Nightcycle Studios May Development Update

Hello again! It’s CJ, here’s what we’ve been doing for the month of May relating to SHL as well as a second 2 week game I was allowed to make thanks to Supersocial, an on the rise studio dedicated to helping devs create compelling experiences on Roblox!

SHL4 Progress

There wasn’t anything too flashy to post this month unfortunately, but we hope to make up for it with some cool gifs and demos this month!

Refactoring and Organizing Code

  • UI Caching: One complaint about the release build of the editor was that panels felt slow when navigating between them. To overcome this we’ve decided to create all of the various elements when the player enters, making copies of the elements when needed rather than creating them from scratch whenever a player navigates to a new panel.
  • UI Components: We replaced the existing custom UI object functionality with the more traditional Roblox UI component functionality where basic GuiObjects are provided behaviors by instances placed under them. We’ve taken to making a pseudocomponent system that allows us to mimic this effect, hopefully allowing us to make flexible and easily reusable UI elements.
  • Touch Port: Within days after the release of the editor, we had a port to mobile functioning, something we hope we have working from day 1 of any future releases.
  • Physics improvements: The avatars in SHL4 use custom physics to allow us to do fun stuff with powers as well as use sphere shaped maps, but the most recent version of the physics was a bit unstable. We took the time to break it down, reorganize it, and make it more modular to allow us to more easily work with and improve it in the future. This should pay massive dividends when it comes to making super powers.

LP4 Avatar

Thanks to the recent unveiling of cage mesh deformer technology, we’ve decided that it allows for much more flexibility than the current system. Our plan for the LP4 (sequel to our old technology of LP3), is to add various functionalities:

  • Custom character styles: players will be able to set how their client renders avatars in-game, meaning that all players will look like the same art-style while maintaining their unique looks!
  • Layered asset placement: the LP4 will have a more modular style of character creation, allowing you to make almost any humanoid character to a varying degree.

For now though, the avatar is still under construction. We will certainly let you know on our twitter the second we have something to show!

Cloudside

In a small project funded by the awesome dev studio Supersocial, I was able to make a wave survival ship builder called Cloudside!

Premise

Can you make a successful game in 2 weeks?

Results

After two weeks we were able to get an average of 10-12 minute play duration, putting it alongside top 250-500 games. Unfortunately the retention rates weren’t able to be boosted enough to make it the smash hit we wanted.

Even though it may not allow me to retire early, I think it’s quite fun and allows users to make some cool custom ships. Hope you enjoy!

Reflection

You can make a fun game in 2 weeks, maybe even less time if you budget your time correctly. So why has SHL4 taken almost a year to not even have the basic core gameplay done?

Accelerating the Release of SHL4

I’ve been a complacent dev, spending all my time polishing mechanics that often get cut in the next update. Because of that while I’ve gotten much better at polishing and making my code easy to work with, I have lost sight of what the end-goal is: a game people can play.

Because of that, I’m down-scaling the game to its foundations. This means less polish, more progress. So, the question is - what are the foundations of SHL?

  • Fantasy: the core of SHL is about being in a world other than this one. It’s about creating a new life, exploring new places, meeting new people.
  • Action: in most modern entertainment products, “action” refers combat / destruction, and SHL4 will certainly have that, but it will also have more - action at the end of the day is simply what an actor does. SHL games need to promote player freedom to try things as they like, never limiting them to a single path and giving them numerous opportunities for excitement, whether that be in battles, quests, or just the joy of moving quickly through an environment with super powers or super vehicles.
  • Creativity: the people who love SHL the most, love it for how it allows them to express themselves. Emergent from player freedom, and the desire for fantasy, comes creativity. They want to bring their dreams to reality and SHL has been a way to make that possible.

So what does that mean in terms of the basic mechanics for SHL4?

  • Immersive Map: immersion in exploration, both for the depth of any part of the map, as well as in the vastness of it. Through map generation I hope to provide a basic sense of both, something I can continue to build upon long term.
  • Combat: at the end of the day, combat is social - you can’t do it alone, you need opponents, and often you benefit from a team. Voluntary Team and Solo combat must be in the base game.
  • Character Editor: For years, the SHL franchise has strived to allow you to make the coolest characters on Roblox, and SHL4 aims to recapture that title. The goal of the SHL4 editor is to through simplicity allow for quick character creation, as well as depth for those who want it.

And I want to do all of this by Early-July, with the full core loop playable by testers. From there I will keep polishing, hoping to release to paid access by the end of August.

I’m on the clock now, and that means that the core game could very well be done by the next monthly development update.

Wish me luck!
-CJ

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