Posted on February 06, 2017 at 08:18
It's been a rough week at la casa de my apartment. Things are starting to look a little bit better, but for about three days last week, I hardly slept at all.
Some people might scoff at that and say thats their norm, but I generally take sleep seriously. I tend to go to bed early (9:30 even, some nights) and wake up around 7. I really love sleep, and love to feel refreshed in the morning, and ready to tackle the day. Yet, for some reason last week, I just outright could not sleep for three days.
After the second night, I had to take a day from work because I was simply too disoriented. Even then, I still couldn't sleep. I went for a nearly two hour walk on a trail in a nearby park in an attempt to further tire myself out, but couldn't sleep that night still.
Third sleepless night came, and I decided I should really try to go into work, which was a huge mistake. I ended up having to leave around noon, but not before making a fool of myself in some meetings by being only half conscious of what I was even saying.
On the way home from that, I swung by a pharmacy and got a sleep aid. Was finally able to rest that night.
I'm hoping I don't end up having to rely on a sleep aid, especially given that this was never really an issue for me until it abruptly began last week.
No real moral here. I just wanted to type all of this out. One of the problems I'm noticing is that I'm laying in bed, telling myself I should be able to sleep, then staying awake because I'm concentrated on falling sleep. Hoping that brain dumping this gets it out of my head. Who knows.
I'd like to post another entry soon about game progress. I'm coming up on 9 months of dev time on it, and while the breadth of the content may still be kinda low, the depth of the gameplay remains high, which has been my goal. There is a lot of ways to go about playing, and the systems I have in place should allow for pretty rapid content expansion once I'm ready to fully commit to content.
Will post more on that later. I'd also like to post some tech overviews about how I'm approaching the development. Might post it here or on the game's site, which isn't up yet. Depends on getting that site launched.
Posted on January 03, 2017 at 09:20
Still on the upswing from the Pneumonia. It seems like this will be a bit of a long process. I don't feel comfortable going out into the world again yet. Tried going to the store yesterday and it took a lot out of me still. Instead, I'm working from home as much as I can. I'm pretty tired of feeling like I'm not doing much.
To fight that feeling over the past few days, I've tried to work on my game as much as I could. I find that I get a bit dizzy after a while at the computer, so I have to work in chunks, but I've managed to get a decent amount of progress. I have a few screenshots to share, some new, some of older stuff, but hopefully all exciting...
...except the first one. I think I'm the only one who will be excited by this.
The UI of the game has always felt like it doesn't belong. A lot of floating text. I randomly tried adding a bit of a backing shadow (drop shadow if you will) to the floating text of the UI, and things suddenly just *felt* so much better. While the UI will have some serious iteration to come, I think this is a step towards feeling better about the whole look and feel of the game.
This is the "overview" screen. Think of it as a scoreboard in an online game. It's only up while you hold a hotkey, and shows your current progress, as well as some info about the area you're in. It's nothing major, but it's a nice way to see where you're at.
This is rev 1.1 of the actual spell selection screen. What you're seeing is all of the icons for Psychic spells (as of right now). The background has a neat, dynamic transparency cloud going on, giving a feeling that the background is just a smoke. Squares are active spells, circles are passives. Grayed out spells are locked until a given level.
The player starts with 4 active slots and 1 passive slot. Passive slots will unlock from major missions, which will add to the power of the player. I currently plan to have them as quest rewards for not-main-questline-quests to encourage the player to explore to become more powerful, rather than take the path of least resistance.
Finally, a preview of a town I just started building last night. A tiny, tiny preview. As you enter the town, the dirt road you've been travelling becomes cobblestone (wip texture), and you're greeted with a sign announcing the town's name, as well as a little desire path directing you to the nearest inn.
The trees in this town are also much more varied in color, as the town is slightly further north.
This town, as with most in this game, can also be found in the Elicti games. This game's world can be considered a future / AU of Elicti. For those who played the game, if you can recall (I barely can), it was the town with the bullet hell minigame in it!
I tweeted the other day saying that I'm noticing it's hard to stop playing when testing the game. Through a few overhaul tweaks to the gameplay over the past couple of weeks, I feel that it has become much more enjoyable to play. My goal is to tune the gameplay to a refined edge, in the hopes that it just becomes a joy to play, even when fighting the simplest enemy.
Hope all is well in your new year. I'm hoping to have some
kind of release this year, even just beta.
Pneumonia & Screenshots
Posted on December 31, 2016 at 15:39
Last Friday, the 23rd, I got into bed after feeling fine all day, and suddenly started violently shivering. Like, really violently. I almost called out to my fiancee for help, but it subsided after a bit. It was kinda spooky, but I chalked it up to just being cold outside.
Well, I started feeling pretty dang bad over the next few days. Christmas was a bit of a blur, I mostly slept in the guest bed at my parents' house, and what time I did spend with my family, I was horizontal on the couch, and barely eating.
I really figured it was just a bad cold, so my dumb ass was protesting, saying I'd be fine. Well, Tuesday rolled around and I thought I was feeling better. Then around 3, I felt like I got hit with a sickness train. Fiancee took me to the urgent care center, where they took a chest x-ray, and oh shit, I have pneumonia.
I do not recommend getting this shit, y'all. Apparently there's actually a pneumonia vaccine. Go get it.
I've spent all week not really being able to breathe. Its made me dizzy, weak and have no appetite. Not the best way to see out the year.
Anyway, I got the medication I need, and I've been on a slow upswing, but a definite one. I'm feeling a lot better (which is to say, I can breathe a bit now). I've managed to get a bit of dev work done on my game, even. So, here's a few more screenshots. This actually doesn't contain anything too new, but here they are anyway.
One of the more densely forested places right now. A trail that runs north/south between two towns. Well, it will run between two towns when I have more than the one town I have built out.
A few pink trees and a campfire. I really like the effect I have for fires, with a subtle glow and some smoke coming off of them. It looks wonderful when the game is running, with a bit of a flicker.
I want to do a lot with colorful trees. These pink trees as-currently-planned will generally designate safe areas in the wild.
One of the dark spells, "Hunger" - releases spirits that seek out any soul to latch on to. If the spirits don't find a soul to eat, they return to eat your own, dealing some damage. The Dark school of magic has this theme throughout, where if spells are misused, they hurt you. A little blood magic to keep things interesting.
To make up for the dark magic hurting you, the first dark passive spell you get is called "Soul Feast", and heals you up to half health when you get Dark school experience, dropped when killing a target with dark magic. As long as you're killing, you're alive.
I'd love to post more screenshots as I have stuff worth sharing. Maybe some gameplay videos or something too. I need to get going with content additions, I've been spinning for a while on what I do have built out, tuning it quit a lot. I need to pull back and just build out locations, spells, NPCs and enemies. I have been a bit, but not at the rate I need to if I want to reach the scale I'm looking at.
Looking forward to a New Year full of good development, game or otherwise. I hope everyone finds 2017 to be a successful year.
Stay warm. Stay healthy. Tell your loved ones you love them. If I could, I'd hug you all and invite you all over for a NYE celebration.
Maybe next year.
Posted on December 19, 2016 at 08:35
Well its been pretty dang real for the past month or so. Stuff at my work has been kinda hectic, I got engaged, and now the holidays are coming up.
Post-engagement was fun. My fiancee's mother came to town for Thanksgiving and we all went ring shopping. Was a bit out-of-order, given that I proposed without a ring and all, but it worked out, and now she's got a ring she herself loved without me having to guess what she'd like, which would have been damn near impossible, because she said she knew nothing about rings.
Now that I've got a few minutes, I want to drop a couple of tidbits about what I've been doing recently.
If you follow me on twitter
, first of all I'm so sorry, but second, you might have seen me tweeting about a tabletop game I'm working on.
I was toying around with an idea about a bit of a role-reversal game. I got the idea in my head that I wanted to make a game where you play as an NPC, trying to get the hero to do your quests. Ultimately, I realized it'd work well in a tabletop format, and began to do some rulecrafting.
I've got something now that is pretty exciting. I made a paper prototype and took it into my office's happy hour, where a group of coworkers joined me in playtesting it. We had a good time, even though it was horribly imbalanced, and we came up with a bunch of ways that it could be improved and balanced.
One of my friends at work tweeted about it even
I think for rev 1, once I get past the prototyping and balancing stage, I will be making this a web based game. It's something I can make pretty quickly, and I wouldn't need to coordinate with a fabrication company or a publisher. If it gets any kind of attention, I'd definitely look towards getting it published, but I think at least a prototype part 2 as a web client would be good.
Another thing I've been helping out with is my fiancee's blog. I retweet it a lot, so sorry about that, but she's been (and me sometimes) blogging about simple living and financial independence. It's been eye opening to turn my life 180 about how I treat things and money. Right now I'm saving as much as I can per paycheck in an attempt to get a sizeable down payment for a house, alongside bigger sums to support a dream of early retirement. My dream remains to find a tranquil place with some land where I can work for myself, hopefully making games of some kind.
If you want to read stuff like that, see her blog
That's all for now. Gonna do some more work on my main game project and think about new years resolutions that I'll be breaking.
You Can't Have Me
Posted on November 20, 2016 at 20:03
I'm sorry you all, but as of yesterday, I'm spoken for.
After a relatively long day of helping out at my parents' house with some chores while my father is recovering from surgery, I came home to my girlfriend, and on an impulse, proposed to her. My dad had asked me something that resonated for a while: "can you imagine life without her?" I answered with "yeah, it'd suck." So, that was all I needed, I guess.
I haven't gotten a ring yet, we're going to go looking for one for her later this week. Wanted to go today, but turns out pretty much every jewelry store is closed on Sundays, so we opted to just go out and run some errands, and stop by my favorite local coffee shop for some brunch.
Here's where something really adorable happens. This coffee shop is owned by two sisters, the nicest two people I've ever met. I've been going to this shop regularly for mid-day coffee (near my office) for years, and they've always been so happy and welcoming when me coworkers and I walk in. This morning, I walked in with my (now) fiancee, and told them the news. They were super congratulatory. They took our order and we sat down.
I saw one of the sisters run out of the store for a bit and come back with a bag. Around the same time, we got our food and coffee.
Right as we were finishing up our meal, the two come over to our table and plop down a signed congratulations card. The woman had run out to the store, found a card for us, and come back. They signed it with some kind words, and gave it to us. I cannot think of anyone else so thoughtful as to do that during active shop hours, just because some randos told them they got engaged.
Anyway, just some happy life update stuff. I don't have much else to write about just this second.
GameMaker Studio 2
Posted on November 02, 2016 at 11:28
Game Screenshots & Info
Posted on October 05, 2016 at 09:39
As I mentioned before, I wanted to drop more screenshots and game information here before anywhere else. I value what you all have to say about projects, and I feel that this place is largely the reason I'm even into game development, so I want to keep in in the family, so to speak.
So, here's some screenshots showing off more of the project I've been working on, along with some info about what you're seeing. Keep in mind, these are pre-alpha, so you're gonna see a lot of unfinished stuff and repeating assets. I've been mainly focusing on systems and game design, though I'm finally tipping over the edge into actual content development.
The game is a top-down open world RPG focused on real-time combat and exploration. The primary inspirations for this game are Diablo, Dota and to some degree, Hotline Miami. Though, nowhere near the pace of Hotline.
Above you see the player hovering over an NPC as she fishes. That NPC runs a shop in the first town where she sells fish. I've been putting a lot of focus into making things feel alive to some degree, so NPCs go about their daily business with or without you. She heads to the river during the day, and to home at night. Her stock refills over time, giving you a chance to get more of that sweet sweet fish for a nice health boost.
The dots in the river animate to show the flow of water. Water flow is taken into account in multiple ways, one of which can be seen if an item falls into a river. The item will flow down the river, unless it hits some blocker.
As I posted previously, speech is a big deal in this game. Complex speech trees allow for a less static feeling world. Here, an NPC named Daniel is trying to convince the player to join in a heist of sorts. This is actually one of the few quests built out so far. The player has conversation options to request more information before agreeing or declining.
The speech view is also used for reading books, which are heavily relied on for giving a sense of history to the world. One of the main themes in the game is literature. More on that soon.
Can't have a fighting system without abilities. In the game, you play as an "arcane," a wizard of sorts that can study across four schools of magic: Elemental, Light, Dark and Psychic. This screen is the opening screen of your spellbook, allowing you to choose which school's spells to browse.
When you kill an enemy, they will drop experience shards based on the school of magic you used to kill them. Collecting these shards levels up that school of magic, but subsequently makes it more difficult to learn the other schools. This forces you to choose: do you want to go full on in one school? Split your time across two? You can't have it all. What kind of mage will you be?
As you level up a school, you unlock spells, both active and passive. You can equip up to 4 active spells, and as many passives as you have passive slots. Passive slots unlock as you progress through the main game as a reward for progress.
Elemental spells control things like fire, water and earth. They are largely projectile based and straightforward. Light spells invoke the heavens, allowing you to target specific points, though the spells tend to have a delay. Psychic spells are generally closer combat, and focus on controlling the forces around you and the minds of enemies. Dark spells call upon the forces of demons and spirits. If you misuse them, you'll pay with your health. Luckily, a dark passive allows you to heal as long as you collect dark experience.
Here, I have equipped one of the Psychic passives, which lets me read the minds of NPCs and enemies to find weaknesses. This man in town is "afraid of the dark." Loser.
Also to note here, he is the town historian, and thus the place where I can save. As I mentioned before, literature is a big theme here. Saving the game involves making your mark in history. Being written about, carving your name into a tree, impressing scholars who are writing dissertations, and more. When you die, you'll be told what the last known writing about you was, giving you a chance to start again from that point.
Here is an example of the player under attack from an enemy called "drones." These are bee-like enemies who buzz around you, shooting projectiles now and then.
In this screenshot, I'm on the verge of death. Turns out I actually did die after taking it. Woops.
Finally, a shot of the game at "night." As I mentioned earlier, NPCs go about their daily activities. In this world, days are 20 hours long. After sunset, the world begins to go dark, save for anywhere that has a light source. At midnight, it is completely black besides light sources. This makes it very dangerous to be out in the fields at this time.
The lighting system is very basic on purpose. I originally put effort into making walls block light and everything, but it felt too "advanced" for how the rest of the game works. Maybe I'll go back on that sometime, but I like the old-school feel of placing down a torch somewhere (an item you can take with you for adventuring at night) and seeing something beyond a wall or trees that piques my interest. It happened by accident with the old system, and I loved it, so I just let it ride.
You'll notice in the top left corner, a clock and calendar date. As the game progresses, the days go on. The calendar is unique to this world, a 3-season, 9-month calendar based on the trends of farmers.
I'm very excited about how all of this is coming along. There's so much more I could talk about, but I'll save that for when I actually get the game's website up and running, which I'm targeting for getting up in the next couple of months. It's been really busy for me recently, so I haven't gotten a lot done, but I'm excited to get back at it.
Looking forward to hearing what y'all think. I may be reaching out for playtesters down the line, so feeling for interest there as well.
Posted on September 21, 2016 at 09:41
Just got back from a trip to Colorado to visit my girlfriend's family and a few other people we know out there. Though I've been there before a few times, this was my first time there when it wasn't freezing cold
My girlfriend is originally from Colorado, but moved out here to DC for work when she graduated, so it's been good to have some insider info on what places to visit / eat / see from a local. Always the right way to go about travel.
The picture above was taken in Georgetown, CO before going on a train ride through the mountains to show off the absurdly beautiful scenery around there. I took a handful of pictures, but some are blown out from the scorchingly bright afternoon sun.
Here's an album
Forests and mountains have always inspired me more than anything else. The fresh air reminds me of time spent at my grandparent's mountain home when I was a kid, and the forest air that I'd smell through my window at home when I was first learning how to use GameMaker as a kid.
Anyway, I'm back home now and taking today off to get my bearings after a late flight last night. We move to a new apartment in a little over a month, which is closing in fast. Lots to get done but hoping I'll still find time for game dev along the way. Lots of unexpected loss of time has lead to delaying the first playtest and announcements, but still hoping to get to it asap.
What inspires you most of all?
All it took was some downtime
Posted on September 11, 2016 at 08:39
Look at us now, shitposts and all. Got a few blogs up in here.
I've been continuing work on my game, prepping for my first private playtest. My Trello column for the things to do before the playtest is ready has shrunk, grown, and shrunk again. I need to just cut off and get it done.
As much as I would love to drop the playtest here, I don't think its totally ready for that yet, but in the seeable future, I'm sure I'll be asking for people to do some alpha testing and whatnot. I'll need to definitely have some help tracking down bugs, given the open nature and emergent gameplay style of the game, so if that tickles your fancy, be on the lookout for posts from me begging for help.
Besides the game, I've been upping my writing game some more. Besides trying to post more content to 64D in general, I'm also writing on my personal blog
and my joint blog project with my girlfriend
as we work towards simplifying, saving and working towards our dream home.
All of this disparate writing has me drafting up some ideas for unifying my publishing, so once I have some kind of concrete idea, I'll likely post about that here as well. I know StevenOBrien has tweeted about wanting a good, decentralized twitter alternative. I've been ruminating on that idea for a while, but I think it might go beyond that. I don't have well formed thoughts yet, but I'm toying with some content distribution and pub-sub-like ideas, to help cross-post between places as well, so that people who do like other services can still consume them.
Aaaanyway that's about all I have to say right now. More game screenshots incoming later this week.
By the way, this post on image_index in GameMaker
might be useful for anyone working in GM:S. Fucked me real good yesterday.
Posted on September 05, 2016 at 21:39
Spent a fair bit of time working on my game today. I tweeted
about one of the things I was working on, which was the NPC speech tree system in my game.
Though really, I was working more on the method of storing the strings and relationships for the speech trees. My game has a fairly extensive speech system in place already, though it is largely driven through a set of script utilities which can be called to do things like show a speech box, add response options, etc.
Instead of handwriting a bunch of scripts to leverage this, I went for a data driven implementation.
At first, I went with JSON, because I'm an idiot and I like to think that JSON is the solution to everything. Well, turns out writing JSON by hand is some trash, and I got real sick of that real fast.
Where I landed was YAML, which is much nicer to write by hand, and has similar structure to JSON, with the added bonus of references, which allows for reusability of data, which I needed for things like responses that may be used in multiple places.
I took those YAML files and wrote a small parser, which takes the yaml and converts it to GML scripts that use my game's speech engine. From there, I just import the script, and hook it up to the NPC in question, and boom, done.
I could take it one step further and bundle the yaml into the game, reading it in directly, but allowing for the compilation to GML gives me a bit more wiggle room. We'll see if I stick with that for the long haul.
Ultimately, I have something that looks like this:
- slug: intro
- hello, world
- this is some npc speech
- text: Cool!
- text: Lame.
- slug: outro
- Yeah, its kinda neato
- slug: outro_bad
- You're mean.
This super small example would have an npc say "hello, world". The next page of their speech is "this is some npc speech."
Following that, the player can choose between saying "Cool!" or "Lame." Picking "Cool!" prompts the npc to say "Yeah, its kinda neato." Picking lame promps them to say "You're mean". Which, you are.
Anyway, this is my simple approach to giving myself a reasonable way to manage what will ultimately be thousands of lines of speech strings. I don't think I need any fancy graphical editor or anything, but wanted to see what other people have done to solve this problem, as I know its a big one for everyone.