This short post will cover some thoughts and ideas I’ve had after a second round of playtesting. For reference, this round of playtesting used the most recent version of Aetherus – a version I haven’t yet shown, with textured structures and terrain, and a modified first-person controller.

Feedback and Adjustments

I ran this playtest with the intention to gather feedback over the visual look and feel of the game. In contrast to previous concept updates, the textures I used were rather detailed – it gave the game a more realistic feel than I initially wanted, and the individual who playtested the game suggested visual modifications that would fit such a realistic style. These suggestions included:

I realized that the visual style I had actually proceeded with was much more realistic than stylized, even though I had used mostly stylized textures. A big reason for this was the tiling – to make the textures look consistent across the myriad of structures I wanted to use them for, I needed to duplicate the textures and adjust the tiling of each one based on what they were used for. The problem was, I had set the tiling too small – a high number of tiles on each surface made my structures too detailed. Working on the texturing again afterwards, I decided to bite the bullet and dedicate a few hours to adjusting the textures on each structure prefab – creating new versions of existing textures for different sides and surfaces, and adjusting the tiling and offset of each to make them fit. The result? Much more consistent texturing across the board (or map).

My next step will be to adjust the tiling of some of my larger structures, such as the bridges, and then add textures and paint materials for those assets that are still in whitebox form (the Stabilizer, most of the unique non-tower structures, and the upper level of terrain). Once this is done, I’ll need to add an invisible border around the map so the player can’t move past the bridges, and another around the Aureum crystal so the player can’t fall into the pit below. I also want to add volumetric clouds right below the island for some flavor, and to really sell the idea that this place is located somewhere at great heights.

An overview of the island of Ionar.

Still a Long Way to Go

Aetherus is still only in the early development phase. Even after I’ve gotten through everything I listed above, I’ll still need to adjust the texturing of the terrain across the map and add variety to the materials. I’ll then be able to move on to the scripting phase, where I’ll be working on the code needed for the game to work. AI is at the forefront of this phase, followed by attacking and other player mechanics, player health and Aureum stability, the Auria re-powering system, the wave system, and finally the game’s menus. This will comprise the core of the game’s code, and with this alone the player should be able to experience the demo level entirely in a playable form. Two weeks is my goal for this milestone. Look forward to it!

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