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Mirama Dev Blog #5


Hello, each and all! It's time for another scheduled update on the progress of Mirama, the bullet-dodging adventure game I've been developing with a few friends!

Well, it was time. It appears I've missed my regularly scheduled dev blog window by an entire month?? Rest assured, I will not rest until I've found the individual responsible for this and brought them to justice.

In the meantime, I am pleased to say that progress in the last three months has been decent, all things considered! I even got friends on board for a first real round of player testing, which was a lot of fun -- and super insightful!

Before we get into the nitty gritty of this update, here's a little showcase video for the current state of the game, featuring the Costagona field theme by Saria Lemes (@pedipanol). Hope you enjoy!

On getting feedback

When we last left off, Costagona was already playable from start to finish. But that didn't mean that it was ready for the general public quite yet! Since then I've done a live round of tests with friends, watching them play over Discord. And let me say, it made me wish I'd have done so sooner!

Here's a sample, to give you an idea:

Two players got softlocked!

It's all too easy, past an initial round of playing around with a puzzle, to start getting through it with muscle memory during development. The softlock in question thankfully didn't require too big of a change to level design to fix, but it really showed the importance of looking at your level from fresh perspectives!

Saves needed to be overhauled

Until now, Mirama's been using simple saves that only remembered your current level, playtime, and respawn point. And this was totally sufficient for my needs.

But now that the game's been in the hands of more people, I quickly realized that persisting all relevant data should have been way higher on my priority list. Saving is not a feature that people want to be surprised by, turns out!

Saves now contain a bunch of different flags that can be restored on level load, from the state of some platforms to finished cutscenes. Since the save format is very malleable, if I ever need to remember a different kind of setting, that'll be very easy to do too!


Watching people play Mirama live changed how I'll approach dialogue. I've got a new general rule for anything that lasts longer than four text boxes: I'll try to either feature animation or split the conversation into smaller ones.

And that's despite players having positive comments about the writing in their feedback! When I watched the game streamed, it was pretty noticeable to me that enthusiasm for the dialogue faded pretty quickly past the first few textboxes, and that there was something to improve there.

Score one for watching people as they play and not just relying on their feedback after the fact!

On the whole, testers already seemed to enjoy this prototype, which I was quite happy to see! ^^

How 2 Play

I'd been meaning to add a tutorial to the game, even Mirama's controls are on the simpler side, so that people have a simple resource to come back to if they come back to a story mode save file after a while.

Nothing worse than the feeling of returning to a game you like after a few weeks and having no idea how anything works anymore, you know?

Introduction to the Mirama tutorial, where a big floating

It's a pretty lean affair, and I'm happy with how it came out! It's entirely optional, and chapter 1 includes tutorial prompts as well. That way, I hope that people who dislike mandatory tutorials will feel free to skip it and able to enjoy the game just fine!

A Title Screen Reborn

(Yes, I've been playing a bunch of Final Fantasy XIV lately, why do you ask?)

I'd been using the same title screen since late 2021, but it always felt like a placeholder to me. There were a few glaring issues with it:

- Every option was put on the same screen, which limited my freedom to add options and made it slightly more cumbersome to use
- Despite all this, the menu still felt empty, because the saves were massive
- It looked too dark for the theme I want Mirama to have, especially in the early game... Bad news for a first impression!

The old title screen, with the problems outlined above

But I am not an artist, so the title screen I really wanted to make eluded my grasp for a little bit. But that all changes with the art ocatg's been working on!

My thought process for this one was:

  • Options in the title screen should have understandable icons. The main reason for this is usability -- the player should know how to get to the settings menu to change the language option if they're not set up correctly!
  • The title screen should be split into pages with easily understandable goals. The goal is to have the freedom to add more options down the road without making the whole thing hard to navigate.

And this is what it's like now!

The new title screen, showing a simplified save selection menu, and a new landing menu for general seettings

There's now an in-game compendium for collected secrets!

That's it! That's the update!

Showcase of selecting levels in the Hub, and the compendium showing two collected secrets

It's pretty barebones for now, but it'll be a good spot for me to showcase character profiles and concept art after the game proper is finished.

That's all, folks!

I'd been meaning for the, uh, April dev blog to include progress on chapter 2... But there are still a few things that I want to get around to doing first!

  • Balance all bullet patterns based on the difficulty setting
  • Make music looping seamless, and fix a few other audio oddities
  • Fix bugs relating to cutscene skipping

The list is not that long, as you can see! I'm sure I'll have something new and exciting for everyone with the next update. Until then, if you want to give the current build a go, check it out here!

For now, that's all I got. Hope you all have a great day! I'll be on vacation myself for the next few weeks, and I'm planning to make the most of them to recharge the ol' internal battery.

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About TheBlondeBassone of us since 11:32 PM on 12.03.2015

Everything's going to be okay. Take a deep breath, you got this.