thus activates without too much insertion.

    While its hard to tell, the bird from Flowers pt 1/pt 2 changes eye to a somewhat angry one after the nest breaks off, with the loss of her nest and all her offsprings.

    I wanted to make this bird open its mouth wider after the nest breaks off, but opening it any wider caused the beak to look weird. Oh well..whatever then.

    The little silhouette birds may chip with the same frequency, but they start at different times. I mean, if they chip at the same time, what's with the messy chipping you hear in real life? :mrgreen:
    And finally, the saw at the end of this zone leading to Zone 5 - Laboratory. Well technically speaking it should be under Zone 5, but if you can't get pass this obstacle, you restart at Zone 4, so it belongs to Zone 4. It was a random obstacle i thought of, and it adds considerable challenge. Yeah, although it can be a little frustrating as it's kinda luck based.

    Not much time was spent on this, and this part didn't get very much of a graphical upgrade during the overhaul. All that added was another smaller saw which spun at 2 times the speed of the bigger one, in reverse. The tweakings through the height between the pipes below and the saw, and the speed of the saw. I needed the saw to be of an appropriate speed so that it can push you through with a pretty good chance of success.

    The graphical overhaul associated with adding Zone 13 - Gamer's Haven changed the saw part, adding the pipes to make it feel a little more laboratory-like for Zone 5. An additional saw was added in-between the 2 saws, and as per the gear mechanism rule, the rightmost saw now rotates the same direction as the leftmost saw. 2 more saws were added below slightly above the previous saw.

    The whole premise of Zone 4 was to highlight a weakness in the Armed system: the ability to bend the arms despite the strength and tightness of it. For the monster bird, you may have to flex the arms slightly to reach the trigger zone. But for the saw, it wouldn't be possible to get pass it without this weakness.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  7. FBI Light Rock

    FBI Light Rock Techno Fury Moderator Beta tester

    Zone 5 - Laboratory
    When I designed this level at first, all I thought was to throw every type of basic obstacle offered (like lasers, saws, spikeballs, etc) into the level. So the second thing I thought of after claws was lasers. I mean, who doesn't like some Star Wars? :mrgreen:

    It was a pretty simple zone at first; little time was spent here. All there was big blank space between Zone 4 and the 2 lasers where you must insert your arm into. There wasn't those fancy pipes with 2 beams between them yet. The Small powerup was at the other end of the pipe holding the 2 lasers, just parked there without much thought.

    The hydraulic door leading to Zone 6 - Saws looked the same throughout. BUT, that didn't mean it had no changes. From the start, the one half of the door was opened by the button from this contraption, the other half opened by inserting the right arm. Unfortunately, when I tested this zone, anyone could simply slip through the half-opened door. Thus the intersaction between both doors had to be increased so that you have too little space left to go through if you only opened one half of the door. Well, that's all for the door.

    During the graphical overhaul, the pipes with the 2 beams were added. You could say this was being inspired by a very old movie Airplane II, that featured a (useless?) machine in a moon station that has lights going back and forth. The Small powerup was shifted to the spot halfway between the 2 lasers.

    This presented a problem because one could simply burn off a few arms to possibly make subsequent zones easier. Thus the large trigger zones near the button were created to check for ALL 4 arms. (All but one trigger are inactive at first. The active trigger would then activate the next trigger after the required arm is present. Finally, the last trigger would make the button active. If the button is not active, you won't be able to press it.) After a while, I realized it was a stupid idea to check for the arm with the Small powerup - you won't be able to open the other door to get through anyway. So I removed it. But strangely, I tried pressing the button with all arms except the arm with the Small powerup, but it still won't activate. Whatever...o_O the check system works anyway...

    During the second revamp, I added the propellers to the pipes. I remembered calibrating their speeds to match the Nasty Metal sound, slightly inspired from Districts, that was added in at this time.

    The Small power up apparently cloned itself and now both lasers have a Small powerup on them. At this time, some small gimmicks were thrown in...
    If you put in the wrong arm, the 2 lasers will turn on, as you could see. But the 2 Small powerups will also start spinning in opposite directions as the "generator" starts to kick in. The speed also increases from naught to a constant max speed.

    But if you insert the right arm, then the generator will power down, as the Small powerup "generators" fade away, which is done by slowly increasing the opacity of the black circular filler.

    It doesn't look perfect, as you could make out 2 distinct circles after the power down is complete but due to the difficulty nerfing which reduced the size of the lasers, it was the best I could do so that the Small powerups were completely hidden, so that you can't even see the Small powerups pulsating. Before that, while to be honest I had little problem triggering the door to open, Vicvic found it nearly impossible, so the change was necessary. After all, I did submit the level ONLINE for a reason: to let others play and enjoy it. The difficulty nerfing was difficult; I wanted to make sure that the wrong technique (going completely head-on) should still result in the armed system in getting stuck.

    During the graphical overhaul associated with adding Zone 13 - Gamer's Haven, this zone was made to look a bit more like a laboratory. The first thing added was the "fluid transfer pipe" at the top right corner of this zone. I did research on how a chemical factory looked like to get ideas on how a laboratory WITH PIPES look like, but it came up mostly empty. So I just had to try.

    This fluid pipe required a lot of calibration. The worst part was calibrating the spinning motor driving the fluid inside: The center of spin was FAR OFF the fluid itself, making it very hard to estimate where to place it.

    Oh if you didn't realize, when you were happy shutting down the generators, the fluid pipe indicators are also changing. Each of the 10 indicators (happens to be 10, I didn't make the special effort to make that number up), starting from the right, turns on after 0.1 seconds after the previous one turns on. The indicators turn green when the wrong arm is inserted, and red when the correct arm is inserted.

    That's not all! The saw nearest to the fluid pipe also changes color correspondingly. While the indicators flash, unfortunately this one doesn't. Instead, it slowly turns color, until 1 second later it shows the full color. This is the first time 2 zones actually interact with each other.

    The ending of this zone is packed with details! The graphical overhaul also added a graph screen monitor. For I thought labs have indicator screens to observe the status of their apparatus. But it ended looking and even sounding more like hospital monitors...oh well, whatever. Almost every bar on the monitor has a unique peak and crest, and a different duration of a cycle. There's an occasional beep too.

    On inserting the wrong arm, all the bars move up the same distance (I could make the reading fluctuate more, but I wasn't quite bothered considering the amount of variables I must change) to give a generally higher average. The beep becomes quicker and higher pitch. This all indicates the apparatus (the laser and generators) all working harder.

    On the contrary, on inserting the correct arm, all the bars move down, giving a lower average. The beep slows down and is now lower pitched. This indicates the systems on downtime.
    I wanted to add another lab instrument just after the saws, at the bottom near the pipes, but have currently no idea what to add. I'll probably think and research a bit more...

    Zone 5 - Laboratory focuses on precisely orientating the armed system.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015

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