The Accessibility (and QOL) update!
Not too long ago I saw a post on Twitter about accessibility, and it reminded me that I hadn't really put any effort in to making Viral Reload accessible at all. Not just for the disabled, but also for the general public. Viral Reload didn't launch with a tutorial of any kind, a lot of the default button mappings were based on the standard settings in MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), and in general I got a lot of questions like "How do I start the game?", "How do I play?", "Why do the lasers keep insta-killing me?", etc. On top of that, I have the unique ability to watch the general public play and see people's genuine first reactions to my game, as I have a cabinet for it at the arcade I work at.
The average player, and it's worth noting that not everyone who plays it is even in my target demographic, but most people would walk up to the cabinet, press start, start playing, be confused on Wave 2, and then give up, never to touch the game again. Occasionally, the game would click with someone and they would come back to play it over and over again throughout the night, but this was the outlier. Which brings me to the first major and noticeable addition to this update: the How To Play screen. It's a simple, 20ish second tutorial screen that tells you how to play the game. I'm not breaking any new ground here, but it serves the exact purpose I need it to: to teach any player that walks up how to play the game. It's a tutorial, no ground-breaking stuff here but it really should have been included in the game at launch.
As far as actual, genuine Accessibility, I have made an effort to try and include players who have sight issues or who experience discomfort from holding or rapidly pressing buttons. The Accessibility menu replaces what used to be called the Gameplay menu, which was a mostly empty menu that held accessibility options anyway. The newly added Background Darkening feature allows you to do just that, darken the backgrounds everywhere between 0-100% in increments of 5%. Right now that won't have too much of an impact, as the only backgrounds are scrolling stars, however in the future I plan to add more intricate backgrounds and this should come more in handy then. The other major accessibility feature is the Fire Toggle, which allows you to press the fire button once to toggle firing on and off, rather than having to hold or tap the button. For those of you who suffer from pain when holding or repeatedly pressing buttons, this should help somewhat, reducing the number of buttons you need to semi-regularly press to just the Dash button, which should be pressed significantly less often anyway.
The gameplay has also had some adjustments made to it, specifically in the enemy department. I know every time I make an update I mention that I spent time balancing enemies, but in this case I really did spend a lot of time trying to balance and change up some enemies to try and provide a more fair but still challenging experience. The enemy to receive the biggest gameplay change is the "Orange laser enemy!" (Yes I have made a note to properly name the enemies, maybe that'll be in the next changelog), this enemy used to swing violently left to right, which led to a lot of unfair deaths as it would randomly pick a starting direction with Zero indication to the player as to which direction it had chosen. The enemy will now chase the player left and right with a fair amount of acceleration, forcing the player to dash through it's laser and effectively juke left and right as it slides out of control. In tests so far not only has it been waaay more fair of an enemy, it's also been a lot more fun (and tense!) to fight. Some enemies have also been synced to the beat of the music. A couple of enemies will now only fire on beat, as well as pulse to the beat. This provides more communication to the player about when the enemy is firing, and just felt kind of cool! For each enemy this took quite a lot of fine tuning to make the pulsing not feel violent or overly hectic, and I'm really happy with the result. I think I might try to sync more enemies to the music in the future, and I'm definitely going to be adding the pulse effect to more enemies (it's way easier than animating and still looks good, I'm not lazy but there's only one of me!).
There's been a variety of smaller changes as well, all of which you can read about in the changelog below. The last one I want to highlight is the backup save file. There's not too much to say about it, but there was an issue where sometimes your save file could become corrupted, and it would erase your Highscores and any options you had set. It wasn't the end of the world, but it's also not great, and if I end up including an unlockable's system like I plan too, that could be a serious issue. So there's now a backup save file, if your save becomes corrupted, it will read from the backup. This does mean you could lose one sessions worth of playtime, but it's much better than losing everything!
I hope you all enjoy the update, and if you're new I hope you enjoy the game!
Version 2.2.53 - Accessibility and QOL Update
- Added How To Play screen. Shows up before Character Select.
- Skippable with either start button after 1.5 seconds (Just long enough for the player to stop bashing the start button)
- Can be fully disabled through the Options menu under System for more advanced players
- May completely break with a frame rate drop, more testing is needed
- Added proper button prompts. Will eventually fully integrate this in to all screens that need them
- For now only on the How To Play screen
- Added "YOU GOT A HIGH SCORE" to the Game Over message.
- Hopefully this will keep players at the machine to input their name!
- Replaced Gameplay menu with Accessibility menu in the options.
- You can now darken the background
- You can now have the Fire button toggle firing on and off
- Screenshake Multiplayer and Show FPS are now found under this menu
- Changed Orange Laser enemy behavior. No longer swings violently, instead it will chase the player left and right
- Synced Shotgunner, Orange aim enemy, Blue ball enemy, and Ball Enemy to the beat of the music
- Need to name enemies properly!!!
- These enemies will now pulse to the beat/with shot
- Added backup save file to fix occasional error where save would corrupt if PC lost power
- I'm sure there's other things that could trigger this, but this was the issue I ran in to
- This is in preparation for a planned unlockable's system
- Added new Font, replaced some titles with the new font and incorporated it across the game.
- Added new Border and fixed a few glitches with screen scaling and Tate mode
- Press Start to skip Loading screen
- Modified loading screen. The old text that would scroll by has been enhanced
- Modified Intro, added "Long Stars" to emphasize speed
- Adjusted long stars to make them feel more substantial and faster
- Long stars added to QR code AD screen
- Added a Changelog. This is my first time writing a changelog! How exciting!
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