Berry v2.0 Update - Steam Edition Released!

I don't know if anyone is going to see this, but I figured I might as well post a complete change-log for the Steam edition of Berry. Initially I had no plans to touch this project, but after winning first place in the Touch the Stars game jam, I felt it was only fair I go back and rework a lot of Berry's core features and level-design to reflect the feedback provided by everyone who played it! Thank you very much to everyone who played, especially those who took the time to give feedback and stream their gameplay.

What was originally just going to be a couple small updates ended up being a somewhat major overhaul of the intent and game-feel for Berry, therefore I've decided to refer to this update as the version 2.0 update. To retain Berry's history, the v1.0 (jam-submission version) game and its description/trailer will remain on Itch; and, of course, the new version will be exclusive to Steam.

With that said, here are the changes....

Major Changes

• More Levels
A little over 10 new maps were added to the game. These maps were spread throughout the game providing additional tutorials, challenges, and optional content to the world of Berry. The world of Berry was already pretty large, so it may not feel like a complete rework of the game, but hopefully it's enough to entice people who've already played the game once to give it a second go. A couple existing maps have also been reworked, so new surprises may be found where you least expect them.

• Upgraded Graphics
During the game jam I planned to replace all the tilesets in Berry with custom ones. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and never really created a set that I was satisfied with. With more time to develop the game, I initially wanted to create new tilesets... but the RTP ones grew on me, and no one really complained about it. After a while, they became a part of the game's identity and changing them created a game that felt very different from what the game jam judges had voted on. The issue was, a lot of the game's custom art was made with simple, flat colors to match with the simple, hypothetical tileset I had planned to make. Once I copped out of making custom tiles, I figured the least I could do was upgrade the character graphics to fit with the RTP tiles. So that's what I did! Now all of the character and custom environmental graphics are a bit more detailed. They've been given gradients and shading to improve their look. Hope you enjoy!

• Particles
Another graphical improvement I was unable to complete during the game jam development period was particles! While custom particles were used with the fireballs and death animation, I never got around to making a coherent, reusable particle system. With this update, lots of interactable elements have receive particles to highlight their animations! The main examples being the spear walls and checkpoints. However, the player received the best particle update, as they now leave a trail of walking particles procedurally colored based on the ground they're walking on. There are also new jump and falling particles that both provide very satisfying and responsive effects!

• NOMI Collectables
As a 3D platformer with a flat perspective, Berry players sometimes had difficulties finding the right place to make jumps from. At first, I wanted to add more NPCs to help direct the player, but decided it felt too direct. Instead, NOMI were added. NOMI is the currency in the world of Berry, and there's tons of it spread throughout the levels. Similar to a lot of collectathons, the NOMI are also placed to help direct the player to the correct place. Collect tons and use it to make purchases in shops!

• Shops, Items, and Inventory
There are now shops spread throughout the world (one for each of the four areas). With the exception of shields, each shop sells 3 to 5 unique items or services, totaling to about 15+ things you can spend your cash on within the game. These range from one-time use items, key-items that can be used infinitely, offensive items, defensive items, status-changing items, and even cosmetic items. Spend your NOMI carefully! Items can be used with the new inventory opened using the E key or the "top" button on controllers (Y on Xbox, Triangle on PS, etc.)

• Shields! (HP System)
Probably the most requested feature to be added to Berry was a HP system. Being defeated and having to restart certain bosses after being hit just once was a bummer for a lot of players. As a response to this problem, shields have been added to the game. Once applied to the player, a shield will stop the player from dying once and provide temporary invincibility afterward. However, shields only last for a single map and are removed once the map is changed. This may appear very different from the desired solution of a permanent, zelda-like health system, but it's the best system that fits Berry's game design.

Berry is heavily inspired by Celeste, a one-hit kill platformer that contains tons of small, segmented platforming challenges. Since Berry's short challenges are built around the player dying instantly, providing a permanent HP system would ruin the challenge of the game (or make things super tedious since players trying to stay at full HP would have to restart the game frequently if they lost HP at a part they wanted to retry). The solution was to provide shields in select locations throughout the game (during difficult sections or right before boss fights) to allow for temporary health-systems when needed.

Portable shields can also be purchased at every shop. These shields are not applied until the player uses them; this allows for players to pick and choose when the best time to have an extra hit of defense would be. Since there are no limits to how many shields can be applied, you could easily provide yourself with anywhere between 2 to 5 extra hits during the second or third bosses; alternatively, you can spend your NOMI on other options and face challenges head on! This new system not only helps balance the game during certain sections, but allows players to make the game even easier if necessary.

• Options and Controls
Berry now has a fully featured options menu. Each volume section can be modified individually. Visual accessibility options for controlling contrast and brightness have been added. And there are various other options for controlling rendering, controller vibration, and particle effects. The pause menu now also provide a controls reference for keyboard/mouse and controller. There were a couple players that found trouble remembering the controls, so hopefully this prevents issues like that from arising again.

• Flies Power-Up the Player!
Originally, collecting flies was an optional task meant to entertain those that wanted a bit more of a challenge. They were a nice way to provide a numeric value to the player's exploration and re-use level content that otherwise would've been cut for being too difficult. With a bit more development time, flies have now been given two purposes. The first of which is powering up the player's stats! The more flies you collect, the greater the player's stats become. Specifically, these stats are: NOMI collection distance (the distance NOMI will be before it begins to move towards the player), "Attach Web" count (the number of simultaneous connections to projectiles the player can make with their web), and "Grapple Dash" distance (the maximum distance the player's wall grapple can travel before disappearing). Powering up these abilities enough will allow the player to skip or easily blast through latter parts of the game; on the other hand, refusing to increase your stats may lead to a much more difficult, yet interesting experience. 

• Multiple New Endings!
Berry was released incomplete. While Berry can reach the top of the mountain, and there is a nice credit sequence/final graphic of the player "reaching the stars", the ending never really addressed the specific narrative elements established throughout the adventure. This was primarily due to time restraints and gameplay being a bigger focus with this project. With a bit more development time, Berry has been given multiple, conclusive endings. While multiple endings may not be the most... original concept in this game jam (both Buffet Knight and Forest Star do an amazing job with integrating their mutli-ending features), Berry's optional "fly" collectables were always intended to influence the ending. Now they do, providing 5 different endings based on the number collected before reaching the peak (0 => pacifist ending, 1-7 => snow-day ending, 8-14 => vanilla ending, 15-19 => lore-drop ending, 20 => true? ending). Now that the number of flies affect how powerful the player becomes, and certain dialog/gameplay is affected by the number of flies the player has obtained, Berry has more replay-ability value. I don't expect players to come anywhere close to getting every ending, but playing the game twice (trying to collect as many flies as possible / trying to collect as few flies as possible) should provide the majority of what the game has to offer. Give it a try!

• Improved and Polished Skips
Berry has a couple skips that allow for alternative methods for completing bosses and rooms. The most popular one was the ability to leave the first boss after gaining the ability to jump. However, there are other ones, like being able to skip all spear-walls using the grapple-dash gained from the third boss or being able to easily bypass previous puzzles using new abilities. There are now additional checks that let NPCs respond to your shenanigans and prevent you from being cut-off from the rest of the game after certain skips. Speed-runs are more epic than ever!

• Steam Achievements
The Steam version of Berry will have Steam achievements! Special thanks to the Degica publisher representative who helped make this possible. There's not much to say besides this... but uhh... if you liked Berry, try and get all the achievements! If you manage to do so, DM me. You'd seem like a pretty chill person to hang out with. And I'll add you to the credits of my next game as an influential motivator for my game development. 😭👍

Minor Changes

• Added more voice sound effects. Now NPCs will have more variety with their sound effects for when they talk. 
• Added random variation to the rocks and other decor by randomly changing their scale and tone.
• Decreased fly difficulty in room where you chain together a fireball with 3 grapple devices by adding two extra "trigger bugs" which also open the gate to the fly.
• Changed the beetles in the transition map between area one and two to explain the stat-boosting capabilities of consuming flies (as opposed to saying they're optional).
• Added feature to allow dialog NPCs to "float". Used for early-game bee NPC.
• One shield added to second boss arena; two shields added to third boss arena.
• Added better NPC dialog when dragging cake.
• Made firespitters and ice-makers respond to being hit with their own elemental projectile by jumping a little.
• Fixed 2D sound effects to be based on the camera's position rather than the player's position.
• Fixed player transition animation after entering new map to match with the direction they are looking.
• Fixed layering issues with the "web-device" causing projectiles to appear below the device even when in front of it.
• Fixed layering issues with the player's shadow appearing below the moving platform they're standing on.
• Added additional checkpoints to the "pick-your-poison" map in the grassy (first) area to help communicate to the player exactly where they can expect to respawn. Removed the respawn override functionality of the keys.
• Added an obvious path to get on to the vibe plate using NOMI in the eighth map in the dead (third) area.
• Fixed spear-walls to remain down in the second and fourth maps in the ice (fourth) area.
• Removed the pillar in the second boss arena to reduce player confusion.
• The stick-bug in the ice (fourth) area now triggers their dialog immediately once the key is picked up so it isn't skipped over like it was with most players.
• Had the camera pan up in the eight map in the ice (fourth) area to help see ice projectiles better.
• Fixed the player becoming invisible when climbing up the tall wall in the tenth map in the ice (fourth) area. Entity alpha was based on their z position to help them fade in with spawn, so when the player reached a certain height they became invisible. This behavior was fixed.


I don't expect anyone to actually read to the bottom of this post. If you did, good shit! You're awesome, leave a comment! <3

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