u20: Axis Descending

Demo Summary
Update 20 is here for Axis Descending! This update is intended to address a variety of concerns with performance, clarity and polish. My recent user observation project lead me to understand key areas of the game that weren't well understood. To this end it is a revised demo experience that focuses on the initial airship level, introduces a tutorial sequence prior to it, and enables a few special abilities right from the get-go. This update and further level revisions will provided for an upcoming User Testing project that will extensively break down the demo's successes, failures and needs to iterate and improve upon the current design.

Players embark on a quest to save their allies, learn about the game world, and exercise the knowledge they acquire about the game's mechanics through a series of challenges. Guided by a subtle narrative, this should demonstrate an understanding of the world, its characters and the game's core mechanics. The following goals should be met and will be tested during the User Testing session:

- Players know how to use Potions
- Players effectively use the Guard/Dodge to avoid attacks
- Players complete the Demo by defeating the Andras boss encounter
- Players experiment with the game's Wardrobe Mechanic
- Players should report framerate drops, stutter or other performance issues

Performance Updates
Axis runs fairly smoothly, especially when it is played while not maximized, but a number of tweaks were made to reduce stutter and framerate drops during full screen play. The following changes were made to see this through:

- The graphics creating the floor, wall and ceiling tiles have been shifted from vector symbols to bitmaps, resolving scaling issues where tiles would have gaps, improving framerate throughout the game and simplifying some of the level design process on my end
- Adjust some lighting, tweening and  on the title screen to improve performance
- Adjusted some tweens throughout the intro to improve performance

Mechanic Updates
As per some of my recent posts, a number of things have been cut and added. u20 features the following changes:

- Added a tutorial area where Huey breaks down gameplay mechanics for you!
- The "Rocket Boost" is now similar to the Super Jump in appearance and can be charged for increased speed and length
- Return is now available for testers right away, allowing you to teleport back to the player ship by holding R
- Axis now regenerates Mana over time

Visual Updates
Always needed, always time-consuming. I went through a few art passes on certain animations, tightening up responsiveness and easing up on some erratic or lengthy pacing. The changes are:

- Screen fade has been replaced with a vertical swipe fade (emphasizes the whole "descending" thing)
- Updated Axis' idle animation when wielding a sword
- Updated fx for running, jumping, landing
- The lightning slash attack has additional non-slash animations now that still have the same length and timing but offer some variation to showcase Axis' control over lightning
- Axis' dramatic landing animation when touching down on the Vile has been reduced
- Axis' landing animation forces your weapon to be stowed
- All cutscenes are skippable with R and will properly fade to black before moving forward
- Content outside of the camera is now masked out
- Enemy soldiers now telegraph their attacks more adequately
- Enemy soldiers no longer fade upon death
- Removed some excess pixels from armor (goodbye white floaties I'll miss you)
- Lengthened the Unarmed Jump midair loop animation
- Sliding to a stop no longer creates run particles

Misc Updates + Bug Fixes
- Down Magic Attack can no longer be held and simply initiates a one swing attack
- Forward Magic Attack can no longer be infinitely looped if you hold down A or S
- Removed extraneous information from animation regarding the removed Dual, Polearm and Bow weapon types
- You can no longer Forward Magic Attack into clingable walls!
- The dual wielding Rogue enemy can no longer be parried
- Andras no longer requires his shield to be revealed
- Andras' defense has been increased to compensate for his lack of invulnerability
- Entering the Rinpoche deck no longer locks you in place
- You can no longer jump off the Rinpoche deck to enter the Severn Outskirts
- Fixed an error when skipping the "Reveal" cutscene in Nexus Isles
- The Crest, Nexus and Severn itself have been blocked off until they are given the new bitmap treatment
- Narrowed the activation range of the wardrobe

Please report bugs via the BUG REPORTING SYSTEM!