I started out the week by crafting this little NPC interaction prototype:

The NPC interaction is all done in Kismet.  A trigger starts the animations on the skeletal mesh in Matinee, and simultaneously renders the text to the HUD.  Setting Activate Delays helps disable the trigger until the animation completes, and the text goes away.  The "..." that indicates the NPC is ready to talk is a simple texture I made in GIMP and applied to a script cleverly called "Helios_DotDotDotSprite," and is pretty much identical to the sprites I made in my visual style test.

Next, I put together the website!  This was a ton of fun.  Using Weebly, our videos, and images created by the team and found on Google, I snapped the official Team Helios Dev Blog site together, and I'm pretty happy with the result.  It's still coming together, but aside from persistent content like trailers, blogs, and builds of the game, I'd call it about 85% done.

My third task this week was designing Level 2 of our game.  This was a bit of a process.

First, I doodled out the levels on a sketchpad and took pictures of them with my iPhone.  We designed each of our ten levels in three short chunks, which serve as both places at which to stream levels and to provide the player a checkpoint. 

Here's my early mock of 2-A, for your viewing pleasure.
I decided I was pretty pleased with this for about 8 hours, then decided I absolutely hated it, and needed to take another go.  I noticed my own reluctance to engage the Nature World (see how it's just a little sub-drawing at the top?) and decided that had to change.  I assembled Version 2 using Google Docs' Presentation format, breaking the level up by "puzzles" or "rooms" and going into a lot more detail as I went.

Here's an example from the first "room" of Level 2-B:
This is further evidence of my preference for Microsoft PowerPoint as image-editting software.  The modularity and layering of the images is really helpful for finagling little bits and pieces to help get the message across.

The team looked this over and preferred this format and this version of the level.  Much of the design was redone for version 2, which includes a cool ending minigame that almost subs for a boss battle, NPCs with dialogue, and a much better series of challenges than the original version.

I also discovered my ideal work environment: I sat down at my desk with a glass of Sangria and "Nobuo Uematsu Radio" playing on Pandora, and cranked out that whole level design.  Rock on!

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