We're still hard at work on the next instalment of Lunar Panda but I thought I'd take a bit of time out from testing Mr Panda's ability to collide with space debris and update you on our latest shenanigans.
Dean "Carmack" Edis has just worked out a way of injecting lightning into the levels using his immense brain power, check out the screenshot! So now along with various other obstacles Mr Panda will have to contend with lightening forcefields. I'd almost feel sorry for the fuzzy little space hero if he wasn't such a thrill seeker.
Since Dean was good enough to provide us some insight into his latest coding endeavours on the new Panda chat screen, I thought I'd make some effort and talk about the new music I've composed for Mr Panda to chat to. If you've played the Raspberry Pi version of Lunar Panda then you'll have already heard the existing soundtrack, but I have a slight confession to make. I play in a band and spend a lot of my free time composing and musically "doodling" and so I've got hours and hours of music on my computer that I was able to cypher through in order to find a few loop-able segments for the title screen and landing sequences.
When it came to the new chat screen though none my existing material really seemed to gel and so I was forced to put Visual Studio to one side (much to Dean's relief) and open up Reason, which is the app I generally use for all my midi and synth stuff. I was going for a "It's 1991. I've just got my new Sound Blaster 16 and a copy of Space Quest 4! Let's see what this bad boy can do!" vibe.
One such feature which is now nearing completion involves Mr Panda 'chatting' about the planet he's about to attempt to land on. This is a deliberate nod to many 'retro' arcade games which use similar techniques to describe the game story, and is also useful for explaining some of the goals of the gameplay.
In our implementation Mr Panda will open and close his mouth, and occasionally blink, as he relays his story. It was a simple but rewarding coding exercise to make his mouth move in combination with the words being displayed, and to make him blink at believable intervals. It would have been easy to just make his movements random, but where's the fun in that, eh? His mouth movement coincides with the distribution of vowels in the text strings, and blinks are based on punctuation - Mimicking something which people unconsciously do too.
Watch this space for more news! And in the meantime enjoy this clip of Mr Panda in action. (Note: The artwork is temporary!)