Progress in the past 4-ish months
In the last post I'd managed to settle on the energy mechanic as a core part of my game and since then I've not really refined it much more but I've made other parts of the game much more polished. Platforming feels close to ready for the final game, there's a death screen effect, I've got the workings of a main menu and I've made a bunch of shaders and models for the game now.
I have a new test level I've been building things in and I've mostly be focused on patching up the platforming mechanics and physics bugs. The player has a stamina bar used to perform certain actions like wall-climbing and gliding through the air, I've also fixed an issue where jumps were randomly being consumed and I've made jumping more forgiving by adding a grace period after you leave a platform.
The charge mechanic I put in the game really early on would let you fling yourself in the direction of your velocity. It never really felt quite right to me, so I got rid of it and replaced it with a gliding mechanics. This allows you to consume stamina to glide horizontally quickly and over a large distance. I've also replaced the old gravity grapple mechanic with a general grapple ability that also consumes stamina, it's great for climbing buildings and is a big improvement over relying on wall jumping to gradually climb the surface.
The language is still at the concept level but I have a UI and a basic WIP font for displaying alien characters on the screen. At the moment the only thing that listens to what you say is Puppy, who will abandon efforts to collect energy and returns to you if you say 'Come'.
I've been coming up with puzzles and life forms that will play into the language system. I'm not just going to constrain communication to words, I've got ideas for movement and rhythm-based communication which should be fun to implement.
I've also locked myself into the idea there's going to be no human language in the game. The player is a robot and will effectively play the tutorial like a machine learning algorithm being taught. Language will be as much a puzzle as a tool for the player to communicate. I think it might end up being annoying in some cases, but I really want to frame it as a puzzle and if you work out the language you can leverage it but if not then you can always find another way to get around your obstacle