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Echolite - Update #17 - All Things Machines! - Part 3

Echolite - Update #17 - All Things Machines! - Part 3

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Sparkful Studios
·Aug 22, 2022·

4 min read

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It’s always a great day when a new Echolite devlog drops! To date, the most viewed devlogs on this blog are the 2-part updates for adding machinery to the game. This included an ore machine and hatch drill to harvest specific resource tiles within the first “ring.” In addition, a huge upgrade system was baked into these machines that allow the player to customize resource production as they progress.

With these larger hurdles already tackled, it’s an exciting time to finally introduce two new resource-harvesting machines! Given the extra time, I was able to put more effort into their animations, which was a challenging yet rewarding experience for my non-artistic self.

Let’s check them out!


Suction Pump

I always wanted to have some kind of “pump” machine in the game, as I really felt the motion could bring some life to the environment. My approach to the design was quite different from other machines though, as I started with the animation first.

via GIPHY

As shown above, I messed around with making a wireframe of the pump sequence. I envisioned a bellow-esque “squash,” kind of like an accordion. This would allow me to use identical plate sprites on top of one another for easier shaping later on.

The biggest challenge was making the actual squash. My initial version simply had horizontal lines moving up and down, one after another. While this collapsed and expanded appropriately, it didn’t really give a feeling of pressure by the time it was fully collapsed.

My solution was to move the corner sprites up a pixel initially, and then transition to a straight line a frame later. This provided a nice curve as seen in the wireframe.

To shape and color the final machine, I had to consider what resource tile this would match up with. The Suction Pump best suited this acid/sap tile in the second ring, so I opted for a more green/blue color palette.

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This did spawn an interesting design option - as the machine is dealing with a liquid-esque tile, why couldn’t it also work on larger bodies such as the water pools and tar lakes?

I took out the legs in the original design and made it more rounded so it appears to float on the tile. This officially makes the Suction Pump the first machine to operate on multiple resource tiles, which allows it to feel more valuable to the player. Here is the final design as it appears in-game:

via GIPHY


Robust Scraper

Sticking to the second ring, the other resource tile needing a machine is this interesting “dusty streaks” tile (unofficial name):

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This required some extended thinking, as the tile has a similar premise to the debris/coarse tile in the first tile. For that tile, we developed a hatch drill which was breaking up the sediments. My first thought was to have a “smashing” machine that would pound the tile. This could still work for a future machine, but when trying it out in this tile, it didn’t feel very satisfying. I still have an initial draft of that idea as shown below, which would have been a multi-tiled sized machine:

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I decided to change the central mechanism so that it still smashed down, but had teeth that would churn up the tile. It almost feels like a progression of the hatch drill while also feeling unique.

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The animation is where it really shined however! The basic idea was to move down, rotate, and back up. This is still present in the final design as seen here:

via GIPHY

Notice the beginning pause? Yeah, that was a mistake with the ordering and duplication of frames. I must admit it’s the best mistake I’ve ever made! As it turns out, I accidentally leaned into a common animation principle - I think it’s anticipation? As I’ve said, I’m not a professional artist, but that’s what makes this process even more exciting!


What’s Next?

New machines, wooooo! One thing that may have been on your mind though, is that we’ve seen resource gathering machines before. They are certainly a joy to create, but I’d like to push forward with machinery beyond collecting resources!

How do we push forward? With the help of conveyor belts AND mine carts! It might just be the next best thing after sliced bread (or fairly close at least).

Thank you as always for the support my fellow Sparks!

 
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