Published: June 25, 2023
I'm continuing my break from working on world 6 levels for now. I've sent out the current build to some internal beta testers to get some feedback on the difficulty scaling and reception to the newer mechanics, so I want to give myself a chance to let that feedback come in and stew on it for a bit before I continue on with the last 4 levels of the game.
In the meantime, I've been trying to tackle some improvements and fixes that have been laying around in my backlog for a while...
This one has been desired (and requested) a long while ago, but I kept on putting it off because I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to handle it.
I already had control rebindings working just fine for keyboard controls, which have a single key assigned to each action:
The problem with gamepad bindings is that by default the gamepad controls have many different bindings: to jump you can use the d-pad, the left analog stick, the south or east face buttons, or even the left shoulder button.
I was sort of at a loss for how to deal with this, both in terms of the UI (how to show the combined default bindings?) and in terms of implementation (how to override the entire set of bindings at once?).
Like many other tricky problems I've run across in Rhythm Quest, letting it sit in the back of my head for a while allowed me to come up with a different approach:
Gamepad and keyboard bindings now each have their own standalone submenu (not available on platforms where they don't apply). More importantly, there's an individual setting that toggles between a "default binds" set and a "custom binds" set. The default binding set features multiple binds, whereas the custom binding set only has two (that can be overriden by the user). This elegantly (?) solves the issue I mentioned above.
This also lets me illustrate the controls in a hand-drawn diagram, something that's probably easier to parse than "Jump: DPad, Left Stick, Left Shoulder, A, B, ..."
Using the same system, I'm even able to detect whether a (supported) gamepad is plugged in at all, and dynamically update the screen accordingly:
I adopted the same tech for the keyboard bindings screen as well (had a bit of fun trying to draw a keyboard layout):
You'll notice that I decided to also expand the default bindings to just encompass the entire left/right half of the main keyboard keys. Unity does a reasonably good job (?) of detecting keys based on physical location, so this should work even if you use a nonstandard key layout like I do. I'm not sure what will happen for non-ANSI physical layouts, but I'm assuming the custom binding system will suffice for any odd edge cases.
For now I'm providing two custom binding slots for each action (an improvement over before where you could only use one key), in case you want to alternate keys for faster sections.
As usual, there's a ton of silly little details that need to be handled with input rebindings, and as usual, Unity provides just enough functionality to be helpful, but also forces you to work with a ton of abstractions like "InputControlPaths", "InputActions", and "ControlSchemes" that end up making your head spin when you think about them too much. You need to, for example, make sure that a rebinding can be cancelled via either Gamepad OR Keyboard input (the input system by default only allows you to define a single cancellation binding...)...
This is a really silly one, the kind of thing that you'd never imagine would be an issue, but somehow it is. Rendering the game to a width or height that's an odd number (e.g. 1013x533) causes weird visual artifacts:
This is caused by camera scaling and such -- here, the resolution is 501x301 and the game has decided to render the pixels at 2x, which means the base resolution is 250.50x150.50, which doesn't work out too nicely.
I tried to address this before by automatically resizing the game window and forcing it to be a multiple of two, but that didn't work too well. My new solution is to handle the rendering properly by shifting the camera by a similar fractional amount, so here we simply shift the camera over by a half pixel and fortunately that works to fix things.
Suggested by one of my playtesters -- the "Too Early / Too Late" text for holds is now more specific in calling out "Released Early / Released Late". A super easy fix that hopefully helps clarity a tiny bit:
I'm glad I got around to some of these improvements and fixes (which should be coming to the demo soon), but I feel like I've only just scratched the surface of the work that needs to be done. Even for the gamepad rebinding system, I still need to test how it works on Switch / for other types of gamepads, and could even stand to draw different graphics (especially for the Switch joycons). There's also some tweaks that I'm going to be trying to look at after seeing how playtesters fared with the current build...
The year is about halfway over and unfortunately my progress hasn't been super great -- I've only managed to finish off 6 levels in that time, plus some optimization work/etc. Of course, I had some real life stuff happen that drew my attention away, but that's also sort of true in the upcoming months as I help mentor for a video game tournament. That "end of 2023" date is starting to feel really scary when I think about it...